PAX AUS Indie Showcase 2022 - Yum Cha
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.
Founded by brothers Jono and Ando, Quokka Games is an independent Australian publisher specialising in card games. With three titles under their belts and more on the way, their latest design Yum Cha was selected as a PAX AUS 2022 Indie Showcase winner. Player2 spoke to Jono about this whirlwind of events and what Quokka Games has planned for the future.
Player2: Quokka Games was founded in 2021, releasing Carry On, Dirty Laundry and Yum Cha in rapid succession. How does it feel to have your work with Yum Cha recognised so quickly with a spot in the 2022 PAX AUS Indie Showcase?
Jono: It feels surreal. Part of me can’t believe it, and the other part of me is jumping for joy! It means we have to keep making more games!
Player2: What’s the elevator pitch for Yum Cha?
Jono: Yum Cha is a cute little card game based on everyone’s favourite Chinese brunch, also known as Dim Sum. The objective of this gateway card game is to accumulate the most points so that you get the honour of paying the bill. You can play with as little as 2 people all the way up to 6. A set collection game with a bit of negotiation and push your luck.
Player2: How did it feel to make the transition from game players to game developers/designers? What were some of the most rewarding aspects and the biggest challenges along the way?
Jono: It was quite seamless. We were on the phone talking about “wouldn’t it be cool to start travelling again during this pandemic”. Then we were saying, “we don’t like process of packing but just want to get to our destination”. Then we said, “why not gamify the mechanic of packing too much and paying that excess baggage fee”. The rest is history.
The most rewarding aspect of designing our games is when our friends play it and get a real kick out of it. Especially when there’s a lot of tensions and smiles. The biggest hurdle is how do we get our games into more people’s hands, so they can enjoy what we’re enjoying. Much like the Board Game BBQ community group. It’s a bunch of people trying to spread the love of board games, which is what we’re doing too in our own way.
Player2: There’s some distance between you both, living in Brisbane and Canberra – how does this affect the play and design process for you both? Do you rely on online implementations for playtesting and development work?
Jono: Obviously we cannot play any of our games together remotely. But that gives us an upper hand? We end up playing with our own friendship circles in our respective cities. Afterward we get on the phone and chat about what mechanics worked, what doesn’t, how to we rectify them or what can we do to refine it. It’s actually the best part of the process.
Player2: I’m a big fan of small box card games with Alexander Pfister’s Oh My Goods and Carl Chudyk’s Mottainai firm favourites for me. Quokka Games also looks to be specialising in this design space – what is it that draws you both to working with cards and small boxes? Do you have any larger designs underway?
Jono: Oh interesting, I haven’t heard of them before. I will look into them and their games for possible inspirations. I’ve only played Love Letter and Candy Chaser as ‘smaller box’ titles.
We wanted to design games that we ourselves can have in the bag or car, that doesn’t take much space. So, we can whip it out when there’s awkward silences. We have quite a few card games and new mechanics under development. As for larger designs, only time will tell *wink*.
Player2: It’s interesting to see the variety of variants you offer on the Quokka Games website for players to get more out of their games – are these elements left from the initial design process? Do you have preferred variants to use in each game?
Jono: Thanks for looking through our website. It takes the truly hardcore fans to find those. In a nutshell, yes. The favourite one, for Dirty Laundry would have to be: Fashionably late! It’s funny how it just works. I had a friend come late; I won’t mention who. Jumped right in. Some of us were in a position far worse than the starting position. It’s also a great place to document our ideas that we couldn’t keep in the final game. Much like ‘deleted scenes’ for a movie.
Player2: Your Kickstarter Campaigns have gone from strength to strength across all three titles so far – how important do you think crowdfunding is to help up and coming designers and companies make their dreams a reality?
Jono: This is a difficult question to answer. It’s definitely one way to do it and it has worked for us. We really appreciate the support from all our backers. At the end of the day, I think it definitely comes down to passion. If you have passion and can display that across to others. People will gravitate to you and help you out.
Player2: The Carry On Suitcase Edition looks amazing – have you thought about any other limited edition themed packaging for Dirty Laundry or Yum Cha, and much like the Keep Calm Expansion you’ve made for Carry On, are there plans for more Dirty Laundry or Yum Cha in the works?
Jono: The limited Suitcase Edition for Carry On was the remnant of our first Kickstarter campaign. For now we want to keep a standard box size (same length and width with varying height) for all our games going forward. That’s not to say we won’t do limited runs of themed packaging, but we’ll play by ear.
Player2: What can PAXAUS Attendees look forward to at the Yum Cha booth?
Jono: At PAX you will have the opportunity to buy Yum Cha directly from us, across all three days, with limited stock. We will have a little table so you can have a playthrough too. We will be offering a little limited-edition item when you engage with us in a particular way. And lastly on Saturday, Oct 8th at 6:30pm, we will be joining the other Indie Showcase winners for a panel discussion in the Fruit Bat Theatre.
Yum Cha will be playable in the Tabletop Indie Showcase section, but all of Quokka’s current line-up is available to purchase right now via their online store.