Red Button Bulletin 8: Release Schedule

To those who know me personally, much of the following information is review. For those who don't, hopefully this will explain quite a bit.

Hello - I'm Daniel Frandsen, the President / Founder / Lead Programmer for Red Button Games. Usually when I speak as the company, I use generic pronouns like "we," but since this post is more personal I'll be talking as myself.

The Past

Mage Tower has had a sporatic update cycle. I apologize upfront about not communicating what was going on, especially when it's part of my responsibility to keep company followers up-to-date. When Mage Tower began development (May 2012), I jumped in as a full-time developer. I planned on slowly ramping up other involvement through a part-time developer and artist, making a monthly update cycle reasonable. Since then, the other involved parties dropped off (through no one's fault), and I was contacted with a once-in-a-lifetime job opportunity (August 2012). The interview process took a while, but I ended up accepting an offer (November 2012) shortly before launching Mage Tower on Desura (December 2012) and another update (January 2012).

Throughout the next 7 months, I moved across the country, sold my house, started a new job, and got married. My update schedule for Mage Tower dropped from then full-time to now just a sliver of the time I wanted to commit to it. Communication dissipated, and I became somewhat nervous to check Desura to see what new dissenting comment I would see. Finally, a new update released (August 2013), and I was happy to see people still interested and to see people who seemed to understand (on some level) what I might be going through.

The Future

Now that things are more settled, I have a bit more time to work on updates. However, I'm not going to depend on my time for the release schedule as much as I can help it. To help with that, I'll be working on making updates even smaller, making them more feasible to be on a regular schedule. Second, I'm hoping to bring on more people who would be interested in the project. I'm a bit...picky about who I work with, but it's become clear that giving more of my own time wouldn't make a reliable schedule.

I hope that helps explain my perspective and why things might be moving slower than you'd like. Trust me, I want to play the "full" game of Mage Tower just as much as you - it's just going to take a bit of time. :)


Mage Tower 0.1.4 "Wandering Monster" update released!



Click below to buy Mage Tower!

Desura Digital Distribution

This update brings in strange new creatures towards the tower - monsters and other races that have come to investigate the grand tower you’ve been building. NPCs will cautiously observe, or at least until you dignify their presence with a fireball or a conversation.

Be careful though - they hold grudges, too! If you kill an orc, the next orc to visit will likely hunt down your mages. Talk to them sweetly, and they’ll make polite conversation.

Many new systems have been added to support this interaction, but aside from wandering monsters, there’s an improved notification system, some UI revision, and plenty of bug fixes.

Same as the previous release, Mage Tower is available on Desura. The demo is fully featured, aside from being unable to load previously-saved levels. If pre-ordered on Desura, saved levels can be reloaded and will have access to all future updates for Mage Tower, at a discounted price.


0.1.4 Changes


  • Gameplay: Added wandering, attacking, and friendly behaviors for NPCs
  • Gameplay: Added talking behavior for mages
  • Gameplay: Added fireball and lightning spells
  • Gameplay: Added reactions to events for mages and NPCS
  • Gameplay: Added floating mages on 3rd level of Prestidigitation
  • UI: Added floor change button
  • UI: Added faction and NPC detail windows
  • UI: Added notification grouping
  • UI: Added notification jump-to-target
  • UI: Added attack notification
  • UI: Fixed various UI bugs
  • UI: Resized buttons to a reasonable size
  • UI: Added flow layout support
  • System: Added faction opinion changes based on interaction
  • System: Added target tracking for mages and NPCs
  • System: Added ability to damage mages and NPCs
  • System: Added effects that damage an area
  • System: Added unlockable action support
  • Backend: Fixed multiple save bugs
  • Backend: Added Linux support


Now that, go download or play the demo, and make sure to give us feedback! The game is available below through Desura.



Red Button Bulletin 7: Mage Tower Q&A

It's been a while, but the bulletin has returned with a very specific purpose. Since Mage Tower has been available on Desura, we've gotten a lot of questions about Mage Tower and its development. At first, we responded to each individual question, but today we've consolidated these questions into one article (since many of the questions have a similar theme. The full text of each question can be seen at the bottom. Here we go! 

Q: Where is the community? (from elunir)

A: We're a small team (more on this later), which means we wear a lot of hats, and every minute of time we have is precious. We've been debating about what the best avenue is to build the community. A forum is ideal, but requires a bit of overhead - even if that overhead is just checking and responding to the forum daily. We'll probably get there eventually, but we're not sure if it makes sense for our small team, or to have the more "traditional" conversation through comments and news posts.


Q: Why is the development so slow? I want this game!! (from Kindlesmith, leandro213, ds39uuca, UndefinedM)

A: Our team is currently one programmer and one artist. The programmer is working full time, but the artist is working on assets in his spare time. Even with this small team, we've made some decisions to get features built faster, such as buying in-game assets rather than producing them ourselves. These assets are intended to be replaced eventually, but until we reach that point, we have placeholder assets that don't look horrible.

