Tag Archives: Defense Grid: The Awakening

Defense Grid the Board Game

As down as I currently am on recommending any sort of video game related Kickstarter, I do have to mention the title that disappointed me the least over the last five years, which was the Defense Grid 2 campaign.  As a project, it shipped the content that was funded just a mere month late and then went off to finish the unfunded content and sent it out to all backers as well.

Hell of a deal.

The only tiny disappointment was that Defense Grid 2 just wasn’t quite as much fun as the original Defense Grid.  The problem with sequels and all that.  Still, Hidden Path Entertainment did put out a pair of excellent tower defense games as well as doing the Age of Empires 2: Age of Kings HD update that brought that classic forward into the Steam era. (Oh, and they were involved with a little game called Counter Strike: Global Offensive.)

So I was interested to see that somebody is turning Defense Grid into a board game.  Not Hidden Path, but Hidden Path has clearly signed off on and fully endorsed the project.  And so we have a Kickstarter campaign for Defense Grid: The Board Game!

Tower Defense on your table top

Tower Defense on your table top

If you want to see what a tower defense game might look like in board game form, you can give this a look.

The campaign has already funded at this point, so they are working on stretch goals.  And physical games seem to have a better history with Kickstarter than video games.  Coding is always more complicated than you think it is going to be.

Not my thing… I don’t have anybody to play board games with any more, and even if I did I came to computer games so that the machine would do the accounting for me… but I am interested to see how it turns out.

Defense Grid 2 Coming Online

A little over two years back the team at Hidden Path Entertainment, the creators of Defense Grid: The Awakening, ran a Kickstarter campaign with a slate of goals.

The baseline goal was to raid $250K to create a new set of levels for Defense Grid: The Awakening.  Being one of my favorites in the tower defense genre, I was in just to get a few more levels of the game.

But Hidden Path Entertainment had a grander vision.  They had their eyes on Defense Grid 2, a sequel they hoped to fund through the Kickstarter.  For everything they wanted to do… new engine, multiplayer, level creator/editor, support across multiple platforms… the target was one million dollars.

DG2_Short

However, sometimes our reach exceeds our grasp.  In this case, 30 days of Kickstarting only came up with $271,727.  That was enough for the basic goal, more levels for Defense Grid: The Awakening, but nothing else on the list.  And they delivered on that… almost on time.  The promise was for December of 2012 and we got it in January of 2013.  Not much of a slip at all.

But Hidden Path also promised us Defense Grid 2.

You’ll Get DG2

We’re working to cross the minimum and fund Defense Grid: Containment.  But please also understand that by joining the team as a backer, you’ll also get a copy of DG2 when we release it.  We’ll need to do extra work on our end to earn or raise the remaining funds in order to complete DG2, but when we do, you’ll still be a part of the team.  Crossing $250,000 gets you DG:Containment this December, and DG2 when it is complete.

They were going to have to go find another way to fund it, but it was still part of the plan.

Time went by.  I played through all of the levels in the new expansion multiple times.  Hidden Path kept us up to date on funding, which they managed to secure through a couple of sources.  Kickstarter backers were allowed into the beta on Steam earlier this year.  And, today, Defense Grid 2 becomes available on Steam.

Defense Grid 2

Defense Grid 2

At least the Windows version is available today.  Mac and SteamOS versions are slated for mid-October.

Those of us who supported the Kickstarter got our keys this past weekend, so I have already spent some time with the game, and it is good.

The single player game is an expansion on the original Defense Grid: The Awakening, with story missions that carry on from there and all the variations on how to play through a given level you have been lead to expect.  There is still multiplayer co-op and the whole DG Architect, which allows players to create their own levels and share them through the Steam Workshop, still to discover.

Here are a few screen shots I have taken of the game.

The art style has changed, the turrets have all be redone, and the levels are part of a wider landscape now.  The aliens are a bit less interesting so far… though I haven’t made it that far into the game.  The turrets do seems to have more well defined roles now.  And, of course, there are a pile of achievements.  But for the most part it feels like a good, solid tower defense game.

As part of my Kickstarter pledge, I ended up with an extra key.  I am going to give it away to somebody who comments on this post.

All you have to do is leave a comment indicating that you would like the key and make sure that the email address you use when leaving the comment is valid (nobody by me can see it and that is where I am going to send it, so if it bounces you lose) within 24 hours of this post going live (by 15:00 UTC, 8am PDT, or 11am EDT September 24, 2014) and I will use some sort of random number generator to decide who gets it.

