Recommend
 
 Thumb up
 Hide
27 Posts
1 , 2  Next »   | 

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » General Gaming

Subject: Getting the message across - games and iconography rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Christina Crouch
United Kingdom
Tadley
Hampshire
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm interested in people's views on games with very good or bad iconography / card instructions.

I spent Thursday night playing my third game of Race for the Galaxy. Compared with San Juan, which I found easy to learn and teach to others, Race has been a pig to learn. And I'd probably not rush to teach it to my family - the system is a bridge too far.

I know that some iconography is done to save costs so that only the rules have to be printed in different languages, but it left me wondering: what do you think are examples of good and bad iconography in games?

For me, the games I have found bewildering are: Race for the Galaxy, the Leaders expansion for seven wonders (I just cannot memorise more icons than appear in the base game) I am crying at the thought of seven expansions all with different icons, Troyes! The lookup sheet was fine, but if memory serves, only one copy in the box.

The iconography on Last Will and Notre Dame was ok.

Examples of games that I think have good iconography: Bora Bora (the player boards look busy when you first look at them, but once you have the rules down, the reminders make perfect sense), Stone Age seems to make sense. I thought Tzolkin generally made good sense too.

I think I just feel that if at all possible, I would prefer to have the instructions in words on the card (with a nice picture). Maybe this is my learning style, but I find it easier to evaluate my choices without reference to look up tables.

What do you think? Any good or bad examples?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jay Sachs
United States
Woodinville
Washington
flag msg tools
badge
Despite your hope, there is not even any inherent symbolism; gravity is simply a coincidence.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I find the both the main board and player boards of The Castles of Burgundy to be an excellent reference. As for the yellow knowledge tiles, I can't tell whether I've played enough simply to memorize them, or they too are intuitive.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Man thinks, the river flows.
United States
Riva
Maryland
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
    That's funny -- I just came back to Race for the Galaxy again after a long time and had to relearn it all again. Really awful. As usual I enjoyed the game but spent much of it showing cards to the guy next to me asking him what they meant. I would never dream of teaching this game.

    Tikal has good iconography, but it's simple. There's not much going on.

    "Iconography" to represent rules (note that "hieroglyphics" could be used as a synonym) is a capitulation to costs at the expense of clarity. It's something you do to keep card size down or language editions to a minimum. It's a compromise you make to save money.

    By the way I love Pocket Battles but the little special rules symbols may as well be different colored dots. They mean nothing without the cheat sheet.

             S.


1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sam Cook
United States
Denton
Texas
flag msg tools
*beep*
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I really dislike the iconography in Bang!, especially since it's supposed to be a pretty light party game. Explaining it to new people is pretty rough:

"OK, so the hat icon represents a player, but a bullet going through it is a miss"
"You see, the bullet with the red X over it means you shoot at someone"
"Well, your health is represented by bullets, but you actually use the cards to shoot people"

4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pete Goch
United States
San Francisco
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'll agree that RftG has a steep learning curve for its iconography. But, that being said, I can't imagine it being any other way now - it seems perfectly intuitive to me now.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Man thinks, the river flows.
United States
Riva
Maryland
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
I'll agree that RftG has a steep learning curve for its iconography. But, that being said, I can't imagine it being any other way now - it seems perfectly intuitive to me now.


    Apple computer fans tell me that all the time -- "it's intuitive once you learn it."

             S.


3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
City of Horror uses a lot of iconography. But the icons are all very intuitive so you just go through them once when teaching and there will be no questions about them later in the game. An action card which let's you kill one zombie has a symbol with one zombie crossed off. A card which lets you kill two features a symbol with two zombies crossed off. Very good!

In 7 Wonders too many icons look alike. When we first played it several players (including me) expected something else to happen when they played a card because the symbol looked very much like another symbol with a different effect. Not good!

