Gloomhaven: How a Modern Classic Board Game Was Turned Into a Controller-friendly Experience

We are thrilled to share some exciting news with you about Gloomhaven, coming to Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One on September 18! This role-playing game is a digital adaptation of the amazing board game – if you haven’t played it yet, I highly recommend checking it out!

Gloomhaven is set in a dark fantasy universe that combines the best elements of strategic board gaming and digital adventuring. Set out on an epic campaign to become the most successful mercenary team in the city of Gloomhaven, or play through Guildmaster mode to experiment with new tactics and more than 160 missions. Choose a mercenary to embark on perilous quests, navigating through treacherous caves, dreadful forests, and haunting dungeons filled with terrifying monsters and retire rich and powerful.

In total, there is a roster of 17 unique characters available (although some will have to be unlocked), each with their own distinct skills and abilities, allowing you to find a play style that suits your preferences. With over 1,000 different abilities to master, customization and strategic depth are at the heart of Gloomhaven‘s gameplay. Create the perfect deck from a selection of cards unique to each character and use them to dispatch your foes and achieve your personal goals. From mastering devastating attacks to honing your tactical prowess, there are many, many ways to approach our game.

We’ve been hard at work getting this gloomy world developed for Xbox and we’re happy to share some of those details with you here. As avid players of the board game (both physical and the PC digital version), it’s truly an honor and a pleasure to work on this project. We’re dedicated to capturing the essence of Gloomhaven and delivering a flawless gaming experience on Xbox.

Gloomhaven‘s intricacies present a unique challenge when it comes to controller adaptation. Our team has been working on a reworked UI/UX to ensure seamless gameplay and intuitive controls, making the transition from board game to PC game to Xbox game an effortless and enjoyable experience. We’re casting some serious spells of convenience here!

And it was quite a challenge. Gloomhaven has a lot of things to click on PC, and we wanted to offer the smoothest experience possible. Rest assured, there’s no need to tediously move your cursor with the joystick to mimic a mouse – we’ve completed a full remapping of the controls. Some of our first iterations required way too many fingers and buttons to be pressed for a normal human being, but we’re no Harrower! Probably.

Let’s talk a bit more about controls!

Bringing Gloomhaven to Xbox was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The thing is, board games do not have a limited set of buttons. They do not have online cross-platform co-op either – so you can imagine the challenge.

We wanted controls to be as intuitive as they could be, so we went with the analog sticks to handle all the camera movement. Moving through lists is also quite natural with a stick, hence we set up the game in the way that the player moves through the interface with the left stick. Sometimes, like in the merchant screen, two lists intersected with one another. After several UX iterations, we divided the focus on lists so the player can choose which part of the interface they want to operate. Also, to adapt those screens for Xbox, we redesigned the interface a little by uniting Buy/Sell filters when talking with the Merchant.

Battles are where we played around the most with the camera. During the enemies’ or allies’ turn on PC, your camera focus was taken from you while the unit’s animation played, but you had the mouse to hover over different elements and plan your strategy. On console, jumping between camera control and lists could be frustrating. We disconnected this auto-control from the camera, leaving the player with more flexibility in how they view everything.

Another challenging issue was combining selection and confirmation with pressing and holding the A button. We needed to make the overlapping of these as smooth as possible. We encountered several problems, such as when you’re selecting enemies to strike on the board, but your focus is currently on the second enemy. In the console version, you can either select them, or make an attack only against the first selected target. All in all, the team did a good job making it as comfortable as possible. No enemy will be left unattacked, no card unselected.

So get ready to embark on an extraordinary journey filled with mystery, danger, and epic encounters. With Gloomhaven on Xbox, you’ll have the power to shape your destiny and forge your own path in this immersive fantasy realm. You can already pre-order the game on Xbox before its release on September 18!

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