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Subject: [Poll Added] Help me inspect my cards appearance rss

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michael brown
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I am getting ready to do a blind playtesting push for my game - this time sending out higher fidelity versions of the cards to get more feedback than I did last time.

One reason for the new push is that I have finally gotten all of the parts cards artwork back from my brother in law (who is illustrating them for me.)

Would anyone be willing to look over my cards and rules document and see if there is anything that I could do to improve the readability and understand-ability of the cards?



The cards are Here. Here is my bgg gallery for those who hate google.

For those interested in the rule document, I have posted the rules online here.

Finally, I have made an online version of the game that can be played here if you want to see how the game plays.

Edit: I have added a poll. The poll refers to the three versions of the cards below:

Apparently my first poll was either not worded correctly, or opinions were fairly evenly split. I have made a new poll to attempt to correct this (by asking better questions). If you desire to vote in the new poll I would appreciate it. You can vote even if you voted in the last poll.

Poll: More Questions, because apparently I failed to make the old ones correctly
Do you like the metal background better than the white perlin noise background?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
yes
72.7% 8
no
27.3% 3
Voters 11
Do you like the glow better than the lack of glow?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
yes
54.5% 6
no
45.5% 5
Voters 11
Do you like the colored title text better than the black title text?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
yes
63.6% 7
no
36.4% 4
Voters 11
Do you like the dark metal part platform (in the center of the card) better than the lighter metal part platform?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
yes
36.4% 4
no
63.6% 7
Voters 11
This poll is now closed.   11 answers
Poll created by theTrueMikeBrown
Closes: Wed Aug 27, 2014 6:00 am


Colored Text:


Glow:


Lighter:


Poll: The most recent versions of the cards
Which version do you like better?

  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
Colored Text
28.6% 4
Glow
35.7% 5
Lighter
35.7% 5
Voters 14
Do you like the icons in the lower right of the Legs card better than the ones in the lower right of the Claw card?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
Yes
76.9% 10
No
23.1% 3
Voters 13
This poll is now closed.   14 answers
Poll created by theTrueMikeBrown
Closes: Sat Aug 23, 2014 6:00 am
 
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michael brown
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Re: Help me inspect my cards appearance
Following your advice as I understood it the card looks like this:



Do you think that that looks better?

(For reference, here is the original version)


To me the new one looks a little bit flat, but I am used to the old appearance.

I think that the shadow effects helped some of the text to be more readable. Given the range of colors that I use I couldn't come up with a background that provided a high enough contrast to be easily readable for all of the rule text. I could reduce the colors, but having text of different colors does seem to make the symbols easier to read.
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Liam
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Re: Help me inspect my cards appearance
I can't advise but I can say:

I agree original font made it difficult to read.

Current card is still jarring. It feels like the colours jar with one another. I'm struggling to focus on the actual image.

I'd take a look at the market leaders and start by following their colour scheme.

Example:



This is one of their more unusual cards but note that the colours are limited with the contrast between then being limited. In your example the colours are all radically different, confusing the overall composition. I'd start off trying to be conservative and then work your own style in.
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michael brown
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Re: Help me inspect my cards appearance
Liam

You are probably right - I should reduce the breadth of the colors on the cards.

My goal with the original wide range of the color scheme (as well as the font choice) was to make the cards reminiscent of a game show (sort of flashy and garish). Because the game play is supposed to be a game show type contest between the various players.

I will have to come up with a way to give that feeling without making the cards harder to read. Anyone who has an idea I would happily hear them.
 
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secoAce -
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Re: Help me inspect my cards appearance
Definitely the light green text on grey at the bottom is not readable. The other text over the icons are bad too. They need a more contrast in colors.

I agree that drop shadows adds visual complexity that makes text harder to read. Solid color text is clearly. The text color choices at the top need to be much lighter on the dark icon backgrounds, and the text on the bottom needs to be darker on the light background. The revised card typeface also looks a lot thinner. Try using the same heavy weight font.

