It is not an easy thing to put on hold a stable job to follow your dreams but that is what couple Christina Ng Zhen Wei and Yeo Keng Leong did. They took the leap with no experience in the boardgame industry and through a lot of effort managed to finish and publish the well-received game "Three Kingdom Redux" and started a company called Starting Player. We asked them a few questions about their experience in designing boardgames.
"...if we had to highlight one piece of advice, it would probably be to enjoy the design process."
1. Welcome to this designer series of articles. So if you would be so kind as to introduce and tell our audience about yourself and your history in boardgame design?
We are a married couple who enjoy boardgaming. We did play boardgames when we were younger but it was infrequent. We really became serious boardgamers in 2009 and was then exposed to a wide variety of games which led to much discussion on the strategies and design processes of these games. From these discussions came the idea to design our own games. This culminated with the creation of Starting Player which we hope helps to expose more people to this hobby via our game designs.
Three Kingdoms Redux is the first game we designed and published under Starting Player. Prior to that, we did not have any experience in boardgame design or publishing. We had to learn everything from scratch like how to procure artwork, manufacturing, distribution, storage, marketing to fulfillment. This experience definitely is invaluable to us in our future designs and game launches.
2. What is the biggest challenge of making a boardgame in Singapore?
As pointed out above, we do not have any experience in designing and publishing boardgames prior to Three Kingdom Redux. We therefore tried to make up for that by seeking reliable and experienced people to work with, e.g. artists, manufacturers, etc.
The biggest challenge for us was the marketing and selling process of the game as our geographical location puts us at a disadvantage. This is because the main markets for the sale of boardgames are the USA, Canada and Europe and since we are based in Singapore, the cost of shipping adds a significant amount to the final price of our game. This extra cost applies to both the selling of our game directly from our online store or through distributors/retailers. Furthermore, it is not within our budget to attend overseas boardgame conventions such as GenCon or Essen Spiel to promote, demo and sell our games there. Although, we are very fortunate and grateful to all our fans and reviewers who have helped us to spread the word about Three Kingdom Redux!
3. What kind of game would you recommend for a first-time designer? For example, card or boardgame, etc.
We do not recommend a person should proceed in a particular design or direction even if it is their first design. It really depends on what the designer hopes to achieve in the final product, e.g. the depth of the game, a particular theme they wish to bring out or the target audience.
Many well-meaning gamers may recommend a first time designers to start with a lighter game before venturing into a heavier one but from the start, we chose to design and publish a game that is heavier in depth. This is due to the design objective we had for Three Kingdom Redux to emphasize the historical setting and the many characters of the story. We then were able to tweak the game and develop this idea with the help of many friends in the playtesting process. In short, we feel there is no hard and fast answer to this question and it very much depends on the designer’s intention and goals.
4. From your experience, what is your biggest piece of practical advice for aspiring boardgame designers?
My significant other has prepared a Geeklist on BoardGameGeek sharing about what we have learned for both the design and publishing side of Starting Player but if we had to highlight one piece of advice, it would probably be to enjoy the design process. For example, I tend to get more stressed up when we are stuck on an idea while my significant other tends to be able to handle it better and advise me to be patient. This is because if I was to rush and look for a quick fix to the problem, it is more likely to reduce the quality of the games.
5. What is the hardest part of the production process of making a boardgame? Example, looking for a supplier, printer for the game, etc.
The search for the right partners to work with is probably the hardest part. We therefore, did a lot of research before making our final decision on the artist and manufacturer to work with. This is because they will be significant contributors to the making or breaking of the game's success as they are the ones who will be responsible for the look and final physical product of the game. We were very happy with the people we decided to work with and it all ended up being an enjoyable experience. It was definitely worth the time we had spent looking for them.
(Sourced from The New Paper)