art directing ccgs

In CCG art, there’s a school of thought that since it’s going to printed on a postage stamp the colors must contrast so the focal point of the card pops off the ‘page.’ I agree (mostly) with this school of thought.

And here’s why.

CCG art serves many functions and I don’t think most art directors get this. So I’m going to break it down for people who can’t afford an art director who went to school.

  1. The art must look as different as possible to the point of being unique. This will make more sense when you read #3. But even if you don’t agree with #3, the entire point of the game is that the cards are collectible. Why would I want to collect 200 cards that all look the same?
  2. The composition must stand out on it’s own. This is vital. A muddy composition is hard to distinguish from other muddy compositions. This took me a long time to learn as an ad, because i didn’t go to school for this. I learned through trial and error (and some screaming from William O’Connor) that art composition is the soul of the image.
  3. The image must be recognizable from a distance. This is so important. A good CCG may have upwards of 2000 (or more) cards in it over its lifetime. Players intimately familiar with the game, know all the cards. And while the title is right there, at an event, players need their brains to relay to them as fast as possible what has just been played. And recognizing the art is done faster than reading the name. These are timed events and people need to process what’s going on quickly. An expert player has probably memorized all the card text in the game. Seeing a green mox (jewel) at 10 feet away means he knows what that card does just from the art, faster than if you said the words “emerald mox”
  4. Most game company ADs don’t play the games they are in charge of. And certainly not at a tournament level. Trust me when I say, I’ve played most of the games I worked on at a semi-competitive level (not Anachronism). I don’t want to wait around for my opponent to think. I want to get in there and play.
  5. Character cards need to look like character cards. Buildings like buildings. Actions like actions. Items like items. Etc. All of them should follow inherent logic, so that the art is instantly recognizable as one of those card types. Magic is the exception because all of the cards are essentially either: land, creatures, or magic. And those will never be mistaken for one another. But some CCGs have 8 to 12 different card types. Maybe more. A spell card in a game about singing tacos needs to look nothing like a ‘taco follower’ card.
  6. Art is not representational. Art is evocative and declarative. It must adhere to function and form and so many rules that no single writer’s description should ever trump them. People who force the art to mimic the text exactly need to be clubbed. If the art is doing exactly what the text is doing, then you’re completely missing the value of a second footprint on the card.

    Ever watch a music video and the images on the screen are identical to the lyrics? That’s boring. I know the song is about falling in love. Don’t bore me with an echo chamber of visuals that do the same thing. I can imagine people kissing just fine.

  7. Don’t believe me? Check out my art for Black Monk. None of the text has anything to do with the art. The art speaks for itself and stands alone, even if my writing is bad.
  8. When you’re looking at a sketch, you as the art director need to visualize (as quickly as possible), all of this information. The least important thing is “does this match the art description,” because the art description in and of itself is just a launching off point. Who fucking cares what the original intention was. The consumer isn’t going to see the original intention. They are going to see the final piece.

That’s all for now. I’ll post more when I think of it.

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What’s Been Going On?

Running a game studio by yourself is no easy task. If I get worn down by the work, there’s no one else here to pick up the slack. And I’ve been running at a break-neck pace for four years now.

The last six months have been especially tiring and my productivity has waned as a result.

For those who watch my projects and know what I’m behind on, let me elucidate you with some updates, while talking about what I’m excited for…

First, Toolcards 2 is finally nearing its end. It is so late, I can’t even sleep. The anxiety of letting people down on a project like this wears me down. But I’m finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks to Alan Bahr for kicking my ass on this one.

The Carcass: Exodus is also late and I have a new schedule for myself to get this done by mid-May. I seriously need to get this game off my plate. It’s not fun to have it hanging over me.

I still owe people four praxis games (1 bonus and 3 customs). The customs are coming slowly, but the bonus one is 99% done. Whew. Something is nearly finished.

All the while, I’ve been working on new material for many other projects. I know. It’s insane. I overbooked myself as usual, which is just a stupid trend for me, but Aaron and Sara Hubrich are releasing a D&D5 book about gods and goddesses. I couldn’t say no when they asked for help (even if the research nearly killed me).

I’ve also started writing four more Black Monk Praxis games AND a Black Monk stand alone game. This character and world have really captivated me. The ideas that are coming out for it won’t stop. It’s like I’m bleeding stories. Much thanks to Juan Ochoa’s art…

22_5_Grave Digger.jpg

This guy is the grave digger. A tough job in a world where no one dies.

Ben Woerner and I have plans for a fantasy game that’s underway. And would you believe me if I said Anthony Moro and I have FOUR nearly finished game worlds that have been in the pipe for more years that I care to think about?

There’s also some notes for TWO large dungeon projects, and two more game systems that should make for their own series. Honest, they play nothing like Protocol or Praxis. Rob Vaux is finishing one of them up, now.

As you can see, I’m not slacking, I’m just not focusing.

And I have no idea how I’ll have time to release ALL of these games soon. Even if they were done right now, there’s just not enough months in the year.

Okay. This is getting exhausting just thinking about (let alone writing).

Ugh. I didn’t even mention City of Masks, which is coming soon, too. Alyssa promised me a map.

We have a special guest coming on the podcast soon, too. Blimey! The time?

Gamex 2017

I’ve already bought my ticket for Gamex 2017 in Los Angeles. I’ll be running games all weekend. In fact, as soon as I post this, I’m heading over there to enter my game events. Praxis. Carcass. A game called Fairview. More?

Feel free to find me on Facebook is there’s something you want to know about. Or if you think I’m slacking.

State of the (Post World) Union 2016/2017

I usually write these up at the end of the year, but things have been chaotic around here for two months and I just haven’t gotten back into my groove. Today is January 6, and I am spending the better part of the day just writing everything that needs to be done.

