David Thompson
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Greetings all,

I'm working on a card game called Allegiance. Here's the synopsis: You are a priest of a troubled Temple. A Thieves’ Guild has emerged and is challenging your Temple for influence over the land. You must decide whether to work along with your brethren in the fight against the Thieves Guild or betray your brothers and guide the Thieves’ Guild to prominence. In Allegiance, players use cards to adjust the influence of the Thieves’ Guild and Temple. At the end of the game, the organization with the most influence emerges to prominence. Players begin with an allegiance to the Temple. However, that allegiance can shift during the game as players accrue points that align them with either the Temple or the Thieves’ Guild. All players with allegiance to the Temple win if the Temple has the most influence. One player with allegiance to the Thieves’ Guild wins if the Thieves’ Guild has the most influence.

I'm working through local, online, and blind playtests now. As I'm tweaking gameplay, a couple of my friends (who are professional iOS developers) asked if they could design the game as an iPhone/iPad app. The intention is to release the app as the Kickstarter releases to try to generate interest for the print version.

...if you made it this far, thanks for reading!

My question is this: I have used a very minimalistic style for the cards. Personally I like them. And many of the playtesters have said they also like the designs. But my question is, regardless of this (admittedly limited) positive feedback, is the art "catchy" and evocative enough to capture attention in the ultra competitive Kickstarter market?

If not, how do you recommend changing the art? I'd like to maintain a black & white, minimalistic approach if possible, but not if it means dooming the project.

Thanks!

Sample cards:

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Mario Lanza
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Looks to be of sufficient quality to me. Beyond that and the quality of the card stock it's all just a matter of preference.

If the game was good I see no reason these cards wouldn't do.
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Are these cards to be held in hand? If so, it's always nice if the corners offer all the necessary information.
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I think the art looks great. As long as the entire game is done this way with the black and white flip flop it will help to make your art direction solid.
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This is good enough. It's not going to detract from the game, but it won't help on its own.

However once you explain the theme in the kickstarter, players might be more intrigued by how the art fits with the theme and basic mechanics. That could help generate interest.
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I quite like it. I had a look at the BGG entry and then onto the main Allegiance website. My first thought was - what an awful font choice for a title! Then I looked closer... very clever
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Skirmish_Tactics wrote:

But my question is, regardless of this (admittedly limited) positive feedback, is the art "catchy" and evocative enough to capture attention in the ultra competitive Kickstarter market?

To be blunt: Tiny Epic Kingdoms is about to fund with over 18 times its goal and the art for that is teenage DeviantArt standard. If that's not proof enough that if you have an enticing product and a well-run campaign you can sell it to people on KS, I don't know what more you need.

Visually, your cards are pretty stylish and easy to read, which is a lot more than can be said for half the traditionally-published games we see.

The one thing I would note is that - assuming you hold the cards in a hand at any point - if you don't put the icons on the top-right and bottom-left corners as well, you're shutting out anyone left-handed from playing your game.
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mlanza wrote:
Are these cards to be held in hand? If so, it's always nice if the corners offer all the necessary information.

Bichatse wrote:

The one thing I would note is that - assuming you hold the cards in a hand at any point - if you don't put the icons on the top-right and bottom-left corners as well, you're shutting out anyone left-handed from playing your game.

This is a great point, and follows an earlier discussion in these same forums when I was originally designing the cards. A couple different people brought up the issue, and I re-designed all the cards so that all the corners had the values. When I gave the re-designed cards to the playtesters, everyone either didn't like them or didn't care. A couple of left-handed players specifically said they preferred the original version (which surprised me). I'm definitely open to a larger body of feedback on this, though. I want them to be aesthetically pleasing, but they have to be functional.

JoffW wrote:
I quite like it. I had a look at the BGG entry and then onto the main Allegiance website. My first thought was - what an awful font choice for a title! Then I looked closer... very clever

So Jonathon hit on another concern of mine: the logo for the game:


I went with an ambigram design because it relates to the theme of the game and maintains the B&W minimalist feel. However, my question is: is the logo too abstract? Are most people willing to take the time to read the ambigram, or will they be turned off by it immediately and move on?

