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The importance of artwork

Ice LakeWhen I created Ice Lake, my vision was to give it a great old-timey feel. I talked with Billy Matter about it, and he came up with (what I thought) was pretty much a perfect cover.

So what did retailers say? Great game, but on the shelf, the box looks like it’s a game that’s been sitting there since the 50’s.

The 2nd edition of Ice Lake

It was a hard thing to hear, but an easy lesson to remember. When we ran out of inventory, we gave the game a complete makeover, and a modern cartoony-feel.

Why am I bringing all this up now?

This past weekend, I had a chance to play some games with my 7-year old.

There were just two of us, so I broke out a two-person game that was one of my favorites when I was a bit younger: Lost Worlds.

Lost Worlds is a cool little game where each of you play the part of a fantasy character (knight, horseman, skeleton, lizardman, etc.). Each player has a book and a card of maneuvers. You pick a maneuver, turn to the page indicated, and then look up the number of your opponent’s manuever on that page. Your opponent is doing the same thing, and once you’re done turning pages you both end up looking at a picture of what happened.

If you have some quiet time to fill, it’s a fun game that always ends up with the players laughing and shaking their fists at each other (always a great combination).

My son, however, was completely uninterested. We played through the first game, and he gave me the polite sort of smiles that children give their dads when they’re trying to encourage them.

Frustrated, I went upstairs and dug up some Marvel Battlebooks. This is basically the same game as Lost Worlds, but with the Marvel comic book characters, and much more impressive artwork.

My copy of the Lost Worlds books feature black and white drawings. They’re neat, but don’t hold a candle to the Marvel full-color treatment.

I handed my son Iron Man and I played Thor. He opened the book, and was immediately hooked. We started playing, and had every bit as much fun as I remember having with Lost Worlds.

All because of the illustrations. I guess that shouldn’t have been surprising. I’d known the importance of illustrations, but I’d never seen it so dramatically demonstrated.

Now I’m hoping that I can tranfer his excitement from the Battlebooks back into the original Lost Worlds.

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Posted May 21, 2012 in Games
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