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How many unique pieces of art are too many?

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bbblackwell
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Hi! As I design my fantasy adventure card game, I'm wondering how many unique cards can I create without the art required for those cards making the game's publication cost-prohibitive (or at least turning potential publishers off from my game)?

I know the art style probably has a lot to do with this; I envision normal RPG-style art, so it's not Munchkin, and it's not Frazetta, but something in between hahaha.

Thanks for any input,
Enjoy the day!

questccg
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Answer: it depends

Some publishers will argue that the cost of producing artwork for a game should be no more than $3,000. Which sounds alright: it's not too much and it's still an investment.

But from the Artist's point of view, most commissioned work is probably around $100 per piece. I've dealt with a couple of artists that do freelance work and both have quoted that amount.

The problem is if your game has 100 cards, that's a whooping $10,000! So you need to make a compromise between things like size of the artwork, smaller pieces require less work and then maybe you can work something out like $8,000 for 100 unique pieces.

It strongly depends on the artist. But I have seem artwork that costs $30.00 per piece and well it's not bad - but it's nothing fantastic either. Usually the rules at lower levels are something like $30.00 for a Black & White sketch and then $40-45 for a colored version, etc.

Same goes for graphic designers. You can get a logo designed for $200.00. Or work with a designer that charges $20.00/hr and then it depends how you and your graphic designer "work together" to produce whatever you want... Maybe 8 hours to do a logo + revisions is realistic!

Some other artists want even HIGHER for their artwork and produce quality similar to what you see on Magic: The Gathering cards.

BUT if you want to MAKE your game - at top-most it should be $100 per piece. Any more and you won't be able to gather enough money to pay for artwork. And I would say 100 cards would be a fair amount, perhaps even with doubles could make for an affordable investment - something your could fund.

That's from my own personal experience...

questccg
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There is a GAP

But you can see the difference between $3,000 and $8,000!

I really don't know HOW publisher get artists to do artwork at cheap rates. Maybe it's because they work out other agreements, IDK?!

Maybe some artists that have worked with Publishers can chime in...

A GAP of $5,000 is a LOT!

I have never understood this...

questccg
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Flip side...

I have seen artist charge from $60-$80 for "on-the-spot" commissions. They are usually penciled and the inked using black ink.

So figure at GOOD artist will probably look to charge around that rate for Black & White (inked) drawings... And you probably want colored images. So figure an additional $30-$20, which means the cost is somewhere around $90-$100...

Pretty much inline with what I quote in my previous response.

Also remember there should be a *discount* in numbers... Like I said 100 pieces should be less expense (per piece) than 20 pieces. 20 pieces might be like $2,000 - $2,500 while 100 pieces between $7,500 and $8,500.

Again these are just figures based on MY EXPERIENCE with artists.

I haven't work with many, but those who I have fall into the category of what I am describing in these posts.

questccg
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Art count

If you want the game to be "Kickstart-able" you should NOT go over $8,000. So essentially 100 unique pieces of artwork. Doubles are also very helpful in lowering the cost of artwork. Typically that kind of budget is HARD to achieve, you are looking at 500+ backers, and will need to have a strong marketing budget...

You'll also need to be on social media and invest in getting the word out about your game.

So that's more costs involved, aside from GOOD artwork.

I've done a lot of number crunching for my own game ("Tradewars - Homeworld") and it's tough. I'm trying to see if I can produce a SMALLER game with less artwork - and make some money to better AFFORD the more expensive of the two (2) games.

Plus industry experts (Reviewers) don't all come free. Some you need to pay to have your game reviewed, the more famous and known, the more likely that you need to pay for their services. Which is normal, they are getting your game "out-there" to more gamers than you would normally be able to do with your own "Facebook" or "Twitter" or "Website"...

bbblackwell
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Hawking yer wares

Thanks so much for joining the discussion!

Just to be clear, I have NO intention of trying to produce this game myself. I just want to make sure that when I shop it around to publishers, I'm not wasting everyone's time with a game that's fiscally impossible to produce.

I'm still trying to get my game down to 500 cards, which I know is already tipping the scales, but necessary to create the intended degree of exploration.

Obviously these aren't all unique cards, but the more duplication, the less various the different environments will be. Games like Pathfinder reuse old artwork and exclude backgrounds, but this is a new story so old artwork is not available.

I know 30 pieces of art would be entirely out of the question for this kind of game - it's not even in the ballpark - so I'm not really sure how to proceed.

questccg
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Different situation

IF you know your game will need to be made by a Publisher, the key is having a strong "sell sheet". It's how novel or original your game is, what are the various hooks of the game.

BUT know that a Publisher will not be interested in a game if it is too costly to make. Somebody made Dominion and it has 500 cards. So I don't think it is too much...

It's nothing I would recommend you embark on alone...

Soulfinger
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The cost of the artwork is

The cost of the artwork is nowhere near as much of a concern for an established publisher as it is for someone Kickstarting a publication. The majority of publishers are going to have at least one staff artist who is paid an annual salary to crank out the bulk of their illustrations. If the company is invested in your game then they are going to sink man hours into producing quality illustrations and maybe hire some freelancers. On the other hand, a competent graphic designer can crank out something like this:

http://www.mundania.com/images/covers/large/Revenge_of_the_Horseclans.jpg

in under an hour using clip art from the company archive. So, 100 unique images for your game? No problem! Give that guy a couple weeks and a Photoshop cutout filter. Likewise, they'll probably have a filing cabinet full of illustrations that they own the rights to, as well as a repository of public domain images. One place that I used to work for just outsourced everything to the Philippines, so I imagine that some gaming companies get some pretty slick deals by contracting artists overseas.

