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[Article] Tower Design in Tower Defense Games (and Game Design in General)


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#1 ZDG_Anthony   Members   -  Reputation: 140

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 10:33 AM

Hello everyone,
 
I'm Anthony, and I'm super excited to post my second article here to GameDev.net. I am the lead dev for a game called Artifex Dei. I have been working on writing bi-weekly articles about some of the materials and experiences I came across while designing and coding this game.
 
This second article talks about a few gripes I have with Tower Defense games, where some of their pitfalls lie, and how they can be greatly improved. Most of the topics I touch upon in this article can also be applied to game design in general, since many of the same principles still apply.
 
You can read the article here: http://www.artifexdei.com/tower_design.html
 
Let me know what you think!
 
About Artifex -
Artifex Dei is a new concept; an open-world tower defense RPG. The player must balance their time between exploring dungeons and gearing up, and building additional towers to bolster their city defenses. Along the way, new abilities are unlocked, and new biomes are discovered. Poke around the website and check it out!
 
We have a short description of the game posted in our About Section,
as well as several screenshots in our Media Gallery
 
 
Keep yourself updated from our twitter account @artifexdei, and stay tuned for the next article, about creating In-Game Cutscenes.
 
Thanks everybody!



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#2 Paprik   Members   -  Reputation: 169

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 06:37 PM

Interesting article. You bring up some very valid points.

 

However, the beginning of the second chapter is a bit weird. " In my opinion, this is a terrible mechanic for tower defense games. " I don't even know what that's referring to. Also, I'm not a fan of the font choice. It might be suitable for headings, but it makes the text a bit unreadable. And lastly, what would be nice is more examples of ways to be innovative - basically describing key concepts used in other tower defense games that make them stand out and what they have in common.

 

Anyway, good job and good luck with your game!



#3 ZDG_Anthony   Members   -  Reputation: 140

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 07:33 PM

Interesting article. You bring up some very valid points.

 

However, the beginning of the second chapter is a bit weird. " In my opinion, this is a terrible mechanic for tower defense games. " I don't even know what that's referring to. Also, I'm not a fan of the font choice. It might be suitable for headings, but it makes the text a bit unreadable. And lastly, what would be nice is more examples of ways to be innovative - basically describing key concepts used in other tower defense games that make them stand out and what they have in common.

 

Anyway, good job and good luck with your game!

 

Apparently, I haphazardly missed an entire paragraph when I coped it over into HTML.

 

Here is the missing entry:

 

One of these issues is known as planned obsoletion. You can see this mechanic in so many games,
where something that a player acquires early on is later directly replaced by a better version of
that item.

 

In my opinion, this is a terrible mechanic for tower defense games.

 

 

Thank you for the feedback, I will make some adjustments to the site's appearance.



#4 VengeanceDemon   Members   -  Reputation: 153

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 10:29 AM

One important element you overlooked are archetypal path structures.  The Loop, the Corner, Return Paths.  Without interesting levels, tower defense gets boring fast.

 

Another overlooked element is varied progressions.  Too many TD levels are over just as you are starting to establish a good set up, and you don't get a chance to properly enjoy it.  You need clear short term progression goals, mid term goals, and long term goals.  Short term, you have your levels, mid term you have your skill upgrades.

 

For long term progression, I'm keeping the layouts of completed levels, and epic bosses will work their way backwards through all the levels you've already completed, against all the defences you've already put up.



#5 ZDG_Anthony   Members   -  Reputation: 140

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 02:26 PM

One important element you overlooked are archetypal path structures.  The Loop, the Corner, Return Paths.  Without interesting levels, tower defense gets boring fast.

 

Another overlooked element is varied progressions.  Too many TD levels are over just as you are starting to establish a good set up, and you don't get a chance to properly enjoy it.  You need clear short term progression goals, mid term goals, and long term goals.  Short term, you have your levels, mid term you have your skill upgrades.

 

For long term progression, I'm keeping the layouts of completed levels, and epic bosses will work their way backwards through all the levels you've already completed, against all the defences you've already put up.

 

Excellent points.

 

As far as your progression comment goes, the basis for my entire game comes from that argument. I probably should have brought that up, but my focus was on the towers themselves. Maybe a separate article for the remaining TD mechanics?



#6 VengeanceDemon   Members   -  Reputation: 153

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 08:31 PM

There's also where you challenge comes from.  SOme TDs have reflexive gameplay where the player is hardpressed to maintain their towers.  Personally I prefer strict management TDs with time to consider your options.  The worst are the one where you can't look at anything while the game is paused.

 

You should probably decide on a theme early on too, as that will impact design decisions.






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