Finally, since I've gotten a lot of great feedback here - what kind of cover would you expect too see for a game like this? I'm having a very difficult time coming up with an idea for a cover that maintains this stylistic approach.

Thanks for all the great feedback!
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We can only make suggestions blindly, for we dont know the game or the expectations you have for it. In my opinion, if you are asking the question it is because you are not happy enough with the artwork. If you are making a game, GO OUT OF YOUR WAY to make it amazing.

Personally, both the picture and title appear a little small. Give the white some texture. Do you have time to pay for some sample artwork? If so, use that on Kickstarter as a stretch goal. PS Not all Kickstarter games make it to funding.

Best of luck. Share the love.
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Skirmish_Tactics wrote:

A couple of left-handed players specifically said they preferred the original version (which surprised me).

I would advise checking how those people fan their cards in other games - it's possible that they've had to play with a right-handed deck in the past and have been forced to get used to an awkward right-handed fanning.

For example, as I understand it Bicycle cards are one of the most popular brands in the US, and only have right-handed indices, so American left-handers are more likely to have been forced into a right-handed fanning. Here in the UK, on the other hand, Waddington's cards are the most common, and have indices in all four corners - and every left-handed person I know fans their cards the opposite way around to right-handers, exposing the top-right corners of each card.



Speaking entirely personally, I certainly wouldn't consider backing a game which had critical information on the top-left corner only, because I know from past experience that it's uncomfortable to fan my cards the other way around and I'd rather just play a game which didn't give me that problem in the first place. I certainly don't understand why people would prefer information to be explicitly left off of the cards when they know that there are people who would benefit from it!

Skirmish_Tactics wrote:

So Jonathon hit on another concern of mine: the logo for the game:
...
I went with an ambigram design because it relates to the theme of the game and maintains the B&W minimalist feel. However, my question is: is the logo too abstract? Are most people willing to take the time to read the ambigram, or will they be turned off by it immediately and move on?

Hmm. I like it, but I would share the concern that from the point of view of some random person browsing shop shelves, it may just look like a collection of random strokes! In fact, while I was replying to this post my girlfriend turned around, looked at the image and said "oh, it's some thing that I can't read". When prompted she got that it said "allegiance" with no hesitation, but her first reaction was that it was a hard-to-read scribble.

I'm pretty sure that it's the g/a that makes it hard to read - if you could deal with that, then I expect it'd be fine. Unfortunately, I don't have much of an idea of how to improve that!

Speaking entirely personally again, if I saw a product with this logo on a shelf I wouldn't just move on - particularly if the box were as stylishly done as the cards are presently. But I'm not necessarily representative of the population as a whole!
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Skirmish_Tactics wrote:

So Jonathon hit on another concern of mine: the logo for the game:


I went with an ambigram design because it relates to the theme of the game and maintains the B&W minimalist feel. However, my question is: is the logo too abstract? Are most people willing to take the time to read the ambigram, or will they be turned off by it immediately and move on?

David - I think your card art is great. Really love it. No worries there. Kick it up.

But the name/logo is a huge problem. It completely breaks down in recognition at the first E.

I totally had to study the work to "get it," and honesty... I think the only reason I did at all was because I spotted "Allegiance" out of my peripheral view in plain BGG font. It's crossing waaaaay too close into "magic eye 3D" IMO. I shouldn't ever have to puzzle it out. Leave no ambiguity when it comes to a logo.

(as an aside... as art - I think the logo font is pretty as hell, but in terms of selling the product it doesn't work.)

Coverwise... from a minimalist perspective, I think you're confined to maintaining the black and white color scheme. Nothing wrong with that.

I'd encourage you to maintain the silhouette approach, but make it more complicated by adding "scene" stuff... Think in terms of shadow puppets:

http://www.chis.poole.sch.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/10...

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3ssqb7dxSfI/Tzg2fcYaiuI/AAAAAAAAAi...

