Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Development plan - Winter 2012

I thought I should share my rather fuzzy development plan for Dweller for the coming few months. The plan is fuzzy because I find myself more and more unsure of what to do to improve Dweller further. I'm sure there's a ton of things I could do, but I've worked on Dweller for so long and that makes it hard to look at the game with fresh eyes (like a player who discovers Dweller for the first time). I've never meant for Dweller to be anything but a hobby project where I can experiment with different coding practices, technologies, platforms and have fun coding. At the same time it is pretty obvious that the average Android users expects a hell of a lot more of a game today than only one or two years ago. Anything less than a triple A title and you're required to be either very innovative to get player attention or be content with a much smaller group of brilliant gamers who can see beyond pretty pictures and enjoy a game because of other merits. You guys who are reading this are among the latter group, and I love you for it, but that doesn't mean I can't have at least a little bit of both, does it?

This is why at least part of my plans for the winter are about polishing the game in such a way to make it more attractive to "the masses". So, without further ado, here's the plan:

  • Add an intro screen. I'd like to have some pretty pictures to give a good first impression.
  • Improve the death/win screen. Currently it's something of an anti-climax to beat the game.
  • Add music and sound (at least for Android and desktop version, most likely not for J2ME). I'm in touch with a composer who is working on music for Dweller. 
  • Improve rendering performance by switching to OpenGL using libgdx or similar. Tablet performance is total crap at the moment and low-end Android devices are also starting to struggle. Switching to hardware accelerated rendering will increase performance significantly.
  • Add player perks. I'd like to see something similar to talent trees (as seen in WoW, Torchlight, Diablo etc). It's going to be hard to balance, but I'd really like to allow the player to within each class come up with different kinds of character builds supported by talents/perks.
  • Add more dungeon variation with rare rooms, encounters and items.
I'm really interested in hearing your thoughts on the focus of Dweller in the months to come. In the words of House Stark, "Winter is coming", and I'd like to have a solid plan backed by the community to get it all done.
Source and comments: http://www.dwellergame.com/2012/11/development-plan-winter-2012.html


  1. I haven't played it in a while so I gave it a try in light of your new plans. It's really very cute!

    Tried to think about what Joe Casual would want. I have two (wait, three) suggestions:

    1: Start at the very beginning of the user experience. Go through each step very slowly, thinking about the experience, result and impact of EACH AND EVERY CLICK. Don't proceed without having reflected on each of the tiniest interactions. You never get a second chance to make a first impression as the saying goes...

    2: More focus on the ultimate goal of the game. I can't remember being told about the end boss or why he needs to die. I don't know what it takes to win, but I'm thinking that a visual cue of your progress would help. Perhaps he can only be slain with a legendary weapon. You need to find all the pieces of the weapon. The pieces could be placed on a 'goal screen', each piece being an intermediate goal.

    3: Being more accessible is generally a question about not overwhelming the player with stuff he doesn't know or care about. That will mean carefully and slowly building up to all the features. Maybe you can only be warrior when you first start. Remove the choice and unlock it later. Try to remove/delay stuff before you add stuff. Yeah I know how hard it is to get right. Never even been close in any project. :)

    A lunch soon?

  2. Great ideas Henrik! We've had some discussions on the forum regarding unlockable character classes, and I think that might be a way to simplify things for new players.

  3. Oh, and yes, lunch sounds great! I'll e-mail you!