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5. Creating a serious tower

This chapter tells you how to balance your tower/item, design its appearance, design its tooltips to get it into the map. As said in the beginning YouTD requires you to work on a high quality level to get your content in the map. Quick imbalanced hacks will not be accepted.

The previous chapters told you what you CAN do to design cool towers and items. This chapter will tell you what you SHOULD do, to get your tower or item accepted.

There are some additional threads in the YouTD forum that show common mistakes when creating a tower or a checklist for your tower. You should read them, they contain stuff that is often forgotten. You can save much work by reading them before submitting your tower!

Links:

Before you can create a serious tower for this map, you have to know, how the game is designed in general, pretending that you have never played YouTD on your own yet.

This TD is an open end TD. That means that you will never reach a final level. Many people claimed on my old TD (eeve! TD) that it wasn't nice that at some level, the game, and with it all cool towers and items you had placed, ended. So I decided YouTD not to end. Since players cannot "beat" this TD, the goal is to get as far as possible. The further you get the more points you gain, so you can always also try to maximize your high score.

YouTD is also a non maze TD, so you CANNOT build mazes in the creep's ways. Maybe there is a mazing version to come, but when designing and balancing your tower, pretend that players cannot maze.

There are 7 categories (elements) in YouTD to which Towers belong. A whole chapter about these is following.

There are 5 races to which creeps belong. They are human, orc, undead, magical, nature. You can design towers that have (dis-)advantages against them.

Towers in YouTD level up just like heros. There are 25 levels to archieve. Tower abilities should get stronger the higher the tower's level is. So the concept of YouTD is having not too many towers (since they will not level up fast then) but rather having a few experienced towers and some towers supporting them / debuffing creeps.

The levels in YouTD are random. They can consist of mass creeps where many creeps walk close to each other, making splash damage towers very strong.
They can also consist of a normal amount of creeps, of air creeps, or a single boss.

In YouTD players receive towers randomly. That seems to suck on first sight, but this is not fully random. Here is how it works in detail:
Each level, players have a chance to get a tower from each element. Players can put "skillpoints" into elements, increasing their chance to get a tower. So they can decide which element(s) they want to get preferably.

Towers are devided into 4 rarity categories: Common, uncommon, rare and unique. Depending on that, they will appear more or less frequently.

Towers are devided in seven categories. They are fire, ice, storm, iron, nature, astral, darkness. So if you want to design a tower, you have to choose to which category it belongs to. The categories have different attack types, appearances and preferred special abilities.

Here is a short description of the elements:

  • Fire: The element of destruction. Fire towers set their focus on pure damage. They have good high damage and splash damage towers but lack special abilities, all they do is damage. Fire towers look fiery, red and contain red units like fel orcs and other red stuff.
  • Nature: The element of life. Nature towers focus on supportive effects that enhance other towers. Nature towers look like plants. They can contain animals and night elves.
  • Darkness: The "evil" element. Focusses on curses, necromantism and generally abilities that weaken the enemy. Darkness towers look very dark, surrounded by skulls, bones and bodies. They can contain undead units and demons.
  • Astral: As opposed to darkness, this is the "good" element. It focusses on astral stuff (starfall, moon/sun beams, and so on) and positive effects. Its towers look like shiny ancient ruins. They can contain blood elfs.
  • Iron: The manmade element. It consists of towers and machines made by humans. It has alround abilities but lacks of great magic. Its towers look like real towers or machines. They can contain humans, dwarfs, goblins and other tinkering creatures.
  • Storm:The weather element. Focusses on weather effects like storms, tornados, fog and especially lightning. Its towers are surrounded by lightning and storm.
  • Ice:The opposite to fire. Uses slowing and drowning effects on enemies. Its towers look like the element itself: Icy, snowy, water and such stuff. They can contain northern creatures, water and frost elementals.

This was just a short overview. There are more chapters to come that will advise you how to create a tower for a certain element and which element to choose for your tower.

There are two approaches for choosing an element. The first one is to design just the effects you have in mind and then choosing into which element these abilities fit. The other approach would be to choose an element and then designing the tower's abilities according to the preferences of that element.

