Thursday, January 12, 2012

And I thought I was soooo clever!

Well, its been a fun week.  I have been working late every night as we try to meet our deadlines.  It seems that working 12+ hours a day does tend to cut into your Play Time....who knew?  That Said I did manage to get a basic art layout for all of my cards.
From left to right: Cargo, Captain, Damage, Cities
I am still using the test art for the Captain and Cargo Cards but that will be changing soon. You can see the difference in visual quality on the Cargo and Captain Cards compared to the City and Damage Cards.  I will have to go back and rework them so they look like the same art. Thanks to my good friend Ben and his fantastic info about how Public Domain works, I should have most of the art done in the next week or two.

Now for this weeks lesson:  DO NOT ADD ANY ART until your game is much closer to being done.  There are a many, many....MANY reasons for this:
1.) Cards Change and so does the Art.  There is no point in making art that will get thrown away.  You will be driven mad by how often you will change stats, layouts and cards.  Save your sanity. 
2.) Printer Ink Costs are not cheep.  There is no point printing out all the ink and colors if the balance of the cards are broken.  Save your money. 
3.) Until you have an artist hired, your art will be inconsistent and look like its from different games (like my cards).  Save your time.
4.) Once you add art, you have invested a significant amount of time and money into your game.  Now you will be less likely to make the changes that your game needs because it will mess with all that work you put in, making you more resistance to change.  Save your creativity.
5.) When you finally bring your game to a publisher, and persuade them to publish your game, they will hire an artist and have all of the art redone.  This can be very frustrating since you grow attached to the work you put into your art.  The Publisher will have other ideas about how best to market this game they are taking a chance on and will (unless you are a world class artist) insist on changing the look and layout of the art.
In the end, you should resist adding art.  I know it makes it all look better and gets others more excited about it, but you will only kick yourself.   Making art is very time consuming. Unless you are an artist, you will be better off using stick figures and focusing on making the game play and mechanics fun.

I know all of this and I still do it.  Almost every game I have ever made I started piling the art on almost from day one.  Maybe I am starting to learn since this time I waited a full 2 months to start in with the art.


  1. I understand the compulsion to have finished art in a project, as I usually have the same desire with my own Flash/iPhone projects that trips me up. I'm not entirely sure what it is, but I think having that visual polish makes it feels real and serious somehow, even as those assets are working against me. An additional problem I have, beyond what you've listed, with finished art assets at too early a stage is when I fall in love with assets that no longer have a place in the game, and start keeping elements of the design that are wrong for the project just so I can keep those assets. So yeah, not a great idea.
    I do wonder, however, if publishers, even if they intend to replace the art, don't look more favorably on board games that have that level of polish - after all, the game is more impressive with the art, and it's hard to not be influenced by that.

  2. Yeah....I am still working on it when I have free time. unfortunatly work has taken all my free time. Working 12+ hour days 6 days a week doesn't give a lot of free time to spend on gaming or with the girlfriend. =)