So, a lot of my energy lately has been going into improving the visual appearance of Manaforge. Sure, there are the constant playtests, and making balance tweaks and improvements feels like a neverending process. But improving the game's appearance is my primary focus right now. The game's cards are done, but I need to put effort into the rest of the game's visual elements: the main game board, player mats, rulebook, player aid sheets, and the box cover.
So far, we've been working on the main game board. I gave my graphic designer Justin some inspiration for the board along the lines of a Da Vinci-drawn schematic: a piece of parchment with diagrams and information, but instead of how to build an invention or a diagram of human anatomy, my page is supposed to be a blueprint for how to build a magic item. (In this case, it's how to build a magic wand.)
Justin has done a great job with the idea. A wand is prominently placed in the center of the board, with information about the wand 'written' around it (unintelligible scribbles), cross-sections and pieces of the wand moved off and explained in detail, and magic circles and rituals on how to enchant the wand listed off to the side. I think it looks awesome.
Unfortunately, it doesn't work.
I've shown the board to a few people, and I seem to be getting the same response. The board does not seem to belong with the rest of the game. The cards in my game are brightly-colored, showing action scenes and wondrous magic being performed. The parchment board is... static. Varying degrees of beige, yellow, and brown, with fixed information and diagrams. They both look very good. But they don't look good *together*. I've had someone comment that the boards and the cards could have come from two different games. <sigh>
Since the cards are pretty well set, that means the board has to change. I need to find a way to make the board more colorful and match the cards better without losing the 'instructions for building a magic wand' feel. We're trying all kinds of different approaches, but so far nothing has really worked.
Anyone have any bright ideas we could borrow? :)