Phalanx is an arcade strategy game, combining the head-to-head excitement of classic arcade titles with the positional, tactical play of real-time strategy.

My initial goal with Phalanx was to explore what real-time strategy would look like without the macro-game of economic buildup. One possible answer is the campaign-based play of Dawn of War II. Phalanx goes in the opposite direction, compacting the entire experience into 99 frenetic seconds.

I was also interested in examining the boundaries between video and tabletop games. This meant not just re-implementing a tabletop game for digital devices (though that’s an interesting challenge in and of itself), but asking how the tabletop experience can be advanced with technology, and vice-versa. Sumer, an incredible game currently taking on this question, inspired me to make my own attempt.

Perhaps the greatest challenge in creating Phalanx was deciding how and where the game should simulate real life. Although I was initially interested in drawing heavily on historians’ knowledge of ancient Greek warfare, I consistently got feedback encouraging me to keep the game simple. Players wanted to learn the game quickly, and to be able to do so in a time-pressured environment. I followed the fun; today Phalanx is only historical in the most limited sense, and is a better game for it.

Phalanx was–and its ongoing development remains–a solo project. I designed the game, wrote the code, and created the sprite art for its original, JavaScript incarnation. When porting the game to Unity I rewrote the code in C#, and did most of the 3D modeling. Of course, even solo designs are really team efforts, and I owe a great debt to the many playtesters and mentors who have helped me refine Phalanx into a game I’m proud of.

Phalanx title
Phalanx was featured at the NYU Game Center’s Arcade Lab

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