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Friday, August 15, 2014

Feedback & Voting System - Dungeon Colony Version

It's been almost 2 weeks since I've had a larger sale where you were able to set your own price and buy Dungeon Colony for as little as $0.01, yes one cent. The reason for the sale was the completion of version 0.2.1.x - Game Audio. I love these kinds of sales as they give everyone a chance to get the game and play it during alpha development. This can be a really good thing if you need to get a bit more feedback from actual players. And so it did: The response was great and the demand crippled my server. Moreover, I received an influx of emails which took an eternity to respond to. To overcome all of these issues I created a new way for players to communicate with me which I'm releasing today in version (Try it now here free). 

The In-Game Feedback System with Votes:

In order to organize all the bugs, comments, questions and feature requests in one place, I've long been wanting to use a forum of some sort where players can post such things. One solution had been to use an existing forum that's on some website, but there are forums just about everywhere: There is a forum on steam, indiedb, tigsource etc. And players have submitted bugs on all those platforms before, which leaves me with the problem that bugs are scattered around the web making it difficult for me to track them.

As a result I'm releasing a new experimental system where players can send me feedback from within the game.This system can be accessed from the Main Menu (see 'Feedback' button), but you have to be a registered user in order to send me something. Demo users do not have access to this.

The following screenshot is the Feedback List page. It shows all of the currently open bugs, suggestions, questions and feedback:

Any feedback that is submitted will not be shown immediately on the list page. I will first review it to make sure it is relevant and not spammy.

Vote Count, Up-votes, and Yes/No Votes:

Every player who as purchased an account gains access to the voting system. There are 4 categories of requests:
  • Bugs
  • Suggestions
  • Questions
  • Feedback
Users can vote on each of these categories, however, for bugs and suggestions each player gets only a total of 2 votes to distribute. For example, if a player likes a particular feature request she can vote for it. That leaves her with another vote to be used on another feature request or another bug. Votes cannot be undone. So be careful what you vote on. However, once a bug or suggestion has been completed, the vote is recycled back to the player, which she can use again on another item.

On the other hand, votes for Questions and Feedback are unlimited and help reveal the more interesting questions or feedback submissions.

Bugs, questions and feedback can only be up-voted, which causes the most voted item to appear at the top of the list. Suggestions on the other-hand have a YES or NO vote. This should help me determine the sentiment of the community over each feature request and whether I will end up creating it or not. Suggestions are merely for smaller feature requests and I will generally not take any larger game design requests.

The above screenshot shows how a request is submitted. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Username Changes Now Possible

Many players have asked if they could change their username. Until now this wasn't possible, but I have just added this function on the Dungeon Colony Website:

After you login, you will see a link next to the username field with the label '(change)'.

Usernames must be between 8-20 characters long and be alphanumeric as well as may contain the '_' character.

Additionally, if you couldn't reset your password, the Forgot Password page is now fixed.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Ambients vs Background Music

Ambient & Music 

In Dungeon Colony music and sound has been on the side lines for much of development. This is not always a good idea, as sound can not only tremendously increase immersion into the game, but also can have ties to game mechanics.

Nonetheless, as a developer, you may find yourself in the same situation as I have been: little experience in sound design and no budget to buy music when your idea is still young and fresh. Of course, you can always use free samples available on the net or find other means to get free audio and use that as a placeholder until you can figure out what actual sound effects and musical tunes will be in the final version. I don't like using placeholders because they create an atmosphere that isn't what you really want, and if you don't want it, there is no reason to use them in the first place and confuse the player (given that you are programming with early access).


A few months ago, after GDC, I met with a sound design studio which shared a lot of the values that I find important in game audio: Instead of playing distracting music tunes in the background over and over, I believe that ambient sounds are far more outreaching and immerse. I don't think that eliminating all music from a game-play is good either, but it can be used to indicate changes or events rather than being non functional. For example a short set of battle tunes inform the player that a fight is about to break out or happening somewhere on the map; or a soft musical short can indicate a change in time of day, etc.

The studio that has made the first set of audio for Dungeon Colony is dSonic. This studio has actually made audio for larger titles such as Bioshock and Eve Online. However, those guys working at dSonic are very much engaged in the indie community and offer their services for indies with a special licencing deal. Since releasing Dungeon Colony for public early access, I've been able to generate enough dough to hire dSonic and I'm happy to have finished this first set of sound and music.

Pay What You Want

As a result, I am going to offer Dungeon Colony again for a reduced pre-beta cost of "Pay What You Want" =)... my favorite way of paying for games. So please, if you like Dungeon Colony, tell your friends about it, share it on facebook, follow me on twitter and help me get the word out, so that I can bring Dungeon Colony into beta stage.