New patch 0.8.4 coming today!

Just sent out this newsletter:

Dear Defender's Quest fans, 

An auto-update patch is coming later today!

We've tested this feature extensively prior to release, but never with so great an audience. There's always the chance something bad might happen so I want to alert you all in advance.

For instance, there's been some bugs with the auto-update feature where if there's a server timeout, the game hangs on the loading screen. This is FIXED in the upcoming patch, but obviously if our server goes down WHILE you're trying to GET the patch with the fix, you might experience this bug again. 

I think this bug happens only when the server is laggy, and I've tried a simple fix that seems to work on my machine - simply unplug your computer from the internet and run the game. It seems NO connection to the internet is different from a BAD connection to the server and gets you to the title screen with no trouble. The new version explicitly checks for BOTH error cases.

At any rate, this should all be unnecessary if all goes as planned. This first patch has a lot of quick bug fixes, so there's no major changes to content just yet. 

Fixes in version 0.8.4:

  • Fixed broken music tag in "All the Reinforcements We Need"
  • Fixed missing background in "An Even Greater Foe"
  • Fixed missing graphics for unique sword "Evni"
  • Fixed equip bug when getting "Glory of War" too early
  • Fixed triggers/dialog not showing on a critical battle
  • Fixed auto-update mechanism to skip forward after 5-second idle
  • Fixed healer priority logic:
    • HEAL means, "use a heal skill if anyone in range is wounded, even if I have a higher attack skill ready"
    • FIGHT means, "use an attack skill if enemies are in range, even if I have a higher heal skill ready and my friends are wounded."
    • BOTH means, "use the highest skill, regardless of its type."
    • This means FIGHT/BOTH will get the healer to use "ZEAL" even if no-one in range is wounded, so long as there's enemies to hit.
    • Default healer priority is now "BOTH" rather than "HEAL."
We've heard all your feedback about balance, classes, equipment, etc, and we'll be working on tweaks as necessary and another patch should be out soon, but not before we run a lot of numbers and make sure we're doing the right thing.

We'll also be trying to get a wiki and forum up on our website soon. We'll let you know as things develop.

Thanks for being a fan of Defender's Quest!

The Windows version will be up first, followed by the Linux version, and then the Mac version later tonight. All you have to do to get the update is start the game up sometime after the new files have hit the server.

NOTE: demo versions, both in-browser and downloadable, do not auto-update.

Thanks for everything! You have all been WONDERFUL, and as always, if there's any trouble, or you have feedback or bugs to report, send 'em all to

I'd also like to point out our new FAQ/Support pages in case you haven't seen them yet. If you have questions, go here first before e-mailing us:

-Lars Doucet
Level Up Labs


Hey everyone,

Some of you might have experienced a bug playing defender's quest where the game asked for a username or password when it tried to fetch updates, or the website was blocked asking for the same.

I accidentally clicked something on my web panel, and screwed things up for about 5 minutes. It should be fixed now. I am SO sorry for this inconvenience. For those of you just playing the game, even if the update server is unreachable (or if it insanely asks you for a password because I stupidly mis-clicked something and password protected the whole domain) the game should still run. If it doesn't, please let us know immediately at and we will fix it!

Defender's Quest Deployment Strategy

We just launched our new game, Defender's Quest: Valley of the Forgotten, for PC/Mac/Linux, a few days ago, and have been pretty surprised at our initial success.  Only time will tell if that trend continues, but for now we've seen both brisk sales and some great critical reviews.

Today I'd like to talk about the underlying deployment strategy behind Defender's Quest.

Hi, I'm a PC. (and a Mac, and a Linux...)

It seems all the cool kids are developing for iOS/Android these days.  They are much braver souls than I, and I wish them the best, for to me those markets look like bloody red oceans*.  

*We might expand into them eventually if we do well on PC, of course. Just, not a great place to start.

People often talk about how "big" the iOS market is (100 million! 200 million!), and that's true, but it's also highly competitive, the discovery problems are well-documented, and choices are limited.  In contrast, there's about a billion personal computers in use throughout the world, and though discovery is still a challenge, you have the open toolset of the PC at your disposal.  

Where is someone likely to hear about your game? On a website. More than likely on a PC*.  The next thing I want that person to do is play our free demo and fall in love with our game. Then I want them to buy it.  I don't want them to read an article and think, "I'll have to remember that game next time I'm on the train or sign onto XBOX Live."  No.  I want them to read the article, and if they like what they hear, try it, and buy it.**

I can't tell you how many interesting games I've come across that I wanted to buy but couldn't because they were only for iOS, or for XBLA, or whatever.  I don't own any iOS devices, nor an XBOX.  Plenty of people have these, but I'm also willing to bet those cool cats also have access to a PC.  

*It's true more people are browsing on smartphones/tablets, etc, so this might change in the future, but the majority are PC-bound for the time-being, and I don't see PC's becoming obsolete anytime soon.

**To sweeten the deal, I usually send out a coupon code to any and all reviewers to post for their readers that's for a $1 off until the end of the month.

It may not be the easiest platform to develop for, but it certainly is the easiest way to get a game in someone's hands. 

I remember the first XNA game I made many years ago. After fiddling with a friend's computer for half an hour getting it to install, the title screen finally appeared in all its glory.  I stood back and triumphantly proclaimed, "Ta Da!"..... and then sheepishly asked, "Ummm... have you got an XBOX 360 controller?"

From then on I decided I would make it as easy as possible for people to play my games, because I wanted as many people as possible to play them.  

This seems so obvious as to be a tautology, but it wasn't always so clear.

Try it, you'll like it!

