Tuesday, August 22, 2017

FissureVerse: New layouts, icons, and art – redux, with rules and mechanics

My two main inspirations for FissureVerse have been Dominion, a game I was until recently obsessed with, and Magic: The Gathering, a game which I have not played in years, but have nostalgia for. But both of these games have similar card layouts, and my original designs for Crusaders, Frenzies, and Rogations was based on those two card games, with Locations being practically no more than a sideways version.

I felt rather 'meh' about my layout designs after a while, and knew they were bland, and graphically-challenged, considering I am no graphic designer. So now I'm taking another stab at the card layouts, trying to care about both form and function, eliminating clutter, and leaving as much room for art as possible.

Click to see all the new awesomesauce.
Firstly, cards are now primarily black (with a 'vortex' icon faded in the background), to give a better impression of space, with only a border showing the color of the faction. The faction icon is now big and bold, lifted from the bottom-center to the top-left. The card title is right-aligned, and enlarged to make it more obvious. (It's still small enough to fit "Servants of the Infinite" perfectly, which I believe is my longest card name.) Title text (as well as the text at the bottom of the card, and stat text) is a sans-serif font, to give a more spacey vibe, while the special rules and flavor text (and artist name) are a serif font for readability.

The stats have been pushed far up, since I think they're more important than being pushed down to the middle of the card. They're also highlighted with a grey bar to also help catch your attention.

The special rules and flavor text have been lifted above the art to be directly under the stats bar, so the eye can go straight from one to another without a jump. The special rules and flavor text also have variable font size to take up more space so there's not so much emptiness above. There are certainly some unavoidable instances of empty space, but it should be less noticeable.

Also, considering the (somewhat) recent mechanic of paying Tokens equal to the number you're Crusading with, I've had to redesign some cards to be more Token-friendly. Dripping and Numerologist, for instance, have a similar mechanic, but they fix things so you aren't over-paying and the card balances out. You only pay the amount stated in the stats bar, not the special rules text, so you'll pay 3 if Crusading by Reason with the Numerologist, regardless of whether you're against a Devotee or Zealot. Makes the math easier, too.

The art has been moved down from near the top, yet it is far more prominent than it was before, due to the art being far larger now. By minimizing the borders I was able to embiggen the art.

Finally, at the bottom, I removed the card type and faction name (since both are redundant due to the faction/card type icon that's now at the top), but because I had a bit of room, I added the name of the game, and a subtitle with an icon ("The End Is Beginning", with a 'cracked disc'). I know I want a bunch of expansions for this game, so I struggled a lot with a subtitle and icon to the original vanilla set (if I even wanted either of those at all). I considered actually putting "Vanilla" and having an ice cream cone as the icon, but I figured I would wait on the humor for future expansions and not ruin the mood I'm going for yet.

Locations have got a massive revamp as well, giving tons of space for the art, and looking rather shiny and providing more information all at once.

Like with Crusaders, the top left has an icon, and this one being a black-and-white vista as the Location icon. The Turn Order icons flow down from the top like a totem. Kept in the top left is also the title, but it's surrounded by a bar that can shift its size to the size of the title (once again, perfectly sized for the longest title, "Trenches of Otherworldly Sorrows").

The art is now so large I can see details I never knew before, like the little girl in Blue Blazes! (See below.) However, unlike with normal cards, where the art is simply enlarged, the aspect ratio of this art has significantly changed, so I am forced to remove some art and replace it. You will notice that Earth actually has the Battlefield art, which I have to do because the Earth art simply won't fit right in this new aspect. In the meantime, Earth gets Battlefield's art, and Battlefield will be getting some new art.

To continue down the cards:

Below the art is flavor text, and currently I'm debating on special rules text. There's enough room, certainly, but there's a new addition to the rules and a new card type to come that with come with a major change, so I'm debating whether to have the Locations keep their special rules text, or simplify things. As it was, I felt I had too many Locations had special rules (half of them!) so I wanted to cut down on that number anyway.

Frenzies of course have a similar mockup to Crusaders, though I gave them an icon they never had, and changed the color to orange (since Rogations are purple I wanted a bigger difference in color). The icon is a skull with large, chomping teeth, which I want to evoke to Rabies Frenzy. I've also been rethinking the actual effects of cards, making them more useful and desirable, so the negative effects of Steel, for instance, are lessened considerably.

Rogations also get a fun icon, which is far more abstract, but heck, it's tough to come up with something that is a fairly abstract card type itself. In any case, it's something like a ball with lightning on it, which would typically be the result of a spell, and since Rogations are often like ceremonies, spells, and folkways, I figure lightning could be a consequence, particularly with cards like Raindance.

I have left off Rogation type (Immediate, Lasting, and Conditional), and I'm simplifying all Rogations in that regard. Now Rogations can be played any time during or between turns, as long as all conditions are met. Of course one condition is the number of Crusaders in your field (indicated by the teleporting person icon), and an oddly specific condition would be in the special rules text (where it always was in Conditional cards), similar to Magic cards with strange mana costs (like "In addition to this card's mana cost, exile a creature"). It will be laid out in the rules that these conditions must be met when you play the card. This will eliminate all junk like laying down Conditional Rogations facedown, bluffing with Rogations, etc. That was needlessly complex and didn't do much but frustrate me.

