Defense Grid: The Awakening released in 2008 and it brought a unique blend of tower defense and strategy mechanics. Tower defense fans quickly took a shine to the game, so independent developer Hidden Path Entertainment continued supporting the game with a number of DLC add-ons, including one featuring Portal's GLaDOS. After four years, however, Hidden Path is ready to take Defense Grid to the next level and recently announced plans to begin work on an official sequel, Defense Grid 2.
"We've actually wanted to work on Defense Grid 2 since DG1 was released," said Defense Grid's CTO and lead designer, Michael Austin. "To be honest, we've been working on DG2 for a few years now, but because it's been self-funded so far, it's amounted to just one or two people in our spare hours doing design and engine work."
For Defense Grid 2, Austin and the rest of Hidden Path is looking to add a number of new features, many of which have been requested by their fans. "The biggest features we've had requested from our community are a level editor and multiplayer modes," Austin said. In fact, Austin later admits that multiplayer for the first Defense Grid was in the works before the studio ran low on funds. "Our current list also has dynamic environments -- levels where the topology changes halfway through. Imagine a crane swinging a bridge into place, or a door that opens. We'd like deferred rendering on a modern renderer so we can have more, better effects, like sweeping headlights on the aliens."
One of DG2's most notable new features would be an item system, something Austin says can help players customize their experience. Items would suit players either looking to pound away at the game's leaderboards or simply look for a diversion. "Our current idea is that you have several slots for items that you get from doing missions and challenge modes," he added. "Some of these might give extra effects to laser towers or make cannon towers do more damage. Others will actually let you pick how you play -- a single slot may allow an item that lets you micromanage targeting, for players that enjoy optimizing, or the slot may open up the orbital laser, for players who prefer a broader stroke. It's a different way to solve the same problem. We can tie a score multiplier to each of the items, so we can give horribly-awesome broken items that don't mess up the leaderboards for those who enjoy the competitive puzzle side of the game."
The aforementioned lack of funding and manpower is a large part of the reason that Hidden Path has taken to Kickstarter to reach out to their fanbase directly. The studio has set some lofty fundraising goals, including a $1 million benchmark for DG2. With only a eight days remaining, the studio has raised a little over $185,000. So what happens if Hidden Path is unable to raise its target goal?
"Basically, if the Kickstarter doesn't work out and we continue to not be able to find a publisher, we have to put Defense Grid 2 aside and work on other projects to bring in income that we will reinvest," Austin said. "Because it will involve releasing an entire game or two, meanwhile, it could be a long time. The nice thing is that anyone who has contributed to the Kickstarter will still get a copy when we finally make it, even if it's many years away."
Hidden Path does, in fact, have another project currently in the works. It is helping with the development of the upcoming Counter Strike: Global Offensive.