That's the old grocery store saying, at least.  I'm pretty surprised at how difficult it is to play a demo for most commercial games these days.  For most PC downloadable titles, you have to download a giant file, remember where it went, install it, and then find the desktop icon and run the program. That's four steps, with two big wait periods, and that's if the installer doesn't require a reboot, online activation, or a bunch of other dependencies.  Steam does a better job, but even then you have to download something and check back later.

Even for facebook games, I have to remember my facebook password, log in, click on the thing, relinquish a chunk of my privacy, and then start playing. That's slightly easier, but given how much I hate facebook, I personally find it even more annoying.

It should not be this hard to play a demo. 

When you arrive at, right below the gameplay video is this:

This also happens to be on every page of the site, and is repeated at the bottom of longer pages.
Clicking on "TRY Free Demo" takes you here:

You're playing the demo! You don't have to download any files or install anything.  All you have to do is click once and you're there. One step, one short wait, and zero moments of "where-did-I-put-that-thing-ah-forget-it-who-cares!"  

I don't have a control setup to compare against, but I'm reasonably sure this has drastically improved our bounce rate. Our goal is to get as many people as possible to play the demo, and the entire page is designed to make that as easy as possible.

To that end, some people actually do prefer a downloadable installer, so they can get the full desktop experience with native fullscreen resolution switching, etc. For these folks, these links are just below the browser demo, as both torrents and direct links:

A Generous Demo

Once we get people to play the demo, we have to deliver the goods, and the manner in which we present the demo is just as important as the game's quality.

People have been commenting that our demo is quite long by most standards, about 1-2 hours. There's no time limit, and it includes the first 2 of 7 total acts, or about 20% of the total game (the later acts are longer).

One of the major reasons for not buying a game is not knowing what you're getting, and is a commonly cited reason for pirating a game*.  A generously long demo is our way of making it clear to players exactly what kind of experience they can expect.  Many developers are wary of giving long demos, fearing players will figure they've gotten enough milk for free, so why buy the cow?

*Not sure if that's just a rationalization, but making the demo easier to find and play then a pirated copy is a first step in testing that hypothesis.

Since we're a Tower Defense / RPG hybrid, there's several reasons to buy - first, the player wants to know what happens next in the story, second, we've given the player a tiny taste of the mechanics while suggesting that there's plenty more to come, and third, the player can see that they've only scratched the surface of filling out their party's roster and skill trees, knowing that things will get good in the next five acts.

Another reason for an easily playable demo is to let parents determine if the game is safe for their kids*. We provide a prominent "is it safe for my kids" link with a detailed content rundown, and along with a browser-based demo, there should be plenty of information to make a judgment. 

*I'm pretty surprised that more games don't offer something like this - the ESRB ratings don't really tell you much by themselves.  I mean, there's "Halo M", and "Gears of War M", after all.

Finally, we offer an option to export your save file from the demo, which you can import into the full version. We mention this prominently both in the demo itself as well as on the landing page to buy the game if you came from the link in the demo.  We want the player to know her time spent playing the demo wasn't wasted.

PC Goodness

This is a PC game.  To that end, we included a lot of little touches that take advantage of that specific platform and make it as enjoyable as possible.

1) Native full-screen resolution switching
2) Button that shows you where all your data files are stored
3) A ridiculously detailed options menu
4) All the configurable controls and hotkeys you can eat
5) A 100% tab-navigable interface on all screens
6) Accessibility options for the disabled, etc.
7) Experience multiplier to speed up/slow down the game's pace
8) Cutscenes you can skip, pause, and re-watch at any time
9) Turn dialogue and tutorials on/off
10) Layered challenges to make the game as hard/easy as you want
11) Play the game at any speed ranging from 1/4x to 4x
12) Make decisions even when the game is paused
13) Dead easy Import/Export of save files

So, those are some things we did with Defender's Quest.  There's buckets more I could write on this subject and probably will, but that's a good start for now.  Hope someone finds this useful!

Oh, by the way, you can try our free demo and buy the game right here:, and the coupon code GAMA is good for a $1 off* throughout the month of January :) 

*You have to input the coupon code AFTER you enter payment info, but before the sale is finalized. Yes, I know it's stupid, but that's how the store sets it up. 

Defender's Quest is RELEASED

You can buy defender's quest RIGHT NOW at:

We have a new demo version out too at:

Also, please note we're also selling the soundtrack for the game, for 99 cents when bundled with the game! This soundtrack was lovingly composed by our awesome musician, Kevin Penkin, and to reward him for his awesome work, we bumped his share up to 50% for soundtrack sales, so if you like the music, please support our musician :)

You can play the demo right in your browser, or download it via torrent or direct link, for Mac, Windows, and Linux!

The browser demo uses "flash cookies" to save your game, and these are notoriously flimsy. If any of you had old save files from the super old version from a million years ago, if you haven't exported them as .dfq files, they may very well be gone. Fear not, however! If you are without a save file, just send me an email with a basic description of where you were in the game and I will CREATE one for you. Also, the new version of the game lets you redesign/rename characters, so that should help too.

What are you waiting for? Get Defender's Quest NOW! :)

Also tell all your friends. That would be super cool.

I'm out of sentences to stick exclamation points at the end of. Or am I?!

Thanks for being awesome humans,
-Lars Doucet
Level Up Labs


It's inevitable that there might be some bumps as we do this launch thing. If and when something goes wrong, send us an email at and we'll handle it lickety-split! Or at least lickety. There's only three of us handling support, but we'll do the absolute best we can to give you a response and full resolution of your problem as quicky as we can!