05/23/2013 by trixie360
05/20/2013 by trixie360
05/16/2013 by trixie360
05/10/2013 by trixie360
05/09/2013 by trixie360
05/02/2013 by trixie360
05/02/2013 by trixie360
04/29/2013 by trixie360
04/27/2013 by trixie360
Afterward, one of our community members requested that we verify or comment on each of the items listed for achieving the $1,000,000 Kickstarter goal. Here's the list:
$500,000 Tier -
Original Levels Remastered, Co-Op Multiplayer (online), DRM Free
$750,000 Tier -
Level editor to make custom levels that can be shared with DG community, More Multiplayer Content
$1,000,000 Tier -
Full DG 2 Sequel, New Aliens, New Towers, New Level Types, New Game Modes, New Ways to Play, 20 Mission DG2 Campaign, Fletcher, Multiplayer Modes, Aforementioned Level Editor, Multiple Platforms, Steam, DRM Free
Here's Jeff's response:
As you know, the Kickstarter paid for the $250k Tier and that led to Containment being delivered to backers. We also said if we ever are able to make DG2, then you'll get a free copy of the game.
Once we began conversations with the investor, we took an approach where we were no longer going to focus on the intermediate tiers, and focus directly on making DG2. The intermediate tiers made sense if we were going to take more time and approach DG2 in a step by step way where we weren't sure how much money we'd raise and we wanted to make sure there was a deliverable for whatever part of the way we reached.
We're now off-the Kickstarter page, so to speak. The investor is interested in making DG2 real and that's our focus. We both agreed however, that the game would have the multiplayer features we talked about, would have a level editor and user created content options, and would ship on Steam for Windows, Macintosh, & Linux and that backers would get a free copy of those versions.
There will be betas and we will be including backers to help us with the betas. We want a community voice involved in the game to help us make the best possible game, and we also have to recognize that we have an investor now too who has contributed substantially and we'll need to respect that as well.
That's where things are at the moment. Our goal right now is to get to first playable on the new engine. We'll develop the multiplayer and level editor features, we're working on the story and the characters and the progression of the single player levels, we're working on the new look and feel of the game that we're very excited about. Once we get to a place in the development where having you play elements gets us good metrics and feedback we'll jump right into that. Likely that's going to be several months from now. Meanwhile, we'll share info as time goes of what is taking place and what progress we're making.
Going back to your above list - We expect everything in the $1m tier to be coming your way. We are not going to be focusing on the $500k and $750k tiers on the way there.
04/25/2013 by trixie360
DG2 is in the works and on the way. The dev team is in place and making progress every day. We’re beyond excited and hope you are too. We suppose you have a few questions:
When?! When is it coming?
The first half of 2014. Yeah that’s a mighty big window, and we’ll narrow that as we get further along in the development process.
What platforms will it be on?
Steam, baby! For Windows, Mac, and Linux!
But what about my [insert favorite platform here]?!
We’re not saying “no” to that, we’re saying “we’ll see.” If it makes sense it could happen; for now, we’re focusing on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Is it going to be multiplayer?
Heck yeah! Co-op AND competitive modes!
I’m an OG Kickstarter backer! What does this mean for me?
First: You rock. Hard. Second: You will receive a copy of DG2 when it releases—as promised. You will also be called upon to take part in the beta testing. We will hook you up, no worries.
So I’m still special?
You’re so very, very special. You get to keep your private backer forum forever. It’s like the exclusive airport lounge for VIPs, without the free drinks. Sorry. We are going to open up UserVoice to all forum members on July 1 though. Until then it’s your private playground so keep voting and sharing your thoughts, we are listening.
Wait! I thought we didn’t raise enough Kickstarter money to make DG2. What happened?
You happened. The support and enthusiasm of the DG community got the attention of an investor who made up the funding gap. Now we’ve got enough money to make DG2.
Who is this awesome investor?
It’s a secret for now. We’ll tell that story a bit later.
Whoa. Is it Batman?
No. It isn’t Batman.
It’s not Bruce Wayne, either. Or Tony Stark.
What kind of stuff will we see in DG2?
So much stuff. A new campaign, multiple planets, freakin’ MULTIPLAYER modes, user-created content support, new aliens, new towers and new characters, and the ability to create—wait for it—custom levels.
New characters? Will Fletcher be back?
How about the new characters introduced in Defense Grid: Containment?
Yup! Cai and Simon will be back.
Can you just sum it up for me, so I don’t have to read this whole post?
Sure. We got the money to make DG2. So we’re making it. It’s gonna rock, and you’ll be able to play it in 2014 on Steam. Boom.
04/18/2013 by trixie360
04/11/2013 by trixie360
04/08/2013 by trixie360
04/04/2013 by trixie360
03/28/2013 by trixie360
03/21/2013 by trixie360
03/14/2013 by trixie360
03/12/2013 by trixie360
03/07/2013 by trixie360
03/07/2013 by trixie360
02/28/2013 by trixie360
02/27/2013 by trixie360
02/21/2013 by trixie360
02/14/2013 by trixie360
02/07/2013 by trixie360
01/31/2013 by trixie360
01/24/2013 by trixie360
01/23/2013 by trixie360
01/17/2013 by Trixie360
01/16/2013 by Jeff Pobst
01/11/2013 by Trixie360
01/11/2013 by Trixie360
01/10/2013 by Trixie360
01/03/2013 by Trixie360
Seeming to appear out of thin air, Wyatan makes a Weekly Challenge debut at number 4. Welcome, Wyatan!
12/31/2012 by Trixie360
- Total Defense Grid Players on Steam: 314,364
- Total Levels Played: 14,992,532
- Resources Recovered: 274,777,403,431.317
- Gold Medals Won: 3,177,356
- Silver Medals Won: 4,369,958
- Bronze Medals Won: 6,057,327
12/20/2012 by Trixie360
12/20/2012 by Trixie360
12/18/2012 by Trixie360
12/13/2012 by Trixie360
12/12/2012 by Trixie360
12/10/2012 by Trixie360
12/06/2012 by Trixie360
12/06/2012 by Trixie360
12/03/2012 by Trixie360
11/30/2012 by Trixie360
11/15/2012 by Trixie360
11/14/2012 by Trixie360
11/13/2012 by Trixie360
Our own Defense Grid Senior Artist (and resident Jarhead) Lex Story gives us some insight into the process of creating levels for Containment.
"Sometimes the paper is too far to reach and too small in the scope of the moment. Sometimes the white board provides the only canvas appropriate for something I call 'concept rants.'
This is a 'concept rant' for a level, trying desperately not to go off on a tangent about WWII vintage aircraft strafing and bombing tactics."
11/12/2012 by Trixie360
11/08/2012 by Trixie360
11/01/2012 by Trixie360
11/01/2012 by Trixie360
"Here is a quick ZBrush sculpture I did to explore some ideas for a level in the upcoming Containment expansion. Obviously no color or details – just some rough visual ideas. I don’t want to spoil any surprises, but it should be obvious we’re not in Kansas anymore."
