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Graphic Games - Board Game Illustration and Graphic Design

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09 Jun 2020 00:48 #311008 by oliverkinne
I appreciate that the visual appeal of a game will...

In the next article in my series about how board games go from an idea to a product, I want to talk about the creative people who are responsible for the graphics and other visual bits that we see when we play games. Very often their work is what we see first and remember vividly afterwards, but very rarely do we remember their names. If done well, the visual elements of a game blend seamlessly and add to the experience but don't detract from the gameplay.

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11 Jun 2020 09:53 - 11 Jun 2020 09:53 #311054 by Sagrilarus
So, you've struck on about half a dozen issues in board game development (really any product development). This article is sort of a pu pu platter of subjects. If that was your intention, I think you've done it right.

Days of Ire has a positively glorious cover which certainly caught my attention but the display on the table is pedestrian. Different parts of the package have different responsibilities, and I think we once again find ourselves coming back to the conversation about the game Developer. That's the person in the hot-seat to make all the pieces pull together, each serving their purpose but all working in a unified way. That takes one person serving in the overarching role.

I think there are five or six articles hiding in this article. It might be worth your time to reach out to some of the people that do this work and speak to them personally even if it is only via email. I was very impressed with the graphical design and layout of Wings for the Baron (a game that I think nailed everything you talk about above) and mentioned it in a forum. The result was a Thank You from the artist. Some parts of this community are still small and personable, I think graphic design may be the smallest and most accessible.
Last edit: 11 Jun 2020 09:53 by Sagrilarus.
The following user(s) said Thank You: ubarose, Gregarius

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24 Jun 2020 08:15 #311352 by oliverkinne
You're right, of course, that a good board game developer will make sure that every facet of a game comes together. Even the best graphic designer will create a poor result, if the developer doesn't ensure the brief is clear and the graphic design is tweaked until it works.

I wasn't trying to poo poo anything with my article, but trying to show that the artists' work is a very important part in board games and it seems very few of us can name any illustrators, graphic designers or other visual artists.

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24 Jun 2020 11:10 #311355 by jeb
I never bothered with WIZ-WAR until kwanchai rebuilt the art. I own the Black Box edition of GLORY TO ROME because the Phil/Kaja Foglio look of 1e looked fucking terrible.

I've long been a proponent of games that "look good on the table." It goes a long way with me. In fact, they don't even need to look good if they look awesome (ARKHAM HORROR 2E). Some games are perfect, elegant little packages with tiles that stand up 50 years later (3M ACQUIRE), others are Lego-quality puzzle pieces that make amazing vistas (CARCASSONNE THE CITY).

Sometimes great games get weird clunky things like the notepad thingamajigs in CATAN: CITIES & KNIGHTS or the symbol soup and inane scoring of SIDEREAL CONFLUENCE (another kwanchai!). The best games take the best ideas and use the art and design to connect them to the players/watchers to make them easier to play and be entertained by. You see it in all games. The canonical "soccer ball" you have in your head when I say that is the Telstar by Eigil Nielsen, used at World Cup 1970. It utterly defined the equipment, maybe forever; for a game that's played by billions over generations, and it wasn't around until 1968 or so.

Design informs our lives. Why do chairs have four legs? Why does the biohazard symbol look fundamentally dangerous? Why do my jeans have rivets on them? Why do houses have lawns of grass? These are design decisions and you are soaking in them and soaking them in, all the time.

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