Also, I don't know the significant of the card color schemes in your game so I don't know what pink cards represent. But the bright pink card background seems very garish and clashes with the dreadful sense of what a card called "Self-destruct" should convey.
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michael brown
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Re: Help me inspect my cards appearance
I have darkened the green and lightened the orange and black text. That does seem to make it more readable. I also found a thicker font face.

Here is the new image:


The pink colored cards are all 'add ons', which are in no way important to building a robot capable of dancing. I picked the color because I was down to red and magenta, and magenta seemed to fit the idea of an 'add on' better than red did.

The classes of cards in the game all have different colors that allow them to be easily sorted and identified across a table. There are three types of cards: Parts (which compose the bulk of the cards in the game and are the things that you use to build your robot), Moves (Which you use to make your robot dance and to impress the judges), and Judges (Which tell you what types of moves or what types of robots will score well this round).

Move cards all have a green halo around the center image (or a flat green background if I replace the halo with that), judges all have a blue halo, and parts cards have halos that identify what they do for your robot.

Chassis are orange, Reactors are yellow, Supports are purple, Grasps are cyan, and Add-ons are magenta

For those who have not clicked through to view any of the card galleries, here is an image of nine of the cards.
 
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Matthew Proper-Lee
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Re: Help me inspect my cards appearance
Readability-wise, put the black outline for the text back on, or make the backgrounds of the text boxes lighter/less busy (ie remove the gradations). It makes those boxes really busy, and the text kind of gets lost in there to me.

Change the background color of that upper right icon. It's too dark in both versions, or use a light font to contrast it.

The glow outline color is obviously something needed to distinguish different effects, but the bright pink/lavender looks weird with all of the blacks and greys. It does clash strangely, so maybe something more muted?

Personally, I think the textured backgrounds in the picture oval looks strange and sometimes even blends into the artwork to give a strange first look. I'm thinking of the card Ken as an example of this that made me look twice to comprehend the picture. A solid light grey might have worked, btu Ken's artwork needs to contrast more to stand out (like a black outline so he doesn't blend into the background).
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secoAce -
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Re: Help me inspect my cards appearance
I understand that the colored backgrounds denote different types of colors, but some of those colors are too similar, such as between the Richard and Legs cards, and the Legs from Self-Destruct cards.

Have you tested the color schemes against something that shows what a color-blind person would see? As much as 5-8% of the population can have some type of color-blindness and there are different types of color-blindness. I strongly suggest you test out your cards with such a tool.

If the denoting the card type is important, it would have to have some other kind of identifier other than just colors, like some kind of symbol, or maybe use a different shape encircling the center picture. Take Magic cards for example. It's very color dependent, but they also use mana symbols to indicate the "color" of the card.

You could also consider changing your card types. Perhaps 9 different types of cards are too many to keep track of. Also using Magic as an example, you could have fewer main types of cards and then break them down into subtypes, and using only very different colors for the main type, and using some other indicator for the subtype.

From your descriptions above, it sounds like there are only 3 main types of cards:
* Parts
* Moves
* Judges

Then the rest are really subtypes of Parts:
- Chassis
- Reactors
- Supports
- Grasps
- Add-ons

Having only 3 types and 5 subtypes of cards is easier to manage, play-wise as well as design-wise, than 9 types of all the same level to keep track of.


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michael brown
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Re: Help me inspect my cards appearance
klz_fc wrote:
make the backgrounds of the text boxes lighter/less busy (ie remove the gradations).

That is a good idea. I will make some mock ups of that and post them to see how they look.
klz_fc wrote:
A solid light grey might have worked, btu Ken's artwork needs to contrast more to stand out (like a black outline so he doesn't blend into the background).

Also a good idea. I will lighten up the backgrounds and make sure to make outlines on the hard to see cards.

secoAce wrote:
Have you tested the color schemes against something that shows what a color-blind person would see? As much as 5-8% of the population can have some type of color-blindness and there are different types of color-blindness. I strongly suggest you test out your cards with such a tool.

