Dungeons of Dredmor gets a female player character

I played quite a bit of indie roguelike, Dungeons of Dredmor, when it first came out in July. I enjoyed the game, but it annoyed me that I only had the option of playing a male hero. Eventually, I tire of the game and stop playing it.

Fast forward several months, and I’ve just recently picked the game up again. Now, when I play it, I’m faced with this:

"Also Choose Your Hero" -- Dungeons of Dredmor character select allows for a choice between a white man and a white woman

"Also Choose Your Hero" -- Dungeons of Dredmor character select allows for a choice between a white man and a white woman

Hurrah! And what isn’t immediately obvious from the character select screen is that the female player character is done right. She isn’t just there for the male gaze, and has armour that is actually armour an not lingerie pretending to be armour, for instance.

Of course, this still isn’t perfect. It would have been even better if this had been in the game from the start, and it’s still the case that you only have the choice of playing a white hero. I don’t think things have to be perfect, though, for us to acknowledge change for the better. So good job, Gaslamp Games, and thank you. Now can we have some characters who aren’t white as well, please?

I find it gratifying that this is now the sort of thing that more game devs are willing to take seriously. That this sort of thing happens is indicative of the progress that we are making. It’s slow progress, for sure, but it is there.

About rho

Scientist, woman, lesbian, transsexual, gamer, geek, feminist, liberal, rationalist, and various other labels. Gamer since the days of the ZX81. Feminist since the time I realised that the label was not synonymous with transphobe. I keep a sporadically-updated personal blog about whatever's on my mind at the time.
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18 Responses to Dungeons of Dredmor gets a female player character

  1. gunthera1 says:

    I got this game during the Steam sale recently. I had no idea that it originally did not have a female character. I am so glad they went back and corrected that mistake!

    • Ike says:

      Same here. I’ve been switching between playing the male character and the female character and giving them ridiculous names like “Ulfric the Odd”.

  2. wererogue says:

    I was super-pleased when this went in a few weeks ago, and it gave me the impetus to pick up the game in a humble indie bundle. I need to spend more time with it.

    I agree that change for the better is worth celebrating; in fact, I’d go so far as to say that problems at launch shouldn’t be marks against a game’s current state – yes, it would have been better, but it doesn’t prevent it from being perfect now. The other issue that you raised does, however.

    It’s more than enough for me if, when a developer learns that their game has problems, they fix them. In that spirit, I add my voice to your call for more playable races.

    • rho says:

      Thinking about it, I agree with you. Nobody is perfect, and nobody should be judged on whether they make mistakes or get things wrong (we all do) but on how they then react and fix them.

    • Maverynthia says:

      The problem comes in when they make a “Dungeons of Dredmore 2″ and start off with ONLY the white male hero.

      • rho says:

        This problem does not currently exist. While it potentially may exist in the future, it also may not. I can’t help but feel that we have enough problems to be dealing with without inventing more for ourselves.

  3. Samanth0r says:

    Dredmor is an awesome game, and if you note on the developers blog, he wanted to have a female character in the game from the beginning, shortly after 1.0 was released he lost his job and could no longer afford to continue development or hire an artist to do it. So he was relegated to low level bug fixes he could do in his spare time. Which was a bit sad, however due to it being on Humble Bundle, he made enough money to finish everything. Yay!

  4. Deviija says:

    Oh! This is very good news. I, too, was really disappointed that I could not be female in DoD. But now that I can be, I am very keen on picking it up again. Great job on you, developers! Thank you.

  5. As an occasional lurker here: thanks for the kind words!

    To be totally honest, the absence of a female character in the game has bugged me for years. Dredmor has always been done on a shoestring; we realized that it would be a good thing fairly early on, but we just didn’t have the budget to get the female character animated and in the game until after we shipped and had enough revenue coming in to add her (and a new artist to replace the original character animator, who is now drawing Sexy Elves for Blizzard.) It was our first priority as soon we got Chris Triolo on board, and he did a fabulous job.

    We did explicitly set out to do the design “right”, and were firm on this from the get-go. No impractical armor, no 5-inch heels, no chain mail bikinis and no impossible anatomy. I am pleased that we succeeded. My personal canon has always been that the two player characters are siblings… which makes some of the fanart that much more disturbing.

    We’ve had a lot of people e-mail us thanking us, which has been very interesting; not only have we had a number of female gamers come out of the woodwork, but we’ve also received e-mail from a number of guys who have made statements along the lines of “thanks for adding the female hero, now my girlfriend/sister/wife/daughter is now happily addicted to Dredmor too.” There are very few options for women/female-identified people who want to play in video games as their gender of choice, and this is definitely something we’re continuing to work on as a company.

    It’s good to know we’re doing something right. :)

    — Nicholas @ Gaslamp

    • Damn; Nicholas got here before me. Go figure.

      Basically what he said.

      I’ll add that I’m very pleased to have a part in pushing female visual representation in video games in a more reasonable direction, at least a little bit, and shall hope to keep doing so in the future as best I can.

      – David @ Gaslamp Games

      • Cuppycake says:

        After seeing your responses here, I promptly bought the game on Steam. Thank you so much for stopping by and telling us your story, and for having a commitment to all of your demographic and not just the male ones. :)

      • Gunthera1 says:

        Thank you to both of you (and the company)! I greatly appreciate that you added a female character option in the game but I am even more happy to hear that it was a deliberate decision that she was not reduced to high heels & bikini plate mail. Thank you!!

    • Korva says:

      You know what? I’m gonna buy this game just for your determination to make a proper female character, not a wankfodder-thing. Two thumbs up, and two big toes as well.

      As an old ADOMite (played that pretty obsessively years back), I’m more into the serious side of roguelikes and have a thing for the good old ASCII graphics to boot, but I figure that at under five Euros and with many favorable opinions, I can’t really go wrong with this.

      • rho says:

        Off-topic for this post, but I can’t resist.

        Have you seen that Thomas Biskup is actually working on the ADOM sequel, finally? It’s all pretty exciting to me as an old-time ADOM player. (http://www.ancientdomainsofmystery.com/)

        • Korva says:

          A fellow fan! Wicked. :) And yes I know about JADE; it looked like the site/project was pretty much dead for years given Thomas’ situation, but I’m glad things are moving again. Haven’t had the focus or time to try it out yet, though.

          … damn now I want to play ADoM again, too!

    • rho says:

      Thanks for speaking up. It’s always nice to know that their are game devs who are listening to us and trying to get things right. I know that this sort of thing isn’t always easy as indie devs working on a shoestring, so I appreciate it even more for that (I was actually going to go into a tangent about just that in my post, but I am a lazy person so I decided against it). It’s also great to know that you’ve picked up a lot of positive feedback on this. It sometimes feels as if we’re shouting into a void with what we do here, so it’s really gratifying to know there are others out there with similar views.

      Thanks again, and I’m glad you’ve picked up at least a couple of extra sales from this post. You’ve made a great game, and you deserve it.

      PS I like your personal canon of the two characters as siblings. Eyebrows that big have surely got to be genetic, right?

  6. Grigory says:

    I got it in the humble bundle as well… It’s great, but still a lot to learn from NetHack. In NetHack, you can be transgender :-) and not only human. Now, I understand how much work it is for an indie company and a game w/ graphics, not ASCII. OK, fine, only humans.

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