Avian Assault is the bird-themed tower defense/time management game I worked on in Junior year. In the game, players must defend their forest from deforestation while also tending to their bird ‘troops’ needs for food, ammo, and morale. Players control General Owl Athena in order to fulfill these needs. All the art pictured below was done by Connor Chapin and Ben Hiller. Tim Healy and George Harmon were the designers, and Tony Libardi was the programmer. I was the producer. This was my most successful team dynamic yet–after the semester was over my team surprised me by presenting me with a card saying I was the best producer they’d ever had. It really meant a lot to me.
Designer – George Harmon
Designer – Tim Healey
Artist – Connor Chapin
Artist – Ben Hiller
Programmer – Anthony Libardi
Producer – Emily Harnedy
Avian Assault Market Analysis
Tower Defense Games Genre Overview
The tower defense genre was popularized by online flash games in the early 2000’s, though the game most widely credited as the first tower defense game was Rampart, which was created by Atari in 1990 (Avery 2). Tower Defense games feature the core mechanic of erecting towers to defend against invading enemies and prevent them from reaching the end of a pathway. Once all the enemies are defeated, players are given the option to purchase new towers and upgrades with whatever money they have acquired from killing enemies in preparation for the next round. Tower defense games can be goofy or serious; in fact the “towers” don’t have to be towers at all. An extremely popular tower defense game, Bloons, stars monkeys popping enemy balloons.
Time Management Games Genre Overview
Time management games focus on the player managing their time and resources in an efficient and strategic way. Wikipedia’s page on time management video games describes the player’s task as follows, “The player must react to the incoming requests that occur as they play and serve them in the most effective manner to get the greatest possible reward.” These games are typically popular with women and feature a bright and friendly aesthetic. A popular example of a time management game is Diner Dash, in which the player controls Flo the waitress and manages a diner by reacting to customer requests.
Avian Assault Gameplay Overview
Avian Assault combines the genres of tower defense and time management to create a unique gameplay experience. In Avian Assault, players take direct control of General Owl Athena and must support their bird troops in battle against the humans that threaten to cut down their forest for lumber. As the game begins, players first must purchase and assign different birds to the available trees in order to defend against the incoming enemy hoard. This preparation phase represents the tower defense genre. After filling the available trees with birds, the battle phase begins in which players must continuously supply their bird troops with food and ammo. Players will also have to switch out birds when they get tired from battle. These mechanics are introduced gradually, and represent the time management mechanic of responding to incoming requests that the player must meet. In Avian Assault, players can even directly affect enemies by stunning them with General Owl Athena’s special screech attack.
All 4 unit types. Descriptions by designer George Harmon
Target Market and Audience description
Avian Assault will appeal mostly to casual gamers looking for a simple yet engaging video game that can occupy their free time. We plan to publish the game online to gaming websites such as Kongregate, Addicting Games, and Armor Games, as well as some educational websites like Funbrain and Scholastic. Later, we may publish on mobile platforms once popularity is gained. Publishing the game first on websites to gain initial popularity before porting to mobile is a strategy that worked for the developers of the tower defense game “Kingdom Rush”, which spent most of its life on the top 100 of the app store (Ruiz). Also, 62% of gamers cite their favorite platform to play games on is their computers, which means we will reach the widest audience by publishing on computers first (Ipsos MediaCT 7).
We will market the game to an audience between the ages of 10 and 40. The reason for such a young starting age is because children are able to think things through and solve hard problems by age 7, meaning they should be able to play our fairly simple tower defense game (Schell 101). The cartoon friendly art style and bird theme will appeal to youngsters as well. Teachers and educational websites will help us reach this younger demographic because they will support the environmentally responsible theme of our game—defending a forest habitat from deforestation. Thanks to its meaningful theme, Avian Assault can likely be hosted on websites approved by teachers for gameplay in schools, such as Funbrain and Scholastic.com. Older children and adults will enjoy our game as well. Many adults are interested in video games but don’t have the time to play for extended periods of time, which makes our quick tower defense/time management game perfect for them. Avian Assault has a wide appeal because of its platform–internet gaming websites like AddictingGames and Kongregate–which appeal to a wide range of ages and have millions of players each day (Kongregate Developers).
