This week we are proud to bring you another high quality game crafted by our amazing StarCraft II Editor community: Tofu Arena. Don’t let its benign name fool you; this is a fast-paced instant action hero arena of death. Unlike other games of this type, there are no towers or creatures to kill. The game is pure hero-versus-hero combat. You choose your hero and starting items and get right into the fight.
Each hero is classified as one of the three types, Armor, Light, or Psionic and has a related primary attribute. Tofu adds a rock-paper-scissor element to the matchup by having heroes dealing and receiving more damage based on their type. Designers Dogmai and Dryeyece have created all of their spells from scratch, and they feel tight and responsive. Not too surprising considering these guys spent time testing and contributing to the original Defense of the Ancients mod in Warcraft III.
On top of that, Tofu offers a cinematic tutorial as well as a free-play mode, allowing you to test out your abilities and item combinations on any of the heroes. New players should definitely give the tutorial a run before their first play-through so they can hit the ground running.
Check out our interview with the designers, then dive into the arena of death: Tofu Arena!
Traysent: How did you get started in game design?
Dogmai: I started out as most do, using pen and paper when I was really young. But my true calling came circa 1996 when I received Warwind, which was my first true RTS game. I moved onto another RTS game soon after, spending years and years developing hundreds of maps, becoming one of the two top map designers in that game, including being the lead level designer on a project that was featured in an international gaming magazine. When Warcraft III shipped I migrated over and naturally I kept on developing maps. I started by opening a very old map called Dragon RPG, read their GUI code and went from there.
Dryeyece: In 2006 I heard a commercial for The Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online on the radio, offering a degree in Video Game Art and Design. I had, until that moment, never put two-and-two together in my life. I always knew I had a passion for writing and creating characters, worlds, and cultures from my early days playing D&D and my love of reading. I also loved playing games, from D&D right up through to Zelda and Final Fantasy. So finally I knew precisely what I wanted to do with my life, and felt kind of stupid for not realizing it sooner. I immediately enrolled in school, and stayed there for three years before my GI bill hit the 10 year mark leaving me temporarily unable to continue.
T: What made you want to make games with the StarCraft II editor?
Dogmai: After I retired from Defense of the Ancients and Warcraft III in 2006, I was left with a lot of time to think about my future. I had a career and, even though I enjoyed it, I was not being true to myself. I remembered people I had once been in contact with who had gone on to work in the game industry. We were all roughly the same age, all in similar positions at the time but due to the fact that they were American, they could follow a path into gaming, but as for me— no such gaming industry exists in Australia beyond basic iOS games. The StarCraft II Editor was my answer.
Dryeyece: When I first started it was because I had realized designing games was what I wanted to do with my life but I had no real experience beyond D&D. Though finances left me unable to finish school, my desire to do so hadn't diminished in the slightest. The StarCraft II Editor offered me the chance to not only make something that was my own, but gave me a framework to do it with.
T: What was the inspiration for Tofu?
Dogmai: When comparing Dota in 2003 to Dota 2 in 2013, the core fundamentals have not changed. I believe this shows a lack of evolution and innovation within the genre, and with a large number of studios trying to carbon copy the Dota gameplay, is not ideal for the long term health of the genre. We need to diversify and Tofu is a step toward that goal.
Dryeyece: Each part of Tofu has a completely different style and feel, and as such, draw inspiration from all types of games from all types of genres, including first-person shooters, RPGs, and MMORPGs. Tofu is actually a three-part project. The first is the Death Match Arena that is being featured now. The other parts are the RPG and the standard creeps-and-lanes MOBA map that will be released in the future.
T: How many people worked on this game and what roles did they have?
Dogmai: There are two developers, myself and Dryeyece. The work load is spread out between us pretty evenly. Dryeyece focuses on Heroes and special effects while I focus on coding the engine, doing the custom art, and bringing everything together.
T: How did you two meet and start working together on Tofu?
