Desktop Tower Defense

23:41 Sun 17 Jun 2007

I haven’t been playing any computer games recently apart from doing the Daily Set Puzzle and playing DDR. Some games have sounded interesting in the abstract, but nothing really grabbed me. This afternoon I came across Desktop Tower Defense, a Flash strategy game, and that was more or less the end of my afternoon…

The game is simple enough: you have a rectangular board with holes in the middle of each side. Enemies (“creeps”) come in from the left and the top, trying to get to the right and the bottom respectively. If 20 of them get through to their exits, you lose the game. You can build defensive structures that constrain their path and that attack them (or slow them down, etc.). You can upgrade these towers, or build new ones, and the choices of what to build/upgrade and where to place them is what makes the game interesting.

I found it rather addictive, with RTS qualities such as resource mangement and board control, but with a good interface and no pretensions to artificial intelligence—one of the most disappointing things about RTS games which aspire to realism is always that their AI becomes less impressive as you become better at the game, and as you figure out what tricks to use. The usual way that RTS games compensate is by giving the AI more and more units, which challenges the human player but is somehow less interesting than a smarter AI (a smarter AI, of course, is an extremely difficult program to create). Destkop TD doesn’t even pretend, and you know in advance that your opponents are just going to get stronger and more numerous, but that their “intelligence” is irrelevant.

There are many possible strategies, and I haven’t figure out an optimal one yet, but I suspect I’ll keep trying…

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