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Subject: Looking for some artistic opinions rss

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Greg
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I've recently finished a full art prototype for 404: Law Not Found (Minus the models, but they should be along from the 3DPrinter later this week) and wanted to ask a few questions. A game's art doesn't make a huge difference to my enjoyment of it, but I know that a great many other people feel differently so it seemed worth asking some opinions.

Click here to see the thing (I'd embed it into the post but it'd break the page width).

General comments are welcomed, but there are a few specific questions on my mind:

1) Are the little action cards (bottom left) better or worse than the deck protectors and paper version (top left)? Obviously the final product will have cards that are the right size and the right material, but some prototypes will go out to video reviewers so I still worry about which looks better.

2) Should I ask to have our company name removed from the top left of the board? It's pretty unobtrusive, but I think that in general you don't see publisher names printed on boards these days.

3) Are the white backgrounds of the cards too boring? I find the design pleasing and like them crisp, but the graphic designer responsible worries that he should add a textured background to stop them being so stark.

Obviously a lot of this comes down to opinions rather than facts, but I'd enjoy hearing a good variety so shout up
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Brody Lipperman
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1. I am not sure what the difference is, other than size? If size is the issue, then I would prefer the upper left.
2. It wouldn't bother me either way.
3. I would definitely do something about the card background. They look very bland. Maybe something that fit what type of card it is (storage, navigation, etc).

As a general thought (not sure if it would be too much effort), but if you did change the card backgrounds and had each station be unique, I would put a semi-transparent version of that same art on the board where you have the white spaces now.
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Barry Hood
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1) I wouldn't worry too much what video reviewers will think - they're used to dealing with prototypes so they will understand none of this is final. Having said that, I'd probably go with cards, less shiny which means they'll be more visible and less susceptible to glare in video.

2) I'd say yes, it's a minor thing but some people are bound to fixate on it and there's really no reason for it to be there.

3) I like the clean look of the cards. Maybe the borders could have a colour?
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My only concern is the white text against the Pastel/Lightly Neon Colored squares. Design wise it looks good - but visually the white text is hard to see with that font. Some of us with older and/or bad eyes are gonna have a hard time trying to read what it says, especially in a low light situation.
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Julian Wasson
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1. Sleeves look like ass and butt on camera. For the final game I'd much prefer standard-sized cards, but for prototypes to send to video reviewers you'd be better off going with the weird-sized cards if you can do it without the sleeves.

2. There's not really a compelling reason to put it on there. It feels lowbrow. Lose it.

3. I kinda like the clean design-y look, but it clashes with the cover art. If you're going for an over-the-top wacky Robo Rally-ish vibe, I think the stark art won't serve the theme well. If you're going for drier Portal-like tongue-in-cheek vibe they work great. They're both viable options but I kinda feel like you want to pick one and really run with it.

The layout and design is solid, and the stark art means they're super legible and comprehensible at a glance. With like 4 things on each card, each with an icon and text you don't want to go too nuts adding bells and whistles. If you want to wacky them up a bit you probably want to add more color and visual complexity around the edges and keep the central layout about the same, maybe just add a transparent colored texture at most to the text boxes. Faded art behind the text would kill legibility and look super cluttered/sloppy.

Even if you stick with the clean design, you probably want to tweak it for each deck. Maybe color code the different decks, front and back, and switch up the linework by deck. Even something as simple as each deck having different colored lines and different placement of the bits that extend off the side of the card would be enough. Maybe also play around with adding more color to the cards even keeping it super clean. Something simple like adding color to the interior of the border piping, or leaving the interior of the border piping white and coloring the outer edge and the text boxes could look good and add a little more interest to the design. A faded shade of the same color as the icons behind the text could look nice.
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Sam Phillips Beckerman
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either card is just fine.
your name on a prototype board serves a function.

I agree cards look too generic with all that white/black. I'd suggest a colored frame inside the edge of each rectangle to match the color under the icon. Maybe even a bolder black line around it to make color pop.
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Chris
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The symbols are GREAT! Well, most of them. They are very clean and very clear. The only problem is some are much more detailed than others and some have so MUCH black in them such as the astronaut helmet they stand out as different. The cards are nice and clear too albeit a little boring. They don't seem to fit with the main board because of the strong dark colors. The Backs of the cards are nicely done.
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Ryan Werner
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I don't like card protectors personally, so I would say lose them. Despite what I just said, it would still be a plus for me if they were included. It makes me feel like you are actually thinking of the players.

The company name on the board doesn't bother me personally since it's so small, but there really isn't any reason for it to be there and I can't think of any other boards that have company names or logos on them.

I think the cards need more distinction. The little icon in the upper-right is good, but maybe colored borders or subtle artwork would make it easier to quickly tell which room the card belongs to.

Additionally, I much prefer rounded edges on cards. As a prototype it's not a big deal but they should be rounded off for final production. The clean look on the components is very appealing and easy on the eyes. The font in the green and blue squares in the rooms could use more contrast. Very good looking game so far I must say.
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Dex Quest
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Try a thin black border around the edges of the cards (see runebound, dominion etc) to give them a touch more heft. I like the all-white and many great games have very lightweight/simplistic graphic design like this.

The design looks great - your ONLY concern should be how well the game plays and does it offer a solid, new twist on mechanics we are all familiar with. Does the rulebook flow super-smooth? Put it out to people who are fussy and awkward, not just friends. This is what a new game has to have first and foremost, as every game offers okay-ish art at worst.

Also, if your game does have a few strong new ideas of its own, why not do your own series of video overviews and image-heavy previews as opposed to having a well known 'video reviewer' blow your chances with a 'it's okay-ish' review (chances are high up against mainstream releases and a mass of KS stuff).

This is how Robinson Crusoe launched - pumping out 6 or 7 self-made reviews before Essen to drive the hype, eradicating any chance of damage before its launch. It's also how, say, Dungeon Roll did it on KS - you basically need a 'friend' to do a video overview/preview/review that you can virtually script the content for.

good luck, the game looks solid, even from a distance.
 
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Greg
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Thanks for all of your opinions, it's good to get lots of points of view on all of this stuff

I think for the prototypes I'll go for the small cards, video reviewers are doing me a favour by taking the time to review my game so making their job harder with glare issues sounds like a poor way to pay that back.

Obviously these cards are for the prototype, the final cards will have rounded edges and measure 63x88mm. I chose that size because most standard sizes would work for these cards, but MtG sleeves seem to be easier to get and more interesting than sleeves for other sizes of card.

Dropping the company logo on the board feels like an obvious step, I just wanted to double check it before I got back to the designers about it. I see that it could have some value during a review or similar, but if someone's watching that then they're already going to be told a lot about the game and us so I'm not too worried about it.

I think that the crisp white backgrounds are doing more good than harm and I think "don't let the art get in the way of the game" is a good maxim, but some of the suggestions about making it more interesting are good. Perhaps using the same colour coding from the backs of the cards on the borders or something like that would make it more interesting without sacraficing clarity. I'll sit down with the graphic artist and put some thought into that one.

Again, thank you all for your contributions and kind words It's easy to get tunnel vision working on something like this.
 
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Ian O'Toole
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I disagree with everyone who's said there's no reason for your company name to be on the board. The reason is branding. The board is what most players are going to spend most of the time looking at (as opposed to the box, for instance). Having your company name present without being intrusive is a fantastic way to increase retention of your brand.

To be clear, I'm not saying you definitely should do it, I'm just pointing out a very compelling reason to do it.


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Dex Quest
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I agree - deffo put your company name on the board - just make it tight in a corner or somewhere small-ish. Free branding and gives the product a touch of polish.
 
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Chris Smith
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While on that topic, I don't think it's required for branding at all. If someone has your game out to play, they likely have the box very near by with a much larger version of your logo on it for everyone to see, so unless you plan on not branding the box, it's not really required =P

Also, I quite like the clean look of the cards, but a coloured/designed border couldn't hurt to make more people happy!
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Samo Oleami
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General comment:
I like clean designs and icons and general layout of cards work for me.

What somehow doesn't work for me is the board. I never liked layering over an illustration, and the rooms look like a chart, not a representation of a room. I think interior of the ship needs to be properly illustrated or find another solution. Check Space Alert board - type of illustration can be debated, but it's clear what's the inside and outside of ship.

1) Can't tell
2) Doesn't matter. It's not common, but yours is small company. Can be a problem if you'll find another publisher for reprint.
3) NO. Clean, usable. It's the texturing of the ship/board that's the problem. It's okay if one would find a good texture, but given the board, I'm not sure if it's within the capabilities (sorry, but that's how I see it). What could be done is colouring the outside border of the card, or colour the lines. If you'd go for textures, check Pandemic (both versions).

Cosmonaut Zero wrote:
3. I kinda like the clean design-y look, but it clashes with the cover art. If you're going for an over-the-top wacky Robo Rally-ish vibe, I think the stark art won't serve the theme well. If you're going for drier Portal-like tongue-in-cheek vibe they work great. They're both viable options but I kinda feel like you want to pick one and really run with it.

The layout and design is solid, and the stark art means they're super legible and comprehensible at a glance. With like 4 things on each card, each with an icon and text you don't want to go too nuts adding bells and whistles. If you want to wacky them up a bit you probably want to add more color and visual complexity around the edges and keep the central layout about the same, maybe just add a transparent colored texture at most to the text boxes. Faded art behind the text would kill legibility and look super cluttered/sloppy.

what he said

Right now the board and the cards and the cover don't feel like they're from the same game. But whatever you do, keep the important data easily readable (can be done even if you go a bit more garish). Interesting take on crisp yet funky is AH's Nexus Ops (player cards, tiles).
 
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Greg
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I see the merits of free branding, but I think I'm comfortable restricting it to the box. I can't imagine too many situations in which people will see the innards of the game without seeing the box and none of the publishers that I can name off the top of my head put their name on the board, so I suspect it's unecassary.

No need to apologise for an honest opinion, Samo, that's what I'm here to get I'm not inclined to doubt the artists' capabilities over this though, I think there's a difference between "This is done in a style that I don't like" and "This is the work of a bad artist". At the moment they're knocking together a border to go around the outside of the cards that should match the space background on the board, it's textured but the effect is relatively subtle. I think it's working alright, but obviously once there's a new prototype I'll post it up for more comments
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