Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dungeon Raid (two)

I'm still totally enjoing my time with Dungeon Raid (iOS and Android), and John Harwood is now hooked on it as well. His e-mail:
Yet again, I must point out a simple but unavoidable fact: You suck. Dungeon Raid has moved from something I play occasionally while waiting to a primary form of entertainment. Once again, my wife is "very appreciative" of your suggestions, and I presume she's completely sincere the eye rolling while she said that was just due to cedar itchiness or such.

Oddly enough, I think you did the game a disservice in your writeup and actually undersold it. It's really quite brilliant, compelling, and addictive, and for me is the current ultimate extension of the match 3 quick-play genre (I don't consider Puzzle Quest to be quick-play). It's compelling for one simple reason: Choices. You're making choices on nearly every single match. I think it's a testament to the design that, while making a 25-chain match and clearing the board may be awesome, it's frequently not your best move at that time. Do I take out 3 skulls, knowing that the other 2 are going to smack me, or should I instead do a small shield pickup to repair armor and avoid damage? Or should I do a potion grab first? It's also frequently not the best move to match everything. Sure, if I match a god-awful-large number of shields, I'll get upgrade bonus for that, but would I be better served matching just a chunk of them and save some of them later for repair?

By removing any pretense to storyline or questing (although I do appreciate his humor in the intros), he keeps it firmly in the Bejewelled realm of pickup & play where high scores are your mark of accomplishment. This is serious one-more-turn area and I often find it hard to figure out where to stop for the moment. Oooh, I'll kill those guys, then I'll stop. Oooh, a great shield match! Oooh, wait, have to kill those new guys. Okay, I'll stop when I hit my next upgrade. Well, I'm also close to levelling now....

I think eventually the design is probably subject to exploit, and I'm already finding some strategies that are starting to reduce the challenge, but that's after 40+ hours tossed into it. Even with all that time though, I've only begun to scratch the surface of his other brilliant carrot-on-a-stick: Character unlocks and levelling. Oh my but that is indeed a cruel but lovely thing to add in.... Speaking of, I must go see if I can get lvl 7 on the barbarian "real quick"....

What he said.

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