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Creating a full game based around a tower-defense-esque concept

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I've been thinking a bit lately about a design for a game which is based around the user-created tower-defense maps from Warcraft III (I'm told they started in Starcraft but I never played it much seeing as I was 8 when it came out). This wouldn't be just a tower defense game, that's just the basic concept that it's based around, and the easiest way to describe it. I'm aware that there have been games made that are only tower defense games, mostly flash games, and really only things that you would play for an hour or two (tops) and not touch again. I've been thinking about ways to flesh out such a concept into a fully fledged game. I already have a few ideas, like a more complicated resource system, rather than just earning currency for each kill. I'm also planning on making it fully 3d instead of 3D graphics with a restricted camera or a simple over-head view. The player will be controlling a main character who is able to do more than just build towers. They'll gain abilities as the game progresses as well. I have some other things floating around in my head to make it more interesting, but I'm wondering what people would want in this sort of game that would make them keep playing it. I'm also wary of simply adding everything that seems like a good idea, otherwise I might end up doing an OK job of a bunch of things, without having anything that stands out as being really well done. cheers, metal

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Mmm, tower defense. I was thinking of a mini-tower defense where you put various towers on asteroids and combat incoming pirates. It's on the back burner for now and is only meant as a kind of engine test, though.

The idea of having a leveling-up character sounds good to me (because I am a sucker for RPGs). Be careful that he doesn't become too strong and takes out all incoming waves by himself, though. I'm not too sure about resources - I find tower defense generally hard enough even with just worrying about cash, but maybe that's just me. What I think is most important about tower defense is a nice balance so that you are neither overwhelmed before you are ready nor sit around on your ass with nothing to do and heaps of gold. I've seen both types, sadly enough.

If you want to make it more long-term as a game, how about expanding the concept to something like town defense, base defense, or castle defense. You might have more strategic possibilities there, from various buildings to new units to fighting in the streets.

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Don't under estimate the addictiveness of a good arcade game. Simple but elegantly addictive will win you an audience that plays for hours at a time. I can definitely see tower defense in that category. I think what it needs more than added complexity it needs to be perfectly balanced from the start to the finish. When I use to play it, I noticed that most variations were such that they had easy sections at times but mostly it was either really easy or really hard depending on how you built up. You need to find ways to balance the difficulty against the situation so as to constantly challenge the player.

BTW, the variation is starcraft was such that you built units and put them along side the path to shoot. It was usually not effective to move them during a wave, but they could normally be moved afterward to fix problems or allow room for other units.

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I've considered making the same type of game. Here are a few of the concepts I had on the top of my list. Maybe they'll give you some ideas:

- Modular tower construction. The tower is constructed similar to Lego design. Just about anything can go anywhere, within reason. Five laser cannons on the left, double-layered armor sheeting on the back center, etc.

- Module instances are purchased or constructed with resource assets. Each individual laser cannon costs 98 credits. Each layer of trinium armor costs 57 credits. Etc.

- Upgradeable modules. Research, upgrade, or purchase with assets. These should probably be long term goals, which will keep players interested as individual scenarios pass by.

- Enemy ships/vehicle parts as resources and research plunder. Rather than be able to research out of nowhere, the player can be required to capture live enemies, or obtain undamaged enemy ship modules to begin researching specific defenses. And rather than tedious mineral collecting for assets, the enemy vehicle fragments could be used as resources. Destroying the enemy in skillful ways would preserve the most valuable parts of their vehicles. Or just simply taking out as many as possible would provide more collectible fragments.

If you haven't already played it, you should try the Stronghold series. It pretty well established the medieval version of this concept.

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As much fun as tower defence games are, it's hard to find ones that aren't simply about strategic placement of towers.

I'd much rather a tower defence game in which you invade the towers, throw the people out and take over the defensive position first, then defend against the enemy horde. It'd make a good use of a full 3d engine and allow for a unit macro system for you to pull along smaller variants of the tower technology as you build newer ones.

