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Subject: Event Card Design. rss

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Brian Smaka
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Here are three prototype cards that will represent events that can occur in a space exploration/empire building game. I would like to have opinons about the material and does the material appear clear and understandable.

If, I some how screwed up the image links, here is a direct link to the images.
http://boardgamegeek.com/image/1311069/smakab



This is a negative event card. These cards tend to either destroy the scout (think of them as the red shirts in this game), uncover pirates, political corruption, Encounter space monsters, rouge AI ships or destroy all life in several sectors. This one is perhaps the most extereme of it's kind.



Neutral Event cards are more a space filler. They may give a bit of flavor to the game, but do not affect the status of any player.



Positive Event Card. These cards give an advantage to the player. This example gives an extra ship, but some give creds (production units), allow extra actions, hire mercenaries, or even annihilate an enemy system.



This is just an inital design of the Card Back that I am messing with. Please, give a newbie some useful advice and suggestions.



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James Hutchings
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smakab wrote:
Neutral Event cards are more a space filler. They may give a bit of flavor to the game, but do not affect the status of any player.


I wouldn't have cards just for flavour.

Maybe you could make them slightly alter the rules of the game. For example they could make particular units cheaper or more expensive, or make draws more or less likely in combat.

You could have a rule where (for example) only three Neutral Event cards can be in play at a time, with new ones replacing existing ones once you get to three.

EDIT: For example maybe the dead spacesuit makes everyone afraid, so that getting colonists is harder.
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Tim Mirkes
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I guess without knowing the aesthetic of the game as a whole, I'd have to say that these are somewhat difficult on the eyes.

I find Papyrus is generally a bad font for readability, especially when that font is overlaid on line art. I think if the background greebles are essential, you should choose a font with a thicker stroke to improve the contrast and readability. Choose a font for readability first, style second.

The color scheme is essentially pastel, and low-contrast color doesn't help the readability. I'd prefer more intense colors; I don't see a problem with the colors you chose, only that they're unlikely to be very easy to distinguish from across a play table. Use richer, higher saturation color, and I think you might be okay.

I generally like the layout of the cards, although I wonder why you're limiting yourself to a circle. Are you intending that the final production cards will be circular? If not, why limit yourself in this way? Use the full square you allow for the layout to be as clear as possible.

What size is the card, and consequently what point size is the text? If you have a clear, readable font, you can get away with much smaller text. To wit, the game text on many CCG cards is 8 point or thereabouts; you can jam a heck of a lot of text onto a card at that size. The reason I ask is that I wonder if you wouldn't be better off trying to fit the text on the bottom half of the circle and use the upper half for the iconography you now have in the background. That would help readability as you won't have graphics and text overlapping.

Lastly, I'd say a good proofreading would be a good idea. I noticed a few punctuation/grammar issues that could easily be cleaned up.
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Sam Mercer
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Heya Brian!

First of all: I haven't had the chance to speak to you before, so hey wassup! Nice to meetcha! Where you from?

Sound advice from our friend James there btw, he's a pro and knows his stuff.

1. Cards dont look bad for a first attempt
2. Are they to be square? It irks some people that cards are not of standard dimensions (eg: Poker card dimensions)
3. I would always say it is more important to put the game instructions first, and the theme and flavor second (remember: first and foremost I am playing a game, not reading a story)
4. The font you used there is called Papyrus and a lot of Typographers (myself included) take issue at the font. No idea why, we just don't like it: it's somewhat like comicsans in the sense that it is quite a childish and overused font I would reccomend a change.

http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/list/mostdownloaded
http://www.dafont.com

Download the font, double click it to install it into your pc. Then reload your designing program (photoshop / indesign / gimp / publisher - whatever you use) then change it and see if you can make it a bit more cool.

For easily readable fonts that are first and foremost: good to read, and secondly add a bit of spacey type flavor try:

http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/Sansation
http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/Cicle
http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/Days



Hope i've helped man

sam


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Ryan Twombly
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First off, eliminate the design behind the text. Very annoying to the reader. If the design is meaningful, shrink it and move it to the corners.

Second, you need a proofreader. The text has typos, confusion of "it's" and "its", and other errors.

Third, even if a card does nothing, it still needs to tell the player what to do, even if it's just, "(No effect)". This information should always be in exactly the same place on the card, so that an experienced/impatient/disinterested player can get right to the point.

Fourth, I would suggest an active voice in the present tense. The events are happening NOW! to YOU! not a while ago to somebody.

Here's a sample rewrite of "Rift Clone" taking in these suggestions:

"
Energy spike in the
Rift Core!
Before the jump, there
there was one Scout,
now there are two.
The accountants aren't
gonna like this....

