Thursday, August 11, 2011


I think the time has come to accept donations. In the future, when I have a rich set of features, my own original and hopefully pretty graphics and a community interested in this game, I would like to release a retail version of the game. Probably on Steam. It is a nice and painless online platform. Maybe, a few months before that I can pull a "minecraft": sell the unfinished but fairly complete beta version at a big discount. Both scenarios are still far away, so I need a potential way to cover some costs and make it easier to invest into the game. I did invest some money in it, but I can't say it had a real budget before.

The first solution could be ads. But I hate ads! Are you with me on this one? Who here enjoys ads? If you do, tell me in the comments, but I suspect the number of genuinely positive attitudes toward ads is extremely low. I could add ads to the blog, post an ads post once a week, add ads to the game, etc. I do not want to do either of these. But since I hate ads and probably would get annoyed by my own ads, not to mention that it would be hypocritical in this situation to use them, I will do my best to avoid ads. I can't promise that 5 years from now I won't have a single ad, but when I will have to use them, I will do it sporadically and they won't be in you face. Plus, there are multiple consumer friendly tools to hide these ads from you, so it would be quite the inefficient method of gathering some funds.

The second solution would be donations. This is what I am going to try: pure optional donations. Before I do this, there a few things that must be explained. Even though the donations link will appear on this blog, you will not be donating to this blog. You will be donating to support the development of the game.

On the 3rd of September, I will be doing the official launching of DwarvesH, under the new name, on IndieDB. I probably won't be able to replace all the graphics by then, but after a few weeks from launch I would like to have a new original tile set, partially procedurally generated. Isometric engines are really a thing of the past. Today, even if the game looks isometric, it is probably still using 3D behind the scenes. I am working hard to create the best truly isometric engine, a swan song of the isometric engines if you will.

On 3rd of October, I would like to release the editor under a public beta. The official site, forum, mod repository and others are on their way.

So you see why I must provide some way to reduce the costs. I know that you can't make a lot of money from donations, and most of the costs will be covered from my pockets, but still.

I could ramble on forever on the subjects, but I think it will be a lot clearer to list a bullet point disclaimer:
  • Donations are for supporting the development of the game.
  • Donations are not for supporting this blog. This blog will go on for as long as I enjoy writing it and may or may not change content in the future, without donations having any effect on it.
  • Donating are purely optional and development is going to continue even if there isn't a single donation. I am not trying to do emotional blackmail here: "Donate now or this puppy will die!". On the other hand, anytime an expense comes up, donations can help a lot.
  • Because donations are optional and a way for you to support the development of the game, you are actually not buying any product or service. You are not entitled to anything legally. I had to add this here to avoid any legal issues when somebody misunderstands the donations concept and actually expects to receive a copy of the game.
  • Donating does not guarantee me finishing this project. I may abandon it, but consider this: I worked for a year on it and I enjoy what I am doing. Abandoning it is very very unlikely. If an event comes up that makes me abandon this project, this event would be of extreme magnitude and importance. I won't stop working out of some trivial reasons. Such and extreme circumstance that would make me abandon this project is stronger than any donations. Well, not any. Huge sums of money have been known to do a lot of incredible things :).
  • Donations are done though PayPal. My account is in Euros, because I am from Europe. Depending on you geographic location, there may be different conversion rates and PayPal taxes. Logging into your PayPal account may give you all this information and more.
I'll just add these few main points. I have a lot of smaller ones that I'll skip and I tried to avoid legal talk.

So if you like what I am doing, would like to support this project, have some spare money, agree with the above bullet points and don't mind that in the far future I will stop accepting donations and go retail (you can't really legally sell retail versions and accept donations at the same time), then please consider donating. Any amount helps!

Thank you!

PS: Please let me know if there is something wrong with the button!

Edit: button removed!


  1. Money thrown your way! Keep up the good work!

  2. In all honesty, (unobtrusive) ads on blogs never really bother me... I don't even see them, I have my own mental AdBlock ;p

    Anyway, I think you're pretty clear about your intentions, your needs and what this donation is about. Good luck with that, I'm eager to see the project evolve :)

  3. Thank you very much InfecteD! That was very generous on your behalf!

    I really need to figure out a way to reward people like you who go out of their way to support such fledgling projects! I do not know yet how. But if you are still around by the time I go retail, I'll do my best to hook you up with a free license. If Steam supports coupon codes, that should be as simple as me mailing you a code.

