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Trying out different card layouts, looking for advice

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adversitygames
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NL_v18_Onecontactlowtext.png

So I'm struggling to work out the best layout for the cards in my game as I try to find the right balance between text and icons

This is all my own WiP placeholder stuff, I'll be getting someone else to make the UI look a lot better before trying to produce this. UI stuff is far from my speciality and I'm just trying to make a functional prototype for now, but I can still test different means of conveying the information to the player without doing fancy graphics for it.

So attached is a comparison of the presentations I'm playing with at the moment, trying out icons instead of text. The text (as shown on the bottom card) would instead be described in a summary card and in the rulebook, so the players would just have the icons to look at but (hopefully) they would remember or easily be able to check what they mean.

let-off studios
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Before Rolling

The concept of "before rolling" seems a bit complex to me at the moment, but I think it's largely due to the iconography. Here's a suggestion:

- At the top of the card, label it "Choose one of the following:"

- Have one area labeled "Before Rolling." Group the -1 penalty and +1 bonus to Covert Actions in this area, each separated by an "OR."

- Have another "OR" and after that have the "Attempt a Distraction" action listed after in that, offset from the other two actions with some kind of outline box, different-coloured background, or something like that.

Apart from that layout kink, I don't think there will be many problems once someone becomes familiar with the iconography you use.

Zag24
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The die icons are

The die icons are unnecessary. +1 or -1 next to a skill icon is clear that it applies to the roll for that skill.

The "any time" is either unnecessary or should just be an icon that is in a common spot on all cards. That is, if come cards can only be played at certain times and some cards can be played any time, have icons that mean those things and that icon is always in the "when playable" position on every card.

Similarly the cost should be in the same spot on every card. If the costs range only from 0 to 4, rather than a number, just have that many coin or $ icons.

Possibly the top right always has the "when playable" icon with the cost right under it, or vice-versa.

Just using an icon for the action or skill that this card enables or modifies is fine as long as there are only, say, 8 or 10 of them, and they are all pretty understandable from the icon. If there are more skills than that, you possibly want to consider simplifying the game. Or else you'll need the text. This isn't the worst thing in the world, since we've already collapsed some of the text into icons that the players know exactly where to look.

For the "then discard" icon, it depends on whether or not this is the normal case. If most cards are discard after use, then don't have any icon to indicate this, but instead have very special indication on the few cards that are not discard after use. I assume that those are the best cards, so they should have a gold border and possibly a red banner over the artwork that declares "UNLIMITED" or "REUSABLE" or some such, in a stylized and exciting font. (Since that doesn't really need to be that readable, you can use an exciting font. Things that need to be readable need to be in a more straightforward font. Trust me on this, I'm a font geek. That doesn't need to be that readable because that's the only thing that would be on a red banner across the artwork. If there might be several different things in the same position, it needs to be readable.)

If, on the other hand, there are more than just a few cards that aren't discarded, or (more challenging) some that are kept with some action choices but discarded with others, then you need icons for both types. (I could see a card that gives an ongoing +1 to some skill, but has a single-use mode that gives a +3, for when you really need it.) If "reusability" is not that special, is doesn't deserve the gold background and banner treatment.

Just my opinions, of course, but you asked.

adversitygames
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let-off studios wrote:The

let-off studios wrote:
The concept of "before rolling" seems a bit complex to me at the moment, but I think it's largely due to the iconography.

I ended up adding that because in every playtest I got asked "can I play this after rolling". I guess I could just include a comment about that in the summary sections (like "all modifiers must be applied before rolling") since that applies to all challenges.

I think I've hovered too much over my playtesters and explained too much for them so they haven't often looked at the rules themselves. I'll be doing some blind playtesting soon.

let-off studios wrote:
- Have one area labeled "Before Rolling." Group the -1 penalty and +1 bonus to Covert Actions in this area, each separated by an "OR."

The reason I want to keep the entries where they are is that it gives this nice consistency across the cards so players can quickly just look at a card and already know where to find the self-helping and other-hindering stuff (all contact cards have two self-helping effects and one other-hindering effect in those exact positions)
Other types of contact card have different abilities and couldn't be combined in the same way.

But yes I think I'll add the "or". I don't think the bulletpoint icons make it obvious enough. I'll be able to find some balance between icon size and room for "or".

adversitygames
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Zag24 wrote:The die icons are

Zag24 wrote:
The die icons are unnecessary. +1 or -1 next to a skill icon is clear that it applies to the roll for that skill.

The "any time" is either unnecessary or should just be an icon that is in a common spot on all cards. That is, if come cards can only be played at certain times and some cards can be played any time, have icons that mean those things and that icon is always in the "when playable" position on every card.

The intent for the die icon is that it means "use this for a challenge" (there are other circumstances where +-1 to an ability would make a big difference where this card isn't usable)
I'll probably add some other icons (like "use any time" or "use during phase X") for other timing conditions.

Zag24 wrote:
Similarly the cost should be in the same spot on every card. If the costs range only from 0 to 4, rather than a number, just have that many coin or $ icons.

Yes having the cost in the same place on all cards is a good point.

That's an interesting idea to have the number of icons, but the highest cost in the game is 11 (5 of one resource and 3 each of two others) and I think that could get very messy.

Zag24 wrote:
Just using an icon for the action or skill that this card enables or modifies is fine as long as there are only, say, 8 or 10 of them, and they are all pretty understandable from the icon. If there are more skills than that, you possibly want to consider simplifying the game. Or else you'll need the text. This isn't the worst thing in the world, since we've already collapsed some of the text into icons that the players know exactly where to look.

