I had the chance to catch up with Eeshwar Rajagopalan of tripleqmark productions at the Perth Games Festival and threw a bunch of questions at him to give first-timer’s a better insight into who he is and what he does. I played his game previously and found myself slowly becoming hooked by the strategic play that emerged in such a short time, so I’ve followed the progress on Blocaganda closely since. For those of you who missed the opportunity to play the newest version of Blocaganda, shame on you, but here are some fantastic reasons to make an effort to enjoy it next time!
Can you tell us about triplemark productions (???) as a company?
tripleqmark productions (???) is a design studio looking to craft interesting experiences across whichever medium is best suited for the experience.
What were the biggest challenges of developing Blocaganda? Brilliant rename, by the way!
The biggest challenge is finishing the game. I have started a handful of games and have tons of ideas for other games, but this is the one that has progressed the most. The core mechanics have been done for a while, but a new mechanic was added to try and better connect the theme to the gameplay recently and getting that polished is the next hurdle. Once that’s done, I think the is generally complete.
Is the current game exactly what you set out to create?
Not at all. This originally started as a game using dice called thirtysix, which GameCloud covered during some of the early Playup Perth events. From there, it evolved, with tokens replacing dice and morphing into a pattern matching game, rather than an area control game, which it used to be.
Is a small game community like Perth beneficial, or challenging?
I don’t think the size of the community is all that important, at least once it’s big enough to be called a community. Rather, it’s how the community both fosters new entrants into the design space and nurtures diversity that’s important. I came from a non-traditional background, in that I’m neither an artist or a programmer, so finding out about the games community when I first started was difficult. Now, I think that we do much better at raising awareness for this community and what we have achieved thanks to Kate’s efforts with Playup Perth, the Perth Fames Festival and coverage from GameCloud. I think that maintaining diversity is something our community does very well. Everyone just tends to work on what they’re passionate about, rather than trying to copy whatever is currently the best thing on the market and I think that helps to keep the community diverse.
Do you have future intentions to continue with strategy games?
I have no particular plans about the types of games or experiences that I want to design in the future. For the most part, I work on whatever theme or mechanic interests me at that time. If it works and other people have fun with the experience, then I carry it through. I’d like to work on some pervasive experiences since we have so few of them here in Perth and because I’ve always been interested in how rules affect people’s behaviours in different situations.
Did you specifically want to make a game aimed at adults looking for a challenge, or did that just happen over the course of development?
When I started, and I think this is something that I’ve carried through, I had the desire to make games that I would enjoy playing with my friends. We’re all young adults, so my games have always been aimed at that general age group and beyond. That said, the rules for Blocaganda can be picked up and played by teens or even children, just as well as adults, which I saw happen at PGF.
Why do you think people seek out games such as Blocaganda?
Boardgames are a social experience, and increasingly people want shorter experiences that are easy to learn while still providing some depth. Blocaganda is a short boardgame that can be learned in 5 minutes and played in 30. The main difference between Blocaganda and other light Strategy Boardgames is the ability to convert your opponent’s tokens to your side and using them to bolster your position. At the same time, you’re trying to prevent that happening to you, which creates tension in the game.
Do you work full time as a games developer, or is this something you do on the side?
I design games and experiences on the side. My formal training is in engineering, and I find the problems that I am asked to solve in my field engaging. Designing experiences is something that I do as a form of artistic expression, channeling the same problem-solving skills through different media and the perspectives they bring.
What was the reception to these games like at the Perth Games Festival this year?
People really liked it. While people only had the opportunity to play the two-player version of the game, the feedback I received was generally very positive.
How can the Perth gaming community support their local devs?
The best way the Perth gaming community can support developers is to come and participate in the experiences they develop. This will get people talking about those experiences and help to increase the exposure of the community. Hopefully, as the community here in Perth matures, we will see more publishers interested in coming to this side of the country to see what we have to offer.
Is there a time frame for a full public release yet?
While I don’t have a date set, I’d like to get the game into the hands of a publisher or run a Kickstarter some time next year. For now, things are still up in the air about when or how I’ll get the game released.
Why do you want to make games?
I make games to explore ideas that I find interesting. With Blocaganda, the original idea I was playing with was doing something with dice other than rolling them to generate random numbers. One of the other ideas I’m exploring is a narrative-based tabletop roleplaying game you could play at the pub with poker chips and standard playing cards, with the purpose of taking RPGs into a different space, where they are not as common.
What is your ultimate goal for triplemark productions?
My ultimate goal for tripleqmark productions is to be able to balance my career as an experience designer with my career as an engineer, at least for now. I don’t know what the future will bring, so I guess I’ll figure it out as I go.
There were also stickers for those that played, or for those that didn’t want to lose and risk looking stupid but asked for a sticker anyway. Make sure you follow Eeshwar’s Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram or Blog so you can catch up with the latest version of Blocaganda soon.