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Monster Keep — Sneak Preview of art-style

Here is ONE (1) Sample/Sneak Peek/Preview of the ART and ART-STYLE for "Monster Keep" (MK).

Please feel free to share your thoughts. Sir Calahan is a "Warlord", as there are currently TEN (10) unique classes in the game.

The art may seem just a bit faded and this is due in partial to the card's layout and effects. Never-the-less you can still see sufficient detail on screen.

Let me know what you think?!

Comments

See I'm commissioning art for another game

@Yossi I'm going it alone on this project. I have an Artist and myself (and maybe some Creative Writing from my Writer). This is a smaller production, not as Grandiose as "TradeWorlds" (TW)... Because I was due for a smaller game.

However I still think that the ART is important and preparing for the project is essential. And this project will be like my others: quality product and good value.

Funny thing: MK is a "exercise".

What am I talking about??? When you gain more experience in the industry, you start to learn that not all games are created "equally". And what I mean by this is that you can have an AWESOME HUGE BEHEMOTH (think TW), it doesn't mean that you and your partners are guaranteed ANY profitability.

Which is SAD, because it limits the growth of the brand and strictly cuts-off the supply of games (2nd print and above).

So MK is an "exercise" in PROFITABILITY. I went with: "Knowing all that I know about Game Design combined with what I know about Publishing... How can I MAKE a game that is PROFITABLE???"

Some of the obvious:

1> LESS collaborators. The more people involved, the more sharing of the profits become limiting. If you want to spend 5+ years and earn $1,000 for all your effort... Well nobody will be happy.

2> LESS content. Limit the amount of cards and components. Everything you add, should be then reviewed to ensure what is REQUIRED by the design. Remove all superfluous "extras" from the game (and streamline your product).

3> MORE re-usability. If you are working with CARDS, you should be strongly thinking about "re-using" them. What I mean is to have multiples of the cards to ensure that the art-to-card ratio is not 1:1.

4> SOLVE a problem. If you choose this path, you already know that gamers respond to all kinds of stimuli. Their higher-brain functions are happiest when trying to PLAY a game, not figure out how to CUSTOMIZE it. But be aware that when "newbies" play the first few games, they will grow tired of your game... Unless the game is EASY to PLAY, HARD to MASTER. If this is the case, pushing the boundaries of a game... Is surely a way to garner more supporters.

5> ALL ages. The more compatible your game is and the larger the audience who can play it... The more likely your product will succeed. A broader base of fans is always greater than appealing to a smaller segment of the population.

6> DO IT for the FUN. Yes I agree FUN is important... BUT... No income = No more NEW games. I agree that sometimes you want to get your game "out-there"! And not worry about financial returns. But if you spend like 10 years in this industry, you'll learn that AT SOME POINT you're going to want PROFITABLE SALES of your game ... otherwise you'll disappear like many other Game Designers.

Well done!

The art is well done.

Characteristics I am excited about:
1. Realistic representation
2. Quality depiction of character
3. Simplicity of layout (this is a graphic design comment, not art direction, I know)

Characteristics to consider:
1. The windows in the background draw a lot of focus and make the character less exciting. There is a lot of area used for windows.
2. I recommend emphasizing ‘house colors’ to make the image more exciting. The color that Sir Calahan is wearing could represent a theme. Wow this comment is a lot of focus on a minute detail that may not matter. But if you add a shield over the windows with the house colors it may lend some nobility and or purpose to the character.
3. I know someone with the last name Callahan so the spelling of the name bothers me for a last name, but I’m ok with it as a first name. Kind of odd but just a personal preference.

Really, This level of art design is excellent and my comments should be taken with minimum actionable consequence.

I don't know what it means,

I don't know what it means, but it's definitely easy to read.

Windows

I did notice the windows drawing my attention too, but for me it actually made the Art more epic. I thought "wow what a beautiful day outside, and look how the sun is reflecting through his hair. Sort of Heroic!! Outstanding Art. Is this artist working for royalties, or are you paying as you go and getting the Rights to the Art? I do have a nice Legal form to use if your are having the Rights signed over to you.