As for the customisable towers and upgradeable parts, I think the towers should only be effective as the parts you pick up on the level.

So that it's more balanced.

Being able to sit there and upgrade defence all day then build a wall of short range mini-nukes doesn't sound like defence, more like phalanxial (I made it up) brute force.
It's a strategy, but it's also a lame way for people to farm for parts to keep upgrading their impenetrable wall of towers.

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Quote:
Original post by Cpt Mothballs
As much fun as tower defence games are, it's hard to find ones that aren't simply about strategic placement of towers.

I'd much rather a tower defense game in which you invade the towers, throw the people out and take over the defensive position first, then defend against the enemy horde. It'd make a good use of a full 3d engine and allow for a unit macro system for you to pull along smaller variants of the tower technology as you build newer ones.


While thats a good idea, its not "Tower Defense", its a game about invading towers and defending them. Tower Defense is about strategic placement and use of towers to completely obliterate an army that passes by them. There are deviations from that but yours is pretty much a different concept.


About modular tower design, I like the idea. I think if armour can be specifically placed on just part of a tower then you need a mechanic of some kind to show the player where the tower has been taking hits so he knows where to place the armour. Maybe burn marks left on the tower from the previous round. Also, if the towers are modular then the modules should take damage instead of the tower as a whole. Perhaps this could be another your for your mortality damage system, Kest.

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Quote:
Original post by JasRonq
Tower Defense is about strategic placement and use of towers to completely obliterate an army that passes by them.

Ah, that's what it is. I was thinking more in terms of a single base that could be attacked from different angles by invaders, where the player would be required to bunker down and survive the onslaught. Rather than place towers here and there, the player would place gun turrets, armor sheeting, pit falls, and other defensive modules here and there.

The idea of bunkering down and trying to survive with no inner resources seems neat to me. You face total annihilation by a superior force, but through insane tenacity and stubbornness, you use every spec of resource at your disposal to make their victory as painful as possible. In the end, if you do well, they lose hope, give up, and run out of troops, and you win.

I went through something like this once while playing Starcraft with the Terran against other players. It started off as a 3 vs 3 game, but one of the players turned on us, and they killed my other ally. I defended against all of the opponents on my own for over three hours. In the end, they were raging angry, cussing my every tactic. I even crippled one of their bases before I was finally defeated. I didn't win, but it was my most victorious game of Starcraft.

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I found tower defense (as in those warcraft III maps) fun because it was simple and unrealistic. It was fun first discovering, then knowing the stream of enemies that would attempt to finish a parade through the labyrinth of surrounded by towers. It was fun because I knew those units from the real game so seeing them mindlessly walk through the path completely out of context was funny. The motivation was to see the entire parade.

The towers did not need armor because the parade units did not attack.

But of course you could vary it to suit your style.

I actually liked the fact that it was short. If it required more time or attention I wouldn't have played it. So I can't really give any suggestion.

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As a complete TD junkie, I have come up with some ideas for how I would make one, I've just never gotten around to it.

-Easy medium hard and master modes - one mode does NOT fit all
-You build towers, not turrets; the towers have no weapons
--different sized towers which accommodate different weapons, can be upgraded to hold larger gun types
-employ people to man the towers; perhaps only a certain number of people life in the village for which you are coordinating defense, so you have a power limit
-towers are built and once theyre built they stay there
--guns are bought and sold and can be transferred among towers
--towers can be upgraded to hold bigger guns
--and guns can be upgraded to do more damage/shoot faster/farther etc
-the creeps have a set path in the beginning, but the player can destroy and build on that path for money and reroute the creeps
-different terrain take different amounts of time to walk over, some creeps follow the path you build, some pick the shortest, some pick the fastest route etc

It's kind of a mix of all the parts I liked about various games. However, MPDTD Normal Arcade is still my favorite. Can't play it at the moment but I'll come back with a link when it gets put back up (site is undergoing overhaul)

My $0.02.... maybe I'll make that some day.

