Category Archives: Blog

Official IWNGU blog where we talk about games and well, whatever we want!

Designer Blog – Retreat and Regroup!

Designer Blog – #IntoTheBlack

Retreat and Regroup!

Never surrender, never give up!

 

A 28 day journey for #IntoTheBlack has come to an end, 3 days early. As of today we decided to retreat from the star ship we so coveted and return to the depths of space to lick our wounds and regroup.

The Kickstarter Campaign for Into the Black began on June 7th and over the course of the next 3 and a half weeks we attained a grand total of 15% of our funding goal of $20,000 Canadian with 69 Backers behind us. Not fantastic, but not the worst that could happen! Perhaps this is the best thing that could have happened. I knew from the start that the launch was probably too soon, but that it was to be a great learning experience; and that it was! Having never run a crowdfunding campaign before it was good to dip my toes into the waters and figure it out, even if that ended up in cancelling the project; and so it did.

Never fear! This, my friends, is a great step in development of the game! Read on;

Onwards and Upwards – Regroup and Relaunch!

The best part about having run this crowdfunding campaign, beyond learning the ins and outs of Kickstarter is the feedback and comments from backers. With that feedback, and the lessons learned running the campaign we will relaunch in the new year stronger than ever!

One of the biggest hurdles faced was just launching the project in the first place. Something went wrong on the back-end with Kickstarter and nobody could trace it! This caused a delay of over a week from our announced launch date to the day we actually went live. While this may not have been a big deal it certainly caused some ripple as news was released about the launch date which then came and went with no project live.

Add to that the expected number of day one backers did not materialize. The project was launched safe in the knowledge that there were 60+ people ready to back on day one! That fizzled out to just about 16 (plus a few strangers). What happened to those others? I’m not sure. Some forgot. Some just disappeared. Lesson learned? Ensure your fanbase actually is ready to go on Day one!

What can you expect in the Relaunch?

Taking into account all of the great feedback from playtesters over the months, people who checked out the rules from our campaign page and the print and play files and those we got the chance to talk to, some things will definitely change in the relaunch of #IntoTheBlack. Some of those are;

  • Upgraded artwork – all of the tiles and character boards will be revamped and upgraded!
  • Decreased funding goal – we are working hard to reduce our upfront costs so that the funding goal is lowered and easier to attain!
  • Better stretch goals – the stretch goals will be improved upon and grouped, moved to more appropriate, more exciting levels of funding
  • More community outreach – we’re going to do our best to push visibility of Into the Black further with more social media, more news articles, more demos and more Reviews/Previews

In addition to all that, we’re making improvements to the game play as well. Adding more scenarios, more options and balancing them out to make for a deeper gaming experience.

There is even an add-on/expansion in the works that I’ve mentioned before that will bring Epic Encounters to the game; heroes, allies, villains and creatures to battle, outwit or assist, complete with Epic Loot to go with it.

Prepare yourselves, rest up, get excited for the relaunch because; This.Will.Be.Epic! (Have I said Epic enough times for it to be epic?)

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.

Designer Blog – Ready or Not, here we come!

Designer Blog – Into the Black

Ready or Not, here we come!

Into the Black cast off set for June 2nd, 2016!

We had delayed the launch of the Into the Black Kickstarter campaign in order to make sure we have as complete a product as possible before seeking backers. The time has come to dip our toes into the proverbial waters and cast off into the terrifying domain of Kickstarter!

Into the Black: A Game of Space Piracy is set to launch in all it’s glory on Thursday, June 2nd, 2016 at approximately 6:00pm Eastern time!

Please be sure to check out our preview of the Kickstarter Page!

Don’t forget to click on the “remind me” star to get notification directly from Kickstarter upon launch! (Please note that some details on the page will change prior to launch)

We also have a limited version of the game available as a grey scale Print and Play so you can download, print out at home and try it yourself! This PnP version of Into the Black is not the complete game but should give you a good feel for what it’s all about.

Get the Print and Play files at the Into the Black Official Homepage.

We thank you for your time. We are very excited and look forward to publishing this game for you!

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.

Designer Blog – Into the Black – On delaying Cast Off

Designer Blog – Into the Black

On Delaying Cast Off and Other Topics

The Kickstarter launch date for Into the Black: A Game of Space Piracy  has come and gone, and we made the difficult decision to delay! This was not something that was taken lightly, especially after having sent out so many press releases and telling everyone we were launching on May 3rd.