    Thank you again!

  4. Thank you yhancik! Your help is greatly appreciated!

    Great, now I have performance anxiety :). MUST... PROVIDE... QUALITY... GAME...

  5. Hope my 10 helps also a bit. Go on with this great work!

  6. Thank you Mokota! Any amount helps a lot! I will be posting details when I use these funds for something.

  7. First, I've been following your project with great interest, and I genuinely hope you will complete the game and it will be a huge success. The world needs an "accessible dwarf simulator" :) (Just try to avoid the temptation of making a DF clone, create your own world instead).

    Secondly, have you considered indie game funding? have helped similar games tremendously, and might be another option.

  8. I believe in this project and that you will be able to finish it. Money well spent. Probably not my last donation.

  9. What are the issues surrounding donations + 25% off the final product? Something like that would speed up donations I would imagine, but I know Paypal/Checkout can get touchy with that type of thing.

    I'd like to know since I'll be selling my own game within the year.

  10. I've sent along a donation as well. I've been enjoying the development and look forward to following the progress of the game, wherever that might lead.

    Keep up the good work, it's appreciated!

  11. What's your plans for the future of the game? I mean, do you plan to COPY the whole dwarf fortress game?

    How would you set yourself apart from Dwarf fortress' influence?

    You said earlier that you are unable to finish your projects, do you plan to work for years on this project as intended?

    Currently, despite I've read a big part of your wall of texts, some big questions are left unanswered, maybe you have no idea yourself?

    Not trying to troll or flame, those are just questions crossing my mind when reading your blog.

    Good luck for your project anyway.

  12. Wow, I really need to create a table and link your comment identities to you PayPal identities, otherwise I might get lost. Don't worry, the list will never leave my computer.

    To Sire:
    Thank you very much! I'll try to avoid making a DF clone, but more on this when I answer Max.

    I did consider Kickstarter, but for this to work one must post a project with a deadline and total sum of money. I do not have yet a singular goal at which I want to throw a large sum of money, rather a set of a lot of small expenses, so Kickstarter does not feel right at this stage. I did not know about

    To st4rdog:
    Now, each county has its own legislation, so please take everything I say with a grain of salt. The issue is your legal status. To accept donations you can be a regular individual, an IP holder or a regular individual licensed to provide services. Soon I hope to be a genuine IP holder. In these categories you have one set of taxes. To sell a retail product, you need a company with accounting and the whole nine yards. A separate kind of taxes is applied for companies. So once you are a company, it is difficult to justify why you are still accepting donations for the product you are selling. As for donations that give a 25% percent discount, it can be difficult again because the legal entity that accepts donations is different than the legal entity that is doing the selling. Not impossible though, only complicated and you do need a legal adviser to make heads and tails of the whole convoluted mess.

    To Mochnant:
    Thank you! Your donation is appreciated and I hope that in a few weeks you all can see what your money was used for!

    To Max:
    Well, it depends on how you define influence and if you think it is a bad thing.

    DwarvesH is a squad based sandbox city builder and world simulator where the entire map is destructible and everything except for your starting gear is produced from natural resources in a multi tiered industry system. You play as the commander of a small team of dwarves, hobbits or mages (and the bonus non-cannon demons) and you goal is to survive while creating your little pocket of civilization, while under constant attack and facing the destructive forces of nature. The game has some elements of exploration, tactics and turn based strategy.

    Does that sound like Dwarf Fortress to you? If it doesn't, I am doing something wrong. While I do not want to directly clone DF, I want a gameplay that DF players find enjoyable, so I must strike the right balance of familiarity and new features.

    If you write only the name of each feature on a piece of paper, you will probably say the two games are very similar. If you look at the implementation and details of said ideas, you may get a different opinion. Plus, my game tries to be placed at the epicenter of the great war between insanely deep and complex gameplay and a very intuitive interface.

    With this blog the cards are on the table, as they say. The entire development is documented here, so you can roughly tell how similar or not everything is to DF. Here's what I suggest: wait until I finish version 0.1, read about the final set of features in that version and the features planned for 0.2 and you be the judge of the clone or not clone issue.

