PAX AUS INDIE SHOWCASE 2023 – Crash Course Builder
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.
Developers Brendan Watts and Mark White are the founders of Wombat Brawler, the studio behind Crash Course Builder, an intense combination of rhythm gaming, multiplayer racing and user created content. Player2 spoke to Mark about winning a spot in the PAX AUS 2023 Indie Showcase and the experience of developing Crash Course Builder.
Player2: Thanks for speaking to Player2, Mark! What was the reaction at the studio to winning a spot in the Indie Showcase for 2023? I know you have personally had a previous win in 2015 for Agent A, is it reassuring to see a continued appreciation for your work?
Mark: We were absolutely over the moon when we found out Crash Course Builder had been chosen as a 2023 Showcase Winner. After about two years of work it really made all the effort worthwhile and reaffirmed to us that we’re on the right track. We can’t wait to demo Crash Course Builder publicly for the first time at PAX Aus this year!
Player 2: Crash Course Builder seems to draw from a lot of different genres and mechanics, what were some of your main sources of inspiration in its development?
Mark: As kids, we both loved discovering level builders within games, so right from the start we knew that level building and course construction was going to be a huge focus for our debut game. Titles like Mario Maker and Fall Guys were huge inspirations for Crash Course Builder as well as really intense quick twitch games like Geometry Dash.
Player2: What’s your elevator pitch for Crash Course Builder for those heading to PAX AUS? What sort of hands-on can they look forward to?
Mark: Can you make it to the finish line? Crash your kart through impossible obstacle courses that will leave you wanting just… one… more… go! 2ez? Pfft! Build your own course to share with other crash test dummies!
We’re going to have a about 15 obstacle courses to try and beat at PAX Aus as well as our course building tools to construct your very own masterpiece of mayhem!
Player 2: Has it been challenging developing CCB for such a variety of platforms? Where do you expect to see the most success?
Mark: It’s definitely been the biggest technical challenge developing for such a wide variety of platforms due to the various advantages different platforms have e.g. easier control methods on some over others.
From day one we wanted players to be able to share a course with any of their friends, no matter what platform the friend uses. Thankfully Brendan (the other half of Wombat Brawler) is a bit of a tech wizard and was able to come up with a solution where regardless of whether you play on controller, keyboard, mouse, touch or tilt, all courses will be playable and most importantly beatable!
Player2: As founders of Wombat Brawler, both Brendan and yourself have a wealth of experience and amazing designs bearing your names. What would you say have been the biggest shifts in the landscape of indie game development in Australia in the past decade, and what challenges are you facing moving forward as a studio?
Mark: The industry moves really quickly and we’ve seen some major shifts in the way mobile stores operate. I think we’re probably going to keep seeing more drastic changes over the next couple of years. For us, being able to stay nimble and quick to jump on opportunities is very important. With new consoles like Switch 2 on the horizon and game subs like Netflix, Apple Arcade and Xbox Game Pass becoming more and more popular, we are very excited and optimistic about the future.
Player2: Readers are able to grab a demo for Crash Course Builder on Steam right now – what has the reception been so far, and what are you hoping to see develop out of the community aspect you’ve engineered into the game?
Mark: Yes, we’ve just released a demo on Steam and so far it’s been great! We’re seeing players start to build their own courses and getting great feedback thus far. As we expand to more platforms we’re really hoping to build up a community of Crash Test Dummies who love to build and share courses with one another.
We’ve just opened up a Discord where players can jump in and share their courses to get feedback from other players so hopefully that will gain a bit of traction in the coming months! Here’s a link for your readers who’d like to jump in and give it a try: https://discord.gg/KqFahK4kx3
Player2: Is there a solid release window for Crash Course Builder just yet?
Mark: We’re thinking most likely the end of 2024 at this stage if all goes to plan!
Player2: What’s on the horizon for Wombat Brawler as a studio – any hints towards the next title or will focus stay on Crash Course Builder for the foreseeable future?
Mark: Definitely focusing on Crash Course Builder for the foreseeable future as there’s so much we want to do with it. Each week we come up with new exciting features and modes we’d love to introduce… but need to focus on our initial release first!
Player2: Thanks so much for speaking to us Mark!
Mark: Thank you for the questions and we hope to see you and your readers down at PAX Aus across Oct 6-8.