How an ambitious and creative team will turn Don’t Starve into a board game

Glass Cannon Unplugged, a writer identified for board game variations of video video games comparable to Frostpunk, Dying Gentle, and Apex Legends, has ambitious plans for its subsequent crowdfunding venture. This time the Polish studio is tackling Klei Leisure’s breakout hit from the 2010s with Don’t Starve: The Board Game. However what does a roguelike survival game even appear to be on the tabletop? Polygon just lately spoke with each groups of creatives about defining the board game’s relationship to the unique and exploring the mechanics that will assist carry this bodily object to life.

Don’t Starve is a multi-platform, third-person video game first revealed in 2013. In it, gamers tackle the position of a wild-haired scientist named Wilson who will get trapped in a dim, parallel dimension often known as the Fixed. They discover weird landscapes; craft weapons, instruments, and constructions; and make meals in hopes of protecting Wilson alive and his sanity intact. Drawing from disparate influences comparable to Minecraft and Tim Burton movies, the game has a steep studying curve spiced with everlasting character loss of life. However it developed a rabid following nonetheless, thanks partially to a wealthy narrative layer.

Don’t Starve: The Board Game is a extremely modular design with many interlocking programs. Essentially the most primary is the map itself, which — like a lot of the game property — will function unique artwork created by Klei. Gamers will discover that map attempting to find assets, and finally try to flee from it within the game’s remaining rounds. The present construct makes use of rectangular enjoying playing cards to signify totally different biomes, that are then laid out onto a hexagonal grid to create the map. The result’s a landmass with distinctive paths and chokepoints — the proper surroundings for a tense exploration game.

Gamers management their characters from a sideboard, which tracks their well being, starvation, and sanity. In addition they have an stock, which incorporates gadgets worn on the physique, gadgets held within the arms, and gadgets stuffed inside a small backpack. As within the video game, a lot of the gameplay revolves round scavenging biomes and preventing monsters, all within the hope of accumulating the assets wanted to finish ever extra advanced duties and recipes.

“The thing we wanted to focus on in Don’t Starve: The Board Game was actually the feeling of exploration,” defined lead designer Rafał Pieczyński. “Going into the unknown, exploring the areas, having fun with your friends as well, but sharing a little bit of knowledge, a little bit of discovery [between] the playthroughs. With every single game you learn something new, you go further into the story, or [discover] the things that might happen.”

The ultimate product will function customized cube, much like these proven right here, that will be aware the harm to monsters, armor, and gear on the similar time.
Picture: Glass Cannon Unplugged and Klei Leisure

Certainly one of Pieczyński’s improvements on this venture is in combining each a linear marketing campaign and a collection of one-off eventualities. It’s not a legacy-style game, and nothing within the field is completely altered or destroyed. However there could be carry-over from game to game.

“You will be able to play [it] as a campaign game, or as a scenario-based game, or both at the same time,” Pieczyński stated. “It’s quite [a] unique construct in that way. And the progression from the campaign will be saved [between] playthroughs [allowing players to] affect the world permanently.”

In accordance with Glass Cannon CEO Jakub Wiśniewski, the tabletop adaptation started — as most board video games do — as an unthemed prototype. The system was constructed by a younger designer named Natanel Apfel, who’s now a visible results artist at Riot Video games. Apfel’s core design, in addition to the revisions carried out by the present lead designer Pieczyński, who took over the venture, finally received out.

“Nate is an avid board game player,” Wiśniewski stated. “He showed us a prototype, and we were like, ‘Holy smoke, this is really good survival! Maybe we should think about something like this!’” Earlier than lengthy, the team reached out to 11 bit studios, who they’d labored with beforehand on This Battle of Mine: The Board Game. That studio, headquartered in Poland identical to Glass Cannon is, performed the nice neighbor and was capable of dealer an introduction to Klei’s team in Canada.

“When we spoke,” Wiśniewski stated, “[Klei] had already rejected a lot of prototypes, both internally and externally.”

“There was clearly a lot of love and care put into how the game both looked and played even in the early prototypes,” stated Corey Rollins, head of selling at Klei. “They also explained to us their process for designing a tabletop game and it was very similar to how Klei has been using Early Access as a core part of our DNA. […] It seemed like a more natural fit to work with Glass Cannon.”

In a marketing campaign, gamers can carry over the assets, recipes, and even among the issues that they’ve constructed from game to game. Simply as within the video game, crafting choices will unlock and broaden over time to offer new short-term targets in addition to enabling the bigger narrative to unfold. However gamers should all the time pay shut consideration to these three core stats of well being, starvation, and sanity (they could not begin every game fairly as wholesome or sane as they could prefer to be).

A series of white and yellow tokens next to a character standee, shown here with winding pigtails clutching a Teddy bear. A render of the early version of the board game.

An instance of among the gadgets, together with meals, that will be accessible to craft in Don’t Starve: The Board Game.
Picture: Glass Cannon Unplugged and Klei Leisure

Like several good survival game, starvation could also be an important stat of all. With a full abdomen, gamers will obtain extra Focus Tokens, which let you re-roll cube. Focus Tokens can turn the tide within the game’s dice-based fight.

All of because of this, like many different Glass Cannon initiatives, Don’t Starve: The Board Game is a pretty literal interpretation of the moment-to-moment motion discovered within the video game. That design ethos has been each a boon and a burden for this team previously. For example, in Polygon’s overview of This Battle of Mine: The Board Game, a title co-designed by Glass Canon’s CEO Wiśniewski, we famous that it was a fairly robust promote for individuals who hadn’t already performed the unique — or for individuals who already owned the unique and may play that as an alternative. The identical could be stated of Frostpunk: The Board Game, though that title appears to have fared a lot better with customers.

Wiśniewski says that this time round his team is designing Don’t Starve: The Board Game with board players, not video game gamers, extra firmly in thoughts.

Don’t Starve is such an incredible work of art, because the game overlaps on so many levels,” Wiśniewski stated. “Not only the art, the music, but also the design, the story, how it’s hidden, how they go about each peculiar detail. Getting rid of some aspects would […] not do it enough justice. So we’d rather have extra work on our side thinking how to serve it on a more digestible platter than cut things and lose them as we go.”

“The fun thing for me is that a lot of people that have seen the game, they feel like it’s a literal adaptation of the game, but it’s amazing that with all the streamlined rules that the game itself isn’t really that hard to play,” Pieczyński stated.

Don’t Starve: The Board Game will come to Kickstarter for its preliminary spherical of funding this fall, with the present aim to ship the game by the fourth quarter of 2025. The team additionally tells Polygon that at the very least seven languages will be accessible at launch, together with English, German, French, Polish, Spanish, Italian, and Czech. Pricing has not but been decided.

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