Here is a more detailed list of element preferences, that you can use to categorize your tower:

  • Fire: Fire damage spells, fire damage over time spells, advanced critical strike, strong splash attacks, multicrit, minor(!) burn slow effects. Bonus damage to humans and mass units.
  • Nature: Buffs, critical strike, poison, positive auras, towers that get stronger over time, towers that make themselves stronger for some duration. Bonus damage to orcs.
  • Darkness: Curses, necromantic spells, damage over time, armor reduction, every kind of weakening spell. Bonus damage against nature.
  • Astral: Positive effects, buffs, astral spells like starfall, moon and sun stuff, blessings, increased experience gain. Smiting enemies. Bonus damage against undead.
  • Iron: Stun effects, critical strike, increased bounty, medium splash damage, increased item drop/quality. Mechanical special abilities. Different special abilities (versatile element). Good against bosses.
  • Storm:Storm slow effects, bouncing attack, everything related to lightning, attackspeed buffs, burst damage, long ranged towers. Bonus damage to air units and magical enemies.
  • Ice:Strong cold slow effects, cold slow auras, drowning effects, water and ice spells, medium splash damage.

These are only preferences. If you have a cool idea for a tower that does not match them, that is no problem. For example, if you have a cool idea for a "Siphoon of Darkness" tower that slows enemies, you can create such a darkness tower, even if slow is not one of darknesses preferences.

According to the strength of the tower's abilities a rarity should be chosen:

  • Common: Only basic abilities, like increased critical strike chance, increased item drop... Also basic spells light chainlightning can be put here as long as they are not too strong. Basically: If the only thing your tower has are some minor modifications in the towers Modification Table and these are not too strong (a 50% critical strike chance for example would be much too strong for a common tower) it can be put here.
  • Uncommon: Effects like slow, poison, weak buffs/debuffs, stronger modifications can be put here. Also very weak auras may still be uncommon. Medium damage spells with some special stuff are also uncommon.
  • Rare: Auras, stronger buffs and very strong effects and damage spells are considered rare. If your tower has a very special mechanical it should also be rare. Note that rare tower will not appear before level 20, so a rare tower should cost at least 500 gold.
  • Unique: Unique towers are very unlikely to appear. They may have a bunch of really unique abilities, strong auras, buffs, paired with special mechanics. Unique towers will only appear in later levels (level 40-50++), they should cost at least 1500-2000 gold.

To get you a clue of what I tried to tell you here, some examples for categorizing towers:

A tower that releases a strong chainlightning on attack which stuns units it hits.
Element: Storm (everything with lightning is storm) or maybe Iron if this is a manmade tower (and since stun is a preference of iron).
Rarity: Since it is a special ability with stun and stuff, it may not be common. If the chainlightning is weak to medium uncommon would be a good choice, if it is stronger, you should choose rare.

A tower that gains one mana everytime it kills a unit. As soon at it has 10 or more mana, it can release a strong spell that deals damage proportionally to the mana the tower has and uses up all mana.
Element:Since this effect uses killed units it could be darkness. However, this effect is very unspecialized. You could almost use every element if you design the burst spell according to that element.
Rarity:This is a very special effect. When the burst spell is not too strong, it could be uncommon. Otherwise it should be rare.

A tower with a 10% chance to critical strike for x2 damage.
Element:Fire nature and maybe iron are priorized for critical strike. However, since this crit is not too strong it could basically be every element.
Rarity:Common since this is not a very special effect.

A tower that gains 25% more bounty for unit it kills. For each level it has it gains additional 5% bounty.
Element:Iron is priorized for increased bounty effects. Also astral and nature could be possible. If you find a good look you can also use other elements.
Rarity:Common since this is just a minor change in the tower's modification table.

You have to assign a gold value to your tower. This is a central aspect for the engine that desides when the tower will appear in the game. Cheaper towers appear earlier. Here you can see a listing which price will appear at each level. These are no hard values, just approximate stuff to give you a clue when your tower will appear.












LevelTowerprice
030
8120
16270
24480
32750
401080
481470
561920
642430++

So if your tower costs around 500 gold, it will appear at level 24-32. This is a very coarse approximation, but it helps you to check in which state of the game your tower will appear.
Common towers should not cost more than 2500 gold.
Uncommon should not cost more than 3000 gold.
Rare should cost between 500 and 3500 gold.
Unique should cost between 1500 and 5000 gold.

