Donations in Shattered Pixel Dungeon

6 minute read

Hey guys,

Since I started making Shattered Pixel Dungeon my intention has always been for it to be as true to the original game as possible, that includes the moral standards on which PD was developed. Part of that is being as open and honest as possible when it comes to potentially controversial changes, which is why I’m talking to you guys about this right now. I have been in contact with Watabou, who has given approval, and I am happy to announce that Shattered Pixel Dungeon will soon allow users to donate to support development!

I am making such a big deal out of this as donations in Shattered are going to work a little differently than in the original. I feel that with a few tweaks, donations can be more beneficial both to the developers and the players.

Shattered Pixel Dungeon is going to feature a few tiers of donation and donations benefits. This will allow players to choose how much they want to support the game, and help players feel rewarded for contributing.

No, don’t worry, I’m not going evil on you here, while obviously yes, making money is nice, my priority will ALWAYS be to preserve the integrity of the game. With that in mind, donation benefits are planned to be fun little extras, small cosmetic features that nobody will miss, but can add a bit of enjoyment for those who want to donate. The donation system will absolutely never offer superior ingame graphics, game impacting features, or utility features which should be in the core game. The game will always be 100% free.

Here is the nitty gritty, my current plan for donation tiers and their associated benefits:

Note that this is a work in progress and therefore not final.

Tier 1 - $5.00 USD Tier 2 - $10.00 USD Tier 3 - $20.00 USD
Silver top-right icon Golden top-right icon Shiny Emerald icon
Named Hero Item Renamer Golden UI trim
Tombstone TBA All of T2
Eternal Thanks All of T1 All of T1

Icon Colors:

At the top right of your game window, the little button/icon will be a different colour and slightly flashier.

Named Hero:

At the beginning of a game (before you start), you have the option of assigning your character a name. NPC’s will call you by name, though some things (like ranking pages) will still feature your class prominently.

Tombstone:

When you run across heroes remains, instead of just bones there will be a special tombstone with a custom epitaph based on your hero. Epitaph includes hero’s name, class and observations about the run and death.

Eternal thanks:

A thank-you will be featured in the credits

Item Renamer:

Gives players the ability to rename equippable items that do not stack, names are stored with the item and will transfer like any other item property. Who needs a grim glaive when you can have a reaper’s harvester?

TBA:

I want to put another feature here but haven’t thought of it yet. Feel free to suggest something if you have an idea.

Golden UI Trim:

All parts of the UI (where appropriate) will be tinted golden, instead of the usual grey.


With all of this said the floor now falls to you guys. While I do really want to put these features in, I value your perspective immensely and will be happy to address any issues you raise. Doing something like this is really exciting for me but I want to make absolute sure the community is happy about it too.

Also, here’s a little pre-emptive FAQ, to answer some questions I anticipate, this is a pretty big read so feel free to skim or skip:

What is your agreement with Watabou?:

I’ll quote myself from the email I sent him: “As a way of recognizing your efforts in creating such a wonderful game and making it open source, I would like to offer you a portion of any revenue I make from these donations. I would like to offer you 30% of all revenue after fees, this would include all versions of Shattered PD hosted on any platform, currently or in the future.” this means, that 30% of the money that would go to me will go to Watabou instead. Every donation supports the developers of both versions.

What if I want to upgrade a donation?:

Any amount you donate is good toward all tiers. E.g. If you put in $5 to get tier 1, tier 2 and 3 will both become $5 cheaper.

Why do you want to add donation benefits?:

All right so firstly let’s deal with the elephant in the room here. Yes, giving a direct reward will increase donation counts, which means that both myself and Watabou will make more money. Additionally though, I do honestly feel that adding in these benefits improves donating for everyone: Those who choose to donate will be rewarded with some nice extras which cosmetically improve the game for them, and remind them how awesome they are =) . Crucially, those who choose not to donate miss out on nothing substantial! All of these effects are mild cosmetic benefits, so players who play for free miss out on no content, and no graphical improvements or awesome effects.

Will you add more donation benefits in the future?:

If I come up with more good ides then sure, but there is always potential for too much of a good thing. While I am not against adding more features, they must fit the same criteria as the current ones, and not make the donation system too feature rich. After all, you shouldn’t feel compelled to donate.

What will you do with donation money?:

Donation money is important to me for three reasons:

  • Firstly, the obvious, it allows me to shove food in my face and buy shiny gadgets, that’s a given.
  • Secondly, it allows me to invest money back into the game, more music and some nice splash art anyone?
  • Lastly, my long-term dream is to make games for a living, and to do that I need my games to make me money!

Are the donation benefits features you were going to add for free?:

Absolutely not, for either thematic or pragmatic reasons (e.g. who built your grave? how does Tengu know your name? Why would I spend time making an item re-namer when I could make more items?) these are not things I would consider adding to the base game, but they serve very nicely as small add-on benefits for those who want them. If I wanted to add them for free, it would be because they improve the game in some none-trivial way, in which case it would be wrong to make people donate to get them.

Why would I donate more than $5?:

Because you want to support the game with that much. The system is not designed to harshly upsell you, and from looking at the grid it should be obvious that the bulk of benefits are focused toward the lower tiers, specifically so you don’t feel compelled to plonk down $20 unless you actually want to spend that much to support the game.

What if I want to donate more?:

After donating $20 there will be an option to donate more, which will refer you to a paypal account. For obvious reasons I cannot offer any ingame rewards for donating more, though I will write you a sappy thank you email ;).

Does this have any source-code implications?:

Yes, as these features will be tied to proprietary payment APIs, I am not legally able to distribute them. The full source, minus these bonus features and the donate button, will still be available as normal.

Updated: