Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"Live Blogging" through Kingdom Rush - Day 1

For my digital and social media class, we are now looking at gaming! As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am an average gamer... I wouldn't call myself a beginner because I have gamed before (Sims, the Uncharted series, The Last of Us, Worms Forts Under Siege, Age of Empires, and Insaniquarium are the non-iPhone games I know best, besides the educational ones I played as a kid by Humongous Entertainment and JumpStart), but anyone who has watched me play knows that my skill level is poor compared to the number of hours I have spent playing games. Hand-eye coordination has never been a talent of mine.

Here I am playing The Last of Us on PS4. (Please don't mind my college-student boyfriend's setup and messy room :D.)

In order to explore gaming, my professor has asked us to play Kingdom Rush. Kingdom Rush is a medieval tower defense game; it is similar to the popular Bloons Tower Defense, though there are many other tower defense-type games out there. In Kingdom Rush, the player's goal is to strategically place different towers (each with their own specific attacks) along a stretch of road to defend the kingdom from enemies. The enemies walk along the path from one end of the screen to another, and if an enemy makes it down the path without being killed, the player loses a life. Killing enemies earns the player money, which can be used to build and upgrade towers.

Our assignment for class is to play three total hours of Kingdom Rush. I decided to split my gaming into three different one-hour sessions, then reflect after each session on this blog. This will not only help me accurately remember and record what I was feeling during gameplay, but also prevent me from continuing to play when I should be productive and do other homework. (Unfortunately, I am an average college student taking multiple credits, so I can't devote all day to gaming.)

I was surprised and thankful to see that Kingdom Rush can be played in multiple difficulty levels: casual, normal, and veteran. I chose to play on casual because I thought that if it was too easy, I could always increase the difficulty. (I also didn't want to risk feeling bad if I had to decrease the difficulty.)

Kingdom Rush can be played on casual, normal, or veteran mode.

Next, the game shows you a map of the kingdom you have been recruited to defend. I assumed (correctly) that this map would fill up with posts of the "levels" you have solved throughout gameplay so that you could see your progress and re-attempt levels again later. 

Those mountains look treacherous.

Each level (campaign, as the game calls it, though it could also be referred to as a battle) begins with a description of the level, a map of the path you'll be defending, and a choice of difficulties (though the more difficulties of my game were locked because I had not yet defeated this campaign). 

A preview of your next battle!

Once I was ready for battle, instructions popped up to detail how to play Kingdom Rush. I found the explanations at the beginning of the game particularly helpful; I don't like when the player is thrown into a game and expected to figure out the controls on her own. 

A few simple diagrams with directions can make all of the difference in ease of gameplay.

Once those were through, I was ready to begin playing the game! As you can see below, I am defending a path that begins from the top of the screen (where the game shows the enemies will appear) and finishes on the right. I have to build defensive towers on the posts marked in the game so that my army will protect my kingdom. You can see in the upper left corner that I have 20 lives (as shown by the heart), 265 coins (to use to protect the kingdom), and 7 waves (or groups) of enemies to conquer before the level is complete. 

Here's what a defenseless path looks like.

The towers that I can build have different costs, special skills, hit points, and reload times. It is important to think about these factors when deciding where the towers will go.

I can spend varying amounts of money to place towers on the posts along the path.

Once I had my original towers placed, I started the battle. Immediately, I received a prompt that explained the type of enemy that was on my screen. The game starts out with goblins and orcs. 

Here is a short explanation of the goblins that appeared on my path.

I'm glad the game explains what an orc is, because I would not have known.

The first level was fairly easy. I spent my money to create towers that were capable of defending the path. As you can see at the bottom of this screenshot, I have a little army attacking an orc before it reaches the end of my path (marked by the blue flags).

Here is a screenshot of my defenses in action!

Kingdom Rush awards you stars that signify your mastery of the level. I earned three stars on the first level and was victorious! I also collected 71 gems (which are also earned by killing enemies).

I claimed my victory of the first level!

Sadly, level two was much more difficult. I let too many enemies through my defenses on the first go at it, and I was defeated.

In level two, the enemies are more difficult to kill and come in larger groups.

The enemies defeated me on level two! I felt so pathetic!

I realized at this point that I could build towers while the waves of enemies were moving across the screen, so as I was accumulating money from killing the enemies I could also use the money to upgrade my defenses. I absolutely needed to do this in order to make it to the end of the level. On my next try, I stayed under the limit of the number of enemies I was allowed to let into the kingdom; however, on this level, I only obtained one out of three stars. This was a defeat for me; as a proclaimed perfectionist, I knew I would not be able to move on until I earned three out of three stars. So I repeatedly played level two until I beat it with all three stars.

Though I was happy to survive through the level, I needed to get three stars.

Eventually I was able to earn three stars for the level (and almost double the number of diamonds)!

In the third level, I was exposed to two different entry paths (and I'll admit, when I saw that I exclaimed, "I thought this was on easy mode!") and new, more resilient enemies. The best I was able to do before the end of my hour of gaming was achieve two out of three stars.

Look at all of those enemies! And there were 11 waves of them!

I was able to get two stars before I called it quits for the night.

Tonight's gaming experience was spent trying to figure out how to play Kingdom Rush as well as developing my strategy for placing towers in the game. I don't think I have any true strategies yet, but that is something I would like to work on during my next hour of gaming. I was helped by the choice of an "easy" difficulty mode, explanations for playing the game, and various little tips that would appear onscreen. I was hindered in my play by the fact that I didn't know precisely what I was doing or why I was doing it, but I hope that experience playing the game will help me make that frustrated feeling go away. 

Stay tuned this week for more on my Kingdom Rush gaming experience, as well as how I feel this may be applicable to my future classroom! And if you have any tips or points of discussion you'd like to bring up related to gaming or Kingdom Rush specifically, feel free to leave them in the comments!

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