PAX AUS INDIE SHOWCASE 2023 – Boba Master
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.
Australian card game designers Quokka Games have followed their 2022 Indie Showcase wining game Yum Cha up with their 2023 Indie Showcase winning game Boba Master! With back-to-back PAX Australia wins, we spoke to Jono from Quokka Games about the experience, the challenges of following up successful games and what inspires their design process.
Player2: Hi Jono! Quokka Games have now had back-to-back wins in the Indie Showcase across 2022 and 2023. What has this been like for you both and do you now feel pressure to follow up with a Triple in 2024?
Jono: Absolutely amazing, we couldn’t believe it was possible. Especially 2 years in a row. Hahaha, you give us too much credit, but we certainly can’t say no to a Turkey.
Player2: How has your cultural heritage influenced your game designs? Some of the most popular traditional card games are of Cantonese origin, has this shaped your design sensibilities?
Jono: Hmmm, that’s an interesting question. We are embracing our heritage to some degree but at the same time we’re embracing our Chinese culture from a western perspective. Having been born and raised in Australia, we can only represent the culture as we know and grew up with. We do try and pay homage where and when we can, but I think that’s as far as we go, we’re no experts.
It’s interesting that you say that there’s a lot of card games of Cantonese origin. Thinking about it, I’ve only played Big 2 growing up. I learnt how to play Big 2 through friends and family. I especially grew fond of the game when I watched it being represented in the classic 90s Hong Kong films. I don’t think I can remember how to play Big 2 without brushing up on the rules, it’s been far too long. To be honest, we are probably more influenced by the creative thinking methods we’ve picked up being educated in the west.
Player2: What were your favourite experiences of PAX AUS 2022 and what are you most looking forward to in 2023?
Jono: PAX AUS 2022 was an amazing experience. It was the first convention we went to as Quokka Games and our first-time attending PAX itself. We often heard our friends speak of the convention and saw it on TV, but we hadn’t had the opportunity to attend ourselves. The highlight of PAX was meeting the many patrons, to see everyone’s face light up when they played our games, engaged with us in conversations and showed their support. That’s what we’re looking forward to in 2023, to meet everyone all over again.
Player2: Boba Master successfully funded on Kickstarter, but there was a drop in backers coming off of Yum Cha which more than doubled your previous campaign. Do you worry consumers are becoming weary of the crowdfunding model? What are the biggest challenges you face by using it?
Jono: You really followed our journey closely didn’t you!. I can only speculate, but maybe Boba Master didn’t do as well due to 1. the high cost of living and 2. people perhaps didn’t resonate as much with bubble tea as they did yum cha. I don’t think consumers are becoming weary of the crowdfunding model, it’s just that there’s more campaigns than ever before. The biggest challenge for us, as it’s the same as everyone else, is how to get traffic to our campaigns and how to get backers to commit.
Player2: Yum Cha has made it into distribution channels, now available in stores like Zing and EB Games. Does this feel like a huge win for Quokka and what are some of the benefits and challenges of this kind of distribution?
Jono: Absolutely. We were swept away with so much emotion. We’re not sure how it happened but we’re so happy it did. It means people are believing in our games and what we stand for at Quokka Games. The benefit that EB Games / Zing Pop Culture provides is their reach; they have over a hundred stores nationwide. The challenging thing for us was they had a lot of procedures and protocols that we had to learn and follow. Furthermore, for a two-man team literally working out of our garage, their orders can be quite labourious to fulfill.
Player2: Any hints as to what Quokka Games has plans for in the future? Perhaps a game with a board, or do you think Quokka Games does their best work focusing on cards alone?
Jono: We have many more games that we want to bring to the table, pun intended. Boards are not off the agenda. However, it does require a bit more time, resources, and effort to get there. I don’t want to make any promises at this stage but keep on the lookout.
Player2: Would you ever consider licensed rethemes of any Quokka Games, and if so, what licensed themes would you love to see on your games?
Jono: Oh yes, we would love that. Please get in contact with us whoever is reading this, or if you know someone, please send them our way. The first thing that came to mind is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We’re open to any brand or license, I’m sure we can make it work or Quokkafy it!
Player2: Thanks so much for your time Jono and congratulations to you and Ando on the win!
Jono: Thank you for the opportunity. Can’t wait to see you again at PAX!
PAX AUS Attendees can find the Boba Master booth in the PAX AUS Indie Showcase section of PAX AUS from October 6-8. Boba Master is available to buy direct from Quokka Games, alongside 2022 Indie Showcase winner Yum Cha.