In this post I will talk about the 18 card game contest that Button Shy Games has initiated this month. And there is still time for you to enter with a winning design – but I will assume this will be a contest with a humongous list of designers participating – and I will elaborate why.
To spark creativity in group you can make a lot of different sprint type exercises. Do an association play where you must generate new thought from one keyword. Or make reverse brainstorm where everybody should try to think about the worst possible solution – sometimes the right solution stands clear after this exercise. It is all really about setting boundaries – narrowing your mind’s playground. If you really want to generate interesting new ideas you should set a clear goal and a very confined play area. Our brains are wired to find the keys we need (In Brain Rules, Dr. John Medina, a molecular biologist, states that our brain is bad at multitasking -and prefers to solve one single task at the time).
Button Shy Games as many of you already know is a small publisher of pocket-sized games – and more particular often 18 cards. They have put out an open contest to create a game of well… 18 cards – but with the small twist that it has to be 18 IDENTICAL cards. And this is the escape room for designers. Your first thought might be impossible (mine was) – then you might think ‘uninteresting and boring output’ and in just a few moments your mind is starting to work the problem and think ‘hey it might work’.
Hej Stylus continues to impress with new features. We all know (I guess you do) that Photoshop introduced an integrated pen smoother and that Clip Studio has a Stabiliser as-well. BUT for some reason, I continue to go back to Hej Stylus for more control. I think the new bend and circular rules look rad! Check the video or click the button to get your own version (for Mac) of Hej Stylus v3.4
Actually I did not really care about being ‘paid’ for anything when I started this website. The I have realised it is actually quite some work too keep a website dynamic and updated – and I started to consider what I saw others where doing like Patreon. Where followers can “buy a coffee” or subscribe for special content. I didn’t do that.
Whirling Witchcraft (or as my family calls it, the cube game)
The short description of the game
Whirling Witchcraft is a game for 2 to 5 players, where all players are witches. The witch sitting to the right of you is your nemesis and, of course, the one sitting to the left of you considers YOU to be their nemesis. Your objective is simple; be the first witch to clear your workbench of magical ingredients, or flood the workbench of your nemesis by more magical ingredients than they can handle! Each turn, you will choose a new recipe that converts your magical ingredients to more refined ingredients.
There’s is definitely a shift towards making MORE art directly on your tablet since Apple released the Apple pen for the iPad Pro. Many artists do like Ryan Goldsberry – creating most of their work on the tablet instead of their computer. I wondered if the tablet art could stand up to my demands for an art creation software? To find out – I went through testing the most popular painting apps and will share my experience with each of them here.
Yes I know. You visit the pretty little place called GreenHookGames to get a dosis of great art – but there’s NOTHING there! My fault. The short story is that all my time was filled up with other exciting things that I will list here for you.
Making new Hero art for Skrald that we now gave an english title
Making a few sketches on characters for a Uptimegames
Helping with protoype art on a game by the Designer Erik Sundén
Trying to fix some ideas for a more compressed Cathedraw
I will be working on art on a new upcoming game by Fabricio Leotti
and finally making art and design for my own game “Party Survival” that will be on Fastaval 2019.
There are usually not so many comments on this website – and I have considered it being the fact that interviews don’t demand for commenting. But it could be a huge motivation factor for me. Therefore I will ask you – who is your favourite board game artist at the moment?
I will soon show you some of the art I’m making for Fabricio.
Erik Sundéns game is called Whirling Witchcraft and will hopefully be featured in an article here soon.
World of Waste (Skrald)
will be produced in a small batch soon to be used with school kids. Were are planning to pitch some publishers to see if we can find someone that wants to have this awesome set collection game in their portfolio. To that we also made a game page you should chack out (currently only in Danish).
Party Survival or Survival Party?
My game Party Survival (that I have been told does not really qualify as a party game ) has undergone a lot of changes and could have its own article. I am really thrilled on how it plays now and will need to test test test before Fastavals deadline.
When you see a game like Brutality you immediately know that there must have gone a lot of time into making the world come to life. I was surprised to see som many artists on the credits list, so I really wanted to interview the designer Stephan Frost on his process. Let’s begin.
Tell us about yourself and how you got into board game design?
My day job is in video games, and at the time I was working on an MMO. These are massive games with complex systems and dependencies for development. I wanted to work on something where I could do everything by myself (mechanically), then when it was ready, get some artists involved. One night about two years ago I was about to fall asleep when I thought of an idea to make a straight forward PVP arena board game. I wrote down some ideas, thought of some characters and attacks, drew some rough sketches, and went to bed at 2am. About 2 years later, here we are with Brutality on Kickstarter.
Pick a team of two medieval badasses and go to war against two other badasses
Tell us what the game Brutality is about?
Brutality is a medieval combat brawler board game with grim-yet-high-personality characters that players control. Pick a team of two medieval badasses and go to war against two other badasses.
For the last couple of years I have participated in several design contests driven and curated by the community. The most recent one being the Hookbox challenge by The Game Crafter. I haven’t used TGC before – but the title of the contest just pulled me in. Again and again I wish I had done things differently and better and that is why I want to share a few thoughts on how to get the best out of board game competitions.
