The core gameplay of Die of the Dead lies in the caskets. Players need to consider which ones to choose, remember what’s in them, move them forward, and be joyous when the contents are revealed. So there had been a long question about what should happen to the souls once they’ve ascended out the caskets. Initially there was a maze system set up, but thematically it just didn’t fit, and mechanically it was too distracting.
We wanted something which added to the core gameplay loop, but didn’t distract from it. After trying various area control mechanics, which were overcomplicated, we settled on a simple race system. First to ascend 9 levels wins! It’s simple and effective, and helps reinforce the catch-up mechanism- the more souls you have on the steps, the fewer you have in the caskets. Additionally depending upon where your soul is placed you can gain a powerful boost. This incentivises players to place their own souls, and not let other players place them on a blank space.
At first the steps were just flat, but there was an issue with this. After the first few dice were placed, the player sat furthest away couldn’t see what the options were on the steps, and it wasn’t immediately obvious who was winning. So I took the idea of the souls traveling up and made it more literal- what if there were steps? After plenty of card crafting the final steps were made. They had to fulfil 4 criteria:
- Only be made once
- Fit back in the box
- Not require adhesive or complex steps
- Improve the gameplay
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The final design does all those things. It’s made from a total of 12 pieces of punchboard and nothing else. All players need to do is fold each step and insert it into the sides. Once done it won’t come apart again, and will remain sturdy and secure. By removing the back the steps lie flat in the box. All of this is quick, simple and easy to do.
So does it improve the gameplay? Yes. Thematically it just works, and has a real wow factor to boot. All players can see the options for where to place the dice. And we’ve worked to eliminate some of the frustrations from other games with steps. Our steps have been thoughtfully designed to prevent dice toppling off. Each step is on a small incline, almost imperceptible, but which prevents the dice from moving forward, even if the structure is moved.
Quick reminder: our Kickstarter prelaunch page is now up, you can get notified immediately when we launch! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/radical8games/die-of-the-dead