The basic attackrange in YouTD is 700-900. So if you want no special range, choose a range in that interval. Storm towers have a preference for longer ranges. So give them a higher range.
To gain more diversity, also think of towers with another range. There could be a stun tower for Iron that has as an exchange only 400 range. Or a sniper beam tower for astral that has 2000 range. The values in this chapter are just advises, you are free to insert the range you want.
No tower should have more than 2500 range to ensure that it doesn't shoot on a completely other lane.

The simplest thing for autocasted spell ranges is to give the autocast the same range as the attack. This will ensure that the spell is always able to be cast as long as the tower is attacking something.
Spells that have more range than the tower make no sence at the moment since the current autocastsystem only casts on units that are attacked by the tower.
For tower targeted buffs and auras you can choose any range lower than 2500. You could design an aura that targets only towers directly around the caster, then you would use something like 200 range. If you want a big supportive aura/buff that basically targets all your towers, use values like 1500. However, smaller ranges are encouraged, because they make the tower placement more tactical.

At the moment, only one attack per tower is supported. You can use every type of attack from melee to bounce to splash damage.
However, note that you cannot alter the damage of this attack. It is balanced by the script. So just set the range, the cooldown, the dices and other stuff, but not the base damage.

The attack and armor types in YouTD are made like this:
The four attacktypes: Normal, Pierce, Siege and Hero are made up like a Rock-Paper-Scissors with the four major creep armor types.
There is a rare armortype Divine for creeps, which is resistant to all attack types and spells, except for chaos.
Chaos is just like in normal warcraft3, it deals 100% to everything including devine, so this is the key to master divine levels.
The attacktype magic is a special attacktype: It deals 150% to every armor type (except divine) so it is basically better than all others. However, if the creep level is magic immune, magic towers cannot attack at all. So player's shouldn't only have magic towers, or they will loose against magic immune levels.

So, to sum up that stuff again:
Basic attack types: Normal, Pierce, Siege, Hero
Counter to divine: Chaos
Premium attack with drawbacks: Magic

Most of the time, you should choose the attacktype according to the element. Each element has a preferred attack type to which at least 50% of the element's towers should belong to. The second attacktype in the list is the minor attacktype of that element to which at least 25% towers should belong to. The missing 25% may belong to Chaos and Magic (the "special" attacktypes) or even a completely other attacktype.

  • Fire: Pierce, Hero
  • Nature: Siege, Hero, Chaos
  • Darkness: Hero,Siege
  • Astral: Normal, Pierce, Magic
  • Iron: Siege, Hero
  • Storm: Normal, Siege
  • Ice: Pierce, Normal

Astral and Nature have Magic and Chaos as third entry. That means they should have more towers of these types than other elements.
But like most aspects you are free to choose the attack type, you are not bound to these.
Common towers should use the main element in general, the rarer the tower gets, the more free you are to choose the attacktype, to increase the diversity of rare towers.

One final note: The attack types have other names in the final TD to better match the elements:

  • Normal: Energy
  • Pierce: Elemental
  • Siege: Physical
  • Hero: Decay
  • Chaos: Essence
  • Magic: Magic

The effect system allows you to create beautiful tower models. However, they should fit to their element rarity and cost, that a player can see immediatly which element another player has chosen by just taking a look at his towers.

Some general rules first:
Basically YouTD is a "doodad model" TD. That means the towers should consist of doodads most of the time instead of units. However, you may use units if they are surrounded by doodads. So an archer behind barricades would be possible.
The effect system allows you to create turning towers. If you use units, you should make them turnable. Nothing is more annoying than an archer that looks away from his enemies and shoots arrows over his back.

You should consider the price and the rarity of your tower. Earlygame common towers should only consist of one small doodad. Later common and uncommon towers can consist of more doodads. The rarer and more expensive the tower is, the more effects it should have. A unique tower for example should also look unique. Unit models should not be used in common towers and early uncommon towers. They can be used in later uncommon towers, rare and unique towers.

Here are the general doodad constraints for tower models according to the elements:

  • Fire: Fire effects, red stones, magma stones, every model that uses some sort of fire or heat.
  • Nature: Every kind of plant.
  • Darkness: Tombs, skulls, bodies, dark stuff. Dark looking ruined stuff.
  • Astral: Ruin models from the sunken ruins tileset. These look golden and majastic and should be a general aspect in astral units. Other effects could be glowing, bright effects.
  • Iron: Mechanical stuff, real towers, buildings, machines, junk.
  • Storm: White pillars and ruins, colored light blue. Any storm and lightning effects. Maybe check the towers from the storm element from eeve! TD.
  • Ice: Ice doodads, snowy doodads, water doodads, corals.

