So I'm releasing Dungeons and Doggos tomorrow and I wanted to document my experience creating the game to capture my thoughts and feelings about the development before it comes out. The good, the bad and the ugly. If you're interested in reading about it, then have a fun read!
What is Dungeons and Doggos?
Dungeons and Doggos is an endless platforming game for the Playdate (no duh). There is a story mode with comic styled cutscenes in which you have to reach a goal height to progress, as well as two unlockable bonus modes focussing on getting high scores in harsher conditions than the story mode puts you under. There is also a meta game hidden in there about collecting hats to experience the “TRUTH”. If you want to see everything the game has to offer, it’ll take you about 1.5 to 2 hours.
Why even make a game for Playdate?
So, a little backstory. I’ve been working as a programmer for about 10 years now. But my passion for coding came from way before that. I originally learned how to program when I was about 8 years old. Having grown up with a Game Boy in my hands ever since I can remember, I wanted to create my own games. So being the nerdy kid that loves to read, I went to the library and got myself a book about programming batch files for windows. With the knowledge from that book, I started coding little text adventure games, which got more complex as the years went on. Flash forward to my teenage years, and I’ve tried out every game creation tool there is. GameMaker, Scratch, Unity, Unreal… I got my hands on every tool I could possibly make games with, joining Game Jam after Game Jam and trying to improve my game dev skills.
But I knew from early on that pursuing game development as a career wasn’t the smartest option financially. So I started working as a normal developer and worked on less game dev stuff during my free time until I eventually stopped and just focused on the corporate world, which I was already great at. By now, I’m working in a good position at a company and also doing a bachelors degree on the side.
Then last year I stumbled upon the Playdate and something just kinda clicked. All that passion and joy from developing games came flowing back into me and I knew that I needed to make a game for this tiny yellow console. I first tested out the SDK by getting some simple 3d / pseudo 3d stuff running on there (with like 15fps).
After that, I joined PlayJam 2 by PossiblyAxolotl to create a finished game in a short timespan. That game was Rocky Stairs, and developing it was an absolute joy! I was fortunate enough to work together with 2 very talented artists, and we won 9th place, which was a pretty great start for getting back into game dev after some years!
Having just released my first micro playdate game, my next step was clear to me. I’ve done enough project management and gathered enough life experience to know that starting off making my dream life simulation RPG wouldn’t be a smart move. I want to do my eventual dream game justice. So for now it’ll start off creating smaller fleshed out games I can be proud of and slowly get into bigger and bigger projects, developing my skills and learning as I go.
Then the doggos came
In December, my friend Braillynn (writer of the blog 8bitservicegames.com and story writer for Dungeons and Doggos, go check her out!) introduced me to a lovely Game Boy game called Tobu Tobu Girl. I played through it and absolutely loved the concept, but disliked a lot of smaller aspects about the game, which made me wish for an improved version of the game.
That’s when I decided that my first project after Rocky Stairs would be a doodle jumpy platforming game improving on everything I disliked about Tobu Tobu Girl, while also putting my own spin on things. The first prototype for the creatively titled “jump game” was created over a weekend and was fun as heck. The game then was developed over the timespan of a bit more than 2 months. Here’s the visual evolution of the game over time:
Using the knowledge I gained from leading programming projects, I employed the 20 / 80 rule for this game. This rule states that any coding project is 80 percent done in 20 percent of the development time and to actually complete the project all the remaining 80 percent of the development time is needed. I gave myself 2 weeks to implement all basic features of the game, and then spent about 2 months improving upon the foundation.
The result is a simple to learn, fun and very polished game with a nice skill curve (according to the feedback from my play testers). But to truly judge the quality of the game, I’ll have to wait till release. One thing I’m certain about though is that I’m very proud of what I and everyone who helped me out here have achieved! This definitely wouldn’t have been possible without all the amazing people I was able to collaborate with for this game (Seriously, look at the credits. They’re huge!). Playtesting also helped a ton in improving this game!
We’re nearing the end of this post, so I’d like to give a huge shout out to everyone who let me use their characters as unlockable hats in this game. As well as Cabel for being the best unlockable hat in the game. (For all Panic employees wondering: Yes, you can pet him!)
Now it’s finally time for this game to get out there. It releases tomorrow and will be available under pizzafuel.itch.io/dungeons-and-doggos.
Thank you so much for listening! There are a lot of details I could still go into, but I think this is a good point to stop.
I don’t know how this game will perform and if people will even like it. But I’d absolutely love to keep on developing playdate games either way. I have been falling in love with the community and game dev all over again, and I am very excited about the future!
If you have any questions, then feel free to ask them below