10/29/2012 by Trixie360
10/25/2012 by Trixie360
10/22/2012 by Trixie360
10/18/2012 by Trixie360
The Juggle Master dropped the ball this week, falling from first place to third. And then along came a spider323g, creeping up to first place—appropriate for spidery October! A big “Welcome to the Top Ten” to larry.garriott and Ganjafear, who wasn’t afraid to go from thirteenth to fourth place this week!
2. Max Payne
3. The Juggle Master ( Sal)
For full results, check out the Weekly Challenge Leaderboard.
Next up is Focal Point – Story Challenge. Good luck, Defense Gridders!
10/14/2012 by Trixie360
10/11/2012 by Trixie360
10/03/2012 by Trixie360
- * Video settings now appear in aspect ratio instead of bpp. Woot!
- * We now have multi-monitor support!
09/19/2012 by Trixie360
07/10/2012 by Jeff Pobst
Everyone has seen what has been happening on Kickstarter with players funding games that they really want to play, and we've backed several of them ourselves. I can't wait for my own copies of DoubleFine Adventure, Wasteland 2, Shadowrun Returns, Banner Saga, Project Fedora, and several others that I've contributed to, and as we started getting closer to completion on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, we started thinking that maybe we could turn to the fans of Defense Grid not only for funding help, but also to collaborate with during the development of the game. We want you as a partner, and making the game this way (as opposed to the more traditional approach) really energizes us as a team and gets us excited about the possibilities.
So to see if we can make both the game and the Kickstarter the best it can be, we started talking with folks out there who we could partner with on graphics technology and input to help. The folks at AMD Gaming Evolved said they wanted in on this and so did the team at Razer, and we're really excited about partnering with both of them on developing new Defense Grid content. The game is going to be even better because of it.
To start with, you'll see AMD & Razer both contributing great pledge rewards on the DG2 Kickstarter page. The hardware rewards are limited, so make sure to reserve one with your pledge if that's something that interests you. Then you'll notice our latest update to Defense Grid includes among many other things new support for the Razer SwitchBlade interface. If you have a Razer keyboard with SwitchBlade, Defense Grid now knows about it and takes advantage of the programmable keys and touch pad. The new DG2 engine is getting some new graphical and input features as well, and as that moves forward we'll announce other cool results of the partnerships.
Other folks have chipped in to help out on in a big way on the Kickstarter as well, and we were thrilled when they agreed to participate and show their desire for more Defense Grid. We can't thank these folks enough: Randy Pitchford, Jordan Weisman, Richard Garfield, Al Lowe, David Perry, Ken Rolston and his Ruby Red Ukulele, Jason VandeBerghe, Chris Taylor, Dave Taylor (no relation to Chris - that we know of...), and Jerry Holkins. Other luminaries have also contributed to some great video moments, and well, you'll get to see those too, in the weeks ahead. And, if you're interested and perhaps also somewhat entertaining, well, you could join the list too. Yes, honest, really.
As part of our celebration of getting players and fans more involved in our game development we're giving away a Steam code of the existing Defense Grid game to anyone who pledges on Kickstarter and we're sending the code to them right away, even before funding closes. Then, everyone in the game, both current owners of the game and folks new to Defense Grid through Kickstarter, can play the existing game, get some new content updates during the next five weeks, and we can also conduct some fun contests in-game and give away some prizes too. Again the prizes are generously provided by the folks at AMD and Razer. We're really excited about what our partnership with them means for you and for the game.
One of the in-game contests is around you making your own video on why you want more Defense Grid. Not only could you win a prize, but your video might be used along with the other folks from around the game industry who have shared their desire for more Defense Grid with us. You'll find more details about it in the game update.
So that's how our big news starts. How it ends is very much up to you. If you want more Defense Grid content, please check out the Kickstarter page and see if there is a pledge level that interests you. Also, if you have friends who love Defense Grid, make sure they know about the Kickstarter as well. With your help, we can make a great Defense Grid sequel that sets a new standard for tower defense games.
06/30/2012 by Jeff Pobst
I know you haven't heard much from us in a while, and its because we've been building things for you to play and there just hasn't been too much time to talk about it. CS:GO has gone through 18 major weekly updates on the PC beta and we've learned so much with Valve, watching your metrics and studying how people play the game so we can keep working to make it better than it was before.
You know that there is a release date now and the game will be coming out August 21st, and we're busily getting the game ready for release on multiple platforms (PC, Mac, Xbox 360, and PS3), and doing everything we can to polish the game.
Meanwhile we've also been starting to let ourselves think about "the future" and what lays beyond CS:GO for our studio. We get your emails and requests asking for more Defense Grid: "I want more Defense Grid" they say, and sometimes it is simply that blunt.
We hear you, and have come up with some plans on how we might be able to accomplish that and I'll be sharing those plans with you... in a bit. I know, I know, on our facebook page I said "in 2 weeks" about 4 weeks ago, and I apologize for that statement - I thought it would be true at the time. During those two weeks, some surprises took place that caused us to incorporate those surprises into our plans, and it slowed down sharing them with you, because, well, they changed a bit - but we think for the better - so we're excited for when they'll be ready to share.
It has been a whirlwind of activity with CS:GO development and planning for the future and the last 10 weeks or so have been so packed that even as I write this on a Saturday, I'm late for my next meeting and I need to quickly wrap this up. Let me say that we so appreciate your support of the games we make and we just continually focus on how everything we do meets the bar of it being "better for the player."
Here's to fun play, hopefully you get a lot of it in your life. We'll be there to keep making it for you.
04/04/2012 by Jeff Pobst
We haven’t done many bundles with Defense Grid. There was the Potato Pack for the Portal 2 launch almost exactly one year ago this week. Last Fall we joined other TD games for the Indie Strategy bundle on Steam, but this week’s Indie Royale Bundle is our first to offer both a Steam key for an expandable version of the game with several of the DLC and also include a version of Defense Grid: Gold without any DRM or online connection needs too.
Indie Royale has combined Defense Grid (the main game and the first five expansions: Borderlands & the four Resurgence Map packs) with Hack, Slash, Loot; Alien Zombie Megadeth, Explodemon, and Astro Tripper all together to keep our April on-sale tradition alive with their April Fools Bundle. Also, for anyone who pays more than the minimum, they get Rock: Deluxe Edition as well.
If you haven’t already picked up Defense Grid, this is a great opportunity to get to know our game and also pick up a few other great ones for a ridiculously low price.
On other topics, the number of emails we’re getting about making a Defense Grid sequel as our next project is almost as large as the number of people who email us asking to join the CS:GO beta (hint – there’s no point in emailing us as it doesn’t get you in, see http://blog.counter-strike.net/index.php/facts/ for more details on how to get in).
The requests have been rising as the months intervene since the release of the You Monster expansion and we hear you. The studio is obviously right now focused on making the best possible CS game we can make in conjunction with the folks at Valve, and not only are we updating the PC beta a lot (and I really do mean a lot), we’re also working to finish the game for all the other platforms too.