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Personally, I think most of the appeal of this type of combat is that it's self-sustaining. You don't have to run around, micro-managing everything during the battle. You strategize, lay things out, then sit back and watch the enemy die by the thousands.

I think the promotion of this philosophy would be important. Letting the player run around as a real-time unit during the battle would be great. Just don't allow them to tweak the base defenses during the fight. Especially not repair or ammo-reloading type actions. Rather than have them click or engage every object to "repair" or "reload" it, the objects should repair and reload themselves, either over combat time or at peace time, by spending some type of resource.

It's just my opinion, but I think this is why most people like this type of game over typical combat. It's more about strategic design than combat management.

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Wow that's a lot more responses than I expected. Good to see I'm not the only one who loves TD games!
One of the things that's been on my mind, is that while I love TD maps/games, I've always found 'survive the endless onslaught' missions within full RTS's to be a bit of a pain. There was one in the Soviet campaign of Red Alert 2, and I believe the final mission of Warcraft III was something like this as well. I think the key difference is essentially what Kest was talking about in his last post.

Quote:
Original post by Kest
Personally, I think most of the appeal of this type of combat is that it's self-sustaining. You don't have to run around, micro-managing everything during the battle. You strategize, lay things out, then sit back and watch the enemy die by the thousands.

I think the promotion of this philosophy would be important. Letting the player run around as a real-time unit during the battle would be great. Just don't allow them to tweak the base defenses during the fight. Especially not repair or ammo-reloading type actions. Rather than have them click or engage every object to "repair" or "reload" it, the objects should repair and reload themselves, either over combat time or at peace time, by spending some type of resource.

It's just my opinion, but I think this is why most people like this type of game over typical combat. It's more about strategic design than combat management.


Yeah I think even if the game itself has some complicated concepts in it, the actions the player takes have to remain relatively simple. Micro-management is boring for a game like this, and the complete absence of units (except for the one main unit) is probably a good thing too. The tactical set-up has to be the most important thing, because it's usually the most enjoyable thing.

One thing I hadn't thought of, but really like the idea of, is the ability to redirect the attacking forces. Obviously it would need to be limited in some way so that you can't just barricade yourself in, but the idea of... I dunno something like collapsing a tree across a path, or flooding a road etc to force the troops to take a different route, sounds really cool.

Modularity of towers sounds like a good idea too. I'm undecided atm with regards to being attacked from different directions. At first I think it sounds good, but then again, it could take away from the fun of just building one ridiculously well defended path, which is of course the main idea of a TD. I'm inclined to stick to just one path for the attackers.

Oh and yeah, I couldn't agree more that balance is essential. I too have played TDs that are OK, but ruined by being either too hard or too easy. Balance will be a massive task.

thanks for the ideas so far!
metal

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http://handdrawngames.com

Desktop Tower Defense

Very well-balanced, you can win medium within a few tries but high scores and other modes take work. Uses some form of pathfinding which, from when I talked to the dev, is apparently faster than a*, to get the creeps through and simply doesnt allow mazes that cut the exits off. Good example of dynamic pathways and the balancing act.

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Locks Quest for the DS is a fun game, I found the story quite fun to play.. I stayed up all night until I beat the game.

But in the end, its a tower defence game.

Id check out its gamefaqs if you wanted information on it.

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Quote:
Original post by Kest
Personally, I think most of the appeal of this type of combat is that it's self-sustaining. You don't have to run around, micro-managing everything during the battle. You strategize, lay things out, then sit back and watch the enemy die by the thousands.

...

It's just my opinion, but I think this is why most people like this type of game over typical combat. It's more about strategic design than combat management.



You have described my fascination with them perfectly. :) I think I've played a good hundred hours Bloons and Flash Element TD so far this year.

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