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Arcade Highlight: Additional Pylons

Arcade Highlight: Additional Pylons

Far from home and without a psionic link to Aiur, your mission -- should you choose to accept it -- is to restore power and be spunky while doing it. In Additional Pylons, you take control of AP, a sassy probe who uses well-placed pylons to get Protoss structures back into full operation. The clever dialogue and engaging puzzles are worth checking out. Check out our video highlight:

Additional Pylons is a great example of what the Arcade has to offer. Also, you don’t need to own StarCraft II in order to play! You can play the Arcade for free using the Starter Edition


For more insight into Additional Pylons, here is our interview with the game creator Ailmen:

Zoevia: Please introduce yourself!

Ailmen: Hello everyone! I am Alimen and I am a freelancer from Taiwan. Making games is my favorite hobby.

Z: How did you get started in game design?

A: Generally speaking, I enjoy modifying or adding my own rules to video games to see if I could create funny experiences since I was a kid. I had my first computer programming lesson in high school and I totally dove into it. I just can’t resist the fun of making my own world in cyberspace!

My first game was a text-based RPG. And then I met the map editor of StarCraft 1. I created a city defending map and had a great time. Things like that always encourage me to keep making games.

Z: What made you want to make games with the StarCraft II editor?

A: I was developing a tower defense game last summer and I wondered if there was a way to build a quick prototype. At the time, a WarCraft III custom map called Element TD came into my head. “Can I make a prototype with the StarCraft II Editor?” I asked myself. After a day of research, I discovered it may take more time to finish the prototype if I abandoned my current progress and switched to a new tool, but it might be a good choice next time. After the tower defense project finished, I started making Additional Pylons.

Z: What was the inspiration for Additional Pylons?

A: I love city-building games such as SimCity and the Caesar series very much. It’s always a lot of fun to calculate where to place the police station or a water supply and get the maximal efficiency. In that case, I choose Pylons to be my focus: they have effect radius, on and off animations and tons of interactions with other Protoss buildings; perfect for making a puzzle game.

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Z: How long did it take to complete Additional Pylons? How many people worked on it and what roles did they have?

A: It took me six hours a day on average during the production, from November to January. So it took over 400 hours to get the map completed in total.

Almost all the jobs including level design, cutscenes and even trailers were done by myself. My wife helped me a lot on localization and my part of housework when I was busy dealing with bugs. She is also a good tester and the first player of the map.

Z: Do you have any funny stories about the design process?

A: The funniest part of game development is always the testing part. I used to invite my friends to join the alpha-test every time I finished 5 stages, so I could evaluate if the stages are too difficult or too easy. I’ll never forget the first time we tested stage 9, my friend spent about 40 minutes staring at the screen with his face twitchingbefore he gave up. Of course, I’ve significantly decreased the difficulty in the end.

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Z: What was the most challenging part in the development process? How did you overcome it?

A: Creating new abilities for units was the most challenging part. For example, the Pylon-salvage ability, in the beginning, I couldn’t even  tell the differences between Effects and Behaviors! It took me 3 or 4 days through trial and error to get things to work. Fortunately, I found  the Data Navigator, the graphic viewer of Data module, by chance. It helped me understand how the elements are connected together and  when the actor would be triggered a lot. You can say it would have been impossible to finish the game if I hadn’t found this tool.

Z: What do you feel makes your game compelling?

A: It has a good-looking opening cutscene -- bad joke. First of all, I think Additional Pylons is holding a position that no other game can compare with it: it’s a puzzle game, a role-playing game, and also a game that you can play by yourself. You barely see other games with the same combination on Battle.net. Second, I hope players can feel relaxed during the game: there are humorous stories, brain teasing puzzles and nothing pushing you to rush. I think the relaxing atmosphere is also a reason Additional Pylons is compelling.

Z: Besides keeping things small and simple, what advice would you give to someone who is interested in using the StarCraft II editor to make their own game?

A: Never let the player ask, “What am I supposed to do now?” This means the player can’t understand what is happening or what options they have. It will cause players to feel frustration and rage quit. If you’re making a PvE game such as RPG or TD, try to blend the tutorial into your first level or the first story chapter. If you’re making a PvP game like Mafia, don’t forget to make a tutorial map to help the newcomers. You could use the databank triggers to find out if this is the first time someone is playing your game.

Z: How did you get people to notice your game once it was released?

A: When the game was ready, I posted an open-beta test on PTT, the largest BBS in Taiwan and started to receive feedbacks from players. After some patches, I made a trailer and posted it to gamer.com.tw. I also posted an invitation on SC2mapster’s Map Feedback section to see if there were any bugs in the English version of my map.

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Z: Do you have any plans for other games or future goals as a game designer?

A: Actually there are two games on my mind: The first one is the sequel of Additional Pylons, < … Not Enough Pylons!> perhaps, featuring the past of Merrnix and includes multiple episodes, more challenging stages and non-linear stage selection. The second one will be a party game which requires players to master their queuing command skill. Both of them are in the plotting stage.

And as a game designer, I would like to join a game company to see if my skill is qualified or not to make a AAA game in the future.

Z: What’s the best way people can follow you and your work (Twitter, Facebook, Website, etc.)?

A: I am currently running a blog, “Alimen’s Cave”. Although I mostly post on it in Chinese, you can still find my newest creations there.

Z: Do you have any favorite games on the StarCraft II Arcade?

A: My favorite game on StarCraft II Arcade is Tya’s Warships. The concept is really cool and it has single player mode so I could play the game by myself and relax. It is also a perfect party game for me and my friends to have a quick match.

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