The next generation of online tower defense games has arrived courtesy of a concept-to-completion effort by legendary Flash innovator Grant Skinner and his company, gskinner.com. Developed entirely in HTML5,
works on all modern browsers and sets a new standard for the highly addictive genre.
The commercial-quality game stars a colorful band of pirates who fight to defend their precious daisies from a band of marauding sea creatures. The player positions pirates - each with different skills, ranges of weapons, and weaknesses - at strategic positions around a sandy landscape, and leaves them to destroy every wicked octopus, crab, rat and seagull in their path. As players accumulate gold from destroying his or her enemies, they can upgrade the pirates' skills or add more pirates, building a veritable army to fend off the ever-escalating waves bent on stealing their flowers and carting them off to sea. Players can choose a number of difficulty levels and playing fields, many of which can only be unlocked by playing through easier levels.
Microsoft, impressed with Skinner's work in the interactive world, worked with him to design a game using HTML5 for the new Internet Explorer 9 browser. Skinner's team investigated the current gaming landscape, developed the game's intriguing basic concepts, and worked with Microsoft to bring them to life.
"Through some brainstorming sessions we settled on pirates, with the goal of making them more goofy and family friendly, and we hit on this idea that pirates loved daisies and would do anything to defend them," stated Skinner, whose experience in the interactive space contributed to ensuring the game offered a unique experience. "We tried to develop something that was approachable to anyone. The graphics are very cartoonish and therefore appeal to children, yet there is a level of adult humor that attracts the older crowd and an element of strategy that appeals to more experienced gamers."
The game took approximately two months to complete. With his technical prowess and vast repository of knowledge from working with various technologies over the last decade, Skinner was able to quickly learn the intricacies of HTML5, overcoming the lack of public knowledge surrounding the new medium's performance characteristics. Through extensive up-front profiling and testing, combined with construction of a number of unique tools (a gskinner.com tradition), Skinner developed a game with powerful cross-browser compatibility, fully functional on Safari, Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer 9. His team built the game in a non-linear fashion, sharing small bits with Microsoft as they became available.
"We wanted to prove that it was possible to build a fun and engaging game experience using HTML5, and we aimed to build what we thought was cool," noted Skinner. "The goal was to really push what HTML5 could do on a desktop. The result wound up highlighting the advanced performance of Internet Explorer 9, which shows off the browser's superior graphics engine while providing a better experience to users. In fact, the results were so good that I didn't trust them at first."
Skinner continued, "But this also really displays HTML5's capabilities - in one generation, we've taken the genre of tower games from circles on a grid to a totally playable experience complete with advanced audio. It's really miles ahead of what everyone else is doing right now."
, represents the height of current HTML5 technology, Skinner is already looking forward to the next challenge. "I've always been very passionate about working at the cutting edge of interactive technology. There's a thrill involved with taking a platform that hasn't been fully explored and building something new and engaging on it."
Concept, Development and Creative Direction: gskinner.com
Illustration: Pulp Studios
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