DLS v0.14 and future plans

NOTE: This is a repost from the DLS blog

TL;DR: New version is out; further development is paused for now (only bug fixes and small improvements); making games is hard and it's really easy to loose focus if you don't have a plan :)

Two days ago I uploaded v0.14 of DLS on itch.io and GameJolt. This will probably be the last update for a long time, at least in its current form. The reason for this is because I need to figure out where I'm going to take DLS from here.

Before writing anything else, I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to download and play with it, especially those who submitted feedback and those who spent their money on it.

My initial goal was to write a simple logic simulator and then build some kind of game around it (preferably interesting and fun :)). Unfortunately, I didn't have a concrete plan on the game part from the beginning, so I ended up focusing on the simulator most of the time. The end result is a simulator capable enough to simulate a real CPU, although it's microcoded (i.e. most of the instruction decoding is implemented using ROMs instead of logic gates) and the simulation speed isn't really great (only 1.3ms/sec with a 20MHz clock). By the way, I was planning on writing at least one blog post on it but I haven't found the time yet.

As you probably know, DLS already includes some puzzles for you to solve. The problem with those (as I see it) is that they are either too simple or too complicated. Taking into account the fact that there's no physical, real world, meaning to the objectives of each level, makes them even more complex. I.e. there's a sequential level which requires the player to build a 4-bit Serial-in/Parallel-out circuit. In my opinion, it would be more interesting if the output of the circuit was some kind of ASCII message reconstruction shown on an LCD display. The objective of the puzzle would stay (more or less) the same, but the output would have been a bit more interesting.

It's things like that that really bother me with the current state of the game and I need some time to think about them and decide how to move forward. As far as I can tell, there are 3 different ways to go.

  1. Abandon the game idea completely and focus on the sandbox/simulator.
  2. Keep the same kinds of puzzles and try to make them better and more interesting.
  3. Create a completely different kind of game which will use the simulator as the primary way of achieving certain goals.

Ultimately, I'd like to build no. 3 but I don't know where to begin and what the bigger picture will be.

No. 1 isn't much of an option because (as I've written in a previous post) I'm not qualified enough to build a better logic simulator. There are many different kinds of logic simulators out there which do things faster and better than DLS. If I decide to take this route there are a lot of things to change and add, and the final product will probably won't have many things in common with the current version.

No. 2 seems like the best option right now, because I already have the base for it. But in its current state it's missing the "interesting and fun" part I mentioned earlier.

Having said the above, I will continue working on it in my spare time. I'll be fixing bugs and trying to make the UI more functional and easier to use. And more importantly, I'll continue to take notes based on your feedback, hoping that it'll push me to the right direction :)

Thanks for reading!

PS. Here's a list of games to keep you busy in the meantime (WARNING: I have no connection with those games or their developers and I haven't played most of them)

  1. Robot Odyssey
  3. Hardware Engineering
  4. Bomb Squad Academy
  5. LogicBots
  7. TIS-100


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Take your time! Really digging what you've got so far. :-)