The fact our game does not have traditional, realistic towers and instead features bright and quirky birds makes it stand out among more serious tower defense games in the genre. Some of the most popular tower defense and time management games share our bright, cartoony, and friendly aesthetic. Bloons, the game starring monkeys defending themselves from balloons mentioned in the tower defense section, shares our animal theme and brightly colored aesthetic. Plants vs. Zombies, a game featuring plants defending their home from incoming zombies, also shares our bright color palette. Plants vs. Zombies and Bloons are highly successful because they are quirky, unique twists on the tower defense genre. Popular time management games such as Dinner Dash and Cake Mania also have a bright color palette coupled with a friendly art style that Avian Assault exemplifies. These games do not take themselves very seriously; they are casual games that have a wide appeal. Avian Assault will share that wide appeal due to its friendly, inviting art style and the fact that it combines the genres of tower defense and time management to reel in a wider audience. The 3d art style may also lead to increased interest because it is unusual–most tower defense and time management games are made in 2d. Avian Assault will be the next game to bring popularity to both the tower defense and time management genres.
We plan to market this game to both genders, because aspects of its gameplay appeals to both males and females. According to Flurry who analyzed gender in regards to game type, (see chart below) females are known for liking management/sim games, while males are known for enjoying strategy games (Calvin 5). Adult women are especially fond of time management games and fill most of the market for casual gaming. According to Schell, females typically enjoy games that relate to the real world and allow them to fulfill nurturing roles (Schell 104). Avian Assault appeals to this demographic because players are tasked with not only defeating enemies, but supporting the birds as well. Avian Assault is ultimately about protecting the inner forest from those who wish to do it harm, which appeals to females in their desire to nurture. Additionally, females like games that relate to real life, which Avian Assault does. It’s theme of deforestation is a true threat to environments outside of the game world, which females will appreciate.
Males, Schell writes, typically enjoy games that feature mastery, destruction, and trial and error (Schell 103). Males will enjoy mastering Avian Assault by figuring out the best placement of bird units to defend against the enemy hoard, and they will enjoy watching the enemies fall by executing their strategy. Males may also appreciate the war theme of the game.
Gameplay in our tower defense/time management game will not be too challenging–it will appeal to the fans of tower defense casual games such as Bloons rather than fans of the more hardcore tower defense games like Defense Grid. We also do not want to alienate younger players by making the game too hard. Fans of brightly colored, fast paced time management games such as Dinner Dash and Cake Mania will also enjoy our game. Avian Assault will appeal to gamers with the psychographic of achievers, meaning they play games so they can feel a sense of accomplishment from achieving the goals of the game (Schell 110). Our target market will delight in every enemy wave they destroy, and feel a sense of personal accomplishment from protecting the Heart of the Forest from those who wish to cut it down for lumber. We aim to market our game to those seeking a fun, slightly challenging, casual experience that can occupy their free time.
Works Cited & Consulted
Avery, Phillipa. “Computational Intelligence in Games.” (2013): n. pag. Center for Computer Games Research. Web. 23 Jan. 2016 <http://julian.togelius.com/Avery2011Computational.pdf>
Calvin. “Gamer Demographics That Every Developer Should Know.”Apptopia. N.p., 28 Mar. 2013. Web. 06 Feb. 2016.<http://blog.apptopia.com/game-demographics-that-every-developer-should-know/>.
Ipsos MediaCT. “Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry.” 5.1 (2015): n.pag. Entertainment Software Association, 2015. Web. 6 Feb. 2016. <http://www.theesa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/ESA-Essential-Facts-2015.pdf>.
Ruiz, Pablo. “Making a Hit Tower Defense Game: A Top App Dev Interview.” Ray Wenderlich. Razeware LLC., 22 Feb. 2013. Web. 23 Jan. 2016. <http://www.raywenderlich.com/30636/top-developer-interviews-ironhide-game-studio>.
Schell, Jesse. “Demographics.” The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Morgan Kaufmann, 2008. 97-112. Print.
“Why Choose Kongregate? – Kongregate Developers.” Kongregate Developers. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Feb. 2016. <http://developers.kongregate.com/docs/why-kong/welcome>.
The wikis on tower defense games and time management games: