Category: Games that Contain Math

Compounding Fun with Vector HD

Today we have a guest blogger, Josh Giesbrecht, a high school math and information technology teacher in Abbotsford, BC, Canada.  He recently transitioned to teaching from a software development career where he worked primarily in game development. Vector TD is a stylish but standard entry into the tower defense genre of videogames. However, a few specific design features make it stand out as a potential math lesson waiting to happen. Quick intro: Tower defense games are popular in the free web-game space, where they made their big debut as standalone games.  The first tower-defense gameplay was created by people making custom maps for real-time strategy games like Starcraft.   The TD gameplay is an exercise in resource management. The games consist of a map with some kind of a path from start to finish that the bad guys will try to cross. Your job is to build towers that shoot the waves of bad guys down before they get to their destination. The challenge comes from deciding what to build, where to place it, and (most importantly for our purposes) when to buy it. Before I spoil things any further, go play it. If you have time, try to beat all 50 waves on an easy map; if you’re impatient, at least play for 10 rounds. Or if you want the primer, here’s a short playthrough video of a...

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Chain Factor

For the last week, in between hours of dissertation work, I’ve been trying to figure out best strategies for the game Chain Factor. I’m still trying to figure this one out, but there’s got to be a way to turn the analysis of this game into an assignment for a math class.  In particular, I’m thinking about doing some mathematical analysis of games in my Honors Calculus class this winter semester. For the first six days, I just played in Basic Mode to try to figure out some general strategies.  It seems like it would be a very simple game, but it’s much more complex than it looks.  After a week of play, I still can’t come up with hard and fast strategies that work consistently. Tonight I started playing in Power Mode and this adds a whole new set of logic and mathematical strategies to the game.  When is the optimum time or situation in which to use each power?  Which are the best powers to choose so that you have a way “out” of any threatening situation? I’m thinking that, at the very least, it would be an interesting assignment to have students do an analysis of each of the powers, when they are useful, and when using them will actually hurt you. Another interesting assignment would be to determine a strategy for stacking columns so that...

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