Author Topic: GameTalk - Aesthetic Design of Counters  (Read 2654 times)

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Offline bayonetbrant

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Offline Cyrano

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Re: GameTalk - Aesthetic Design of Counters
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2015, 11:12:01 AM »
I assume here you're speaking of all formats -- digital and "analog" -- that use counters.  In the case of the latter, I've got some of my favorites that I'll ferret out and share when I get home, but I will always have a squishy spot inside for the simple elegance of the "Panzer Leader" design.  The notion that Tiller's Campaign Series might be getting an update to bring that aesthetic to the system makes me, well, moist.

In terms of the former, Barth and I have had a running back-and-forth about the counter art, or lack thereof, in Tiller's Panzer Campaigns.  He gives them demerits for only indicating unit type and forcing the player to look to the info box for more detail.  For me, games like "Decisive Campaigns" and "War in the East" become an unreadable mess if I try to use the counters themselves for information.  It's not that they're bad counters, quite the contrary; I think the layout of the former is particularly good, but I do not process information from a computer screen in a way that makes that layout work for me.  Inevitably for me simpler will be better.

*sigh*

Panzer Leader...

Best,

Jim
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Offline mirth

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Re: GameTalk - Aesthetic Design of Counters
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2015, 09:37:10 AM »
I've recently been playing Fire in the Sky. It has some of the most unusual and visually striking counters and components I've ever encountered in a board game. It all works though.

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/14083/fire-sky-great-pacific-war-1941-1945











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Offline Jamm

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Re: GameTalk - Aesthetic Design of Counters
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2015, 11:19:10 AM »
I like a nice layout with good art.
Too much of anything can ruin them.
It's a delicate balance.

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Offline Strela

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Re: GameTalk - Aesthetic Design of Counters
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2015, 09:53:59 PM »
I assume here you're speaking of all formats -- digital and "analog" -- that use counters.  In the case of the latter, I've got some of my favorites that I'll ferret out and share when I get home, but I will always have a squishy spot inside for the simple elegance of the "Panzer Leader" design.  The notion that Tiller's Campaign Series might be getting an update to bring that aesthetic to the system makes me, well, moist.

In terms of the former, Barth and I have had a running back-and-forth about the counter art, or lack thereof, in Tiller's Panzer Campaigns.  He gives them demerits for only indicating unit type and forcing the player to look to the info box for more detail.  For me, games like "Decisive Campaigns" and "War in the East" become an unreadable mess if I try to use the counters themselves for information.  It's not that they're bad counters, quite the contrary; I think the layout of the former is particularly good, but I do not process information from a computer screen in a way that makes that layout work for me.  Inevitably for me simpler will be better.

*sigh*

Panzer Leader...

Best,

Jim
"Cyrano"
:/7)


Interesting Jim,

Having done the counters in Tiller's Panzer Battles - Kursk, that's why we gave three choices; Nato Symbols, Side on (same graphic as the unit box) and top down. We hoped that would cover most player's fetishes. That said, I did experiment with text/numbers on counters and only resorted to the unit equipment in text on the Nato counters. With a counter size of roughly 50 bytes by 50 bytes, there is a real issue with legibility of text and figures on counters.

Here are some example of the three types at different zoom levels.






Of interest there will be less need for 'multiple' counter sizes in the future as mobiles are driving 'scalable' zoom and there will be much more of our 'pinchable' zoom rather than set zoom levels.

David

Offline Jack Nastyface

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Re: GameTalk - Aesthetic Design of Counters
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2015, 11:49:58 AM »
What I've really come to appreciate is when game designers use aesthetic design to enhance the functionality of the counters.  Creating borders and fields, using contrasting colors and designs, etc, not only makes the counters look better, it can also help "deliver" information.  For example, while I like the counter artwork of the Lock n' Load series, I think the counters could benefit with just a bit of contrast high-lighting and fields.  It ain't that easy with fifty year old eyes to see all the details of a counter with 4*4 4 6 markings.
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Offline Cyrano

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Re: GameTalk - Aesthetic Design of Counters
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2015, 07:56:29 AM »
@Strela:  Love what you guys are up to, especially as *SHOCK*, you're pretty much at the PB/PL level of play.  All easy purchases for me.  That said, I'm likely to be a NATO guy go-forward as I suspect few will indulge my love of simple BLACK silhouettes on fairly neutral backgrounds.  Like Jack, my eyes aren't the best and are getting no better so contrast is going to be an issue.  As a side-note, the new super-zoom 2D level in some of the JTS games is a real gift.  I love listening to good designers talk about the process by which they think through all of this.  And, often, it's as interesting to hear about what was discarded and why as it is to see what was picked.

On this topic, I need to pick up (yes, I said need), a copy of Napoleon's Last Battles.  As many hereabout will know, this game has gone through four editions with the fourth being released this month.   They are:

1.  SPI (which had both a paper and a mounted "designer's" edition.
2.  TSR (the one with the colorful charging cuirassier on the cover)
3. and 4. ...and Decision Games twice.

There have certainly been small tweaks to the rules and scenarios, but the main changes have been aesthetic.  The counters in 1 and 2 are the "classic" SPI flat color that does not exist in nature with a NATO symbol and the combat and movement factors printed in a nice serif font on the front.   The DG games versions are more colorful (some of the color choices in 3rd edition are GHASTLY) and they're certainly more "designed".  What has kept me conflicted is whether the newer counters are better.  I'm an aging grog.  I get that.  But it seems that some of my peers like the pretty counters.  I'm not sure...not sure at all.

Those thus inclined can view the different versions here:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/4230/napoleons-last-battles

 
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You didn't know? My Corps has already sailed to Berlin. We got there 3 days ago and we've been in the Tiergarten on the piss ever since. -- Marshal Soult, October 1806