So the question presents itself; Why delay the launch?

SO.Many.Reasons!

Let’s stick to the simple, and most relevant reasons, shall we?

  1. Artwork – We want to FINISH the art first!
  2. Print and Play – We want to get a limited PnP ready for free download – Try before you back!
  3. Financial Outlook – We are still getting updated quotes from manufacturers and fulfillment companies and you do NOT want to start a crowdfunding campaign without all your financials in order. That could spell disaster for a small company!
  4. Updates – With the last round of blind play testing coming in and going through all of our play test notes we realized that a number of changes needed to be made. Some items that hit the cutting room floor early on in the design stage (for one reason or another) and then, subsequently, forgotten about are now back in the game and it is better for it!
    • There was not enough meaningful decision making in the game
    • Players had little to no control over their destiney
    • Some balance issues cropped up
    • All of this (and much more) has been addressed now!
  5. The rules needed editing – Grammar, punctuation, spelling, layout, examples. This is ongoing, but it’s nearer completion
  6. Lack of reviews/previews! – We sent out a number of preview copies of the game and have, to date, received Zero results! We may still launch without these but we are seeking more reviews.
  7. Gameplay video – This still needs to be done. The most up to date professional prototype arrives this week, so this should be done by end of month.

There are, of course, more reasons but they are largely personal or have nothing /little to do with the game itself.

 

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.

Designer Blog – Into the Black – Artwork updates incoming!

Designer Blog – Into the Black

Card Art Updates Incoming!

Card Art .. Card art .. who doesn’t love a nice looking card in a game?

Well .. our preview copies of the game went out to reviewers and they had some pretty boring cards. Black text on a white background. /YAWN!

NO MORE! Before we launch on Kickstarter we have been working our butts off to get everything all spiffed up and fancy-like for you folks. And card art is on the agenda.

We decided that having the card backs more intuitive would be a good thing.

So, no more is it just a title of what deck you’re looking at; iconography has been added to go along with the room tiles that show you what you’re supposed to be flipping over!

Into the Black - Objectives Card - BACK 600x825 Into the Black - Loot Card - BACK Into the Black - Event Card - BACK

Into the Black - Loot Card - body armorNow when you flip up a room and see the loot and events icons, you know which cards to grab without even reading. Easy, yes?

And then there’s the front of the cards. Black on White .. Dull. No more! Spruced up loot cards ahead! With the parchment background (think pirate treasure maps), clear text, grunged up border and a moderately faded out image of the loot you are dealing with to give you a visual representation of the object, these cards have come a long way baby!

Next up, we’re working on the Events cards fronts. Perhaps some kind of “explosive” look to them is in order?

Then of course we continue work on the Character boards. Our illustrator is working diligently to provide all of the characters before the end of the Kickstarter. This way, once funded we will be ready to go a lot faster and maybe, just maybe, beat our shipping estimate. Wouldn’t that be marvelous and different?

Along with all of this we’re updating the Rulebook (layout and design as well as a few rules updates and additions being tested out) AND working on a project video for the Kickstarter!

Exciting times indeed!

 

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.

Designer Blog – Into the Black – Play Testing is Important

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.

Designer Blog – Into the Black – A tiring but exhilarating process

Designer Blog – Into the Black

A Tiring but Exhilarating Process

What a tiring process is game design! It has been a wild, exciting ride so far and we haven’t even got to the final stages of Into the Black: A Game of Space Piracy yet!

From thought, to first rough prototype, to refinement, to working prototype; Design and development considerations; learning new software; sourcing and dealing with artists and play testers; requests for quote; working out logistics and fulfillment possibilities; planning a Kickstarter; building a crowd! Combine all that with a regular day job, constant gaming news updates and family time, when does one sleep? (answer: while working at the day job, of course!)

All of that having been said, there is light at the end of the tunnel!

The preliminary artwork and design process is more or less completed. There are some details to work out still but as it stands the game is functional AND pretty. We just want to make it prettier!

Into the Black: A Game of Space Piracy prototype play-test copies have been sent out to a few groups and feedback is positive. Most changes have been implemented, some others .. well not so much. We are still interested in getting some feedback though, so if you want to check it out, please, please do! We now have a limited print and play option available for those who want to provide us with valuable feedback and get a sneak peak at this game. Just contact us at intotheblack @ iwillnevergrowup .com with some info about you and your group (size, ages, experience, etc) and we will put you on the list. This PnP will also be available to each and every backer of the project when we launch!

