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

Experimenting with special units

Everyone agrees that when it comes to gameplay the best approach is to try tons of stuff and see what turns up right?
Anyway, it’s an approach I am becoming keen on. Things often sound like the greatest game idea in the world until you try them. And things that sound lame and boring often turn out to be hilarious and fun. The ski-jumping game in wii-sports probably sounds crap in the design document…

Anyway, with that in mind, after playing through a few GTB battles in ‘classic’ mode (tower defense) as the defender, it became clear to me that ‘towers that do different damage to different units’ isn’t enough, in terms of interesting decision and gameplay, so I started thinking about special units.

As of today, there are 3 new magic modules, and associated units in the game. They are hospital modules/ambulances repairyards/trucks and supply trucks. The hospital and repair facilities regularly pulse out waves in a set radius that heal/repair your troops/tanks/turrets as appropriate. There is no overlap, so ambulances only work on infantry, whereas repair yards and trucks do everything else.

This is my first new mechanic, in that we now have units that act as support units, rather than directly contributing to victory. This brings up all kinds of decisions regarding whether to deliberately target the support units, whether you have lots of support units to keep a few big ‘tank’ units alive, or go for a mad rush with no support etc…

The second new mechanic comes from supply trucks. Supply trucks have no weapons, and no abilities, but they score disproportionately when determining victory for the attacker. Basically, getting a single infantryman off the map alive earns (for example) 1 point. get a tank away and you earn 50 points, but get a supply truck away and you earn 500 points :D

This introduces some new things to strategize over. supply trucks are literally harmless when they enter the map, and only pose a real threat as they close in on the exits. Unlike normal units, which can serve some purpose in shooting turrets etc, the supply truck is a binary decision. In other words, you should only deploy one if you are SURE its going to make it to that exit.

Obviously there are tons more potential ideas, and nothing here is revolutionary, but I hope to eventually ship a game that gives the player a ton of variety. Small tower defense battles, as attacker or defender, big battles, rush battles, wave-battles, 2-sided pitched battles, custom edited maps…. If I don’t die from stress or old age before I finish all this :D

6 thoughts on Experimenting with special units

  1. What are you thinking for starting points invested vs. VP earned for getting them off map?

    If they are cheap enough, supply vehicles become viable decoys. Will the AI be adjustable to pay more or less attention to supply vehicles?

  2. Yes using them as decoys is a great side effect of the idea. I havent decided yet whether the AI should generally priorotise them or not. Certainly they should attract disporportionate fire as they get closer to exits.

  3. Have you played and of the Advance Wars series? (the gameboy advance version is the most concise and best IMO)

    They have a very tough supply APC that can cary infantry as well as rearm (but not repair) any ground unit. The AI in that game definitely attack them first.

    They add another whole layer to that game, I think you’re on to a good idea there.

  4. “pulse out waves”? Where’s the ‘The Settlers’ ‘esqe little men running around? ‘The Settlers’ would have been a bag of crap, slow, luck of the combat dice, strategy game were it not for the asthetics.

  5. How about engineer units? Maybe you have routes you can block off temporarily, and engineers can break through those. Or maybe enough explosives in an area with buildings or other breakables nearby and the road becomes too covered with rubble to pass through. Or engineers can repair bridges that were wrecked (or demolished by the defender intentionally).

  6. I would like to place around the GTB map some minefields. Some special units should be the right “counter”

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