Game Of The Year – ‘Desktop Tower Defense’ (Or, Why Michael Pachter Is Talking Trash About My Wife)

UPDATE: For those interested in comparing scores, I’ve started a new group called on the Desktop Tower Defense” leaderboards called “GOTY” I’ll post any new scores there. 

Desktop Tower Defense.” It’s free. It’s a web-browser game.

And I just named it as my Game of the Year, over the likes of “Super Mario Galaxy,” “BioShock,” and “Godzilla Unleashed: Double Smash.”

How can I convince you that I’m right?

I can get you to play it for free in your web browser.

I can mention that, according to the game’s stat page, 5706 sessions of the game were played in the hour that concluded as I wrote this post.

Or I can submit to you a conversation I had yesterday that testifies to this gaming’s allure. This conversation was between me and the man who has become my premiere “Desktop Tower Defense” leaderboard nemesis, the one and only Wedbush Morgan Securities video game stock analyst Michael Pachter.

Read on for the full exchange, but first, a sampling:

Mulitplayer: Now have you proselytized this game out to other people? Are you continuing to sow the seeds here?

Pachter: I haven’t yet because I want to get a score on there that no one will ever top. Before I invite somebody foolishly like you and N’Gai provoked me into beating your scores. I don’t want to do that until I’m certain I have a score that my friends can’t beat.

… I’m N’Gai’s worst nightmare. He’s ruing the day he invited me to that leaderboard.

The rest of this exchange, including what Pachter thinks companies like EA and Activision could learn from “Desktop Tower Defense,” is after the jump.

To your left is a “Desktop Tower Defense” leaderboard that Pachter and I both post to.

I called Pachter up yesterday, having watched him take over that scoreboard where he, my wife, N’Gai Croal and I submit our high scores. Pachter, as you can, has become a dominant force — for now. I wanted him to help me articulate why this game is tops for 2007.

Turns out, Pachter can talk some trash.

Multiplayer: So now that you’re at the top of the scoreboard you’re taking it easy now, huh?

Pachter: I asked N’Gai why he wasn’t up there and he said that he was so addicted to it that he had to stop.

Multiplayer: Well there’s that, and the fact that his scores are on there. They’re just kind of low.

Pachter: You know, you challenged me on the hard mode. I hadn’t even tried it yet. You said “hard is where we are.” And I get 600. And I’m like “F—, how did you get 3800? This is so hard.” And then after, like, a day I figured it out. This is so easy. Now I don’t even record them unless they’re over 6000.

Multiplayer: Yeah, right. Come on.

Pachter: I swear to god. Like last night I played three times. I was deeply into the 5000s and I didn’t even bother because I was like, “S—, if I don’t get 6000 it’s not even worth putting in.”

Multiplayer: That’s quite a bit of trash talking right there. [Pachter laughs]. I’ve only played two games since I discovered you posted some scores on the board. I did them yesterday, in the middle of work. I got 800, which is not bad for being a little rusty…

Pachter: Honestly, if you blink, if you do anything one second late you’re toast. You played this before I did. If you even hesitate you’re toast. Once you figure it out, it is just strategy. I don’t know how people score 8500, and I’m going to figure that out.

Multiplayer: You did see that I’m coming after you, right? I did post a 4000 score.

Pachter: It’ll take you like eight tries and you’ll figure it out. You can look at what I did. You can click on my score to see what my pattern was.

Multiplayer: Please don’t tell me that’s how you got your scores. You haven’t been looking at other people’s strategies, have you?

Pachter: When I did 600, I looked at your pattern for 3800 and I said, “Oh, I see. You kind of group them around where you’re putting your big boys up and you figure it out.” I didn’t look at anything else but you’re one score.

Multiplayer: And you’re not watching any YouTube videos?

Pachter: I can’t watch YouTube at work. We’re blocked.

Multiplayer: Can you tell me your experience with this game? N’Gai tells you while you’re filming
Geoff Keighley’s show that this is…

Pachter: … “the best game of all time.”

Multiplayer: And your reaction?

Pachter: I said, “What is it that’s so great? He said, “Try it and you’ll understand” So he tells me to Google “Dekstop Tower Defense” and I do it. I play it for maybe an hour, and I’m getting blown away. So I e-mail him and I say “I can’t get better than 2800 and I see the high scores are 8000.” He says, “Oh, if you really want competition, post to [*censored group name*].” I go on there and there you guys are. I decided I had a new goal. And I kept trying and trying and trying.

Multiplayer: At that point did you print a picture of me out and put it on a wall and start throwing darts at it for motivation?

Pachter: God no, I don’t need that.

Multiplayer: I wasn’t your motivation?

Pachter: No, it’s actually your wife I was gunning for.

Multiplayer: Had you played a lot of downloadable games?

Pachter: My history is I’m an old real-time-strategy guy. That’s like all I need to play is real time strategy games on PC. For 20 years, that’s all I did. I love the challenge. I used to play “Heroes of Might and Magic.” Things where you can try to get more and more points. I like games like that. So, yeah, this is a very simple version of that. It’s fast and it’s fun. And what motivates you is seeing these scores. How does anybody get 8000 points?

Multiplayer: Can you tell me how this game has fit into your life or awkwardly fit into your life?

Pachter: My wife cannot believe I’m playing the game because it looks so dopey. She thinks I’m playing backgammon online. I’m like, “No honey,” this is really complicated. She’s like, “It’s hand-drawn.” She goes, “What are you paying for that?” I say “It’s free.” She asks, “What, are you playing with a bunch of five-year-olds?

What I like is you can hit the pause button. So I’ll play it at work for like three or four minutes. And then pause and then go back three hours later. I like that it’s accessible and there’s definitely strategy to it, and it’s fun. You figure out how to spend your resources and when to spend them.

Multiplayer: Has this gotten in the way of any other important aspect of your life?

Pachter: I’ve been playing it one game before I go to bed every week and my wife hates me for it. She says: “Go to bed.”

Mulitplayer: Now have you proselytized this game out to other people? Are you continuing to sow the seeds here?

Pachter: I haven’t yet because I want to get a score on there that no one will ever top. Before I invite somebody foolishly like you and N’Gai provoked me into beating your scores. I don’t want to do that until I’m certain I have a score that my friends can’t beat. .. I’m N’Gai’s worst nightmare. He’s ruing the day he invited me to that leaderboard.

Multiplayer: I don’t know. You might have goaded him out of retirement.

Pachter: I’ve goaded him.

Multiplayer: And how do you decide just what your name is on there? I see you’ve been trying a couple of different names: “Pach Attack,” “Mikey P.”

Pachter: Well, he calls me “Pach Attack.” So I was doing “Pach Attack” just to rub it into him. And then I realized he wasn’t the competition. So I just put “Mikey P.”

Multiplayer: Do you think the companies you track can learn something from this game?

Pachter: Yes I do. This is one of those simple pleasures. This is like, “How did ’Guitar Hero’ become a phenomenon? Because the idea is so simple: air guitar. I think quick hits like that — quick and logical and requiring you to think on your feet and every game is slightly different, I think that’s a brilliant game model. And I think if you had a really, really high-end game designer thinking about how to make that a console game, they’d sell a ga-jillion.

For those about to play, Pachter recommends players heavily invest in frost towers. But he still can’t figure out how to beat a pair of flying bosses on Hard mode. I suggested he tried using the Boost towers. He said that sounded like a good idea and that he’d use that strategy to get a new stratospheric score. He told me I’d regret giving him advice.

Today, the scoreboard shows that it didn’t work.

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