We have had a great time working with our lead artist on the character development side of things too. Here’s a little group shot of what he’s done for us so far to whet your appetite;

Into the Black - First 3 Characters

Only 9 more to go .. and a badass pirate Space Galleon for them to ride into battle that is going to be part of not only Into the Black but also part of a greater sci-fi universe. Exciting!

Next up is contacting pre-view/re-view gamers and lining up ALL of the items listed above. This really could be a full time job if there were any money in it! But bah .. who needs money when you’re having a great time and providing the greatest community in the world a new, exciting project? Not this guy!

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.

Designer Blog – Into the Black – The Evolution of Art!

Designer Blog – Into the Black

The evolution of art!

Having had such great feedback from numerous sources on our Character Boards while designing the art behind Into the Black, and added experience with creating and modifying the graphics available to us, it was time to take a look at our Tiles. The tiles (Corridors, Rooms, Airlock and Bridge) are what make up the changing game board, revealing itself as the game progresses. This is one of the major visual points of the game, so it has got to look good! Our initial design was good. It wasn’t spectacular, it wasn’t anything special, but it was good. Mediocre maybe. I really feel that the new updates make this look so much cleaner and visually appealing.

With new feedback and ideas, we’ve created all new tiles that fit the rest of the artwork even better. Creating unity in the games imagery is important after all!

Shuttle bay v3 Into The Black - Shuttle Bay

Please let us know what you think of the evolution.

For reference, the icons represent Events and Loot (the number represents the number of cards you pull from the deck in each case).
The big green box is meant to have a “Loot Indicator” cube placed in it when the loot has not been found in the room yet (removed when its been found and cards drawn).

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

Designer Blog – Staying Focused and Productive

Designer Blog – Into the Black

Staying Focused and Productive

Easily the most challenging thing when it comes to game design (or any other task if we’re going to be honest) is staying focused and productive with your time. Every single day there are so many distractions that sidetrack me from writing, editing, testing, drawing .. doing anything that I actually should be doing really!

The list is long too; Social Media (Damn you facebook and twitter!), Youtube, Gaming (online and at the table with the family), pets, family, full time jobs, the honey-do list, blog posts (oops .. doing that right now aren’t I?) .. it never ends!

How can you stay focused and productive?

  1. Schedule time to design/write/test
    • Crazy, isn’t it? Just like a “real” job, where you have deadlines to meet, scheduling time to work on your games is the first easy step to getting work done. Even if you’ve hit a road-block, use this time to seek inspiration by reading game reviews or design articles.
  2. Reduce Distractions
    • Dump those social media tabs, email tabs, RSS feeds and so on from your browser. During your scheduled design time you don’t need any of those distractions sitting there taunting and tempting you. In fact, don’t even have your web browser open! Just focus on what you’re doing. It’s amazing how much time you can very quickly lose by checking what is going on in the world.
  3. Take a break
    • 50 ways to take a breakEvery work productivity expert will tell you that you should take a few minutes to get up, stretch and walk around every once in a while. It may sound counterproductive to stop doing your work in order to be more productive but it’s true. The experts suggest that you should take 5 minutes of break for every 25 minutes of work, but the formula for perfect productivity is apparently 52 minutes work followed by 17 minutes of break.  Obviously there is no set-in-stone option.  I suggest you take 10 minutes every 30 to 45 minutes and walk around the block. Go get a drink. Check in on the family. But then get right back to it! Don’t get distracted!
  4. Write a list
    • Possibly the most important thing you can do, as far as I’m concerned, is write out a small, clear list of little goals; things you wish to accomplish. Have a purpose to your work, but make it concise. Break it down, check them off as you go. This will help you stay focused, and feel more accomplished as you complete the list bit by bit!
  5. Don’t overdo it!
    • overworkedEasy to say but hard to follow! There’s too much to do and too little time in the day. It’s ok to take a break from a project if you feel you’re getting burnt out. Losing the desire to work on your own project because you’ve not taken a break does you no good. Designing a game should be an enjoyable process. If you’re not enjoying yourself, step back for a while (a few days, weeks, or even months if needed) and come back to it when you’re refreshed and ready to proceed!

What tips and tricks do you use to stay focused and productive when performing a task?

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