I can still do something like “/roll 1d100” in WoW can’t I?

The winner will be notified by email and I will append the result to the post.

And if you don’t win, well, the game is only $25.  And if that is too steep, there is always the Steam Holiday Sale in December.

But so far I recommend the game if you liked the original or enjoy tower defense in general.

Addendum: Prize Roll straight from Ironforge in Azeroth.

PrizeRoll

The roll was 13, which I guess means spoutbec wins the Steam key.  We’ll see if his email address is legit shortly.

Defense Grid Kickstarter Success

The buzz around Kickstarter seems to ebb and flow.

When there is a Kickstarter going around something that gets you excited, it can seem like a great way for supports to get involved in a way that helps the development process.

And then there is the reality.

There was an article a couple months back (that I wish I could find) which reported the results of a study of Kickstarter projects and found that not only do most projects not get funded (which one would expect given the quality of a lot of the pitches), but that a large percentage of those that do fund subsequently fail to deliver anything (call it “take the money and run”), fail to get even close to their projected timeline (everything takes longer than you think), or deliver something that does not match what was promised in the initial pitch.

Now some of projects in the study seemed to be stuck in a category without considering mitigating factors.  The Steve Jackson Games O.G.R.E. Designer’s Edition project has been delayed because they asked for $20,000 and ended up with nearly a million, so they actually expanded the scope of the project so that the end result will be even better that they had initially planned.  But that has pushed out the timeline, so it appears on the “failure due to missed dates” list despite keeping backers fully appraised of the project status with regular updates.

(And I cannot emphasize how important updates are for such projects.)

In my own case, of the four projects I supported that actually made their funding goal (out of eight total) two appear to be stuck in the failed project timeline dimension.

Now, in one case, I know what is going on.  The Jason Scott documentary three pack, which I first mentioned way back in September of 2011, has been delayed because of his Internet Archive work and because he got paid to do another documentary ahead of the ones funded on Kickstarter.  I cannot say that the latter makes me very happy, but the documentary is being made available for free, so if you squint your eyes and look at things with your head turned sideways, it seems like maybe we’re getting a fourth documentary as part of the deal.  Plus the other three are under way and I consider them getting made to be more important than me getting my copies in a timely manner.

On the flip side, there is a book I helped fund that has gone to the editors and hasn’t been heard from since.  Such is life.

And then there is Planetary Annihilation, which I pitched in on because they invoked the name of Total Annihilation, one of two RTS games I still drag out and play to this day. (The other is Age of Empires: The Age of Kings, which I wish would get a screen resolution update and appear on Steam or GOG.com.)  But this project has no real set timeline and, frankly, I have been burned before by people invoking the TA lineage.  Supreme Commander was not at all satisfying to me, and so I stand ready to be disappointed again.

But amidst all of this “someday” level of hope, the fourth Kickstarter on my list delivered.  The new content for Defense Grid: The Awakening arrived last week.  As a supporter I already had my key and had access to pre-release versions of the new content, though I did not spend much time with them.  I wanted to experience them as finished product.

The product is now finished.

It showed up a little late.  The target was initially December.  But progress updates were frequent and if you entered the Steam key you got as a supporter, you could see the new levels evolving from raw layouts to fully formed encounters.  And once it was done, Steam updated you to the final version.

So I now have what I really wanted; more levels for my favorite tower defense game.

Appropriately enough, here is the first achievement for the Containment DLC for Defense Grid: The Awakening:

ContainmentAchi

I am off to conquer the new levels in their various modes.

Now if Hidden Path can just get funding for their Defense Grid 2 project.  They did not reach that level of funding as part of their Kickstarter and so must seek the money via more traditional channels.

We Will Get Some More Defense Grid…

But not as much as I had hoped for, and probably not as soon as I had hoped either.

I posted a while back about Hidden Path Entertainment attempting to fund further installments to their exceptional tower defense game, Defense Grid: The Awakening by taking their plans to Kickstarter.  They had a detailed plan with four tiers of funding that would mean specific deliverables.

Even at the base level $15 pledge, you got a code for the original game on Steam, which goes for $20 when Steam isn’t doing one of their sales, plus any content eventually funded.  So if they made it to a million dollars and you kicked in $15, you would get all of it.

They also teamed up with AMD and Razer to offer up special deals and incentives.  The team running the Kickstarted project put out plenty of updates.   And they ran in-game contests where, if you achieved a certain goal on a specific level, you were entered.

It was quite an event.

