A good Thursday morning to you! Recently, we were able to bring in a new Singapore made game: Broken Hearts! We also had the pleasure to sit and have a chat with the creators of the game: Joey Teh (on the right) and Seik Yee Thoo! (on the left)
Q: Tell us about the game and how it came to be?
Joey: The idea of the game came from a break up I had with my boyfriend at that point of time. He left without a word and it was hard for me because there was no closure. We were going out for about a year. I was really very depressed but I couldn’t bring myself to talk about this to my friends, to my colleagues and even with my family too. So it was only till 1 fateful day was I willing to share my story with my colleague Seik Yee and my other colleague Keely, and it turned out they eventually became the game’s co-founders too!
They were initially shocked that I could hide the trace of the heartbreak so well! I came to work happy, doing my work, pretending nothing was wrong. So after that conversation, we decided to embark on something meaningful: which is to spread love instead of living in sadness.
In life, we will face a lot of rejection. Yeah, we will feel sad and all but we need to do something to distract ourselves from that kind of circumstances. So we hope that people can be brave to face their broken hearts. Even though, I’m very confident to say ‘people should be brave to face their broken hearts’, to be honest, I still feel I need the time to digest this. Because to be honest, I’m still not brave enough to face my broken hearts. It is hard. So maybe this game will be a process to keep reminding myself to just be brave, to keep moving on.
To be honest, this game is not so ‘powerful’ that you can recover from everything, but I hope with just 15 minutes, you can get some laughter with your friends. Just enjoy the moment of having fun. You will be sad again but you’ll be like ‘ok, I have to move on’ to keep yourself going.
Q: Why did you decide to turn the idea into a card game?
Joey: We wanted to create something with an interactive element, because we felt that nowadays people don’t know how to express their feelings. They just look at their phones and all. They don’t know how to express their love to their friends, their family and even their partners. Even I sometimes find it difficult to express love to my loved ones. So we hope that by doing some of the actions in the game, like the ‘blow kiss’, walls can come down and connections can be made within an organization, with your family, with a group of strangers etc.
And because we really wanted interaction, so that’s why we wanted to make it a physical product and not digital. We wanted the game to also be something portable that can be brought around.
From there we defined a size that it can’t exceed certain dimensions. Then we found ‘oh if its just cards, its a bit boring’ so we came up with tokens to encourage connections between others. We wanted them to exchange something to increase more of these little interactions. So after the players do the actions like the ‘blow kiss’ and all, they can form a deeper connection with others by exchanging the tokens. And the tokens are cute so players would feel happy too.
Q: Do you remember what the first prototypes were?
Joey: Basically we wrote it up on paper first and laminated it. The tokens were all folded origami hearts. Yah! So for the play-testing period, we just kept folding and folding paper hearts: 100, 200, 300. If tokens went missing, we’ll just keep folding and folding again! We had to stick to the folded hearts most of the time because if we kept making token samples, the cost would go up! So to control the cost, we’d get all our feedback first. Once things were finalized, than we’d come up with the actual prototype. Actually the prototype and the final product turned out very, very different. Our final product is really the ‘super nice version’ of the game that we imagined from the start!
The prototype shown on our Kickstarter was really quite jia lat (crappy) that if the backers were to receive that, we’d receive a lot of complaints!
Seik Yee: The drawings on the cards were all hand drawn by our co-worker, Keely. Even the promotional animations were done by her! Keely was very interested in drawing so she really drew everything herself, before we converted it into digital.
Joey: Because of this, we discovered her hidden potential! Her main job is an accountant! She said that she knew how to draw, and so she drew everything and really enjoyed it!
Q: What were the main challenges faced while making this game?
Joey: Our main challenge was we weren’t familiar with the Board Game industry. Like I only knew about Monopoly and Uno, but we just gave it a try. The stress from the crowd-funding is real! We did not know if we would be able to raise the funds successfully and than only we would be able to manufacture. Like if it failed, then everyone’s efforts would be wasted. Yeah so the stress is real!
Another thing was the brand awareness. Because we are pretty new, we weren’t from any Board Game industry like Darryl Chow (creator of Chope!, Kopi King, Mooncake Master and more) like people in the Board Game industry know Darryl. But everyone won’t know who is Joey or Seik Yee or Keely! That’s why we tried the street approach. We went on Orchard Road and gave heart signs to strangers, and asked them to vote which was their favourite heart card actions. We really just did everything. We asked people to do surveys, we did playtesting around as many schools like polytechnics and university students. So we got to know if they were really having fun with our game.
Building a strong local community was also another challenge. We faced a lot of rejection but we never gave up.
Regarding manufacturing: we approached China vendors. Thankfully it wasn’t Covid period if not we couldn’t have got the game made at all. It was luck honestly. We looked at some vendors with good reputations and good quality products but in the end, we went with a vendor with not that much reputation but were very responsive. Any concerns we had, he would respond to us and fast. We could see the sincerity so we decided to give them a try. Even the price wasn’t that competitive but we just decided to do it. It was very scary and stressful. Every day we just prayed that everything would be alright. And when the final product came and we opened the box, we were very satisfied.
