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Subject: Card layout/design rss

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Pierre Rebstock
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After many good playtest sessions, I've decided to take the prototype i'm working on one step further and i'm looking at making the cards "pretty" ... shouldn't be too hard because it's all text at present. I was wondering if the wise people of this section had some all time favourite card designs. The type of layout or design (which could be the same thing?) that made you go: wow! this is awesome/gorgeous/rad!
Thanks in advance
 
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Craig Somerton
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Without knowing the theme or content of your cards, it's very hard to suggest a design or a layout. It all depends on what the cards do and/or are being used for.

For me cards need to be both utilitarian first and pretty second. If you're holding them in your hand, putting text in the middle makes reviewing them awkward. Symbols in the top left corner are perfect for this scenario.

Unless volumes of text is essential, try to iconise things where possible, it really speeds-up play.
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Pierre Rebstock
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anomander64 wrote:
Without knowing the theme or content of your cards, it's very hard to suggest a design or a layout. It all depends on what the cards do and/or are being used for.

That's what i'm trying to avoid. Say i'm looking at a fantasy setting, people will suggest cards based on that. What i'd like to get is ideas disconnected from the setting. I realise this might be a tall order but really, i'm happy to hear from people saying they love that card layout in that game, just on a simple gut-feeling level.
For example, I like the Bohnanza layout and how they work with the concept of accumulating beans in a vertical pattern, making the important info always visible at the bottom, plus the use of the reserve for gold coins markers.
From this observation, I can adapt the idea to some sort of resources accumulation in another game (like a draconic treasure for the players to grab) or something else altogether. But I wouldn't have mentionned Bohnanza if somebody had asked for advice in a fantasy setting...


Quote:
For me cards need to be both utilitarian first and pretty second. If you're holding them in your hand, putting text in the middle makes reviewing them awkward. Symbols in the top left corner are perfect for this scenario.

Unless volumes of text is essential, try to iconise things where possible, it really speeds-up play.


That is definitely the type of advice i'm looking for Tips and tricks that make a card layout work (within a specific context, sure, but a lot are "transferrable" concepts)
 
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Joe McDaid
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Depends what the cards are used for and how they will be held and what not.

When I was decorating my cards there were a few things I considered.

One, will they be held in hand? If there are icon's, they should be on the left and if possible the right for people who fan opposite.

Card distinctions should not be based completely on colour. Colourblind people play games too so inconography is just as impoartant as colour when it comes to getting information across.

Keep things simple. Boarders and images can be as complicated as they want but things that are used alot in the game must be clear and not boged down with unneeded background elements. It's ok to have a light symbol in the back of a card much like MtG did with the last few sets, but it shouldn't make the card any harder to read.

Bigger is better. The more information you have to fit into a card the smaller each piece of that information will be, so if each card doesn't have alot of information, make the key elements of it large so that they can be seen from across a table.

Images can go anywhere. It's not that importat to have pictures and illustations front and center on a card. Keeping things off center is usually how you can make room for more information. The 40K card game had cards where the image was more vertical than it was horizontal to show they were characters. Not everything needs to be like a polaroid orientation.

Try to keep the information left to right. You'll notice on the warhammer LCG most everything used in the game is featured left and goes right. Cost and power are left, image and text are right. Because the stuff you'll need to refer to the most is usually the stuff on the left. When MtG did thier time spiral set, the 'future' cards had the mana cost printed virtically on the left hand side because it was alot easyer to read in a fan that way. I actaully wish they made all sets after the same way, it would improve the abilty to hold a hand right in that game and they even used Icon's to be distinctive between creature/enchantment/spell, in the upper left.

If things go on the cards make sure there is room for them so that they don't cover any information. On the game I'm planning currently, the cards will use cubes to determine level, so there will be some handy cube sized spots for them to go. So if tokens are going to go onto cards, make sure there is enough room on the artwork to place them.

And then a bunch of other stuff that really depends on preference and theme.
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Iffix Y Santaph
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Text-Light/Symbol:
Bang!=

Jamaica=
Just to clarify, there are 2 pictures here.
(Both of these card games have the distinction of playing in several languages with very little change.)
Text-Med:
Dominion=

Lord of the Rings=

Text-Heavy:
Twilight Imperium=

Just Text:
Twilight Imperium=


Of note, however you decide to make the cards, make them fit the game you are designing. This will make them memorable to players.
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Dan Fielding
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Avoid icons like the plague. The Phoenicians didn't invent the alphabet for nothing; many billions of $$ are spent on teaching people how to read.

Use keywords in bold followed by explanatory text as required.

Make sure text is black on white background so they can be distinguished.
 
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Iffix Y Santaph
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I'm not going to argue that reading isn't important; however, symbols that are easy to remember save a whole lot of time in the right circumstances.
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Craig Somerton
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Although most of my games are different, I do tend toward making symbols as meaningful as possible.

Here are two samples of my most recent game:




Not beautiful, but they are usable and you can see the elements at a glance. Bear in mind, this is just a prototype and I'm not a graphic artist in any shape or form.
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Dan Fielding
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XendoBreckett wrote:
I'm not going to argue that reading isn't important; however, symbols that are easy to remember save a whole lot of time in the right circumstances.


