[SA Game Jam 2018] Knightpunk Defense

SA Game Jam 2018
Knightpunk Defense
Vaguely profesional
72hr entry
Team: @Bensonance @Kidult (Team average sauce)

Jam Submission Versions
Windows + Mac build available on Itch.io

Build towers >>> turn on lures >>> kill enemies >>> unlock new resources >>> build new buildings >>> build new lures >>> repeat until you collect all the resources, build all the buildings, and so on!

-Click on a highlighted tile to build something
-Mouse over dropped resources to collect them
-Click the buttons next to your main big building to turn lures for certain enemies (carrying certain resources) on and off

All lures need to be on to attract the next type of enemy.

--- Musics by Anonymous 420 ----

What it looks like in game with all post-processing on (too much data for GIFs):

Game in action:

------Original post--------------

Hey folks!

We're making a mechanically minimalist tower defence/base building game where you have to lure enemies to you so you can collect resources. Sometimes they'll drop a new type of resource, which enables you to build new things, plus lure new enemies. Loop is kinda build >>> defend >>> collect >>> unlock new resources >>> repeat as the possibility space for enemies + buildings expands.

Here's some rough quick mockups @kidult did - I like to think of this art style as Monthy Python Cyberpunk lol:


Focused on getting the gameplay loop in place yesterday, and now balance, juice, feedback and maybe a tad more content.

2000 x 1333 - 1M
2000 x 1333 - 1M
1280 x 1024 - 258K
Thanked by 1Ross


  • Oooh, commenting for the art take, I know what you mean when you say you're going for Monty Python. Will be interesting to see how you inject that attitude into the rest of the game :)
    Thanked by 1kidult
  • The lazer castles look pretty kick-ass. I hope you've got plans for ridiculous special effects?
    Thanked by 1kidult
  • Yeah lazer castle sfx and monty python jokes sound good....right now I think we're doing menus so we'l get back to you on those features at a later date. :D
  • edited
    Oops I just edited the top post, forgetting it wouldn't bring the discussion up! Jam builds are up!

    Here's a GIF of it in action early on (it's a bit prettier in game, had to turn off post processing for a decent gif size)


    And a bit later on it gets a bit more chaotic:
  • Love the art style and 8bit sound effects. Also thanks for including a Mac build :D

    It wasn't clear at first that I had to turn on the luring on the tower and that I had to pick up the little resource power-up things by moving my mouse over them.

    Had loads of fun though! It gets pretty chaotic - in a good way! Good job!
    Thanked by 1Bensonance
  • edited
    Really cool that you fit so much into a jam game, and I liked some of the non-conventional things that you experimented with. The aesthetics are pretty cool. I wish you leaned more into the Monty Python inspiration and had more visible ridiculousness going on! Great effects on the pew pew and laser stuff and breaking into bits :)

    - Love the way the build works, clicking a spot then what to build is great. It was a bit confusing initially, maybe a bit more connection between the selected spot and the UI that pops up can alleviate that initial confusion. It's all visually quite similar and middle value.
    - You can only get out of the build UI with a right click, that was a bit confusing as I expect to be able to get out of the currently active UI by clicking elsewhere.
    - The lure aspect of the game is a good risk-reward mechanic, but the way it works right now creates an incentive to turn on > get some enemies > turn off > kill them > turn on > etc. That creates a riskless normal flow and makes for an uninteresting progression. I think giving the player a way to take on more risk is good, but giving the player complete control over their risk profile is not.
    - There's also not enough feedback on the lure - there should be some kind of indication of when the next activation of enemies are coming, and/or when the next type of enemies are coming.
    - The way the enemies stop as soon as they encounter something creates a situation where I have to build out and build out until I overreach and have to build back at home again, and that creates very little persistence in the towers, which is what makes tower defence feels really good - a growing bunch of stuff that does its job. Other tower defence games get around this with pathfinding and either not allowing the players to completely block off everything, or making the enemy attack if a clear path isn't found. Which I imagine would be difficult to design in a jam scenario so...
    - The pickups aren't very clear. And having to mouse over them to pick them up also wasn't very clear. But what was the most frustrating I think was that you can't mouse over to pick up if you're in a build menu. That's an unexpected behaviour, especially in the heat of battle and I couldn't left click to get out of the build menu.
    - For a tower defence where you're building static things, not knowing which direction the enemies will come from is annoying.
    - I couldn't see the amount of resources I have other than that default first resource, not sure if that's a bug. Probably.
    - The Music is great! I enjoyed just leaving the game in the background running while typing this up :) Where's it from?
    - Also the timed resource generation means I can have the game open, not lure and just accumulate resource. Tying time to the game means you need to generate risk over time or else it encourages degenerate and boring behaviour :P
    Thanked by 2kidult Bensonance
  • The art style is incredibly unique, but I enjoyed it a lot. What was the incentive for having multiple lures turned on at once? I felt like it just made things harder
    Thanked by 1Bensonance
  • @donderbos Thanks for playing and the feedback! Will try make the resources collection clearer in a build sometime this week!