So.

In no short order, here is a bullet point list of everything that happened in 2016, followed by what is going to happen in the first quarter of 2017.

  • Productivity-wise 2016 was the worst year yet (less than 30 games were released this year)
  • Sales-wise, it was the best year yet (go figure)
  • Praxis is probably the single-best thing I’ve ever produced in such a short time and there are still 10 more ideas for this game mechanic in the queue.
  • Carcass and City of Masks are very late
  • Toolcards 2 is even later
  • Wendy Reischl has been helping here and there and her input has been invaluable
  • Which indicates to me that this company needs one helper-monkey (“You’re supposed to be a helper monkey. This isn’t helping!”

Moving forward, the next 3 months will be focused on finishing old business. I can’t and won’t do another kickstarter until everything on my plate is done. That said:

  • Carcass is 75% complete
  • City of Masks is 33% complete
  • Toolcards is nearly there (I really am just crippled creatively by these Archetype cards)
  • After that, this year will see the release of new protocols, praxis games, a new game system called Providence, and some new RPGs by myself and some freelance writers.
  • No spoilers at this moment

This is really the crappiest update I’ve ever done, but I need to buckle down and finish work. For those of you who’ve been patient, I promise the future of Post World Games is to revamp the release process so these backups in production never happen again.

2016 Contest

Okay.

I just had an idea for a contest that you can all enter. In fact, you can enter as many times as you like. Here’s how it will work.

  • Play a post world games game.
  • Write up a report about it.
  • Post the report on your blog, as a review on drive thru rpg, or on facebook.
  • Send the link to me twitter (postworldgames).
  • On Dec 31, the contest closes and I select the best story from the lot.

Winner receives a limited edition, King for a Day Hardcover. Only 50 were ever printed and only 8 remain.

That was easy.

I look forward to hearing what you’ve done with the games.

Final Days of the King of Storms Kickstarter…

praxis_lambs.jpgWe all know I hate spam. I hate marketing. I hate talking about what I’m doing.

But.

I love making games.

So. Of course, in the middle of my 2016 schedule, I decided to spend three months making five more games.

Five more GMless games that use a new system, very different from Protocol. Sure. You can see some Protocol in there. But not really. I’ve borrowed the language of scene-framing and scene-types, but that’s where the similarities end.

In fact, my upcoming game Last 12 Hours, will be borrowing from Protocol as well.

But that’s tangential. You want to know about this project. Right?

There are five games in this series. The first is called King of Storms. That sounds suitably over the top and masculine. Right?

(Maybe Blooddrinking King of Storms of Doom would have been a better title)

And then there’s Lambs, which is only available until the end of the Kickstarter. After that… it’s gone forever.

I feel as though that should convince you to at least go check it out.

Collector edition games. I mean, really?

 

Dice Crawl Game Rules and Variants

Board Game Geek has a series of draconian rules about what and WHAT NOT can be posted on their website, so I’m making the rules to dice crawl available here. For free.

If you don’t know what dice crawl is, it’s a board game I designed about dungeon-crawling with a fistful of dice. And yes. It actually has a strategy element. If you’re interested in learning more, you can look it up on Board Game Geek.

dicecrawl rules

dicecrawl rules solo

dicecrawl rules iron man

New Look, New Game System

So. I was told the old site didn’t look user friendly. And now I’m trying out this new look. I might tinker until I land on something stunning, but I think this is a better way to go to make the site look ‘happier.’

In other news, I’m developing a new GMless story-game system.

The first game will be book only and available ONLY in kickstarter format, once it’s done. That means if you don’t buy game 0 from the kickstarter, you’ll never get a copy. This will be a test of the new system. Players will be encouraged to provide feedback on the game and help shape games 1 through 10.

Here’s a look at the cover.

praxis1

That’s it for now. Remember. I’m on facebook, twitter, and e-mail. If you’re not seeing it here, you can always ask me questions there.

Dying Memoryes

125440
Dying Memoryes was originally devised way back in 2006. I’d recently finished George’s Children and I was really jealous of all these new indie story games. But most felt less like games and more like Q&A exercises. After 30 minutes of setup for any RPG, you could probably write an awesome story. We needed rules? So, I decided I wanted to make a game where your character sheet was blank and you could start playing in seconds.

But what?

Well. Maybe if you started as an empty slate. But why? Does everyone has amnesia? Do they exist in a vacuum? The zeitgeist of the game came to me when I remembered Ryan Charles’ Ship of Fools game from the early 90s about people in cryogenic tanks on a dying ship. I pretty much stole the plot, added my own nuance, studied how the brain works without oxygen, and wrote a game entirely about people’s unreliable memories and will to live.

Seriously underrated game.

http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/125440/Dying-Memoryes-GMZero-RPG-2

Black Dragon Inn coming this Friday!

Black Dragon Inn will debut on Friday right here in the PDF store, and will be demoed on Saturday at conFUSE, where Jim Pinto is the guest of honor.

blackdragon-200x300

Black Dragon Inn is a story roleplaying game about a party of
adventurers returning from a hard-fought quest.

The dragon is dead. The town is saved. Now is the time to rejoice in
the meadhall and drink to fallen comrades. We shall sing tales of
their memories, recount their deeds, and drink until the ale runs dry.
Tonight we honor ourselves. And our fallen brethren.

Tonight, the quest is over.

But something sinister lurks inside the town of Iverdale. Someone does
not want you here. Someone wants Iverdale all to itself.

Someone wants you dead.

Characters take on the role of adventures dealing with an unseen and
malevolent foe determined to undo them. Can they survive whatever
haunts Iverdale? Or will this be their final quest?