Unpub Preview: Nyctophobia

Unpub Previews allow designers the opportunity to talk more in depth about the development of their games in the Unpub Network.

Nyctophobia is a cooperative tactile maze game for 3 – 5 players. The catch? The players are blindfolded and have to feel their way around the board.

The players play as a group of friends who went camping in a forest only to find out that the rumors of a crazy axe-wielding madman were true. Players take actions on their turn in an attempt to locate their car so they can call for help before one of them gets killed. The madman is controlled by a deck of AI cards resolved by the Moderator who oversees the gameplay (the only sighted player).

Let’s hear what Catherine has to say about Nyctophobia, which will be showing up on tables soon…

What was your inspiration for the game?
I have a blind uncle and whenever we wanted to play games, we’d have to play games that were altered so that he could play. Scrabble with braille tiles or Monopoly with braille cards, for example. When I started getting into hobby board games, my family gave my cousin Dixit. It’s loads of fun, but my uncle couldn’t play. So I came up with an idea where the players don’t use sight.

What is your favorite part of the game?
My favorite part is “the reveal.” After the game ends, whether in a win or a loss, it’s always exciting to finally see the board. The Moderator can help players recount their movements around the field. Players can see how they walked past the car so many times or how they kept walking into dead ends.

To your knowledge, What do other people find most interesting about the game?
The experience of playing a board game without seeing what you’re doing. Also no one player has all the information, interaction with the other players is required.

What has been the most challenging part of designing the game?
The most challenging part of designing Nyctophobia is choosing when to make changes and what those changes are. Coming from an engineering background, when you experiment you test only one variable at a time. Sometimes I have two or three ideas that I want to add, but most of the time I test it out one by one. In experiments, you also want to repeat it a number of times to ensure your data is accurate. Unless something is completely not working, I’ll test the change a number of times.

What advice would you give to players attempting the game for the first time?
When people play for the first time, it’s important to for them to communicate with each other. Make a plan to each cover a portion of the board. Talk about where you think you are on the board. Plan out how to distract the madman to make sure you all stay alive. While you’re blind, it’s easy to forget that you’re part of a team and you can’t win like that.

What has surprised you most in play-tests of the game?
I’ve been surprised by the good handful of people who recommended making Nyctophobia into an app. Given my origin as a game my blind uncle could play, it had never crossed my mind.

People who like_____will like this game. Why?
People who like cooperative games and being chased around by a madman with an axe will like this game! Someone who enjoys roleplaying or being a dungeon master can make the experience their own. Given the blindness aspect, people are able to use their own imaginations to play out the events of the game.

For more information, photos and to find out where you can try Nyctophobia, please visit the game’s Unpub.net Page!

Author: Brad Smoley

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