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_dbA0Ia7CoiM/Sx_kyuLJkGI/AAAAAAAABT...

or

http://wis.wcg.com/sp/web/news_photo/upload/20061205/Shadow-...

(imagine this being shadow, with a straight perspective and each character profile is in one of the arches)


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Bichatse wrote:
I would advise checking how those people fan their cards in other games - it's possible that they've had to play with a right-handed deck in the past and have been forced to get used to an awkward right-handed fanning.

For example, as I understand it Bicycle cards are one of the most popular brands in the US, and only have right-handed indices, so American left-handers are more likely to have been forced into a right-handed fanning. Here in the UK, on the other hand, Waddington's cards are the most common, and have indices in all four corners - and every left-handed person I know fans their cards the opposite way around to right-handers, exposing the top-right corners of each card.


Speaking entirely personally, I certainly wouldn't consider backing a game which had critical information on the top-left corner only, because I know from past experience that it's uncomfortable to fan my cards the other way around and I'd rather just play a game which didn't give me that problem in the first place. I certainly don't understand why people would prefer information to be explicitly left off of the cards when they know that there are people who would benefit from it!


Great advice! Because players need to be able to see the white and black values, you really can't use a traditional fanning technique (because even if I put the black values on the bottom left of the cards as displayed above, the black value wouldn't be visible). However, I'll work on tweaking the design some to make them lefty-friendly. Maybe I need to rethink the design in general.



Bichatse wrote:


Hmm. I like it, but I would share the concern that from the point of view of some random person browsing shop shelves, it may just look like a collection of random strokes! In fact, while I was replying to this post my girlfriend turned around, looked at the image and said "oh, it's some thing that I can't read". When prompted she got that it said "allegiance" with no hesitation, but her first reaction was that it was a hard-to-read scribble.

I'm pretty sure that it's the g/a that makes it hard to read - if you could deal with that, then I expect it'd be fine. Unfortunately, I don't have much of an idea of how to improve that!

Speaking entirely personally again, if I saw a product with this logo on a shelf I wouldn't just move on - particularly if the box were as stylishly done as the cards are presently. But I'm not necessarily representative of the population as a whole!

and...

MOTHDevil wrote:


But the name/logo is a huge problem. It completely breaks down in recognition at the first E.

I totally had to study the work to "get it," and honesty... I think the only reason I did at all was because I spotted "Allegiance" out of my peripheral view in plain BGG font. It's crossing waaaaay too close into "magic eye 3D" IMO. I shouldn't ever have to puzzle it out. Leave no ambiguity when it comes to a logo.

Agreed. You guys basically affirmed my concerns. I still want to use an ambigram, but it needs to be much more instantly readable.

MOTHDevil wrote:


Coverwise... from a minimalist perspective, I think you're confined to maintaining the black and white color scheme. Nothing wrong with that.

I'd encourage you to maintain the silhouette approach, but make it more complicated by adding "scene" stuff... Think in terms of shadow puppets:

http://www.chis.poole.sch.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/10...

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3ssqb7dxSfI/Tzg2fcYaiuI/AAAAAAAAAi...

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_dbA0Ia7CoiM/Sx_kyuLJkGI/AAAAAAAABT...

or

http://wis.wcg.com/sp/web/news_photo/upload/20061205/Shadow-...

(imagine this being shadow, with a straight perspective and each character profile is in one of the arches)



This is great. Thanks, Eric. I agree that a more complex scene like this would work. As an aside, can anyone think of a scene or image that says "Thieves' Guild" to you? I'm having a difficult time coming up with something that would serve as a symbolic counterpart to an actual physical temple.
 
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Skirmish_Tactics wrote:

This is great. Thanks, Eric. I agree that a more complex scene like this would work. As an aside, can anyone think of a scene or image that says "Thieves' Guild" to you? I'm having a difficult time coming up with something that would serve as a symbolic counterpart to an actual physical temple.

