Defense Grid 2 and the Refinement of Tower Defense

04/22/2014 by Michael McWhertor | Source: Polygon
Hidden Path's Defense Grid 2 builds upon the well-established, but consistently addictive tower defense formula that has engrossed players for more than a decade. The crowdfunding-backed strategy game takes the creep-killing fun of the original game, Defense Grid: The Awakening, and further refines — rather than redefines — it with a bevy of intelligent changes.

Using resources that are doled out over time, Defense Grid 2 tasks players with building a series of defensive towers in an attempt to stop aliens from plundering their base. A variety of towers are available in the game's arsenal, from long-range cannon towers to low-cost gun towers to lasers, which quickly fire but deliver a continued burn. The goal, as in most games in the tower defense family, is to build the smartest defense by maximizing damage, pulling enemies into paths and doing so cost efficiently.

Defense Grid 2 lays its foundation on the first game, which has seen increasing sales year-over-year, with a few important updates. Some, Hidden Path CEO Jeff Pobst said, are designed to make the game easier for new Defense Grid players while others reward the skilled and experienced.

"WE WANTED TO MAKE THE GAME EASIER FOR NEW PLAYERS TO PLAY BUT ALSO REWARD SKILLFUL PLAYERS"

"In the past, if you built a tower in the wrong spot, you kind of wasted your resources on the wrong tower you'd get in a negative feedback loop if you were a new player," Pobst told Polygon at PAX East. "Now, resources keep dropping so you'll be able to catch up and keep going.

"We'd reward you in the past — with things like interest on resources — in the past if you were a really good player, but you could become so wealthy that the game got a little boring. We're also narrowing that down now so that most players, good or bad, are getting very similar amounts of resources."

Players will get better feedback about their in-game performance in real time in Defense Grid 2, which keeps constant track of your score. Rather than wait until the end of a round to calculate your score, players will see it as it happens on a score curve that tracks your performance. That change is being introduced to provide "more instant gratification," Pobst said, as well as information about how you're doing.

Defense Grid 2 will allow players to layer score curves on top of their current one, allowing them to compare score progress against friends and leaderboard competitors. Scores can also be compared against previous games, to measure improvement.

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