Game Plan: Hearth of Hestia

September 25, 2019

I have been throwing around this game idea for a while, I have occasionally made small steps towards it, written out plans, maybe tried a bit of art, but nothing significant so far. I'm coming back to it though and feeling better and better about it as I think through the details. So I think I want this to be the game I work towards as I build Gouda.

Pitch: Tower defense game crossed with real time strategy. Most tower defense games have a core loop that is fun but tends to be somewhat repetitive and constrained. I want to keep the core idea of waves of enemies happening at certain intervals, but also balance that with building out a civilization, gathering resources, bringing in more settlers, and other RTS style elements.

Expanded Details:

  • The objective is to build up and defend the Hearth at the center of a map over a potentially long running game.
  • The game will start with probably a 10x10 (or maybe smaller) square map, with one single player character. Throughout the game the map will grow, and settlers will show up to join you.
  • The core loop consists of a day cycle and a night cycle. During the day things are calm, and the player can give orders to build, repair, or gather resources (wood, minerals, food). During the night there will be an attack, and either through properly setup defenses or the rallying of the settlers the attack will need to be fended off to avoid the destruction of the Hearth.
  • Unlike most tower defense games, there won't be a fixed set of entry points and paths for enemies to take, instead there will be a warning indicator slightly before nightfall to show where the waves will be coming from. This should make the game more dynamic and make it important to establish well thought out defenses that can defend from a variety of attacks. And it won't be an obvious solution to simply build walls around the whole area, because with the cost of those walls it will be difficult to afford towers to actually kill the enemies, and they will just break through.
  • Right now I'm thinking at nightfall the enemy waves will figure out a path to the hearth, and a line will be drawn on the map showing what route they will take. This way the player can choose to send their settlers in to fight, but of course this will slow down the growth and ability to gather resources if the settlers die.
  • I don't know the exact details of what an end game would look like, but right now I'm thinking it will involve the civilization expanding through the ages and eventually becoming the ancient greeks, at which point there will be a proper connection with the Goddess Hestia. Although I might want to let the game go into more modern times, although this would be a good way to limit the amount of content to create. Still definitely thinking through this part.
  • Upgrading the hearth will be the primary signifier of changing game stages. It will cause more settlers to arrive, but it will also make you more of a threat from stronger enemies.

This might be overly ambitious of a project, so I have thought through a couple of stages of development that will hopefully lead to a good basic prototype to pin down 'fun-ness' early, with a plan for expansion.

Stages of development:

  • Version 0.1.0: Basic game flow This will consist of that basic 10x10 map and a single player, no expansion, no settler arrival, and just a single tower type, some traps, and maybe some walls. This version will be to establish that the core loop is fun, essentially making sure that the game in its final form will be fun right from minute one. The player will have a day cycle to gather resources and build, and then a night cycle with waves of a single enemy types. It should still be enjoyable for the player to figure out how best to spend the short amount of time they have every day in order to ensure survival (need to gather wood to build, need to gather food to keep your character alive, need to build in order to last the night), and if I can't figure out how to make this stage fun the idea is probably best scrapped
  • Version 0.2.0: Evolving game stages This will be where I first start to incorporate the idea of an evolving game. The map will expand every couple of days, settlers will show up, housing will need to be built for those people, the hearth can be upgraded, and steadily larger and larger waves of enemies will arrive. This stage will help pin down that with management of more and more settlers and complexity the game remains fun. The lack of varying content could hurt this stage.
  • Version 0.3.0: More towers, monsters, and other content At this point I want to start fleshing out the game and make it feel more complete. So this will involve having more building types that can give bonuses, provide research, or provide different types of combat capabilities. I also want to move on from one single monster type and start having it evolve throughout the game. So for example the game will start with small waves of animals that are attacking to try and steal the food you are cooking, it will later move on bandits raiding your camp, and eventually moving all the way up to neighboring kingdoms trying to the central structure of your city. This will probably be pretty time consuming, so I want to make sure the gameplay works well before moving on to all this.
  • Version 0.4.0: Sounds, Music, better Art I will probably try and get placeholder assets in place as I develop, but at this stage once nearly everything is worked out as far as gameplay, evolving stages, and content, I will be ready to start finalizing some of these things. I'm not great at any of this yet, but if I practice enough during the rest of development hopefully I can make all my own assets. If not I will either simplify my plans or pay someone to help here.
  • Version 0.5.0: Polish and tweak At this stage I should have a complete game! If that is the case, now it will be time to just check every piece of content, interaction, and flow and make sure it is polished up to good levels. During this stage I will also start doing more marketing and preparation for a launch.

So that is the plan! I suspect there will be many changes over the coming months, but I wanted to write it out in a post here so I can share and get feedback, as well as make it more official that this is the game I want to work on, hopefully acting as self-motivation.

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