Ludum Dare 31
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A few strategy hints

Posted by
May 5th, 2009 8:02 am

UPDATE: Now with (spoilerific) screenshots after the break.

Since several people seemed to find The Triumph of Time pretty hard, I decided to give some pointers as to how to best play the game.

Let me describe the core mechanics of the game. As soon as you have built a pylon next to a star, it will extract particles from it at a fixed rate. The larger the star is, the more particles are extracted per time unit. Building several pylons next to a star will not increase this rate, the particles will just be randomly distributed over all pylons. The particles will then go on to more or less randomly distribute themselves along all barriers which extend from their current pylon.

At a fixed time interval (every two seconds, if I recall correctly), the cloud of antimatter will expand in every direction. It can only be blocked by having a barrier which is powered by particles in its way. However, for every grid cell along the barrier which the cloud tries to enter, one particle on this barrier will be destroyed; when all particles are destroyed, the barrier falls.

So here are some rules of thumb for successful play:

  • Try to tap each star at your disposal as early as possible, especially the large ones.
  • Try not to lose any stars to the cloud as that will severely cut your particle budget.
  • Do not build any superfluous barriers within your territory. Every particle that swirls around on a barrier which is not at the frontier does not contribute to your defenses and is essentially useless. So, try to keep the paths which transport particles to the frontier as efficient and short as possible.
  • Keep the frontier as small as possible. Every frontier tile (i.e., a cell on a barrier which delimits your territory from the cloud) will cost you a particle every two seconds, so minimize your surface. PRO TIP: It’s well known that the shape with the smallest ratio of circumference to area is a circle. It may help to keep your territory roughly circular.
  • I’ve found that once a critical barrier has fallen, it’s often very difficult to recover. It’s better to stake out your territory on the conservative side rather than lose it all.

I hope this helps a bit. After the break (SPOILERS): screenshots on how to solve the first four levels.

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10 Responses to “A few strategy hints”

  1. increpare says:

    i don’t know if i’ve mentioned this yet, but i really quite liked the game! :) it’s smart, srsly

  2. HybridMind says:

    Thanks for posting these tips. As one of the ones asking I really appreciate it. I’m gonna go try and play again! :)

  3. HybridMind says:

    damn.. I _still_ can’t beat level 2. I must be missing something. I was able to do much better on level 1 after your instructions but I had already beat that one before. Now the best I can do on level 2 is around 120 / 190 saved.

    I have some major questions about what you mean when you mention the strengths of a circle. I tried building circles and all sorts of other shapes too but the damn wall of doom still creeps in! :) Oh well.. really fun game. Can’t wait for screen shots and walk throughs… ;)

  4. HybridMind says:

    Well.. after playing level 2 like 50 times (no joke) my personal best is 163/190 but I still can’t get by it. Some of the things you wrote started to slowly dawn on me so I’m definitely improving but I still have the nagging feeling I’m missing something as it seemed a lot of comments in the review area talked about people beating the game. Oh well.. I have to go to bed as this game has kept me up past when I should have gone anyway… so congrats on that. :)

  5. muku says:

    Heh :D Great to see you’re so compelled to keep trying. That’s some determination! I’ve now added screenshots of the first four levels, hope that helps.

    I guess I really must have messed up the difficulty curve when many people can’t even beat level 2…

  6. HybridMind says:

    Well.. it helps that it is a really fun game. :)

    So.. I looked at screenshots 1 and 2… and it is like a revelation. ;) You don’t even want to know the types of formations I was building. The mental box I was stuck in was that these regions needed to be circuits or loops. I now realize that I never even tried just using direct lines like that. That makes a lot of sense now. I’m not sure what made me think I needed to make contiguous fences but that was how I kept building them. I’m actually amazed I managed to get 163/190 with the crap I was building. :)

  7. muku says:

    Haha :D I was somehow guessing that you must have had some wrong preconceptions about how to place barriers. A tutorial would have cleared all that up in seconds, but you know how short 48 hours are…

    Maybe I’ll make an expanded post-compo version with all those improvements (tutorial, better scrolling, pause mode, more and better levels, maybe even narration between the levels…). I’m quite fond of the game so far, would be a shame not to polish it some more.

  8. 5parrowhawk says:

    Yes, please do. I’m not sure about the narration, but the basic gameplay is really very solid. Perhaps you could consider other elements in an expanded remake – 1 or 2 more unique pieces would probably extend the longevity significantly, if carefully designed.

  9. 5parrowhawk says:

    Oh, right – I just went back and played it, and it would be nice if you could implement right-click-and-drag scrolling like in many recent RTS games. I think that might feel more intuitive than right-click-to-centre. (Or you could implement both and provide an options screen?)

  10. muku says:

    Good idea. I don’t really know what I was thinking when I implemented that click-right-to-scroll thing, I’m really bad with interfaces. Someone else also suggested scrolling when the mouse touches the screen borders; both that and yours sound better than what I have right now.

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