Totem Topple

  • Flight of Light,  Games Industry,  Totem Topple

    Inseparable Marketing

    Recently read BadgerHammer’s blog on video game marketing. Like them, I’ve been pressing all the marketing buttons prescribed by industry “conventional wisdom”, yet getting nowhere. This spurred me to write down some ideas I’ve had mulling in my head for a while now about indie game marketing. Marketing is usually referred to as something game developers do during and/or after game development. As if it’s a parallel process to the nuts and bolts of making a game. It isn’t. Way back when I was at school, I did business studies and learned about the 4 P’s – Price, Promotion, Place¬†and Product. They are all interconnected, but the focus of most…

  • Totem Topple,  Wii-U

    My year as a Totem Pole

    It’s been a year since Totem Topple came out, and six months since the patch that fixed it, so feels like a good time to take a step back and analyse what went right and wrong with the game. The fact that it had to be extensively patched last summer attests to the issues with the original version that launched on PC and Wii U back in November 2015. You can read more about the making of the game, how it faltered, and efforts to rescue it, here. However, I want to dig into the game design itself. For those unfamiliar with Totem Topple, it’s a tower defence game in…

  • Totem Topple,  Wii-U

    Elements of Damage

    Introducing damage types into Totem Topple proved to be a relatively quick way of creating more variety and dynamism within the game. It allowed for new and interesting enemies to emerge later on in the game, and added an extra dimension to the game without burdening the player with too much extra to learn. Change of Plan Originally, the plan was that whatever damage type was selected when the player placed a beak (turret) or wing, that would be it’s damage type for life. However, this lead to issues whereby players would be stuck with a lot of ineffectual turrets that didn’t match the damage type of the latest wave…

  • Totem Topple,  Wii-U

    Totem Tutorial the 3rd

    (Epilepsy warning: Contains flashing images) The tutorial system in Totem Topple is something that we’ve wrestled with over a number of iterations. In the launch version of Totem Topple, it worked, in the sense that it gave players enough of an understanding of how the game’s basic mechanics worked to be able to play. Similarly, the complimentary Help system worked well in allowing players to see the underlying stats and numbers for the various heads and enemies. However, the fact that many players resorted to using the Help showed how much the game was lacking in visual feedback. Many of the minor changes made to Totem Topple for the 2.0…

  • Totem Topple,  Wii-U

    Rescuing Totem Topple

    I was pretty gutted with how Totem Topple was received after it launched back in November, both in terms of poor reviews and poor sales. The first reaction is always to get angry, but looking back on the comments, I quickly realised that most of the criticism was justified. When placing myself in the shoes of reviewers or players coming to the game with fresh eyes, the responses to the game were perfectly rational. One video of the game was particularly telling: I watched as the player died, died again, died again. Then they checked the in-game help, compared what all the different totem heads did. They devised a strategy,…