Writing about lanes in hero-defense games has me thinking about the concept of “lanes” in general. Most of the design work I’ve done on the Norvendae card game so far has been about making the creeps move, the attacks hit, and the monsters fall over and die the way they’re supposed to, on a conceptual level. You draw cards and put them into play, and you whittle down your opponent’s defense.

The cards you choose to field alternatively represent your creeps and/or heroes, as you might come to expect them to, they represent your towers or control points and such, and the game is a slow grind from beginning to end. I’m thinking that there are a couple of things that need to happen to make the game a winner on both the tactical and strategic levels. The first has to do with the concept of “lanes.”

Lanes can represent a couple of things. First and foremost, they’re the basis of player expectations. They’re the battlefield, where your heroes duke it out. They’re the tavern where they drink and brawl. They’re the blacksmith they go to to equip themselves, or the apothecary who provides them with potions to cure their ills. They’re merchants who buy excess loot, and deal in odd trinkets from exotic lands.

Lanes are established paths to victory. They might be long and hard, but the reason they’re there at all is because they’re tried-and-true, not to mention well-tread. (And here’s a totally random thought, a path or lane established by a warlord, an explorer, an inventor, or some other kind of trailblazer, right?) Each path is fundamentally the same as all other paths: all roads lead to your goal, whatever that may be.

So, while your origin may define you, your class or occupation may tell people who you are, your path, while a choice like any other, isn’t that much different from any other choice you might make. It’s just a choice. There ought to be a system for making choices, just as there are systems for other things. It can be an abstract system, like anything else. The next question to ask is, “what kind of choices are there?”

This might be the “victories” concept I’ve worked on before, or there might be something else involved. It might be skill- or class-specific, or it might have something to do with roles or equipment … but I have a feeling it will be more about balancing “needs” and “wants.” There may be something about the long-term versus the short term. I have no idea, it’s a subject for another entry.