Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

GTB game mode thoughts.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the different game modes in Gratuitous Tank Battles. Here are my current thoughts:

Classic (Tower Defence) Mode

In this mode, you play a standard tower defence game. The enemies come at you in pre-scripted waves, and have to get across the map in sufficient numbers to win. When the final wave ends, the player has won. The player earns supplies for shooting down incoming units, and spends supplies by placing new turrets and troops in one of the many pre-defined squares along the multiple attack routes in real time.

Reverse (Tower Attack) Mode

This is the same, but swapped over, with you as attacker. The player earns a steady stream of supplies over time, and these supplies are spent on new units. The supply level is capped, so you can’t just sit there for ages and not place anything, as you waste potential troops in that way. The victory conditions are just like classic mode. This requires a fair bit of AI by the defender, who will intelligently (I hope) place defences along the routes that are most under attack, and select defending forces that balance out, and can best deal with what is being thrown at them.

Assault Mode (attack OR defence)

This is a mode that will also work online in challenges. The player, either as attacker or defender, has a fixed budget to build up an entire army in one go (or for attack, possibly in a number of separate waves). The army then tries to storm past all the turrets without any interaction by the player. The army can be uploaded as a challenge either by an attacker or defender.

Pitch Battle Mode

This is like GSB, but without any pathfinding :D Essentially the maps series of paths meet in the middle and big armies start at one end or the other, marching / driving towards each other and blasting away until one army is destroyed, or everyone is out of range of each other. The last (or biggest) army standing wins. This can also be done as an online challenge game. This is the only mode where both sides have moving units.

Of course, it’s impossible to really say which of these game modes will really work, and which will suck, A lot of it depends upon the exact implementation and numbers. I really think I should implement at least this list though, and give them all some decent testing before deciding if they work or not.

There is SO MUCH to do.

14 thoughts on GTB game mode thoughts.

  1. Why not realtime online modes ?

    Like VS or Co-Op modes ?

    I know challenges are the solution to few online players, but won’t the lack of realtime modes also make less people buy it ?

  2. If I might suggest another mode, attack and defend, two armies occupy half a map each, both place towers on their territory, and they then have moving units which start at their end and try and march to the other side of the map. Moving units can fire at towers or other moving units.

  3. I would love to see a Tower attack game. The only game I’ve seen try to do tower attack is anomaly warzone and I own that game and it is not tower attack, it is more like one long escort mission where you escort up to only 6 units around a map.

    I imagine tower attack like throwing huge waves at defenses and I don’t care if I lose all my troops as long as I do some damage or scout out defenses for future waves. I’m just not sure that it would be easy to code an AI that is smart enough to be fun to play against but not smart enough to put up impenetrable defenses or worse dumb enough to roll over.

    With games like Sanctum out there, you really need another good mechanic or hook to go along with a classic tower defense game.

    I’m no game designer so just go with what’s fun and if it isn’t crazy fun just scrap it and start over imo.

  4. I was thinking about that stuff too after you gave us the first screenshots.
    How will GTB distinguish itself from all the other 3 billion tower defense games?

    I really love Tower Defenses.
    1. Defense Grid Gold
    2. Sol Survivor
    3. Bloons Tower Defense (for some reason I don’t know, maybe the laser-monkey)

    I think just being able for the enemy to hurt your towers and nice graphics and tanks won’t be enough.

    What I like especially in TD (DG) is the pathshaping (when being able to).
    To find the longest path in the level, placing turrets so the aliens (or whoever) have to use the longest path. It’s sometimes kinda tricky to get it to work nicely.

  5. I’ve never been that much of a fan of Tower Defence games, until I found Rverse Tower Defence like this one:

    The idea that you setup your force to navigate and obsitcle course in advance, no changing once you hit start, but then can activate select powers during battle. Now I’d love to see that in a tank setting.

  6. > The player earns supplies for shooting down incoming units.

    Why? This is such bad design! It is the objective to kill all units. If some pass, my “life” decreases. Why the added negative feedback loop on top of that?

  7. A great selection of game modes. I especially agree with a ‘Pitch Battle Mode’.

    I also second a ‘Tower Wars’ game type. Perhaps you have played one of these before via Warcraft 3/Starcraft 2 user maps? Players balance between sending attackers to boost income generation and building defenses.

  8. I’d personally love to see all of the game modes (and, maybe, in the future, a Galactic Conquest-style expansion, as this game has turrets).

    Also, will we be able to design our own towers?

    Lastly, in a word: BOLO!!

  9. Kdansky raises an interesting point. If the game rewards you only for success, then if you start doing badly, you fall behind and can never catch up because you can never upgrade your forces enough to compete.

    What if instead, you place ‘victory points’ on the map at various places for each wave? For each victory point in your control at the end of a wave, your score is increased. However, for each victory point that has been attacked by the enemy, you receive additional reinforcements (supplies) to build more towers. You receive a minimum amount of supplies regardless. A 100% victory requires you to protect all victory points at the lowest possible cost.