After shipping CS:GO, taking one deep breath, and getting a few hours more of sleep than we have been getting, it will be on to the next things – and what will those next things be? I want to know for sure too. I will say that there are a ton of great conversations with many potential partners and lots of very good things as real possibilities.
Perhaps there will be new things in the world of Defense Grid there. Perhaps there will be brand new games that expand on games we love, perhaps there will be completely new things, there are lots of ways it can go.
As for Defense Grid, some folks have suggested with think about “going Kickstarter” to do the sequel and I will say that is an intriguing possibility. There are certain partnerships that may allow us to go even bigger than we think we can go if we do Kickstarter, but should that path not come together, maybe we’ll turn to you and see which features are most important for you to fund. There are so many cool possibilities dancing around in our heads.
Once we do know our next steps after Counter-Strike, we plan on sharing as much as we can with you. You’ve been great and responsive to us as we update our games and adjust products that you’re already playing, but we hope to expand our relationship – you know, us and… you. And with that closer relationship, expanded and all, we hope to create new fun and entertaining experiences that will delight you even more.
01/13/2012 by Jeff Pobst
Happy New Year!
I wanted to get back to the blog and give you an update on the goings-on here at Hidden Path Entertainment, so here goes. Let's start with a myriad of Defense Grid news.
Defense Grid: You Monster and the full bundle (Defense Grid: The Awakening, DG: Borderlands, DG: Resurgence Map Packs, and DG: You Monster) are both available on Steam and have been very popular in the month of December and January. Thanks much for all your support! We hope you're really enjoyed the full chapter of GLaDOS coming to the world of Defense Grid that started back almost a year ago when Valve kindly approached us about joining the Portal 2 ARG.
The game has also been doing well on the Xbox 360 though it can be tough to find on the new dashboard. Go to the games marketplace and search for Defense Grid as an Xbox LIVE Arcade game and you'll see the game and the expansion content all there for you. We're also excited to be a "Deal of the Week" along with other top Tower Defense games on XBLA so for another few days you can get Defense Grid at a great deal on the Xbox 360.
Most of the folks playing the game on Xbox 360 are having the pristine gaming experience as was expected, but there have been a small group that are seeing repeating error messages and achievements that aren't awarding to them, and we've been working closely with the folks at Microsoft to find a way to solve those issues. We don't have a resolution yet, but the Microsoft folks have been helpful and we've given them a lot of information recently so we'll see if this doesn't get fixed here shortly.
Starting soon, the folks at Gamefly's Direct2Drive service will also start selling Defense Grid: You Monster and the full bundle. So that you know, this is still the Steam version of the game, but this allows you to get it from Gamefly if that's where you like to purchase your software.
In December we also did a UI revamp on Defense Grid with the folks at OnLive so that the game could support their new foray into playing the service on tablets. It's true, you can play Defense Grid on an iPad now through the OnLive streaming service, and we created a new user interface that is touch-focused and automatically appears if you play the game on the touch surface. The OnLive folks have been raving about the interface and have even stated in the press that they think this is the best way to play the game. We're happy to be supporting them and will continue to keep an eye on the tablet market and see what other things we can do for these cool devices.
Congratulations also goes out to the 30 awesome folks who were randomly chosen from all the people that did a December (or earlier) like of Defense Grid's Facebook page or Logitech's gaming page and won either a Logitech F710 wireless gamepad, a Logitech G400 gaming mouse, or a Logitech G110 gaming keyboard. We've reached out and contacted the winners on Facebook and some of the hardware is already in the mail and some of it is waiting for a response from the winners. It turns out that the "Defense Grid" page can't contact people, so I had to create a new account from me that is reaching out to folks. If you're a winner and you've been contacted, make sure to get back to us so we can send you your prize.
The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive beta is underway and we're learning a lot about the game, balance, online metrics, etc. from the beta and it's helping us make the game better each day. I'll repeat what we've said before though about joining the beta and such (because we're still getting emails from you), that this is something you want to talk with Valve about rather than contacting us, and definitely post anything about CS:GO over on the Steam forums rather than here. Everyone from Hidden Path and Valve are looking over at Steam for opinions and input and the Valve folks are the ones making the calls on the growth of the beta over time. So far, just a small set of maps and weapons have been released to the beta, but more will come over time. It has been exciting to see more and more public matches of CS:GO, the latest one being the Plantronics matches shown over at CES.
Next up, we have a small bonus coming to Defense Grid players on Steam, and we'll be talking more about that soon. Until then, thanks so much for all the great things you've been saying to your friends and colleagues about the game, we greatly appreciate it.
12/07/2011 by Jeff Pobst
Defense Grid: You Monster is now available on Steam and Xbox LIVE. We're excited and can't wait for you to enjoy our special guest star and a set of new maps and missions. To help celebrate, our friends over at Logitech offered to give away some great keyboards, mice, and PC gamepads to the fans of Defense Grid. Here's the story:
Play Defense Grid Your Way with Great Input from Logitech!
In conjunction with the release of Defense Grid: You Monster on Steam, Logitech and Hidden Path are giving away upgrades for your computer so you can play Defense Grid with the precision and comfort you deserve.
Simply "Like" the official Defense Grid Facebook page or “Like” the official Logitech Gaming page (or both for two chances to win!), and you'll be entered into a drawing for top Logitech input devices for your PC.
You could win one of ten G400 gaming mice, ten G110 Gaming Keyboards, or ten Wireless F710 Gamepads. Contest ends 12/31/2011.
So thanks so much to the Logitech folks. Come the new year we will be mailing out a lot of hardware to a lot of fans. Maybe we'll be sending something Logitech your way!
12/02/2011 by Jeff Pobst
I'm so excited to share with you something we've been working on since the Portal 2 ARG. Last year, the folks at Valve invited us and several other indie developers to participate in launching Portal 2 early on Steam with an Alternate Reality Game that took place with GLaDOS invading each of our games as she tried to escape and launch Portal 2. It was amazing fun and we felt very fortunate to participate in the ARG.
Afterward, we proposed the idea of making this into a full expansion and the kind souls at Valve gave us the go-ahead and then helped us record new GLaDOS dialogue (in English, French & German). We developed a whole new story that continued past what was shown in the ARG and we can't wait for you to be able to play it.
Oh, the Valve folks do want me to point out that while Aperature Science has loaned GLaDOS to Defense Grid for the duration of this expansion, nothing that takes place here is part of the Portal story canon. So don't worry about making it all fit in the timeline you wikipedia entry writers. It doesn't.
On the content side of things, in the last day or so we've already released a free update on both Xbox 360 and Steam that gives your existing Defense Grid some UI updates (making it easier to see all the available challenge modes on a map and all the medals you've earned at a glance) and we threw in a few new game modes and over 30 new challenge missions so you have something to play "right now" while you wait for Wednesday to come.
