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A better look at “Tower Defense” games

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[dropcap style=”style1″]T[/dropcap]ower defense was originally diversed from traditional real-time strategy games, but it has more than enough potential to become a standalone category of its own. One of the major factors that made tower defense succeed, is obviously the simplicity in its gameplay – which provided the chance for general players to take a friendlier approach.

With classic RTS games, you would need extraordinary sense of control, speed and accuracy to ultilize its essence the most – which is the same time, a huge hurdle for the mass to overcome, because not everyone was born a genius. Nowadays, people play game to relax and to kill time, not to try-hard and go-pro like the old days. That’s why classic RTS is gradually losing its ground, while the successor tower defense becomes more and more popular – especially on the sacred land of mobile platform.

If there’s a reason to blame, it must be the convenient touchscreen control that mobile devices provided. It’s much easier to build, drag, and select the towers around using the smooth touching control – and it’s extremely friendly unlike the PC “Master Race” who’s still somewhat luxury.

But how much do you know about tower defense games? Let’s take a closer look, then![space space_height=”40″]

A DEFINITION TO TOWER DEFENSE
feat_mob_tdx (8)Like its name suggested, in tower defense games your mission is to protect the base from waves of attacking enemies. By placing different types of tower on the map strategically, you could hold your ground against massive hordes of enemies.

Although the theme, the logic, the method… could be varied with each title, but all tower defense games share the same core gameplay. The essence of tower defense lies within the preparing phase, which is the only moment that give you the upperhand over your foes. Based on the shape of the lanes in the map, you have to place the most fitting towers to ultilize  their effects to maximum.

Enemy’s traits are also a major factor to take account for, because you can’t just rely on mass building tactic to win.

The essence of tower defense lies within the preparing phase, which is the only moment that give you the upperhand over your foes
VARIANTS OF TOWER DEFENSE GAME
feat_mob_tdx (3)Sharing the same basic gameplay, but tower defense games divided into different types to create the variety. We could sort tower defense games into four main categories:

Classic tower defense

This is the very first member of the tower defense family, and is also the most popular one. In the map, there’re main lanes that the enemies have to travel through.

You only need to pay attention to the turning points and corners – at which the enemies are forced to move slower in mass, providing a good chance to take them down.

You also need to learn about the specialities of the towers given, because each type of tower only ultilizes itself the most with the right location.

Fixed tower defense

Freestyle tower defense

This type shares the same layout with fixed lanes like classic tower defense. The only difference is, instead of having the freedom to build towers at will on available locations, you are forced to build only on fixed points on the map. This limit increases the difficulty of the game to several levels higher, and you will have to use everything given to win the stage.

Another speciality of this type, is beside from attacking towers, it also have barracks which summon infantries to block the way and also to attack the enemeis. You also have a wide arsenal of map skills to annihilate enemies in mass.

Vastly different from other types of tower defense, freestyle tower defense type doesn’t possess the term of “lanes”. You’re thrown into an empty stage with different gates from which the enemies are spawned.

You have to make your own “lanes” by buildings tower in mass, forcing the enemies to move within this maze.

The difficulty of this type is at an entirely different level, since the strength of the mass is all that matters. Also, it’s your way of building the maze that affects the outcome, not standard strategic buildings.

Turning points and corners – at which the enemies are forced to move slower in mass, providing a good chance to take them down

Parallel tower defense

feat_mob_tdx (1)Although it’s a new type of tower defense, parallel tower defense has soon earned its title for being the most creative one. Instead of having curing lanes like other types, in parallel tower defense, the lanes are placed exactly parallel – on which the enemies travel to reach the player’s base.

Many would think with this simple layout, parallel tower defense couldn’t pose much a challenge – but think again. Exactly with this parallel setting that you couldn’t ultilize mass firing towers, since each one only attacks its own lane (spared a few exceptions in late game).

With this type of game, the enemies generate randomly and if they happen to pressure one lane too much – it’s the end, since other lanes couldn’t do anything to help.