Still, a million dollars seemed like a pretty ambitious goal, even for a game this good.  It just isn’t that well known.  Still, I was pretty sure that the first tier would be achieved easily.  The initial surge of pledges got it half way there pretty quickly.

$250,000 tier

That would get an expansion to the original game.  I would be all for that.

The second tier was a new engine for Defense Grid 2, which would include putting the old game on it to test it out.  Infrastructure is never very sexy though.  Try telling marketing that the major feature for a release is a new version of Visual C++ and see how excited they get.

But multiplayer was going to be part of the whole thing.  That… that I could go for.  And the second tier seemed possible given the initial momentum.

$500,000 tier

The third tier was offering up cross-platform compatibility and a level editor so end users could create their own content.  A level editor, hopefully tied in with the Steam Works user content system, would be cool.  But that seemed a long way away, being priced roughly the same as my house. (In Silicon Valley that means a run down place in a decent school district.)

$750,000 tier

And then there was the magic million dollar goal.  All of the above plus a completely new game, Defense Grid 2, the full sequel.

one million dollars!

As unlikely as it seemed, a man can dream can’t he.

And, as I said, the early momentum in the campaign was quite brisk.

Then it slowed to a trickle.  When the time left was under a week, I didn’t think they would even make their first tier goal.  This in a world where Penny Arcade can bring in double that by offering too… um… take some stuff off of their web page?  Really?

Then there was a last minute rush, accompanied by some outstanding video card offers that were no doubt subsidized by AMD, and the threshold was crossed at last.

The whole thing ended with $271,727 in funding.

That meant the production of the Containment expansion to the original game, which all backers will get once it is available.  An update says they are working on that even now.

But we will also all get Defense Grid 2.  A note was posted to the Kickstarter page towards the end of the event saying:

You’ll Get DG2

We’re working to cross the minimum and fund Defense Grid: Containment.  But please also understand that by joining the team as a backer, you’ll also get a copy of DG2 when we release it.  We’ll need to do extra work on our end to earn or raise the remaining funds in order to complete DG2, but when we do, you’ll still be a part of the team.  Crossing $250,000 gets you DG:Containment this December, and DG2 when it is complete.

That seemed to me to be a pretty generous offer since the commitment, as originally stated, was that only items that were funded would be available.  I am just happy that they still have a Defense Grid 2 in their plans.

I am not sure what will becomes of the other items… cross platform, multi-player, level editor, and such… but at least there is a new game to look forward to and some new levels to play in the mean time.

Now I have to figure out what to do with my Steam codes for the original game.  I already own it.  Hrmm.

Defense Grid: The Kickstarting

While I do not think Kickstarter is necessarily stealing money from 99 cent app developers, I do remain skeptical of a some of the stuff being offered up for financing.

Sure, some of the stuff is great.  It was all I could do to keep myself from throwing money at the Steve Jackson Games Ogre Designers Edition kickstarter.  I played Ogre and G.E.V. back when they were in zip-lock baggies at the hobby shop on the peg next to Snit’s Revenge.

Only the realization that I did not need another huge board game I would never play overcame nostalgia and stayed my hand.

But Steven Jackson Games is a known quantity to me.  I trust them to do what they say.  Likewise, I trust that Jason Scott will produce the three documentaries that I helped fun.  It would be way, way outside his behavior norms to not do so.

Other teams I remain less sure of.  Despite being a fan of the original Wasteland, I could not bring myself to toss money in for Wasteland 2.  I’ll be happy if it comes out.  I just don’t have any sort of way to evaluate the chances that team can pull it off or whether the game can make the transition directly from 1988 to 2014 and retain the same spirit.  Some games are only great within the constraints of their time frame and technology.

And I am waiting for the big crash, some big seven figure funding effort that fails to deliver.  It will happen.  You know it.

So my donations via Kickstarter are few and far between.  But today, thanks to Zubon, I have one I cannot resist.

Defense Grid: The Awakening is one of my all time favorite tower defense games.  It is simple, clever in a Valve sort of way, looks good, plays well, and has all manner of different modes to play and defeat once you make it through the main storyline.  My hours played for the game, as measured by Raptr, are at the MMO end of the spectrum.

Well, Hidden Path Entertainment, the makes of the game, want to make Defense Grid 2.  However, according to their tale of events, normal funding paths just are not panning out for the indie level profit margins.

So they have gone to Kickstarter.

They have thought this out.  They have four levels of goals ($250K, $500K, $750K, and 1 million dollars), each of which will yield up a different result.  They have the many levels of support, each with various and sundry cool things.