Dogmai: One night when I was in the Sc2Mapster IRC chatroom and a guy (Dryeyece) asked for help with a problem. I was extremely busy at the time but no one else was free to help him so I offered my help. His Heroes in his RPG completely blew me away, but his scripting was less than ideal. I told him about my project, and he asked me to send it to him so that he could open it up and play with it. I impressed him with my work, and it was clear that each person had strengths where the other had weaknesses, so we started working together on Tofu, postponing his RPG until after we completed the project. Needless to say, his RPG still waits to be finished, which is a shame because it's an awesome RPG.
T: How does the game work? What’s in store for a first time player?
Dogmai: Essentially for Team Deathmatch, two teams of up to six players control a single hero that has a set of abilities that can be leveled up and used to kill enemy heroes. Teams play in three rounds of seven minutes each and the team with the most kills wins.
Dryeyece: The most important thing we can stress is to play the Tutorial. We tried to keep it as a short and as condensed as possible, as such, if you wanted to rush through it you could do it in less than five minutes whilst still getting all the knowledge in.
Joining the "Tofu Arena" Group is a great way to get started.
T: What do you feel makes your game compelling?
Dogmai: Tofu tries to take the best out of the MOBA genre and condense it into a faster, more action packed game.
Dryeyece: Since our game is completely new to the scene, we have the freedom to do basically whatever we want, and to change anything we need. In our opinion, it is exactly the type of free-range creativity that this genre needs and gives our game so much potential.
T: Are there any updates coming to Tofu that the community can look forward to?
Dogmai: I believe the most notable update would be the voiceover update. We have an amazing team of voiceover artists, and I believe their work will add a new level of polish to the game.
Finishing the open beta and the start of Season 1 would probably be the most sought after update. I'm looking forward to seeing how far the player base can push the game.
We are also planning on translating Tofu for Chinese, Korean, and Tawinese versions of StarCraft II. We are always looking for more translators, so if you can help out, definitely get in contact with us.
Dryeyece: The Tofu RPG will be one of the biggest updates and it is due for release just before the traditional MOBA map. I think from a community perspective these are what the players are really waiting for.
T: What advice would you give someone who was interested in using the StarCraft II Editor to make their own game? Where is a good place for them to start the learning process?
Dogmai: It is paramount to start small. You will notice most developers will tell you this and it is simply because once you get into an extremely involving project, it is quite easy to burn out. It is better to finish something small that you can use in a portfolio than to attempt something huge and never complete it.
T: Do you have any plans for other games or future goals as a game designer?
Dogmai: We have dozens of mini-games for the Arcade that Dryeyece and I have discussed developing, at this moment we simply don't have the time to do it.
We would really like to do something like a 20 or 40 hour challenge where we livestream and/or YouTube the entire process of creating a game, and see if we can do something new and amazing in that time. Perhaps even get a couple of two-person teams to have a friendly competition, like Team AoS, Team SCU, Team Tofu etc., maybe even a team Blizzard entry?
And as always, the number one dream is to work alongside Blizzard in Irvine.
Dryeyece : Aside from StarCraft II Arcade games, ultimately if I had my way I would work at Blizzard on the WoW development team, second to that would be the Diablo III dev team. One way or another I want to be part of a large scale RPG with depth and polish. If I can do that with Blizzard then I would die happy.
T: What's the best way people can follow you and your work?
For quick updates on what is happening, follow us on Twitter: @tofuarena. For more substantial updates, YouTube is the best bet: youtube.com/tofuarena and our website is www.tofuarena.com.
T: Do you have any favorite games on the Starcraft II Arcade?
Dogmai: I like Desert Strike, as it basically removes the APM requirement from StarCraft and allows just pure strategy to come through. It’s fun trying to outthink your opponent. It’s like a huge game of chess except with tons of explosions.
Dryeyece: Barcraft is pretty cool, and very well done. I like Zerg Hunter RPG a lot, but the developer stopped working on it some time ago. I don't really get a lot of time to check them all out though, as I spend most of my free time working on Tofu.