I think an alley or buildings in the background would do the trick. Think less about a "guild" as an organized location, and more as fluid body of cells.

Inspiration:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/b/b5/LNA1_TSR...

http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m9fighWtMW1r2s3h9o1_1280.j...

http://sortforsyning.dk/wp-content/uploads/Lankhmar.jpg
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I think the use of the silhouette of a dagger would instantly scream "thieves guild" to me. If you couple that with Eric's suggestions for buildings I think you could really cement the imagery on first gland (perhaps have buildings in the background, an unsuspecting person in the street, and a hand with a dagger extending from an alley, or something like that).
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Skirmish_Tactics wrote:

Great advice! Because players need to be able to see the white and black values, you really can't use a traditional fanning technique (because even if I put the black values on the bottom left of the cards as displayed above, the black value wouldn't be visible).

Isn't that an even better reason to put them on all four corners, though? Like that you can spread the cards so you can see just the last centimetre or so of all of them, and see all the white and black values at once because they'll both be on the same side of the card?
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Skirmish_Tactics wrote:

Great advice! Because players need to be able to see the white and black values, you really can't use a traditional fanning technique (because even if I put the black values on the bottom left of the cards as displayed above, the black value wouldn't be visible).

I was actually going to recommend having a "reminder" about the information on the bottom of the card on the top (so players don't have to keep flip flopping cards in their hand); so I don't know how you were thinking of doing it, but it definitely is possible (the icons seem to be matched with color or card, so you don't need a hint about the icon - you know what it is, just the number). Simple put a smaller number, just below the icon and to the right which shows the value of the bottom of the card. So, on the Guild Leader, below the money bag, offset a bit to the right would be a small (but readable) "0" and on the other side, below the temple icon, offset a bit to the right would be a small (but readable) "7".
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I have no idea for Kickstarter, but I do know when I do like the way something looks. Your cards look good. If there is anything that I don't like about them, it is that they are borderless. I am a bit OCD when it comes to seeing a deck from the side and seeing cards one way or another. If it doesn't affect gameplay one way or another I'm not as bothered, but if it hints to something it bothers me.
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MOTHDevil wrote:

I think an alley or buildings in the background would do the trick. Think less about a "guild" as an organized location, and more as fluid body of cells.

Inspiration:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/b/b5/LNA1_TSR...

http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m9fighWtMW1r2s3h9o1_1280.j...

http://sortforsyning.dk/wp-content/uploads/Lankhmar.jpg

and

Sandrockcstm wrote:
I think the use of the silhouette of a dagger would instantly scream "thieves guild" to me. If you couple that with Eric's suggestions for buildings I think you could really cement the imagery on first gland (perhaps have buildings in the background, an unsuspecting person in the street, and a hand with a dagger extending from an alley, or something like that).

Great ideas, guys. I'll run with this.

Anyone have any ideas of an artist who would be good with this style? Individual characters are one thing, but I'm not sure I could handle a scene like this and make it look good!

Bichatse wrote:
Skirmish_Tactics wrote:

Great advice! Because players need to be able to see the white and black values, you really can't use a traditional fanning technique (because even if I put the black values on the bottom left of the cards as displayed above, the black value wouldn't be visible).

Isn't that an even better reason to put them on all four corners, though? Like that you can spread the cards so you can see just the last centimetre or so of all of them, and see all the white and black values at once because they'll both be on the same side of the card?

Oh yea, I agree with you. I'll definitely look at some design tweaks that make it easier on lefties.

Candi wrote:
Skirmish_Tactics wrote:

Great advice! Because players need to be able to see the white and black values, you really can't use a traditional fanning technique (because even if I put the black values on the bottom left of the cards as displayed above, the black value wouldn't be visible).

I was actually going to recommend having a "reminder" about the information on the bottom of the card on the top (so players don't have to keep flip flopping cards in their hand); so I don't know how you were thinking of doing it, but it definitely is possible (the icons seem to be matched with color or card, so you don't need a hint about the icon - you know what it is, just the number). Simple put a smaller number, just below the icon and to the right which shows the value of the bottom of the card. So, on the Guild Leader, below the money bag, offset a bit to the right would be a small (but readable) "0" and on the other side, below the temple icon, offset a bit to the right would be a small (but readable) "7".

