Rogue Station Defense

Myko

New member
#1
Hi everyone!

I've never posted before, since I'm not much of a discussion person these days, but I've been lurking on the Discord for quite a while now and I really enjoy reading the game design debates. I much prefer thinking and working on my own games over writing and talking about them, which I'm sure will be a nightmare from a marketing standpoint if I want anyone to play my games!

I work fulltime as an enterprise developer so the game making is limited to my spare time. That said I've managed to publish a few games on mobile, I'll post some links to them at the end of this post.



Anyway I've been working for a few years on and off on a "roguelike tower defense" game tentatively called Rogue Station Defense (name is 90% final at this point). I've always wanted to make my own tower defense game and while I've not played that many roguelikes I always liked the design concept of them, I wanted to figure out if the genres could be combined.

The basic structure of the game is that you are given 12 maps to complete and to complete them you will build towers to defend against attacking alien monsters. To win a map you need to survive a set amount of waves. The number of waves per map increase as you get further into the game. Every fourth map is a special boss map that has a designed encounter to complete, in these maps the objective is to defeat the boss in a limited number of waves. I call the set of 12 maps a "run" and the idea is that you start new runs often trying new strategies. I will probably turn on permadeath later, so that if you fail a map you have to start a new run, but for now you can retry a map until you complete it.

Maps are randomly generated and the game features "mazing", i.e. you can direct the monsters by building a maze of towers. A lot of the game's strategy (or tactics?) is buliding an long maze where towers are placed to maximize their efficiency. I try to design towers so that placement becomes an important choice.

Another roguelike element is that enemies drop items, including towers and tower components, so the towers available to you will not be the same every run. The current build of the game does not have enough items to really create much choice, but I'm hoping this will come together better in the end.



The development build of the game can be played online on itch.io: https://cladcake.itch.io/rogue-station-defense

You can also get the game for Android, but it will cost you a couple of dollars (it's not possible to go from free to paid on the play store, so I had to set a low price):
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cladcake.rltd4


All my games have pages on itch.io. Some are jam games but Bottle Match specifically is a full game that has a few thousand downloads on mobile. It's a combination of CCG and Match-3 and is actually pretty fun and good!

https://cladcake.itch.io/


Thanks for reading!
 
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BrickRoadDX

Maker of BrainGoodGames
Staff member
#2
Bookmarked Rouge Station Defense to play later!

If you have any questions about releasing games or Steam or anything feel free to message me.

Gogo you can do it!
 

keithburgun

Administrator
Staff member
#3
Sounds really cool! I haven't played it yet, but my initial "constructive criticism" thought is:

I call the set of 12 maps a "run" and the idea is that you start new runs often trying new strategies.
It seems to me that "the game" is actually just the one map, and then you're sort of just plopping a bunch of them together into some larger thing. That's okay but I think you would be best off keeping in mind that the game is not the "run" but rather just the single map and supporting that as much as possible. I do like the idea of a very light "metagame" run thing but it's very easy to have that easy big metagame thing start stomping on the game itself, if you are carrying power from one match to another, etc.

Have you considered doing it in a more traditional "puzzle game" style, where you just have a bunch of maps, and you can play them in any order - maybe you get "stars" based on your performance, and maybe you unlock more as you go?

Looking forward to trying the game.
 

Myko

New member
#4
Thanks BrickRoadDX!

I'm targetting mobile mostly, because the game is sort of intended for me to have something to do during my commute. So I don't know if I want to put it on steam. I'm not sure how well it plays on PC. For one I think the maps should be larger on PC.

I'm going to put some nice gifs in the first post later to entice y'all!

