Start Something Studios - the latest addition to our group of sister companies - has recently fired up the gaming scene with the launch of their first board game Unbearable Winter. Following their success, we spent an afternoon with Elliot Tan and Jonathan Lee, two of the company's five co-founders, and learned about how they started something unbearably fun in the legacy of board games.
Q: Tell us more about Unbearable Winter.
Elliot: Unbearable Winter is a game of cute bears and cruel betrayal. We wanted to design a game that would be all about survival; not just against the board game, but from a secret ‘bad’ bear within the group. We enjoy those kinds of games where everyone has to work as a team, but still running the risk of getting crushed by overwhelming odds. The feeling of overcoming adversity, even when everything seems like it’s impossible, is incredible when it comes to board games.
Q: What kind of players or users would you be expecting to pick up Unbearable Winter?
Jon: We expect a mix of both casual and mid-casual players to pick up Unbearable Winter due to the simplicity of picking up the game - yet the difficulty to master it. We’re seeing a large customer base coming from the US today.
Q: Run us through how Unbearable Winter is played
Elliot: Players pick a bear and are allocated a role card - one person out of every playing group will be the bad bear. They then attempt to survive 5 days of calamities by traveling around the zoo to collect items and resources - fending off humans along the way. The good bears win by surviving 5 days of calamities while the bad bear wins when all good bears are dead or their home is destroyed.
Q: How different is Unbearable Winter compared to other games in the market?
Elliot: In the realm of survival games, they all tend to be pretty dark and serious. Unbearable Winter is an easy way of entering the genre of ‘panic’ style games, where it just seems so impossible to win. It’s fast, easy to understand, and each playthrough is always different since there’s so many calamity cards to play with.
Q: What are your plans to promote Unbearable Winter, given that you have been recently featured on social media?
Elliot: All the action primarily happens on Kickstarter, Facebook and Instagram still. We’re currently focused on targeted advertising, providing detailed updates on Kickstarter and engaging with our backers on the Unbearable Winter Discord channel.
Q: How has the reception been for Unbearable Winter so far?
Jon: We were 100% funded in 10 hours on Kickstarter when we had one month. We’ve also unlocked 2 stretch goals so far, adding more content and artwork to improve the game experience and we’re looking to unlock more as the campaign enters its final stretch.
Q: Share with us more about how Start Something Studios was conceived and the type of work you do
Jon: Start Something Studios is a game design and marketing company that was born out of passion for board games. We are involved in the end-to-end process of developing games from conceptualisation until production. Elliot and I have known each other since Primary 1 and one night while having dinner, he brought up the idea of doing business together. We then crunched some numbers and it was off to the races.
Elliot: It’s absolutely crazy. I love games through and through. It’s possible that I spent more time on games that I have on my studies (sorry if you’re reading this now, Mum). And it’s not just playing games, but I loved thinking about games -- how they work, why they’re fun, and even just scrutinising the art. Jon and I have always had this spark of creation inside of us so I felt deep down inside that it was the right fit and the right time for us to embark on this journey.
Q: What other services does Start Something Studios offer?
Jon: We also offer gamification services to our clients - should they want to create an interactive experience with their consumers, we are able to conceptualise and produce that for them. We can design games for anyone -- whether it’s for events, a campaign, or just for fun.
Q: What are your plans for Start Something Studios in the future?
Elliot: At the moment, we’re intending to launch a slew of board games in 2019 and 2020 -- focusing on building our repertoire of games, as well as building several story worlds. At the moment, we’re already developing our next big title but as to what exactly it is... we’ll have to keep it a secret for now ;)