(Place a second Scout
in the system.)
"
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Brian Smaka
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Currently I am playing with the idea of circular cards but I am also looking at traditional rectanglular Cards as well. I have no problem changing the font, as for text size, I don't know the point size but the height is currently 0.1 inches. The greebles that you mentioned do not the type of card along with the color. I know the colors turned a bit pastel but that is due to the watermark setting and not the original color.
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Brian Smaka
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rtwombly wrote:
First off, eliminate the design behind the text. Very annoying to the reader. If the design is meaningful, shrink it and move it to the corners.

Second, you need a proofreader. The text has typos, confusion of "it's" and "its", and other errors.

Third, even if a card does nothing, it still needs to tell the player what to do, even if it's just, "(No effect)". This information should always be in exactly the same place on the card, so that an experienced/impatient/disinterested player can get right to the point.

Fourth, I would suggest an active voice in the present tense. The events are happening NOW! to YOU! not a while ago to somebody.

Here's a sample rewrite of "Rift Clone" taking in these suggestions:

"
Energy spike in the
Rift Core!
Before the jump, there
there was one Scout,
now there are two.
The accountants aren't
gonna like this....

(Place a second Scout
in the system.)
"


Thanks, I like your idea about the present tense and the more active voice. I will have start making changes.
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Sam Phillips Beckerman
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agree about the font.
the background art can stay IF there is strong enough contrast, so make it fade a bit.
Don't know if you picked these colors to go with a grand color scheme of bits & board...if not, you might think about making the colors darker the more negative they are, lighter the better. So the worst card would be black, the best white. In between, they can be different colors, but graduated on the shading scale.
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Jeff Timothy
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Do the squint test.

If you squint at the image and it's difficult to read or make out any specific detail then it needs to be clearer. You can also do this by standing 20 feet away from your subject.

What you want is INSTANT clarity and understanding when you look at the image. Especially if the person looking doesn't already know what they are looking at.
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James Hutchings
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smakab wrote:
Currently I am playing with the idea of circular cards


I'd imagine they'd be very hard to shuffle.
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Tim Mirkes
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apeloverage wrote:
smakab wrote:
Currently I am playing with the idea of circular cards


I'd imagine they'd be very hard to shuffle.


Much less sleeve or otherwise protect during play...
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Brook Gentlestream
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tlmirkes wrote:
apeloverage wrote:
smakab wrote:
Currently I am playing with the idea of circular cards


I'd imagine they'd be very hard to shuffle.


Much less sleeve or otherwise protect during play...

Yes, but you can probably deal them from very far away.
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Jeff Timothy
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lordrahvin wrote:
tlmirkes wrote:
apeloverage wrote:
smakab wrote:
Currently I am playing with the idea of circular cards


I'd imagine they'd be very hard to shuffle.


Much less sleeve or otherwise protect during play...

Yes, but you can probably deal them from very far away.


...and take down small prey with them as well.
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Brian Smaka
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I won't know until I have tried. I know there are somethings that are standard for games, but are they standard because that is the way it has always been, or is it that all other options have been attempted and that is really the best option?

Here is an updated card as well
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Tim Mirkes
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smakab wrote:
I won't know until I have tried. I know there are somethings that are standard for games, but are they standard because that is the way it has always been, or is it that all other options have been attempted and that is really the best option?

Here is an updated card as well


The font choice is better, but the line art is still distracting behind the text. Ryan's suggestion of moving it off to one side if it's important or getting rid of it if it isn't might be one to tinker with. It just impedes readability too much, even after the font change.

The effect text (which you currently have in parenthesis) should be the primary text. The parenthetical notation implies to me that it's an afterthought or clarification of something else, when really it's the reason you're playing the card in the firs place. Get rid of the parenthesis to emphasize the card effect text.

The flavor text should be in italics or quotes or smaller font or something that distinguishes it from the effect text. It's all the same size, font, and it's all bookended with punctuation. I'd say ditch the punctuation for the effect text and differentiate the flavor text more clearly. Standard practice is italics for non-essential or reminder text, and regular for effect text, but you could play around with that if you have another idea.
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Nate K
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tlmirkes wrote:
smakab wrote:
I won't know until I have tried. I know there are somethings that are standard for games, but are they standard because that is the way it has always been, or is it that all other options have been attempted and that is really the best option?

Here is an updated card as well


The font choice is better, but the line art is still distracting behind the text. Ryan's suggestion of moving it off to one side if it's important or getting rid of it if it isn't might be one to tinker with. It just impedes readability too much, even after the font change.

The effect text (which you currently have in parenthesis) should be the primary text. The parenthetical notation implies to me that it's an afterthought or clarification of something else, when really it's the reason you're playing the card in the firs place. Get rid of the parenthesis to emphasize the card effect text.

The flavor text should be in italics or quotes or smaller font or something that distinguishes it from the effect text. It's all the same size, font, and it's all bookended with punctuation. I'd say ditch the punctuation for the effect text and differentiate the flavor text more clearly. Standard practice is italics for non-essential or reminder text, and regular for effect text, but you could play around with that if you have another idea.


