Allan
Singapore
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Hi everyone,

I was wondering – how do you decide on what Art style to even use in a game?

Just some background. I am not an aesthetic person in any real way. Up until I started to design a boardgame I never really cared about the Art in games. As I get closer and closer to tweaking the last of the mechanics of my game, I am really at a loss for how someone like me who grew up indifferent to art goes about deciding what type of art style to choose?

It seems like art is so much more of a gut feel thing, that you look at it and decide what you want. Is there a more structured way to approach choosing art for a game?

Here is the example of the theme of the game I am working on

Once upon a time there was a powerful and kind warlock, who lived in an enchanted forest. She cared deeply about the creatures around her and with her powerful magic granted them sentience, making them her familiars. They lived together for many years until she died of old age. When she died her sentient familiars became lost and didn’t know what to do. Left to try to build their own society together, they would forever change their home and forest with the decisions they would make.

I am a super amateur (doing this entirely out of interest) So I don’t have much money to be made from me, I was just hoping for tips for some one that really has no idea about art.

Thanks so much for any help in advance,
 
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Guilhem Bedos
France
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That's a good question, indeed.

Concerning your specific game, I think the first question you should ask for yourself is: which is the audience? Obviously, you'll not use the same art for a family game than for an adult game. And by "family" I do not mean "kid-oriented" only, it could be reasonnably mature too (see Mice and Mystics for example). This should help to discard many deadends.

Otherwise, what came to my mind when I read the description is a somewhat "naive" graphic style, based on pastel-like flat colors, possibly vector-based art. Or something similar to the art style of games like Siggil, Herbaceous, Kanagawa, or Spirits of the Forest among others.

Possibilities are endless, you just need to make your mind
 
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Mario Lanza
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For right now just worry about the design itself. Don't worry about the art. That's a much-later decision and one that the publisher can handle assuming you've made a good game.

There is something to be said about the mood of the game. Is it serious or lighthearted? That will play into the art style, but as I mentioned, just focus on the design for now.

Take Evolution. The style is altogether different from other board games. It did make it distinct. But had a more familiar style been chosen I don't think it would have mattered so long as it remained aesthetically pleasing and functional. A good artist will get you that far and unless you're self publishing the publisher will work that out for you.
 
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Allan
Singapore
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Thanks for your ideas guilhem.

Though my initial audience would be medium to heavy boardgame players. the people that enjoy weighty games ranging from Powergrid to Terra Mystica. The art in either of those games is not particularly great, but that would likely be my target audience.

With the Mice and Mystics example, I think that the art and story really carry the game. I would love to have art that could carry the game like Mice and Mystics but I am not sure how to both discern that type of art let alone pick something that would serve the same function ( How do I even describe the art of Mice vs Mystics?)

Making up my mind has never really been an easy thing for me, especially when it came to aesthetics.

Thanks so much for your suggestion
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Allan
Singapore
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Hi Mario,

thanks for your reply. I am not sure how easy it will be to find a publisher for the game I am making. Though I feel like it is a good game, I more than understand that I am biased.

the game that I have is medium to heavy, the mechanics are simple but similar to 5 tribes, there are many options and it is hard to think of all the moves in advance (not quite as many as 5 tribes)

the problem with 5 tribes and even Terra Mystica is that they are all very abstract games. I definitely want mine to feel more thematic. I want people to feel like they are building something.

I will spend more of my effort always refining the game, that part comes much more easily to me than choosing art.

Thanks for your suggestions.
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Guilhem Bedos
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sadsayboo wrote:
With the Mice and Mystics example, I think that the art and story really carry the game. I would love to have art that could carry the game like Mice and Mystics but I am not sure how to both discern that type of art let alone pick something that would serve the same function ( How do I even describe the art of Mice vs Mystics?)

Well, you don't need to describe it, just to find something which looks like it.

sadsayboo wrote:
Making up my mind has never really been an easy thing for me, especially when it came to aesthetics.

Maybe you simply need help from a professional. If you fear you don't have enough budget you can still post a detailed presentation of your project, in this sub-board for example, and ask if someone would be interested into lending you a hand. It happened plenty of times and with many good results.

Don't lose hope, man!
 
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Mario Lanza
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sadsayboo wrote:
the problem with 5 tribes and even Terra Mystica is that they are all very abstract games. I definitely want mine to feel more thematic. I want people to feel like they are building something.


You're speaking my language. I hope you have a promising career in games as you'd likely bring games to the table that I'd want to play.

I only found Terra Mystica okay despite its fandom. Its parts don't hold up the idea of civ building in a way that I find all that believable. Although Clans of Caledonia is abstract in its own right (I've only watched play sessions online) I see it as having a more cohesive theme and feel.

All games are abstract, really, but there is something to making them feel like the mechanics are based in the notion of what a game is about and not otherwise arbitrary scoring systems.

Indonesia is a masterpiece. Abstract as it is, everything works towards a cohesive simulation.
 
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Allan
Singapore
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Hi Mario,

I think maybe I become more of a boardgame snob. For me the game can't just be fair or balanced with strategy and complexity. While I appreciate those games (and I used to love Terra Mystica for a long time) I think that to really be a good game it should feel like the mechanics complement the feel of the game. Otherwise, you just have fancy puzzles. And while I loved those games for a while, I just seem to want more these days.

I have not yet tried indonesia, but I have heard good things about it. I did like how when Terra Mystica first came out that everything did work together cohesively, those small things like shifting power in the power bowl at first felt like such small things but really helped to make a difference.

Thank you for your encouragement. I am going to just take this one step at a time, I will work to just get this one game done and see how it goes from there =)
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Allan
Singapore
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Hi Guihem,

I will do what you suggest (I will need time to write it up) and then poll bgg and see if they have opinions on what they would like for art in their games. I have a few of the final mechanics to shore up, but I will ask for tips in the board game design forum.

Thanks again
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