Desktop Dungeons (part 2)

I’m drunk, so forgive me.

Desktop Dungeons is one of the finest games I’ve played. Half RPG, half puzzler, half time sink, and half click-shit-and-it-will-die Diablo-a-like, the game is two halves too clever for it’s own good. And trust me, this is a good thing. I’ve been playing computer and video games (God bless Jaz Rignall) for over half my life now, and it takes a lot for me to pay attention to a shitty looking 2D game where you click shit until it dies. Also, I never liked either Diablo game.

But enough about me, I’m typing now about my 11 year old semi-step-nipper. I installed Desktop Dungeons on her laptop, and suggested she give it a go. Considering most (if not all) her formative “I get why games are ace now!” experiences were based on recommendations from either me or her proper dad, when I get a bit ranty about a game, she tends to listen. This time, I used the briefest description I could (“It’s an RPG, but it’s also puzzley, and you click shit until it dies”; I said something along them lines to her), loaded the game, and let her play for herself.

I got the usual questions – “where’s my health? Why can’t I kill him? What does this brown chest do? What does this grey chest do? Why did he kill me?” I answered where I could, and let her figure some of the other stuff out. When I finally gave in and told her how there’s a cheat built into the game that you can use at any time, the game clicked for her; she got it. She got the meaning behind it. “Think about it, play with it, experiment with it, and then beat it”.

Being an 11 year old semi-step-nipper, her attention eventually went elsewhere. It happens. These days, between Steam, the App Store, torrents and her proper Dad, she’s always got a billion things on the go at once. Back in my day, we were lucky if a Speccy tape loaded in 15 minutes. Bah humbug etc. Nah, these days, kids can choose to play what they like when they like.

What made me proud though, was that she liked it, and then she understood that the rules of the game were clever, and that she could exploit them if she knew how, and she then played it with the sole intention of “cheating” (as in, doing what the game lets you do if you are as clever as the game is). All I did was tell her how to use the LEMMISI spell to her advantage, and it lit a spark in her head, and she spent the rest of her time with the game trying to work out how to use the other spells cleverly. She thought about the rules of the game that she knew about, and wondered if there was another way around them along the lines of the exploit I’d shown her. I hadn’t told her a God mode code, or anything like that. For anyone here who has played an Unreal Tournament game, I’d told her the equivalent of “get a shock rifle, use the alt fire to shoot the slow moving big ball of death near someone, then shoot it with the normal fire button”. It’s not a cheat, it’s been hardcoded into the game on purpose. It makes sense within the setting and the established rules. And it works.

I’ve played a fuckload of Dekstop Dungeons, and I’ve yet to find an exploit along the lines as the LEMMISI one. But that doesn’t mean one isn’t out there. I’m sure there is at least one just as good in the game. And I know my semi-step-nipper thinks so too, and I hope she finds one before me. That would be fucking awesome. GO GIRL!

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