Player Aids

Today will be a bit busy for me on the Hooch side of things. I am currently working to get the play mats done and send out for a prototype and I want to clean up the text on some of the cards from our last printing and get those words added or removed which is a time consuming endeavor.

On the game mat front though thing are going well and I think I have finally come to a design that I like and that is functional but also represents the game well.

It is an interesting process when creating Player Aids for your game. I went through so many attempts to get to this one that is it hard to remember what the first attempt even looked like but with the time invested and the work invested I think it paid off and the final result is one that will compliment the game nicely.


Which brings me to the point that one should not give up and continue to draw on your skill set to get the result that you want. I am glad I did not settle for something that I was not 100% sure looked great or even matched the game well. The style of the art is taken from the game but changed to better fit the size of the mat 24x14. This is not a standard size mat by any means but it fits my needs. I tried like hell to design a mat for 17x11 and I just could not make it work and this is where the big hang up came for me. I continued to do different layouts on the 17x11 but just could not get something that worked. So after many tries and frustration I took a day off from it and then while driving around in my patrol car it hit me. Why am I confining myself to a 17x11 size? I am the game creator, can't I make it the size I need to fit the game?

So when I got home I started to expand the size of the mat and this began to change the design and it began to take shape with the vision I had when I first sketched it out. It is a difficult thing as a designer when some thing you had been working on for a while is not coming out the way you had envisioned it. It sort of eats at you and continues to be there in the back of your mind. The change you feel towards your vision when something you create takes on the look and feel of what you really wanted is awesome.

So starting with a bigger mat size really changed the dynamic for me and I began to lock most of the art and design principals into place. I really wanted the turn order and some other information added to the mat. This is information that I think is valuable to a player of the game and it would be right in front of them and easy to read and see. These are also some of the items that players of the game and testers of the game stated they would like to see on the mat. So referring to my notes from questions asked I felt these were some of the more important items to add.  I also have room to place a few more things on them if needed.

Player aids are important to many games that we play because they help us understand the game better and also allow us to see things in a simplified way. When adding player aids to your game you really have to sit back and think about it front the players perspective. Which can be tough from the design chair. As the designer you have so much of the game in your head that you will over look things that players do not. To add another layer to this I am also an artist for the game and the graphic designer as well. While this cuts down on the cost it also means I have to question myself many more times during the design process and from all the different perspectives that come with each job.

Is the player aid functional? Does it look nice? Is the information provided done so in a clear and simple manner? Does it fit into the theme of the game and does it provide the functionality that it is meant to? All good questions mind you, just hard to have all the right answers up front.

There are many things to do in your turn when you play Hooch. So to help the player plan their turn and ensure that they do not make a mistake for lack of understanding the rules of play I felt player aids should be added.

So I began with cards that had information taken from the rules. Three cards double sided with information ranging from missions to the order of play during your turn. While playing the game players stated that they were helpful and it was nice to not have to refer to the rule book as the information was on a card, however many of the players wanted the information on one larger card. So we made a few different ones but I was not happy with them and I felt they were to bulky or big. So the idea of using a game mat was introduced and this seemed to alleviate many of these issues. We also discussed separating the rules from game tips and common terms so we would have two different manuals with the game. Rules of Play, and Tips, Common Terms and a card glossary.  Thus began the quest to design a good player mat.

In the end the final result was worth the frustration and the time invested and while I wish I could have just designed it like this the first time around I am glad that as a person I am not one to give up easily and this had made a difference for this project. Now, to get back to those cards...