Veracode Defender

veracode-defender-large-case
Client
Platform
Genre,
Released29th February 2012

Code by Richard Davey

Graphics by Diego Goberna

Music by Melissa Elliott

PLAY

About

This game was a departure from our normal titles in that we made it specifically for a client, something we’ve not done before. It all came about via a casual tweet between ourselves and Melissa, a chiptune composer and NES fan (yay!) who works for Veracode. They were looking for a tower defence style game to help promote their software / server security services. The deadline was a bit insane, but we pulled it out of the bag and delivered on-time. Having never written a tower defence game before it was a challenge, but a good one to have. And I now have a new-found respect for those developers who churn out TDs by the bucketful, because believe me – balancing those game is far from easy!

I worked with Diego on this game instead of Ilija, who was busy doing the final animations for a big Australian chip-tune concert. I had met Diego at Aardman where I worked at the time. He was a matte painter there, creating stunning backdrop scenery for our latest film Pirates. Check out more of his work on his web site. Anyway he felt like taking on the challenge of moving from gigabyte sized Photoshop files down into 16×16 pixel sprites. And literally 10 days later the game was finished. It was a pleasure working with him and I absolutely love the title page he created for the game.

Development Trivia

Originally there was a, ahem.. “feature” in the game that meant you could stack the turrets up on-top of one another. It lead to the creation of some monsterly powerful turrets, but of course had to be fixed in the final version. It was actually my 5 year old son who found the bug by creating a flame-throwing-bomb-launching plasma gun of death turret that could literally defeat 90% of the waves in the game! He wasn’t best pleased when I fixed it.

The graphics went through several iterations. Check out this blog post to see the process from concept sketches to final sprites.

As time was so tight we didn’t get to add the more “common” TD features like turret upgrades and the ability to sell them. We did however create some neat robots to fight, including a mammoth mech who stomps on, and ghost bots that cannot be shot or targeted when phased out. The flying robots add a nice strategic challenge as well.

The biggest amount of time went into balancing the game. There are actually a lot of variables to consider – the robot speed, health and pay-out amount on death vs. the turret range, speed, damage, reload rates and cool down rates. As well as the cost of everything and the amount per wave. It was tricky to balance this so that the player didn’t get either hammered or too powerful too early. I’m still not sure it’s balanced that well, but it’s certainly playable.

There were supposed to be 3 levels in the final game, but sadly time didn’t permit this. Who knows, maybe if the game works for them Veracode may yet request them to be added in!

Being a security company Veracode were dead hot on the security of the swf file. This meant we couldn’t use any 3rd party tracking libraries. We tried with a MochiBot just to monitor the swf movement / plays, but it failed their security audit and had to be removed :)

I used Flixel and the Flixel Power Tools extensively in this game. In fact there is no way it would have been possible to create it in such a short amount of time without that ready. The Power Tools will receive a nice update with some new features I had to add to them specifically for this game. So that’s a win all round!

Kudos to Veracode for giving us a pretty free reign on this and not enforcing too much marketing into it. It’s actually very subtle and fits in well with the game concept.


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  • dimumurray
    March 8th 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Ack!! The bug your kid exploited is actually a key game-play mechanic that I’m implementing in my own TD game. It’s a bit more refined though.

  • March 8th 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Hah don’t worry, I thought it was an awesome idea myself – I just couldn’t leave it in, as it didn’t make sense visually.

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