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MUD – a new pill in the box?

Pillbox Games – the creators of the beautiful Side Effects are launching something new. Last we talked with Ben Bronstein about his art – which you can read here. So I welcome Pillbox back on GreenHookGames to tell us more.

Start by telling us how Side Effects was received. 

I couldn’t be happier with the reception we got, especially considering it was our first game. Every person who worked on the project gave something special to it. Have to give credit to Panda GM for how fantastic the final product came (especially the pre-press team).

Work in progress

Good – now let’s hear about the new game ‘MUD’. Why did you make it and what is it about?

I think it was inevitable that given our interest at Pillbox Games in making real world systems into games that we’d eventually make our own spin out of the ultimate real life game: Politics. Especially given the current environment there has been constant fodder for game scandal concepts. That being said, we made a concerted effort to draw bipartisanly from a wide range American history and not to focus too much on current events.

MUD by Pillbox
Work in progress
Sketch
Work in progress
Work in progress

That sounds wonderful and explosive 🙂 Looking at the images we see that you are somewhat staying true to your elaborate and perfected graphical style. It looks great. What considerations have you done about which art style to go with?

I think if you enjoy tabletop gaming to any extent, you have to enjoy systems, and figuring out a system to convey the information we had in mind was incredibly fun. First we wanted to reference actual American documents, so government emblems, campaign posters, vintage ballots, political cartoons and currency were the first thing we collected and referenced.

Then we had to figure out a system of conveying numerous parallel suits to our cards without confusing the player too much. (A little confusion can be a good thing, as it allows a player to sneak by or deceive their opponents during gameplay). Rather than having multiple suits in the style of a poker deck, we realized that utilizing the entirety of the card was the best solution. We basically have 3 suits; political leaning, economic class, and region. After a lot of tweaking, we realized the background pattern was best for political leaning, the border was excellent at conveying economic class, and then a central piece of art could clearly show a regional map. After that, we just had to figure out unique and differentiable color schemes for each category. 

Work in progress

Is there any place to go if we want to stay updated on the release and your works?

  • Instagram @Pillboxgames
  • The PillBlog on our website (pillboxgames.com)

I’d say Pillbox’s official instagram is the main place you should stay updated for all our games. Once we launch, I’m sure our Kickstarter page will also be just as prominent. My personal social media postings have basically dried up since the pandemic. 

Kickstarter launches on October 6! And you can still buy copies of Side Effects at pillboxgames.com.

THANK you! We will keep an eye out. And thank you for sharing a print and play here.

Print & Play: 




On the cover with James Churchill

You know those box covers that just seem to not only capture the atmosphere of some distant place – but also are soo well balanced it is the perfect board game cover? That is how I feel about James Churchill’s illustrations. I hope you can be inspired by this interview about his art. Welcome back.

Tell us a little about your artistic background?

I studied Graphic Design and Fine Art for 6 years at University from 1985 to 1991, which included life drawing, illustration, painting, photography and sculpture. For the past 30 years, I’ve been working in Theme Parks, Feature Films and other areas. I’ve only been working in the game industry for the past five years. 

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Illustrations on the border to board games – by Evgeny Viitman

Is a digital board game a board game? Where do you look for artists for your game? I find inspiration on behance.net among other places – and that was where I found Evgeny. I immediately fell in love with his strong expressive comic characters – and several of his works looked like digital games playing with analog references. I hope that he will be working on a board game project soon – his art rocks!

Hi Evgeny – where are you from?

Heyo! I was born in sunny Alma-ata in Kazakhstan which is right on the border with China, surrounded by beautiful Tyan Shan mountains. When I was a teenager my family moved to Siberia (still a big mystery for me, why), at the age of 23 I moved to Europe, to Prague, where I spent good 6 years of my life, then moved to Berlin, now me and my family are based in Barcelona.

Tell us a little about your artistic background and how did you end up working with art for games?

I am coming from a family of theatrical artists (my parents are scenographers and character designers working for theatre and also teaching painting, drawing and sculpting at the Art Academy, so I was exposed to art since I was born. Nevertheless, because of my teenage rebel feelings I wanted to become everything else but an artist, I chose to study physics, but life has directed me to follow the path of my parents and with time I switched to art anyway. My first experience as a game artist was in 2006 when I was working for Unigine.corp as a 3D artist/animator. Then it all started – I tasted the gamedev and dived under it’s muddy waters.

Have you ever worked on any board games or card games? 

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Vibrating lines from Cam Kendell

Illustration by Cam Kendell from the game 5-Minute Mystery

Some of my favorite game art is polished yet expressive and distinct at the same time. When I came across the board game 5-Minute Mystery I knew that we needed to feature the vibrating lines from the illustrator here on GHG. The name is Cam Kendell and he is from Utah, USA.

Tell us a little about your artistic background? 

I grew up drawing countless Ninja turtles, He-Man characters, and an endless supply of Jim Davis-esque animal characters. Comic Strips were my main form of artistic outlet. I drew a lot up until High School when I slowed down to focus on Music and learn to play the accordion.

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