Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Making a good thing even better! Part 1

Although, I was delighted that Book of Mormon Battles was published and being energetically received by game buyers, I longed to make improvements. I had several frustrations with the game play.

One: It was quite simplistic (which obviously was the point). My boys were getting older though and we needed something more challenging.

Two: Although it was fine at introducing kids to the various personalities in the Book of Mormon, it didn't really compel players to learn about them.

Three: I hated giving any people (good or bad) point values.

Four: I wanted better production quality.

But what to do? I've received emails from many of you with great comments on my game but a fellow by the name of Nathan Richardson had really gotten into the spirit of the game. He and his friends had taken this simple game and created some great variations. He and I chatted on the phone a few times and he really helped me see what a card game like this could be. One of his suggestions had to do with having icons to identify characteristics about the various warriors in the game.
The more I thought about it the more excited I got. Numbers would not define the worth of a warrior - each one would be equal - but what they've done would be what would set them apart. It was so much fun to go through the scriptures and see what each person had accomplished as represented by my list of icons. I was most surprised that I could barely fit all the icons for King Benjamin or Alma the younger. So now there was a quick way to see (graphically) a basic list of who these men were.

And so began my next game that ultimately became Warriors of the Promised Land (in stores now!).

Friday, December 7, 2007

Games in My Closet

I really enjoy games and I thought some of you might be interested to know what is in my game closet. This is a major selection of our games but since I took the picture I have been finding other games that have been scattered throughout the house. So, feel free to click on the image and you can take a closer look.

I would love to know what your favorite games are.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Getting the Game Ready for Production - Part 2

Figuring out the design was a little bit of a challenge. I had ideas based on elements that I thought looked cool but the publisher also has to consider what their target market would think is cool and what compliments the LDS culture, especially in the west. Another factor was that there had not been an LDS card game like this before and so we weren't sure how far to take the design. The cards ended up being designed by a young designer at Covenant and leaned toward a more conservative design.

Designing the cover was even tougher. The packaging of the game had many considerations as well. It needed to sell itself off the shelf and be eyecatching. It needed to read clearly and be a size that it could easily be displayed close to the register but not get lost on the display shelves. Displayed below are some of the designs I put together for the cover. I worked back and forth with the designer at Covenant but we couldn't seem to finalize the design. The composition worked easy with just the title and a small iconic graphic but everyone involved wanted to have warriors on the front. We just couldn't seem to make it work.After working on this composition on and off for weeks, I was on the computer and my wife walked by. I was slaving away and she just glanced at it and said, "Just put those two images behind, make them bigger and drop the text down." And then she strolled away.

I did it and it was perfect! I sent it to Covenant and everyone loved it. I told them, of course, that when you hire professionals, who have been highly trained in the art of... you know, the inspiration when you... when you have the gift to see... All right - my wife told me what to do!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Getting the Game Ready for Production - Part 1

After I contacted Covenant Communications and they said that they liked my concept, they asked me to send a test deck with full instructions. In the initial email I had sent a sample card idea.
I told them that I would like to do all the illustrations. In a couple of weeks they sent me an email saying that they would like to publish my game and that I could do the art but none of the characters could look like they were from Lord of the Rings. This was in reference to the fact that the sample art I had sent them looked remarkably like "Bernard Hill" - an actor who played King Theoden in the movies. This was no coincidence. The Captain Moroni sample I sent them was actually referenced from the head of the actor, although it was from his role as the captain in the movie, Titanic. I hadn't taken the time to gather my own references yet. Oops.

I'll cover the struggles of trying to get the design of the cards and cover in future posts but for now lets talk about just getting the art done. Part of the HUGENESS of the project was coming up with different models for reference, costume ideas, poses, settings and color themes for about 50 people from the Book of Mormon. AND it all had to be done really fast!

I began by putting together sketches and basic ideas for each character and then find models (most were not LDS) and then I frequently had a given model pose for 3-5 different characters.
Then I would do a sketch for approval from the Art Director and then transfer the sketch to a 16" X 20" canvas and paint like crazy.

I picked models that would work wherever I could find them. Some even came from visits to other places. I had traveled to TX to do a mural at a school down there. In the hotel room at night I would plan layouts for Book of Mormon cards. I attended church on Sunday and found 3 people that I thought would work great as models. It wasn't ideal but I asked if, after church, I could take a snap shot of the them for this game. They were all fine with it! The result worked pretty good.

A Quick Announcement

A new book featuring many of my Book of Mormon paintings and illustrations has just hit the shelves. It is called, Book of Mormon Who’s Who: Illustrated Edition and was authored by Ed J. Pinegar and Richard J. Allen.

There is a lot of other great art in it as well, some you will not have seen before.

I have yet to look through it myself but it should be a great reference book and a nice addition to your LDS collection.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

And so it begins...

Many have been curious about how LDS games, such as mine, get made. So, I figured that would be a great place to start this blog.

I love to teach and I love to use my art to help bring the scriptures to life. We had just recently moved from Oregon to Wisconsin and I was no longer the early morning seminary teacher (an assignment I love). All the creative energy I normally poured into seminary needed somewhere else to go. So, on a Sunday afternoon, in the early spring of 2002, I began thinking up a way to create a simple battle card game for my boys.

I wanted an even deck of good guys and bad guys and the Book of Mormon afforded the best selection of those. The game play was initially the same as War, and was generally fun but had two big flaws.

One: I had set it up to have point values assigned to each person. For the bad guys I didn't really care but for the heroes - who would I give the low points too? That was really rough. For my boys, I figured I would put the more popular heroes at the higher point values and take it from there.

Two: The game didn't really teach anything. True my boys were becoming more familiar with some of the names but to me that wasn't enough.

I knew I had to change the game when I was listening to my sons play and one of them said, "Awww, I only have Lachoneus." ONLY HAVE LACHONEUS!? Yes, Lachoneus in my game only had a few points but I didn't want my boys to look down on the great Lachoneus because he didn't have a lot of points. So, I began to come up with other cards to help the lower point cards, and the game developed from there.

After developing the game for a while and others telling me I should really see about getting it published, I looked around at who in the LDS publishing world was doing the most (and best) with games and so contacted Covenant Communications Inc.

Next time... Getting the game ready for production part 1