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Arcade Highlight: Kobold Tribes

Now featured in the StarCraft II Arcade: Kobold Tribes, a team-based survival RPG in which two teams of up to five players each command a Kobold unit and work together to defeat the enemy tribe. At the start of each game, the Kobold players find themselves in a forested landscape that must be overcome before the enemy team can be dealt with. Kobolds can cut down trees, hunt wild animals, gather berries, and engage in quests, pooling their resources to build structures, cook food, and arm themselves for the inevitable battle. As time passes, day leads to night, at which point the tribe must stick together near a campfire or freeze.

Game creator “Qancakes” included a complete leveling system in Kobold Tribes, giving the game replayability. All of the major activities in the game reward experience, and players level and gain perk points that they can spend powering up their Kobold’s skills.

Traysent: So it’s been over a year since we featured your game in the Arcade. What have you been up to?

Qancakes: It’s been an awesome year overall. I’ve regularly updated the game with new content. The number of quests and items have more than doubled since the initial release and I’ve lost count of how many bugs I've squashed.

T: How has Kobold Tribes evolved?

Qan: The thing that really keeps Kobold Tribes evolving is the community. They are the ones that have shaped the game over the past year and they continue to inspire me to develop the game with their abundance of creative ideas and endless enthusiasm. The suggestions forum on the website can be so busy at times with people eager to share their ideas and to help improve the game, that it’s sometimes hard to keep up with everything. I often find myself having to pick and choose which feature I want to add every patch from a list that doesn’t seem to get any shorter.

T: What is next for you as an Arcade developer?

Qan: Developing a game such as Kobold Tribes is an extremely rewarding experience and I will likely continue for as long as there are people who play it. As I mentioned earlier, there are still many features and a good deal of new content on my ever growing list that can be implemented. Kobold Tribes will keep growing, so grab a candle and stay a while!

Question: How did you get started in game design?

Answer: My interest started back when I played Warcraft III and got to look at all the fantastic custom games that people created for it. It really made me want to create my own games, and the Warcraft III World Editor was very easy to get started with and a powerful tool to help bring imagination to life.

I was still making games with the Warcraft III Editor when StarCraft II was released, and I heard that the new editor was far more powerful than the Warcraft III editor in pretty much every way, so I gave it go. It took some getting used to due to its complexity, but it has totally been worth it.

Question: What was the inspiration for Kobold Tribes?

Answer: Ice Troll Tribes in Warcraft III by Kyx. I admit I never really played it much, but the concept behind it really intrigued me.

Question: How many people worked on the game?

Answer: My friends Nizilia and Craven provided me with an invaluable amount of ideas, feedback, and testing. The game would not be quite what it is today without their knowledge and insight. Also, the artist of the kobold drawing on the loading screen is ZoocDoesStuff (and he truly does make some amazing stuff). Here is the video of him drawing that kobold.

Question: How does Kobold Tribes work? What’s in store for a first-time player?

Answer: There are two rival tribes of up to five kobolds each in the forest. The goal is to destroy the enemy tribe, or outlive them, because the forest holds many dangers. Every player controls their own kobold. They need to manage their kobold's warmth, hunger, and fatigue to stay alive. This is done by staying near a campfire at night when they are cold, by hunting animals and eating when they are hungry, and by resting near a tent when they are tired. Players must gather resources like lumber and stone to build camps or even small villages. They can also craft weapons and armor to stand a better chance in case they cross paths with the enemy tribe. As the kobolds level up, they gain skill points that the player can spend to improve skills like Forestry, to cut down and grow trees faster, or Artisanship, to craft better equipment and build more durable structures. There are also random quests that appear every now and then that yield powerful rewards. Both tribes will want to complete them to get an edge in the overhanging conflict.

There is a quick tutorial that’s accessible from the map page. It teaches you survival basics, and you can also practice against the A.I. by creating a private game and adding computer players from the game lobby.

Question: How did the game evolve from your first design?