    I never said that I am unable to finish the project. I said that I could be unable due to unforeseen circumstances and donations do not change the fact that I can not offer any guarantees. If I could offer a guarantee then you would know for sure that the game will get finished.

    You said that you have a lot of unanswered big questions! Well, go right ahead. I'm sure I can answer a few.

  13. Grim Dawn has a donation level that allows people to be listed in the credits of the game when it releases. I guess that's an option if you want.

  14. To Andir:
    Thanks for the suggestion! I was thinking more about some tangible rewards, like getting to name a visually unique design for an object, a signed digital book version of the blog, free game licenses or other such things. But I guess some people would enjoy to have their name somewhere.

  15. What I say, is that you are trying to copy DF features, which is probably the most complex game ever created.
    It is not only about gameplay, it's really about emergent storytelling, which is probably the biggest feature of DF (and the most appealing).

    What you're trying to achieve is huge, and having both games being developped apart is kind of surprising. Ultimately, developping an engine for Dwarf fortress would be the best idea ever, as tarn Adams is not willing (giving a shit) to please the people asking for a better interface. But I guess that it's not what you're aiming for.

    Let's meet again in 5 years when you got something competitive :)

  16. Greetings! I haven't commented before, but I've been checking the blog on-and-off since the beginning. I honestly have to wonder if this project will ever achieve Dwarf Fortress' level of procedurally-generated complexity, but if there's even a chance of marrying DF's depth with a friendly interface, it's worth a donation. Anyway small donation made, and I'd just like to say, keep up the good work and good luck.

  17. I would like to argue with what Max has said about Dwarf Fortress being probably the most complex game ever made and being really about emergent gameplay.

    The emergent gameplay is not that complex to produce. ie The text messages printed by the game while it is played. A similar system is used in Linley's Dungeon Crawl so I doubt it is that tricky to implement. Both games achieve storytelling by increasing the difficulty so nearly all games will end in defeat and there are tons of ways to lose.

    Also I am going to emphasize the real complexity from dwarf fortress comes from its interface with multiple systems to perform similar actions.

    Like selecting ground. With Designation for mining, gathering etc and then you have Stockpiling for warehousing. And then placing Zones for water sources, fishing and garbage. Even the process of creating Rooms for dwarfs is different than the other ground selecting methods. All of these actions could be rolled into a mouse drag option followed by pushing the appropriate buttons. Maybe starting off with selecting a dwarf.

    I like the complexity and control dwarf fortress offers but a true mouse based interface like the creator has going here will only make the game better as long the game's difficulty is kept the same.

    Anyway great work so far, I'm glad to see someone is pursuing this.

  18. Hi Austinvn,

    Thank you for your donation which is by no means small!

    I would like to argue that most of the complexity that the player experiences in DF is not really that much tied to the parts that are procedural. Reacting to random events is a big part, so is the huge generated world, but the bulk of the time you will be using the static world interaction tools. So the complexity is there but not that procedural. Procedural complexity would be if every new map had procedural building blocks, maybe even random skills and actions to cope with these building blocks.

  19. Ah, allow me to disagree, then. By the way when I say "procedurally-generated" I'm thinking "content generated algorithmically rather than manually" (definition stolen from Wikipedia, as good a source as any). From that perspective, think of everything in DF that one can classify as 'procedural': all map elements from vegetation to minerals to wildlife to terrain, all dwarven personality and physical traits, all dwarven skills (except those of the starting 7), any action a non-dwarf takes (and even many actions your own dwarves take, how often do they do exactly what you intend?), any random event such as moods, and even the results of combat can be considered 'procedural' in that the game calculates them with little player input (in fortress mode, anyway, obviously adventuring is different).

    All these features the player has limited or no control over, the game generates them for you - one can perhaps influence some of them, but for the most part you just adapt to them as they happen. I'd argue that these same features are what gives DF it's famous story-generating capabilities; if it was a sandbox with consistent, predictable outcomes that the player was entirely in control of, rather than full of procedurally generated semi-random content, the stories we're all familiar with never would have arisen - all we'd do is build megaprojects. So to me, procedurally-generated content as described here is what makes DF the unique game it is, it's what makes the game complex and unpredictable. It is this quality of DF that I hope your project is able to capture (clearly you're already on the right track as far as welcoming graphics and hassle-free interface, the things that DF lacks). Good luck!