Suggestion - Level Design & Flow



  • Based on the current alpha (0.0.5) levels, I have some suggestions for general flow for enemy encounters.

    • Change enemy spawns so they don't count down to the next spawn until all current enemies are defeated.
    • Change enemy AI so they don't attack towers unless they are blocking their path to the player (or some other goal)
    • Greatly increase the maximum number of towers.
    • Add a sub-currency that towers cost per-build. (gears? -- then change current gears used for upgrades to gold gears?)
    • the sub-currency would be gathered over the course of a round, perhaps from enemy drops. a max number of this sub currency would make sense.
    • Add a cheap "barricade" tower.
    • Remove timers from floor traps.
    • Make the encounter areas larger, allowing the player to maze with towers.

    Here's a sloppy mock-up of what a level might look like:
    DWERVE-mockup.png



  • For anyone just joining this thread, this post proposes solutions to the issues pointed out in First Session Thoughts - Alpha 0.0.5.

    @Aviox Peter and I discussed these suggestions, and here's our thoughts:

    "Change enemy spawns so they don't count down to the next spawn until all current enemies are defeated."
    I think we'll do this in earlier levels since the player is still learning the game, but I think timing waves is important to creating interesting battles, so we might not do this as often in later levels.

    "Change enemy AI so they don't attack towers unless they are blocking their path to the player (or some other goal)"
    We thought long and hard about this one and decided that while we could certainly do this and make a great game, it does make Dwerve less unique and more similar to other tower defense games.

    "Greatly increase the maximum number of towers."
    As the player progresses through the game, they will get more and more power stones. Certain levels will also give the player Yellow Power Stones (one-time use) and Blue Power Stones (last until end of level). This lets us give the players additional towers as they progress through the level in a more controlled way.

    "Add a sub-currency that towers cost per-build. (gears? -- then change current gears used for upgrades to gold gears?)"
    Paying a currency to build turrets can make it difficult to balance: spending too much currency on building turrets makes the latter part of the level too difficult while spending too little currency on building turrets makes the latter part of the level too easy.

    "The sub-currency would be gathered over the course of a round, perhaps from enemy drops. a max number of this sub currency would make sense."
    A max limit would prevent the player from becoming overpowered from having too much currency, but each battle is usually designed for a specific number of turrets so I'm not sure this is the right solution. Let me know what you think of the Yellow/Blue Power Stones solution mentioned above.

    "Add a cheap "barricade" tower."
    I think adding a cheap barricade is a good idea.

    "Remove timers from floor traps."
    We'll experiment with removing timers from floor traps and see how it feels.

    "Make the encounter areas larger, allowing the player to maze with towers."
    I think this is a good idea since the 1 tile wide paths in level 3 made it feel wayyy too claustrophobic. Not to mention the level is much more linear than level 1 and 2.


    Final thoughts

    So it seems that you'd prefer the game to play more like a traditional tower defense game, and I think making such changes would certainly make for a really fun game! But, I think it would also cause Dwerve to become a little more generic and blend in with other tower defense games. I think that you pointed out a lot of serious issues with our current design, but Peter and I feel confident that we can address these issues without having to default back to more traditional tower defense mechanics.

    Let me know if I'm wrong, but I assume the majority of the issues revolved around level 3 being wayyy too difficult. I'm confident we can improve the experience without changing the core mechanics by:

    • Adding more indicators to clearly convey incoming threats (garrison spawning from the ground, environmental tiles about to get destroyed, garrisons changing what monster they're spawning) and changes to the battle (different monsters start spawning or environmental tiles get destroyed)
    • Adjusting the timing/waves to challenge the player an appropriate amount depending on the level (level 3 played more like mid/late game content)
    • Properly teaching the player certain strategies before expecting them to use it in a battle

    Let me know what you think!



  • Thanks for the in depth response, @snarlynarwhal, and thank you for considering my suggestions.

    "Change enemy AI so they don't attack towers unless they are blocking their path to the player (or some other goal)"

    We thought long and hard about this one and decided that while we could certainly do this and make a great game, it does make Dwerve less unique and more similar to other tower defense games.

    The current (0.0.5) game-play and level design of Dwerve seems to be about scrambling to keep a few towers alive and in place. It's a one-tower thick wall between you and the enemy at multiple choke points; a thin veil between the enemies and your inevitable death. Is this tension (scrambling to rebuild dying towers) something you devs want Dwerve gameplay to center around? (If it is, I'll find ways, as a tester, to support that goal)

    I don't hate this tension and I definitely don't want it completely gone, but I have mixed feelings about it.
    Personally, I find this tension pretty intense -- which isn't automatically a bad thing -- but if it's the primary play-style, it seems to remove that oh-so-satisfying feeling as you slowly amass an army of towers, and sit back and (or scramble behind the scenes and keep working to) watch your towers wreak havoc. It also deminishes the strategic potential of the game. I don't want to remove the action, I just would like a little more of the TD-style strategy.

    Does anybody else have thoughts on this? (I'm totally okay with being the only one that feels this way)


    In my mind, what I mean by "more TD-style strategy" is something like this:

    1. More creative tower placement. There's some in there already, but something like mazing (weather it's player-created mazing or level design) would add way more potential. I like the kinds of towers you have, but 0.0.5 doesn't give a ton of ways to utilize them that I came up with. e.g. the floor traps with the timers on them make them nearly impossible to use, since you wall off your access to them with towers. (of course, more time between waves might solve this)
    2. The per-battle grind of building up the number/strength of towers. It sounds like the yellow gem idea mentioned elsewhere will add to this concept. Mazing could also add to this concept. Even if the only thing your mazing-related-towers do is make the enemies take longer to get to you, the player abilities (boomering & anything else planned) plus ranged towers have more time to do their job. Which would be my preferred play-style, if given the option.

    The above (original post) suggestions are, of course, just one way these could two things could happen. For example, here's some other (possibly simpler) changes that could add in some form of mazing:

    • Barricade towers, that have a unique trait -- they aren't targeted by enemies unless fully blocking the enemy path.
    • Add a tower that aggros enemies, causing them to prioritize attacking that tower, provided they can get to it.

    I hope this helps!


    So it seems that you'd prefer the game to play more like a traditional tower defense game, and I think making such changes would certainly make for a really fun game! But, I think it would also cause Dwerve to become a little more generic and blend in with other tower defense games. I think that you pointed out a lot of serious issues with our current design, but Peter and I feel confident that we can address these issues without having to default back to more traditional tower defense mechanics.

    In some ways, I suppose that's true. But I'll clarify that I definitely don't want Dwerve to be just another TD game (there's more than enough of those on the market). As I said above, I don't want to remove the action, I just would like a little more of the TD-style strategy. When I first came across Dwerve, my first impression was it would be a game similar to Orcs Must Die, (which I don't consider a generic TD game) but maybe with some more open Zelda-esque gameplay throughout. Now that's a game I'd love to play. But perhaps that's pretty far off from your vision. And if so, that's okay.

    Thanks again!


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