Category Archives: Game Design

So. Uh. Hi there.

EDIT: Today’s patch, while fixing the random crashes for some people, has added a new one for other people. We’re on it. Please keep sending us your broken save files too, especially if they were entirely produced *after* yesterday’s patch. — Gaslamp Games McManagement

Hi, everybody. We’re… a little overwhelmed, and also going about with large grins on our faces. Being #1 on Steam – even if we have been cruelly deposed (for now!) by the Curse of Cthulhu Saving the World – is quite the rush. We should ship games more often. Thank you all for your support and patronage; we’re looking forward to kicking it up to the next level.

We have fixed a few bugs that came out of the woodwork. The random crash bug is fixed, a save corruption bug is fixed (there may be more), the Infinite XP glitch is fixed, and the infinite-money-in-shop glitch has been resolved as well. We will be sending a patch off to Steam as soon as we have finished testing it a little more.


So how is everybody enjoying the game?

Posted in Dungeons of Dredmor, Game Design, Games, Gaslamp, Programming | Tagged , ,

DREDMOR WEEK (Day One): Soundtrack Up!

Ladies and gentleman, we’re selling a game. In order to sell it, we’ve put together a little something we like to call…. DREDMOR WEEK.

Not relaly a Night at the Opera, is it?

That’s right, folks. Every day a blog post, a new piece of revelry, and by the way, we’re releasing the game ON WEDNESDAY. You heard us. WEDNESDAY. At long last, your pain and suffering will be over…. or just beginning. Ahem.

Let’s kick things off with a fanfare. Several fanfares, actually.

Matthew Steele, our brilliant musician, has put together a Dungeons of Dredmor soundtrack release on Bandcamp. You can preview the entire game’s soundtrack, and you can even buy it from him if you feel so inclined. How much will this cost you? Well, it’s pay as you want, but the minimum price is set at $2.99. (Any money Matthew makes on this, we told him he could keep. We’re awesome like this.)

Check it out here. Cover art by David.

The Schedule for DREDMOR WEEK:

Monday: Soundtrack Release
Tuesday: Why is Dredmor priced at $4.99? We promised you an explanation. On Tuesday, you’ll get it. Added bonus: the Dredmor Community Art Mutilation Pack.
Wednesday: We Release The Game. Wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Thursday: David draws a comic. (Or, maybe, posts Part I of the Modding Guide. He hasn’t decided yet.)
Friday: The Making of Dredmor: a behind-the-scenes PDF spectacular containing never-before seen art, screenshots, and Fun from the Vaults.

Posted in Dungeons of Dredmor, Game Design, Games, Gaslamp | 9 Comments

New Trailer Up!

As Dungeons of Dredmor approaches a release – and yes, folks, it will still be before Duke Nukem Forever – we have put together this fabulous new trailer to show you what we’ve been working on.

Additionally, we now have a website up at where you are encouraged to sign up to be notified the moment that Dredmor ships – and, as an added bonus, if you enter your e-mail in our handy little drop-box, you will automatically be entered into our free Dredmor give-away contest. Go check it out!

Posted in Dungeons of Dredmor, Game Design, Games, Gaslamp, Website | 1 Comment

A Quick Word on Difficulty

As discussed on the, uh, “Live Design” portion of our interview on the Immortal Machines podcast back in February, Dungeons of Dredmor is going to have a difficulty level selectable at the start of the game. This should make it a bit more accessible to players both new-to-the-genre and those that play only roguelikes and love only pain.

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On the Commercialization of Roguelikes (And Some Other Stuff)

(David recently did a State of the Dungeon post, and I guess this is my State of the Dungeon.)

For the most part it is rewarding for us, as developers, to hear that people are excited about the work that we’re doing and how badly they want to pre-order our title. (See, we’re listening!) I think that this is true of any creative endeavor: the artist thrives on the energy of his or her public. At the same time, it is also worth noting that it is very easy for a developer to get unexcited about a project when people keep telling you that you’re doing a lousy job. Most developers will tell you that the secret to this is not to listen to people on the Internet – after all, what do they know? That said, most successful developers – Valve springs instantly to mind, under the capable direction of Gabe Newell – will tell you that the success or failure of a game, and of a game company, is dependant upon your fans and your customers. Listen to people, get them excited, and you will prosper. Alienate your fans and you will alienate your customers, and your customers are the people who pay you money (or who will pay you money once we get the pre-orders going.) So that’s why we listen: we secretly want to be Valve. (Who doesn’t? Ben McGraw, our executive producer, recently pointed out that Valve is one of the few game companies in the so-called “Industry” that he would work for. Like indies, Valve brings joy to people. Other companies, he says, just make games.)

So what are our users saying? In a recent poll on our Twitterfeed – which you should all be following, because it really is the best way to keep tabs on us – one user wanted to know more about our development process, and the day-to-day decisions behind game development. We hope that this will oblige you, but today’s blogpost is *really* inspired by something from The Internets.