Thanks a lot for this comment. I had not considered this.
I just looked at my cards with such a tool and agree. Some of the colors will have to be fixed. A few of them aren't as important (Judges and Add ons are the same color to most color blind people, but all part cards have a space score in the upper left hand corner and judges all have a awesomeness score in the upper left hand corner, so they can't really be confused)
I will work on making all of my colors able to be differentiated by color blind individuals.

secoAce wrote:
If the denoting the card type is important, it would have to have some other kind of identifier other than just colors, like some kind of symbol, or maybe use a different shape encircling the center picture. Take Magic cards for example. It's very color dependent, but they also use mana symbols to indicate the "color" of the card.

I do have symbols planned out for all the card types. I will figure out how to put them on the cards somewhere.

secoAce wrote:

You could also consider changing your card types. Perhaps 9 different types of cards are too many to keep track of...

A good idea. I will look into differentiating the card types more.
 
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Matthew Proper-Lee
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Re: Help me inspect my cards appearance
theTrueMikeBrown wrote:

secoAce wrote:
Have you tested the color schemes against something that shows what a color-blind person would see? As much as 5-8% of the population can have some type of color-blindness and there are different types of color-blindness. I strongly suggest you test out your cards with such a tool.

Thanks a lot for this comment. I had not considered this.
I just looked at my cards with such a tool and agree. Some of the colors will have to be fixed. A few of them aren't as important (Judges and Add ons are the same color to most color blind people, but all part cards have a space score in the upper left hand corner and judges all have a awesomeness score in the upper left hand corner, so they can't really be confused)
I will work on making all of my colors able to be differentiated by color blind individuals.

secoAce wrote:
If the denoting the card type is important, it would have to have some other kind of identifier other than just colors, like some kind of symbol, or maybe use a different shape encircling the center picture. Take Magic cards for example. It's very color dependent, but they also use mana symbols to indicate the "color" of the card.

I do have symbols planned out for all the card types. I will figure out how to put them on the cards somewhere.

secoAce wrote:

You could also consider changing your card types. Perhaps 9 different types of cards are too many to keep track of...

A good idea. I will look into differentiating the card types more.


Just a thought, but how about another symbol denoting the type of card and using it in one of the unused lower corners? This way it is on the card and gives that secondary hint about the card's usage? Since you planned out a symbol for the types of cards, that seems like it would help address the main two concerns and if you reduce the number of card types, you reduce the number of symbols, so there is nothing special you need to do that way.
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michael brown
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Re: Help me inspect my cards appearance


I applied the recent comments to nine of the cards and made a composite image (similar to the previous one).

At first I didn't like the loss of the black border around the text, but perhaps it is for the better.

Are the icons in the lower left corner visible enough? Should I make them all darker to stand out more?

Also, should I darken the yellow text on the reactors, or keep it light (The coal reactor and the trash reactor give an example of both options.)

I am leaning toward darkening it.

Edit: I have not yet fixed the colors for colorblind individuals. I think that darkening certain colors would be enough, but I will have to have more time to fool around with it.
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Re: Help me inspect my cards appearance
I liked the base gray color, then having the center circle have the pink glow (or card specific glow). I think if the base stays grey possibly lightening towards the top and bottom in a gradient, the BLACK text would be readable top and bottom. I don't like either colored or italic or cursive text. Readability is key.

Also, I dislike mixing and matching circle and elipses across cards. I don't care if the elipse card would have no text at the bottom, I find the contrast between circles and elipses jarring. Stick with all circles. Unless maybe those are completely different decks of cards, and won't end up all mixed up in my hand.

I guess I'd like to see that before commenting further. Text may need font size, font type, or bold adjusting.

