(N.B.: I would like to express my thanks to Shrina for rekindling the spark to get back into these interviews . Life got super busy (dad of two kids, full time work, game design, trying to find time to sleep… having sleep interrupted by said kids). I set myself the more realistic schedule of one interview per month, and have resolved to stick with it. I really enjoy doing them, it was a case of finding the time and energy. So, thank you, Shrina. It’s good to be back.)
Formulating questions for this interview took me longer than most. Why? Well I had to stop several times and duck around the local shops to get myself some Dim Sums. I wonder if Pauline has considered an expansion where the player who resists their hunger longer enough wins? If so, I’d lose every game.
What I personally like about Pauline’s game, Steam Up: A Feast of Dim Sum is that, like Dave Beck’s Distilled, it has a unique theme, one I haven’t seen covered. But, enough from me, we’ll let Shrina tell us about her endearing board game...
1. This first question is an obvious one, but it must be asked: Where did the idea for Steam Up come from?
One day after playing games at Pauline’s place, we started talking about designing a board game. Her table happened to have a drawing of different dim sum dishes that Pauline drew back when she was in elementary school.
For those who are familiar with Dim Sum, Dim sum are small bite dishes in bamboo steamers that Chinese people traditionally enjoy for breakfast or lunch. These dishes are served communally and all the dishes are shared among the group.
We know there are many existing Asian-themed board games, but we thought having a game designed by Asians who are from the culture is what makes Steam Up authentic.
Our title Steam Up: A Feast of Dim Sum is based on the stacks of steamers filled with dim sum that are served on the table. Players can imagine “steam” coming “up” from the steamers filled with hot and fresh dim sum.
2. Now we know where it came from, give us a rundown of the game...
Steam Up: A Feast of Dim Sum is a competitive 2-5 player light-medium weight Dim Sum set collection and action management game offering a delicious cultural experience.
At the beginning of the game, steamers, filled with different types of Dim Sum, are stacked and placed on a Turntable. Each player takes turns performing 2 different actions each round. Actions include gaining and spending food tokens to purchase Dim Sum in Steamers within their Feast Zone. Players may also play Fortune cards to benefit themselves or affect their opponents. Starting the 2nd round, a Fate card is revealed each round to trigger an event that may affect all players.
The game ends when a specific number of Steamers is purchased or the Fate deck is emptied. Final scoring is then calculated. The player with the most Hearty Points wins and leaves the table with the fullest stomach!
3. It would appear the theme came first, then mechanics, or did you have a favorite mechanic and find a theme for it? What are the main mechanics? Were they always the mechanics, or did they change along the design process?
Our original game play was a worker placement game but it turned out to be too similar to the video game Overcooked. We then transitioned to make it a set collection and action management game to target family and casual gamers. In addition, we realized through playtesting that there were some gamers who did not like the “take that” mechanisms so we added icons on those cards (less than eight) to give players an option to remove/add them to their game.
Ticket to Ride, Century: Eastern Mountains & Azul were the biggest influences on our design.
We used Azul tiles as our dim sum and the Azul circle board as our steamers. Azul has a bag of tiles where in each round you will refill the circle boards. In our game Steam Up, we have a bag of dim sum where we fill each steamer with dim sum but the difference is that ours is already all filled and just gets revealed as you purchase and eat the dim sum.
In Ticket to Ride, players use train cards to exchange trains to place onto the board. We used this concept of having dim sum tokens to exchange dim sum in steamers.
We like the scoring of the points on the player board in Century so we used it for ours as well.
4. Such as it is with games like Wingspan and Distilled, games like Steam Up often go beyond just the experience into sneakily educating us. What do you hope that the players of Steam Up will gain beyond playing it?
For players who have eaten dim sum before, we want their play of Steam Up, to bring back memories of eating their favorite dishes. For players who are unfamiliar with this particular Chinese cuisine, we hope our game will spark gamers’ interest to have a food adventure and go to a restaurant that serves traditional dim sum.
5. What are some highlights you’ve experienced in your journey to bring to life?
We playtested numerous times in person and then COVID came along and we had to get our game up digitally. Thankfully we came across Alexei Steam Up who was able to script our game onto Tabletop Simulator. This has helped us tremendously to continue to playtest and also showcase our game to the public.
This is what our game looks like on TTS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZTf3Nj259w
Along the way, Steam Up won the 2021 SaltCon Ion Award Board Game Design Competition in the Light Game category. Our game is also a finalist for the Cardboard Edison Award and the Otto Award.
6. With a game involving food, surely there must be some house-rules you play with, such as the loser must buy the winner some Dim Sums?
At home, we usually buy a lot of edible Dim Sum prior to starting the game. We can only eat the ones we earn in the game. And yes, the loser will end up paying for all those Dim Sum we bought!
7. Tell us your plans for the game.
We are planning to launch on Kickstarter October 19th, 2021 and would appreciate any support to make this dream come true!
8. Where can we find out more about Steam Up?
Subscribe to our email and get notified when it launches!
Thank you for your time and for telling us about your beautiful game, Shrina. We wish you all the best with it!***
To you, the reader: If you want to show this designer some support, you maybe interested in sci-fi themed, tactical, troops on a map game, Hunted by a God, on any of the following platforms:
BGG: Paul Bedford (@DesigneronaMap)
Board game (Hunted By A God):
Landing Page: https://www.huntedbyagod.com/landingpage
This blog will serve as the home for all the unpublished designer interviews. I am aiming (even in my dad-of-two-young-maniacs-full-time-worker-game-designer life) to post one interview a week, and occasionally intersperse them with Spotlight interviews, which may cover interviewees that got published, ran a successful Kickstarter etc. When a new interview is posted, I will post link in my "Unpublished designer? Good! I want to interview you. Read why..." thread, and as separate thread on the Design Forum, as well as on my various social media accounts. I really want this be a success; to get eyes on designers that really do have a lot to say and to bolster the sense of community on BGG. After you read an interview, please take the time to subscribe give a thumbs up and even just a short reply. These interviews mean a lot to the designers and who knows, it may be you who wants people to read your interview one day. :) Cheers, Paul Bedford (Designer on a Map)
- [+] Dice rolls