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Dungeon World Five Years In

Posted in Games, Dungeon World

It’s my five year wedding anniversary, which means its also the five year anniversary of Dungeon World’s Kickstarter closing. (Yeah, the Kickstarter campaign finished during my wedding, somewhere around the end of the ceremony and start of the reception. How’s that for timing?) Seems like a time to reflect.

Overall, wow. We’re five years in, about to do our 7th print run, and we’re still the #19 top selling game on DriveThru. It’s kind of trivial to say it succeeded beyond my wildest dreams because it had succeeded beyond my wildest dreams when the Kickstarter funded in the time it took me to drive to work. But here we are five years later and it’s been a wild wonderful ride.

The game has held up as well as I could have hoped. Sure, with five years to listen, play, and learn, there are some things I’d revisit. But the changes I’d do feel more like upgrades than bug fixes. There’s nothing wrong with the game as it stands, but I think with what we know Adam and I could make classes, bonds, monsters, and some other things even better.

That may be the part I’m the most proud of. When I look at most things I made five years ago, like code, I can see pretty clear deficencies. But Dungeon World hasn’t aged like that for me. I haven’t found anything I regret or that I think we got wrong. If we ever revisit Dungeon World it won’t be to patch problems, it will be to share new ideas.

But that leads to the part I am the least happy with: we signed up for future work in the Kickstarter, and some of that is still outstanding. At least its down to one piece, a supplement titled Inglorious, but that’s still something that bothers me. Part of the problem is how my life has shifted in those five years: a new job that I find far more engaging, buying a house, the birth of our kid. My portions of Dungeon World were often written in free time during the day while at the office, but time like that has dried up. But the larger issue may be that my approach to game design is so much tinkering. I have found occasional time to work on a few projects, but have to remind myself the importance of finishing things that were promised ahead of things that have my attention.

Ultimately this is a failure I can live with. We will deliver Inglorious, it’ll be good, and then I’ll let my design time wander. Delivering on the Half Life 3 timescale is not ideal, but it was a stretch goal among many we already delivered. Bottom line: don’t promise future work in a Kickstarter. If I ever go back to KS I won’t be offering any stretch goals that I haven’t already done my part of.

So, five years. Work still to do, but an experience that’s changed me and a game that still makes me grin every time I play. Thanks for coming along.

Sage LaTorra is a game designer and engineering manager at Google. You may know him from Dungeon World.

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