I was fine with the windows..

I was fine with the windows.. it fit in with the general shape of the available card space.

Ultimately, people do not pay much attention to card art, imho. The art is a good mental shortcut to identify cards faster once the player is familiar with the game, and it provides a (subconscious perhaps) indicator of game quality, plus an overall sense of style.

In other words, I don't think people look at the art in any detail after the first play or two.

If ALL the characters have the windows like that, then you should make sure there are obvious differences in color scheme and shape for the characters, so people can differentiate by that. Otherwise, I see no real problem based on my own interpretation of art value on cards :)

Some explanations

Jay103 wrote:
I don't know what it means, but it's definitely easy to read.

The Leftmost "map-like" figure is the "Attack Pattern". The Warlord may attack either 3 squares in front OR back of himself.

To the right of that are the stats: +1 Experience, 5 Attack, 3 Defense, 3 Loot and +1 Defense.

This game is a "fancy" Tic-Tac-Toe game with a strong "Area Control" mechanic. It is played with SQUARE "cards" (2.5" x 2.5") ergo the art being "square" too... It's strategy is with cards instead of Chess pieces and it is more about placement since the cards DON'T move once they are played into the "arena" (or Monster Keep).

I'm still "working" (WIP) on the LOOTING aspect of the game. While this won't change any of the ART... It may change a bit how the game plays. So artwork is continuing forwards (no delays).

But in a nutshell that explains the "cards". Cheers!

Note #1: The "Diamond" stat is a BOOST/BONUS +1 "Experience". When this card is put into play, it can AWARD +1 stat to any of your cards. The +1 stat can also be this card itself and it would then benefit from a +1 Defense (5, 4, 3).

A card's Attack must greater or equal to the opponent's Defense (to defeat the opponent's unit/card).

Looks fantastic! The only

Looks fantastic!

The only thing I would think to change would be having the same icon being used twice (the 3 Defense and +1 Defense using the same shield icon).

Perhaps you can differentiate the standard defense # and the defense bonus in some way?

Oh, and maybe decrease the font size on the bottom line (serial/card identifier numbers I assume) as that's (probably?) not game play related. Of course this would partially depend on the final size of the cards as well.

+1 Like (LOL)

I Will Never Grow Up Gaming wrote:
Looks fantastic!

Thanks seems like everyone is "moot" on some aspect of the card.

I Will Never Grow Up Gaming wrote:
The only thing I would think to change would be having the same icon being used twice (the 3 Defense and +1 Defense using the same shield icon).

Perhaps you can differentiate the standard defense # and the defense bonus in some way?

That's why the DEFAULT is a "number" (2, 3, 4, etc.) and the BONUS is an addition (+1, +2, +3, etc.)

I Will Never Grow Up Gaming wrote:
Oh, and maybe decrease the font size on the bottom line (serial/card identifier numbers I assume) as that's (probably?) not game play related. Of course this would partially depend on the final size of the cards as well.

Actually the number on the LEFT is the "Block and Card number" BOTH are very important when CUSTOMIZING your deck. The number on the RIGHT is a form of copyright protection. It's a unique number that identifies each card... So people can't knock-off with phony cards (if the game becomes very successful). But I figure put it in NOW... Because later may be too late (so to speak)...

They both need to be "readable"... Not squinting trying to see if it's a 6 or an 8... Believe me I know, I'm working on TW and the font is too small to read. But numbering is not that important ... except for the story-telling. So that's really the only purpose... And there are work-arounds too (like using the card's POWER: 4 comes before 5, 2 before 3, etc.)

But I dislike things to be TOO SMALL... If it's there that's because it is needed for some purpose or another!

Just to be clear ...

The "+1 Defense" is a SHIELD but it could also be a "+? Attack" or "+? Loot"... I depends per card. So you can have decision trees as to which path you want to choose. In the case of the Warlord (The Duke), his path is LINEAR. But you can reinforce him with a +1 Defense should you feel like you need ADDED "protection".

