(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.