PAX AUS Indie Showcase 2022 - Box Knight
The PAX AUS Indie Showcase is a chance to see some of the best new and upcoming titles from the ANZ development scene with past winners including celebrated games such as Unpacking, Hollow Knight, The Gardens Between, Hacknet, Wayward Strand and many more. The 2022 Indie Showcase is bursting at the seams, with 2021 winners invited back for the in-person experience they missed out on. Furthermore, the inclusion of Tabletop gaming means there is an even larger variety of experiences on offer on the show floor. Player2 encourages anyone visiting PAX AUS to make their way to the PAX Rising area and check out the following title as well as the many other excellent indies on display.
Hearkening back to the work of Halfbrick in its heyday, Box Knight from We Made A Thing Studios is an irreverent roguelike drawing from a range of pop culture references for players to spot. An endearing art style and ‘one more go’ gameplay ensured it won a spot in the 2022 PAX AUS Indie Showcase. Player2 spoke to Tom Phillips from developers We Made A Thing Studios (WEMATS) about the inspiration behind Box Knight and how the studio balances their film and game production projects.
Player 2: Thanks for agreeing to an interview Tom! What was the team’s reaction at finding out Box Knight had won a spot in the 2022 Indie Showcase?
Tom Phillips: We were stoked with the news in getting a slot in the indie showcase! Such an awesome group of projects featuring this year (like every year) and just really honoured to get Box Knight amongst it.
P2: Box Knight is described as a roguelike with theming that draws from both The Office and The Lord of the Rings – what brought these disparate elements together?
Tom: Whether it’s game or film we get excited building worlds. High concept and genre storytelling has been a part of our DNA since WEMATS’ inception but we always look to bring a sense of heart and grounding in reality. The fantasy genre and office setting was something we hadn’t seen before and immediately started giggling and unfolding on its own. For us it passed to two beers at the pub test early and then became a bit of a joke that just took hold organically.
P2: What’s your elevator pitch for Box Knight?
Tom: A silly and irreverent action roguelike, think if Hades, The Office and Lord of The Rings had an angry baby. A darkness has fallen over the office and it’s up to you the Box Knight to save it. Fight monstrous abstractions of your most toxic co-workers and quest your way up the tower to defeat the evil CEO who banned Friday night beers.
P2: It’s obvious everyone at WEMATS’ is passionate about media – what are some of the teams favourite films and games?
Tom: We’re all Star Wars fans at heart, but it honestly varies. I have a weird obsession with Moneyball and The Thin Red Line gets a gig often, whereas Jeremy will be happy to settle into Lord of The Rings for days on end.
Game wise obviously Hades was huge for us, but recently we’ve all been taken with Tunic. Fable never goes away in our minds, with such a wonderful balance of whimsy, darkness and a truly unique world that is just fun to be a part of. Also clocked some serious hours in Stardew Velley and Moonlighter.
P2: We Made A Thing Studios spin many plates across film and gaming, what are the biggest challenges you face as a studio because of this and what unique opportunities does it afford?
Tom: The biggest challenge for us is when all those spinning plates land are firing at once…like right now. That balance we’re working on but when a project gets greenlit we have to run with it. I think on the flip side of the workload is that it does give us a unique position in the Game world, story, character and execution is something we’ve lived and breathed for over a decade and games for us is just a ridiculously exciting platform to play in.
P2: How did your process have to shift from short and feature film writing/producing to Box Knight?
Tom: To be honest the process of creative is very similar, although a script and a GDD or game narrative outline look different, at the end of the day it is a similar mindset in creating an ebb and flow to the structure to try and get the audience to feel something, be it good l, bad, or a cheeky giggle
P2: What can PAX AUS Attendees look forward to at the Box Knight booth?
Tom: A juicy, funny, challenging and action-packed experience. Laugh when you’re playing and laugh when you’re watching. See if you can complete a run, and beat our top score!