Interesting idea. During actual play, the players often flip their cards over to count their black value and then back over to count their white value. The ability to quickly see both at the same time without flipping would be good.

bbblasterfire wrote:
I have no idea for Kickstarter, but I do know when I do like the way something looks. Your cards look good. If there is anything that I don't like about them, it is that they are borderless. I am a bit OCD when it comes to seeing a deck from the side and seeing cards one way or another. If it doesn't affect gameplay one way or another I'm not as bothered, but if it hints to something it bothers me.

Thanks, Beau. Every card in the game has the split white/black design. So there's no mechanical impact on gameplay by seeing the cards from the side.
 
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Just spitballin here on the logo...

Your cards all have the mirror effect where the center line is the point where the reversal occurs.

You could bring that into the logo with a similar effect, exempt make the l's crosses for the temple, and daggers for the guild.

Just a thought..
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I am neither a game designer nor an artist, but I do back K/S projects so here is my opinion.

Your art is classy and stylish- I like it and I DO consider the art in a project.

I have not seen a lot of this style in K/S projects so maybe you will attract backers because of the art!

The font for the title is too fussy in comparison to the pared back nature of the cards, maybe you could just have the first letter in script similar to ancient scribes wrote and illustrated books.

Good luck with your K/S
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I love the logo but I listen to black metal so I'm used to unreadable names. My suggestion is to keep it but add 'Allegiance' in a small readable type below, and flipped upside down, above the ambigram. Maybe solid bars with negative space letters.
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emoboy44 wrote:
Just spitballin here on the logo...

Your cards all have the mirror effect where the center line is the point where the reversal occurs.

You could bring that into the logo with a similar effect, exempt make the l's crosses for the temple, and daggers for the guild.

Just a thought..

Neat idea. I'll toy around with that.

Joose wrote:

I am neither a game designer nor an artist, but I do back K/S projects so here is my opinion.

Your art is classy and stylish- I like it and I DO consider the art in a project.

I have not seen a lot of this style in K/S projects so maybe you will attract backers because of the art!

The font for the title is too fussy in comparison to the pared back nature of the cards, maybe you could just have the first letter in script similar to ancient scribes wrote and illustrated books.

Good luck with your K/S


Interesting. Another little project to experiment with!

Doomsword wrote:
I love the logo but I listen to black metal so I'm used to unreadable names. My suggestion is to keep it but add 'Allegiance' in a small readable type below, and flipped upside down, above the ambigram. Maybe solid bars with negative space letters.

I know this is crude, but do you mean something like this?

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Skirmish_Tactics wrote:
Agreed. You guys basically affirmed my concerns. I still want to use an ambigram, but it needs to be much more instantly readable.

I like the ambigram, but agree it may need to be tweaked a bit.
Personally, I find the results of this generator to be a little easier to understand, but it will cost you $90 to use their results as a brand.
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Doomsword wrote:
I love the logo but I listen to black metal so I'm used to unreadable names. My suggestion is to keep it but add 'Allegiance' in a small readable type below, and flipped upside down, above the ambigram. Maybe solid bars with negative space letters.

I know this is crude, but do you mean something like this?

[/q]

Precisely . They look a bit heavy there, if you shorten them up so the ambigram sticks out a bit it will reduce the hard squareness. I really like b/w silhouette type art, a lot of my stuff is in this vein.

The bars could be made into silhouettes of a citiyscape, temples on one side, seedy buildings on the other. Then the whole thing could take over as the cover image.
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What about this?



The entire cover would be split in half. This forces the eye to go down and to the left to read the "plain text" title.

As you continue the cover down beneath the logo, you stay with a mirrored silhouette thing, dividing the cover in half, like that face/vase optical trick.

I'd do a better mock-up, but the card images are a little too small.
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