*reposting this entry (largely) from Kickstarter’s Backers-Only area*
We’ve been hard at work throughout this entire process, and here’re some results. This product-design stuff is something I’m personally responsible for, so please send me your thoughts so I can make sure the design is as great as it can be for the First Edition!
Big parts of that are, of course, the card design, the board design, and the design of other peripherals, like the tokens and tracker. Note: everything you see will be subject to some changes here and there, so nothing’s 100% final until we print. Nonetheless, much of this stuff is super-close to final.
There has been a lot that we’ve learned about game design, the design of Phoenix Covenant, and how art and graphic design play into the experience. Card design is a great example. We started with extremely rudimentary designs for prototyping, but when we started external playtesting with folks who we hadn’t met before, we upgraded those designs and started to think about how those designs helped or hurt the intuitiveness of the game.
While the wording of particular abilities certainly plays a lot into the intuitiveness of the game, graphic design speaks a lot to usability and intuitiveness. Generally speaking, folks pointed us away from the center-stat-bar approach because while it was helpful on the field, in the hand, it was incredibly fiddly to work with because cards couldn’t splay well. Plus, the art would get cut off due to the star bar, and possibly “eat it up” from view. And lastly, the new design has better looking armor, an expanded Ability area, and lets us highlight both faction and Corps that a card belongs to (icons pending).
So we contracted a graphic design studio to make the following as an improvement, but we’d certainly like to know if we’re on the right track or we should change it up. Especially if you prefer a certain look for marking Gating squares on Commander Units (see grid image inside the right-hand image).
Check it out.
The board is obviously important to the tactics in the game, but the size of it affects how easy it is to pick-up-and-play as well as how big (and heavy) the final game box is. So it’s been an up and down process. The main goals were to reduce the size of the board so it’s lighter and is more “coffee-table-friendly.”
I’ll show you the latest design here in the version of a half-board so you can see the Base area up-close. We wanted to go for a “bleeding-off” look so that the board seems more immersive; so that you feel like you’re really “in” the Base and commanding over your troops. Other things we wanted to do in response to feedback from many of you is to
- make the field a bit more combat-like, so we added a bit of a smoke effect to lower the brightness of the field;
- call out the Home Row (your side’s first row) so that it’s easier to imagine;
- reduce the Tracker space to reflect your new design; and
- give you space for a Quick Reference Card that will show Phase Order, types of Actions you can take, etc.
What-cha think? Which symbol/marker do you like or prefer for Home Row squares, where you can always play Units to the field (regardless of whether those Units are Commander Units or not)?
Tokens & Tracker
Speaking of that Tracker…we had a ton of feedback about this component and we’ve been really trying to get this right because we want this game to stand out for mechanics and design, too. Many of you out there (and it was really 50-50 overall) found the Tracker to be initially frustrating and partially fiddly. So we re-worked it and while we’re still sourcing the final materials for the production piece, we’ve also re-worked the physical mechanics of it, too, so it’s less loose and wobbly.
However, we’re also doing another thing for you all. We’re expanding the punchboard sheet to include a separate bar-like Tracker that you can use if you prefer tokens and a track rather than the dial-based component. We really feel that this will let everyone get to playing quickly and effectively no matter what kinds of components you prefer.
And lastly, speaking of Tokens, you can see all of those on the punchboard sheet, right here. The final things we’re doing for those tokens is to make sure that color-deficient/color-blind folks out there can easily see the shapes and information of each token, so I’d love to hear thoughts from someone out there about that in particular.
So…are we on the right track? Thoughts? Insight? Anything you’d like to chat about?