Developer Diary

#5 Work hard, play harder

With the one sample set on hand, we approached various contacts who were keen to test the game. At the end of each test run, we would always ask for our participants’ feedback and how much they were willing to pay for the game.

Some of the changes we did over time included the revision of symbols from a 1) a milk carton in a circle, 2) a milk carton in a square, 3) a fruit in a circle and 4) a fruit in a square into four distinguished shapes. Many players shared that if they did not see the symbols carefully, they may accidentally put a symbol that does not match the combo that they were making. Initially, players also drew the ingredients and toppings from the deck but got frustrated with drawing cards that they did not require. Hence, we made the call to lay out four cards (face-up) as options for players to choose from. We also had a Chili Oil flavour card that was meant to shake up the game, but players found that at times, this card could diminish their lead badly. As such, we switched it up such that if the Chili Oil card was drawn, it could still be used as a form of sabotage.

Overall, there were many comments ranging across the various aspects of the game. Thus, we had to consolidate the feedback and make certain judgement calls on which aspects to tweak and which to keep. Each time a playtest generated a new idea, we made sure to run that same idea by other groups and gauged their receptiveness to said idea.

Thank you to everyone for helping us shape the game!

The first samples of the game

#4 Card to play it safe

With the designs finished, we printed the designs on pieces of paper and used these for playtesting. We were able to do a first round of refinement with the feedback consolidated.

We also started sourcing for manufacturers, specifically in Singapore, United States and China. Regarding our Singapore options, we sent multiple enquiries to different manufacturers but did not receive a single reply. Hence, we focused our efforts on both US and China, eventually finding one in the latter. After going through the designs, costs, terms and conditions, we requested for a sample. Having previously designed a magazine, I warned my team chances are the sample will not be perfect. However, the first sample turned out better than expected. We made notes of certain things that needed to be refined, such as printing errors and box size reduction. With that, we proceeded to the playtest stage, this time with actual sample cards.

#3 The art of tabletop games

My group was never good at art. Our art results averaged around a B/C grade in our second year of secondary school where we had to replicate pieces created by Claude Monet (1840 – 1926) such as Woman with a Parasol, Facing Left, 1886 and Water Lilies and the Japanese Bridge, 1897-1899. Hence, we set out to search for the artist that would accompany us on this journey. Through various connections, we managed to source out three and asked them to draw bubble tea related items in their own style such as tapioca pearls, taro milk tea and pudding. Eventually, we settled for Artist 2, as her design style came the closest to what we envisioned how our designs would look like.

That's not to say we were completely hands-off with respect to the whole design process. We shared various sketches to give the designer a better idea of how the designs would ideally look like. However, we also gave her the freedom to innovate based on her expertise. There was a consistent back-and-forth with the designer in terms of design updates and feedback, thus resulting in over 30 designs being created for this game.

Artist 1

Artist 2

Artist 3

Early sketches

Various samples sent for the team's feedback

All the ideas generated before we decided to go with Boba Blitz

#2 More than a game

2020 did not start on a right note. A dissatisfactory work environment as well as the falling apart of a few relationships sent me into a downward spiral. As a means to distract myself from the negative energy, I committed to the idea of making a tabletop game with my secondary school friends. As none of us had much experience in creating tabletop games, we knew it was going to be a steep learning curve. We also decided to keep our day jobs and work on this as a side hustle due to our respective financial commitments.

Conceptualising the first game required many considerations. Was it going to be simple or complex? What was the theme going to be? Potatoes, boomers, dogs or something based on a childhood memory, like a game of tag? What were the gameplay mechanics going to be? Was it going to be worker placement, engine building or co-op? This being our first foray into game creation, we eventually decided on doing something that was simple and accessible for casual gamers, while simultaneously providing some complexity for avid players. The first theme that came to our minds was Bubble-Tea!

This marked the start of our journey in creating Boba Blitz, where players were going to blend, sell and spill, culminating in players not getting "oolong" :)

#1 Never too old for tabletop games

Do you recall the first tabletop game that you played? My first few games included Monopoly (Star Wars edition), Mickey & Friends Chess Game and Scrabble, all of which I still have in my possession for over 20 years. Over the years, the allure of other toys and modern computer games relegated tabletop games to the back of my mind.

In 2017, I happened to be in Seattle with some friends. Seeking refuge from the rain, we ended up in the mall opposite the pier. We chanced upon a shop called Golden Age Collectibles which had a lot of comic books, action figures and games. A friend pointed out Munchkin Deluxe and told me it had good reviews. The art was cute and thinking that we could play it during the next semester on campus, I bought the game without even researching the gameplay mechanics. Alas, we never managed to do so during the remainder of our time there.

When I returned to Singapore, games such as Cards against Humanity, Exploding Kittens and Unstable Unicorns were gaining popularity. My university senior introduced me to various games such as Escape from Atlantis, Tortuga 1667 and Betrayal on the House on the Hill. We mainly played at public spaces around Singapore Management University.

The various gameplay mechanics, graphics and social aspects of tabletop games perked my interest, which led me to acquiring more games such as Codenames Pictures, Ramen Fury and Splendor. One day while playing at my friend’s house, one of them suggested that I venture into making my own games. While the prospect was interesting, I must admit I didn’t think too much of it at first.

The copy of Mickey & Friends Chess Game in my possession

The day I bought my first board game