Missile Command Redesign
Missile Command, a game designed by Dave Theurer in 1980 is a cult classic.
The player's six cities are being attacked by an endless hail of ballistic missiles. As a regional commander of three anti-missile batteries, the player must defend cities in their zone from being destroyed. With it minimalistic design (back then not much more was possible) and simple mechanics it tells the narrative of the futility of war and a grim testimony: you can’t fight back, you can’t win. You can only hope to defend yourself a little longer. Do you let civilians die to protect your facilities, or do you risk weakening your position by sacrificing one of your military bases to save those you are supposed to protect.
I loved this game as a kid and wanted to try and bring its spirit to the XXI century. Update, while still being fateful to the base concepts.
I created a set of assumptions that I needed to follow to update the game to current standards, but also to help me keep the nature of the game intact:
- Moving to the 16:9 format, as the game would work great on mobile devices.
- Using vector graphics instead of bitmaps, to avoid the problems of scaling on different devices and keep the visual both sharp and simple.
- Instead of complex graphics, use pictograms, ideograms and symbols, so the minimalistic style of the original is intact.
- Instead of a score system introduce the timer, to underline the futility of the players effort, while still being able to measure the players performance.
- Introduce recognisable landmarks, so the player can more easily identify with what he is tasked to defend.
- Instead of the classic 6 cities, create a system where each play through will be different. This way the player won’t get used to the standard layout – won’t get bored as fast and won’t be able to count on unconscious reflexes, will need to be aware of the different landscape each time.
The last point was the most important for me, as it created the need for a more complicated design system. I knew this will have to be created on universal grid that will constrain all elements, from the buildings to UI elements etc.