PAX AUS INDIE SHOWCASE 2023 – Alien Frenzy
The PAX AUS Indie Showcase is a chance to see some of the best new and upcoming titles from the ANZ digital and tabletop development scene, with past winners including such celebrated games as Unpacking, Hollow Knight, Yum Cha and many more. The 2023 Indie Showcase is shaping up to be another highlight of the event and Player2 encourages visitors to 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.
Brothers Jye and Baden form Comet Squid, their tabletop development and publishing company which is gearing up to put out their debut design, Alien Frenzy. With a Kickstarter campaign looming on the horizon and bagging a spot in the PAX AUS 2023 Indie Showcase, Player2 were excited to talk to the duo to find out more about their game and what led to its creation.
Player2: What was your reaction to winning a spot in the Indie Showcase for 2023?
Baden: I was so excited. I forwarded the email to Jye as soon as I saw it, and he called me straight away asking if it was real. It was amazing, honestly. My adrenaline was spiking, I had to go take a walk to try and calm myself down. I wasn’t expecting it, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity.
Jye: I couldn’t believe it! I felt so honoured and excited that we had been picked as one of the winners. It still seems hard to believe that this little card game we’ve created has made it all the way to PAX AUS!
Player2: How did you get into game design? What was the moment you knew you wanted to make games?
Baden: I just love games in general. As one of four siblings, playing games with each other was just something we did growing up. We’d always make up rules and try to invent new fun games that we could play. We’re all very competitive too, in a joking around sort of way, which I think helped. While we may claim we care who wins, we aren’t really serious about it and it’s just more about the fun.
Jye: Yeah, I think every time we’ve hung out, even now as adults, we’ve always ended up playing some sort of game. Most of the time, just silly little games we make up on the spot. I’ve always enjoyed being creative and was always on the lookout for fun new projects to keep me occupied. I remember reading a forum where someone in the tabletop industry was saying that they’d just released their first game and how much they loved the community and that the whole experience was really rewarding. That got my brain ticking and the next time I spoke with Baden I asked him if he would be interested in trying to design a game together. Not long after that, we caught up for our first brainstorming session.
Player2: I absolutely love card games and own far too many of them – deck builders, shedders, LCG’s, John Clowdus, Carl Chudyk – I can’t get enough. What inspired the creation of Alien Frenzy and what are your backgrounds in respect to card games? Any favourites?
Baden: We were initially inspired by Exploding Kittens’ use of hidden cards that no one wants to draw. We thought what if we had a card like that but instead of it eliminating you, it was used as a trigger to transition the game, though still to the detriment of the player who drew it. The first drawn UFO card in Alien Frenzy does just this, it represents the start of the Alien Invasion.
Jye: Once we had the idea that we wanted it to be based around an Alien Invasion, it came to us pretty quickly that we needed a Humans vs Aliens scenario as the elimination phase of the game.
Baden: My expertise was definitely skewed more towards the graphic design and art side of things. Becoming familiar with games that were out there, and becoming familiar with the industry, is just something I’ve slowly become accustomed to over time. I don’t have a favourite, but a few games that I’ve played recently and enjoyed include Unstable Unicorns, Chicken Heist, Boss Monster and Arboretum.
Jye: When we initially decided to try and design a game neither of us had much of a background in tabletop games. Growing up we played the classics of course, like Monopoly, Uno and Chess and as an adult I’d been to a few games nights and really enjoyed games like Ticket to Ride and Forbidden Desert. I had played Exploding Kittens a couple of times and was really impressed with how simple yet clever it was. I do have far more games in my collection these days. As far as a favourite goes, that’s tricky. It’s not really a card game but I loved Concordia and am very keen to try and get that to the table again soon.
Player2: What is your design process like – how long did it take for Alien Frenzy to take shape?
Baden: We’ve been working on Alien Frenzy for over 5 years now. While it took its general shape relatively quickly, the refinement and balancing of the game definitely took quite a bit longer to get right. Our design process was very much: Brainstorm, playtest, discuss, revise, and repeat. I have a box of a good 20 or so old versions of the game, and it’s crazy to look back through them and see how far we have come.
Jye: We learnt quickly that playtesting was incredibly valuable. Even though an idea might sound great it’s not until you test it on the table that you can really tell if it will work. Following a playtest, we would go through every aspect of the game. We’d refer to and talk about all of the feedback notes we’d taken, and discuss how we thought it went and what needed improving, removing or further testing.
