Designer Blog – The Evolution of the Player Board

Designer Blog – #IntoTheBlack

The Evolution of the Player Board!

Who said design work is easy? Anyone? If anyone ever, ever said that they’re full of it! Really .. this is a very long process and we can certainly appreciate those who charge top dollar to do this work in a timely and efficient manner!

As progress continues on the revamp of #IntoTheBlack, we have gone nostalgic and taken a look over the design history of something that (oh, how we thought so naively) was so simple (lol!); the player board!

From it’s humble beginnings as some scribbling on a note card, to todays most recent update (and still, not entirely happy with it), here’s the evolution of the Into the Black: Boarding Party player board in pictorial form;


Yes, friends, that’s what a game looks like when it’s first being tested out!


Subtle but important changes from one version to the next through 0-5, yet retaining the overall feeling and layoutintotheblack-playerboardv1-6

Once someone suggested moving the character’s title to the top, it was like a light bulb turning on – so much cleaner!intotheblack-playerboardv7-8

Adding a reputation marker track posed another challenge, plus making the boxes next to the action icons more ‘meaningful’ – those dice looked horrid!intotheblack-playerboardv9

As information got denser, so did the card – a move to horizontal cleaned things up significantly!

As these player boards are on the table in front of each player , it also made sense to make this change.intotheblack-playerboardv10

How about a visual representation of what is equipped (and the maximum number of those items you can equip)? Yes please!

Also added a visual representation of what you can SPEND your Reputation on so players don’t need to constantly reference the book!intotheblack-playerboardv11


As there is (technically) a maximum of 5 reputation the 1-5 bar made sense .. but wait, there is a way to go to 6 or even MORE (although rare, it’s possible)
Making the reputation bar into a box where you place your reputation markers is more realistic but wow, we’ve gotten crowded again.
(Oh hey, you noticed that PASSIVE ability vs SPECIAL now have you? You bet, each players’ character has an ability that triggers without having to make a choice in addition to those they may choose to take – more on that later!)
As crowded as it’s gotten again, ALL the information a player needs is now on their very own player board. As the size of these boards can be increased or decreased as needed, this actually may work out in this form!

What do YOU think?

As always, any comments and suggestions are welcome!

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 19