The Making of Dead by Daylight™: The Board Game (Part 3: High-Stakes Hide and Seek)
Welcome to The Making of Dead by Daylight™: The Board Game! In these blogs, I’ll share a few of the details on how this project came together. I hope you enjoy this inside look at how the board game was designed and developed. Make sure to check out Dead by Daylight: The Board Game on Kickstarter!
One of the biggest aspects of building Dead by Daylight: The Board Game was information control. In the original video game, individual Survivors and Killers have their positions hidden. Due to perks or innate abilities, each side may also have some knowledge of the secret layout of the trial grounds as well.
In this game of “High Stakes Hide and Seek”, what information do we give out, and what information do we need to hide? That was the biggest question to be answered over most of the game’s early versions.
Initial versions were much like Scotland Yard or Battleship. Players each kept their small map of the trial ground hidden, and would call out their moves to share with one another. Players would gain opportunities to look at the map and to discover or reveal information in specific spaces. The downside is that these kinds of hidden information games are long and a bit obtuse. If you go over to the wrong side of the map hunting for Survivors or Generators, the game might be over before you get back. And the game is only really delivering on its promise when the Killer is right on the heels of the Survivors.
Having the board in multiple places was also complex and required a lot of extra components (one for the Survivors to track their position, and one for the Killer to track their position, and more to track what they knew and didn’t know). Besides that, small boards didn’t create the table presence that we were looking for.
In the end, we found that the Killer needed to see Survivors’ positions every turn in order to make the plays that would keep the game moving smoothly forward and keep the mood tense. The only uncertainty that we really needed for this was to obscure the very next move, and so this became the basis for the secret movement selection in the final game.
There’s another dimension to hidden movement as well, and that is that hidden movement is only interesting if you have the tools to speculate on what the other side is going to do. This is how we eventually came to put Props into different categories.
The intention was always that the game’s maps would be randomized, but this created some difficulties. The most obvious was that generators and hooks need to be evenly distributed around the field. The not so obvious is that players need direction early on. Am I going to pursue my objective, look for survival tools, try to interfere with the Killer’s goals, etc. That’s a question that Survivors can’t wait until the mid-game (when most of the map is revealed) to start answering.
With the props in categories, Survivors are able to reliably find what they’re looking for, but they still have to do the legwork. And with only a few props revealed each turn, the best way to guarantee that you’ll get a prop you need is to go to one that’s already revealed. Thus, the Killer can predict Survivors’ movements by looking at their immediate objectives and play style, and by considering the revealed props in each space.