Hero Defense Interview: When MOBAs Met Tower Defense

Developer Happy Tuesday talks about its odd mish-mash of genres and the weird fun on offer.

Posted By | On 21st, Nov. 2017 Under Article, Interviews


Attempting to innovate on well worn genres like tower defense and MOBAs isn’t easy. There’s balance to consider, how both genres will gel together, PvP and PvE changes and whatnot. However, Happy Tuesday’s Hero Defense is an interesting take on what a combination of both genres would look like. Though it’s focused on hero customization and exploration, delivering a strong single-player experience in the process, it’s also about surviving against waves of enemies.

GamingBolt had a chance to speak to Happy Tuesday about Hero Defense, its upcoming release for Xbox One and PS4 and the various challenges faced by the development team.

Hero Defense

"Most Moba and TDs are only focused on game play resulting in a less immersive relation with the characters and the world."

What can you tell us about Hero Defense and how it differs from your average tower defense game or MOBA?

The biggest difference of Hero Defense, compared to other renowned TDs is that we mix in MOBA elements. This implies a unique twist to how the game is played. Players concentrate on a handful of Heroes and customize them to their own playstyle. Skill trees and Runes, Shrines (Special locations that boost certain attributes) alongside other mechanics make Hero Defense a very refreshing experience.

Also I would like to mention the overall quality and love that has gone into creating the characters and the world. I personally love the appeal of f.e. the Zombie queen, wearing a dead cat as a fur scarf. All maps have been handcrafted. Not at least we have put the same amount of detail into the village which the player rebuilds from ashes or the world map that is a 1:10 exact representation of all the maps.

How did the idea for Hero Defense come about and what were the challenges faced in implementing it?

The challenges were manifold. Initially we figured it was a lot of fun to be able to move around your characters. Quickly we realized that this led to unintended playstyles. Players only moving heroes alongside the path(s) didn’t make for more than a short lived laborious experience.

It took many different areas to be aligned to reach the “goldilocks zone” where movement, strategic placement and planning felt right. This spans from Level design: Implementing “Pockets” instead of open areas, Hight differences, Bottlenecks and “wrong turns” ensured that just running would be inefficient to planning. Shrines that can be customized and strengthen either all of the team or a specific Hero and a colour-coded Rock-Paper-Scissors System enable the player to max out efficiency of the most powerful heroes for a certain challenge. Different movement speeds and a clear focus on every Heroes Roles enable the player to “understand” a given challenge and to address it with their own means.

The idea of a lengthy campaign for a MOBA-like title hasn’t really been explored much. What does Hero Defense do with the idea and how is the campaign structured?

Most Moba and TDs are only focused on game play resulting in a less immersive relation with the characters and the world. With the adventure of Jack set out to restore his family’s name by defeating his father, the former vampire hunter who turned will have the player experience a simple yet lovingly presented storyline in a quirky stereotypic world. All characters and dialogues are fully voice acted and characters (avoiding spoilers) have a connection/history with the sub bosses – as well as towards each other.

Hero Defense_01

"As a premium Game that has a strong single player foundation we have very few people competing in 1v1 PvP."

Are there side missions or other activities that players can partake in aside from the story?

There is plenty of replayability. Players can replay all Maps in 4 Difficulties and obtain rewards for achieving to win a map with a number of challenges like play only with Jack, Do not move your characters, etc. In addition we have implemented an Endless Mode were players need to survive a never ending onslaught of enemies.

What are some of the classes that players can go with? Could you explain an ideal build that could be created from the various skill trees, runes and gear acquired?

The Heroes all have a unique playstyle. Each outperforming at a given Task. Jack is exceptional against single Enemies with lots of health, Barrows strengthens other Heroes with his Auras and debuffs enemies; Sam deals splash damage and is outstanding when confronted with hordes of enemies. The two advanced Heroes Jane and Wylde require some skill and heavily rely on placement and micro management. While Jane is the fastest Hero she also has abilities like knock back. This helps her Role as “Leak Catcher”, pushing back enemies that slipped through defences. Wylde can cover a whole length of a path, so you want him to shoot straight to hit as many enemies per attack with his returning blades.