I'm still re-thinking the LOOT "mechanism". I'm going to try a DICE like scheme ... Because it could make the game more "challenging". Previously in the earlier iteration, pawns moved around the board... It was LAME.

Now (WIP) I'm learning towards everyone rolls 2d6s and choose any matching location (you have 3 pawns each) meaning you can at most "occupy" three (3) LOOT locations per turn. But ... the opponent can BUMP one of your pawns during a later roll. At the end of the ROUND, player divvy up the loot and choose what they want to collect (because each loot location has random loot)... Meaning you can have on 3 LOOT: 2 Food and 1 Equipment or 1 Food and 2 Treasure, etc. You probably get the point.

LOOT is randomly picked from a pouch and placed on the corresponding tile and/or unit.

And there is a "counter" (or Special Victory) and it is awarded when the three (3) "Chaos Gems" are picked from the pouch. The player with the most "Chaos Gems" WINS. If there is a tie, the player with the highest score wins the game.

questccg wrote:The "+1

questccg wrote:
The "+1 Defense" is a SHIELD but it could also be a "+? Attack" or "+? Loot"... I depends per card. So you can have decision trees as to which path you want to choose. In the case of the Warlord (The Duke), his path is LINEAR. But you can reinforce him with a +1 Defense should you feel like you need ADDED "protection".

I see! Ok, perhaps give the bonus icon a different outline then, just to differentiate it a little more (standard icon is your base state, yellow (or whatever color) outlined icon is a bonus. I'm sure after playing the game people will understand at a glance that the + means it's the bonus, but for quick reference I feel it's always nice to have a definitive differentiation between base and bonus.

questccg wrote:I Will Never

questccg wrote:
I Will Never Grow Up Gaming wrote:
Looks fantastic!

Thanks seems like everyone is "moot" on some aspect of the card.

I Will Never Grow Up Gaming wrote:
The only thing I would think to change would be having the same icon being used twice (the 3 Defense and +1 Defense using the same shield icon).

Perhaps you can differentiate the standard defense # and the defense bonus in some way?

That's why the DEFAULT is a "number" (2, 3, 4, etc.) and the BONUS is an addition (+1, +2, +3, etc.)

I Will Never Grow Up Gaming wrote:
Oh, and maybe decrease the font size on the bottom line (serial/card identifier numbers I assume) as that's (probably?) not game play related. Of course this would partially depend on the final size of the cards as well.

Actually the number on the LEFT is the "Block and Card number" BOTH are very important when CUSTOMIZING your deck. The number on the RIGHT is a form of copyright protection. It's a unique number that identifies each card... So people can't knock-off with phony cards (if the game becomes very successful). But I figure put it in NOW... Because later may be too late (so to speak)...

They both need to be "readable"... Not squinting trying to see if it's a 6 or an 8... Believe me I know, I'm working on TW and the font is too small to read. But numbering is not that important ... except for the story-telling. So that's really the only purpose...

But I dislike things to be TOO SMALL... If it's there that's because it is needed for some purpose or another!

Gotcha, ok.

I was just wondering because not knowing how large these cards are to be printed it's difficult to tell how large that font really is. It just felt to me, based entirely on an on-screen preview, like it takes up more space than it needs.

Attack Choice

questccg wrote:
The Leftmost "map-like" figure is the "Attack Pattern". The Warlord may attack either 3 squares in front OR back of himself.
Since the two options are the same colour, how is a player supposed to know that they must choose between one or the other?

It may be explained in the rules, but I would suggest indicating this somehow on the card. You may have more of this problem with other cards in your game, depending on the patterns they follow.

So will the codes at the

So will the codes at the bottom be unique across all printed cards?? That doesn't sound plausible, so I'm not sure what they're for. In case people make new, different cards, and try to pass them off as authentic? You should be so lucky :)

Let me clarify ... because I think there was some confusion

let-off studios wrote:
...Since the two options are the same colour, how is a player supposed to know that they must choose between one or the other?