RELATIVES OF TOWER DEFENSE
Although it isn’t original, tower defense could make itself into a entirely new genre. And since then, there’re many sub-categories that had been invented based on the fundamentals of tower defense – such as Castle Defense and Tower Offense.

Castle defense

feat_mob_tdx (7)Castle defense and tower defense and two entirely different genres, although sharing the very same conception of defending your base from attacking enemies. But the method to defend and the essence are two sides of the same coin.

In castle defense games, instead of deploying towers to defend the base, you use soldiers – and this make castle defense a closer relative to RTS than tower defense. You will buy different types of soldier and they will automatically move forward, attacking all enemies block their ways, and keep moving until they reach the enemy base and take it down. This point alone could differ the two genres entirely like day and night.

You could also deploy Heroes to fight in castle defense games, to make it more interesting. Aside from better stats and apperance, these Heroes also possess different types of spell to vary the strategic ultility. They could be wide-ranged damaging spells, or healing/ buffing spells, or even summoning more troops and legendary beings.

In castle defense games, instead of deploying towers to defend the base, you use soldiers – and this make castle defense a closer relative to RTS than tower defense
Beside from the goal to keep your base safe from enemies, to win a stage in castle defense games you also have to destroy the base of your enemies. In order to achieve this, there’s no other way around from using your own military force to outnumber your foes, attacking their base before they spawn more troops.

You could also use the extra firepower from catapults and ballistas to soften the walls of your enemy base. This speciality of castle defense makes it take longer time to win a stage than tower defense, and also has a better approach for multiplayer modes.feat_mob_tdx (6)

The only thing that matters is, how to die, and what could be achieved from their deaths? This is the very essence of tower offense games

Tower offense

Completely reversed from tower defense, as its name suggested, tower offense brings you to the attacking side instead. The goal of tower offense, is to muster your army and to make them passing the line of enemy defense. This speciality makes the difficulty in tower offense many times higher than tower defense, becase you must play with the solid mentality of bringing your army to their deaths.

The only thing that matters is, how to die, and what could be achieved from their deaths? This is the very essence of tower offense games. And it’s harsh, in my opinion.In tower offense, not only you have to ultilize the types of troop according to your finance, but also have to wait for the perfect timing to spawn them. A second slower or faster could result in the troops dying in vain, not fulfilling their task of paving a way for other troops to move on.

If in tower defense, you always have the problem of facing too many enemies at the same time – unfortunately, in tower offense you don’t have that luxury. The number of troops you can muster at the same time is limited, and there’s also the financial problem to pressure you.

THE ESSENCE OF TOWER DEFENSE
feat_mob_tdx (2)The reason that makes tower defense popular to the mass, is entirely due to its simplicity. Unconsciously, tower defense has reached the very standard of a good game: “Easy to play, hard to master”. This is the main factor to make tower defense games irresistable, although it requires the players to think alot.

But even that difficulty couldn’t make the players hesitate – because each failure has its own merit: it allows us to try new methods, until we succeed. And it’s never enough to satisfy the players, just by winning the stage. They will try to win with perfect score, or with different combinations of towers – and this is why we become attached closely to tower defense games.

But even that difficulty couldn’t make the players hesitate – because each failure has its own merit: it allows us to try new methods, until we succeed
feat_mob_tdx (9)Being perfect as it is, even tower defense needs to evolve after a long time developing, adding many more features. The common idea is to mix it with other genres – for example, RPGs, in which towers could also level up and learn new skills.

Another way to make tower defense games more active, is to mix it with action factors. This type is divided into two phases: Build phase – which allows you to plan your towers, and Fight phase – in which you have to control your character to fight with action gameplay.feat_mob_tdx (5)They could be either FPS (Sanctum) or hack-n-slash action (Orc Must Die!, Dungeon Defenders) or even RTS (Winged Sakura)… And of course, when mixing other genres, tower defense has to face the downside of losing itself.

It’s a tough problem to make a tower defense game still be itself, without relying too much on the essence of the added genres. It’s common for this type to make the players think that the towers are useless, and they have to rely on their own controlling skills to win, in the end.