Answer: Initially, the game was an 8-player free for all. The whole map was a sloping mountain. It was raining, and the water was rising. Everyone had to make it to the top of the mountain to survive the ensuing flood. You had to camp at night and move far enough up the mountain during the day to stay ahead of the rising water. Players got a score depending on how fast they managed to ascend the mountain, and for how much gold they managed to dig up on their way.

It was a very stressful game since you had to move all the time to avoid drowning. There was never enough time to make up a proper camp, or to explore the environment. So I leveled the mountain and raised a forest instead, and I'm very glad that I did so.

Question: What should players who want to conquer the game do to reach that goal?

Answer: Good communication and teamwork are always key factors in any team game. A kobold tribe is more efficient if players specialize in different skills. For example: someone focuses on increasing their Mining skill and finding a lot of rare minerals, so that another who specializes in Artisanship can use those resources to craft powerful equipment for everyone in the tribe. Everyone can of course do everything, but good teamwork can give your tribe an edge over the enemy.

Question: What do you feel makes your game compelling?

Answer: I think that atmosphere and immersion make a huge impact. Controlling your own kobold, surviving the harsh conditions of the forest and exploring the vastness of the world while listening to the iconic Warcraft soundtrack in the background can make almost anyone forget what game they are actually playing.

There is also a lot of depth to the gameplay. There are so many ways you can go about achieving victory. I have seen people do amazing comebacks despite being severely outnumbered. It doesn't matter how you die, whether it be from starvation or freezing to death. There are many ways to kill the enemy, both directly and indirectly.

Question: Are there any tweaks coming to Kobold Tribes that the community can look forward to?

Answer: Yes! There is so much that I still want to add that I almost don't even know where to begin. Right now, there are some really cool new quests and items that I'm working on to spice up the gameplay. I'm also planning on adding more structures to build.

There are two new quests that are almost done, and both have epic rewards. One quest will present your tribe with a dangerous choice and reward only the bravest of kobolds. The other quest will show you that wolves can be the least of your concerns on a cold and gloomy night.

Question: What do you think about the Arcade? Are there any additions to the service that you think would be valuable for developing game designers?

Answer: The Arcade is a very exciting addition to StarCraft II. I especially like that games have their own pages where you can access tutorials, watch screenshots, read reviews and patch notes. People often report bugs in the reviews section and it is easy for me to find them there and fix them. I tend to document every little change that I make, and sometimes it feels like the size limit of the patch notes gets in the way. But overall I'm really happy with how the system has evolved.

Question: What advice would you give to someone who was interested in using the SC2 editor to make their own game? Where is a good place for them to start the learning process?

Answer: Blizzard's official mapmaking tutorials are very good and easy to understand and cover pretty much everything you need to get started. For more specific tutorials I would suggest searching on Also, don't be discouraged by the seeming complexity of the Data Module. It takes some getting used to, true, but for most maps you don't need to use more than a few Catalogs (Units, Weapons, Effects, etc.). Neither should you worry if you're not good at programming. The Trigger Module is very . . . logical, and in truth you only need to know a few basic instructions to make something that seems very advanced. I didn't know how to program when I started using the Warcraft III Trigger Editor (which is very similar), but it's how I started learning.

I also recommend that you have someone who can help you test the game, to discuss ideas with, and to poke some sense into you if you go and make silly decisions. It is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture if you do everything by yourself.

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

Answer: Absolutely! At the moment I will continue to make new content for Kobold Tribes, but perhaps I'll pick up some of my other StarCraft II projects again later. I'm studying Computer Science, and creating games for StarCraft II is a favorite pastime of mine. Being a game designer or programmer is definitely something I aspire to.

Question: Finally, what is your favorite game the StarCraft II Arcade?

Answer: I’ve really enjoyed playing Hive Keeper by Bibendus and Photon Cycles by JademusSreg.

We’re very thankful to Qancakes for answering all our questions and making an awesome game. You can find him on Twitter at:

Tags: arcade, Arcade

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