[Design] Social Gaming and Tower Defense

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I have an amazing opportunity here at work to build a tower defense game to be used as a demo to sell our company’s capability.

We’re going to be basing it around cancer and cancer treatment, but that’s largely irrelevant.

What I am trying to work out (work in?) is a way for multiple people playing the game on the same network (horray, there’s a toolkit for that ) to have an influence on each other.

Due to the target demographic, this connection will occur behind the scenes (I want to make the single player → multiplayer transition to be as smooth as possible) but have a very clear effect for the player that someone else nearby is playing and having an effect on their game.

My first thought was to have the creeps path alter so that creeps will venture across into other games and back again, but I think this may be too difficult to control.

One suggestion was that kills you score grant a small amount of bonus money to other players, but I think this is too subtle.

Another was “concurrent” gaming where both players are sharing a game session, building and placing towers. But that only works up to a certain point and doesn’t allow for a seamless transition between there being one player, two, four, and back.

Thoughts?

 
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people controlling different regions can work, but if one person finishes off the creeps, it could be too easy for the next player. I’d go with real time multiple people per session, because that’s the best way to show off technical expertise.

 
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Everyone controlling one part of each region? But that could get messy.

 
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Have some sort of spawner graphic at the entrance, (or part of it as if there’s a large creep factory/tumour/whatever offscreen that you’re seeing one exit of) rather than creeps just walking in. When player hovers over it, tooltip saying ‘blah type spawner level blah, producing blah type blah creeps per minute’ and on single player ‘100% going to you’, multiplayer: ‘25% coming here, 25% going to icecreamlover68, 25% going to mrawesome, 25% going to Michael_Hutchence’.

tl;dr – share out creeps between players, levels easier with more players: cooperation=good is probably a theme your company is after.

 
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Post this in the ‘game design’ forum?

Considering the theme, I’d expect you want interactions to be cooperative (all united against cancer and all that jazz, right?). So take the tower defense concept and turn it on its head: The computer has a defense system that it (re)builds over time, and players are trying to break it (or at least break through it). Each player has a ‘wave’ that they can expand and upgrade over time. They also get to choose which path(s) to take in levels with multiple paths.

The first few levels are easy enough that a player can break them on their own, but as they go further into the game, they need other people to provide additional waves and beat the level.

 
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@Ace, I’ve seen a couple of those backwards tower defense games, they tend to be balanced poorly & no fun. People tend to want to keep stuff.

 
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Originally posted by Ace_Blue:

Post this in the ‘game design’ forum?

Ha, I keep forgetting that forum exists.

Considering the theme, I’d expect you want interactions to be cooperative (all united against cancer and all that jazz, right?). So take the tower defense concept and turn it on its head: The computer has a defense system that it (re)builds over time, and players are trying to break it (or at least break through it).

That’s certainly a thought. Though we settled on fighting off the metastization of the cancer, protecting the lymph nodes.

tl;dr – share out creeps between players, levels easier with more players: cooperation=good is probably a theme your company is after.

I’d rather it be more cooperative rather than using a single “pool” of creeps for the entire network. Imagine if there were 50 people playing; they’d only get one or two creeps!

 
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I had assumed a max of 4 players per factory, with different maps having entrances on different sides, players would visualise that the 4 of them were surrounding the factory.

 
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I’ll move it to Game Design if you want.


  • Perhaps creeps that make it through and hit one players ‘base’ spawn on a different player’s map? (Players encourage success among each other)
  • Collective Bonuses/Powerups affecting all players or nearby players if you are using some sorta of global map
 
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Originally posted by UnknownGuardian:

I’ll move it to Game Design if you want.

Nah, I made a duplicate. The other board has a lower traffic than here, so I think that’d just hurt overall.


  • Perhaps creeps that make it through and hit one players ‘base’ spawn on a different player’s map? (Players encourage success among each other)
  • Collective Bonuses/Powerups affecting all players or nearby players if you are using some sorta of global map

I’d thought about the first one, but I think it might just cause a cascade failure, where when one person loses a map, it floods the other player(s) with more creeps than they can handle.
The second idea is worth looking at though.

 
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Draco18: Nah, I made a duplicate. The other board has a lower traffic than here, so I think that’d just hurt overall.

That’s harsh. How is the game design forum supposed to get any love if game design questions are posted in other forums?

