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Tinkerhouse Games Interview Over Dwarven Delve Name Change After Delve Deeper Confusion

Dwarven-Delve
Developer Tinkerhouse Games announced this week that it would change the name from its action puzzle game Dwarven Delve, after issues with another company.

They had recently hit a bump when a similar sounding game called Delve Deeper from Lunar Giant Games came onto their radar.

The two titles not only sound a bit similar, but due to its theme, they also had some rather similar appearances, on first look. Mechanically, the two games are more distant, but due to aesthetic crossover, developer Lunar Giant felt it would confuse their audience and asked for a name change.

We caught up with Tinkerhouse Games on the events of talks with another studio and the eventual adaptations. Mark Jessup from the Dwarven Delve game mentioned this to us, through mail:

Mark: We decided to change the name once we understood how concerned Lunar Giant was about the naming similarity. We realized it wasn’t in anyone’s best interest to have a public squabble and so we reached out to them and let them know we would be changing the name after our Kicstarter wraps up. We’re hoping to have names for our backers to vote on next week as our campaign winds down. We think it would be a nice way to end. (Unless the Kick is unsuccessful, in which case it would be a sad, Pyrrhic end. But what the hey.)

The comment references an earlier argument that went down on Indiegames.com, where both companies were featured in their own article, with Lunar Giant reacting to Tinkerhouse’s original post.

During their first talks, the Dwarven Delve people had responded to the comments from Lunar Giant by offering a cooperation between the two, to promote each other’s titles. It’s something the Delve Deeper developer didn’t take to heart.  Mark continued to say:

Mark: The only other thing I would add is that we really didn’t mean to offer offense to Lunar Giant with our suggestion to cross-promote with them.

We get that there are different corners of gamer culture and not everyone views things the same way, and we respect that. But to be clear, in our little corner of developer culture, people generally view an offer to cross-promote as an opportunity more than an insult.

We belong to a game studio incubator in Seattle where all the shops help each other, our current Kickstarter has updates dedicated to shout outs for other Kicks—even dwarven ones—and that was what we were offering Lunar Giant. At least, that was our intention in offering to cross-promote with them.

We weren’t asking them to simply promote us, as some commenters suggested at the end of the Indie Games feature. That really would be disrespectful to them and we’re very sorry if that’s what they thought we were doing.

Dwarven-Delve

Mark continued to give further motivations towards their original proposal, which included keeping the Dwarven Delve name as is:

Mark: We were asking them if they wanted to work together to help each other. Whether or not you think that was a good plan, we were acting in accordance with our philosophy that indies can do more to help each other than simply staying out of each other’s ways. Again, you don’t have to agree with our reasoning, but please believe we weren’t crass opportunists going in for the kill.

We have contacts, a player base, and people in the industry that we believe could also help Lunar Giant promote their games by expanding their network. Especially Delve Deeper.

Furthermore, Mark believes that the feared brand confusion could’ve been addressed properly, within their suggested bounds, before the option to change the name came to pass:

Mark: Our game is a single player, action dungeon crawler. Theirs is a turn-based, multiplayer game. Do you feel like playing Tetris or Blokus? Both great games. Both very different play experiences and easy to contrast and promote together.

By comparing and contrasting our differences through cross-promotional activities, we would have directly addressed the branding issue head on. I used to work at Wizards of the Coast as a marketing director, and trust me, that does actually work. It often *expands* the audiences of both properties. If you like this…you will like this, too! And so forth.

Delve Deeper

Despite these benevolent intentions, a first round of talks came to a standstill after both companies had given their suggestions and not continued upon them, in the end.

Eventually, the ongoing issues lead them to contact each other once more, to settle the matter with Dwarven Delve receiving a name change, after its Kickstarter project ends.

Mark: Once we read their reaction in the follow-up piece to our interview and understood that Lunar Giant had left our previous conversation unhappy with our suggestion, we discussed what we should do. In retrospect, posting a reaction in the comments section was probably not a wise move, as it only served to inflame the issue further. I will admit, we felt a little hard done by reading of their unhappiness on Indie Games for the first time and I made an emotional decision.

Since then, Jay (from Lunar Giant) and Lane (from Tinkerhouse) have communicated and we understand that Jay didn’t know how to proceed with the suggestion and I guess didn’t feel like we were willing to budge.

In any case, the issue is resolved and I believe it’s fair to say we would all like to put it behind us and move on. No harm, no foul, as I believe Jay said himself. We will not sell our game with the name Dwarven Delve and we’re satisfied with Lunar Giant’s explanation as to why communication went silent for a while on their end.

And that’s all we have to say about that. Now if you will excuse me, I have a Kickstarter to attend to which is hovering at 50% with only 9 days left. (And if we don’t make it, we’re in very dire straits. Wouldn’t it be ironic if this entire interlude was ultimately moot?)

Jay Margalus, developer from Lunar Giant Studios had this to say in reply:

Jay: I think the name change will generate a lot of interesting press for the game and its Kickstarter, and would be happy to help promote and encourage it when the time comes. We sincerely wish Tinkerhouse the best of luck on their Kickstarter, and with this matter behind us both companies can get back to what we really do: make games.

Dwarves

This isn’t the first name change to occur in recent times. Indie developer Vlambeer eventually had to change the name for its game, originally called Wasteland Kings, to an alternative title of Nuclear Throne. The Wasteland Kings prototype is still available through Vlambeer’s website.

Name change or not, Dwarven Delve is still up on Kickstarter, where it seeks $30K in crowd funds. It describes itself as “Diablo meets Pipe Mania.”

Click through to their Kickstarter page, where you can find a free playable demo for its Alpha build. Donations are still possible for about a week.