I take a token representing a Victory Point in 51st State. I also take a card which says: 'You gain a Victory Point.' I compare icons.
"Szpaku, can you tell me why the icon on this token is different from the icon on this card?"
"I have no idea. Michal designed it."
"Michal designed it, I accepted it, and the army of testers too. It's not about finding the guilty person."
"Well, so I do not know why they are different."
"I know it. They are different because we're morons."***
You lose perspective when you sit very deep in any problem. You give whole heart to it and all your time and you stop seeing things. I needed a few months break from 51st State to catch a new perspective. I needed time to be able to see things that previously I had no chance to see.
One of them was this ridiculous idea with the iconography of the game. Let's face it - who designs two icons, one for card and the other for token and wants everyone to learn that these two icons mean the same thing? That would be me. The moron.
So when we finally caught appropriate perspective and when we regained a cool mind for this project, we noticed that several things in 51st State could be improved. That with a few minor changes the game will be much easier for players to learn.
'What do we do?' I asked. 'Should we change icons?'
'People will kill us. If expansion had different icons than base game, you will be crucified.'
'No, no, I'm serious. You are dead. Announce on BGG that The New Era will have different icons. Just do it. I give you two hours before you unleash hell.'***
I contact Peter from Rebel, my distributor. He is in good mood.
'What's up Trzewik? Come up with something new?'
'Great. A hit?'
'Oh, yeah. This will be a loud thing. I came up with new icons for 51st State.'
'What?', I think that at this moment he just lost his good mood.
'Listen, I have an idea for new icons in the 51st State. We could use them in a New Era expansion.'
'You kiddin', right? Tell me it is a joke.'
'No, I am damn serious. I made a few minor changes and everything is now much clearer. The game is much simpler. People will have less problems with playing.'
'Trzewik, you can not change the icons in the game. The players would be furious.'
'You want me to print The New Era with bad icons even though I have on my desk new set of icons which is so much better?'
'I don't know Trzewik. But you can't change icons.'***
Skype. I catch my friend from France, Yann.
'Hey. Can I ask you for an opinion?'
'I fixed icons in the 51st State and I consider using them in The New Era. Can I show you?'
'Do you want to change icons? Expansion would have different icons than the basic game?'
'These are three small changes. Wanna look?'
I sent him some new cards with new icons.
'If rule is dedicated to token it is in a circle. If rule is dedicated to action I added yellow arrow to the icon. Token - circle, action - yellow arrow. '
'Yhm, I see. "
'Can we make a test? Tell me if you understand how these new cards work'
Yann says how he understand how they work. He is correct in 100%. Interpreted correctly all of the cards I sent to him.
'And what?' I ask.
'The new icons are much better. Not better, but much better.'
'And what do I do?', I ask.
'You know that the players will crucify you?'
We've added a yellow arrow to indicate that a particular icon means the action. All the other icons we have put in a circle to indicate that it is a token. This is so small change and the game has gained a degree of clearity, that I would have never suspected. Suddenly everything became clear, testers suddenly stopped asking me dozens of questions, they simply started to play and enjoy the game. One small change...***
I added this yellow arrow. Yes, I'm the guy who will publish expansion that has different icons than base game. Yes, I did it.
I could tell you, that every year, Apple releases new iPhone, because they came up with new ideas and improved the old one. I could tell you that every year there is a new FIFA for Playstation, there are new cars, new TV sets, I could tell you that everyone is trying to develop and produce year after year, something better.
I will not tell such piece of crap.
I did it, because the new icons are better. You will learn the game much more easily. You will have less problems while playing. You will have a great time with the game.
And that's all that matters for me.