Sunday, June 4, 2017

Okay I couldn't resist so I finally gave in to my temptations and revamped my game box. AGAIN!  If there is anything I know to be certain in graphic design, it's that no design is permanent. Designs evolve over time and making changes is just part of the game.

Besides, I'm really winging it here. I go by the seat of my pants and instinctively make the changes I know will matter most to my overall concept.

In this case, I already had trains as part of Millennium's backstory but I thought trains should be the centerpiece of the game instead and so I added an Amtrak train to the box. It doesn't dominate the design because the concept does not revolve around trains but it is quite prominent.

What does this do to the rest of the game? Don't ask. But of course I had to re-do all my card decks, mats, etc.

Yes, I had to reboot and re-tool my entire design but hey, that's how it goes. No worries, no regrets. Whenever a design can be improved, it should be changed to reflect a better outcome.

At this point I'm considering this design to be "final." Meaning I'll most likely print this on my first prototype to see how it looks live and in living color.

It's hard to tell how graphics will really look on screen regardless of any Mode settings or filters at your disposal. There's nothing like the real thing so I'll give this design a chance to debut and see how it looks and performs.

I also flipped the artwork to match the perspective of the train moving from left to right. Just trying to avoid a Ford Mustang moment if you know what I mean. Plus I added a small banner indicating this design is a collectible first edition.

Not to sound presumptuous or anything. Lord knows I've failed plenty but you have to swing for the fences every time. Nobody cares about your blood, sweat, and tears. They just want to play an interesting and fun game. Period. Nothing else really matters to players at any level.

Bottom of Box
They just want to play an interesting and fun game. Period. Nothing else really matters to players at any level.

But, as you know, the box cover, it's artwork must engage and at the very least should be compelling enough to trigger some kind of curiosity. If it doesn't. It's back to the drawing board.

You can't see all the details from this image but there's a homeless man and his dog in the lower left corner. I think that adds another level to the story and besides, several playing cards feature dogs so I can't go too wrong with that detail.

The biggest challenge in any design is to keep it minimal and clean. That's always hard to do when you want to fit in so many elements. The trick is to pare down and stick to only the most relevant images, maybe a handful of images and then trim from there.

Always easier said than done but I think I'm pretty close to a comprehensive design concept for the Millennium box. I'm not so sure about the background cityscape. I do like it but I know I'll eventually try something else. Maybe something simpler. I also removed a grunge filter, which added some nice sepia tones. As much as I liked that filter, I wanted a cleaner look and feel so I got rid of it.

These are the hard choices you have to make.

These are the hard choices you have to make. I eliminated that filter because of printing concerns. Once I see the actual printed box I might add that filter back into the mix but for now I think it's a bit too much for the overall design. Less is more in this case.

The bottom of the box is another story altogether. Since Millennium is a relatively unknown game, the main objective is to play up the game concept and above all put a positive spin on the game's outcome.

Players don't like going out in a blaze of glory. They want to win and feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction by the end of the game. In essence they want to be hero's through the main character. At the very least, players want to feel like they are a part of the game and that they've made the right choices that have played out to a desired outcome.

So the back (bottom) of your box should entice or tease players with some eye candy. Trinkets, cars, chits. Showcase whatever you have as part of the playing experience. Make sure to list the contents of your game and all the legal disclaimers.

While the front of your box highlights the main concept and story of your game,  the back focuses on benefits of playing the game and the game's unique pieces. Designers tend to pack the bottom of the box with way too much information and graphics, but this is acceptable. Again, stick to the basics and try not to crowd or overwhelm your design.

I hope to run another art test this week and most likely will order my first prototype after the test results. I already know which areas of the design need attention and tweaking but until I actually play a live game it's hard to get a feel for the pacing and functionality of the game.

Plenty of details still up in the air. Lots to do so I'll get to it.

Play on!