    @Tuism Thanks for playing and the load of feedback! :D

    - yeah the lure is a bit of a broken design right now as @kidult pointed out on the last day! Gonna try making you stop gain resources, or maybe even lose some if there is no lure active (after you first activate a lure)

    Other great points! The picking up of resources in build menu is a good point I didn't think of, as is the direction of enemies (actually thought of that, but didn't have time to put it in)

    Not seeing the last two resources is a resolution bug due to some hacky hard coding (already fixed in the post jam version). If you play on a higher resolution you should be able to see them!

    Added the music reference to the OP! Found it off Free Music Archive!

    Lots of points I didn't respond to, but thanks for a lot of chunky information to deal with! Will probably do another couple post-jam builds this week to deal with them and other feedback!

    @Vfqd Thanks for playing! In the early to mid game you have to have all available lures turned on to attract new enemies! But there isn't really an end game in this prototype, so once you have all the lures there isn't really a point lol. Need to probably have something you have to build with a lot of all 3 of the resources as the end goal :)
  • Added a new post-jam build with a couple feedback/usability tweaks! Nothing major yet.

    - Cursor now in game
    - Arrows show which side of screen enemies are approaching from (needs a bit more feedback work on this)
    - Clicked tile brighter + lines from selected tile to build options
    - Collectibles now have bloom glow around them to attract attention (still not a final solution for encouraging collection)
    - Enemies accidentally could only be damaged once per second, this is not at 0.1 per second. Which makes the whole game a lot easier. The balance is broken now so I'll need to tweak it. (But having multiple attacks not damage enemies was annoying)
    - When no lures are active, you don't recieve a resource trickle. Added a small text notification of this occuring.

    Kinda can see most of these in this screenshot (for some reason cursor doesn't show up in screenshot:

    720 x 576 - 84K
  • I stuck to the Jam build for testing.
    It was a nice little rumble.
    For me, the "fun" was in trying to find placement that minimizes loss.
    I reached 999 and above in resources... Runaway deflation.

    Things that felt good:
    - almost having a perfect defense.
    - harvesting truck loads of money.
    - Spamming small turrets directly beneath the larger ship to sink it early.

    Things that didn't feel good:
    - I can't build faster than my clicks.
    - I can't repair
    - I can't remove buildings that have already been placed.
    Thanked by 2Bensonance kidult
  • I like it!

    I like the real-timeness and how being able has the player to pause the action take a breather maybe get a cup of tea that's what I really like about the the luring mechanic.

    First round playing the game I just like played it like a tower defence where you just lay down your bases and wait for enemies to arrive. Then I had a bunch of bases chilling there which was kinda lame but then I didn't get the game at that point, cool. I was thinking is that if you could like right click on something you build and destroy it and for resources from that. So if it cost 10 to build it when you destroy it you get like 3 bucks at least that way if you place things wrong there's a way there's some recourse.

