Flash of Steel header image 2

Three Moves Ahead Episode 116 – Creeps and Towers

May 12th, 2011 by Rob Zacny · 12 Comments · Podcast, Three Moves Ahead


Here come the creeps, led by Rob and Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s Quintin Smith! Fortunately, they encounter a maze of discussion and towers of topics. Inspired by first-person tower defender Sanctum and tower attacker Anomaly: Warzone Earth, Quinns and Rob explore how these games change the tower defense formula, and what about that formula needed changing? Are we doing a disservice to a neat mechanic by insisting that it is a genre? Why are we continually drawn in by games we often find shallow and unsatisfying? Is tower defense really about destruction, or is there an under-served creative aspect to these games?

A lot of games and pieces come up for discussion here, so brace yourself for a link attack.

Quinns’ Sanctum Wot I Think

Troy’s reactions to Anomaly: Warzone Earth

Rob, two years ago, on tower defense games

Quinns on Ace of Spades

3MA on AI War

Rob’s “excessively positive” Dungeons review

The Verdun game Rob couldn’t remember is The Trench

Kieron Gillen on Warfare: 1917

Listen here.
RSS here.
Subscribe on iTunes.


12 Comments so far ↓

  • MFToast

    Anybody ever played that sweet arcade game Beachhead? You know where you put your face in the gun turret? That, multiplayer, would be a pretty awesome tower defense experience. Thanks for the link to The Trench! They shall not pass!

  • spelk

    A tower defense game that was “out there” in terms of marrying an arty story line, with commander participation (mainly applying/directing your ships firepower onto the incoming enemy) was the indie developed title Immortal Defense.

    Another game I’d like to nominate for perusal is Iron Grip Warlord, a game, like Sanctum, that marries FPS and RTS gameplay to path and destroy an advancing horde. Soaked in Steampunk lore, IGW also supports multiplayer with others and fairly decent bots. The only thing letting the game down a little is the overly fussy and now aged graphical content. But the weapons available and the commanding on the fly is excellent and really engaging.

    Lastly I’d just like to throw in my lot for AI War, whilst it is about controlling massive numbers of ships, the actual pace of the game is manageable, and its often played at a much higher strategic level surgically picking your way through star systems. The actual control of your ship masses (or blobs) doesn’t require excessive micromanagement – its often area selection and a right click. With the numerous expansions for AI War, the trick is knowing enough about the ship types available and the nuances each ship or turret type has and how they interact.

    I guess what I’m saying is, AI War isn’t as daunting as it sounds – it plays relatively easily and at a pace that is not in the same magnitude as Starcraft 2 or Company of Heroes. I think its depth lies in the Grand strategic decisions that have to be made coupled with your familiarisation with the encyclopedic knowledge of equipment types.

    I’d urge Rob to grab Chris Park (AI War dev) and ask him to come on the show and discuss the expansions and future of AI War. You could also get some info from him of the survival game he’s currently developing A Valley Without Wind.

    Good to hear Quinns on the show.

  • Ace Of Space: Sanctum Gets New Level | Rock, Paper, Shotgun

    […] full of personality and cheap), and you can even hear me talking about it a bit too fast on the latest Three Moves Ahead podcast. I am, therefore, glad to announce that the developers have rolled out the first of the promised […]

  • Ginger Yellow

    “I’d urge Rob to grab Chris Park (AI War dev) and ask him to come on the show and discuss the expansions and future of AI War. ”

    Just don’t have Quinns on the show or you won’t have any iron.

  • Happy? Hour – May 13 | RobZacny.com

    […] to this piece on strife and mutual distaste within nerd culture. Oh, and Quintin Smith and I deconstructed tower defense games over on Three Moves Ahead this […]

  • Three4Flinching

    In the podcast Quintin Smith talked about how his dream Defence Tower game would involve the enemies attacking the players towers. I have a recommendation then, Lock’s Quest for the Nintendo DS. It´s like a mix of traditional Defence Tower and Action adventure.

    Thanks for a great podcast!

  • Fhnuzoag

    A little known favorite of mine is attack of the paper zombies, which successfully marries squad based tactics with towers. It’s very rough around the edges, but imho something special that deserves to be played.


  • Oak

    Quinns’ call for a pure defense game made me think of the multiplayer siege mode in Mount & Blade: Warband. It gets pretty desperate as a defender (on the better maps, anyway) as you’re all scrambling to cover every breach and entryway and keep the attackers away from the siege equipment. With some building and repair features put in, it could be really something.

  • Rosti

    Excellent podcast – if this is a failure in the making I think you can be quite proud of yourselves. Ideas! Criticisms! Deep thoughts!

    Was a little surprised to hear no references to the other recent tower defence-y indie gem Revenge of the Titans. Not because it’s perfect (it isn’t) but because it’s doing a few interesting things in that space.

  • Chris Nahr

    Since nobody else mentioned it…

    If you played through Defense Grid in one day and thought it was too easy, you were doing it wrong. The point is not to beat the maps but to beat them *perfectly*, i.e. win a gold medal which requires not losing any cores. That’s why the medal system exists, and that’s the real challenge and attraction of the game.

  • James

    Just heard the episode and I wanted to give a big thanks for the open-ended prospective game design discussion at the end! I rather enjoyed the change of pace from retrospectives and I look forward to applying the insights that came out of it.

  • Eli

    This episode made me really miss the old Warcraft 3 custom maps. There were so many co-op defense and tower defense maps.