The other morning, I cranked out about nine of the Colonists as an exploration, trying to hone in on the style I'd like to use for the whole run. Need something simple, but nuanced. Want to make the faces of these Colonists interesting enough to bear repeated long-term viewings, and to all seem part of the same future world. Once I get on a roll, I think I may be able to get through 10 portraits a day, taking about two work weeks to get them all into a finished state.
The Colonist CardsOnce I had some passable drawings, I immediately wanted to see them on a card. I mocked up a template for the Colonist Card and put a few portraits in place. Here are the results:
|Four colonists of varying traits with portrait, name and flavor text.|
All the usual disclaimers I do hereby spout: this is temporary art, nowhere near final trait icons, all names subject to change, any resemblance to persons living, dead or yet-to-be-born is news to me.
I picked the trait icon sets at random from actual cards and then picked a portrait mostly at random. The name and flavor text easily flowed as I imagined a character based on the trait combinations. Jesonyld Vankwesh has, roughly, the traits: agriculture, impetuousness and scientific-method. It seemed appropriate for him to be taking such a whimsical leap of faith. Miss Telekronos has: medical, creative and romantic. And so on. My hope is that the combination of portraits, non-specific icons and evocative flavor text will greatly improve players' enjoyment of the game. Not just the one-time newness of learning about characters, but also imagining them together in a colony or on this starship. How will their desires, goals and impulses intermix on an isolated world? Maybe it'll just be reality TV with bubble helmets.
The traits serve two purposes. One is mechanical. The traits are the primary means of getting points at the end of the game. The traits represented in the hotly selected colony council are the traits you score with by keeping one rescued colonist in your hand as the "chosen agent" of your secret agenda. The other purpose of traits is to provide flavor, which hopefully provides story-telling hooks for the players as the game progresses and after the game concludes.
I'm beginning to get hard quotes from various printing houses that cater to indie board game developers. It's looking like I may be able to get the game down to $30.00 if I can economically forge the three-dimensional game pieces or talk myself into going all-cardboard. I really don't want to do cardboard chits. I want the robots, at least, to be figurines -- even if I have to go with wooden robo-meeples. To make that happen, I thought about making molds and pressing the figures myself. Insanity. Maybe those hand-crafted parts, and the original artwork for the cards, will be the high-level KickStarter backer rewards. In any case, I want to have the printer and parts specs locked in by the end of this month. Wish me luck.