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Made With Launch Lab: Fire Noodle Eating Champs

Made with Launch Lab

Made With Launch Lab: Fire Noodle Eating Champs

Jason ToToTam discusses how he used Launch Lab to bring his fast dice game of eating spicy noodles to life.

Jason ToToTam has used video games to inspire his recent tabletop game designs. He talked to the team here at Launch Lab about how he used high-quality board game prototypes to realise his game design dreams.

David Scott, 22 Nov 2023

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Fire Noodle Eating Champs arrives on Kickstarter December 1

Fire Noodle Eating Champs arrives on Kickstarter December 1

It’s been a busy few months for game designer Jason ToToTam, flying between Melbourne and Sydney to demo his games at both PAX Australia and the first South by South West event in Australia, SXSW Sydney. But he wouldn’t have it any other way. 

“I love the challenge of designing games, and designing within limitations to create an experience for people to enjoy,” he says, now relaxing at home. “I just love playing and introducing people to new games. As (Reiner) Knizia says, ‘When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning’.”

Jason has been a feature at the above events over the last few months, demonstrating two different and unique game prototypes; a competitive family-friendly party game called Fire Eating Noodle Champs, and Bonza Box, a word puzzle game. Both draw direct inspiration from video games of a similar name and for Jason, this was a key part of the attraction in building the games. 

Game designer Jason ToToTam with a new Fire Noodle Eating Champs fan at SXSW Sydney 2023

Game designer Jason ToToTam with a new Fire Noodle Eating Champs fan at SXSW Sydney 2023

“Both these projects started as videogames and developing them into a tabletop experience had their unique challenges. There is a lot of design consideration about the best ways to adapt digital game mechanics that are appropriate for the tabletop. Components and budget considerations do, however, give useful constraints to design around. These limitations helped me focus on the design of the product as a whole.”

For Fire Noodle Eating Champs, based on the Wombok Games original, this meant coming up with a small game with limited components to keep costs down. The final version consists of eight dice and 18 cards, with gameplay revolving around the tactical pleasure of rolling the dice as contestants battle it out in real-time in a 1 v 1 noodle-eating contest by matching noodle toppings. “I remember the first time I played the original, at a video game exhibition at the Sabbatical Gallery for the Game-A-Week Showcase. All the games were made in one week and then showcased for all to play. It was such a fun event and got to play many cool games!”

Jason teaching Fire Noodle Eating Champs at PAX Australia

Jason teaching Fire Noodle Eating Champs at PAX Australia

“The next day I kept thinking about the game and came up with a board game inspired by it on a long train ride to Frankston (Melbourne, Australia). I reached out to Sara at Wombok Games to collaborate on this project, where I made the board game and she did the art.” 

The game has not disappointed ahead of its arrival on Kickstarter this coming December 1st; gamers love that it takes a minute to learn and can get right into playing, while also appreciating that it comes in a travel-sized mint tin making it easy to transport. Jason has made the most of the mint tin constraints as part of his prototyping work with Launch Lab, creating custom UV-printed dice alongside the 18 noodle cards. “People haven’t even realized it’s a prototype until I tell them, many of them were ready to purchase a copy then and there as is,” he remarks.

Gamers at PAX Australia get up close and personal with Fire Noodle Eating Champs

Gamers at PAX Australia get up close and personal with Fire Noodle Eating Champs

The Bonza Box project was commissioned directly by Minimega, the creators of the original digital Bonza Word Puzzles. After meeting them at a game convention and discussing their handmade tabletop version, Jason was approached by the team to develop a more refined edition for public consumption. “We explored different concepts and decided to create a product that capitalizes on the familiarity of the digital game for the tabletop.”

“From a component perspective, punchboards are at the heart of the game and I made it a goal to create the most beautiful punchboards in any board game! I was able to create punchboards with their own unique die cuts with their own artwork, all of which is self-contained in a minimal package.”

Gamers take on the Bonza word puzzle at PAX Australia 2023

Gamers take on the Bonza word puzzle at PAX Australia 2023

The results speak for themselves: Jason reports that he sold more than 150 copies of the Bonza Box at PAX Australia from the prototype printing he did through Launch Lab. “The print quality really is good enough to sell on its own.”

There are always more games to play and design, but Jason, his advice for other aspiring game designers is simple. “Start small. Think about the game as an experience and a product rather than just a framework of fun.”

You can follow Jason and his game design journey on his website, or via social on X and Instagram.

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