Feb 25, 2015

Wongamania Design Story : Illustrations & Colors (part 4)

You can read Part 1-3 of the Design Story Here

After a huge amount of testing using bits and pieces of paper, Wongamania now moves to another important phrase of the game design process.

Putting a design and face to Wongamania.

There are altogether 54 different card designs on Wongamania and there are many other design considerations which we need to consider too, including packaging, token design, logos, instruction booklet etc. The amount of illustration work to be completed was enormous!

The problem is, my initial entire team did not have any design background and we literally stumbled through the whole graphic design phrase like a couple of blind mice. We were lucky to have engaged 3 very talented young artists, Kaitlin, Olivia, EeLin to help us complete this massive project.

When I met up with the artists, I was bombarded by questions such as moods, colors, styles, themes etc and true enough, I ended up staring blankly at the artists. At that point of time, I was deciding on the theme for Limited Launch Edition. I wanted the game to look fun enough, so as to dilute the traditional mindset that learning about money is boring and tedious while the game must look serious enough, such that it will not deter adults from playing a "kiddy" game.

In order to blend this 2 conflicting concept together, we decided to use a more cartoonish style of drawing, while using a more serious tone in coloring. We decided to pick blue and gold, the traditional color of money and high finance.

Little did I know, that using two colors scheme to color all the different cards was actually a huge challenge for the artists. We were initially presented with a design scheme that focus more on the blue than the gold concept, but I rejected this initial coloring scheme as the cards became too "Batman" dark and depressing. The designers than proceeded to tinker around by adding more gold and yellow into the design resulting in a much brighter theme, though still maintaining the classic colors of gold and blue.That coloring scheme became the basis for the Limited Launch edition Wongamania.

The other problem we had was the interpretation of the cards by the illustrators. For example, on the card "Credit Upgrade", the meaning behind the card is essentially an upgrade of the credit rating of the bond of a company or a country, which will help lender assess the risk that they are taking when lending money to these organization. Singapore has a AAA ratings which means that Singapore government bond has an extremely low chance of defaulting. In this case, the ladies, who do not have finance background, thought that it has something got to do with a credit card. Hence, they drew a couple of credit cards during the initial conceptualization phrase.

We also had a couple of miscommunication between the artists. For example, we have this professional card called "Head Hunter" which is suppose to be a job agent for professionals. However, the ladies, who probably were inspired by the numerous video games which they played, drew an assassin (Head hunters are hunters who hunt for heads. Check this Wiki)

Other illustration problems started to crop up as we progress worked on the illustrations. For the "Trust Fund" card, we used a very cute piggy bank standing among loads of money. Our Malaysia partners immediately flagged that out as "insensitive", as pigs are considered as a taboo among the Muslim community.

Another illustration ran into trouble in March 2014 when Malaysia Airlines MH307 disappeared over the Indian Ocean. Our initial "Accident" card depicts a plane crashing in the sea and this illustration hits too close to home to a recent tragedy. We changed the graphic to a car crash, which seems a safe enough theme, since nobody seems to care too much about car crashes these days.  
Packaging was also another big headache for us.

Our artists did not have any industrial experience when it comes to packaging design and we literally groped around in the dark, doing tons of research online and offline, asking shamelessly around for advice, before we manage to design something acceptable.
Our first packaging design was a disaster. The packaging is too small and flimsy to hold 150 cards and the package design is too dull and unattractive. There are also no company logo, barcodes, company details, game summary, content summary and a bunch of important information that should be part of the packaging.

We reworked on the prototype design using just powerpoint and came up with this design guideline for our artists.

The new design was much more appealing and study, but the overall atheistic of the packaging was still not to our liking. Firstly, the color is too dull and does not stand out in a world of colorful tabletop packaging. Secondly, using the economist as our poster boy seems to make the game too... serious... and boring. It looks more like an economic textbook disguised as a game rather than a fun FUN game...

The shape of the packaging also did not work as the current design is not study enough to hold 350 grams worth of cards and tokens as the fold by the sides were too weak. After much discussion with our manufacturer, we had to overhaul our packaging design so that the box will be much sturdier.  

There are of course much more problems which we encountered during the design process, like the process of applying for trademark in various countries, figuring out how the barcoding process work for a retail product and how to write an attractive game summary to appeal to people to pick up the game in a store. In any case, after much trials and tribulations, we managed to publish 300 sets of Limited Launch Edition Wongamania. Getting the game published is only the start of the challenges that we will face. The next of problems pushed the team to the edge of exhaustion. Large scale play testing of the game, marketing and public relationship nightmares, quality control and supply chain problems, crowdfunding woes, redesigns and improvements for 1st edition, money problems.

Fear not! I will share with my readers on the details of some of these issues. To be continued in the next episode Wongamania Design Story!

To find out more about Wongamania, Visit Here

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