Please leave a vote for DASH as Indie of the Year above ;D !
It took a while but once we were done with developing the level website and alpha game demo itself it all came clear to me: DASH is not just a game but a social platform. A place for retro platformer fans, speedrunners and level makers to meet and engage! This way of looking at DASH has given a new path to follow and the project is much more interesting with this definition. For several months I have felt that a "2D precision platformer, where you compete in user-generated worlds" is just too boring and not unique at all. DASH is so much more than that and it has been proved throughout the alpha development on our Discord server as well as other social media.
In this article I will break down the approach of creating such a thing and how the new year will offer more stuff and features!
I have been in the realm of the Level Creator genre for a while now investigating, looking at others' designs and games while making sure DASH is 100% unique in every way. I can't find any platformer game which provides players with a full social platform and level and world editor, besides Super Mario Maker, but in that game there are so many demanded features which has never been integrated due to Nintendo not developing in a social manner. Also, when players engage in SMM they have to use emulation and external tools to do so. I want to provide the player with everything she/he needs in the platform itself! Please comment and discuss if you have something to enlighten me with regarding this subject!
The Aspect of a Social Platformer:
There has always been a social aspect in DASH. Since it is a creative game it also needs to connect users. The fun is to see others either play your creations or to be the best at beating others' levels. We experienced the magic of this quite early in the process and realized that is was very important to be able to sift and sort through potentially thousands of user levels. It wasn't enough with just a game application - we would need a proper website to both host unique users' individual data but also an interactive place to rate and sort your own levels and worlds of levels. In other words, back in spring 2018, I had no idea of the amount of work it would take to make a truly solid and social platformer.
Having to both invent a website, design the infrastructure and its mechanics as well as a really solid, good and still unique 2D platformer. This was a bit of a challenge but together with web dev Leary and game tester, speedrunner and level maker Concerned we managed to have a fully functional system and game at the end of November 2018. We are currently taking some weeks off to prepare for 2019 but you are welcome to join the Discord server in order to receive a free alpha key for trying out the demo build.
(Being in both the game as well as the website (DASH World))
DASH World and How To Connect Players:
Eventually we will have a custom space for players to chat and share experiences. Right now we are using a Discord server to host all the users and to create forums for discussion and bug-reports. The server works perfectly fine for that but the social forum should be more about the world of the user and not necessarily about the game's development. We already have a prototype up and running (Dashworld.babyduka.com) where all users who are running the game can sort and create lists of levels (Worlds) to share with others in order to create a line of levels and not only individual experiences. With this tool you can create lots of levels, put them in a chronological order and then offer them as a World to other users, simply by sharing a link. This is working super well and it gives a lot of incentive to really make a line of levels with proper design, structure and story.
It can be hard as a solo-dev to find time to also market the game when developing all these aspects. That's why I'm taking some time now to get into it here - to reflect and learn more about this way of seeing the project, as I am writing. I have had several meet ups with people where we have discussed DASH and its potential but sometimes with games things just come when they come. And now it's more clear than it was just a month ago: DASH is so much more than a 2D platformer where you can make some levels. It is a social platform where competitive and creative players merge their gaming talents as an entire world is being built from the ground - entirely by users.
What Is the Essence of A Social and Creative Application?
Creativity is more fun when co-creating and this is exactly what we will be tapping into with DASH: Danger Action Speed Heroes. The competitive element is designed in the game to be rewarding and every time you set a World Record that run is saved as a replay on the server so that other runners can admire your skills as long as you keep the record. This among several other design features make up the social aspect of this production.
Now the job is to make the website even more fun, social, individualized and solid as well as putting in the design in the game to prolonge playability and feel rewarded when creating work which others use.
Currently both the game and website is in alpha and it will only be up until sometime in Q1 2019 where the Early Access launch. By then we will introduce new and exciting features.
Please leave a vote above the article (big button saying VOTE) to help make this cool production Indie Of The Year 2018.
Thanks for reading and hope to see you around! Remember to visit the Discord server if you wish to try out the alpha demo which already includes all necessary features to compete and share!
- Jake aka Baby Duka