Looks like you have some symbology that could be more clear or bigger too. Why, for instance do I see 3 colors of lightning bolts? You might stick to a simple 3 base color sceme for -, neutral, and + numbers across all icon types. Why is there a box beheind the lightning bolts? Fill in the thumbsup. I see red, pink, blue, and grey on what I'd call the water/blood icon. I suspect those are more than 1 icon type and thus need shape distinctions. Relying on color only distingtions there seems like a bad idea.

I'd like the center background of "turning pullbacks" to be the same plain gray as the other cards.

All in my opinion, of course.
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Nicholas Ferezin
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Re: Help me inspect my cards appearance
Hey I'm messing around with my card designs on PS, if you want to send a layered file over I would love to try and see if I can help.
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Shelby Buttimer
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Re: Help me inspect my cards appearance
I think you ought to seriously consider adding a border to your cards. A border will help them look more finished, and it's much more forgiving when you print them. If the printing is exactly perfect, a border will take up any slight offset without making the offset obvious.

My second thought is that the box around the text isn't helping you. To me it says "I couldn't make my text readable on the background so I put a box behind it".

Hope this helps, the artwork looks good.
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michael brown
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Re: Help me inspect my cards appearance
Sorry for not seeing this till now, I went away to a technical conference and have been busy since then.

ThroughTheDeckGlass wrote:
I liked the base gray color, then having the center circle have the pink glow (or card specific glow). I think if the base stays grey possibly lightening towards the top and bottom in a gradient, the BLACK text would be readable top and bottom. I don't like either colored or italic or cursive text. Readability is key.

I will make a version with these changes. (I don't have time right now, but I will do it soon).
ThroughTheDeckGlass wrote:
Also, I dislike mixing and matching circle and elipses across cards. I don't care if the elipse card would have no text at the bottom, I find the contrast between circles and elipses jarring. Stick with all circles. Unless maybe those are completely different decks of cards, and won't end up all mixed up in my hand.

The only cards that you hold in your hand are the green ones, but the other ones are all placed in front of you to form your robot, so the different sizes of ovals will be next to each other.

I will make a version with all the same size ovals to see how it looks.
ThroughTheDeckGlass wrote:
Looks like you have some symbology that could be more clear or bigger too. Why, for instance do I see 3 colors of lightning bolts? You might stick to a simple 3 base color sceme for -, neutral, and + numbers across all icon types. Why is there a box beheind the lightning bolts? Fill in the thumbsup. I see red, pink, blue, and grey on what I'd call the water/blood icon. I suspect those are more than 1 icon type and thus need shape distinctions. Relying on color only distingtions there seems like a bad idea.

The color distinctions are there to help the reader to more easily notice if something is positive or negative. I used grays for 0s, bright colors for positives, and dark colors for negatives (with the exception of the heat icon (which you referred to as the blood icon), which I used blue to indicate negative heat and red to indicate positive heat).
ThroughTheDeckGlass wrote:
I'd like the center background of "turning pullbacks" to be the same plain gray as the other cards.

Turning Pullbacks is a Move card, and all the move cards have the same background. They are grossly different in functionality than the other cards in the game, and are a class of cards in and of themselves. I could change the background, but those cards actually represent things that your robot can do instead of parts that can be attached to your robot.

I could find a different background for those cards, but I want the card to show a robot that is dancing, and that doesn't happen on a plain white background in my opinion.
ManicProlix wrote:
Hey I'm messing around with my card designs on PS, if you want to send a layered file over I would love to try and see if I can help.

Here a file is:
xcf
psd
I look forward to what you come up with!
ShelbyB wrote:
I think you ought to seriously consider adding a border to your cards. A border will help them look more finished, and it's much more forgiving when you print them. If the printing is exactly perfect, a border will take up any slight offset without making the offset obvious.

I can easily do that. I will post some images with borders soon.
ShelbyB wrote:
My second thought is that the box around the text isn't helping you. To me it says "I couldn't make my text readable on the background so I put a box behind it".

I'll also do this and post it.

Thanks for the comments, guys! I will post back with updates soon.
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Nicholas Ferezin
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Re: Help me inspect my cards appearance
Ok, so I went in and messed around with some shapes and shading mostly. In the end I rearranged some of the icons because the current way the card flows has them in an awkward position. I also went ahead and threw some textures on there.

