The Birthday Dungeon - released early access

The Past

A year ago I decided to make my friend a video game for their birthday. I hoped to create something extremely approachable (the game-play amounts to selecting items in menus) that would nonetheless present the player with difficult choices. The content would intermingle video game tropes, the trappings of weird fiction, and homages to my friend. (The watermelon and crab conspiracy plotlines are inspired by him.)

I built The Birthday Dungeon in Twine because I only had a few months to put the game, and so wanted to make developing the game as straightforward as possible. This was probably a mistake. Twine is perfect for creating interactive fiction where plotlines branch and converge:

The Birthday Dungeon quickly transmogrified into a non-linear roguelike - not at all the kind of game Twine is designed for. The original iteration of the game looked something like this:

By the end of March I had finished the game and gifted it to its intended recipient. Development should have ended then. It didn't, for three reasons:

  1. Unexpectedly, I genuinely enjoyed play-testing the game; it often generated decisions I found difficult to make despite having developed the game myself.
  2. I noticed that people playing the game often adopt very different strategies to the ones I typically used. My game had more depth than I realised.
  3. I enjoyed building the dungeon more than I expected, and wasn't ready to finish yet.

The Birthday Dungeon became a low-key obsession, always somewhere at the back of my mind (and frequently at the forefront). Over time it grew into the ungainly text-based dungeon-beast it is today.

The Future

I'm going to keep expanding the dungeon and renovating existing content. But though plenty of additions lie ahead, The Birthday Dungeon is substantially complete as is. Although the dungeon may not be entirely free of bugs, to the best of these knowledge none of these bugs are particularly vicious or game-breaking.

You can view the trailer here and buy the game here. You should almost definitely do so.

Changenotes (0.8.1)

  • Added a new location and story arc: The Acolytes of Sidequestia
  • Added the Blessing of Explosiveness 
  • Added the option of actually closing the game without pulling up task manager
  • Changed the way rooms are selected to increase the odds of encountering rooms you haven't seen for a while
  • Some new and reworked artwork
  • Runners are now less effective when running normally (but equally effective when sprinting)
  • You can now see how much dynamite you have left after using some
  • Minor balancing tweaks, improvements to written expression
  • The word dungeon now appears in red

Files 155 MB
Dec 18, 2017

Get The Birthday Dungeon

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