Designer Blog – Into the Black – Play Testing is Important

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Designer Blog – Into the Black

Play Testing is just.so.important!

Play testing for Into the Black: A Game of Space Piracy  continues at a furious pace, even after thinking that there was just nothing more that we could do to improve the game. Boy, was I wrong!

Despite the massive amount of play testing being done both internally (up to game 200!) and externally there is always someone who will have a brilliant idea; every single time. That happened again this past weekend while sitting down with a new group of players to test out the latest version of the rules (3.4) and with the newest batch of play test feedback forms.

Several great ideas worthy of noting and that will absolutely be implemented into the design;

  1. What if, when a character is defeated in combat and you have to discard them and start with a new character, that characters loot is “dropped” and can be found with a search?
    • Brilliant. Originally the idea was that any character defeated discarded all loot cards (equipped or otherwise). Discarded cards are removed from the game, never to be seen again.
    • Having a mechanism to find a dead pirates loot wherever it was he was defeated would help with the limited amount of loot available, but still require the players to actively go after and find it (while needing to defeat the issue that caused that pirates demise in the process).
  2. What if the morale track provided an incentive to worry about it?
    • Quite often the Morale track does not provide any added tension (when it does, it really does, but otherwise, it just happens to be there).
    • Let’s add a reason to keep morale high! A GROUP bonus when morale is at 5 and a GROUP penalty when it’s at 1 (just prior to 0 = runaway!)
  3. We ran out of corridors before we ran out of rooms .. the last command center was in the remaining rooms!
    • Oops. Either our math is way off or this was an extraordinary circumstance. In either case, it needs to be addressed for sure!
    • If you run out of corridors before rooms, place all remaining room tiles at each corridor end as if those corridors ended in a door
  4. Clutter .. too many events cards to track on the board causing clutter.
    • To be honest, this was something I had concerns about right from the start but until now had no idea how to resolve it
    • TOKENS! Each event will have a corresponding token that can be placed on the tile. This removes the clutter and provides a visual representation of the events in play on the board.

I really, really cannot give our play testers enough praise. Without all of you Into the Black would probably end up a steaming mess of rules with all kinds of ways to break the game. Kudos my friends!

Play testing - Strategizing the final run to the bridge

Strategizing the final run to the bridge

Play testing - Defenders right away does not bode well!

2 Enemy defenders in the first room does not bode well!

Play testing - So close, yet so far - Game over!

End game – Apprehension track reaches 24 before defeating the final 2 bridge crew! Result – Game Over!

 

James J Campbell is the Lead Game Designer at I Will Never Grow Up Gaming and the creator of
several projects such as TechMage Sci-Fantasy RPG, Into the Black: A Game of Space Piracy and Conflict & Chaos: Vietnam 1965.