Game Design

Sneak Peek! My Game’s Early Concept Art

OK everyone, I’m opening up and exposing myself here…wait, that came out wrong. I’m…revealing some hidden parts of myself. Goddammit. Forget it—here’s some concept art for my game.

DISCLAIMER: The artwork here is nowhere near at its final stages. As the title of this blog states, this is an early sneak peek!

Wait, what’s your game about again?

My game is about powerful players who manipulate the republic of their fictional nation to seize control for themselves and instate their own government. One of those powerful players is the General of the Armies, who wants to establish a Military State. If the General’s able to collect 20 Favor (a sort of currency for players), they overthrow the republic and become the Emperor of this new order.

What’s this General character look like?

At first, I had imagined the General of the Armies as this rough-and-tough, heavily scared and heavily decorated, badass frog. That’s right, a badass frog! I sketched something up in my notebook immediately.

Notebook pen sketch of The General of the Armies.

The General gains Favor through acts that show military strength: when soldiers die in a conflict, when military incidents are resolved, when the military increases. If the General is able to collect 20 Favor, they overthrow the government and establish their Military State which shifts power in their favor for the rest of the game (but also puts a target on their back as the other players become allied against them).

What are you going for here?

I wanted the General to seem uncomfortable, like his head is too big for his suit. I also wanted him to look a little ugly but interesting with a gnarly scar—a character that you can tell has seen some shit. My lovely spouse took my early sketch and created a lot of concept pieces.

NOTE: Keep in mind that these are work-in-progress concepts and by no means close to final pieces.

A more direct interpretation of the original sketch.
The General getting a quick snack.
The General, mid-croak and ready to rumble.

The first image is a more direct interpretation of the original sketch. I think it looks too much like a generic lizard. The General catching a fly is a little too cute. Frogman mid-croak, angry as sin—now there’s a General of the Armies.

What tools did you use?

The original sketch is just pen and paper in a notebook. I think it’s important to get a quick sketch down to capture the core idea. But then my spouse took that idea and ran with it. She recreated the original sketch on an iPad with the Apple Pencil and Adobe Sketch.

After some back and forth, working with me to get the vibe down and listen to my critiques, we settled on this idea of mixing a watercolor style portrait with a more modern “cartoonish” element—hence the black stroke to shape the outline of The General.

Is this final?

No. It’s not even close to being done. We may even change the style and experiment with a few other ideas. The second concept (General catching a fly) looks a little more like an impressionist watercolor portrait. I like the look and it’s possible to incorporate the purposefully blended and blurry colors with the character portraits or to use this style with other assets. (There’s an incident/crisis type card that affects the nation and players must resolve these or wait them out and make sure that the population doesn’t reach zero.)

Why are you even making the artwork, shouldn’t you just focus on the mechanics and gameplay?

If I were going to shop this game out to publishers, no—artwork isn’t important. Theme isn’t that important in most cases either. Publishers want the game to be mostly balanced and completely thought out.

However, I’m not going to shop my game out to publishers; I’m going to attempt to crowdfund it through Kickstarter. From the research I’ve done on successful Kickstarter campaigns, people really want the game to look 90% complete before investing. When kickstarting your game, theme matters almost as much as the gameplay itself.

Now it’s time for me to get back to work.

By Neutrino Burrito

A writer and board game designer currently puttering about the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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