Player2: How many times have you both played the game, and are you excited for three solid days of playing and teaching at PAX AUS? Any tips you can give for first timers visiting your booth?
Jye: I’ve honestly lost count of how many times I’ve played it. I loved playing it 5 years ago and to be honest, I love playing it even more now. The replayability really surprises me. We’ve been giving out prototype copies to friends and family for years now and a mate told me the other day that he and his family must have played Alien Frenzy at least 500 times! I could not believe it. After the initial playtesting that they did for us, the fact that these guys have played it that many times for fun, really blew my mind and put a huge smile on my face!
Baden: Honestly, I don’t know, whatever the number, it’s a lot! It’s a quick game to play so you can easily rack up the numbers, especially over 5 years.
Jye: I cannot wait to show off Alien Frenzy to as many people as humanly possible at PAX! Hopefully, they have as much fun with it as we do. If you’d like to give it a go or would just like to learn more we’d absolutely love to meet you. If you’re in the Tabletop area, please come and say hi. We might even have some freebies to give away.
Baden: If you’re giving the game a go, a good tip would be to not undervalue the power of action cards in phase 2 of the game. While character cards are essential to avoid elimination, using action cards to dodge aliens or choose which aliens you face can save you!
Player2: Alien Frenzy is set to hit Kickstarter – do you have a date in mind? What have been some of the challenges in bringing your design to market?
Baden: We don’t have an official launch date locked in as of yet, but we will be announcing this in the near future, so stay tuned!
Jye: We’re very happy with how the game plays, and we’re getting very close to having all of the art completed and the rulebook print-ready. We’re going to keep building our following and once we feel we’re ready we’ll hit the go button on our Kickstarter campaign.
Baden: I consider myself to be a bit of a perfectionist, and getting the visual design of the game to a point that I’m happy with has been a massive challenge, and while I am still tweaking and improving certain aspects, and will continue to do so all the way up to its production, I feel it’s very close to something I can consider ‘ready’.
Jye: Most aspects of this process have been challenging at different times. The key is to just keep going and learn as much as you can along the way.
Player2: Which of you is the better player of Alien Frenzy, and how has this affected your development partnership?
Baden: Great question, and while Jye may say differently, our peers would all agree that it is me. As one of the creators, and as it’s yet to be released, I like to joke sometimes that I’m the best player in the world. Though sadly I have to confess that I’m not actually the world champ. We have previously hosted a world championship with our original core playtest group, so here’s a shout out to the current World Champion Zak, who took the crown from me in a few epic games.
Jye: I absolutely love this question. He will never admit it, but I’m the far superior Alien Frenzy player. We joke about it all the time actually and it’s not just us, our whole core playtest group get amongst it. Even today our PAX Crew messenger group chat blew up into a discussion as to who is the best Alien Frenzy player. It’s always a fun conversation. Honestly, maybe somewhere along the line I’ve been overtaken as the No. 1 player in the world, but I can confidently say that I’m far better than Baden, and always have been. The numbers just don’t lie.
Baden: As brothers, we have grown up together, and enjoy banter and trash talking each other in respect to who is better at what game. With our own game this is no different, and I wouldn’t say it has affected the dynamic of our relationship at all.
Player2: Are there any other designs you have in mind right now, or is Alien Frenzy your sole focus until it’s in customers hands?
Baden: Alien Frenzy is definitely our sole focus right now. Our goal is to get the game complete, run the Kickstarter campaign, and get a copy into our backer’s hands. There are definitely things in the back of my mind, such as a NSFW version of the game, further expansions and the potential of the game to be turned into a mobile app. But these are just ideas and are not the current focus at all.
Jye: I’m looking forward to the day when we can decide what we want to do next, but for now and until we successfully fund and fulfill a Kickstarter campaign for Alien Frenzy that is all we’ll be working on.
Player2: Thanks so much for talking to us, looking forward to dropping by the booth and checking out Alien Frenzy!
PAX AUS Attendees can find the Alien Frenzy booth in the PAX AUS Tabletop Indie Showcase section of PAX AUS from October 6-8. Check out the Official Website to subscribe for Alien Frenzy updates.