I think you misunderstood my explanation. The BLUE square is the card that you WANT to play (into the "arena") and the RED squares is ALL the cards it may attack. So they are all the SAME color (RED). Which means that the "Warlord" (The Duke) Sir Calahan can attack any card directly adjacent and in front of him (according to the position between BLUE and RED) and behind (same). The RED squares are indicators to tell players WHERE/WHAT cards they may attack once they are played into the "arena".

The Warlord is a pretty STRONG card. As the Warlord, he is the TOP of the units/cards list. During the Kickstarter, I will reveal the cards and you will be able to see by the other Attack Patterns, how strong the Warlord really is. I mean you can practically target anything directly in front and in back... That amounts to a LOT of "Territory" and "Area Control" by one single card...

let-off studios wrote:
It may be explained in the rules...

There are 10 Classes of Card and therefore 10 distinct Attack Patterns. In the future I could ADD additional "Special or Promotional" cards which may have their own distinct Attack Patterns, different from the 10 Classes...

I've done it... It's very possible

Jay103 wrote:
So will the codes at the bottom be unique across all printed cards?? That doesn't sound plausible, so I'm not sure what they're for. In case people make new, different cards, and try to pass them off as authentic? You should be so lucky :)

Yes they are all unique based on a "custom seed" which guarantees them to be unique 12 digit alpha sequences. But maybe you might be thinking something else: The Sequence is unique per CARD, NOT each card has it's own Sequence. So Card #0001 has sequence "ABC" and ALL Cards #0001 have the SAME sequence ("ABC"). Card #0002 has a DIFFERENT sequence "XYZ" and ALL Cards #0002 have the SAME sequence too ("XYZ").

To clear up the confusion: NOT your card #0001 has sequence "ABC" and then another of your Card #0001 has a different sequence "ABD"... NOT this... Only PER Card that I CREATE.

And YES again, you are CORRECT! The purpose is to not have people create their own cards... I have the codes, so I know which cards are authentic and others that could be FAKE.

I'm not saying the game will be THAT successful... But like I said, if you don't PLAN ahead ... you may miss the boat. And if at some point in time the game IS popular ... It will be too late to introduce a card code of some type at that time.

As far as the size, the card is probably 2/3 the current size. So the Card Number and Card Code are just right when you scale down the card...

Code 128 + Label

I'm looking into Bar Code Scanning and Generating. I've found that doing a little research, it would be possible to use a "Code 128" bard code which allows alphanumeric strings and is smaller in dimensions.

Of course this is ONLY good if I have a SCANNER and GENERATOR.

So far all I've tested was an ONLINE generator which produces 200 dpi resolution of the barcodes. Which is good, but not reliable. I would need an installable program on my PC to generate the codes because who know how long the WEBSITE will be around!...

Now I have to find a barcode SCANNER ... to ensure the generator's codes can actually be SCANNED and understood. The idea is simple: just scan the barcode and you get a 12 digit alphanumeric code.

I know all of this seems like OVERKILL... But it gives me something to look-up and research to see if this is doable or not.

Cheers!

Update: I may use QR Codes

I downloaded a FREE program that generates 50 types of Barcodes. I've been experimenting with the generator and I have come to the conclusion that a QR Code may be the easiest to use with the cards (for security purposes).

I'd implement it on the "back-side" of the cards and it would have the same size and positioning as the "Attack Pattern" on the "face-side". I'd add a drop-shadow and the QR Code would take a reasonable amount of space.

The GREAT news: IF I shrink the screen image to 33% (actual size) and try to scan the QR Code... IT WORKS!!! Even with lousy resolution (not 300 dpi) but 72 dpi at 33% ... The QR Code is scan-able.

This means that once printed at 100% and 300 dpi, the codes should ALSO work perfectly because they are true to form and have print resolution.