Yeah this is why I'm conflicted about this. There are quite a few possible icons that could be there! The total number of different effects that appear on contact cards is 15.

But:
Six are paired like those here are "+1 to X or -1 to X" (so arguably just 3 icons with different numbers, down to 12 total)

Three are like the middle one here "attempt X challenge"

Two permanently modify the same score (+ or -) (2 very similar icons with just an X through one of them to indicate reduce rather than increase)

Zag24 wrote:
For the "then discard" icon, it depends on whether or not this is the normal case. If most cards are discard after use, then don't have any icon to indicate this, but instead have very special indication on the few cards that are not discard after use.

All cards of this type (ie contact cards) are discard after use. I might also eliminate the need to pay for them (which would help players in the early game and reduce the amount of leader-advantage) so you just use and discard.

There is another type of card that are not normally discarded and discarding is a special case for them. That's an interesting idea on giving them some obvious visual trait (like a border) to make them distinct instead of putting it in text or an icon.

Zag24 wrote:
That doesn't need to be that readable because that's the only thing that would be on a red banner across the artwork. If there might be several different things in the same position, it needs to be readable.)

That's a really useful general point. I'm gonna make a note of that for all UI-design purposes.

Zag24 wrote:
If, on the other hand, there are more than just a few cards that aren't discarded, or (more challenging) some that are kept with some action choices but discarded with others, then you need icons for both types. (I could see a card that gives an ongoing +1 to some skill, but has a single-use mode that gives a +3, for when you really need it.) If "reusability" is not that special, is doesn't deserve the gold background and banner treatment.

I hadn't even thought about cards that work that way! Now I want to...
But I'll save it for another game or an expansion or something. This is complicated enough as-is.

Zag24 wrote:
Just my opinions, of course, but you asked.

Heh. I've noticed people say this a lot here.

I guess there's a significant enough portion of people who get hurt by criticism and lash out that you find it's a necessary disclaimer?

X3M
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May I ask what program you

May I ask what program you have used?

adversitygames
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GIMP and Open Office

GIMP and Open Office

Zag24
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iamseph wrote:The intent for

iamseph wrote:
The intent for the die icon is that it means "use this for a challenge" (there are other circumstances where +-1 to an ability would make a big difference where this card isn't usable)

Ok. So maybe your Mining skill is a hard limit on how many mines you can own, and it is also used in skill challenges, and the card can only affect the challenges. Perhaps you could just have a big plus sign or minus sign, and then a die in which the face showing is the amount of the modifier. This makes the die icon seem less superfluous.

BTW, you said you've had people ask if the card can be played before or after the roll. This is because it requires a card AND has a cost. If I'm going to pay money, even a pretty trivial amount, I'd want to know that it's going to matter. It's annoying to play the card and pay, and then I roll a 6 and didn't need it, or, worse yet, I roll a 1 and the +1 didn't help. Either make the skill modifier cards free and played before the roll, or cost a noticeable amount and played after the roll (obviously, only if you really need it).

iamseph wrote:
Zag24 wrote:
Just my opinions, of course, but you asked.

Heh. I've noticed people say this a lot here.

I guess there's a significant enough portion of people who get hurt by criticism and lash out that you find it's a necessary disclaimer?


Actually, I find BGDF to be generally more polite than most sites. However, I generally use the disclaimer with people I don't already know, because I state my opinions assertively, as if I KNOW, but I'm just another guy, with no real claim to any special expertise (except in fonts).

And if someone actually were insulted by any advice I've given (after they'd asked for advice), I'd just laugh. I'd possibly eviscerate them with words, but only if they richly deserved it. I'm too old to care about the opinions of fools, but I don't go out of my way to annoy them, either.

adversitygames
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Zag24 wrote:Ok. So maybe your

Zag24 wrote:
Ok. So maybe your Mining skill is a hard limit on how many mines you can own, and it is also used in skill challenges, and the card can only affect the challenges. Perhaps you could just have a big plus sign or minus sign, and then a die in which the face showing is the amount of the modifier. This makes the die icon seem less superfluous.

OMG

I was staring at this for about 5 minutes trying to make it work in my head (something didn't quite fit for me, seemed "off" somehow)

Then it struck me, the CHALLENGE TYPE is the icon to use for the "when this can be played" icon (in place of the die). Then have the +- modifier after like you suggested.

Thanks :)

Zag24 wrote:
BTW, you said you've had people ask if the card can be played before or after the roll. This is because it requires a card AND has a cost. If I'm going to pay money, even a pretty trivial amount, I'd want to know that it's going to matter. It's annoying to play the card and pay, and then I roll a 6 and didn't need it, or, worse yet, I roll a 1 and the +1 didn't help. Either make the skill modifier cards free and played before the roll, or cost a noticeable amount and played after the roll (obviously, only if you really need it).

Yeah that was the hunch I had on what was making it awkward to use. Though after asking players do normally get more comfortable with using them.

But there are plenty of other calculated risk choices the players have to make in the game, so reducing the calculated risk element of these wont dumb the game down (something I'm quite wary of, I've already reduced it down from where it started out, I don't want to lose the essence of it by simplifying too much).

I think also because a player has a small hand of these cards throughout the entire round (and they need to be alert for when they can use them on their opponents) they're a constant thing to consider. So it requires constant little recalculations of worth if you need to pay for them, rather than that unadulterated moment of "ahah! you're gonna do that! now I can play this!" they have to stop and consider the cost first before their moment of triumph.

So yah I think the cost needs to go.

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