A Steam order site should be appearing soon and you should also be able to buy it on xbox.com and then have it automatically download the expansion to your Xbox 360 from the web - I think that feature is pretty cool myself. I know I buy many XBLA titles that way.
This is an expansion, so you do need to own the original game in order to play You Monster, and I believe you'll see some discounts and bundle opportunities to get the main game at a special price during the launch of the You Monster expansion pack if you don't already own Defense Grid.
The expansion contains 8 new levels with a story mode and over 35 additional challenge missions and will be priced at $4.99 USD on Steam (or it's equivalent including VAT in other territories), or 400 MS points on the Xbox 360 Marketplace.
For you Xbox 360 users, remember that there is a major dashboard update coming just before this goes out, so things will look a little different as you go to find the expansion.
We look forward to you playing the latest chapter in the Defense Grid franchise.
Protect the cores! And Enjoy!
11/30/2011 by Jeff Pobst
Today, at 3pm Pacific time, the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive closed beta launched and thousands of folks are using their beta keys they received at PAX prime, Eurogramer Expo, or a few of the other events where the game was shown in exhibition on the Xbox 360 or PS3.
Also going live is http://www.counter-strike.net/ which is the official site for the game, and there you will find all sorts of answers to frequently asked questions that we've been hearing whether here at Hidden Path or at Valve.
"Today, CSGO starts its first stress test of our servers and a variety of client hardware.
This stress test contains a limited set of weapons, items, game modes, and functionality.
If you have a beta key, fire up the game. Join a match on a server. Give us feedback in the Steam forums.
Don’t have a key? How do you get one? Hold tight. The stress test is currently closed as we test our server and client systems."
The #1 question asked is stated many ways, but boils down to this.
"Q) How can I get into the beta?"
09/01/2011 by Jeff Pobst
We're back from PAX and what an amazing time it was. Thousands of people got to play Counter-Strike: Global Operations at PAX last week and according to Joystiq "Though the line to play had its naysayers, I saw no one turning away from their demo without a smile on their face. It feels ... well, it feels like Counter-Strike."
And everyone wanted to try out the game. According to Videogamer.com "On the first day of PAX 2011, a confident booth in the middle of the convention's show floor claims to boast the longest queues of the show, and it's for a downloadable game rather than a mammoth AAA title. Isn't that a bit daunting for the staff manning its 10 demo stations? Apparently not - they say it's exciting. I'm inclined to agree: excitement is the right response when the developer is Valve, and when the game in question is Counter-Strike: Global Offensive."
It was exciting. We knew we were working on a very important franchise with Valve, and we all knew that we were having a lot of fun with the new version when we played, but what none of us knew, was how you'd respond, what you'd think, and whether or not you'd want to keep playing it.
I can now report back, that people visiting PAX were as excited as we are about the game, that even when folks weren't sure if the Xbox 360 version we had for them would be their main platform or not, that shouts of delight, suspense, and victory rained down from the rafters as T's and CT's squared off on the new Dust map, and virtual bombs were both planted, defused, and detonated. It was a ton of fun to witness.
Everyone who came to PAX and played got a beta code, those going to Eurogamer will get them too. Don't fall for any of the scams that are starting to pop up out there claiming to have beta keys for you to download, purchase or earn. The only way into the beta right now is to play the game at one of these shows.
There's more to come and we look forward to bringing you more about CS:GO and working closely with Valve to make sure that the very best possible Counter-Strike works its way to you in 2012.
08/25/2011 by Jeff Pobst
It has begun. Information, interviews, and the first official trailer of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive have hit the internet this evening as PAX opens tomorrow, for the public to play and see what several in the press have been experiencing over the last day or two.
The doors open tomorrow at PAX at 10am, and close at 6pm. The hours are the same Saturday and Sunday. We have 10 Xbox 360s ready for a 5 vs. 5 match on Dust, all set up and ready for you to play, so come to the booth, experience an early build of the game for yourself, and leave with a code in your hand that will get you in the PC beta later this Fall.
We'll see you there.
08/18/2011 by Jeff Pobst
As you now know, Valve announced Counterstrike: Global Offensive, or CS:GO as it is also known. Our team here has been working closely with Valve for quite a while on this project and we're very excited for everyone to know about it.
Last week Valve brought in professional CSS competitive players to play the PC version and give our team feedback, and next week, the Xbox 360 version will be playable at PAX for anyone who comes to Valve's booth too. When you come to PAX or the show in London, after you play a round, you will get a code for the upcoming PC beta too.
We'll be there at PAX, watching, taking notes, and making sure that we prepare and iterate to make the best possible Counter-Strike game for you, no matter what your preferred platform is.
Also, if you didn't already know, there is an official Twitter account for the game that will have the very latest and greatest info coming out about it. Follow @csgo_dev (http://twitter.com/csgo_dev) and you'll be plugged in!
07/03/2011 by Jeff Pobst
By now you may have noticed that Steam is having their huge summer sale, and Defense Grid is a big part of it. Today, July 3rd, Defense Grid is 75% off for just the next 24 hours, but throughout the sale, Defense Grid is 50% off.
AND, for the first time ever you can get a discount on Resurgence. How much of a discount? Well, how about 100% off or FREE! But of course there is a catch.
Each day during the Steam Summer Sale, 5 or 6 games on Steam will be revealing a brand new achievement that you can earn. These achievements are in games that you may already own, or perhaps have been wanting to buy and are now on sale. All you need to do to get Resurgence for free is collect 3 of those achievements across the dozens of games participating, and then go to the prize booth and pick the Defense Grid Resurgence Map Pack from the list and it's yours.
If you already own Defense Grid, we've got help for you to get Resurgence free too. We're rolling out a new game mode and achievement today for you in an automatic update called "Out of Bullets." Five different original levels have the new Out of Bullets game modes in their challenge mode list now: Ancient Research, Out of Fuel, Barrier to Entry, Veil of Ice, and Guardian's Fall.
Out of Bullets gives you all the towers to choose from except Gun and Cannon. This gives you an opportunity to not only look to other towers for primary pathing and baseline destruction, but it also provides a fun way to try out some advanced towers on early levels - Concussion, Temporal and Meteor on Ancient Research is one of my favorites - it's so fun (and strange) to see the (almost) full tower assortment on some of these early levels.
For those of you who have played through Defense Grid's story mode, but haven't gone back to look at the challenge modes available on each level, we think you'll not only find the Out of Bullets modes a lot of fun, we think we'll open up a whole new side of the game that you may not have even known was there. Watch out - many many hours of fun are ahead.
I'm looking forward to seeing you on the Out of Bullets leaderboards, they're fresh, new, and there is a lot of opportunity there for you to show off your great Defense Grid skills early.
06/30/2011 by Jeff Pobst
Thank you for your passion for Defense Grid! Over the last several months and even years, we've carefully read your posts, your emails, your suggestions, your requests, and because the Defense Grid community is so active we've been able to address several of your requests in today's June 30, 2011 update on Steam.
