I’ve been doing a bit of graphic design for cards lately, because I think I’m at the point where I want to get nice looking decks printed for the game I’ve been working on, No Honor Among Thieves.
(Images of recent playtest–with thanks to VGC Game Design and especially NJ, Tim, Orson and Adam Who Is Not Me)
With that in mind, I’ve been looking into places to get cards printed, and doing a little graphic design. For the printing, other members of the Vermont Gaming Community have recommended Gamecrafter, and from the stuff that I’ve seen printed from them that seems to be a reasonable recommendation. I checked out a few other printers on the way, but that seems to be the easiest place to get all the prototype stuff I want done.
Card design is the trickier part of this. It’s been a while since I’ve had to do interface design work for a project, and I’ve never made a design specifically for cards before this (or at least not one any more complicated than pen on slips of paper), so the process has been interesting. I’ve done a lot of research along the way.
In No Honor Among Thieves, you’re pitting your crew of thief characters against the defense cards that have been dealt in front of a heist objective. The characters have stats that I’ve been calling “skills,” and the defenses have stats that I’ve been calling “skill challenges,” and if your thieves can defeat any of the challenges on a defense they can get past it (not all, just any one of them). These skills come up a lot in the game, so obviously they were a prime choice for being turned into icons, to help minimize the amount of text on the cards.
From left to right: Lies, Muscle, Stealth, Tinker, No Honor, and Wound icons. The first four are the skills that characters and defense challenges can have, while the last two are other commonly-used icons. Of the collection, I think the Wound icon still needs work, and maybe a name change, since in addition to actual “wounds” it’s also used to trigger effects on characters. Maybe call it “exhausting” instead of “wounding?” I’ll need to think on this.
Anyway. Those are the icons. Looking at them now, I’m not sure how well they actually fit with the rest of the card designs I’ve been doing. The colors are a little too bright, too clean. I may need to throw some grunge and maybe light shading on there. Nothing too heavy, nothing that would distract from the clarity of the icon and the color, but…
Well, here’s the cards that they’ll be going on.
This is the character card design I have. Name at the top (though “name” may be something of a misnomer, since at the moment I’m calling them all by profession), blank white space for artwork to eventually be in, lots of room for ability text, a giant coin for the hiring cost. And that blank skill icon, set above the artwork, which I am thinking now might not be the best place to put it.
Hm. Glad I started writing this post before I started laying cards out in these.
The other card types are similar.
Hidden Agenda and Treasure cards are the easiest, since they don’t have any other keywords that need to be included or special icon associated with them. They just have the name and the ability that they grant, clean and simple. Defenses and Action cards are a little more complicated, as they should be. In all of them I kept the scrollwork along the side of the artwork and the parchment theme behind the names and the text (though I just noticed that the Defense Card text box is different than all the others, and I don’t remember why I made it like that. Maybe because defense cards have less information they need to convey?).
Anyway. That’s the state of the game at the moment. My hope is to have a nice-looking prototype in time for Vermont Comic Con, where I the plan is for VGC Game Design (the local game design group that I’m a part of) to have a table to show off what we’re all working on. Any feedback on these card designs would be appreciated, as well as advice on getting them printed or thoughts on how to get artwork. I could potentially draw all the art for them myself, but I have a very specific vision for the art style I want, and it’s not one that I’m used to doing myself, so unless I can teach myself how to do impressionistic speed-painting in between working on this game, running two roleplaying games and working, I will likely have to turn to a freelancer or two.