It's not particularly good. I have some things crooked, and I clearly just made the center shape smaller for the top-left icon since I wasn't in the mood to do another one, but my idea was to try and do something to give you ideas of directions where you could easily go with he design without changing that much.

Here is the changed version: http://i.imgur.com/j9LySAM.jpg

Here is a gif of the changing: http://i.imgur.com/Cn2gSem.gif

I hope this helps!
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Nicholas Ferezin
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Re: Help me inspect my cards appearance
So... Was it helpful? I'm like in deep suspense here, but super excited because I've been tipped some of that sweet sweet GG which I think is a first?

So I'm super invested in this now.
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michael brown
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Re: Help me inspect my cards appearance
Sorry for being so slow to respond. I have been working on some modifications to the cards, but I also had a ton of things that I had to do over the weekend (pick up more hay for the goats, take care of my sick son, make 5 lbs of feta, celebrate my birthday, visit my parents in the aftermath of their basement flooding, etc).

Nicholas: I thought that your work was very good. I like the changes to the text platforms (the bottom one where you added the screws was especially cool.) I was originally not entirely sure about moving the heat and electricity to the bottom, but the more I think about it the more I like that change. I also like the way that you changed the thickness of the border of the image platform. I have not yet incorporated all of your changes into the current version of the cards, but I do intend to try them out.

Here are my other changes that I have been working on:


I am not quite sure that I like the gradient change of the background so I might go back on it. I also intend to add little circular platforms for the space icon (upper left icon), the heat (red icon), and the electricity (the other icon) and see if I like them.
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Re: Help me inspect my cards appearance
here's a basic tutorial on composition and value. Many artist do studies in B&W and add color later. Overall, i would say your value difference is very low. Try to look at the cards in B&W if you can not just because of color blindness issues but also for readability.
Also, consider using position to convey information. This allows cards to be read at a glance. For example, if there are 4 elements, place them in the same position consistently. It will make it easier to track them. If cards are used in different phases in the game, then make that intuitive from the card. E.g. place start actions at the top of the card (or text area), end actions at the bottom. Vary the composition per card type.

http://alextooth.deviantart.com/art/Composition-Tutorial-Val...
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Re: Help me inspect my cards appearance
I like what you did microstack Games.
Your card looks nice and neat. I specifically like that all icons were placed neatly on the bottom.
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michael brown
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Re: Help me inspect my cards appearance
alexr wrote:
here's a basic tutorial on composition and value...

Thanks, that was a very interesting read. I will have to look at my cards in black and white. I will post when I come up with my thoughts.

MicroStack Games wrote:
I'm no professional either, but I had fun messing with the card layout for a couple hours this afternoon. Hope this helps and gives you some ideas. Good luck moving forward!

The change in the way that you organized the card is interesting, but it doesn't account for some of the variability that the part cards can have.

Here is a cross-section of the cards in the game:


For the purpose of this discussion, you may ignore the center left and center right cards. They are not part cards, and they would have to be laid out differently than the other cards were we to re-arrange the cards in the manner that you are proposing.

First, you may notice that almost all of the part cards do not have thumbs up icons on them. This is because the self destruct is one of the two parts cards in the game that affect your awesomeness score directly. Because of this I would not want to dedicate a box to thumbs up icons (it is so rare that it would almost never be used).

All parts cards have a space score (the box icon in upper left corner), and that score is paid when you get the card and never considered again once your robot starts to dance. I wanted to put that score near the top of the card to make it easy to separate from the other icons that you have to consider constantly.

Most of the other parts provide one or more (up to 5) dance move type symbols. for example, the claw fulfills the basic 'any grasp' requirement (the >< symbol) as well as the 'tap dance' requirement (the hat and cane symbol)

Were I to re-arrange the cards according to your idea, where would these other symbols appear?

