Interviews & Opinion

The Big Indie interviews: Kuura Playhouse tell us all about their no holds barred Hockey title Puck Off

The Big Indie interviews: Kuura Playhouse tell us all about their no holds barred Hockey title Puck Off

The Big Indie Pitch is a regular event run by the makers of Pocket Gamer and PC Games Insider. It sees indie developers engage in a speed-dating-styled pitching competition for fame and those sweet, sweet promotional packages.

The event gives indies five minutes to pitch their games to a panel of press, publishers and industry pundits. The judges then pick three winners and everybody gets valuable feedback.

The indie view

The Big Indie Pitch is getting bigger and bigger as we bring it to events all across the world. To give you an idea of what the event is like, who attends the events and the games on show, we've sat down with a number of past PC Indie Pitch contestants to offer their views.

Today, we're speaking to Kuura Playhouse's Marko Haaja, who submitted Puck Off to The Big Indie Pitch (PC+Console Edition) at Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #6 and walked away with the prize for third place.

The Big Indie Pitch goes digital

Sophia Aubrey Drake: Tell us a little about yourself and your indie studio - who is on the team, and what are their inspirations?

Marko Haaja: Kuura Playhouse is a four-year-old Indie company from nature-rich Finland. Right now our team consists of four people making the game itself and a handful of others who have been helping us along the way:

Hermanni: Our newest party member and 3D master and animation expert.

Jesse: UI-guy who doesn’t leave stones unturned. Without Jesse, our ”healer” after long nights in conventions. Makes sure, everyone returns to the hotel.

Joonas: Programming wizard. Has turned himself into an athlete after his graduation. He was Kuura’s first intern, and now he’s the Lead Programmer.

Marko: ”Can we have some money to make a game” – that’s what you mainly hear from me. I'm a fan of Montreal Canadians and in Puck Off, I also work as a producer.

In addition, we have our pitcher and community builder Graeme: Our Braveheart from the heart of Scotland! And most of all, a hockey fanatic!

Our common inspiration is to make a game that people truly enjoy playing both alone and with friends.

Tell us about Puck Off that you pitched at the competition.

Puck Off is a fast-paced, hard-hitting, slap-shotting pond hockey game with up to four-player local co-operative play. It combines hockey and fighting in a way never seen before. There are no rules to slow you down! If you lack the skills to score more than your opponent, no problem. Just kick their ass!

What do you think are the most unique and interesting aspects of Puck Off that gamers may never have seen before.

Pond hockey is(at least here in Finland) a lifestyle. Growing up outside and playing with your friends in the frozen lake or playground. That brings you way back. Even though Puck Off is mostly about emphasising the fighting that’s happening in hockey, we also try to make a point about the ever-shortening winters.

I think our uniqueness is mostly about combining super-fun things and big, global issues.

Puck Off is a sports title that has all the credentials to appeal to a wide base of gamers, both sports fans, and those who aren't. What made you choose to create a sports game with a twist, and what do you think you bring to it that may not have been seen before?

Truth is, that I really love hockey and wanted to make a hockey game I’d enjoy playing. A game that I, as a kid who dreamed about a hockey career, would love to play. Over and over again.

How did you come to choose the platforms that you would develop Puck Off for?

We first were a mobile game studio. But our entire team think of themselves as PC/console gamers. We feel like we are happiest in developing for those platforms, which we enjoy the most.

Looking at the studio a little more now. How hard is it to survive as an Indie developer?

Finland is a great place to start a company. Even this project started out with a government grant. Nevertheless, our company has done a lot of work-for-hire, we also rent our own conference place that has a sauna/pool included so we can have a physical place to create and do our thing.

Are there any tips and advice you would give to an independent developer out there who are just starting out?

Don’t rely on ”making it” with your first game. Look for additional incomes and apply for any grant possible.

How did you find your experience pitching as a part of the Big Indie Pitch?

Our pitch was quite ”efficient” in the sense that there was no time for questions. It still was a relaxed environment so there’s no need to stress that pitch.

What do you feel you have gained from the experience, and what do you still hope to gain?

The experience and feedback were great! It was great to hear that judges agreed that our idea was as amazing as we thought. This has given us a lot of confidence in our daily work.

What are your hopes for this game in the future, and do you have any plans for any future projects?

We have more plans than we have time. However, right now the focus is only on Puck Off. I think Puck Off will change our game portfolio towards similar types of games. PC/console is our thing now for good. Though we are still looking for that one publisher with shiny armour that will lead us to glory!

Want to show off your exciting new game? We host Big Indie Pitch events throughout the year, so be sure to keep an eye out on our events page for an event near you, or even our new Digital pitches.

All our upcoming pitches including how to enter can be found over on our upcoming events page on

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Developer Evangelist & Big Indie Pitch Manager / Special Features Writer

Queen of all things Indie. Sophia is Steel Media’s Big Indie Pitch Manager and Developer Evangelist. She’s also a global speaker and lifelong gamer with a fanatical love of all things Nintendo and Japan. So much so that she’s written a thesis on one and lived in the other.