My favorite Build so far is what I call “Wylde-Souls-Build”. It is based around his exceptional ability to hit lots of enemies. Pairing this Skill-Tree-Ability with “Souls-on-hit” runes. The build is simple and very effective. Utilizing 3 Runes of “additional Projectile” to cover more Area, then filling the central Rune Sockets with Soul On Hit Runes while adding Attack Speed to the last (infinite) Sockets. Skill-wise you want to have his Razor Range and Returning Blades on as high a level as possible. With an additional Focus on his Ultimate Skill: Rage.

What can you tell us about the competitive multiplayer? How do the mechanics translate to ranked and unranked matches?

For the upcoming release we have sadly decided to remove it. The reason is simple: As a premium Game that has a strong single player foundation we have very few people competing in 1v1 PvP. This unfortunately does not suffice the need of a minimum payer base to populate this awesome game mode.

The core idea though can be explained thus:

Imagine Tetris Multiplayer, where you send completed Rows to your competitors. With HD Multiplayer it works the same: The moment a player destroys a wave of enemies he automatically sends a new wave to the opponent. A special Mechanic called “Punished” lets the winning player modify those waves. Changing them to Bosses, adding abilities like quickness or heals or changing the type of creeps from f.e. zombies to skeletons. The session takes 3-5 minutes on an average and players receive rewards for every match played.

Hero Defense_03

"We haven’t looked into specific enhancements for the title on PS4 Pro and Xbox One X yet, but due to the unlocked frame rate the game will definitely run very smooth on the systems."

What are your thoughts on complaints about the game being too grindy?

Hmmm. Some people love it some don’t. BUT: One of our major tasks was to rebalance the whole game so grinding becomes a far less important task to finish the campaign. Still if you want to get all achievements and max out everything you will be required to play the game a lot. I personally think this is a minor concern as “grinding” in Hero Defense does not mean that your progress is locked. Your progression is ongoing – and (again personally) I love to be able to play a lot of difficulties, challenges and replaying maps with new load-outs while my meta is still getting stronger with every level.

Hero Defense will be heading to the Xbox One and PS4 with a relaunch of the PC version as well. What is the status of the release till now?

We’re on a very good way, the console versions are stable and the game actually plays great on the big screens. Basically we only have the submission processes left which we’re about to tackle now.

Given that multiplayer hasn’t had a strong enough player base yet, how much are you prioritizing its re-introduction compared to newer features?

As stated we have decided to remove Multiplayer until the player base is big enough to guarantee a good experience.

What resolution and frame rate will the base PS4 and Xbox One versions run at?

1080p with unlocked frame rate.

Can you tell us what frame rate and resolution will the PS4 Pro version run on? What kind of enhancements will it include?

We haven’t looked into specific enhancements for the title on PS4 Pro and Xbox One X yet, but due to the unlocked frame rate the game will definitely run very smooth on the systems. We’re also looking into 4K resolution but have to make sure that frame rate doesn’t suffer under that, so we can’t confirm that yet.

Hero Defense_02

"We believe that a unique visual experience is not just centred around hardware. When playing photo realistic AAA multimillion $ games you will be able to see differences."

what is your take on the differences between the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X and do you think the visual difference between them will be visible to the general audience?

We believe that a unique visual experience is not just centred around hardware. When playing photo realistic AAA multimillion $ games you will be able to see differences. As indie developer our main focus is on an optimal experience rather than maxing out content and hardware requirements.

Personal note: I feel this is like going to the movies and watching a 3D movie. The first minutes you go “WOW!”, then your eyes have adjusted and you barely notice it’s 3D – Therefore some people might notice but I doubt that it will significantly improve the perception and satisfaction with the game you are playing.

When can we expect Hero Defense to release for all platforms?

Heads up: Right now we’re targeting a release in Q1 2018.


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