Adventures In Game Design - Dive Into Evil - Dev Diary 01
So this week I’ve put into development a new board game that I hope to be the most ambitious game I’ve designed to date. Unlike Penguin Brawl, Find the Pickle, Wiz ‘N’ Bang or Farmatropic, this new game will actually include a board and thus can technically be called a “board game” unlike my previous games which definitely fell more into the “card game” category.
I’ve also decided to start doing development diaries, mostly for myself so as to accurately keep track of all the steps we went through bringing this kind of game to market. But also because I reckon there are a few people out there that may enjoy learning about what goes into designing and publishing a board game from scratch. One extra benefit is writing a regular blog will help keep me accountable for moving the project along. Anyone that knows me personally will know I have a tendency to jump from one project to the next and sometimes this leads to little to no progress on any of them. So hopefully this blog will help keep me focused (at least in part) on bringing this idea all the way from conception, through development, onto Kickstarter and beyond.
This entry, being the first, will mostly be void of anything visual for you to enjoy as there’s very little that actually exists right now short of what’s swishing around inside my head. What I can do is tell you a little bit about the idea.
So the game is called Dive Into Evil, which is currently a “working title,” however I’m quite fond of this “working title” because it can be abbreviated to “DIE” and that makes me smile every time I think about it, especially when considering what the game is about. The general premise of Dive Into Evil is: you and your friends are an intrepid band of adventurers and you’re trying to conquer the legendary Tower of Evil in hopes of claiming the millennia-old trove of treasures housed in the deepest level. You and your party must battle your way through 50 levels of the tower one at a time to reach the treasure. On each level resides a new monster you must first defeat before descending. Use acquired treasures along the way to boost abilities and fight your way through an ever-increasing-in-strength horde of monsters.
At its core, Dive Into Evil is a cooperative 1 – 4 player deck-building dungeon dive game inspired by things like Dark Souls, Dominion and Made in Abyss as well as a whole host of other properties across multiple genres and industries.
Theme is an important thing and when designing a game I tend to start with theme before thinking about the mechanics. I know others do things in very different ways, however this is what works best for me as I believe theme is without a doubt the most important part of any game, as it's the thing that draws people in to play it. While mechanics are of course very important to gameplay itself, no one is going to play a game that’s just a bunch of impressive mechanics with nothing to hold it all together. So I start with theme and go from there!
Now I have the theme the next step for this project is actually getting something playable onto a table. This process is one of the most exciting parts of designing a board game in my opinion, as it’s the most pure example of creativity that goes into anything. I like to call it the “scattergun step” as the next few weeks will involve me living with a notebook in my hands jotting down every interesting gameplay mechanic that comes to mind. During this process I let the ideas previously written bake in the back of my mind and will occasionally go back and cross stuff out that just doesn’t sit right with me. There’s never an exact reason why I cross something out, I just go with my gut. Eventually I decide that Ive enough interesting mechanics and will go through the process of reading back through everything multiple times, once again crossing out anything that doesn’t sit right. This tends to end with having a collection of about 5-10 different mechanics that now must be merged together into what we shall call the “final template”.
From here we must get the game from the notebook onto the table. So time to get my trusty prototyping box out of the loft and start working on this thing.
For Dive Into Evil I have already been through the above process and am onto the “final template” prototyping stage. So expect a new Dev Diary post within a few weeks or so, talking about going through this very important stage in development and hopefully I’ll have some photos too.
Stay fantastic all
P.S. For a concept we had a Basilisk drawn up for one of the monsters you'll find in Dive Into Evil. Expect more to come.