more out-loud design thinking August 4, 2011 cliffski I’ve been doing some playthroughs of various gameplay modes in GTB and thinking a lot about the game design, and the way units interact. One of the core things that makes Tower Defense games playable, and casual (to a degree) is the clarity of how units interact. There is often a clear way of differentiating how the units work against each other. For example, gun turrets are good against ground units, lightning turrets are good against flying units, laser turrets are not-bad against both. Often that sort of data is as complex as it gets. You can then have an upgraded ‘level II’ laser tower that is the same, but better, and so on… One of the unique selling points of GTB is that towers have individual modules that can be combined, so it’s not as simple or inflexible as normal. In theory you could customise your defenses to do exactly what you liked. The trouble with this is it over-complicates things and makes the game less playable for first-timers and casual players. I’m thinking right now that this is fine, as long as it’s clear what MODULE achieves what, and as long as it’s clear that the different classes of unit (Turret/Mech/Tank/Infantry) still have definite characteristics. In other words, when you see a bunch of enemy infantry, it needs to be obvious that you think “right, I now need to build tower X”. This is where GSB let itself down. So… in terms of broad principles: Lasers are good against armor, bad against shields. Ballistic weapons are good against shields, bad against armor Missiles are generally average at everything, but have splash damage In addition to that, I’m thinking of some hard coding so that: Machineguns are rubbish against everything except infantry, where they are devastating. Flamethrowers are the same as machineguns, plus they have splash damage. Bigger weapons (all turrets, and mech/tank weapons) are relatively poor against infantry. Infantry weapons are relatively good against each other. That will mean some code changes. In addition, I’m more heavily skewing things so that: Tanks do not have shields of any kind. Tanks are all about armor. Mechs have the best lasers and the best shields. Plus also: I’m adding in construction times for turrets, so you can’t insta-place a turret. You still cannot destroy a tower and reclaim some of the cost. Is this important? I never do it, but some people do. Not sure… You can design (then use immediately) new units mid-battle. Maybe that is a bad idea? There are a multitude of other things. I’m of the opinion that pretty much *all* maps should have at least two routes, so when you are placing attacking units, it’s a constant game of ‘aha, I see the right-side route is ill-defended against infantry….’ Obviously the first tutorialish map should be simpler. I do wonder if I should put together a really early playable alpha of the game without any of the fancy graphics, just to let people play with the mechanics and offer feedback. If the majority of music / graphics aren’t even in the game, I could do that without fear of piracy or people confusing it with a finished game, and make it free. Hmmmm. I just don’t know… Would mean a nightmare load of separating stuff out… I wish I’d thought of that 6 months ago.