So you have a goal: protect the lymph nodes. But how about nobody owns the nodes, and players can build/upgrade defense towers on any node? If the node structure is persistent over time, players can build defenses in real-time. Getting resources for damage caused once the critter is dead provides incentive for players to actually try and kill critters. Enforcing upkeep for towers ensures that the strongest players do not continually become stronger in an uncontrolled explosive growth feedback loop.

There is also the question of how long you envision a game to be? One node? Multiple nodes? A full node system (aka patient)?

 
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Well i played once a map made on age of mythology, and it was a towerdefense. Basicaly each player controled a citizen that would build the towers,not sure if this fits your case but just leaving an idea.

 
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Originally posted by Ace_Blue:

So you have a goal: protect the lymph nodes. But how about nobody owns the nodes, and players can build/upgrade defense towers on any node? If the node structure is persistent over time, players can build defenses in real-time. Getting resources for damage caused once the critter is dead provides incentive for players to actually try and kill critters. Enforcing upkeep for towers ensures that the strongest players do not continually become stronger in an uncontrolled explosive growth feedback loop.

You’re thinking waaaay too MMO. This isn’t an internet based persistent MMO. It’s a tower defense game, played single player where the game has an awareness of nearby games if any at all.

Think Protector or BloonsTD or GemCraft where if someone in the same room is also playing that same game, you help each other out (or possibly make things more difficult) in some fashion.

 
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Shared marketplaces can work. Towers get more expensive if lots of people buy the same type, or cheaper if no-one uses them. Even better if you can play the market and sell towers for a profit.

Ghost levels. When someone fails/completes a level, store a copy of it. Destroy some random towers. Give it to the next nearby player as an initial map layout. Be sure to leave the enemy corpses on the map.

 
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No idea how you would fit fighting cancer in (haven’t really thought about it), but two ideas sprang to mind (not necessarily good ones; you can decide for yourself):

Tower placement areas are made up of “cells” that “interlace” with cells on other player’s maps: the types and levels of towers placed on the cells affect other towers on that cell’s network. So, as a simple example, if player [A] places an ice tower (just to use standard examples) on cell network [w], then player [B]’s tower that is on cell network [w] would gain a small slowing ability. Maybe too weird (like people would just think their towers are behaving strangely)?
Addition: Although you could change the cell “floor” based on the effect(s), at least indicating that they are coming from an influence beyond the player.

The other idea was kind of the inverse (in a drunken cross-eyed squinty sort of way): The attacks that strike the killing blow would affect the type of creeps that appear in another player’s game (or if you prefer, any attacks/effects that “stick” would pass “mutations” to spawning creeps abroad, but any immunities would not pass mutations for the effects that it does not suffer from… if that makes any sense).
Addition: This would need a bit of work to get it to be something that one could tell was affected by another player, it would make previewing waves difficult, and unless you’ve got an interesting tower hierarchy, it could easily render waves monotonous (without other influences, which would further diminish the noticeability of this effect)… Ugh, the more I think about it, the worse this idea seems to be, but I’ll leave it here for you to ponder and pontificate upon if you feel like doing either p.

One more idea just occurred to me: Maybe attacks would have an effect on the environment as a whole (easy obvious example: heating or cooling), which would be shared by multiple players (based on proximity in a grid of playable maps, perhaps?). Probably too subtle…?
Addition: I was thinking along the lines of towers being placed on veins/pipes/channels/(some other pipey/laney thing) which you could see the temperature “coursing” through and gradually changing to normal… Or something…

I’m curious to know if anyone actually thinks any of these are interesting/worthwhile ideas, even if they aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

 
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You’re thinking too one-dimensionally (if that’s a word) in some places, and too broadly in some other places. Here are my ideas:

You know in businesses that different managers manage different areas of the businesses. There’s the marketing director, the production director, the comms director, and so on. Well, how about doing that for a multiplayer TD? Getting different players to control different parts of the game? You know the components of a TD game:
-Tower placement
-Tower buying
-Upgrade buying
-Also in some games, tower building (but this is not generally used)
Why not make different players control these? It’s just not viable to make players control regions.
One player controls tower placement
One player controls tower buying
One player controls upgrades
Integrate a chat room where players can talk about strategy and distribute money accordingly
The tower-buying player can buy OR sell towers
When the tower-buying player buys towers, the tower-building players has a GUI showing what towers have been bought and are available
The upgrade player has control over all tower upgrades
You also could add a tower building player, who works in a race against time to build everything before the wave begins. But that was a personal opinion.
This would make the number of players limited, but it would still be multiplayer, right? And if you still need more players, integrate an enemy-making team that will build enemies, get money based on how far the enemies get, and make custom enemies. (You could do the same for towers too.) And they could always move to different stations each wave, so everyone gets a turn.