From our end, we video called the vendor and told them to keep us posted with videos to make sure they are really processing our game. And every request, they really responded to us. We were very lucky and it was very risky!
Seik Yee: During the manufacturing process, the tokens were from another vendor.
Joey: And then, the vendor suddenly ran away! Disappeared! And our tokens were very important to the game!! But our board game vendor was really very responsible and went all the way to find us another supplier. We did waste a bit of money but well, this was one of those unexpected surprises. It was something we couldn’t predict and it was very scary.
As for the media stuff: we came up with the whole press list and just sent e-mails to them one-by-one and at the end of the day, we got 7 to 8 media features! We came up with the press release ourselves (about 3 drafts) and checked with each team member internally to approve. It was all new to us, we have not done any public relations stuff before too.
Q: What were some of the interesting observations made during playtesting?
Joey: Initially we could see from people’s reaction that they just wouldn’t open up. Our main objective was to loosen people up: break the ice, bond people together, to increase the interaction. But then we found that people weren’t enjoying themselves at all, were very shy and not having fun. So from there we kept improving and revising. Maybe it was the card actions, maybe it was the drawings so if we made them cuter, people would be more interested. So after awhile, people were attracted by the drawings like ‘Eh? It’s very cute! Then let’s try!’ something like that.
Seik Yee: But we could see it change after the first round. People would start with ‘what should I do’ they would hesitate ‘should I connect with you?’ Or if players had friends at the same table, they would initially connect with them first. It’s until when players find they can’t connect with people they know, than bo pian (no choice) they are forced to connect with others!
Joey: Yeah we had to ‘force relationships’
Seik Yee: So in a way, it encourages interaction with strangers. So from there they can learn and enjoy that process. If you open up yourself, then can you learn and know more.
Joey: When we playtested the game with different age groups: kids are very simple. Kids have fun and keep doing the interactions without sabotaging each other. Teens will sabotage a lot like throw ‘I hate you!’ cards at each other, they play very aggressively. Adults and seniors are very shy, very analytical ‘Wah, I need some strategy to break that couple!’ But then when they think, think, think, than very slow lor the whole game! Teens finish the game very fast, very quick. And the kids don’t use any ‘I hate you’ cards, it’s all ‘I like you, I like you’ cards.
So far, after observing so many people play the game, I’ve never saw anyone leave without a smile! They never quarreled on the spot at all, they just kept laughing!
Q: So what’s the difference between the regular blue box and the premium black box?
Seik Yee: It was not intentional actually. But along the way when we play tested the game with friends, colleagues and family. They remarked the blue box was a bit ‘girly’ in a sense. So we decided on the limited edition black box to make it ‘unisex’ in a way.
Joey: We actually decided to have the black box as a premium product for Kickstarter goal reasons. Because we were afraid that people won’t fund the project at just the basic tier level. That’s why we made that decision.
Seik Yee: We actually thought in detail about the tokens that could separate. Because when you start out, you’re single, but then as you play and make connections, you connect and become a whole.
Q: Do you have any plans for new games?
Seik Yee: We haven’t thought about it actually. But we plan to have more events to connect people, teach others how to connect with each other. We want to engage more people to spread the word about the game too.
Q: Any useful advise for first-time game creators?
Joey: They might feel the struggle as a first-time creator, like how everything was new to us too. Take this opportunity to grow your courage, accept feedback. Learn to express yourself to your loved ones. Enjoy the whole process be it the happy or sad moments. Just enjoy the process. The process is very long. You need to set your goals and don’t give up.
Q: Out of all the Heart cards in the game, do you have a favourite one?
<both take a good long minute to think about it>
Seik Yee: Actually for me personally, it’s the ‘I Hate You’ card! <laughs> because maybe sometimes you don’t openly dare to express this. So in the context of the game, I can openly express displeasure with that card.
Joey: For me, other than the ‘I Hate You’ cards, I like the ‘Break Up’ cards! So I can break people’s relationships! <laughs> well in the game of course.
Thanks so much Joey and Seik Yee! It was an absolute blast talking to you both! Pick up a copy of Broken Hearts from the store today! Will you be a heart maker or heart breaker?
Broken Hearts The Game
In ‘Broken Hearts’, players are individuals looking for love and are competing to finish a set of 5 Heart cards. Play a matching Heart card as another player to ‘link’ them. Players must also perform the action as said on the card with the matching player! But that’s not all, you can wreck other people’s hearts by playing ‘Rejection’ cards or steal other people’s hearts by playing ‘I want you!’ cards!
A competitive, relationship bonding/ breaking game that’s excellent with friends! Who knows? You may end up meeting ‘The One’ while playing this game!
Comes in the regular blue box or the limited edition black box!
For 4-6 Players, 15-20 Minutes Playing Time, Ages 13+
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