11 Golden Rules of Good Tower Defense Games


I really enjoy tower defense games – they’re a fun diversion and great for playing on-the-go. Here are what I consider the things that make for a good tower defense game:


1. Aesthetic: The player is going to stare at the same playing field for a long time – make sure your design and style is easy-on-the-eye. There’s a reason Plants vs Zombies is so successful.


2. Optional paths: Let the player craft the optimal path as well as choose the tower type. Desktop Tower Defense is a great example of this done well.


3. Tower Balance: There should be multiple strategies and tower combinations – no one tower should be an objectively better option than others in all situations.


4. Get difficult: Test the player in the late game and provide a hard mode for each level that imposes limitations to challenge the player.


5. Have an endless mode.


6: Unlock things quickly: Nothing’s more frustrating than having to wait for later levels for certain towers to become available. The fun lies in playing with all the options.


7: Quick retry: Let the player restart the game as effortlessly as possible, or even better: let them rewind to a previous phase a la Defense Grid.


8: Exponential upgrades: Tower upgrades should be more expensive than the original cost of the tower, but give it exponentially better attributes.


9: Start when ready: The player should be able to place their starting layout in their own time, and have control over when the first wave starts.


10: External upgrades: incentivize the player for completing levels with minimal casualties by offering upgrades and unlockables that strengthen their options.


11: Wave count: Tell the player how many waves there will be in the round.


Those are just my thoughts. What do you think makes a tower defense game successful?

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