Some random thoughts on game design.
I've spent some time over the last few weeks tinkering with a tabletop card game. The initial test was rewarding, but revealed some areas that needed tweaking.
Beyond the basics of game design, it's been educational in terms of exploring exactly how a cards for games gets produced and the technical limitations of general layout applications such as MS Publisher. Mid to high end design programs seem to be the order of the day.
It's also pointed out my limitations as an artist. I can produce very basic graphics - on the level of what we saw in games back in the 70's - 80's. But technology allows much more - multi-color, photo-quality layered graphics and custom fonts. Full color, glossy rule books and flashy cards seem to be the norm these days. Rule book pages with background imagery that sometimes interferes with the text of the rules. Is that really necessary? When I pick up a copy of the USGA 'rules of golf ', the rules are presented in a clear manner that focuses on the text and supporting diagram. Yes, there are a handful of 'pretty pictures' and corporate sponsor logos, but the rules are focused on game play.
Which brings me to the question, how much of the enjoyment of playing a card game comes from dropping a card with a stunning graphic versus, the effect of that card on the course of the game? Is is a 'little of column A, little of column B' sort of thing? If the game is solid, does the look and feel of the card matter? Can a gorgeous, well designed card mask poor rules and effects, but it's so darn pretty?