I wanted to talk briefly about two principles I've tried to stick to:

  • No scrolling. Scrolling around on a TD map is very annoying when you need to keep track of stuff going on all over the map, so everything should fit on a single screen. I think a larger map would have helped a bit with the roguelike elements I've tried as well as allow some fun graphical features like parallax.
  • Limited actions during waves. Once you start a wave you can not build or demolish towers, to prevent "juggling". I consider juggling a degenerate feature of Tower Defenses with mazing. This also provides something similar to the turn-based aspect of roguelikes, where a wave becomes a turn and takes away the reflex element. You can currently upgrade towers during a wave but this seems fine so far from playtesting. (The game time slows down while you have the upgrade UI active.)
 

Myko

New member
#5
It seems to me that "the game" is actually just the one map, and then you're sort of just plopping a bunch of them together into some larger thing. That's okay but I think you would be best off keeping in mind that the game is not the "run" but rather just the single map and supporting that as much as possible. I do like the idea of a very light "metagame" run thing but it's very easy to have that easy big metagame thing start stomping on the game itself, if you are carrying power from one match to another, etc.

Have you considered doing it in a more traditional "puzzle game" style, where you just have a bunch of maps, and you can play them in any order - maybe you get "stars" based on your performance, and maybe you unlock more as you go?
It will be more obvious when you try it, but currently you use the items you get in map 1 on map 2, you cannot use them directly in map 1. So the progression structure is pretty core to the experience at this point. A lot of the strategy is in the metagame (there are also research upgrades you can buy between maps). I know this goes against a lot of the CWGD tenets, but at this point I'm pretty fixed on these ideas.

Thank you for taking the time to read and reply, means a lot to me!
 

Ryt

New member
#7
Played a few maps of the web version.
I think the concept is quite good but just very unrefined. But I can see a potential idea through it all.

- Can towers start building from the entrance instead of the exit? Every wave has a few seconds of nothing happening while the enemies walk toward the towers.
- I think mazing is a bad mechanic. There is always just one best maze for any given map, and figuring it out is very boring. If you want to keep mazing, you should make it more interesting somehow. Maybe towers only stay around for X waves, and then nothing can be built on them again. Maybe parts of the map shift every turn, so you have to adapt and make a 'good enough' maze for each individual wave. Maybe different enemies ignore different parts of the map.
- Limited access during waves almost necessarily means waves are kinda boring. Watching each wave move is very boring right now. Especially if it's obvious you're not going to take any damage.

You have kinda a two screen thing going on right now. And you don't really need it.
I think you need to put everything into the map part of the game. Make the map bigger and have it evolve more. Player has to survive 50 waves to win the match. You can see 10 waves into the future. The map moves and shifts every 10 waves. Towers only survive for 3 waves and then that spot can't be built on again. You get random loot from monsters each wave. Use this loot to upgrade up a tech tree, and upgrade and build newer and better towers to deal with the increasing
 

Myko

New member
#8
Thank you for playing and for your feedback Ryt, much appreciated! I feel your suggestions don't really fit my vision of the game, but I think you've pointed out some elements that could be improved that I'm definitely going to think about. I do like your idea of the map shifting somehow, and I think different enemies taking different paths is cool too. (There are flying enemies later that ignore your maze so there is an element of this already.)
 

Ryt

New member
#9
You should also definitely expand flying too. The standard, 'flying units just ignore the maze' is pretty boring and flat. Like maybe there are frog units, which can swim in water (water is part of the map, maybe some towers even create water too!). When the frog is in the water it can swim under your towers, but then will get back out of the water too and lose this ability.
 

keithburgun

Administrator
Staff member
#10
Hey, so I played this game! Only the first level, but I played it 3 times. Here are my thoughts:

- I love the fog of war placement thing, but it's not yet clear to me if this is just a neat thing, or something that really plays into strategy. Also, it's not clear to me at all why there is fog of war since it seems like nothing is ever being covered by the fog? Maybe fog is the wrong metaphor and it should be more like Protoss Pylon style power-circle.
- Overall I was surprised somewhat by how much it kinda just felt like any other tower defense game. I didn't get much of a "rogue-like" feeling from it? I played once and lost. Then I started again and it seemed like everything wasn't randomized, I was just doing the same mission over again. I expected the map to be randomized, or the waves, or the tools I have. Maybe the waves are randomized in some small way I can't perceive.
- Do I just have one kind of tower to place? It feels like my ability to do anything in this game is really limited. I like when tower games give me a little agent that I can move around who has to build the towers. I don't like being able to build towers anywhere on the map at any time.
- I also don't like that I can't do anything (except upgrade towers) during the wave. I get that people like watching the waves crash into stuff but it seems like you should let the player play during that time or totally skip it / 10x speed it or something.

