Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Despite having plenty of more productive things to do with my time, I’ve been hooked on this game Desktop Tower Defense for almost two months, now. And while I don’t consider myself to be in the upper-echelon of players — I’m not ready to go Pro — I have become quite good. Maybe 95th+ percentile. Good enough to teach. So here’s some teaching, a few Desktop Tower Defense pointers that might help you — lowly DTD-plebe that you are — improve your game a bit.
So, there you go.
Novel Concepts, the blog by the guy responsible for Desktop Tower Defense (and another guy), is an interesting read, as well. Their Flash piracy post is an interesting perspective on the “meme piracy” which is rampant online. (Any popular meme image or video — anything small and probably created by someone indie enough not be able to control it with lawyers — will eventually wind up on meme-dump sites like ebaumsworld — which I won’t link to because, frankly, I think many sites like this are essentially scummy and spammy and shitty. (Something Awful agrees.) Ebaumsworld is a particularly egregious case. But these sites appear to be actually quite difficult to get rid of because, of course, few people have the resources to go after them over some image or video or small Flash game that goes viral and gets popular.
But there’s another interesting point in all of this. Desktop Tower Defense is great — horribly, horribly addictive. But it is definitely not horribly, horribly original. It builds upon the fine tradition of tower defense games that started with a Warcraft III mod (I’m told — I’ve never played WCIII). It’s almost indefinable why this version so compelling. I’ve played a few others and felt just “blah” and not interested. Partly, I think, it’s the fact that it is a phenomenon — I can talk about this game with people is a way I could never really talk about some little Flash game I’d come upon in the past. (I mean, talking about it kind of feels like comparing masturbation tips, but still — at least we’re all masturbating.) Even console games rarely have this appeal because it’s rare for me to play a game at the same time as someone else — when I talk about the new Wii Zelda, I’m either talking to people who’ve finished it or who haven’t started.
Kongregate, the new social gaming site that now has their ads all over Desktop Tower Defense (which I’m actually okay with) appears to want to capitalize on the above feelings — community around small, quickie games. Will it work? They have almost 1,000 games available right now, including Desktop Tower Defense. I’d ballpark about one out of every 1000 Flash games are compelling enough to play more than once. Game design can be hard, let’s be honest, and small Flash games necessarily follow that difficult-to-predict “pop song” model — so many bands are capable of tossing together a quick, catchy, fun track that the market gets glutted and the winners, the band that gets the hit, can be difficult to anticipate (unless there’s a giant marketing push of some sort). (I also don’t buy the “revenue sharing” business model, but that’s another post.) So Kongregate will have to get much larger soon to become viable as a business, I think — or else learn to capitalize extremely well on hits like Desktop Tower Defense. I’ve never seen a Flash game go viral quite as hard as Desktop Tower Defense has, though, so… We’ll see what happens.
I'm Josh Knowles, a technology developer/consultant on a variety of mobile, social media, and gaming projects. I founded and lead Frescher-Southern, Ltd. I grew up in Austin, Texas and currently live in New York City.
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