The myriad rewards

And they have a video with endorsement from other game developers.

But here is the key.  For the minimum pledge of $15 you get a key to unlock the original game on Steam.  It is a $20 game, and you get that.  And you get it the moment you pledge.  And you get to keep it even if they don’t fund.

So even if this turns out to be vaproware, you are ahead at the base pledge.

Plus, you get a copy of whatever software they end up being able to fund.  So if it succeeds, you get the new stuff too.

Of course, I would prefer that you go pledge more money.  I would really like to see this run off the end and fully fun.

Still, if you were thinking about getting the original game, go support it on Kickstarter.  You can have it now.

I have already pledged and have a code for the game.  Of course, I already own the game.  I will have to have a contest or something at some point to dispose of the code.  But after the Kickstarter funding closes.  That runs until August 14th.

Go check it out.

TL;DR – Go here, give money.

Steam Summer Sale – Time For Damage Control

Oh, it is that time of temptation again.  It is the dread Summer Sale at Steam.

For 10 days Valve will tempt us with incredible discounts on a wide variety of game titles.

This will lead many of us to buy titles we might not otherwise consider… and, often enough in my case, games that I certainly should not have considered.

But the price… the games can be so cheap!  I have seen things marked down 80% or more off of retail.  For example, the first day’s featured deals.

But look at the mark downs!

This is how I ended up owning the entire PopCap library despite the fact that I really only wanted Peggle Nights.  And no, it was not cheaper to buy the whole library.  I was just swept up in the moment and 90% discount.

This year I am going to stick to things on my Steam wishlist.  That is a reasonably well vetted list of games I am actively interested in, though I do see a couple of games I left on it back when Valve had a contest that would win you the top 10 games on your wishlist, but only if you had at least 10 games.  I will have to drop those, as my wishlist is now big enough not to need padding.

And, on day one, right out of the gate, two items from my wishlist came up.

The first was Portal 2.  Having played through the original Portal at last, I put the sequel on my wish list.

Also popping up on day one was Harvest: Massive Encounter, a little game that looked interesting, but not quite interesting enough until it was marked down.  I put it there as park of my search to find more tower defense games, though honestly nothing has stacked up to Defense Grid: The Awakening so far.

Total cost for the pair, $7.49.

I haven’t had a chance to look at Portal 2 yet, as it was a sizable download.  But Harvest was small, so I was able to launch it almost right away.

It appears to be a mix of RTS and tower defense with a few game mode and level choices, but otherwise very simple in design.  It is kind of what I hoped Gratuitous Space and/or Tank Battles would more like. (Neither of those titles quite clicked with me.)

Anyway, worth the $2.50 it was list at.

Now what will Valve throw at me next?  And can I stick to my plan?

I am kind of hoping that Endless Space will make the cut for a discount, because I really need yet another game like that to distract me. (Isn’t the updated Civ V enough? No?)  I have seen a bit posted about it.  However, it just launched, so it might be too soon.

What is on your list for the Steam Summer Sale?

Raptr Gets Analytical or Only 18,999 Hours to Go!

Raptr put up a several blog posts and sent me two email messages, all about the new stuff they are launching that lets you… well… compare your epeen against your friends.  Click on the picture below to see it in full size.

Raptr looks at my games...

I think Raptr must be primarily a console gamers destination if 36 games on my system puts me 26 games ahead of the average Raptr PC user.  Either that or Steam users… those of us who must resist their insane sales… are not well represented.

And the last bit, my summary, makes me think they haven’t quite got their system tuned:

Lightning Bolt!  You and 0% of Raptr users have more RPG games than anything else in their game library.  You put on your robe and wizard hat…

I suppose it depends on how you define the games.  I notice that that Raptr still seems shy about calling out MMORPGs.  Of course, that might be because MMORPG players are batshit insane.  I offer this up as proof.

While I might be an Elite World of Warcraft player, I have still been measured and found short a whopping 18,999 hours and/or achievements to be the #1 WoW player on Raptr.  If we take that as just hours of play, that is over two years of constant, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week play.

Meanwhile, on the EVE Online front, I am 103 hours shy of Elite status.

Other games in which I rank as elite for one reason or another:

  • Lord of the Rings Online
  • Rift
  • Need for Speed: World
  • Defense Grid: The Awakening
  • EverQuest II Extended

Elite status seems to be a pretty arbitrary thing.

Addendum: And if you want to be my friend on Raptr, I am wilhelm2451, as usual.