The Iterative Saga Continues: Deranged Fantasy Games

I’ve been out of commission for a few weeks now. A move as well as some personal trips and transitions have sucked up a lot of my time, preventing me from writing. But I haven’t had so little time that I haven’t been making progress on games! In fact, my main focus has been on the visual component of Corporate America, which has been a serious learning process for me. But I wanted to share some of the progress I’ve made today and discuss a bit about the approach I’m taking and where things might go from here. And what better way to show you the progress I’ve made than to revisit an old friend, Deranged Fantasy Games?

Before revealing the bold new graphic design of Deranged Fantasy Games, I just wanted to mention that you are very much seeing the iterative design process in action here. None of the changes I’ll show you have been tested yet, and there will probably be a number of tweaks before they are tested. I’m hoping this is a promising direction to go, but you never know… this whole direction could prove to be the wrong one, and I’ll have to scratch it and start over again from square one. Towards the end of this post, I’ll describe some potential pitfalls with the new design that could ensure it has a swift death.

The new Deranged Fantasy Games.

Alright, enough preamble–let’s get to the main event for today! Here is the new Deranged Fantasy Games, in all its edgy glory! Looks pretty exciting, huh?

Looking a little out of style these days...


For comparison’s sake, when we last left our hero, this is what it looked like.

You’ll notice a number of things have changed since the last iteration. One thing that hasn’t, though, is the mechanics of the cards. Deranged Fantasy Games still costs $10 and pays out $4. It still is in the sin, technology, and media industries, and it still has that nice little special ability to let you more easily manipulate the population. None of the recent changes have been functional, they’ve all been visual.

The most striking difference is the card flipping from a vertical orientation to a horizontal orientation. Woah! This is a result of me wanting to make the business cards look more like, well, business cards.

You might also notice the new frame of the card, complete with circles, windows, and the like. Again, this is to try to make the card more business card like. In this case, I was going for an edgy appearance (think Mountain Dew or Axe Body Wash). The fonts also tie into this goal. I’ll get back to this a bit later in the post.

Yet another change is the industry icons. If you’re friends with me on facebook, you’ve probably seen me post long lists of icons for feedback. (If we’re not friends on facebook, why not!?) Over time, I’ve improved the icons (I hope!), so here you can see how they look in a game context.

Another tiny change is the return of Deranged Fantasy Games’ slogan! In the last blog post about Deranged Fantasy Games, we saw the slogan slowly deteriorate and eventually be removed. However, the acceptance that most of the cards in the game will not have special art made me realize that including slogans for businesses is a good, simple way of giving them a bit more character, so I’ve decided that every business will have a slogan. So Deranged Fantasy Games yet again lets you live out your power fantasies! I’m actually a lot happier with the slogan with the updated card template anyway.

Finally, you’ll notice that the reminder picture (the guy holding the sign and money and the -$2) has disappeared. This is for two reasons. First, the new card layout doesn’t have as much room for this sort of thing as the old cards. Second, as I’ve mentioned, it’s looking more and more like I’m going to be doing a lot of the art for the game, and I’m already pushing my abilities here–I’m not sure if I have the time and skills to create production quality artwork to represent the special rules in the game. So I’ll admit, I don’t actually think this is an improvement–it’s more of a pragmatic sacrifice.

A style for every season

Before delving into potential problems with the new layout, I wanted to address a concern you might have. “Teale,” you’re probably saying. “The new style looks totally awesome… for Deranged Fantasy Games. I worry that it won’t fit for some of the other businesses. I can’t imagine Prius using a font that looks like it came off a death metal album. And Apple would rather go out of business than use a design like that! How will you deal with that???”

Well, dear reader, I’m glad you asked! One of my worries with making the cards more business card like is that there are all sorts of different businesses in Corporate America, and it would be difficult to capture the style of all of them in a single business card style. So, I’ve made four different ones. Deranged Fantasy Games falls in the “edgy” class of businesses. You can think of these businesses as trying to seem cool or badass, and mostly targeting adolescent males and adult males with an adolescent attitude. Other businesses with this style include beer and motorcycle companies.

Doesn't get much more classy.

Here’s an example of a “classy” business, Schitibank. This type of business tries to present itself as full of old school sensibilities, catering towards older folks as well as people who have manners. Other businesses in this category include energy businesses and airlines.



We're as quirky as our users!

Another business type is “quirky”, embodied here by Twimper. These businesses want you to think of them as zany, playful, and down to earth. They’re looking to target families and those who identify with the aging counter culture. You’ll also find organic farms and cartoon film makers adopting this style.



A sleek appearance for sleek products.

Finally, we have “sleek”, perhaps best represented by an old favorite, Crapple. Sleek businesses like to think of themselves as being on the cutting edge, taking a minimalist appearance. They’re mostly targeting up and coming yuppies. Businesses with similar styles include PR firms and classy liquor makers.


What could go wrong!?

I hope you’re impressed with the new layouts. We’ll see if they survive the test of playtesting. Like I said, I have yet to test these designs, but when I do, I will have a number of things I’ll be carefully looking for. For the iterative design process, it’s really important to have an idea of questions you’re trying to answer with every playtest, so I thought I’d share some of the questions I’ll be asking when I do test these new card layouts.

First, horizontal cards. Do you know any other games that have horizontal cards? There probably are some, but not many. Why? I’m not sure. It might just be tradition. Or it might be awkward to hold a hand of horizontal cards. I’m hoping this isn’t an issue, but I’ll definitely be curious to see how people handle these slightly unusual cards.

Second, as I mentioned earlier, the cards lost special rule reminder pictures. Most card games do not have pictures to remind you what they do, so I’m hoping players of Corporate America will be able to handle just having text, but we will see. Related to this, you might notice the new card layouts do not explicitly indicate which number is the cost of the business, and which is the income the business provides. This may seem like a small thing, but it’s never fun for a game to be interrupted by a player who accidentally pays the wrong price or collects the wrong number. It slows down gameplay, breaks people out of the game experience, and makes the player who made a simple mistake feel dumb. We’ll see how much more often this happens with the new card layout.

Finally, there are now four spiffy new card layouts, but those different layouts have no impact on the game. They’re purely for style. Will this confuse people? When discarding, will people forget that all businesses go in the same discard pile, or will they think each style business gets its own pile? Will people insist that there’s some functional connection between businesses of the same style? Who knows. People might not even like the idea of having cards with different layouts in the same deck.

I’m really hoping that the new system works, but only testing will tell. That’s an important lesson. I’ve put a lot of time into designing these cards because I want the test to truly answer these questions (instead of people getting caught up on the low quality look or something like that), but at the end of the day, if the tests don’t go well, I’ll throw my work out and try something else.

Before I wrap up my post today, I just wanted to mention that this is a great opportunity for you to take part in the iterative process. You may not be able to answer the questions I mentioned above (even though you may have thoughts on them), but you can tell me what you think of the new layouts. Do they look ugly to you? Are the fonts hard to read? Do they not capture the style I described? Do any not fit with the other styles? Let me know–I’d love to hear what you think!

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