Worthwhile exercise to do! I'll definitely work over the Christmas Holidays on TradeWorlds (TW) and Monster Keep (MK). Can't be doing ONLY brain-less work (for TW), got to have some experimentation time with MK too!

Also to be noted...

For those who didn't like the "Security Code" ... I would REMOVE it from the "face-side" of the card and only leave the Block and Card Number on the LHS.

The "Security Code" string would be replaced with a QR Code with the appropriate alphanumeric string. It would also be on the "back-side" of the cards seeing as this would reduce the clutter on the "face-side".

There would be no "alphanumeric" code... You would need to use a QR Code scanner app via a SmartPhone to learn the code. That's fine with me... I will keep a spreadsheet with the appropriate codes (real versions).

This is a minor form of protection... But it's better than nothing and ATM it is rather simple too. Not very convoluted either. Which is also important... Since the "seed string" is confidential, no one can predict the future codes of the cards. I currently have about 20 or so codes...

Is there a need?

I guess my biggest question about the security code is whether there is a need for security so others don’t steal the game?

This leads me to additional questions:

1. At what estimated value do you start considering security measures?
2. How do you estimate value for prototypes in various stages of advancement?
3. Is the state of the market such that it is important to secure your prototypes, game concepts or other ideas?
4. I’m still considering how much to share in my blog. I know I will receive greatest feedback the more I publish but how do others identify this?

Let me explain MY concerns and that will give some reference

So I'm not worried about SHARING information in blogs or threads. It's pretty easy to get the idea about how a game is to be played... But it's a far cry from posting a "rulebook". I, personally, don't do that. I keep my rulebook *confidential* UNLESS I am asked or told to share it by say a Publisher... You'll notice that BOTH the "core" and "expansion" rulebooks are published on Board Game Geek... And that's Publisher transparency for what I consider a MATURE endeavor. Meaning the game was Kickstarted, there's a need to SHARE more about the game to interest people in what it is that they are going to get.

Therefore my rule #1 is: keep your rulebook private.

Rule #2 comes from rule #1: share as much as you can about the game WITHOUT disclosing the rulebook.

There is a difference in general game ideas, to something like copying the "inverted" thumb on a doll just to prevent other people from stealing your mold... And yes this happened to a toy company... They were sued obviously...

Blog and threads are a GOOD way of sharing the PRINCIPLES behind your games. And it gives other people creative freedom to comment and help you with ideas of their own. Moreover they establish YOUR ideas as YOURS. So when you post about Game "X" ... you are securing your ownership by sharing the ideas. Unless you want to live in a Black Box... Having the opinions, thoughts and feedback from others HELPS (usually) to solidify what is GOOD and what needs to be removed.

However where you need to be careful is when you are PUBLISHING, especially SELF-PUBLISHING a design. Especially if the design is modular and designed for customization and/or personnalisation. Why I am using security is for things like future "tournament play" and "success of expansions". Although I have planned to have the game made in the USA, no doubt that some Chinese Factory could knock-off my product and retail it to foreign companies...

Again NOT likely... "Homemade" customization may be more probable. And I am thinking about things like VALIDATING "Decks". Do you need to have a long process of checking all the card numbers one-by-one ... or can a QR code just scan and make it easier to validate a player's cards!

Something along those lines sounds "innovative" IMHO.

And this is not exactly my own invention... There was a Collectible Card Game called "Chaotic" (here's a link to it):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaotic_Trading_Card_Game

Anyways the game had codes you could use to play ONLINE... Before any of the other online games ever existed. This Trading Card Game (TCG) was way ahead of it's time (and competition). Anyways the initial idea was to have codes (12 alpha digits) and I realize that using a QR Code might be easier to VALIDATE (using a SmartPhone) than just some numbers and letters you MAY have a hard time reading. The scanning device makes it easier to know the card's code and then if there was some kind of APP designed for the game (if we ever get into tournaments ... I'd probably want a cell phone APP that is BOTH a scanner and database of cards to ensure the cards are 100% legit).

