November: Art and Production
At the end of last month’s newsletter, our game did not have any artwork, and our design department was swamped with commissioned work, so this project went to the bottom of the queue causing our design team to have flashbacks of being the last kid picked for the dodgeball team in grade school. It was not a pretty day in our offices.
Well, a month later and the work never slows down at GPI. We had to get this project moved to the front of the queue if we were going to deliver it to our clients around the holiday season. We took an untraditional method in getting on the schedule by taking over Ryan’s office and singing About Damn Time repeatedly until he agreed to make time to produce the artwork. We then updated our deadlines and once again had forward motion.
Being able to create all the artwork for a game in-house is great, but not every publisher has the bandwidth for this. Even when a publisher has a full-time designer or team, they might not be an expert at box design or specific treatments. To show off that our design department can do any and everything you might need for your next game, we gave the design department complete aesthetic design freedom (note: the diva temper tantrum from the art department played no part in this decision). There were, however, some specific requirements from the development and marketing departments.
The development team made some specific design requirements for the gameplay. If you recall, we removed the playerboards to keep the cost down, but we still wanted the ease of play the boards added. We accomplished this with some smart design on the cards (playtesting proved the new design worked). To help the rules feel more intuitive, the development team wanted the four types of cards to follow consistent colors and styles. For example, all the cards for a specific GPI service should be the same color, and all the types of cards should share the same art style. The specific colors and styles were left up to the creative team.
The marketing team wanted the game to really pop. Because our customers are board game and toy publishers, we believe the pop should come from great details. The box needs to be eye-catching, and the components need to be stunning. However, if we indulged the marketing team’s every whim, the game would have cost 5x our target price. So, we sent the marketing team off to sit in the corner with the manufacturing team, and we settled on a foil box cover and foil edged cards. Again, the creative team was given the freedom to come up with the actual designs.
Typically, commissioned artwork comes with a couple of revisions, and we want to stick to that for our game. We received instant feedback about what the design department thought would look cool. With everyone in agreement, we soon had our first draft of the artwork!
Wow, the first draft artwork looked stunning! You rarely see a homerun on the first pitch of a game, but that’s what we got. There was, however, some room for a grand slam. All the departments chimed in with feedback and the design department loaded the bases for the next attempt.
For our second design meeting, we printed all the components to real size. Holding the components in our hands offered a valuable perspective. What looked small on a computer screen looked appropriate in person (Ryan Noonan was right).
One topic still up for discussion was the card color choices. Everyone knows that in grade school, your math homework goes in a blue folder, but it’s hard to assign specific colors to services like manufacturing. You know how these topics can go, so it was great to have one person, Ryan, in charge of the final decision.
For our third and final design meeting, everyone was blown away by the art that Ryan came up with. He even had a great idea to carry the foil theme throughout the game with specific spot color printing on the cards. We are so excited for everyone to see this grand slam game.
Typically we would request tooling samples from the factory, but because we are in the bottom of the ninth and several runs behind, we are going to rely on our experienced bullpen and we are going to get pics and videos of the samples sent to us first. It is not ideal to approve a sample via images, but we have a long history of trust with our partner in China. We have 100% faith that they will make a great product with quality material, we just need the pics to make sure everything looks the way we envisioned.
We did it! We sent all the artwork and specs to our factory. Because this is a low-quantity production run, our factory will be able to complete this project in almost no time. We have, however, not seen the final product or shipped it yet, so, this three-part series will have an addendum in next month’s newsletter.