1. Tell us briefly about your game, Desktop Dungeons.
The upcoming Desktop Dungeons is a puzzle-roguelike hybrid game designed to be played in quick, ten-minute sessions, based on the well-known Desktop Dungeons alpha that’s currently available as freeware. Players go on a single-screen dungeon crawl that’s randomly generated for every game session, using absolutely every resource at their disposal — up to and including dungeon exploration itself — to fight monsters, level up and eventually slay the dungeon boss in a system which has often been described as opening up the roguelike genre to a more casual audience.
For the new Unity-based version, established fans can look forward to a greatly expanded and more finely-balanced game system that includes far more dungeon and monster content, a sophisticated inventory system and the player’s own kingdom which they can build up over time using gold earned in successful dungeon runs. This kingdom in turn will provide extra ways for players to prepare for dungeons, special challenges and and a variety of quests which will entertain everyone from complete DD beginners to hardened veterans.
(left to right: Marc “Aequitas” Luck, Danny “dislekcia” Day and Rodain “Nandrew” Joubert)
2. Can you introduce your team? And what is your background in making games?
The team behind Desktop Dungeons goes by the name of QCF Design, a small indie studio based in South Africa. It consists of me, Danny “dislekcia” Day and Marc “aequitas” Luck, as well as the hired talents of various awesome freelancers.
As a company, QCF Design has been in business for several years making sponsored games, mostly for corporate types looking to advertise themselves on mobile devices. The occasional contract for web design jobs has also topped up the company coffers over time.
At the beginning of 2010, however, QCF invested its capital in an independent development project — Desktop Dungeons. This is the first independent commercial project that the company has embarked on, although it’s also worth mentioning that several other, non-commercial games have been made over the years such as our 48-hour Global Game Jam entries and a SHMUP-style roguelike space shooter called SpaceHack, which achieved a Top 20 position in the 2008 Microsoft DreamBuildPlay competition.
3. What development tools are you using for the new Desktop Dungeons?
Right now, we’re developing for the Unity editor using Visual Studio C# 2008. We haven’t reached the stage where we’re inserting sounds yet, and art is handled by an assortment of different programs. The QCF office is mostly PC-dominated, but we do have a Mac for porting purposes.
4. Why did you choose Unity for as your game engine of choice for Desktop Dungeons?
Unity is reasonably easy to use and it allows us to compile code for most platforms. From the start, we knew we wanted to get in at all sorts of markets, starting with PC/Mac and iPhone, then possibly following up with console and web versions. Unity helps us do all that with the least hassle possible.
5. Were there any unexpected challenges in developing Desktop Dungeons with Unity?
Aside from code hiccups and SVN technicalities (which fortunately I’ve never had to personally figure out!), probably the biggest difficulty in working with Unity has been the fact that we’re trying to build a procedurally-generated game in an environment which really begs developers to make more hand-crafted game experiences. This creates some funny issues here and there and makes a lot of Unity’s functionality a lot less useful for us, but we’ve found workarounds for everything by now and really wouldn’t want to use any other tool for this project.
6. Are you doing game development full-time?
Yeah, QCF Design has been a dedicated game development company for a couple of years now, and I’ve been on board with them for a while. Desktop Dungeons currently demands all of our worktime attention, though we try getting involved in side projects here and there just for fun.
7. How long have you been working on the game?
Technically, I suppose it’s been in active development since the first prototype was released in January 2010. So that would make the full dev cycle about a year so far.
8. Any advice for other indie game developers out there?
Making games is an art first and a career second — particularly if you’re indie. Avoid focusing too much on the idea of making development a “job”: many great testaments to the ingenuity and creativity of individuals started off as freeware projects, and many more of them will stay freeware for the forseeable future.
If you DO happen to be an earning member of the industry already, always remember that it’s not just a privilege: it’s a responsibility. Make enough money to eat, don’t let people screw you around, and always bear in mind that you’ve been given the opportunity to enhance and refine your work as a representative of a young, passionate and ever-growing community.
But paid or not, always work to your full potential — no more, no less. It’s the cheesiest thing ever, but the pride you take in what you do is the only real value of being an indie. Everything else kinda just happens.