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[In an in-depth article, the creators of Hidden Path's critically acclaimed PC and upcoming XBLA title Defense Grid: The Awakening look at the visual concept work that went into the game's creation, suggesting that "pre-production concept development and visualization resulted in a much better looking game and in significantly reduced problems" during the title's development.]
This article is about the evolution of the final look of Defense Grid: The Awakening and includes some of the concept art we developed to guide the creation of the game. It explores our approach to creating the look for a downloadable game with a limited schedule and budget while still maintaining the production values of a full-priced retail product.
In late 2007 Hidden Path started kicking around the idea of creating a unique new game based on the Tower Defense genre.
We particularly wanted to extend this style of gameplay in a way to appeal to those who were familiar with Tower Defense games.
But we also wanted make a compelling experience that could appeal to gamers who had never played that style of game.
(Incidentally, for those who haven't seen Defense Grid: The Awakening, the trailer provides a quick glimpse of the result.)
Defense Grid: The Awakening Screenshot
Unlike the great majority of Tower Defense games, many of which are flash-based with simple 2D graphics, our proposal was to create a game with advanced 3D environments and characters and high production values similar to what one might expect from a triple-A retail game.
We also wanted context and a storyline to draw players into the experience. Additionally we wanted to incorporate some of the gameplay and experiential lessons we had all learned in some of our past big-budget PC and console projects.
Creating downloadable games that play and feel more like retail games is something Hidden Path Entertainment had been contemplating for some time. Despite the challenges of fitting all this into a downloadable title, as the design began to take shape we all knew that Defense Grid was a game we had to make.
The original design document for Last Stand, which was the game's working title, described the action as occurring in a war-torn urban environment. Mindless bio-organic marauders launched wave after wave of attacks within ruined cityscapes as the player created defensive towers to repel the horde and defend the hapless inhabitants.
While the machine-organisms described in the original proposal were retained, we fairly quickly re-considered the setting and circumstances. Bleak, half-destroyed urban environments are a common setting for games (albeit many great ones), and we wanted to create something a little more distinctive.
After a while, the endless grey-brown dark destroyed city environments (no matter how artfully created) start to all look the same. Having previously created my own share of them at other game studios, I was eager to explore alternate ideas.