Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Defend The < Insert Anything >!

Happy New Year! It's been a while since I last posted but I've started a few other posts, and will hopefully will be getting them out of the tube sometime soon. 

When I was younger, my dad, who was in the military, told me that whenever the Army is going to attack a fortified position, they always tried to have a 3 to 1 advantage on the defenders, to minimize their casualties. This is because it is much easier to hold ground than it is to gain it, especially if you know the lay of the battlefield better (or even fortified it yourself). You can concentrate your resources in certain chokepoints, and gain significant advantages on your adversaries. Unless taken by surprise, it is very easy for a defensive position to hold back wave after wave of attackers.

I think that this is one of the primary reasons that the "Tower Defense" style of games is getting very popular, especially in the casual/mobile gaming scene. Usually termed as "Strategy", "Action Strategy", or something similar, these games have a very basic premise: you've got a thing, the bad guys want to blow up your thing, don't let them blow up your thing. It's actually quite ingenious the way game designers have kind of spun us on our heads. Back in the days of yore, the player was always attempting to get past the defenses, rescue someone or something, or blow something to smithereens. Now, players are tasked with keeping out all those pesky interlopers, though the basic characterizations are the same.

What do I mean by that, you ask. Well, when one character was able to singlehandedly slaughter the entire Russian army with nothing but a toothbrush, some people called that "unrealistic." However, when that single person is tasked with repelling wave after wave of robotic archer demons, that's much more believable.

Like in my post about zombies, people who play video games like to suspend disbelief far enough to accept the game world, the (usually ridiculous) story, and the mystical powers that they are somehow imbued with. However, granting a modicum of realism, such as having them set up defenses, and actively engaging swarms of enemies, allows them to feel empowered, but not invincible. When the player feels like they can do anything with little or no consequences, the game breaks down somewhat, as the player tears through the levels, unconcerned about what will become of their avatar.

That's all I have to say on the subject, don't worry, I promise that my next post will have some code in it. ;-P

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