And… I’ve got more TD ideas rolling around my head. I’ll spare you the verbosity and only post the two good ones though.
competitive tower defense
The idea here is pretty simple. There are 2-4 players positioned evenly around an outer ring. Every player starts the game with a creep generator and sufficient moneys to buy a few wimpy towers. Players may only build within a certain (short) range of another building they control, thus these initial wimpy towers must be built close to the generator.
Generators pump out a constant stream of enemies that flow toward the other players’ generators. These creeps are divided evenly, so in a four player game, 1/3 of each player’s creeps will march toward each other player.
When creeps arrive at the generators, they pound on them until either they destroy the generator, or the generator’s defenses destroy them. If the creeps succeed in killing the generator, it will explode. This explosion cascades out through all of the losing player’s buildings and kills any creeps that get caught in the blast.
Any surviving creeps who were marching toward the losing player will choose a new target.
Creeps will not attack towers, but will attempt to flow around them. Players who wall off their generator will discover that their own creeps turn on them. Very unpretty.
The map here must be pretty small, and towers should have fairly short ranges. There should also not be a terrible variety in the number of towers given to each player – 3 or maybe 4 different models. In fact, let’s just go with some standard tower configurations:
- arrow – low damage, long range, single target, high rate of fire
- cannon – high damage, short range, small splash radius, low rate of fire
- acid – medium damage, medium range, large splash radius, medium rate of fire
- ice – zero damage, medium range, single target, medium rate of fire, freezes targets momentarily
It would also be interesting if players were allowed to build multiple generators. Generators would be expensive, but each generator pushes out a constant stream of creeps to attack the other players. The disadvantage here comes from the cascade effect – if one generator goes down, they all do, and you lose. Thus, players must defend all of their generators from attack.
Also, unlike towers, which we might allow players to sell off, generators are permanent fixtures. Once established, that’s it.
Games should be fairly quick, so I don’t think that any sort of upgrade path for towers is really necessary. If the game starts to drag on, generators will start producing tougher and tougher creeps until players are eventually incapable of resisting.
organic tower defense
This game is similar to the competitive TD idea in that the spread of towers is restricted, and that the creeps hit the base until destroyed. but that’s about where the similarity ends. For this one, we need a little thematic dressing to translate the gameplay mechanics into something that makes sense for people.
Wave after wave of insects attack a particularly rare/precious/yummy sapling as it grows to maturity. The player must protect the sapling by planting and directing the growth of defensive organisms.
The game pauses before each wave to let the player see what’s coming next, and to give them a chance to plant a single new seed. New seed varieties become available every few waves.
When these seeds are planted, they function exactly like traditional TD towers. They have an upgrade path that may be purchased with resources gained as you defeat enemies. But unlike traditional towers, these plants can grow outward to fill arbitrarily shaped spaces.
Thus, with a single seed, it is entirely possible to sprout multiple “towers”.
Creeps come in a variety of flavours, all insect themed:
- ant – average speed, average offense, average defense
- beetle – low speed, average offense, high defense
- caterpillar – low speed, low offense, low defense, attacks towers
- grasshopper – high speed, low offense, average defense, jumps semi-randomly
- wasp – average speed, high offense, low defense, flying
Now, the caterpillar’s entry is somewhat misleading. All earthbound creeps can attack towers, but caterpillars seek them out. Wasps have no reason to attack towers, so they just fly directly at the sapling. Grasshoppers jump over towers but don’t travel in a straight path toward the sapling.
Different plants will have different growth patterns available, and individual nodes of a plant may or may not be upgradeable. There are three basic shapes of plants I am seeing.
The first is a ‘standard’ plant. It has a central node where you plant it initially. The plant can then send out little tendrils into adjacent nodes. These tendrils typically have no active purpose. Once you have branched out far enough from the initial node (usually not a very long distance), you can establish an additional base node that is identical in function to the initial node.
The second type of plant is one that consists entirely of tendrils. These start with a simple base node that is no different than any of the tendrils the plant can throw out. And, no matter how long you grow a tendril, you cannot create any new type of node – only more tendrils. These plants generally exist to barricade and distract bugs.
The final type is a ‘centralized’ plant. These are powerful, expensive plants that cannot establish new base nodes, and may not even be able to send out tendrils. They are the most similar to standard TD towers.
Players start off with the following plants at their disposal:
- needle thrower – standard plant,
- thorn vine – tendrils only, inexpensive to grow, damage any creep that crawls into and/or attacks the vine
- honeysuckle – tendrils only, every node has a flower that attracts critters, who come and eat until the node runs out of juice, nodes do not die when spent and may be refreshed
They will eventually unlock a number of other plants, which might include things like:
- tangle vine – standard plant, tendrils reach out and hold anything that passes
- fly trap – standard plant, short range, phenomenally high damage, incredibly low rate of fire
- razor vine – central plant that uses tendrils as whips to strike enemies, high rate of fire, number of targets at a time depends on number of tendrils grown
- spore pods – central plant that blows spore pods at enemies, these pods explode for medium splash damage
- mushrooms – tendrils only, every node is a tough woody mushroom that simply takes a long time to chew through
A few quick gotchas before I end.
You cannot build across another plant’s tendrils. Thus, some care must be taken in how you lay things out. You cannot sell off plants. Once you put something down, it is there until it dies.
The outer tendrils of a plant must be attached to the root node or they will die. Thus, if you have a 15 hex long plant and ants cut through the third hex, not only do you lose that square, but you lose the 12 hexes after it.
The exception to this is in tendril-only plants. They have no real base node, so each square of the vine is self sufficient. Thus, the only way to truly kill off a mushroom patch is by killing each and every hex it occupies. However, once a tendril-only plant has taken sufficient damage to kill off one or more hexes, it is incapable of growing further.
Dead plant parts will dry up and cease to function as anything other than a barrier. After a wave or two, dead plants will blow away and you can use their spaces again.