Alternative:

Everyone has control over different regions like initially suggested, and give everyone control over their region like a normal TD game. Don’t make a money pool everyone can take money from. Make everyone have different amounts of money. Everyone gets a fixed amount of money at the end of each wave. The more difficult the wave is, the more money everyone gets. Then there is the ‘distributable money’- everyone gets a fixed commission BUT if you kill more monsters, you get a higher commission.

There are my opinion. I think the latter is more achievable in a shorter space of time. But that’s my opinion. Hope this will help you :D Good luck raising money for cancer!

 
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Tower placement areas are made up of “cells” that “interlace” with cells on other player’s maps: the types and levels of towers placed on the cells affect other towers on that cell’s network. So, as a simple example, if player [A] places an ice tower (just to use standard examples) on cell network [w], then player [B]’s tower that is on cell network [w] would gain a small slowing ability. Maybe too weird (like people would just think their towers are behaving strangely)?
Addition: Although you could change the cell “floor” based on the effect(s), at least indicating that they are coming from an influence beyond the player.

Wow, I love this idea. That’s really clever.

There is the case of someone placing tower A and another person tower B, so what “bonus” does person C get for that tile? Edge case, but solvable.

The reason I like this is that as long as players are on the same map the games can interact (and as we’re doing a 1 level dirty demo, that’s perfect) and doesn’t require that the players are at the same wave number, or anything.

It’s also entirely doable to simply list the various bonuses in the tower details as a “concurrent games bonus” to that location/tower.

jasonjie88, you have some good thoughts there, but it requires too much of people collaborating. I see where you’re coming from, but I want the multiplayer integration to be behind the scenes, so that they don’t have to collectively play the one level together.

 
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Originally posted by Draco18s:

[snip bit from me]

Wow, I love this idea. That’s really clever.

Thanks. My intelligence must have passed into an alternate dimension for a moment. ;)

Originally posted by Draco18s:

There is the case of someone placing tower A and another person tower B, so what “bonus” does person C get for that tile? Edge case, but solvable.

Well, basically, all cells of a network would get a bonus for each tower in the network that would then be added to whatever towers are on that network. So, if we have a fire tower, an ice tower, a “regular” tower, and a sniper tower, each tower in the network would get, say, a small amount of burn (or a small increase in burn, for the fire tower itself — yes, this means that even if no one else if playing, every tower placed would end up slightly modifying itself, but if you take that initial modification into account, you could compensate for it in stat listings (for example)… It seems the most intuitive way to me, anyway), a small amount of slowing (or you could have fire towers and ice towers cancel each other out), maybe a small increase in range or fire rate for the “regular” towers, and a small increase in attack power (and possibly a decrease in fire rate) for the snipers. You could have 100 towers on a network, it shouldn’t be any more complicated than two, unless I’m just missing something (well, I’m missing a lot of things, I just don’t know if that’s one of them), because the cell network is really what “collects” the bonuses, which are then added to their constituents’ attacks.

Addition: Obviously, if two of the same towers are on the same network, they would bolster whatever the collected effect is (double the slow increase for ice towers, for example)…

 
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Actually, now that I think about it, I suppose it does bring up the issue of potentially overpowered towers (and thus screwing up difficulty scaling), so two possible solutions come to mind: Either have every tower give a positive and negative bonus to the network, or the bonus amount is static and only the way it is distributed changes (so network [t] may have fire rate +10, say (only machine gun towers on network), network [u] have range +5, burn +3, and income generation +2 (archer, fire, and furrier towers on network), etc. (where +10 is always the total, in this example). The number of each kind of tower on the network would only serve to determine what the relative quantity of each bonus would be).

Also, allowing augmentation of the player’s side of the network itself (which may affect the network as a whole) might be an interesting idea to explore. You could, for example, if you were using the latter idea above, upgrade the network so that the bonus increases from +10 to +15; or, from the former idea above, decrease temperature counteraction penalties, etc…?

 
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I’ll play with the numbers. :)