Bragtoberfest: Tower Defence Quickies

The refreshing thing about Bragtoberfest has been the opportunity to play a broader spectrum of games than the habitual rut I’ve fallen into – where I cycle between dailies in GW2, dailies in Path of Exile and then spend the rest of the night in Minecraft with no real idea of what to do next but jetpack around like a bee and dip a toe into the next branch of things-to-do, only to discover that it’s a lot more complex than one bargained for.

The impromptu bonus has been a sudden resurgence of interest in Tower Defence games.

I LOVE Tower Defence.

I don’t know why, but the genre has a great appeal to me. There’s something very strategically attractive about planning out a beautiful sequence of traps or a gauntlet of a corridor of death, and then watching the unthinking hordes wander through and die to it.

I wouldn’t say I’m very good at it though.

I tend to the simplest, whatever works strategies, and I rarely come back and revisit the level for more efficiency and better and higher scores.

That is, until Orcs Must Die, where the difficulty kept ramping up to the point that I was left without recourse and had to go read strategy guides for a while and had my eyes opened to what other people were doing, helluva lot more efficiently and effectively.

That brought me past some harder levels a few years ago, but I kind of lost steam with it again.

The other day, since I spied Izlain trying his hand at it, and wanting to get past it so I can play the sequel with multiplayer too, I cranked it up to try and refresh my memory as to how it all worked.

I got a bit too intimidated to take on the next level right away, so I scrolled back and looked for an easier level where I’d done poorly before.

I found two:


Chaos Chamber was a bit tricky at first, but I rather surprised myself by seeing a potentially workable strategy and racing between portals to set it up. (Picked up a SG1 achievement for traveling through portals 20 times unknowingly too.)

I jumped from two skulls to five skulls earned. Oh yeah.


Then there was Lunch Break. My score was the shabbiest of all my Steam friends at first, and again I managed to suddenly see a pathing route that could effectively channel all the orcs into one chokepoint – which I then turned into a lethal doorway of death.

No clue about the missing skull though. Why wasn’t it good enough for that one last skull? Gaaah, apparently there’s room to get better still.

My time was limited, so I couldn’t play much more than that for the night, but it was good rewarding fun for that 30-60 minutes.

As for Defence Grid, Doone’s first challenge is Ancient Research.

So I cranked that game up, having left it fallow for a good two years or more.

My initial strategy went all guns, all upgraded everywhere.

Ended up the same 55k or so score that I’d been sitting on for ages. Not enough to beat Doone’s.

Time to think more efficiently and use less towers for more bang for buck.



It’s probably still not the best that can be achieved, but I’m reluctant to refine it any further unless pushed by someone scoring higher. 😛

Bragtoberfest: This is My Mountain

Not quite Populous...

There are many like it, but this one is mine.


I’ve watched it through warm autumn days and balmy summer nights.


I’ve kept it company through snowy winter mornings and even snowier winter midnights.

Sometimes I play it songs.

(Though my limited musical repertoire means it gets to hear Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Happy Birthday and Do-Re-Mi (of the “Do, a deer” fame) a lot.)

Sometimes I look at it from another angle.


Who says mountains need to be pyramidal in shape, anyway?

Sometimes I spin it like a top.

My mountain thinks deep thoughts and sometimes speaks to me of how it feels.



And sometimes it wonders:


Then I went for dinner and left it alone for an hour.


And when I find the god who flung these things into my mountain, that bastard is going to pay.

Seriously, get your own damn mountain.

Anyone remember the pet rock craze?

Mountain reminds me somewhat of that.

Said pet rock was gifted by Doone, as I’m certainly not the sort to buy this sort of “program” (I can’t call it a game, because a game implies -some- interactivity.)

Is it a toy? I guess it could be, if you treat it like one.

Is it art?

There’s the caveat that all art is subjective.

My interpretation? Not so much in the sense of being impressive on a graphical or technical skill scale – I’ve seen much better landscapes, and much better pixel art for that matter.

Mountain very much gives me the impression that someone wanted to make something, a game, a Tamagotchi pet, whatever, but only had very basic 3D modelling skills – enough to code and cobble together a randomized mountain slope, dot it with procedural trees (same model, just rotated and sized differently) and rocks. A little advanced tutorial work for clouds and sky and stars and changing lighting to simulate day and night, another short exercise to create a winter snow landscape, yet another programming exercise to allow keyboard keys to play musical notes… and then with imagination running dry and idle hands, comes the sudden inspiration to toss premade 3D models like a ball or a gramophone or something equally incongruous into the mountainside.

For all we know, maybe Mountain really -is- someone’s school project or programming / graphical art practice exercise.

I suppose what I’m more impressed with is the capacity of humanity to invest -anything- with meaning or to construct some kind of story or narrative out of it.

The act of choosing to run the program and watching the mountain change over time rather reminds me of the ongoing discussion on the GW2 Reddit about the Lion’s Arch changes (“No other game welcomes returning players with their favorite city in ruins.”)

What’s interesting in that Reddit thread is that the top comment shares the story that this scene that they’re seeing now is the -improved- version of the Lion’s Arch ruins. Yes, Lion’s Arch was even more ruined before (and on fire, besides.) Following it are comments that lament missing the occurrences, the events, the changes, as well as serious nostalgia from the players who were THERE, plus some expressed fascination with hearing these veterans’ stories.

The act of change over time creates HISTORY.

And because I’m sort of a crusty cynical pessimist on the outside, with a hefty helping of paranoia, I have this sneaking suspicion that my mountain is not going to stay the same forever. Even in geologic time, mountains erode. Or explode. Or something.

And I suppose the time invested into “growing” this mountain (in the sense that starting ProgressQuest is leveling up a character, anyway) will result in some kind of attachment and feeling of loss when the mountain eventually goes away.

Inasmuch as Mountain can provoke these sort of reflective thoughts, I daresay from a certain angle, one might call it art.

(But not art I’d personally pay for, to be honest. If someone gives it to you for free though, it won’t hurt to adopt a pet mountain for a while.)