In a recent online discussion about Dungeons of Dredmor, somebody said – and I paraphrase: “Commercial roguelikes will never be as good as free roguelikes because the multi-year, evolutionary development process that results in amazing games like Crawl will never be commercially viable.” Here we have somebody who likes roguelikes, and who should like Dredmor. Hopefully,  he will support us – here is a man, after all, who could be a customer, and any failing to attain him as a customer is a failing on our part as a business – but his concern is legitimate. Can a commercial roguelike be as good as Crawl, or Nethack? Well, I think we can… but let’s talk about this.

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Gaslamp Games Press Release: Dungeons of Dredmor is Not an April Fools’ Prank

April 1st, 2011 – Gaslamp Games, an independent game development company based out of British Columbia, Canada, has regrettably announced that its upcoming Roguelike Dungeon Crawler, “Dungeons of Dredmor”, is not an April Fools’ Day Prank. In fact, the game exists, is being actively worked on, and is still on track for a release on major digital gaming distribution services some time in April 2011. Members of the gaming press, understandably incredulous that anybody is actually trying to make a roguelike that makes money, have recently been claiming that Dredmor is an elaborate practical joke on the PC gaming community; Gaslamp’s cofounders have therefore been forced out of their bunkers and parents’ basements to inform the public that this is not the case.

“Yes,” said Nicholas Vining, Gaslamp’s technical director, “we at Gaslamp genuinely believe that you will actually want a game with 8-bit graphics, stored in antiquated file formats, where you run around a dungeon and eat Lutefisk while trying to kill an evil sorcerer. We deeply regret the error of our ways.” David Baumgart, Gaslamp’s technical art director, was heard to gnash his teeth and wail in dulcet tones at this pronouncement, before running out of the office to seal his claim to fame as the independent game community’s version of Toulouse-Lautrec. Daniel Jacobsen, Gaslamp’s technical business director, was technically unavailable for comment, being technically asleep at the time, lulled into peaceful slumber by the soothing songs of the Space Whale.

“We understand that this is a painful time,” Vining added, “and that Dungeons of Dredmor is probably the cruelest non-April Fools’ Day Joke not committed in the history of not-jokes. We apologize to our audience for not tricking them, and for actually making this thing, but we actually believed that you wanted to play a game with eighty-seven bazillion cheeses in it. I have erred grievously in mixing my business projects with my personal hobbies, and my fascination for the bovine product has doomed the company and sullened its reputation by casting it as nothing more than a band of merry pranksters. I feel that this announcement, clarifying that we have actually built this game in deathly, earnest seriousness, will go a long way towards improving our company’s reputation as being perfectly serious as well as my reputation as, technically, Gaslamp’s technical technical director.”

“Woe is the life of the starving technical art director artist,” Baumgart commented miserably and technically. “I told you we should have ripped off Minecraft.” The Dungeons of Dredmor codebase was unavailable for comment, having impaled itself on a version control system some hours earlier and remaining in critical condition.

Dungeons of Dredmor will be available for purchase in case anybody wants to buy it. The game is rated “T” for technical.

Posted in Dungeons of Dredmor, Game Design, Gaslamp | 4 Comments

Gameplay as a Hierarchy of Cycles

I’m going to quote a post in whole that covered most of what I was meaning to write on this subject but far more succinctly than I imagined possible. Brenda Braithwaite’s post “Design Truth 1”:

Focus on second-to-second play first. Nail it. Move on to minute-to-minute, then session-to-session, then day-to-day, then month-to-month (and so on). If your second-to-second play doesn’t work, nothing else matters. Along these lines, if your day-to-day fails, no one will care about month-to-month, either.

This  seems like an excellent imperative to good game design – especially a mechanics-based game. In counterpoint, (though I could quibble about “good” vs “successful” design) whole games are built on hooking players with long-term investment, be it emotional, social, or time (read: sunk cost fallacy), rather than refined short-term, low-level gameplay (see: grindy MMOs, Zynga), or some kind of story that players get invested in despite the gameplay (see: Final Fantasy games). I think an argument can be made for classifying games according to higher-level design philosophy. But yes, Dredmor’s core is certainly in the mechanics. Well; the mechanics and the insanity, which might count as “story” content though ours is decidedly nonlinear. But I digress. I’ll be doing a lot of that.

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Making The Cut

I just redid the character information panel again. I had to re-arrange all the info boxes then type out the size and position of every single textbox and tooltip hotspot. It was awful. Now Nicholas gets to update the code to my specifications, the poor bastard.

Dungeons of Dredmor, as some sort of RPG, and god-help-us, as a roguelikeish game, lends itself to a maddening excess of features, ideas, items, skills, spells, potions, special abilities, factions?, unique rooms, artifacts, vengeful gods, and and.. and … Well, one of the most important points of successful game development is knowing when to cut; no, being able to cut features so that the project can ever be completed.

We have done this. No, really! A bit, at least.

Dredmor Hero dodging a blade

At least you’ve survived with piles upon piles of unique items, silly skills, and an upcoming hellishly complex crafting system, dear hero!

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