We plan to bring on more team members, but we want to make sure those team members are the right fit. We don't have any substantial capital for hiring, which means until our income becomes stable, we're looking for people who are both skilled and will work for experience or for equity in the company. That combination of requirements makes potential team members a rare commodity.


Q: How will Mage Tower differentiate itself from Dwarf Fortress, Towns, Gnomoria, A Game of Dwarves, etc? (from Janppa, stuntaneous, yhann, and many others)

A: Before I dive into the meat of the question, I want to mention our development process. Rather than having a specific vision for what we're building say, 4 months from now, we focus on the next patch, the next feature, the next update, and build pieces at a time. This helps us in many ways, like preventing crunch time, reacting to gamer's opinions, and being very agile in our strategy. In the software development world, this philosophy is called Agile software development. So, although I have some ideas about what Mage Tower will become, I'm not so attached to any one idea that I can't cut it.

However, I understand that as a player, you want to know what this game will become! Aside from what it already represents (a cleaner, more modern interface for DF-style games), the biggest thing we're shooting for is a larger world view. At its heart, Mage Tower is still a management game, and management games are usually rooted at a specific place, with specific boundaries. Although we're not planning to allow complete freedom on where to build, we're hoping to build a world that can continually expand as you explore. You might find a town 10 minutes walking east of your tower, conquer it, and build another tower as an outpost in its place. You might later find a competing tower of mages further off in the distance, and begin to plan how to defend or overthrow them. Basically, we're hoping to build a larger world to give context to each tower, but restrict certain interactions to only happen in certain areas (such as building and combat). It's a sneaky way to avoid some technical complications with allowing building anywhere, while still expanding the world.

The next biggest differentiator is factions in the world. In many games in the DF-style, you can gain favor or make enemies with different factions, but you don't always see these factions outside of your base. Since the world is explorable and expands, you'll have exact context of where factions are, where they might be expanding, and make decisions around those factions. Looking at the town-conquering example above, you may have conquered the town before realizing that further east of the town lies a castle, which sent in knights to reclaim the town after your actions. Since you choose how to interact with these factions, you can befriend or anger these factions as you see fit. You can ally yourself with the villagers to ward off the dragon, or team up with the dragon to burn the landscape.

The last differentiator I'll mention is the theme. Although many DF games have some level of magic involved, the focus in Mage Tower is to build the mechanics directly off of "knowledge" and magic. As mages gain levels in different knowledge, new activities become available, and in some cases, new features appear in the game. In addition to magic, the work ethic of mages (compared to dwarves) is pretty...lazy. Why lift a finger if you can just make something float? Those theme decisions are driving a lot of our design decisions, which should create a different "feel" to the game than normal.

I'm sure we'll touch on this topic in the future as we build more of the game, but hopefully that gives you a better idea for what our roadmap is.


Q: Why don't you just ask to use the "Game of Dwarves" engine? / Don't use that engine, it's not that good! (from: mjgajda / neronix17 )

A: Game of Dwarves was announced around the same time we finished the prototype for Mage Tower. We were watching it closely and nervously as it was released, knowing that if it was successful, it would cut into our niche. Unfortunately for players (and fortunately for us), it looks like Game of Dwarves could use some improvements. From my brief experience with it, it seemed like the team was very comfortable with 2D, but it didn't transition well into 3D.

Our prototype, however, focused on the interface first, knowing that the interface was critical to how the game would feel. This is probably partially responsible for why there aren't as many features in the game - we focused a lot of energy towards polishing the user experience. We looked at Game of Dwarves and realized "we don't want to make their mistake" and are taking much care to tweak the interface to an optimal level.

Also, Paradox is awesome, and I hope that Game of Dwarves doesn't make them shy away from the genre, since they seem like a great fit for that type of game.


Q: Is there a Linux version coming? (from: d10sfan [twice!] and sheldonh)

A: The first time this question was asked, Unity 4 was just released, and we hadn't upgraded yet. Now that 0.1.3 is out and we've upgraded to Unity 4, we really don't have any obstacles left. However, the release of 0.1.3 was already dragging enough, so we decided to release 0.1.3 without Linux, test the Linux version, and release that with the next Mage Tower update. Linux was the primary reason for updating to Unity 4 so soon, so it'll be in the next patch/update.


Thanks for all your questions! If you have any more questions, please use our feedback form or comment on Mage Tower on Desura. If you haven't already, follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on our latest news.