The additional icon you see is also a requirement: the minimum and maximum number of Spikers that must be revealed before you can play this. A Spiker is the new card type I alluded to above, and they work with new Location mechanics.

Because I have no Spikers, here are more Locations.
I've always been annoyed by the fact that Locations only last one round, and then a new Location is flipped. I figured there's not enough time to get used to one Location, and that jumps happened to quickly. So the way I figured was that you'd stay at the same Location indefinitely until a Crusader is Killed. Then, and only then, does a new Location card get revealed. (You will notice I changed the special text of Pestilence from the wordy "Send a Devotee (an Opponent's, or your own) to the Vortex" to the far simpler "Kill a Devotee.")

Also, I've eliminated the whole idea of two ways to win. It used to be that you'd either wipe an opponent of their Crusaders, or at the end of the game, you'd count a score. Now, instead, if you flip through all the Locations, the game ends and everybody loses. This, of course, was ripped completely from my basic playing card game Zugzwang. This entirely adds the same element to the game: think you're gonna lose? Why not force everyone else to, as well!

But now, why should the game end, just because you ran out of Locations? Why not shuffle and continue? Well, I want the very theme of the game to come through more powerfully: the universe is being torn apart, and reality is in its last days.

Now, the fun addition I've included is Spikers. Add eight Spiker cards to the Location deck and shuffle. If a Spiker is flipped, instead of being discarded like Locations, it is kept set aside so everyone can count the number of Spikers out. The Rogation requirement is how many Spikers must be in play before you can use it. So for Pestilence, being 4-8 Spikers, that means you must wait to use Pestilence until at least four Spikers are revealed. This will allow more powerful Rogations to be played later, and weaker ones sooner. This will also add strategy to the pregame deck-building, since players wouldn't want to fill their decks with Rogations that are too specific or all towards one end of the game (unless they make that conscious decision).

The one caveat is that when you shuffle the Spikers, you must be sure to keep one (unrevealed) set aside, then shuffle them in with the Locations. Then you put the set-aside Spiker at the bottom of the deck, so the last card drawn is always the final Spiker, bringing doom to the universe.

Spikers might also have special rules text that goes into effect from the moment the Spiker is revealed, to the end of the game, so that's another reason I'm thinking of getting rid of most of the special rules on Location cards.

Anyway, soon enough I'll rewrite the rules (it's tough making so many fixes), and upload more re-created cards.

Monday, February 27, 2017

FissureVerse: New Layouts, icons, and art

Thanks to Phill Berry and game-icons.net for the art!

FissureVerse gets a bit of an artistic overhaul. Firstly, I switched up all the icons for consistency, and to give proper credit for them (I'd never found appropriate attribution for the old set of icons). They are all similar in nature to the old icons, but I used the tools at game-icons.net to customize them. Since I noticed before that the blue of Emptiness Crusaders and Emptiness Locations were different, I used the palettes for the icons to create a consistent color scheme. Location cards also got extended art space and rules/flavor text space (shrinking the location names a bit to achieve this). I also upped the resolution from 200 to 300 dpi. I am sure this will increase the file sizes, but I'll take that to make things nicer.

I have so far blitzed through the Location and Solidity cards with new layouts, so I could add this new art:

Grime, A Child's Imagination, Cave of the Weeping, With the Fishes
Clicky clicky to see the details...y.

Grime is the home of The Derelict, and being that I've had a bit of affection for the group, I've always been hesitant to find good art for the card. Originally Grime was meant to be a sort of slums, where Solidity keeps them down. The background to the location is perhaps still similar, but with the fortress-style art here and all the turrets, I think it shows that Solidity keeps The Derelict in line with an iron fist, and rules over them in a more direct way, rather than the subtle scheming way of the previous iteration. Still, the new flavor text helps to push it closer to the original direction.

The other three cards are old cards, just updated with some new flavor text and fixed colors and icons.

You notice, of course, the new faction symbols (similar enough to the old ones), and the new attack symbol in the extra rules. That brings us to regular cards:

Servants of Solidity, Cavernous, The Derelict

Servants of Solidity gets a refresh in art and flavor text, to keep the theme more sci-fi and make Solidity a little less comical.

Again, the extras here are for new flavor text, and The Derelict in particular is to show how the Solidity symbol looks when stuck in the special text.

The rest of the cards will be updated slowly, probably as I get some new art for each card type. Until then, there may be a mismatch in the style of each card type with the new vs. old layouts (as well as the cards which I haven't gotten art for yet, like the remaining Solidity and Location cards).

Edit 3/6/17: The Solidity cards were accidentally exported as 200 DPI; they have been reexported as 300 DPI to match the Location cards.