QWG Game release: Leonardo da Vinci

Recently, I have had the good fortune to work with an exciting relatively new publisher out of the Netherlands, QWG. As a marriage between two companies – Quined Games and White Goblin Games – they are actually not really that new to the industry. Between the two of them, they have quite a few good productions under their belts which you can see at the end of this article. They have decided to launch a new series of games called "Master Print Editions" which I'm really proud to be a part of. The series will be unique and collectable like Alea, some of which will be limited editions.

The first game that QWG will publish under this series is one that I've recently been attracted to – Leonardo da Vinci. I'm getting ahead of myself, though. I came aboard not to work on this title but to develop the art for another game, that I'm quite giddy about, both from an artistic point of view and from a game point of view. As this is a new company, we had an excellent opportunity here to establish a strong proprietary look that can carry through to the rest of their games. It happened as we were working on this look and the game graphics, Leonardo came about. Leonardo was decided to be the first in this series, so we began to apply the newly developed system look to the game and took another look into the box art. The game board and components are identical to the original, but the box will signal the first – in what I believe to be – an extensive collection of fine quality games.

The QWG Master Print Edition look and feel. This was the initial sketch I had submitted to QWG to introduce this look.Note that only Leonardo da Vinci is actually being produced under this series.

Here is how different covers might look.

I am quite pleased by the look of QWG's Master Print system. As you can see above, we have the feel of an old world book in a hard box sleeve. Note that the titles in the image shown here were the original concept sketches shown to the QWG team and do not represent actual upcoming QWG titles. Nonetheless it highlights some of the variety that can be achieved within the system. From different colored leathers, degrees of wear and tear, unique objects affixed to the sides of the books (like barnacles in Reef Encounter or a scarab in Amun-Re) and period embellishments, the system comes alive. Each edition will have a nicely detailed leather bound look and will look as if there is a debossed window where the art plate can be seen. Type will fit naturally underneath as it might on such a cover. Additionally, for a little fun, occasionally an object might be placed on the book or on the spine to add to the meaning and to expand the look from title to title. A bookcase filled with antique books offers a warm, mellow invitation for the eye. As one's QWG collection grows, this system should deliver against that quite well. Overall the program has a very rich, luxurious feel to it that I certainly would love to feature on a prominent bookshelf or as a decorative accent in my home... and this is what it is all about. Feeling good with the product(s) and proud to display them for others to see. Such is the value creation that can be developed on a visual level to create appeal, desire and pride in the product and for future releases by a brand.

Original drawing by the master, which this cover painting was based on.

Moving on to Leonardo. I'm very fond of this game (despite my repeated dismal performance in playing of the game) and was especially pleased to be able to work on the cover graphics. To heighten the drama and intensify the piece, I chose to paint a portrait of Leonardo based on his famous self portrait (included above for comparison). This original production was a crayon drawing. I found it was great fun to flesh out the details in paint and color. His work typically has a good deal of detail and highlighting in the hair, so I executed it as such. You can get a better sense of it in some of the detail images below. Finishing it off, I aged the painting with a cracked varnish look. Embellishing every surface are 16th century Italian ornamentations which greatly contribute to the eye candy. Additionally, the drawing compass adds to the message of invention and precision.

Again, here is a case where showing the game activity or spelling out the storyline really is not necessary. Leonardo is synonymous with invention. A powerful portrait highlights the game intensity, offers some level of authenticity and serves as an iconic vehicle toward a memorable cover. Its simplicity draws the eye in. Any ambiguity towards storytelling allows for imagination and further investigation. This is why Tikal's cover is so powerful. It does not labor over a storyline, but powerfully displays an object in an iconographic and emotive way.

Here you can see the spine with the book end as it might look on a store shelf.

The other side which is on the book sleeve side. On this side we can naturally include the cover image which is quite nice.

Back to the box. All the surfaces have been treated as one might expect a book in a sleeve to look. I chose to use a book sleeve graphic rather than just a straight image of a book to allow for branding on the non spine sides of the book. To simply make the game box look like it were a book would have created branding problems for these sides because, as a book, these panels would have been gold pages with little to no opportunity for text. Now with the hard bound book sleeve look there was another problem. One would not expect there to be branding on the top and bottom of the book sleeve – it would seem unnatural. I chose to make it look as if paper has been attached to the surface. This seemed a little more natural and allowed for some branding.

For the back of the box, we continue with the leather texture and include a nice shot of the game. Here, I photographed it with some sweeps of light to add drama. The back sides include an aspirational quote which I thought a nice touch. In this case, we have a quote from a contemporary of Leonardo's. I find that poetry, song, writings and quotes can be pleasant details in games as they are a direct connection to the soul. It is one thing to include a picture painted in the distant past or create an image of people reinacting an event from past. It is quite another to read actual thoughts a person might have had thousands of years ago of a bad harvest or fear of war or perhaps exhileration of battle. Such raw feelings expressed clearly from another are like messages in bottles and have more power – to me at least – than a picture. So it is at times that a few words from the past are worth the proverbial thousand pictures.

I'm sure am looking forward to filling my shelves with these books.

– Mike

For more information on QWG you can go to White Golbin Game's site and the Quined site. Here you can find their previous titles which include the Princes of Florence, Reef Encounter, Taj Mahal and Caylus among others. Also, I see that they won the Dutch Game Price 2006 (with Caylus) and have some great games for the 2007 DGP with Hermagor, Taj Mahal, Leonardo and a number of soon to be released games: Yspahan, Princes of Florence (new edition), Caylus Magna Carta and Medici vs Strozzi.

©2007 Mike Doyle