Understanding the premise
A contest is by definition a competition where there is one or more winners and entrants are rated by judges. This is some contest you might come across:
Contests that is community driven: This is like on Boardgamegeek forums or Bgdf. You will have a lot more openness and interaction during development. You and the other participants are the judges.
Contests facilitated by publishers with an intention of publication. This can be a publisher looking for a new way to play an existing game or need another game of a specific type.
If you want a game published you might be using your time better that entering design contest – but if you want to improve your design skills and challenge your passion it is a great way to interact with the community. Some games get picked up by publishers like the games of Todd Sanders.
Now it is time to conclude my experiment. I looked at all games before voting in this last article. Even if it NOT fair to only rate a game by the cover – this is what I did, to see if there is a connection between visual appeal and votes in contests like this. I wonder if the order of appearance on the site reflects the number of votes?
Mine, Mine, Mine
Empire of Swords
Do not open
A kings Jest
Crazy cat laydy
Games I choose that looks good and could be printed in colour.
Since 20 of 129 entries was selected it is 15,5 % of all submission. If I selected 10 random of the 129 entries approximately 1 or 2 of them would be selected as semi finalists. Now there is 6 (60%). This to me indicates that the looks is a huge factor. This should off course be held up against how good all games where to play… because maybe the art is irrelevant and these games just was better in play.
Games that I think looked good but did not have a free PNP download
Only 1 of these was selected and this could indicate that the community don’t vote on thing they can’t test or see properly.
Among the semi-finalist there is a couple great looking games that I oversaw, like Reign.
The conclusion must be
When entering a board game contest – Hooking up with an artist friend is a good idea and remember to share your files with the community
How big a role does good art play? I decided to select my 10 favourite best looking games from the 129 entries in the Game Crafters Hookbox challenge. Showcase them here to later see how many of them that advance to the semi-finals. Many designers did not put up a download PNP which I think will be going against them in the rating…or will it? To also investigate that I will select a few of the most visually interesting looking games and write in the end.
And off course like in life it is what is inside that matters most – but this is an art investigation. Sorry.
Art is generally a problem if you are a solo designer with no art skills. Many designers will find good places of royalty free images they can use for the cards – and that is a great idea to do for your prototype. In many cases I feel this unfortunately make the game impersonal and generic – but it depends also of the graphic design. But how important is the looks of a game? It is safe to say that people will generally agree on good art but in the many cases also be very affected by taste in themes. This is a few reason you need to find someone to help with your art.
The theme and story of the game will be more saturated – making the game more immersive
If you got good art – you probably invested time in the game, making it more likely to be tested
The game will be more unique and memorable
The art can be explanatory, and help players to understand the game rules.
Maybe increase your chance on a vote in a competition like this – we will see?
You could have a very illustrative game with few graphic elements, visa versa or a combination. I consider myself as an versatile artist that is quite good at both but definitely not the best (The best artist out there you will find in the Interview section). Sine I like game designing I usually tend to do a more clean graphic style in the game art because it is quicker and more flexible to work with and it can be pretty & functional at the same time (like the classic Innovation) . Unfortunately this usually sticks with the game and it is hard to find time to redo the art. There are many of the games that got handdrawn or more of an amateurish style but this can actually be really cool and authentic. Just be sure to keep it consistant.
For my own game I payed for the community art review that you can get on TGC. I payed because I was sure to score high and I wanted the badge to be an eye-catcher on the shop page. I only scored 80+ which first surprised me but when I thought about it made good sense. I have no story telling and different artworks on my cards. They might be pretty but when you see 9 almost equal looking cards on a page with no real motif it is not better than 8or9 of 10.
Now let’s get to the top ten – there was a lot of close ones to get to the list like, DomiNations, Commons, Canyon Racers, Heist, DuelofTheDungounDesigners, Starfighters, Shilds Up, Armour Up, Inconceivable,
The top 10
Nr. 10a A King’s Jest
Even it this is not high quality final art – it really shout ‘indie game’. And the work is detailed and consistent – which make is vey appealing.
Nr. 10b Do not open
Absolutely gorgeous illustrations. Also a bit ‘naive’ – which I like.
Nr. 9 Turris – City of Giants
I do not know how much of this was painted for the game. It seem like a lot of collages with paint on top -BUT hey! it looks fantastic. And there are so much going on it really triggers your curiosity.
Nr. 8 Battle Stations
I was in doubt with this game. I think it really captures a war atmosphere. The design is very nice – and I LOVE the water.
Nr. 7 Empire of Swords
The use of glow, colors, hard lines and grunge brush strokes creates a very strong and appealing visual style.
Nr. 6 Dueling Dinos
This leans to how I would normally approach a competition. It works graphically and got some cute looking Dino’s. I like!.
Nr. 5 Gluttony 18
This oooze of fun and gameplay. I get digital associations especially to “The Fat Princess!” on my Playstation.
Nr. 4 Smuggles n’ snuggles
This is really fantastic character design and linework. It lacks a bit in the graphic design and colouring IMHO.
Nr. 3 Mine, Mine, Mine
Art by: Moy Shin Hung
Strong illustration. No outlines and in your face coloring. It really pulls you in.
Nr. 2 Mission Control
Spectacular style. Even if it might be a collage of images that has been given an series of effects it is consistent and very cool looking.