Tower Defense & Tactics vs Strategy

What do you think of the tower defense genre? Do you have a favorite game in that genre or do you think its all casul shit?

It’s not my thing, I’m just not a fan of games where I make a bunch of decisions at the beginning and see them play out over time. Having such a long iteration cycle/feedback cycle on my input makes it tricky to see how my decisions were much better or worse than other possible decisions I could have made. Also I just don’t get the positioning and tower type tradeoffs in most TD games.

There’s certainly a depth in picking different towers and positioning them differently. Different towers can have synergy with each other and effective positioning can be a big deal, and there’s a range of expression there depending on how much granularity you’re allowed in tower positioning. It’s just not my type of game because it’s all strategy and no tactics.

Some tower defense games let you actively fight alongside the towers, but generally they don’t have as good gameplay as a game dedicated to that type of combat. I enjoy this more, but only because I enjoy action combat more.

So yeah, I think there’s something there, or at least the potential for something there, but it’s personally not my thing.

What distinction do you make between strategy and tactics, and can you give an example of a game that has both?

Strategy is long-term. Tactics is short term. Tactics win the battle, strategy wins the war. You can also think of it as macro and micro.

Tactics games have you with a set number of units trying to defeat a set number of units.

Strategy games have you invest now to get advantages in the long run.

For example, in Smash Bros, Snake is a more Strategic character than others. He needs to set up mines, C4, and keep track of how many tranqs he has, reloading them as appropriate. These factors all need to be set up, paying off later down the line. He also need to play tactically, fighting the opponent directly and win those exchanges so his strategic investments can pay off.

Tower Defense games have you exclusively manipulate them by putting down investments that pay out over a long period of time. You usually can’t affect enemies in any way other than putting things down that affect enemies.

2 thoughts on “Tower Defense & Tactics vs Strategy

  1. Weewoo May 13, 2017 / 7:59 pm

    What are your thoughts on enemies reading inputs, like the high level AI in Smash Bros? In fighting games? Outside of fighting games? If there are problems, are there any ways of resolving those issues?


    • Chris Wagar May 13, 2017 / 8:21 pm

      I do have an, y’know.

      Basically, reading your inputs is bad, it sounds cool, but ultimately comes off as just random. Sometimes you randomly succeed and fail by no intention of your own.

      I think fighting games are fundamentally broken in this way, because everything is designed to be like rock paper scissors, with attacks so fast they’re unreactable. You can’t really fix that without changing the designs of characters. In smash, attacks are preceded by movement, so you get a bit of a reaction buffer, so it works slightly better, but in traditional fighting games, to beat a fireball, you need to jump at the same time it’s thrown, and you don’t have enough reaction time to do that, it’s a read.

      One solution I proposed was a glint effect on AI characters before they do moves to give you reaction time before they perform them, without changing the properties of moves, but you can’t have a billion different glints for every attack they do.

      The key with single player games is to give people complex scenarios and ask them to pick the best option to get through. You can’t play true rock paper scissors in single player because a computer is dumb RNG and you can’t predict that.

      Building a better smash bros enemy is easy, look at subspace emissary, especially the boss fights. You can just copy stuff from platformer games. Building a better traditional fighting game enemy is hard. Some bosses are alright, but it’s hard to build more normal enemies that interact deeply with the moveset of the characters.

      Basically, don’t read the player’s inputs (unless you give them a chance to react and counter). Don’t build a single player game where enemy attacks start up in less than 16-20 frames.


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