+1 to all points
 
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Ben Pinchback
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kurthl33t wrote:
tlmirkes wrote:
smakab wrote:
I won't know until I have tried. I know there are somethings that are standard for games, but are they standard because that is the way it has always been, or is it that all other options have been attempted and that is really the best option?

Here is an updated card as well


The font choice is better, but the line art is still distracting behind the text. Ryan's suggestion of moving it off to one side if it's important or getting rid of it if it isn't might be one to tinker with. It just impedes readability too much, even after the font change.

The effect text (which you currently have in parenthesis) should be the primary text. The parenthetical notation implies to me that it's an afterthought or clarification of something else, when really it's the reason you're playing the card in the firs place. Get rid of the parenthesis to emphasize the card effect text.

The flavor text should be in italics or quotes or smaller font or something that distinguishes it from the effect text. It's all the same size, font, and it's all bookended with punctuation. I'd say ditch the punctuation for the effect text and differentiate the flavor text more clearly. Standard practice is italics for non-essential or reminder text, and regular for effect text, but you could play around with that if you have another idea.


+1 to all points

Double +1 to all points. Flavor text is best not confused with useful instruction text. Italics plus out of the way would help. Also I am in agreement that the line art behind the text is distracting. The new revision is a definite step in the right direction though. Keep working at it.
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Brian Smaka
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Okay here is my latest attempt. Thanks for all the feedback this far. Here are views of the updated cards.



If there are grammar errors please be specific. I'm an engineer not an english major, so I tend to miss things like spelling or grammar.
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Jesters Ghost
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Much better. Now the there's no design behind the text you can make the outside design much stronger.

I actually like the circular layout, tbh, but the reason most cards stick to the standard card size is ergonomics - they're nicer to hold and use than square or small cards.
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Brian Smaka
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The players will only be drawing and playing the card during an exploration event. So the ergonomics of holding a group of cards is not an issue.

The Cards are are ment to simulate random events that will occur during gameplay.

Here is a synopsis of the game.

Celestial Empires, is a strategy game that starts with each player developing/discovering the technology required to leave their homeworld. Scouting/Colonizing will initally dominate the gameplay but depending on the victory conditions, the game will quickly change to political menuevering and combat.

The number of systems(spaces/tiles) that the game can use ranges from 30-80 currently. Of those systems about 1/3 of them are marked with an event icon. When that icon is revealed, the player draws and plays an event card from the deck.

Fleet Combat is resolved in a fashion similar to Axis and Allies but each race has a unique attribute to affect combat.

I am currently tinkering with the ships for the game. I'm not sure if I should use tokens or models but so far here are some examples of what I have made.

http://www.shapeways.com/shops/stc_limited?section=Sc-fi+Spa...
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Gregg Jewell
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Personally, I think your original design was fine but the background image needed to have a 50-60% opacity, that's all.

With the current design, to avoid a wall of text or confusion what each textbox represents, I would do a few things.

First, since this is a circular card why not flip the text to face each other to provide added separation.

Now to draw the player's eye to the main text, add stroke making sure it matches the border's colors, this adds "pop" to it. Lower the visual "strength" of the flavor text by making it a dark shade of grey instead of black and italicize to indicate lower priority.

I hope you do not mind, but I took one of your card and made a sample image of what I am talking about.


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Brian Smaka
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I don't mind suggestions and recommendations. This is the first game I have put a great deal of work into and has been brewing in the back of my mind for years. I want to make it so that it fits my ideas but I also want it to be enjoyable.

As I understand it you were suggesting something that looks like this?



Just as a random point of reference here is a layout of a typical small game at initial setup. Systems with an "E" represent a point where an event card would be drawn from the deck. These cards are only drawn when an exploration action action is used by a scout. So effectively, each will only be used once when it is revealed. After that the system is a source of income and unit production.

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Ladios Sopp
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I personally wouldn't use a stroke around text as it can blur the characters making recognition harder when printed as small sizes. Hierarchy can be achieved with contrasting 100% colour opposed to (for example) 40% for flavour text.

Also, for longer text have you tried that typeface but not in caps (smallcaps included)? The mix of case in the words makes it easier to recognise at a glance, sort of like in modern road signs which you can only see for a few seconds.
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Brian Smaka
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I am using a Technic font at the moment but I can see if there is a similar font with upper and lower case characters that I can use for the flavoring.
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Andreas Pelikan
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smakab wrote:


IMHO, that's a good direction. What irks me is the space taken up by the card title. For the short titles (SOS, ...), it doesn't interfere with the rectangular text areas, but for the longer ones there's overlap.
What if the card title would be worked into the border ornaments (quite a task for the graphics designer), the flavor text spiraling around the edge (inside/below the ornament) and the essential rules text centered on the card. Might be cool if that center text would be 'circular justified', kinda like:

xxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxx
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