First off, Defense Grid now supports Steam Cloud and automatically merges your existing offline profile with whatever is in the cloud too! That means that when you first run this update all your medals and unlock progress will transfer over to the new cloud profile, but it also means that if you need to play the game in offline mode in the future, it will keep that profile locally and update it to the cloud when you next connect again. If you have two different sets of medals and unlocks on two different computers, they'll now be merged - the best result is kept. Many of you have been asking for this, and it starts today. Enjoy your Defense Grid wherever you'd like, as all data for DG on Steam is now stored online.
But there is a lot more than Steam Cloud in this update as well. Recently on the forums it was pointed out that as computers have gotten faster and faster and hard drive seek times are getting shorter, that perhaps our load times are being artificially kept longer than was needed. A bit of investigation showed that this was in fact the case (on the newest and fastest computers), and so we removed any wait times associated with the splash screens and move forward when we're done loading as soon as possible - just spacebar or enter through the splash screens to get to the loading screen right away and it will progress as soon as it can.
The Xbox 360 leaderboard has for a long time been easier to navigate than the one on Steam and we've updated the Steam leaderboard to have the same filtering approach so you can quickly get to the particular leaderboard for the map and mode you want to check. It's much easier to show people your high score now.
We also went ahead and removed any "locks" on levels. As people were installing or reinstalling the game, sometimes they'd lose their progress data and get frustrated. We don't want any frustration, so in addition to Steam Cloud saves, we've removed locked levels as well. If you're learning how to play the game we recommend starting with The Awakening, and playing the levels in order, but if you get stuck on a level or just want to go back to a level from a while back and a profile ago, no worries, they're all unlocked now.
One really large request for advanced players was to have the fast forward button be a toggle rather than a hold down to fast forward. This of course can be really confusing for new players, but we found a way to have both approaches available, and in the settings screen shown above you can now decide whether to have the fast forward button only operate when being held down, or you can live dangerously and toggle fast forward on or off.
Some DG users have passionately wanted shortcut keys, and while they aren't documented in the help text, they're now in the game. The number keys 1 through 0 each represent a possible tower from Gun to Command, and if you push a number key while your cursor is over a buildable spot (and you have the needed resources), you'll see your tower build right then and there. Want to upgrade a tower? Press the 'u' key when your cursor is over an existing tower. Want to sell a tower, press shift and u to sell that tower (it is a two-key combo to make sure you don't accidentally sell that tower).
We also cleaned up all of the potatoes from the UI that were put in there as part of the Portal 2 ARG, and we fixed the voice audio in the C.H.A.S. levels such that the voice volume slider now affects those levels as it does the rest of the levels. The console remains in so you can poke around and read about some of the early DG back-story, but the account passwords have been removed and it is a lot easier to explore.
There are a couple of other popular requests that we aren't able to get to at this time, and we want you to know we looked into them carefully. We would like, and you have said you would like, both multiplayer options in the game and an editor for the levels. The scope of those changes reach into such fundamental systems of the game, that we're just not able to bring them to you in this Defense Grid product. Please know we seriously looked into it.
So, we're excited to share this update with you today. It's available now, so if you launch Steam, you should see your Defense Grid update to the latest version, and all the new features should be there.
Let us know right away on the forums if you run into any new issues. You can always use the contact form as well on the web site, but sometimes that means you're waiting on us to get to the emails, and when you use the forums, other smart DG users can jump in and respond to you, sometimes faster than we can. There also is a lot of activity on the Steam forums. Either way works, it's just a question of which method will get you a faster response.
The Steam summer camp sale has begun, and you'll notice that Defense Grid is on sale, and you can cash in your tickets for free map packs as you earn achievements in other games. Keep an eye out for more Defense Grid opportunities as the summer camp activities are unveiled each day.
06/25/2011 by Jeff Pobst
We're entertainers. Sure, we write software, design and build new game capabilities, draw new concept art, model 3d sculptures, texture those sculptures, design new game systems, try out different game modes, explore what is fun and what isn't fun, test to make sure it works, think about the audio presentation and how to enhance the experience, and spend a lot of time thinking about things different players may want even if other players may not, but at the end of the day, we have one goal. We want to entertain you. That's both the larger group "you" and the more personal "you."
So, it was very energizing when Valve asked us to be a part of the Portal 2 launch ARG because never before had we been able to make game content, and receive such instantaneous feedback on game systems or features that we were developing right then and then adjust what we were doing instantly to make the release a week later even better. It was a completely different entertainment experience, both for us the entertainers and for the audience.
Michael Austin, Hidden Path Entertainment's Chief Technology Officer is going to tell more about that story and the things we learned from the community at the upcoming PAX Prime Dev conference - a new conference hosted by Penny-Arcade for game developers to share information with each other that takes place right next to PAX Prime. Michael gave some initial background of that experience at the LOGIN conference here in Bellevue last month, but will be sharing much more about the experience in August.
Not only that, but we've been told that Design Director Mark Terrano will also be speaking at PAX Dev talking about all the things we've learned about Kinect over the years. It is very possible that Hidden Path Entertainment has been working on Kinect/Natal/3D cameras for gaming and Microsoft longer than anyone else. Back in Spring of 2007 when Peter Moore was running the Xbox gaming group, there was a stealth group of game folks at Microsoft who approached us and asked us to make what I understand was one of the two very first Kinect demos. Another internal group at Microsoft made the other demo. Bill Gates saw the demos, and the rest as you know is history, or actually a lot of complex history between that time and now with several people leaving the project, joining the project and changing how things turned out over the years.
Since then though, we've helped out with many Kinect projects at Microsoft. Some of it you may see, and you don't know that Hidden Path was involved, some of it you haven't seen yet. We think Kinect is very cool technology and we think about it rather differently than a lot of other people, Mainly the difference is that we think it can be a great controller for core gamers who are looking for a unique game experience. The winds are just starting to blow this way - people haven't been quite as interested in thinking about Kinect that way for the past couple of years, but things are changing, and we'll see if we get the opportunity to share some of our approaches with you. Hopefully if we do, you'll think it's really fun (we think what we have right now is a ton of fun and we can't wait to share it with "you").
It will probably be a while though before I will be able to talk more about that since the whole process of making a game with a partner who publishes or finances it requires some secrecy, iteration, and polish before the story is ready to be told - after all, a half-done story isn't as good as the fully flushed out and detailed narrative.
There have been a lot of stories going on at Hidden Path though, and I'm getting excited because as I look at the calendar, and see how things are coming together, I'm getting the impression that I'll have a few things to talk about that I still can't yet talk about, but boy do I want to.
We've been working closely with the folks at Valve for a while now. Whether it was releasing Defense Grid on Steam, updating Counterstrike for the PC last year, or working on the Portal 2 ARG with new Defense Grid content, it is always interesting, refreshing, and just a lot of fun to work with the folks over there. We'll take our cue from them if there ever is an opportunity to talk about anything new, but I can tell you that they really are as great people to work with as their products are great to play.