You can also buy or download the demo of Mage Tower on Desura:

Desura Digital Distribution


Full questions (taken from Desura):


  • elunir: You should really talk more to the Community when upddates etc. will come out. In the moment it looks like there is NO talking to the Community. Especially i couldnt find a forum to inform myself. Many other Indiedevelopers inform a lot more about their games.
Slow Development
  • Kindlesmith: gah, all this waiting for people to make their games at a near complete stage is taking forever XD I'm keeping tabs on over 20 different games, bored as all heck. It really isn't fair when games in development sound better than what is already released. Hurry up would ya! XD ;) My life span isn't long enough to try out everything!
  • leandro213: This would need to be 75% off before I would even consider it.
  • ds39uuca: i as many I hope track this. It sounds interesting, but not paying for till its a bit better. Keep up the work, and one day, mayve when its playable and good, you will get customers. OOOOh that was mean, sry
  • UndefinedM: after trying the demo i can say there is potential, but we'll have to wait a long time before it'll be really playable..and 6 and an half € is really too much for what the game offers at this stage (ie, next to nothing)
DF differentiator
  • Janppa: The game sounds really interesting and I can see a lot of potential in it! I'm just wondering what are some of the key features when the game is finished. What makes it different from Dwarf Fortress and Towns and all those other games like this? But yeah, definitely tracking this. I'll see what the next few patches brings us before deciding if I should buy this.
  • stuntaneous: The aesthetic alludes to potential. What are you aiming to make of the game? How will it differentiate itself from Dwarf Fortress?
  • yhann: I love what i have played so far. But need a lot of work to become truely interesting, i give it a 10/10 for the idea , i will change in final version depending of the upcoming features.
  • There are also gnomoria and Towns on desura, maybe you should go in a different way of those because of that you cannot do everything as DF, too complexe I think, you may choose your path, to say. Good luck RBG guys !
Game of Dwarves
  • mjgajda: Why don't you try to contact Paradox whether you can reuse engine of their "A Game of Dwarves"? Then you could concentrate on making the gameplay content, and engine improvements instead of engine.
  • neronix17: That engine was terrible and so was the game, I generally like games from Paradox but that one was like it was in a box for 10 years after they developed it before releasing it. This game on the other hand already looks and feels better than A Game of Dwarves.
  • d10sfan: with upgrading to unity 4, are you going to be releasing linux builds?
  • sheldonh: WIll you be leveraging Unity's Linux support for release to that platform?
  • d10sfan: looking promising by the way, you planning on a linux version of the game?



Mage Tower Alpha 0.1.3 "Sleepy Time" update released!

Mage Tower Alpha 0.1.3 Released! 


Click below to buy Mage Tower! 

 Desura Digital Distribution

This update adds a few new systems, providing more ways to interact with the world. Time now passes, giving a day/night cycle to the mage's world. Mages get tired the longer they study and work without resting, and they can build beds to rest in. Now that night can fall, mages need to build torches to see what they're doing, and their studying speed will slow in darkness.

Same as the previous release, Mage Tower is available on Desura. The demo is fully featured, aside from being unable to load previously-saved levels. If pre-ordered on Desura, saved levels can be reloaded and will have access to all future updates for Mage Tower, at a discounted price.


0.1.3 Changes


  • Building: Added beds (to regenerate fatigue)
  • Building: Added torches (to generate light)
  • System: Added notification system
  • System: Added fatigue for mages
  • System: Light now helps mages study better
  • System: Added a day/night cycle
  • Backend: Upgraded to Unity 4


On that note, go download or play the demo, and make sure to give us feedback! The game is available below through Desura.


Mage Tower Alpha 0.1.2 released, available on Desura!

Mage Tower, Now Available on Desura! 

 Desura Digital Distribution

The biggest changes in this version are the additions of studying and desks. Mages will now spend their free time studying, which improves their knowledge. When tasks need to be done, they'll leave their desk and return when finished (if there are enough desks to go around, of course).

This release also marks the availability of Mage Tower on Desura. Loading saved games has now been disabled disabled in the demo, but it is available in the pre-order version from Desura. This means you can play the demo, and if you enjoy it, save your level, buy the game, and reload it later. Otherwise, the demo has all the features of the full game.

If you like the game, please support us by pre-ordering. You can buy it now at a much lower price than during its final release, and it helps us accellerate our development.


0.1.2 Changes

  • Building: Prevent building on higher floors
  • Building: Added furniture
  • Building: Added cancelling
  • Building: Can now build next to floors
  • Display: Fixed zoom on high levels
  • UI: Revised mage management screen
  • UI: Added individual mage screen
  • UI: Allowed management of mage's roles
  • UI: Added tooltips
  • System: Added studying, idle tasks for mages
  • System: Mages now increase their knowledge
  • Backend: Changed file structure to greatly compress file
  • Demo: Can now save, but not load
  • Bugfix: Cancelling out of mage manager doesn't crash game
  • Bugfix: Out of bounds handled
  • Bugfix: Various visibility issues resolved
  • Bugfix: Allow building on lower floors
  • Bugfix: Handles large amount of blocks placed at once
  • Bugfix: Many loading issues resolved

On that note, go download or play the demo, and make sure to give us feedback! The game is available below through Desura.

Desura Digital Distribution