Archive for the 'Dev Diary' Category

On release dates, features and other things
Friday, July 17th, 2009

Dear Friends,

As some of you have already noticed we have decided to publish the game later than the hoped-for July release, and will now release the game in the Fall. After some serious thought we decided this was the best course of action due to a number of factors, all to do with providing an extra high quality experience.
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New Dyson Version out now!
Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

dyson screenshot


Alex, Brian and myself have been hard at work to finish a new version of Dyson for the Independent Games Festival (IGF), and we are very pleased with the huge amount of progress we made. It is chockablock full of new content and improvements so we decided this is a good time to release it into the wild :D The game is still a work in progress, but there is much to enjoy nonetheless:


  • Pods

    The game now allows you to plant defensive trees which grow explosive pods. These pods launch themselves at enemy seedlings when they get too near and can be a formidable weapon.

  • Sphere of influence

    The camera is now limited to those parts of the galaxy that you have discovered. This goes hand in hand with a limit on sending your seedlings, which is now no longer unrestrained.


The game now features a more sophisticated help screen that really does a much better job of explaining how the game works, yet isn’t obtrusive at all.


Dyson will consist of many levels, and here are five examples that show different aspects for gameplay. Most of the content is still procedural, so there is still huge scope for replayability. The levels will eventually be part of a much bigger campaign and will be very diverse in content.


We have improved the UI specifically for this build, more and better information is presented to the player, but the UI will eventually be replaced with a system more appropriate to the visuals and style of the game.

Music and Sound

Brian (Milieu) has given us two new tracks from a bigger suite of music being written uniquely for Dyson! How cool is that? The two tracks now play after the known initial track. I personally love the new stuff to bits. He has also done a bunch of new sounds for us and the game really benefits from it.


The code improvements are too numerous to all be mentioned but some major ones deserve a shout.

  • Installer

    We now have a nifty “proper” game installer, which extracts and installs the game in a Dyson directory without any fuss.

  • Linux version

    Thanks to KareemK and d0k, we now have a linux version. It is available from the download page.

  • Fullscreen

    The game can now be played fullscreen, which is a very nice experience. Trust me!

  • Scripting/levels support

    YES! This means we can now start adding tons of content to make use of all the game’s little features and mechanics. (Which we will be doing from now on)

  • Options menu

    The options menu now allows a number of thing to be toggled on and off.

  • Bugfixes

    Many bugs have been found and squashed, the game is getting quite slick. :D

Future improvements

We have some major additional improvements and features planned, for example there will be more to do ingame while playing the levels, or as I mentioned earlier the UI overhaul. Keep an eye on this site as we wil be blogging about these things in the future. :D

We hope you enjoy this new build, and we are keeping our fingers crossed for Dyson at the indie games festival!

As always we love hearing from you guys/gals so don’t be shy with any feedback!

Greetings from Rudolf and Alex.


Dyson Developer Diary – Design Edition # 1
Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Freeman Dyson

To add some interest to the site I decided to start blogging the development of Dyson a bit, mostly from a design point of view. Hopefully it if of interest to you guys/gals to read some of the ideas and motivations behind the game, it certainly explains much of the content. Some of the following is a bit dry but let me start at the beginning and in following diaries I will sex it up a bit :-)

First and foremost, the title. I have always had a certain fascination for the concept of mechanical self-replication. (Can a machine build a copy of itself and keep on propagating and evolving itself into future versions?) The concept has fascinated me since I read a scifi story about a society stuck in an endless warfare loop because the war machines were always able to create seeds of themselves that would grown and evolve into a new generation of war machines. (I forgot the name and author of the story. Anyone?)

My interest was further fuelled by the work of the famous mathematician John Von Neumann. early work on cellular automata and the implications, which are quite startling:

“Von Neumann also created the field of cellular automata without the aid of computers, constructing the first self-replicating automata with pencil and graph paper. The concept of a universal constructor was fleshed out in his posthumous work Theory of Self Reproducing Automata. Von Neumann proved that the most effective way of performing large-scale mining operations such as mining an entire moon or asteroid belt would be by using self-replicating machines, taking advantage of their exponential growth.”

Self-replicating Machine

Von Neumann’s work was theoretical; he never built self-replicating machines (although Lionel and Roger Penrose later captured the principles of this in simple mechanical models made of plywood). Nonetheless it conjures up fantastical images of mining robots eating up asteroids like swarms of mechanical locusts or robot factories terraforming entire worlds and creating space ships to take themselves to new ones like some kind of interstellar virus. The idea really speaks to people, and has been picked up by many scientists as well. Not the least of which being Freeman Dyson.

Freeman Dyson (what a name) is one of the most important thinkers of the last 100 years or so (in my opinion) who has also done some great writing and philosophising on space exploration and similar geeky goodness. There are too many great things to have sprung from his mind to mention but I am especially enamoured by concepts like the Dyson Sphere, the Dyson Tree and specifically the Astrochicken. (yes that is the real name)

Now if we combine this idea of space exploration by the astrochicken with the self-replicating mechanical principles of John Von Neumann and we arrive at some very gamy principles indeed. So when the Tigsource website announced they were launching a competition challenging developers to create a procedural game all this clicked into space. Alex was already hard at work on procedural towns for Deadrock and I already had quite advanced ideas for a game based on mining an asteroid belt with self-replicating machines.


Throw all these concepts together and mix in procedural generation and you have a near perfect set of game mechanics for this concept. (Well that is what we thought anyway)

What we ended up with is slightly different from the original plan. For one it isn’t finished yet, there are some major ideas still to be implemented, but some things have just changed. For example the seedlings were supposed to live IN the asteroids, and mine them for pockets of resources. Hence the tree roots snaking around the asteroids. In stead we have inverted them ending up with this: :-)

Le Petit Prince

The next instalment I will go into more detail on the gameplay design, but to do so I had to get the background out of the way first.