Din's Curse expansion?
Thursday, 13 May 2010

Right now I think the next thing from Soldak is going to be an expansion pack for Din's Curse. I don't guarantee such a thing, but that's the most likely thing. Anyway, I'm trying to be more open and talk more about our games, so here's some of my thoughts so far. This has possible spoilers below and very possibility things that might never happen. :)

I really want the expansion pack to have a strong theme and would like to do something similar in future expansion packs if there are any. Themes for DC could revolve around a class, monster, a new mode of play, or probably many other things. I think if we did a bunch of expansion packs and tried to keep up the same kind of theme though, a class or mode theme might be hard to keep going.

So right now I'm thinking of doing a monster theme, specifically, Demons. The rough idea is that the various types of Demons have gotten tired of all of the Undead constantly attacking them. They are banding together, calling forth other Demon kind, and fighting back. Right now my tentative title is Din's Curse: Demon War.

I would like to add at least a few new demon types and various new items, modifiers, objects, and traps that fit the theme. I'm sure I'll add other things that are just nice improvements also.

I would also like to add a new class. Two good suggestions on our forums have been a Monk or Bard. Both would be pretty cool. Another interesting class could be something along the lines of Demon Hunter or Demon Knight since it would fit the theme quite a bit.

I know there's nothing substantial here yet, but like I said this is still very early. What are your thoughts? BTW, I have been reading all of the various suggestion and expansion threads. There have already been a lot of good suggestions so far.

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Tweets 5
Tuesday, 04 May 2010

Here's some of my latest tweets from twitter / facebook with a bit more explanation. I haven't done this in a while so some of these are pretty old.

Some things added today: gravestones, Tombs, Teleporter Rooms, and Torture Rooms.

My Mac seems to be behaving better today, hopefully I fixed the problem. :) I had a pretty nasty Mac issue a while back where I couldn't even boot it up. However, I followed a bunch of user instructions online and everything has worked fine since.

Working on demo stuff today. The demo has been out for a while now.

For some reason when I take a few days off, I have a huge number of emails and posts to catch up on. Email and forums are always a pain to catch up on when I take off any time.

Started a mod page and added a few small mods for Din's Curse today at http://www.soldak.com/Dins-Curse/Mods.html

Forum quote: "Random cave-ins that kill pursuing monsters never get old." I've been trying to post a few quotes here and there.

I just made it so killed npcs leave dead bodies that can be looted, no one will ever think about letting npcs die on purpose. :)

Added an Arachnophobia Mod today for Din's Curse for those people that really don't like spiders at http://www.soldak.com/Dins-Curse/Mods.html

Npcs can now show their love a little better by building statues of the player and leaving gifts for the player. Hopefully a bunch of you have seen these by now.

I'm trying to test a change to Holy Shield Obelisks but Orcs keep coming over and using them before I can. Damn pesky monsters always getting in the way of my testing.

Added a nice summary to the win screen today in Din's Curse. You guys have probably all seen these.

Forum quote: "This game is awesome. Clocked 30 hours into it already, and I'm normally not a hack'n'slash fan."

I took a week off last week, things should be back to normal soon. :) Getting a few days off was very nice.

One of these days I'll get back to coding/fixing things again, I've been doing lots of little marketing tasks lately. You can tell I'm a programmer/designer. After a day of getting a ton of important marketing tasks done I always feel like I haven't actually done anything. However, if I finish a bunch of programming or design tasks and I feel nice and satisfied.

I fixed a couple things with our master server today. The nice thing about master server fixes is that everyone doesn't have to patch. I've actually made a bunch of changes since then, especially to logging.

Forum quote: "I've spent at least 15 hours just messing around with the 141 possible combinations."

Started working on patch 1.001 for Din's Curse finally. Yeah, this is also out already.

I stopped to watch a door that was losing health today. I thought it was a bug. Nope, zombie coming to kill me. :) I really was confused for a moment.

It's amazing how simple some things are to fix when you put them out of your mind for a few weeks and then come back to them fresh. In this case it was the problem when you need to kill a unique ghost and they can wander or start in an area that you can't get to. I finally occurred to me to just always force them to wander and they will eventually find the player.

Improved mod support today - better overrides stuff, better way to mod the UI, and a better way to add/change localization. All of these changes make it easier to mod the game without overriding entire files. On that thought, I'm hoping to put together a SDK soon.

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Apple downloads dead?
Friday, 23 April 2010

One of the big reasons that I decided to port Depths of Peril to the Mac was that apple hosted a downloads section linked directly off of their own website. I knew going in we would have a nice big, focused source of traffic for Mac gamers. At the time I didn't know if this would make up for the differences in the size of the Mac and Windows markets though. Note: there are many other reasons to have a Mac version, this just happens to be a big one.

Well I did decide to port over to the Mac despite it being somewhat risky. Using our 20/20 hind vision, it was a very good decision. The porting work paid for itself a long time ago (I wish I could say this for other things). What I have found out since then is that the apple.com downloads section is where most of our Mac gamers come from. It is pretty important to Soldak's Mac sales.