An icon has to speak for itself and it must be easy to distinguish. If it doesn't then that's bad iconography for me.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sam Cook
United States
Denton
Texas
flag msg tools
*beep*
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Sagrilarus wrote:
   
    "Iconography" to represent rules (note that "hieroglyphics" could be used as a synonym) is a capitulation to costs at the expense of clarity. It's something you do to keep card size down or language editions to a minimum. It's a compromise you make to save money.


I don't think this is the case with RftG. There is a lot of information packed onto every card, and it would bog the game down for experienced players if they had to read a paragraph for every card, instead of being able to quickly glance at the icons.

And it's not just a matter of understanding the cards in your hand, but the ability to easily see what cards your opponent has played in their tableau. It's of the utmost importance to know what bonuses your opponents are going to receive when you play an action.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pete Goch
United States
San Francisco
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Sagrilarus wrote:
TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
I'll agree that RftG has a steep learning curve for its iconography. But, that being said, I can't imagine it being any other way now - it seems perfectly intuitive to me now.


    Apple computer fans tell me that all the time -- "it's intuitive once you learn it."

             S.




Intuitive is pretty obviously an oxymoron in this case but I use the word simply because the iconography does seem so natural once you've absorbed it.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Man thinks, the river flows.
United States
Riva
Maryland
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Iconography is wonderful when it's used to enhance understanding. In Race for the Galaxy it replaces text that needs to be present in order to learn the game. Honestly, RftG could be sold at Target if it wasn't for the entry barrier.

S.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
DC
United States
Grand Rapids
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
Sagrilarus wrote:
Iconography is wonderful when it's used to enhance understanding. In Race for the Galaxy it replaces text that needs to be present in order to learn the game. Honestly, RftG could be sold at Target if it wasn't for the entry barrier.


I have sometimes felt that RftG could benefit from two sets of cards. One would be for learning, with both the icons and lots of text explaining them. The second would be just the icons, for experienced players who prefer the ability to read a card quickly and without distraction.

As an experienced player myself, cards loaded down with explanation would drive me nuts. But it would have helped with learning.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matthew M
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
flag msg tools
admin
8/8 FREE, PROTECTED
badge
513ers Assemble!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Moved to General Gaming
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
It is to be understood as a user interface. If you go for icons it's usually a development choice related to multi language market. But one has to go all the way.

Bad cases:
- Panic Station (game made by graphic designer) doesn't use icons to provide ALL relevant information on cards, so one just has to remember what everything does, so that illustrations basically work as icons.
- Yedo VS Lords of Waterdeep. LoW has consistent, simple to read icons. Yedo has icons in different layouts, the style goes for evocative over practical (less readable), but the worst is that icons float in fluffy clouds that meld with the background making them harder to read.

Cases where icons are a problem is also when the game itself is too light to justify additional learning curve icons generate (like in Fairy Tale european edition).
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
MLeis
Estonia
Tallinn
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
RftG's icon's are difficult to learn not because the iconography is bad, but because the cards' effects simply are quite numerous and complex. Different icons wouldn't be able to make the game considerably easier. Replacing icons with text wouldn't do, because it would take too much time to read them, especially if they're in front of your opponent. (Cutting the costs is another, though less important factor.)
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lizzie
Scotland
Edinburgh
flag msg tools
designer
“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” ― G.K. Chesterton
badge
A Hug a Day keeps the Doctor away!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The thing about icons as well as saving on printing language specific editions is that it makes it easier to see and understand what is on someone's tableau without having to rotate the cards (although Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule! uses upside down printing instead). I think a prime example of a game where icons would turn it from a nearly unplayable game into a good game is Infernal Contraption, you spend so long trying to read what each card does everytime you run your machine that the game grinds to a halt.

There are definitely some excellent examples of using symbols well, where it is as if the knowledge of what the card does has just been inserted into your mind, if that makes sense, a kind of fluid, fast reading.