Multiply the number of games you own times 10 symbols each.

The alphabet only has 26 symbols to learn.
 
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Joe McDaid
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Do you drive? If you saw this and didn't know what the word meant what would you do?



Symbols are imbeded around us on a daily basis and we recognize them without even realising they are symbols. The McDonald's Arches, Mercedies Benz Tripoint Star, The power button on any electrical device. How about the Smilies in these very forums, do you need some one to say Devil every time they show devil for you to understand the meaning they are atempting to be naughty?

Symbols are pictoral based on what they are suposed to represent, and were around long before an established language. Which means they are the best tool to use when it comes to relaying information to the most people without needing to understand the language system to know what what it's meaning is.

Which means to us gamers its pretty much universal we all know hearts are HP and any devloper that uses hearts for anything else is the idiot, not us.

The sign above says "Stop" by the way.
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Brook Gentlestream
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I enjoy stats. I like it when a card has different statistics listed on it, such as the Babylon 5 card game. Babylon 5 also used a cool system of "marks", which were universal icons meant to reflect a different effect. There were very few of them and the presence of a mark indicated a special rule. BSG has something similiar, where everytime a particular icon comes up on the card, you move the jump track one space higher, regardless of the other standard effects of that card.

As a general rule, I prefer text heavy card sets to text-light card sets, as exemplified by a previous poster.


Also, be sure your cards are easy to read outloud. If it uses icons, be sure to name the icons so that it can easily be read outloud. Arkham horror's mythos cards are difficult to read out loud, for example, because there's so much stuff happening on one card, and the icons are coded to correspond to board pieces, etc. Having to say "white triangle, square, diagonal line, and black cresent moon" is kind of cumbersome even though it looks perfectly natural if you don't try to read it out loud to the other players.

 
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Tim Park
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Icons and symbols make your game easier for companies in other lands to pick up. Localization is a big headache for text-rich games. If you CAN avoid text, do.

Of course, I'd avoid throwing dozens of new icons at someone at once, too. Race for the Galaxy boggled my mind until I finally sat through a demo, or played it online, I forget which I did first. The iconography fell into place rapidly then, and I don't know that I would change a thing as far as it goes, but it was a barrier to getting into the game.

 
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Dan Fielding
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Jice wrote:
Do you drive? If you saw this and didn't know what the word meant what would you do?




Symbols... were around long before an established language. Which means they are the best tool to use when it comes to relaying information


1. Make my way to the nearest hospital to determine why I don't remember how I got to wherever the hell it is they don't speak English on stop signs.

2) To the contrary, communication was revolutionized by the invention of the alphabet. Let's not abandon it.
 
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Tim Park
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Gronak wrote:


2) To the contrary, communication was revolutionized by the invention of the alphabet. Let's not abandon it.


But text has it's place... it's not always the ideal way to communicate. The spoken word obviously can't apply here. The written word doesn't fare so well in realtime media like television, where it's easier for someone to read the information to you. Cards are small and ideally suited to abbreviation, be it in small strings of text or all the way to abstracted symbols, which in their own turn would be incredibly out of place in a novel, and would be less necessary in a long-form textual application (rules explanations, flavor text, and the like) even if it did occur on a card.

Nodding in favor of the icon on a card that doesn't call for text isn't an affront to language.
 
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Joe McDaid
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We're not, but you've got to remeber that all alphabets are just a system of symbols. They wern't thrown to the wind, they were just organised. If symbols in games are organised and clear, they do a very good job of providing a game language. No one ever has to consult the rule book after the frist time they find out that in Agricola, the symbol with a sheep on it, is a sheep.

That at a glance recognition is the same thing that happens in your mind when you see the word 'Draw.' Yuor mnid dsoen't prcoess ecah lteetr, oethr wsie you culodn't raed tihs. Not to mention multiple meanings of words can cause confusion. If we were playing MtG and you saw 'Draw,' you'd draw a card. If we were playing Pictionary, it'd mean something completely different. But we all know what to do when we see this card after the first time it's used on us:

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marc lecours
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A little text is OK but not too much. Test it out first.

Make a few cards with text in a language other than english (let's say in french or spanish or german). Then test them out on your playtesters. If they can function not too badly with text in a non english language then go ahead and make your final cards in English.

If they are completly lost then you probably have too much text. In which case you should look at replacing some or most of your text with symbols.
 
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Dan Fielding
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rubberchicken wrote:
A little text is OK but not too much. Test it out first.

Make a few cards with text in a language other than english (let's say in french or spanish or german). Then test them out on your playtesters. If they can function not too badly with text in a non english language then go ahead and make your final cards in English.

If they are completly lost then you probably have too much text. In which case you should look at replacing some or most of your text with symbols.


Ridiculous. Write in the language of the country in which the game will be sold. Make separate editions for different countries if your game becomes popular enough for such a demand.
 
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Symbols are great when they work. If you have a system where you can have symbols that help the game run smoothly then it's great.

However, too much dependence on symbols results in RFTG, where the symbols actively detract from learning the game. Even once you know the game some symbols don't read well, so they have to put text in to explain the very same symbols that are supposed to be removing the need for text.
 
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