Unfortunately, here's where the problem is. Along comes the iPad and apple replaces the download link on their main page to an iPad link. This has already significantly reduced our flow of Mac gamers. Even worse is that apparently as of late March they have stopped updating the downloads section at all. This is going to make it much harder for new games and updates to get noticed.

I really have no idea what Apple is thinking over there. I really hope they plan on replacing the downloads section with something at least as good, because I can't imagine this is going to do anything other than hurt Mac gamers. :(

Anyway, despite what Apple does or does not do, indie companies like us need to find other ways to attract Mac gamers. I have gotten the Din's Curse demo on macgamefiles, macupdate, versiontracker, and iusethis. Where else do you guys find Mac games? What else can I do to get noticed in the Mac gaming world?

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Beta / pre-order thoughts
Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Now that our beta / pre-order program for Din's Curse is over I thought I would write up some of my thoughts about it. Hopefully this will be interesting to our gamers and might also be helpful to other indie developers.

The good:

We got a ton of really good feedback. Right now there are 2,153 posts in the Din's Curse beta forum. For our forums, that's a lot. It's second only to the DoP main forum. Also if you look at the change lists, you'll notice a ton of changes were from our beta testers. I've said this a few times, but I'll say it again our beta testers helped a lot and I'm very grateful.

I think the biggest benefit to the feedback was to the balance of the game. It started out fairly rough, but I'm much happier where things are now. We wouldn't have officially released that rough, but I think it is better now than it would have been without the beta.

This one didn't occur to me until we had actually officially released the game, but on day 1 of the official release we had a bunch of experts in the forums. This is extremely helpful and it makes multi-party discussions happen more often (not just me and whoever started the thread).

I really like how the credits thing worked out. I already keep a pretty good done list, so tacking on someone's name to each item is fairly easy. I think it worked to give out a little recognition to people that helped out and is just kind of cool. I've actually had several people comment on it, so I think it was well received.

I ended up adding more new features than I expected to. I did expect to add some, just not this many. I suppose this could technically go into the neutral section, but Din's Curse is a better game with all of the new additions.

The game was pretty stable when the beta started, but I did squash a few crash bugs here and there. This is one of those places that is hard to test as an indie. You need more players and more configurations to track down some things.

The bad:

The only bad thing I can really think of is that we shipped later than I thought due to the beta. In reality, although the release date shifted out, I probably didn't actually lose any time overall. Without the beta, I still probably would have fixed many of the same bugs, it just would have happened during a private beta or in patches after release.

The neutral:

I really liked having open forums for the beta. I'm really not sure if this was ultimately a positive or a negative though. It could potentially have scared people away or encouraged them to join in. Actually I'm sure it did both, but how many of each I have no idea. It was nice that I didn't have to grant access to a private forum for anyone.

In theory, we will get better reviews since the whole idea was to make a better, more polished game before release. This probably should be under good, but I have no way to verify it either way.

Overall I think it went really well, so we are likely to do something similar for future games. What do you all think?

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Tweets 4
Monday, 15 March 2010

Here's some of my latest tweets from twitter / facebook with a bit more explanation.

I made lots of balancing changes today especially for melee characters. This was back for version 0.905 and was mostly strength and dexterity related.

Fixed a targeting issue today that has plagued some users but I never noticed, turns out it's because they use skills differently. I mostly use the right click skills. The issue was skills used from one the main slots wasn't always changing the target to what was being pointed at.

Changed some quests to go obsolete instead of failing today, mostly just a perception change, but I think it will be more fun. Everyone has probably seen this by now. It just makes an escalation of a quest a little less harsh.

One of these days I'm going to write up a blog about the weird bugs I've had to track down, today's was stuck illusions. What was happening is a stuck illusion was stuck because there was a lever attached to it. Since it's not always possible to get to the lever and you can't physically break an illusion these would be impassible many times. Now clicking will always work even if there is a lever.

Added in a bet type quest from gamblers today. Basically this is bet from the gambler that you can't do something without dying first.

I found 4 lesser vaults almost right next to each other today. As usual this is what random numbers do. Sometimes you get an interesting streak of good stuff.

The last few days my todo list has once again started to go in the correct direction, I think that's a good sign. It's gone up since then some, but it is well down from the start of the beta.

Did a large pass over all of the unique and set items in the game yesterday and today. A bunch of the set and unique items got better. I'm trying to make it so more of the rarities are viable more often.

Just passed by a blast trigger, an explosion barrel, and an energy vortex right next to each other. For a change I wasn't very tempted to pull it. Usually I just have to pull these and see what blows up. This time it was pretty obvious, it was just going to be me.

Added 10 new quests today to Din's Curse. These were mostly related to Super Bosses. Kind of a cheesy name, but it gets the point across pretty well.

Monsters now have the possibility of "leveling up" all of the way from a normal monster to a boss. It's really not likely for any one monster to go all of the way from a normal monster to a boss, but it's possible now. Basically for the lower level rarities each time they kill something they have a chance to go to the next rarity.

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