The unit models that rarer towers may use are also constrainted to certain races to match the element:

  • Fire: Red looking units like fel orcs, red demons, firelord and spawn, phoenix and such fiery stuff.
  • Nature: Animals and night elves.
  • Darkness: Undead units and demons.
  • Astral: Bloodelfs, any astral looking units.
  • Iron: Humans, dwarfs, goblins and other tinkering units.
  • Storm: Storm elementals and stormy looking stuff. Generally storm has a lack of unit models, but there are some (this bright banshee model may look like a storm spirit for example). You could also make your tower model transparent, then it may look "stormy".
  • Ice: Northern/icy units, water units, nagas.

The following pictures show some doodads and units that you can use for the different elements. This is no complete list, there may be many more, these are just some to show you the general style of the element.

Fire

Nature

Darkness

Astral

Iron

Storm

Ice

If you are not designing a unique tower, then most of the time, you should create a whole "family" of towers that starts at a certain price and also contains more expensive towers that share the effect with the cheaper towers but have stronger effects or add some effects.
Example:
The tower family "Tiny Shrub" for element Nature, which was designed by me starts with the Tiny Shrub at 30 gold. However, it contains 5 other towers for 180, 500, 900, 1500, 2300 gold. So at every stage of the game, you will be able to build one of the towers, so your tower will not be "forgotten" at higher levels. All the towers in the Tiny Shrub line share their special ability (increase critical strike chance and damage) but the values go up for this special (Tiny Shrub (30 gold): 2% crit chance, ... , Xtreme Shrub Field (2300 gold): 10% crit chance).

So, if you have a cool idea for a tower and it is not unique then create more towers with stronger abilities and higher gold cost. All towers in a line should share element and rarity and just differ in the price.
For common towers, you might create 6 or even more instances (like the Tiny Shrub line).
For uncommon or rare towers this might be even less. For example you could create a rare tower with a version at 500 gold and one at 2000 gold. That would be enough.

At which gold value your tower line starts and how many towers it contains is left over to you. Try not to spam too many towers but also don't create so few towers, that your tower will be forgotten at later levels. It would be a shame if you create a really cool tower ability which is not accessable in higher levels because the most expensive tower with this ability costs only 300 gold and is too weak for higher levels.

To reduce the amount of work you have for a family of towers, you can use references but be careful with them!

This may be one of the most important chapters. An imbalanced tower ruins the whole game. The attack damage of your tower is calculated by the script, so you don't have to care about it. All other values, like the duration of buffs, the slow/armor reduction/crit ratio of abilites and the damage of tower spells has to be set by you. By following these advises you will be able to create a tower that is 80% balanced. The last 20% fine tuning has to be done while playtesting, but these 80% are already a good base for balancing your tower.

Although if YouTD is created by many people, the tooltips shouldn't look to diverse to avoid confusing the players. For this reason, here are some constraints that you should consider when creating tooltips:

  • The tower tooltip should only explain very shortly what the specials of this tower are. One or two sentences without any numbers, not more.
  • The short explanation of abilities should also have just one or two sentences and still have no numbers in it, only qualitative statements like "weak,mighty,strong,average,...".
  • The long explanation of abilities (the tooltip of the ability) should state precisely the ability including ALL relevant numbers.
  • These numbers should be highlighted using this color: |cffFFFF80 (light yellow).
  • If the ability gets stronger each tower level, this should be stated in the tooltip, after the whole explanation. This template should be used:
    |n|n|cffFF8000Level Bonus:|r|nFIRST LEVEL BONUS|nSECOND LEVEL BONUS|nTHIRD LEVEL BONUS...