I Will Never Gr...
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If you're not self publishing ..

bbblackwell wrote:

Just to be clear, I have NO intention of trying to produce this game myself. I just want to make sure that when I shop it around to publishers, I'm not wasting everyone's time with a game that's fiscally impossible to produce.

I'm still trying to get my game down to 500 cards, which I know is already tipping the scales, but necessary to create the intended degree of exploration.

If you're not self publishing, then the cost of the artwork is not an issue.

If a publisher is interested in your game based on your pitch, they will make it work even if it means reducing card count, changing rules or using/reusing existing art.

And as Soulfinger said, a publisher will almost certainly have an artist on staff and a pool of freelancers available to meet whatever budget they decide on.

I have seen phenominal artwork run anywhere from $5 an hour to $200+ per piece. It all depends on what the publisher will want and is willing to spend at that point.

Even if you come in with an entire 500 card set made with artwork, publishers often want their own art (consistency, company image, blah blah blah) or even change your theme entirely once signed.

bbblackwell
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Card count & targeting publishers

Well, it's certainly encouraging to hear that you guys don't think art is a major concern. And I suppose it's true that a publisher will iron out the details of card count and so forth should they choose to embark upon the project. But I would like to make that leap as easy as possible by coming in with something in the ballpark of what they'll typically invest for unique pieces of art.

Surely there must be SOME line in the sand. If I come in with something that would require 500 unique pieces, it means that I've offered an impossible burden along with my promising design, and I want to ensure that I've got everything lined up in the direction of "Yes! We'll make your game!"

So does anyone have any notion of where this ballpark figure may lie? Even considering all the variables, it seems likely that 500 unique pieces would risk turning off a potential publisher. Maybe if I can compile a list of potential publishers -- those who may be interested in a fantasy adventure card game like this -- and look at similar games they've published, I could get a sense for how much unique art their games typically carry.

Do you guys have any suggestions as to which publishers accept submissions and publish games of this nature?

I Will Never Gr...
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bbblackwell wrote: Maybe if I

bbblackwell wrote:
Maybe if I can compile a list of potential publishers -- those who may be interested in a fantasy adventure card game like this -- and look at similar games they've published, I could get a sense for how much unique art their games typically carry.

Do you guys have any suggestions as to which publishers accept submissions and publish games of this nature?

Check out this page - it has everything you're looking for in this regard, including a list of publishers accepting submissions and what they will/will not consider.

http://www.jamesmathe.com/courting-a-game-publisher-dos-and-donts/

Or, for a google doc (don't edit it unless you are doing so reliably, of course!) this lists them in chart form with what they are/are not looking for.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1JtXSb77QLDPDFFV3nuYbdEb6BC6dXaxT...

I Will Never Gr...
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As for the proverbial line in

As for the proverbial line in the sand, I don't think there really is a concrete answer on that. There are too many variables and too many differences in the publishers to make that call.

Some are small and just won't or can't do large artwork projects (in the 500 unique cards realm) while others would see it as a simple process ..

If you can cut down the unique art count and use duplicates wherever possible, that would be best as it reduces the cost to publish significantly, which makes it more viable for a publisher to look at.

bbblackwell
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Much obliged

Extremely helpful, thank you!

I'm currently working on reducing the overall card count (bringing it down to 7 scenarios/environments from 10, which is really ruffling my feathers so I'm letting the idea settle in), and I'm going to increase duplicates and see where that lands me.

I Will Never Gr...
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If at all possible, consider

If at all possible, consider reduced card count (I am assuming you can do so by reduced scenarios/environments) in the initial release with expansions.

That is often a much easier sell to a publisher; "take on this game, if/when it's successful I've already got X number of expansions available to keep it going!"

bbblackwell
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Fer Shure

That's what I'm thinking, as hard as it is to do since I need to conclude the first story arc within the first game, and it would mean rushing it to a finish, thus losing some interesting story elements. But, practical concerns must be addressed, I suppose. Thanks again!

radioactivemouse
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start small.

bbblackwell wrote:
That's what I'm thinking, as hard as it is to do since I need to conclude the first story arc within the first game, and it would mean rushing it to a finish, thus losing some interesting story elements. But, practical concerns must be addressed, I suppose. Thanks again!

Making a card game is hard. More cards = more chances for errors which means = exponentially long playtesting time to work out all the bugs.

I just released my first card game and it has 103 cards (2 decks of 50 cards each, 2 mothership/avatar cards, and 1 turn order card). I've played...so many games with people and they have tested the game with other people over the course of almost a year, going in and out of conventions, demoing the game at game stores...everything. Many things I fixed because I found errors in the totality of my testing...I even had a Game Manager at Fantasy Flight play and look over my cards (with a TON of feedback).

Just out of experience, working with a developer myself, and releasing a game, 500 is WAY too much for a first time game, unless your mechanic only has 100 in play at any one time and the rest contributing to replayability (like Dominion).

I don't want to beat a dead horse though. In my opinion, art is icing on the cake. The game should be able to stand and be fun without the art and you should get that gameplay solidified before you go to a publisher to pitch. Game companies will usually have an in-house artist or give you the resources necessary to find a good artist. In my case, my publisher gives some royalties to the artist but more to me (per game sold and as per the contract) and I happen to work at an art school so it was easy to find highly talented artists using a royalty carrot. But your mileage may vary and every company is different.

But good luck on your game, Let us know how your game goes!

bbblackwell
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Cards

Thanks! Yes, the interactions can be very surprising at times hahaha. The game has a 30 card encounter deck and each player has a 30 card player deck (1-4 players). The rest of the cards are for variability and such.

I'm just wanting to make sure a publisher doesn't balk due to number of cards and/or the art required. I have a tendency to want to make all unique cards to add depth and richness, but obviously this is absurd.

Trying to reduce the overall card count and build in many duplicates for the sake of these practical considerations has been troubling.

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