Making Defense Grid 2

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This is one of those stories that started as a journalist’s hunch and bloomed into something bigger than I could have imagined.

I got an email in February of 2013 from a mutual friend, former Xbox Live personality Christa “Trixie” Charter about Hidden Path Entertainment. She thought I might want to cover the development of their then-newest game, Defense Grid 2. The company had launched a Kickstarter project for the game, which had failed (in a way), but they managed to secure funding from an angel and carried forward with the project.

I told Christa that I wasn’t interested in Kickstarter stories, but that I wouldn’t mind tagging along for the entire process of making the game, which at that time was only supposed to last about a year, total. Over a year later, I’m still flying regularly to Seattle to visit Hidden Path and report on the making of Defense Grid 2.

Hidden Path is staffed by game developers who have so much experience from so many different companies that it’s hard to imagine that they must struggle or worry. But they do.

On my first visit to Hidden Path, the company’s founders opened up every aspect of the game’s production to me. From design documents to closed-door meetings, nothing was off limits. The process of creating this story has been an unprecedented look inside of game development. And the making of this game, a relatively “simple” tower defense downloadable, has been fraught with so much ordinary programming complexity and game industry peril that it’s served as a lens through which to view the way almost all games are made.

The game (after several delays) is now scheduled for release in September of 2014. The story was being published in ten installments, and will eventually be a book.

The making of Defense Grid 2