I can also say (can I?) that more is coming in the world of Defense Grid. Things aren't complete yet, they aren't yet locked down, but we'll be doing something fun for a large part of the community here shortly, and then have some plans for everyone down the road. There are more plans being hatched than will actually happen, so I'm not sure what will turn into final reality, but rest assured that we listen to what you say regardless of game or feature or opinion, and we work hard to try and focus on what will entertain "you" even more and make your experience a better one.
Besides all the things above that I've not really talked about there are a couple of completely new things brewing that have no basis in any game we've released before. I think at last count there are 154 different game design documents in the design share internally, and when the whole team gets involved on turning those idea seeds into fully realized experiences, something magical happens in my opinion.
I'm getting to see the early magic now. I look forward to when we can share it all with you. Sorry if this is a bit of a tease, I'm less trying to tease and more just trying to share my excitement without saying anything that will change the future (kind of like those time travel stories, where you can accidentally change everything if you take the wrong step, run into yourself, or prevent yourself from being born). I'm trying to respect the sacred time-space continuum, while also telling you cool things are around the bend.
I look forward to seeing you there.
04/20/2011 by Jeff Pobst
The Valve Potato/Portal Two ARG is now complete and Portal 2 has been released. We at HPE had a blast participating and we hope those of you who already own Defense Grid or are new to the game, also had fun.
We thoroughly enjoyed working closely with a host of Indipendant Game developers including Dejobaan Games, Frictional Games, Dylan Fitterer, Gaijin Games, Lazy 8 Studios, Tripwire Interactive, Two Tribes, Team Meat, Teotl Studios, Valve and of course peripherial manufacturer Razer. This was a large cross-group project that nimbly reacted to fans, updated weekly, and worked hard to entertain you through our games with new content, puzzles, and several crazy surprises. I don't think anyone ahead of time expected to see pole climbing clue seekers and such intense and exciting IRC discussions or detailed Wiki's spring to life.
The amount of new ARG content that you could find in 123 Kick it, AaAaAA, Amnesia, AudioSurf, BIT.TRIP BEAT, Cogs, Killing Floor, Rush, Super Meat Boy, The Ball, Wonderful End of the World, Toki Tori and of course Defense Grid must have added up to several hundreds of hours of new puzzle solving, investigtation, and fun for fans and we hope finding GLaDOS in all of our games, and getting access to new Portal 2 concept art and information was a fun diversion as we all awaited the launch of Portal 2 and we able to get it to release a day early on Steam.
People have been asking if we'll remove the two new levels we have given our Steam customers now that the ARG is over, and the answer is "no", those will stay. We may be able to create more surprises in store for the future, so we'll see what we can pull off, but for now, there are two new levels for you to experience including one starring GLaDOS and ending with something unexpected happening to our friend.
Others have asked if we will be bringing these new levels to other platforms and channels such as Xbox LIVE, and for the moment, this content is unique to Steam. Where it shows up later, though may be something that can change in the future. We'll keep working on that on our end and see what happens. The world of game development is far less certain and clear than you likely expect it to be on our end. I'm sure you think we know all the answers and how it is going to turn out, and the truth is we try to make a lot of things happen, and sometimes they do!
Several of us were watching the IRC channels, and every once in a while someone would comment that "I bet the devs are watching and laughing at us." They were exactly right on the watching part, but the laughing couldn't have been further from the truth. Each of the Indie developers involved were making all sorts of content for a type of experience that was new to develop for all of us. We were scared to death that a puzzle would be way too easy and solved in seconds and not be interesting, or scared that a puzzle would be way too hard, and no one would figure it out and it would be too frustrating. Our job was to entertain, and we were always concerned that the puzzles and clues and information would not be entertaining, and fortunately it went a lot better than we feared. Thanks so much to the community of people who helped organize, document, share, and connect people together so that so many people could participate and have fun. We were honored to be interacting with you in a way we hadn't been able to do so before.
Well, it is back to "regular" work for those of us in the studio who were working on the ARG. The rest of the studio has been focused on our other projects and we can't wait to share them all with you once they're ready to talk about and we have a better idea of when they'll be coming out.
Thanks much for playing Defense Grid, and hopefully also enjoying it. We love making games for you.
04/15/2011 by Jeff Pobst
It would appear that the worlds of Portal 2 and Defense Grid have become intertwined and GLaDOS is at work. A new Aperture Science website has gone live and it indicates that Portal 2 may well be released early if enough people play all of the games in the Potato Pack on Steam:
Defense Grid is in there of course, as is Killing Floor, Cogs, Rush, Toki Tori, BIT.TRIP BEAT, 123 Kick It!, Audiosurf, The Wonderful End of the World, Super Meat Boy, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, AAAA!! and The Ball. All are great games, so I guess if one is going to slave to GLaDOS's purposes, at least one can have fun doing it. That's something new.
Defense Grid does have new content for you to play on Steam. There are two new levels added this month, one of them starring your favorite Portal character! There is also an old computer console (found under the "console" main menu button) that has puzzles, mysteries, and information on some of the people who worked on the Defense Grid program long long ago. Best of all we learn our AI friend's name for the first time.
03/12/2011 by Jeff Pobst
Perhaps one of the largest improvements is the updated forums. We're happy to now be on Vbulletin and look forward to a significantly enhanced experience sharing info between players and interacting with you in a cleaner and easier to read manner. Searching is also improved.
Finding the image or screenshot you want is also much easier now when to go to the game detail page. Click left and right on the single preview to go through them one at a time, or click on view all to get an expanded thumbnail view with up to 35 images per page.
For Defense Grid we now have downloadable wallpaper and screensavers as well that previously were only offered through 3rd party partners.
Hidden Path Entertainment turned 5 years old this year, and as we approach our next 5 years, we have several games under way, new exciting opportunities, and more fun and surprises left to share. This new site is just the beginning.
Enjoy the ride with us!
05/27/2010 by Jeff Pobst
Go take a look at the great article in Gamasutra
05/24/2010 by Jeff Pobst
Composer Duane Decker has the music from Defense Grid up on his site for you to download for your personal use.
If you have commercial reasons to want to use the music, please contact email@example.com .
03/17/2010 by Michael Austin
The gun tower was used as a baseline for all other towers in Defense Grid. Each upgrade of each tower was balanced around the level 1 gun, based on its overall utility across all situations.
Level 1 gun tower - Total Cost: 100 DPS: 10 Range: 3.50 squares
Level 2 gun tower - Total Cost: 300 DPS: 30 Range: 3.75 squares
Level 3 gun tower - Total Cost: 700 DPS: 70 Range: 4.00 squares
Originally, upgrades were 1:3:9 with the red towers being three times as powerful as amber towers, but it became too expensive to do the final upgrade (you had to wait around too long for the money), so we lowered it to 1:3:7. The first upgrade is twice the cost of the base tower, and the second is twice that cost.
