Valley Games’ Titan

---- Note development has continued with the art seen below since this original post. This including some simplification of detailing, color shifting to separate colors further and work on arrow detailing. This will be the next post. These improvements address some issues I’ve had since posting below. ----

Board corner detail

--- Note, I've modified the images since the original post with colors for hills and woods switched to reflect closer alignment to original board ---

Here, we have Titan’s Masterboard for Valley Games’ new production. This is not totally finished as it needs some information on the corners of the board, but it is pretty close at this time.

During development, one point of concern was to get the board a bit more readable in terms of being able to differentiate the unique terrain spaces. As you can see below, on the original board, many of the these spaces have very similar hues and color values. When looking at that board, it is hard to tell many of the spaces apart at a glace. Compare the Woods, Brush, Plains and even Desert against each other on the original. The colors remain very close. The same for Hills and Marshes. More concentrated effort is needed by further identifying the icons. The tricky part in working with a color system in Titan is that there are 11 different colors needed. Unfortunately, our memories tend to be able to only take in 7 or so variables maximum at a time so much needs to be done to achieve a higher level of identification. The colors chosen here for the new board have a greater dynamic range both in terms of hue and in terms of value. When comparing the boards you can see that the new board appears almost like a patchwork quilt, with color patterns beginning to emerge. The colors work quite well in defining patterns. Admittedly, the two darker greens are less effective than the other parts of the board, but that is where the icons come in. The original board, however, remains quite flat in terms of patterns rising to the surface. One trick that I use to determine the effectiveness of the colors is to pick a color and then stare at that one space. Now, if I can see other spaces which have the same color without moving my eyes (or moving my eyes slightly a few spaces), then things are working pretty well. In the old board, it is nearly impossible to “see” matching spaces in this manner, except with blue and green to a certain extent as these colors dip into the cool side of the spectrum.

Old board and new board comparison

Some icons were retained while others simplified to reduce the amount of information on the board. Also, to that end, more hierarchy has been given to each space with color being predominant, then icon, then name. Previously, name and icon shared fairly similar order of importance. I have placed the name opposite the number so that there is a pattern to seeing the location of the number in each space – as this is important in determining placement on the battleboards. Texture was added to the board which does increase the complexity – further necessitating the need for smaller terrain names.

Tight detail of bone frame and gem spaces

With respect to the movement arrows, I lifted them up on a separate plain. Also, I gave them a high degree of contrast with the white against black. Again, if you stare at a part of the new board without moving your eyes, you can begin to see arrows a few spaces away. With the older board this is not really so. This is because the icons are embedded in the intricate line work of the borders. Here, the eye has difficulty extracting such details unless looking directly at them. Some experimentation was done in the placement of the arrow icon boxes. At first, they extended further into each space. This helped readability a bit as the motion towards and into each space was more distinct. The downside would have been that the playing pieces would be smaller so as not to cover up the icons. In the end, we opted for what you see here, which is fine. In terms of the symbols used for these arrows, I pretty much stuck to the original. The only modification here is the square, which tended to look too much like the circle. Unfortunately, game play for this part of the game is not intuitive, with all the “may” and “must” enters at beginning or during movement. Icons cannot really depict such nuanced unintuative rules. It remains better then just to keep the icons very simple and distinctive from each other and tie to what most gamers are already familiar with.

My desire with this board was for it to appear otherworldly – as if a game played in another time. The use of gems, stones and bone materials help to give it that feel and provide for a rich look and feel. The tonal variations within each gem allows them to glow, giving the board a sparkle and shimmer. Also, as I’ve said before, I do have an affection for boards which reference games of old where natural materials – such as wood, stone or metal – were used in their construction.

In future posts I will share the tokens on the boards as well as the battleboards. Kurt Miller created some nice looking 3D monsters as well, which will go on the unit tokens.

– Mike