And so there are GAMING reasons for security too... To quicken the validation of a deck (as explained above), to find out invalid or homebrew cards, to eliminate the problem of overseas copying (if the game is very popular)...

Like I said, I'm doing it NOW... So that I can have something LATER. If you don't prepare, you'll like have no counters and you don't want to publish COLLECTIBLE cards and have to change at some point in time the direction of the product. So best to secure the cards NOW ... otherwise it may be too late later...

But for SHARING rules and describing game play... That's a no brainer. Don't worry about designers stealing ideas... Everyone probably has a dozen or so ideas they would like to be able to work on. One at a time, when it comes to publishing them... I've never been able to divide my time between two (2) or more games when PUBLISHING. Designing that's a different beast, often ideas can occur from different sources and for different games. That's perfectly normal. But when you PUBLISH, usually it means you are INVESTING MONEY into the game (like making artwork or having a writer pen some storytelling, etc.) I'm not rich enough to invest on multiple games at the same time. So for me, it's one idea/game at a time.

Cheers!

Note #1: And when do I think it's time to SHARE a rulebook??? When you make arrangements with a Developer to Blind Playtest your game. The Developer should have a look and then he can send it off to the playtesting team. It's also good to have a pair of eyes on the rulebook by an Editor (or someone else who can proof your writing). This can be anyone really from a wife to a girlfriend to family. Whomever you have accessible for a once over and see if your writing of rules makes sense.

Thanks

Thanks questccg for taking the time to explain your reasoning. It’s very helpful.

To summarize :
1. Don’t share rulebook except with play tester or developer.
2. Do share concepts and ideas.
3. Be careful with executes game concepts and prototypes when self publishing a game as money / time has been invested.

I see the need for security for collectible cards. I once was an avid mtg player. With prioritizing my time for design I’ve transitioned to Hearthstone.

This is quite helpful and I should be posting my first real blog post soon.

questccg wrote: The Leftmost

questccg wrote:

The Leftmost "map-like" figure is the "Attack Pattern". The Warlord may attack either 3 squares in front OR back of himself.

As I continue to try and understand these kind of games: When I see the blue square in the middle I think this is my Token/Card's location, and the Red squares are where that card can attack. So I think it can only move One forward and One left or right. Same thing back???

Yeah you understood...

Indeed, this Warlord card can attack ANY six cards indicated by RED squares. So any cards may be attacked in those six positions. Although you can only attack one card per turn, you control six spots (Area control) you can attack ANY and all cards on subsequent turns.

That's what Area Control means. You are protecting the area in RED.

questccg wrote: And YES

questccg wrote:

And YES again, you are CORRECT! The purpose is to not have people create their own cards... I have the codes, so I know which cards are authentic and others that could be FAKE.

I'm hoping that if you looked at some cards you'd know whether or not you personally made them :)

Tournament with 1,000 potential players

Jay103 wrote:
...I'm hoping that if you looked at some cards you'd know whether or not you personally made them :)

You're assuming that I plan to do everything myself. Like organize and run the tournament... Not so. I know of a Manager at a local FLGS in my area. Anyways the idea is to speak to her and see if we can RUN a "tournament" at a local 100,000 person event over 2 days. IDK yet. It's just an idea and I do have access to such a resource. But I'd PLAN on 1%, so 1,000 players... Still a LOT.

Obviously people could BUY their cards directly AT THE EVENT... It depends on the nature of the game (I have yet to determine HOW many cards will be made available and at what price). But the idea is you look at your cards and then you sign up your "Deck" to play in the tournament.

And the people running the EVENT can "SCAN" the cards... Not everything needs to be handled by me... I'm not sure about it... How to determine the winners, maybe register by SmartPhone (so we can TXT players the information about the NEXT game they are to play...) IDK ... It's a hard beast to manage ... Lots of planning needed.

Could be a VERY PROFITABLE "tournament" with people BUYING into the tournament... Would LOVE if this could happen. But we'll see, I'm not there just yet.

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