I think Rattus, Torres and BANG! have good iconography. Rattus in particular the sharing of the symbols between rat tokens and the role cards makes it easy to see immediately who is affected. Catacombs has good attack icons but the special attacks are not explained on the cards and that always feels rather clunky.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeff Dougan
United States
Urbana
Illinois
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Check out Race to Adventure: The Spirit of the Century Exploration Game for an example of the good. In addition, somebody (Daniel Solis, I think) did a blog post on their personal blog when the game was getting Kickstarted talking about how the iconography had changed in development.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Glenn Martin
Canada
Ottawa
Ont.
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
First off, there a couple of good icon summaries in the file section for RFTG that fit in the box.
Second, think of a phone number. With an area code, that's a ten digit number you've memorized. Chances are you know several. The reason these weren't a nightmare to learn was that it was broken into easy three or four digit chunks.
In RFTG there are only two or three icons per phase which would be easy if the phases stood out. Unfortunately they went with number designations and , mind bogglingly, used Roman numerals! Instead of distinctive Arabic numbers, you have a column of grey sticks.
If they had used abbreviations (EXP for Explore or STL for settle say) AND used a different colour for each there would be few problems picking up the icons.
Ironically, even using more icons would have made this easier!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John
United Kingdom
Southampton
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think the RFTG iconography is good. The game does take a few goes to learn for me and the people I've taught the iconography hasn't been much of a problem (certainly if you excluded the non-standard powers like contact specialist which have a text explanation). I did check the standard powers cheat sheet in my first few games, but after that I was ok. Personally I think the game would be unplayable if it didn't have the icons, like playing with playing cards where all the cards were labeled "jack of hearts, three of spades".

[q="fluffyevil"Unfortunately they went with number designations and , mind bogglingly, used Roman numerals! Instead of distinctive Arabic numbers, you have a column of grey sticks.[/q]

I think Arabic numbers would have made it easier for me to learn the game.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bryan McNeely
United States
Indiana
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nah.. 7 Wonders' icons are fine. They do require a bit of learning at first, but play it enough and it becomes second nature. I always use both expansions and even when playing them for the first time, I enjoyed learning the symbols and icons. The more you enjoy a game, the easier it is to absorb it all into the ol' memory bank.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Elizabeth Lamar
United States
Clackamas
Oregon
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Test
It was difficult understanding Race For the Galaxy at first, even after playing San Juan multiple times. Now, I think I like Race for the Galaxy more than San Juan. We just played it last night again. There is a steep learning curve to get used to it and understand it.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
M M
United States
New York
New York
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Fairy Tale has excellent iconography. There's a limited set of icons and they're combined to convey the idea of the card quickly and easily.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Mat628 wrote:
Fairy Tale has excellent iconography. There's a limited set of icons and they're combined to convey the idea of the card quickly and easily.

which fairy tale edition?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Clare Cannon
Wales
Trefforest
Mid Glamorgan
flag msg tools
Avatar
mb
We found the iconography in Fiji very difficult to get our heads around indeed it is one of the main reasons it is now up for trade.

whilst the single hand for least and the double hands form most makes sense... when you combine that with between 1-4 beads on the hand then it gets confusing.
for example, a single hand with 4 beads on it means least beads
where as a double hand with a single yellow bead on it means the most yellow beads. so in effect the picture with the most beads on it (which is what the whole trading game is based upon) requires you to have the least beads and the single bead icon requires you to have the most!

My partner in particular couldn't get past this 'mental barrier' that one bead meant most and many beads meant least.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
M M
United States
New York
New York
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
sgosaric wrote:
Mat628 wrote:
Fairy Tale has excellent iconography. There's a limited set of icons and they're combined to convey the idea of the card quickly and easily.

which fairy tale edition?

Not sure what the different ones are, but mine is published by, "What's Your Game?" in Italy.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
SoCal
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Icons can be confusing. For example...


Am I supposed to yield to pigeons and soccer balls too?


Are left turns a type of U-turn?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.