It was interesting- originally I thought that upgrades needed to be more powerful since you had to save up the money to place them, but in actual playtesting this was offset by the fact that you could make extra use of a prime spot (one near a temporal tower, or one that was placed near a junction). In many tower defense games, upgrading is an easy decision- several waves in it becomes 'place-upgrade-upgrade, place-upgrade-upgrade', and it was important to us to try and find a balance where the upgrade decisions were actually meaningful and had tradeoffs.
The gun tower can shoot any alien within range, and is the best general purpose tower. Because it's so cheap and easy to put down, it's efficiency at level 1 is a little bit below average; however, by the 2nd upgrade the extra range brings it on par with the other towers. It is a front row gun- any tower in front of it limits the damage it can do, and so it should generally be placed as close to the path as possible.
The inferno tower shoots a wide cone of napalm, roasting all the aliens within. It is balanced with the gun tower if it hits between 2-3 enemies on average while it is firing, and is much more powerful when there are more, and less useful when there are less.
The inferno tower is the first tower that does partial heat damage (which means it heats up enemies so they continue to take damage over time. This does have the side effect of reporting half of the damage it does under 'laser level 1' in your stats, but trust me, it's the inferno doing it!) This makes it more effective against fast enemies (who continue to take damage after they pass through), but less effective against shields (which make an alien immune to heat while they are up).
Here are the basic stats:
Level 1 inferno tower - Total Cost: 150 - DPS: 8.5 - Range: 2.50 squares - Cone: 70 degrees
Level 2 inferno tower - Total Cost: 450 - DPS: 23 - Range: 2.50 squares - Cone: 80 degrees
Level 3 inferno tower - Total Cost: 1050 - DPS: 48 - Range: 2.50 squares - Cone: 90 degrees
The inferno targets the front enemy of the group, and any other enemies caught in its range will take equal damage. Because of their short range they are best when adjacent to the path (giving them the best cone area of affect).
Here are some good and bad inferno layouts:
01/05/2010 by Michael Austin
Line of sight started out actually as more of a problem than a feature. We didn't really think about it until an early version of our game where the shooting-through-other-towers looked really awful. You don't really notice it until you try to do realistic graphics, and then your brain goes "That's wrong!"We started out with 15 towers, I think, and the line of sight constraint really helped us tune them down. We tried to pick a subset of the towers such that each one was different and unique, and could be the best tower in a specific situation. I like, for instance, how line of sight affects the cannon-gun tradeoff. Guns need line of sight to be effective, since they are shooting constantly and any down time is bad. Since cannons are on a long cooldown, they can shoot the instant line of sight is available, and it actually doesn't hurt them that much. It leads to a natural "back row"-"front row" thing.
I grew to love it when I realized what a difference it makes for tower placement- when you have to consider your future plans for areas, there's a new depth of strategy. Suddenly in that clump of 4 towers right by two paths, they aren't all equal- there's a reason to pick, and the trade-offs are different for each tower. It was definitely a case where a problem turned into (what I think is) really fun gameplay!
01/04/2010 by Adam Crockett
In this diary, I’ll be discussing aspects of the animation process for our tower defense title, Defense Grid: The Awakening.
The visual tone of the game was set by the various artists involved. This was done in a very collaborative environment – typical of game development at Hidden Path. We discussed and decided how the towers and creatures should move, and what sort of impact the animations should have.
In the game, the player character erects defensive towers from predefined slots in each level. Since we wanted to preserve the fundamental strategy of tower positioning, we didn’t want to have towers move around like characters, but we did want them to raise, lower, attack, and scan for the next target. We also planned special idle motions, and reload sequences, but most of the towers’ animation ‘zing’ is in the way they raise and lower, mechanically blossoming into death- dealing machines of doom. As we were starting to spec out some of our planned idles, T.J., one of the programmers, devised a procedural way for the turrets to “scan” for the next target. I was happy enough with the result to scratch most of the idle animations off the list. It was much less repetitive and more convincing than a looping idle animation created by an artist. Players will still see a standard idle here and there, such as a rotating radar dish, but most were replaced by T.J.’s great solution.
Accommodating the procedural motion wasn’t without its challenges – it meant re-rigging some of the towers to have yaw and pitch bones that the programmers could control (even in instances where a tower did not yaw or pitch!) but it was ultimately worth it, and I still love the way the towers all look around separately, searching for their next unlucky victim.
The aliens consist of the invading hordes intent on robbing the player of his precious power cores. They appear in increasingly difficult waves made up of different types of creatures with different stats. They move intently, focused on their goal, undeterred by the slaughter into which they march.
As models were completed, I began rigging the most complex one first -- the Juggernaut. We used 3d Studio Max‘s biped rig, posed as a quadruped. After rigging and skinning were completed, I created the first walk and death cycles to set the look and feel for our animation team. For additional direction, I tweaked the animation timing to work appropriately with the pacing of game play. The animation crew took it from there.
Though we started with a more complex list that included lots of animations, gameplay evolved such that we narrowed the list down to basically walking and dying. Those two animations had to convey each alien’s personality. Differentiating was a difficult task. Each alien has a couple of death animations, for variety, but the walks were pretty standard and so presented a tougher problem. To solve it, we added “leans” that we blended into their animations as the aliens turned corners. That added a lot to an otherwise unremarkable animation. I was very pleased with the way the alien animations turned out. Of course, I’m never completely satisfied. If we had additional time and budget, I would have liked to see the deaths have a bit more inertia, but they definitely convey what they need to with a lot of character from game view.
Overall, I’m really happy with the animation in Defense Grid. I think it is a substantially better experience than what other tower defense games have to offer. I still get giddy watching the towers unfold, and it’s always satisfying to watch a particularly tough alien finally crumple to the ground. I hope you enjoy playing Defense Grid: The Awakening, and thanks for reading!
01/03/2010 by David Wenger
As a software engineer at HPE, I get to develop tools that enable the team to work more productively. Improved productivity results in more game content and a more gratifying experience for the player. On Defense Grid: The Awakening, I worked on new tools that helped our artists and designers develop more content so the player gets even more from the game.Asset Viewer
One of the concerns when developing a game is how long it takes for an artist to be able to see their art as it would look in the game. Artists use many different software tools to make characters and environments come to life, but those tools usually don't know anything about how the art will be drawn in the game. As a result, we generally create some additional software to allow the artists to very quickly be able to see and evaluate their content in the game engine.A new Asset Viewer software system has been a particularly fun element of programming for Defense Grid. This tool allowed our artists to take new art (including towers, environments and particle effects) and view that art as it would be seen in the game. This allows the artists to immediately get an idea of how object animations or lighting will look without having to wait for a new build. Making all the rendered content for a game is a huge task, so helping the artists out with the Asset Viewer was useful for them and a fun program for me to create.
