Iterating to the right solution and aesthetic: Attribute Squares

Iteration is one of the most significant tools a designer has to achieve the right design solution. The character sheet has undergone more iterations than any single element in the whole game. In the diagram above I show 8 iterations of just the Strength attribute and an equip square from the character sheet, yet the character sheet as a whole as undergone even more. I’ve gone through the alphabet almost twice while naming each version: version-a, version-b, etc. etc.

There were two primary factors driving this:

  1. How do we track attribute values on the character sheet (without pen and paper)?
  2. What is the right aesthetic that fits our theme?

Below, I briefly explain the thinking behind each iteration shown above.

  1. Hand drawn (copic), then scanned. Size is ¾ × ¾ inch. Equipment tiles at the time were the same size. I am think of using a D6 to track each attribute from values 1-6, then another custom D6 from values 7-12. No math has been done to determine if this will scale. Can a player earn an attribute higher than 12?
  2. The previous aesthetic seemed too rough. Changed to a smoother, digitally painted look. After a print test, it was evident that ¾ × ¾ inch was too small for equipment, so the size of all squares were increased to 1×1 inches.
  3. Added some color to equip squares. We did some preliminary calculations and realized that 2 dice will not be enough, maybe not even 4 dice will be enough. With the number of attributes needed to track, we were looking at close to 500 dice to be included in each box!
  4. Previous designs were still too plain. Switched to bitmapped graphic design / art. Aesthetic is closer to what we want, but ultimately was too gritty. We’re thinking about using numbered tiles instead of dice.
  5. Changed equip squares to be inset to signal to players that things go in or on these squares.
  6. An outlier: changed to full vector art (so we can scale the art to any size as needed) and explored a completely different aesthetic. My 6 year old daughter loved this the most, but ultimately, this was not the aesthetic we were going for.
  7. Arriving at the right middle ground in terms of aesthetic. It’s still clean, vector art, but doesn’t look like you will use your strength to bake cup cakes. Switched to a rectangle to accommodate two dice at once so players can simply read the actual values without having to do a calculation in their heads. (I will write a future post on our dice solution.)
  8. Squares are featured prominently and the rectangle felt like it broke this continuity. Switched to two squares, side-by-side.

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