Also, to throw another monkey wrench, chassis (orange cards) have another icon that they all have: heat capacity. This is the pink flame symbol. No other card provides this ability, and all chassis cards have it. Perhaps I should make chassis cards be another special type of card, so that they can have a different layout as well.

Here is a gallery of the last version of all of the cards that I personally produced before posting them to this thread. (I provide this link so that you can get an idea of the range of card types in the game)

Thanks for your efforts. I definitely look forward to seeing how you would change your layout when faced with a different card.
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Alex Rodriguez
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Re: Help me inspect my cards appearance
so I've only skimmed the rules.
Let me ask, is the information the players need visible when the cards are held in the hand and fanned out? Or will players not need to do this?

Will the cards be stacked when played? Can they be splayed in such a way to still show relevant info?

have you considered moving the icon position to match for both judges and the other cards or maybe using a matching left/right alignment like The Builders: Middle Ages?

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Nicholas Ferezin
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Re: Help me inspect my cards appearance
theTrueMikeBrown wrote:
Sorry for being so slow to respond. I have been working on some modifications to the cards, but I also had a ton of things that I had to do over the weekend (pick up more hay for the goats, take care of my sick son, make 5 lbs of feta, celebrate my birthday, visit my parents in the aftermath of their basement flooding, etc).

Nicholas: I thought that your work was very good. I like the changes to the text platforms (the bottom one where you added the screws was especially cool.) I was originally not entirely sure about moving the heat and electricity to the bottom, but the more I think about it the more I like that change. I also like the way that you changed the thickness of the border of the image platform. I have not yet incorporated all of your changes into the current version of the cards, but I do intend to try them out.

I am not quite sure that I like the gradient change of the background so I might go back on it. I also intend to add little circular platforms for the space icon (upper left icon), the heat (red icon), and the electricity (the other icon) and see if I like them.


I think the four main take aways from my work and Microstack's work so far for me are:

- If you want to have a border make it thicker like you did in your last example
- You need to move the icons to a position where most of them are on the bottom or on the side
- Have all icons within some sort of boundary that unites them graphically.
- Integrate the card color better by adding it to more places in the design.

I didn't want to change much in the design because I didn't have a chance to read the rules myself, but I think having skimmed them a bit I think Alex has the right way of how to make things better but it all depends on how you see the game being played.

Also I'm happy to send you my PS file if you want to take anything from it.
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Re: Help me inspect my cards appearance
alexr wrote:
so I've only skimmed the rules.
Let me ask, is the information the players need visible when the cards are held in the hand and fanned out? Or will players not need to do this?

The parts cards are never held in the hand more than the amount of time that it takes to move them to your play area.

alexr wrote:

Will the cards be stacked when played? Can they be splayed in such a way to still show relevant info?

As they currently stand they would not be able to be splayed in a manner that allowed all of the relevant info to be displayed at the same time.

I will make that my main goal for right now as I see the importance of it.

alexr wrote:

have you considered moving the icon position to match for both judges and the other cards or maybe using a matching left/right alignment like The Builders: Middle Ages?

I have not - I could do that, however everyone is able to complete the requirements of each judge at the same time (potentially multiple times per turn), so it might not be as big a win as it was for that game.

ManicProlix wrote:
I think the four main take aways from my work and Microstack's work so far for me are:
...

I agree with your four points. Though it might take a few days I will work on coming up with a design that allows for better positioning of the relevant bits.

ManicProlix wrote:
Also I'm happy to send you my PS file if you want to take anything from it.

Thanks! I would enjoy having them. Could you save them in RGB format? I use GIMP, so I cannot load CMYK format PS files.
 
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Re: Help me inspect my cards appearance
theTrueMikeBrown wrote:

I agree with your four points. Though it might take a few days I will work on coming up with a design that allows for better positioning of the relevant bits.


i would suggest mocking up the cards with the elements attached with a re-positional adhesive (post-it glue) to allow quickly re-arranging the components during test play
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