Posted by: markfender | June 17, 2015

Graphic Design Fail

I don’t play Warmachine or Hordes anymore. Primarily for monetary and time reasons. I still think it’s a great game and well-designed. But there’s a weird problem I have with their recent efforts at graphic design.

GhordsonBasherFrontFor instance, here’s a second edition stat card for the game. It’s got the same basic stat profile as the first edition. But, graphically, I think it’s a far worse design. For one, the picture of the warjack in question is much too small. Miniature games (and Privateer Press in particular) are pretty good for designing towards “profiles.” That is, the silhouette of the model in question is usually distinct enough from other similar designs to easily identify on the tabletop. The problem is that the stat card picture is so small that you can’t use the cards for the same profile identification. Standing at a 4 x 4 table, I should be able to tell your Leviathan from your Slayer by the silhouette of the model itself – something that is more than feasible. But, at that same distance, I can’t identify the stat cards. All the pictures just look like colored blobs. Even as a player, I can’t as quickly identify the appropriate stat card in front of me for the model I’m activating. That seems like poor design.

Underneath the main stat profile are a bunch of circles identifying common game stats. Stealth, Pathfinder, Magic Weapon and other common game rules are identified with tiny graphic circles. I honestly would prefer words to identify these common game effects, but I realize I’m the weird outlier here (Although I do think it’s one less step to read the word “stealth” and then correspond that to the identification of that game rule in the game, rather than see a picture, connect that picture to the word “stealth” and then remember that rule). Regardless, the graphics are too small. One particular game effect in particular, is impossible for me to tell on the cards – the Immune to [effect] rule. The common graphic element for the various immunities is to do the international symbol for “No” (i.e. the circle with a bar through it) with another little symbol behind it. The problem is, I cannot see the symbol behind the “no” symbol. This happens with the books and the cards. Now, that might mean that I need glasses, but it still doesn’t seem like a good idea to make the symbol so small that graphic elements cannot be distinguished.

Both of these problems could be solved with smarter graphic design. Look at all the unused space on the front of that card. And why is there a flavor quote box on the front? Seems to me that the tiny picture and game effect graphics could be improved by actually using the available space on the card. And, yes, I am familiar with the concept of white space and how important it is, but I also think a smarter graphic designer could have arranged all those elements into a more cohesive, more readable whole.

But that’s not the end of the graphic design fails I’ve seen from Privateer Press. For instance, here’s a picture of the Gale Force Nine Warmachine dice, produced under 1st edition.

warmachine diceAnd here’s the dice currently offered by Privateer Press (made by Q-Workshop). Cryx-Dice

Augh! These are so busy! I can barely tell what the number is.

Okay, dice aren’t a necessary accessory. But this seems to go along with Privateer’s far too involved graphic design.

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