    I quite enjoyed the music it seemed to strangely fit the aesthetic that you have the art is different not something you normally see it reminded me a bit of StarCraft and I liked the Monty Python thing you going with with the lasers juxtaposed very nxa.

    I don't know if it's the resolution the game is at but I felt that I lost the detail in the towers that were built. :(

    This game is dope. I wouldn't mind playing it more with more stuff. :)
    Thanked by 2Bensonance kidult
  • (Jam version I think)

    There's something really satisfying about having a screen full of towers defending against an onslaught of enemies, seeing lasers flying all around your base and explosions everywhere. When resources were lying around the battlefield, collecting them with a swish felt pretty great too.

    Visually, I found it quite difficult to distinguish between the different towers that were placed. I also found the design of the screen to be quite brown and noisy. I think the visuals could have been more successful with clearer silhouettes for the buildings, and a background which receded more relative to the gameplay elements. I got the feeling that the art was designed quite separately to the game (and at higher resolution); it could help quite a lot to design the art as if it were in a game view already, so that the different elements can be balanced against one another, and silhouettes can be seen to read at the target resolution.

    I think comparing this to a tower defense is inevitable. With a tower defense, I feel that much of the fun in the game is trying to create different mazes and funnels for forcing enemies into unfavourable situations. In Knightpunk Defense, I felt that there was less strategy available to me, in part because of the enemies seeming to attack the closest tower. This meant that rather than build interesting formations of buildings, I felt encouraged to group powerful towers together, and then spam "cheap" towers farther away to tank enemy fire.

    I thought the amount of content you got in for having only two people was very impressive! More variety of towers and enemies are some obvious things to want to see, but I'd particularly like to see ways to encourage other ways of modifying gameplay to allow/encourage the player to experiment with different base-building layouts.

    Congrats on a neat little game!
    Thanked by 3Tuism Bensonance kidult
  • Thanks for all the great feedback folks!

    @pierre For repairing/removing buildings this was of course something we wanted to do! Just prioritised other things

    Can you elaborate " I can't build faster than my clicks."? What would a suggestion be for this? :)

    @SUGBOERIE Same for above, will defintely put in removing towers when I get a chance!

    "I don't know if it's the resolution the game is at but I felt that I lost the detail in the towers that were built. :(" - Yeah this was kinda a last minute decision to zoom out the game a bit to allow for more gameplay options. Originally we were going to zoom out over time to give you more space, but didn't get round to it. That's why the art is so detailed, but it was also kinda just the art direction, I dunno if @kidult could have done less detail with this style, as it was kinda already about mashing together realistic elements.

    @Elyaradine Thanks for the comprehensive feedback!

    Great points about the art in general!
    "I got the feeling that the art was designed quite separately to the game (and at higher resolution)". Yeah as you can see in the mock-ups above we did design it originally to be closer up, but then decide to zoom out a lot more for gameplay purposes.

    "comparing this to a tower defense is inevitable." Yeah totally! I think alot of the design affordances are established in Tower Defence, and they often rely on paths in designed levels to move enemies through. I think with this game we wanted to experiment a bit with the idea of how enemies are used in the Tower defence, and sorta mash it up with how it's done in base building where you need to collect resources. So the main design focus was on the lures and if it was interesting to lure enemies with different resources to you. This could have been done with standard Tower defence style, but I think it lent it self better to a sorta base building feel.

    In the current design I think that a lack of non-offensive towers did hurt the decision making! Because being able to build shields or area buffs to towers would have made things a bit more interesting in terms of building placement + collecting resources + luring enemies. Right now it's very much more micro strategy in terms of how you place towers in little groups combined with pretty much just spamming building towers lol.

    But I think the theme was quite challenging, so it would have been tricky to get that level of dynamic into a jam game.

