Tuesday, October 19, 2021

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 304: Pauline Kong & Marie Wong

Welcome to People Behind the Meeples, a series of interviews with indie game designers.  Here you'll find out more than you ever wanted to know about the people who make the best games that you may or may not have heard of before.  If you'd like to be featured, head over to http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html and fill out the questionnaire! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples. Support me on Patreon!

Name:Pauline Kong & Marie Wong
Location:BC, Canada
Day Job:Pauline: an ICU and Endoscopy nurse. In between, she is a retired stage magician, Vegas-style illusion show producer, and pianist.
Marie: is both a techy and artistic person. Her main job is as an UI/UX Developer. She also does freelance work as a graphic designer and web developer. (She was also Pauline's backstage assistant- don't worry Pauline didn't chop her in half, and if she did, she was able to put her back together in 1 piece)
Designing:One to two years.
BGG:Steam Up: A Feast of Dim Sum
Facebook:Hot Banana Games
YouTube:Hot Banana Games
Find my games at:https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2290121603
Today's Interview is with:

Pauline Kong & Marie Wong
Interviewed on: 7/8/2021

This week's interview is with design duo Pauline Kong and Marie Wong from Hot Banana Games. Their first game, Steam UP: A Feast of Dim Sum launches on Kickstarter today! Read on to learn about this up and coming design team and the projects they're working on.

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
One to two years.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
Our goal is to create and publish Asian-themed games by Asian game designers. We want to use the games we publish to raise awareness about Asian culture.

What game or games are you currently working on?
Steam UP: A Feast of Dim Sum is a competitive 2-5 player medium light weight Dim Sum collection game offering a delicious cultural experience.

Steam Up, a world-renowned Dim Sum restaurant, only serves a limited quantity of their most popular Dim Sum at each table everyday – so be prepared to play as 1 of the 12 animal characters with their asymmetrical abilities and compete with your companions to devour as much as possible.

Quick Overview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZmZ1OqyGkI&t
Tabletop Simulator Mod: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2290121603
Website: hotbananagame.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hotbananagame

Have you designed any games that have been published?

What is your day job?
Pauline: an ICU and Endoscopy nurse. In between, she is a retired stage magician, Vegas-style illusion show producer, and pianist.

Marie: is both a techy and artistic person. Her main job is as an UI/UX Developer. She also does freelance work as a graphic designer and web developer. (She was also Pauline's backstage assistant- don't worry Pauline didn't chop her in half, and if she did, she was able to put her back together in 1 piece)

Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.

Where do you prefer to play games?
Home and board game conventions

Who do you normally game with?
Each other

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Kohaku, Tiny Towns, Isle of Cats, Baren Park, Azul, Sagrada, Gizmos, Lord of Waterdeep

And what snacks would you eat?
anything...as long as we have our chopsticks to pick it up and put it in our mouths, won't dirty our hands!

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Depends on the season and mood...mostly pop music

What’s your favorite FLGS?
401 Games and Board Game Bliss

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Pauline- My favorite includes Isle of Cats, Kohaku, Lord of Waterdeep, Ethnos, Century, Wingspan, Sagrada.
Marie-Carcassonne, Great Western Trail, Architects of the West Kingdom

We are not into bluffing games or role playing games so those are games we would try to avoid playing.

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Pauline- Abstract, polygamino, and worker placement games are my go to!
Marie- Worker placement and tile placement.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games

OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?

You as a Designer
OK, now the bit that sets you apart from the typical gamer. Let's find out about you as a game designer.

When you design games, do you come up with a theme first and build the mechanics around that? Or do you come up with mechanics and then add a theme? Or something else?
Theme first and then we build the mechanics around that. It makes more sense this way.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
We are the winner of the 2021 Ion Award and Lions Award 2021. We are also the 2021 Finalist for Cardboard Edison and Fastaval Game Design competition

Do you have a current favorite game designer?
Sen-Foong Lim, Jay Cormier, Elizabeth Hargrave, Uwe Rosenberg

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Play a wide variety of games

How do you go about playtesting your games?
Pre-Covid: Vancouver Playtest Group and friends
Covid: Online via Tabletop Simulator. We attend playtesting sessions on Virtual Playtesting Group and BGDO

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Pauline (Designer and Project Director) and Marie (Designer and Creator Director) are the core of the team. Other team members include: Haymen Lee (designer), Grace Tjahyadi (illustrator), YDX Art (illustrator), Tim Cheng (illustrator), Jose Hsu (3D Modeler) & Alexei Menardo (Tabletop Simulator Modder)

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
To please all types of gamers. However, once we figured out who our targeted audience was, it cleared the path right away.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
the cost of manufacturing components

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Never get discouraged and give up if you receive negative feedback or criticism about your game. In fact, that critique might be the key to making your game better. You need to take criticism and consider it. If the critique is valid, you need to implement the notes from that feedback to make a player’s gaming experience better. Also, sometimes critical comments help you refine the audience for your game. It’s a way to confirm the kind of gamer and audience you need to market your game to.

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
This is what I have currently crowdfunding: Steam UP: A Feast of Dim Sum on Kickstarter October 19, 2021

Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Board Game Design Lab

And the oddly personal, but harmless stuff…
OK, enough of the game stuff, let's find out what really makes you tick! These are the questions that I’m sure are on everyone’s minds!

Star Trek or Star Wars? Coke or Pepsi? VHS or Betamax?
Haven't watched either one, don't drink pop, VHS as we haven't heard of Betamax.

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
Pauline: piano, guzheng (zither), badminton, magic
Marie: video games

What is something you learned in the last week?
Pauline: how to remove a common bile duct stone
Marie: how to use Blender to make component spread

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Pauline and Marie: Avengers! DC!

What was the last book you read?
Pauline: A Crowdfunding's Strategy Guide by Jamey Stegmaier and Board Game Design Advice by Gabe Barrett
Marie: Smashing Book #4 — New Perspectives on Web Design

Do you play any musical instruments?
Pauline: Piano and Guzheng
Marie: Guitar

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
Pauline performed and produced Vegas-style magic shows. Marie was one of her backstage assistant. One of Pauline's magic little fish leaped off the tank and went missing, and was found under Marie's car seat 2 weeks later with a fishy smell. Since that day, Marie has not liked fish.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
Pauline: for a person who is scared of swimming and once almost drowned as a kid, I went scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef 3 years ago. Another crazy thing I did was coming up with an idea of taking a dying patient (on life support to take their last breath) to the hospital's garden with the sun ray shining onto his face and his family by his side...It was the most difficult thing to do but I'm glad I did it.
Marie: skydiving

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Pauline had a complete tear of her Achilles during a badminton tournament and was off on disability for a year. During that time she produced a mega charity magic and illusion show that raised over $11k for ICU

Who is your idol or hero?
Pauline: my family - with their unconditional love
Marie: nobody

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Pauline: go back and spend more quality time with my eldest niece Sabrina
Marie: re-live high school days

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Pauline: extrovert
Marie: introvert

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be and why?
Pauline: A superhero that has healing powers (mentally, physically, emotionally) to help ease the pain people are having
Marie: Super woman because when our board game is manufacturered, I can do my own freight and deliver our game to our backers

Have any pets?

If you’d like to send a shout out to anyone, anyone at all, here’s your chance (I can’t guarantee they’ll read this though):
Sabrina, Sarina, Salina, Sana, Waiyan, Vancouver Playtest Group, VPT, BGDO, Stella, Sen, and all our playtesters

Thanks for answering all my crazy questions!

Thank you for reading this People Behind the Meeples indie game designer interview! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples and if you'd like to be featured yourself, you can fill out the questionnaire here: http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html

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