Continued from “What’s the Hook”
When making a set collection game, there needs to be some obvious way for the players to see which cards belong to which sets. And when making a set collection game with cards that can belong to two different sets, there needs to be two obvious ways. Such as the numeral and the suit printed prominently in the corners of a standard playing card.
Good Graphic Design shows, at a glance, which cards can be grouped together. Skyward, from Rule & Make, distributed by Passport Game Studios, (to pick a game not quite at random) is a great example of this. The game contains four faction groups, that are easily distinguishable by their own logo and colour, prominently displayed on the cards edge, and by an overall tint through the whole card. It’s elegant and efficient, and makes sorting the cards in your hand a breeze. However, the game play in Scenic revolves around cards that connect seamlessly, on all four sides, to other cards. So coloured borders and tinting is not really an option.
When printing out the first prototype of Scenic, I went with the classic two card name, stating the two sets each card could belong to, and using a different colour background strip to represent the location. At the time, this seemed to be the best way to identify the cards, whilst making minimal intrusion on the overall art. Printing the name at the top of the portrait cards, and the bottom of the landscape cards, groups the three names together when collecting a set of a particular race. And the colour of the background strip matches when collecting a location set.
But after play testing these cards for a while, (plus binging a bunch of podcasts including all of Board Game Business Podcast) it occurs to me that two English words is not even close to the most efficient card labeling system. Plus Jeremy Commandeur mentioned, in several episodes, a purely pictographic game design he has that is perfect for international sales to any country. If I eliminate those two words, and replace them with two icons, I can ascribe meaning to those icons in an easily translatable rule book/sheet, and this makes the cards internationally friendly, exactly as they are. Also by using two separate icons, I can position them at opposite ends, and corners, of the cards. This means they will be grouped together for any set you are collecting, and it will aid in card placement when playing the cards.
Now I just need to work out a purely visual way to express the bonus cards, that award points for Tallest Panorama, Widest Panorama and Second Copies of cards.
Continued in Scenic: Form, Function, Efficiency