Modern Art Released

I was just informed that the latest publication of Modern Art has been released – this being the edition that I had worked on. The new company, Odysseia, is out of Brazil and will be publishing all sorts of highly rated games over there. Here is a link to their website as well as a minisite for their first release named Arte Moderna. (Please direct any inquires about Modern Art to To better serve their local community, the game was finally published in Portuguese. Given that it is such an easy game to play and rules are available, I suppose it wouldn’t be difficut for non native speakers to pick up the game as well. I’ve not yet seen the final production, but look forward to that. Below are varied images for this edition with some explanations.

Above, the cover can be seen. I chose one of the brighter paintings of the set and cropped in close to it. This along with the people give a sense of scale and setting to the image. Colorful covers can have quick impact and here I chose to exploit this. Note that this is a system look with a bar for the title through and a colored border around the image. As a system it’s very strong and recognizible.

Little details that can bring a smile or pleasantly surprise are always a welcome addition to programs. Here, the info strip as been themed from some famous paintings.

One look the publisher was going for is something that would have wide appeal and make for a handsome set. Of the different styles presented, the following 5 were selected. In general, they are approachable and pleasing to look at, even to many non contemporary art enthusiasts. The styles come across as less harshly “modern.” For more on each style, you can find links in the published art tag on the sidebar. There are many ways the project could have been approached. This particular way is more serious and “pretty.” One benefit here is that by showcasing styles that aren’t too crazy, perhaps some players might find a gentle introduction into appreciating modern art. Another approach is one which the original productions of MA took. This was a tongue and cheek approach (perhaps, closer to Reiner’s vision) – “hey everyone knows modern art styles are a joke anyway...” Well, I suppose here beauty comes at the cost of a few chuckles by some. Nonetheless a more serious style was the mandate here and we took liberties to make it look as pleasing as possible.

Again, to give a little something special back to the community, I arranged for one Easter Egg on one of the cards. It’s actually pictured here below. Now, if you don’t see it, Doug Garrett already noticed and posted a comment in the picture section of MA on BGG. Not pictured here are some other details that remain special to the publisher – his wife’s favorite flower a word cleverly scribbled somewhere in the set that is special to him, as well as a few other things that will go unnoticed to everyone but him. I always encourage publishers to put a little something of themselves in it when it can naturally fit. After all, it is their product in the end which they have worked hard to create against odds.

One thing I haven’t seen done before, though perhaps it has, is to treat the entire counter sheet as a canvas with interesting additional information. True, the outer sheet will be thrown away in the end after the counters have been punched. However, the effect upon opening the game is very appealing. Also, it rewards serious collectors for not punching and playing the game by providing another element that is nice to look at and particularly special just for them. This is similar to how the postal service rewards collectors with extra information outside of the perforated stamp area. I hope to continue this in upcoming games with perhaps little historical snippits, images or some graphic add ons that make the sheet as a whole interesting to look at. Here, I treated the counter sheet like a canvas, keeping with the contemporary art theme. The counters needed to be horizontally symmetrical so the same artwork could work for the back sheet – therefore the placement and layout was somewhat restricted. Nonetheless, it has an appeal beyond what individual counters would offer alone.

The counter sheet has an overall impression beyond the individual chits as the whole was treated as a canvas.

Another element we introduced was a certificate of authenticity which is individually numbered. Yet another small reward for purchasing a this release. It also shows great pride from the publisher about his product. I had brought this idea up in a previous post and rather like it. Euro games have a limited reach. As such, the products are rather special and unique. Print runs of 2000, 5000, 7000 or such are really very small in the scheme of things, particuarly compared to mass games. The certificate celebrates the rarity of these products as a category. After all, this is something Hasbro will never be able to give us. In this case, during production, the artwork was added to the sheet of screens which is of a stiffer stock. Being such a small certificate – a little larger than a business card – it was easy to squeeze onto the sheet at no additional cost. Generally in publishing, there is paper waste – whether it be through larger than need be components or extra unused paper. Such paper could be smarter utilized for add ons like this.

A certificate of authenticity, each one individually numbered.

Below are the 5 player screens which are fictitious museums. The publisher had asked for a die cut top, which I rather like in the end. The black background is not part of the screen. I chose a banner format for the information as one often finds banners at museums. I had also added color to the “sky” area just to give punch and an element of fun to the program. Since buildings can be a bit drab in terms of color, this adds a spark of visual interest to player areas.

The rules were a bit set in terms of page count and have quite a few pages. For this reason, at the end we added artist “bios” as filler and an add on. Given that the artists are made up, these bios are of course fictitious. They do give greater meaning to the art, though, as one reads what is going on in the lives and in the heads of the artists. I find when looking at paintings, knowing details like this is often a quick way to gain appreciation into a particular artist’s work. To add to the gallery and modernity feel, a bright white paper was chosen and the typeography was kept as what one might expect in a museum guide. We had a little fun with the paintings allowing them to be chopped up and meshed together with other graphics. The effect is fun and delightful to look at. We ended the rules section with signatures from Reiner and myself. I thought this a nice touch, again to add pride and authority to the product. I’m not sure why designers’ signatures aren’t regularly included in games, but it would really be nice to see more often. Space providing, it would be extra nice to see some design notes or thoughts on the game from the designer. Even a simple and stupid “I hope you enjoy this game” message followed with a signature would add warmth and the touch of closeness to the authors.

Here, one can find Reiner’s and my signatures. I’d really appreciate this more in games.

Here are two of the artists’ bios.

Here the artists’ tracking board. Just a simple, clean design.

I hope you enjoy.

– Mike

©2006 Mike Doyle