    Thanks again for the great feedback!
  • Can you elaborate " I can't build faster than my clicks."? What would a suggestion be for this? :)
    So when the enemies start showing up in larger numbers, and i am trying to rebuild the line of defense, then the process of clicking and then selecting a structure is slow. My recommendation is to rather let the player paint the placement by selecting a building type first, like a brush, and then making a drag selection to place a block or line of structures, or to pop the selected building with each subsequemt click.

    If your game had a build time, then i would recommend queing build tasks, but since it is instant, this won't be an issue.

    There is more you can do beyond this such as letting players select and define templates of multple buildings in a set pattern and then quickly spawn-cloning the template with a single click, (or again with drag-block-selections)

    Such a twmplate system would lean in quite strongly into the theme, especially if there are different structure types that can work together.

    Thanked by 1Bensonance
  • @Pierre Thanks for elaborating! :)

    This is a good idea!

    I think for what I'm planning to do before making it public, I won't add this, but I'll add it to another list for if I come back to the prototype! :D
  • edited
    I really loved the audio and visual exploration of Knightpunk. It may have been a purely mechanics descision but at the end I decided to side with the attackers. I mean this fortress of steal that lures attacks so it can continue its industrious like expansion, sounds like knightpunk techwizard madness. The audio sounds like the dawn of a new kind of post apocalyptic era where alien beings who had merged with their machines long ago are now doomed to wage infinate war against one other, in an unforgiving hamsterwheel. Then you go to the menu and theres that fun menu music. ^_^ Really fun concept, knightpunk. Really well done.
    Thanked by 1Bensonance
  • edited
    Played it! I love playing tower defenses, and this satisfied that itch for me.

    I like the lure mechanic. I kind of wish it was a bit more involved, or maybe a bit more of a risk to keep lure always on... or maybe that there were times where I wouldn't want lure on. when I played it I built my second lure, but then left it off for a while, then when I switched it on the waves really ramped up. I don't know whether this was the perfect strategy, but it seemed to make it fairly easy to progress.

    I'm sure there's a ton you wanted to put into this. I would have loved some more complex systems later in the game, I really like building living bases (with supply chains etc). I love building complex bases even more than I love building mazes (for instance I really enjoy Creeper World 3).

    The gritty diesel punk aesthetic is super cool! I'm a huge fan of this art direction, like in games like Factorio (Factorio of course looks kind of ugly, but I like this direction is my point).
    Thanked by 1Bensonance
  • Thanks for feedback folks! I'm still working on a new version - mainly just finishing up the current design direction of the prototype - tower upgrades, juice, feedback, etc.

    @Asriele haha love that you sided with the attackers! Thinking about it through your perspective, I like to think of the player controlled faction as socialists leading capitalists ever searching for more resources to their death :P

    @EvanGreenwood Yeah the lure was tricky to balance in the jam, but the idea of luring enemies was sorta the main mechanical experiment I wanted to test. I also like how it came out, but I don't think the game that surrounds it makes it work to the best of it's ability.

    The design of the jam version was really to try make a minimalist city builder/tower defense to test the luring idea - the luring is interesting, I would just need to figure out the game system to put it in!

    Agreed about the more complex bases! Kinda the issue with the half-tower defense half city builder design is you don't really get that sense of a city expanding and feeling your own. You kinda just spam buildings in an uninteresting format.

    I'm just fininshing the prototype for myself in this direction, and then I'm going to do some conceptual design work to figure out a different direction to prototype the lure mechanic within.

    Been playing They Are Billions a bunch and that's a really interesting riff on the city builder/tower defence genre, so I might end up doing something similar. But I'm also thinking of other things.

    Ultimately, I like the idea of enemies you destroy being the actual resources you collect, it could potentially have this really interesting and tightly wound balance where you have constant risk reward of collecting resources to build more to kill more powerful enemies etc. Also the idea of luring enemies to your base means when you fail, it's kinda your own fault because you brought too much upon yourself. Not like They Are Billions where you can kinda just be brutally destroyed with only a tiny bit of warning
    Thanked by 1Asriele
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