Community Blog: Why We Play Defense Grid

08/22/2014 by PrimeSonic

Community Blog: Why We Play Defense Grid
A typical game these days, with any level of story to tell, can run anywhere from 8 to 20 hours from start to finish. Sometimes it'll be more in the case of story focused games. But look up the record of any avid Defense Grid player and you'll see playtime that easily dips into the triple digits. Heck, I’ve got over 200 hours myself and I’m a small fry compared to the true masters.

While the narrative of Fletcher and the commander (that's you) may only take a few hours to complete, the game promptly invites you to go back and re-play levels again and again; Sometimes to play with a different set of rules, sometimes just to see how you might do things differently.

Starting over Can Be a Wonderful Thing
Defense Grid offered a sublime level of possibility in each level. Would you try again with a Tesla tower in that square? Or would a Gun tower in that other one be better? The game presented you with a challenge but didn't fall prey to the trap of having only a single solution. Where some games might devolve into "guess what the level designer was thinking", Defense Grid offered you a much more open canvas with which to work on. Each play session becomes immediately different from the next with each player receiving a completely unique experience based on their own choices.

Self-Expression through Towers
It is an absolute fact that the strategy component of a game is essentially a complex puzzle to be solved. In our case it's a puzzle with dozens to hundreds of moving parts and with multiple solutions, and that is where your personal touch comes into play. The layout you make becomes your own. There's a lot of gut-thinking in Defense Grid, where you've got to play to your intuition on how you expect a tower placement to go for you. All this can make for an almost artistic experience where the map is your canvas and the towers are your paint. (And let's not even get into how DG2 lets you build your own maps!)

The Perfect Interest Curve
There is a flow and rhythm to playing a map. Things start off with an intense bang as you have to quickly set up your very first line of defenses for an otherwise unprotected core housing. But after a wave or two, things mellow out just a little. You've got the basic framework of your defense strategy in place, and you're now a bit more relaxed. Then a wave of fast or elite aliens show up and really push your defenses to their limits, jolting you back into action as your focus narrows in on protecting your cores once again. This steady rise and fall of engagement gently climbs up and up until it finally hits a climax with the map's most difficult wave. Then things settle down as you watch your towers pick off the last remaining aliens and victory is attained. This shifting of engagement throughout a map, this pacing, is the same kind of interest curve you'd find in a good movie or any form of entertainment for that matter. It's what makes each map a satisfying experience from start to finish.

When you're good, it’s like nothing can stop you
There's something to be said for games that empower us, that let us step into the role of a hero that takes on the world and wins. Defense Grid throws an entire army of aliens at you, and watching those aliens getting taken down by the defenses that you’ve set up, can make for one hell of a power trip. It can be even more satisfying when you finally get through a map that's been getting the best of you all day. When you finally pull through and protect those cores to the very end, you're on top of the world. Nothing quite like a good old fashioned victory to remind you that "yes, you can do it, just keep on trying until you make it.”
I'm sure everyone has their own personal reasons for why they always come back to a good round of Defense Grid from time to time. These were just some of the ones I could pick out while looking at the game through the lens of a designer.

These core reasons are at the very heart of what makes Defense Grid what it is and these same core elements will be in Defense Grid 2. If this sounds like your kind of game, then stick around for September 23 when it goes live. ;)

Posted in Defense Grid, Defense Grid 2 | Keywords: Defense Grid, DG2