    You could also use this as a mechanism for attacking, you might be tempted to take the fastest route, but if you detour, you can capture some victory points.

    Victory points might not always be placed in the same location for each wave, further complicating things as you get forced to think whether you want to retool your towers for the expected attack or keep things as they are.

  10. The game modes Cliffski mentioned are obviously the basic ones that shouldn’t be missing from the game. There is also place for other game modes like a “Kamikaze” mode in which you, as the attacker, have a normal flow of resources, maybe more than usual available at the start and, for the challenge, a limited time to break trough the defense of the enemy(and when you get minutes from the deadline the supplies/resources/reinforcements stop coming). If you do not level the defense of the enemy until the time ends you loose the battle. Also, the game can contain a “Last stand” mode, in which you, as the attacked one have to defend against clearly superior forces(70/30, 75/25 or even 80/20 can be the proportions of attacker/defensive units), and you win if you destroy a significant percent of them(50% or more) or if your forces get to be in bigger number on the battlefield).
    The “Pitch Battle Mode” can be quite fun if implemented well enough, and I mean proper movements of units on the field(attack, retreat, flanking movements, units providing cover fire for units that retreat/maneuver on the field), existence of natural obstacles and their use for strategic advantages(as a barrier – a river or lake for example, as a fortified position accessible only by certain ways – a hill with steep slopes on 3 sides out of 4, or as a place that slows/kills/damages (some of) the units etc.
    Regarding the characteristics that make GTB stand out from other turret defense games, the idea above(of Lynx) with the victory points is quite good but not enough to make GTB truly original. A high degree of flexibility in the possible/chosen path for/by the units and the possibility of certain maneuvers(temporary retreat on a sector of the field to wait for reinforcements and then attack with superior firepower, flanking and cover fire maneuvers performed by armored units etc) would greatly improve the gameplay. Also, the map editor could easily extend the game time if it would permit the customization of a higher number of variable(most of which the player can let on “auto” if he wants to let them on standard values). I expect the paths and natural obstacles to be fully customizable, as well as the type of map(day/night – in the high resolution screenshots offered a few days ago by Cliff we could see maps in daylight&night-vision and searchlights; it would be a nice touch if the units would need radar/infrared/searchlights to move/move better, faster or target/target better, more distant enemies), budget available, deployment rate of reinforcements/supplies/resources, dimension of the map(about that, it would be quite useful to have some sort of table/chart of unit dimensions and the dimension of the map to be expressed in meters also – I think in GSB the dimension of the map was expressed in pixels and i could never really knew how big the ships were compared to the map and how fast were they moving).
    It would also be nice to have a morale system for the units like in GSB but with a twist: depending on the level of the morale, the agresivity of the units set by the player should either increase(and with it the speed, fire rate and accuracy) or decrease. The morale shouldn’t be fixed(and continuously decreasing) but regenerable, as should the units be(the units would regenerate either by themselves or assisted by units with medical/engineering capabilities, when not taking fire/while retreated/while protected by the cover of a natural barrier/a force field of a more powerful unit.
    I hope my suggestion will help you Cliff, or at least they will inspire you.

  11. Maybe some sort of capture the flag mode? So that attacking player has certain amount of money to spend on units and his goal is to capture a zone (or HQ or something) in the middle of the map (or somewhere else) and the defender has certain amount of money to spend on turrets and units to defend that capture zone.

    Each capturing unit would have their own capturing points pool so when one unit gets damaged or destroyed, its points from the overal capture progress pool is removed but the overal capture still keeps going up until all capturing units are damaged or destroyed in order to reset the capture back to zero.

    Might be interesting to watch. Especially if this was made in real time and players could order their units to take certain paths to flank the attacking enemies and make their turrets shoot certain targets.

  12. Oh yeah. Another thing crossed my mind. Why not simultaneous attack & defence mode?

    So that two players make their own defence out of turrets and shape their paths and also at the same time they send their own units through the same paths towards enemy defences and turrets. Or maybe the attacking units take a different path but when they reach enemy’s area, they use the path the opposing player has made for them.

    This would make some really interesting games where players have to think about their defences but also think about their assaults with certain amount of money (or however the money is going to work).

    If the units would take the same path as both players have designed for them, this would lead to some very interesting mayhem scenes where both attacking units and defending towers would shoot at the same targets but of course the attacking units would try to get past the other player’s attacking units as quick as possible while shooting at them.

  13. You know, you are sort of obsessed with this lack of interactivity.

    I think it’s a horrible idea.

    Building up a real time graphics engine and squandering it on Tower Defense and non-interactive setpiece battles just shocks me with its inefficiency and short-sightedness.

    You could have an A- title. You could even have an A title.

    That is, if there’s interactivity and, well, real time strategy.

    I think you made a bad decision with GSB. I wanted to like the game but I just couldn’t bring myself to buy it because of the lack of interactivity. I will certainly not be buying GTB if it’s the same as that.

    Bad, bad, bad idea.

  14. Well the game isn’t for you then, but other people liked it and bought it so…
    Feel free to prove me wrong with your own smash hit AAA title.

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