    So, the Level bonus will be colored orange, two lines after the normal tooltip (|n|n). After that, for each bonus, a new line should be made (|n).
  • You can find the above mentioned templates in the Tower Template map in the trigger "Tooltip Templates" in the category "Additional Info"

Here is an example of a well layouted ability:
Slows movementspeed of enemies in |cffFFFF80#AURA_RANGE#|r range by |cffFFFF80#BASE_SLOW%#|r. |n|n|cffFF8000Level Bonus:|r|n+|cffFFFF80#SLOW_ADD%#|r slow

As you see, balance table constants were used to allow quickly altering the ability.
Such a tooltip will look like this ingame:

As a very coarse formula for tower damage you can use this one: A tower without special abilities has one damage per second (dps) per gold spent. So a 1000 gold tower would have 1000 dps.
You can use this value to balance the damage of your spells. For example:
Your tower costs 200 gold and has an attack cooldown of 1.0 seconds and 10% chance to cast a chainlightning that bounces twice, reducing damage by 50% each bounce. So the chainlighting will deal 100% + 50% + 25% = 175% of the damage you give it every 10 seconds.
So lets say your tower uses 100 of its 200 gold for the chainlighting. Then the chainlightning may have 100 dps. Since it goes of every 10 seconds, the lighting may have 1000 damage. It deals 175% of the base value, so, to reach 1000 damage we need 1000/175% = 571 damage. If you give your lightning a base value of 600 damage, this would be pretty balanced. However, creeps may have spell reduction and if less than 3 creeps are in range, the lightning will not deal full damage. So we can still improve the damage a bit, lets say 750 damage.
Magic immune units will totally avoid the chainlightning and since 10% is a low chance, players are gambling a bit because if the lightning doesn't go off in a level, they will probably leak. This disadvantage can also be counted in to further increase the damage. So even 1000 damage could still be balanced for that tower.
As you see there is much room for balancing. 570 and 1000 is almost 100% difference. But this is not that bad. If you stay somewhere in this range you will archieve the 80% balance I was talking about. However, if you use only 200 or 5000 the tower will definitly imbalanced. So do this calculation by rule of thumb everytime you make such spells.


In your tower's config trigger, there is a value "@abil_factor". This factor states how much of the tower's goldcost is used for attacks. The more abilities the tower has, the lower this factor should be.

The basic value for a tower without abilities is 1.0, that means the whole goldcost of this tower will be used to boost its attack damage.
Now consider the example from above. We said, that we would use 100 of the 200 gold for the lightning. So 50% of the goldcost would stay for the attack damage. So in this case we would set abil_factor to 0.5. This will make this script giving the tower only half of the damage it would normally have. This way, we compensate the special ability.
If a tower has only bad abilities, for example, it gains less bounty or something else, the abil_factor may also be above 1.0, so the tower will deal more damage than a tower without those bad abilities.

As you can see, most of the balance will be done, by setting the value for abil_factor correctly. So the rest of this chapter will try to give you some hints to what you should set this value for different abilities.

  • Single target slow: If it is only a minor single target slow, 0.9 could be a good value, if it is a longer/better slow 0.8-0.6 could be appropriate. If it is a splash slow, slowing more targets at once, even 0.4-0.5 could be possible.
  • Damage spells: An example for this was given above, just check how much of the tower's damage should be done using its spell and set the value appropriate.
  • Auras: Since auras affect all towers/creeps, they are very strong. According to the aura strength 0.8-0.2 can be good values.
  • Buffs: Things that make other towers better / creeps worse are always a strong thing. This can justify values <0.5.

Warning: Read this carefully or you might get a strange behaviour:

The balance values for splash and bounce attacks are already calculated by the script. So don't change the abil factor for them. If your tower has for example only splash damage, leave the abil_factor at 1.0. The script will do the modification for the splash damage.
The same goes if your tower can only attack air or ground. Then, of course, it should have more damage than a tower that can attack both by default. This is also calculated by the script, so don't count it into the abil factor.

One last note:
At the moment, you MAY NOT use line damage for your tower's attacks because it is too difficult to balance. If you want a tower with a line damage effect, give it a line damage spell instead of a line damage attack (shock wave and others...).

Here are some listings of values for abilties according to the cost of your tower. Use these listings if you use those values for one of your towers.
Ability value listings
There are still more abilities to be added to these listings.
Of course, you don't have to use the exact values from these tables. They are just as an advise in which span your values should be.

Here again, the facts you have to care about if you want your tower in the map.

  • Choose a rarity, goldcost and element for your tower. This will specify which abilities your tower may have and how strong they should be.
  • Design the model of your tower according to your element
  • Balance the values of your abilities according to the previous chapters
  • Choose an appropriate value for abil_factor in your Tower's configuration trigger

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