Another one of the cool things I worked on was the implementation of Rule Sets in the game engine. Rule Sets allow the designer to set up specific ways in which a game level can be played. The more ways you can set up a level, the more hours of game play our designers can dream up. We might give you lots of resources with which to build up your defenses, but then also make the enemy units stronger. Or perhaps, when playing on a higher difficulty setting, you have to fend off the invaders with only a limited set of tower types.As an example, when you first play the "Fire Control" level you are playing with a set of rules that makes it challenging to earn a gold medal. But once you've unlocked the additional play modes you get to challenge yourself by trying to play the same level with tougher aliens, limited number of towers, or only green (first-level) towers. Each of these additional modes has rules that are uniquely set up by the designer in order to provide the player more fun, additional game play and new challenges.
During play-testing it was really cool to see how we could play a level with one rule set and then play it again with a different rule set; resulting in two completely different and exciting encounters, despite it being the same map! Our designers continued to tweak the rule sets for each game level to ensure that no matter what the play style, you'll have a really enjoyable experience.
Enabling the artists and designers on the team to create content better and faster has been very rewarding. I hope it leads to you having a lot of fun with Defense Grid.
01/02/2010 by John Daud
Greetings! My name is John Daud and I'm a designer at Hidden Path Entertainment. Our latest project is a tower defense game called Defense Grid: The Awakening. Our goal for this title was to take all of the fun we were having playing web browser tower defense games and add some production value to the genre through complex sound design, gorgeous art and a compelling story.Defense Grid was principally inspired by the imagination of our CTO and one of the company founders, Michael Austin. Michael had played a number of tower defense games and was fascinated by the game mechanic, but believed that there was great opportunity for improvement in graphical fidelity and game play. He discussed his idea with Mark Terrano, another founder and our Design Director. Mark bought into Michael's vision and assembled a proposal. From there, the principals generated a great design document that set the product tone.
But the design contribution went far beyond Michael and Mark. Design at Hidden Path is a truly collaborative effort that involves everyone on staff. Every member of the team has a wealth of game development experience and a broad knowledge of many game styles. Consequently, the team considers all ideas and suggestions, regardless of whether the source is an artist, a programmer or a designer. With such a strong group working on the title it was no surprise that in a matter of months we were already playing a fun, addicting and great looking prototype level. After we agreed on what made the game fun, we just needed more content. So my primary role on the project was to design and build many new levels, leveraging off of that initial prototype.
To construct level maps, we used a proprietary map editor built specifically for this title. The tool allowed me as a level designer to either construct constrained paths, open platforms or combinations of both. In tower defense games, the antagonist comes into the map messes up your world (in our our case they steal precious Power Cores) and leaves, either from the point of entry or a separate exit. So we knew we needed spawn points, exit points, and power core positions defined in the editor. One of the most exciting features of our map editor tool is the procedurally generated geometry. The constrained paths - where the landscape of the environment determines where the enemies can move - are defined by series of connected waypoints. These automatically generate the path geometry complete with the path surface, guard rail, lights, support structure, pipes, etc. This technology also allows sections of the map that are designated buildable areas to be procedurally generated with the sci-fi industrial design appearance we wanted. With the game play-specific elements procedurally created, the artists can focus on geometry in the levels that really brings the environment to life and truly takes the Defense Grid aesthetic to a high level. One of the coolest parts of the process was seeing what the artists created out of my collection of paths and tower platforms.
Of course, making each level fun and unique was a critical part of my job. I had many different variables to play with to accomplish this. One of the cool things about tower defense game design is the ability to "tweak the knobs" in order to adjust the game play experience: the number of enemies attacking, the time between waves, the type and strength of the invaders versus the types of towers at the player's disposal, how many resources the player has at the start in order to build those towers, the number of spaces available to build in... all of these variables can be adjusted to subtly or radically change the player experience. And while surviving a Defense Grid level is certainly fun, another effect of these many variables is the desire to replay the level in order to achieve a better score or a higher medal value. "Did I need to build that last tower?" "What if I frontload my defenses instead of building near my cores?" "Maybe the Inferno tower would be more effective than the Laser in that one build spot..." "How did that guy finish the mission with 800 more resources than me?" As a level designer, I want to know the ideal strategy for any particular mission, and I want to provide the player with a challenge while they search for the perfect defense. Personally, it is great to hear about someone waking up after playing our game the night before with an inspiration for a better defensive strategy for some particular mission in our game.I am thrilled that even after all of the months of hard work put into this game that the development team still can't stop playing the thing. I can honestly say that I had a great time working on this game, and I am very proud of Defense Grid. I hope you share my excitement, and that this diary adds to your appreciation of the game. See you on the leader boards!
01/01/2010 by T.J. Martin
Hi, I'm T.J. Martin, a game programmer at Hidden Path on the team that created Defense Grid: The Awakening. We've just finished the final polish stages of the product, and it feels great. I think we've got a challenging, addictive game that's fun to play and beautiful to look at.
When I think back to what the key things were that allowed us to get to this stage, I focus on two things: 1 - allowing the designers to have the ability to efficiently experiment with design concepts, and 2 - the excellent communication and problem solving techniques the team used.
The tower defense format provides a simple, but rigid, system of rules. Since this system established the basic game play, we used this rule set as a canvas to explore more subtle design ideas and play with game balance. We wanted our designers to be able to work as freely as possible, so we thought about content creation from the very beginning of Defense Grid. One of my main tasks was to allow the designers to create levels that were completely playable without any programmer or artist intervention. The result was a level editor that actually generated geometry for testing purposes. Only after the level design was nailed down would the artists would go through and make it look beautiful. Since Tower Defense is a genre that is largely about optimization and efficiency, it was important to be able to tweak every little detail to make every level, monster and tower as fun as possible. We made an effort to ensure that any number or setting could be modified by a designer without having to wait for someone to change code.
One of the things I like most about Hidden Path is the rapid flow of information. We work in open environments where everyone is free to bounce ideas around. No one hides in an office and creates features in isolation. Any feature has probably been thought about and discussed by multiple people from art, programming and design. This low communication barrier also allows programmers to better empower designers. We don't simply read a document and then make it happen. We work with the designers. If we have a question or suggestion, we can bring it to them directly instead of waiting for an open slot on their Outlook calendar. This lets us make sure that our game stays fun and that we all love the final product.One of the most interesting design areas has been assigning roles to individual towers. I have always felt that, in any game, different pieces of your arsenal should be fundamentally and functionally different. Just changing numbers and adding a new visual effect is not enough! Anytime we felt that two towers were becoming too similar, we addressed it. At one point, we had a tower that wasn't really working out. Instead of just cutting it or letting it go unaddressed, we got around a whiteboard and discussed what made the tower unique and how we could keep that element. At the end, we had completely redesigned two towers. No meetings were scheduled. No formal change requests were written. We exchanged ideas collaboratively until we arrived at the right answer, and we made it happen.
This kind of cooperation and these thought processes are what enable us to create games we are proud of. I knew we were on the road to achieving this goal with Defense Grid when we all started competing with each other for better scores and breaking down strategy on a whiteboard to be better at our own game. The team dynamics have really helped build a great game experience.
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