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Black Sails meets the board

By co-designer, Nick Niotis

Game design is a very creative process, and we as designers can draw inspiration from many different places. It can be drawn from the will to make an existing game that you like into something different; from the desire to tell a story; from your love of a specific topic. But it can also come unexpectedly without even looking for it.

Back O’ Beyond (or Raise the Black as the working title was back then) definitely falls into the latter category. Inspiration for this game was an unexpected surprise, as I was never a huge pirate fan, even though I was always interested and intrigued by their mythos. It was a TV series that became the spark to ignite my passion to make a pirate game. Who would have thought! That series was Black Sails.

Making an early prototype for Back O' Beyond

It wasn’t the interesting and very well written characters or the deep and very well thought out story that moved me, it was the depiction of the pirate life that caught my interest. There are many games, movies and other media that have depicted some aspect of the pirate mythos but watching Black Sails felt like it gave me a better understanding of what the pirate life was actually like. It had nothing to do with “Captain Hook” or the most recent depiction of pirates in “Pirates of the Caribbean”. For some reason it felt more relatable. It had all the plot twists and great battles that you expect from a show,

I was thinking about it for weeks, maybe even months after I had finished watching the show; both because I really liked what I had watched and experienced, but also because in the back of my head I was thinking that I would love to create a board game like this. That was about the realistic aspects of the pirate life, where players felt they were part of this world.

I don’t remember the exact moment that this whisper in the back of my head ‘’convinced’’ me to actually sit down and see what I can do with it, but I remember that the vision for the game was super clean from the very first moment. I called Argy, my now co-designer for Darkest Dungeon and explained what I had in mind. There was an instant connection and understanding, I didn’t even have to explain to him a lot about it, it was like we were both thinking about this game for a long time. And it was finally time to make it happen.

Argy and myself will be writing a series of designer diaries to guide you through the backstage of how we designed the game. If you want to get updates on our diaries please subscribe to our newsletter!


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