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Designer Diary 2 - So. Much. Drawing.

Why did I want to do all this hand-drawn art for the new game? There are a few reasons.

One reason is that I wanted to see how players can observe their way into solving, rather than following instructions. While there are still written clues in the game (because I never want puzzles to fall into “guess what I’m thinking” territory), I’ve tried to lean it further into “show” rather than “tell.” I also hope this might make it easier for non-native English speakers to play, and it’s been an interesting challenge to see how much information I can convey without words.

One way in which this game differs from The Tale of Ord is that it will have a lower price point, mainly because I wanted to make this type of game more accessible to a wider audience. It will be a bit less artifact-heavy as a consequence, but that doesn’t mean it should be less beautiful, so I set my mind on making it visually appealing and pleasant to interact with using the imagery. There are many games I love in large part because they have beautiful components - it’s easy to take for granted how different most board games would look and feel without the illustrations.

Despite being incredibly time-consuming to execute, I think hand-drawn art adds a lot to the experience. Even using real handwriting instead of a font can elevate something simple like a letter and make it feel more realistic. The events of this particular story follow an alchemist in the 15th century, and since many of the “recovered” documents are meant to have been drawn by them, I felt clean computer edges would seem a bit out of place. That said, I can imagine how cost-prohibitive this might be for any other not-yet-funded project, and I do feel blessed to be able to create this work myself. Below are some time-lapses of one of the drawings in the game, showing my watercolor and ink process.

As a personal bonus, I took this as an opportunity to get back to my roots in the fine arts. It had been a while since I flexed those muscles, and after participating in Inktober for the first time in 2018, I was pretty excited to work on these drawings (and have enjoyed doing so tremendously!) It was a nice break from sitting at the computer and the mental drainage that can sometimes come after mulling over a puzzle for hours, so I highly recommend it.

For anyone wondering, most of these original pieces will be available as Kickstarter rewards during the campaign, so if you’re an art fan, keep an eye out. I’ll be writing more about the process of creating and digitizing this art in my next post!

Final drawing below. :)

What are your favorite games with great art?

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I love seeing your process and such lovely artwork! I recently received a board game Fickle - art by Amy Brown is great. I love the art style of Jack Fallows of cryptogram puzzle post as well. Artwork and neat components get me every time. Conversely I find myself turned off by certain art/cartoonish styles and have not backed projects on Kickstarter just because I couldn’t have played the game - the artwork style would bother me too much! 🙄

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