Agree a lot with Ryt about the mazing stuff, although if you had randomized maps and towers it would make it more interesting.

Overall: Seems okay, but if it's Rogue-like at all, it's not immediately apparent how, so I would work on that.
 

Myko

New member
#11
With "fog of war" you mean the yellow power grid? There was proper black fog of war in earlier builds, so hopefully you didn't play that?

The game really doesn't work if you play a single map in isolation, there is a definite progression in strategy, difficulty and complexity as you progress along the maps. Imagine it like floors of a standard dungeon crawler roguelike if you want. First floor is very simple, almost tutorial like while floors further down offers more. The items (= new tower types) you find in a map you get to equip for the next one.

Maps are randomized (probably not with enough impact and variety) but when you play the same map in the same seed (save slot) you get the same map.

Edit: Oh and thank you so much for playing and offering feedback! :)
 

Myko

New member
#12
Oh and to add, the biggest reason for not having anything to do during waves is that I've been very careful about not introducing execution-y elements. But I do agree that there needs to be something.
 

keithburgun

Administrator
Staff member
#13
Well if you can pause/slow down during the wave execution shouldn't really be an issue. I just think it's awkward having this phase where you just sit there and watch, especially for something like a Rogue-like where you're supposed to play a billion times. This is a key difference between this and a traditional TD game where you play it, beat all the levels and then find another game to play.
 

Myko

New member
#14


Acted on some feedback here to try to make mazing a little more interesting. Added a new terrain type: Hills. Building towers on hills make them tall enough that flying enemies must path around them - but some enemies can burrow through the hills, skipping part of the maze!

In the next update I'm going to try having the player place the target of the monsters themselves, and the monsters will path to it instead of going for an exit at the edge of the map. That way the player can choose to start closer to the entrance if they want and start attacking monsters sooner.
 

Myko

New member
#16
Have made a number of versions since I last posted here, with some pretty major changes to the game's structure. Partially based on feedback from here.

The campaign mode is now gone. It might come back but for now it's been replaced by "survival mode". Pretty much survive as long as you can and see how many waves you can defeat. Starting at wave 2 and every 4 waves after that you get to choose a new tower to add to your loadout. The game will give you the choice to pick one out of two randomly selected towers. Killing enemies gives you energy letting you build towers (nothing changed there) but also gives you money that you can spend on research to augment the strength of your chosen towers. Occasionally when killing enemies they will drop components that you can socket into your towers to customize and specialize them. This can now all be done while in a single match and not between matches as in the old campaign mode.

Another big change is that each match now starts with the player placing a "Construction Probe" which will be the target/goal for all the enemies, instead of them exiting at the side of the map. This adds a nice layer of strategy of where to place the exit in order to build the longest maze.

From the main menu you can pick from 4 different modes, one random and three with fixed seeds that reset hourly, daily and weekly. The last three modes have online scoreboards so you can compete against your friends. The online scoreboards only work in the Android version though. I'm not sure I can get it to work in the WebGL-version because of security concerns but I've not looked into it yet.

I kind of miss the campaign mode because the metagame progression felt a little more meaningful, but it's pretty fun to compete on the daily scoreboard too (even if I really only have one other regular player to compete with...)

One drawback with the survival mode is that the match length can vary too much. If I recall correctly the most difficult seed I've played ended at 8 waves and the easiest at 72! Better balancing will help here but I think in addition to that I might want to find some better score than waves completed, or else people will really end up clustered around the same result.