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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13299 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 57 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Bad art vs. no art vs. inappropriate art  (Read 4001 times)
drkrash
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Posts: 49


« on: July 21, 2009, 07:04:23 AM »

Art question here.

I'm working on a manga-themed project right now (and I use the term very loosely here), which obviously has an extremely distinctive look to it.

I also have a pretty much non-existent art budget.  I'm looking to pay some money for a cover and won't have too much else left over.

So I have three choices:
1) Solicit art within my budget, which likely means artists who just want their name in a book, but who may not necessarily be all that great.
2) Avoid bad art by using no art whatsoever.  But art seems to matter to a lot of players...
3) Task a very skilled artist friend of mine who will work for cheap out of love...but who doesn't really do the art style in question very well at all.  I'd have a lot of "manga-like" art, but definitely not what people think of when they hear the term.

So the question's in the title: I need opinions on what seems best for the project: potentially bad art vs. potentially no art vs. potentially good art that does not fit the style of the game.
 
Thoughts? Thanks.
C
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Thunder_God
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« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2009, 07:17:54 AM »

I don't know about inappropriate art, it could change what people think rather than detract, but it may detract..

..but, definitely better from my PoV to go with no art versus bad art.
I have books I can hardly bring myself to open without sighing and getting annoyed. Heck, if I flip through a book and see horrible art, I better have been planning to buy the game anyway, because bad art can make me put a book I don't know down, just as "good" art serves to make me pick up a book I don't know about and want to learn more.
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Guy Shalev.

Cranium Rats Central, looking for playtesters for my various games.
CSI Games, my RPG Blog and Project. Last Updated on: January 29th 2010
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2009, 08:51:52 AM »

That's a hard, hard question. Before getting to it, though, it's worth considering whether you have to worry about it now.

You might consider releasing the game in a simple readable and usable form, perhaps even a free or low-cost PDF, to generate actual play and support, presuming that it's good and you promote it well. Art in these circumstances is a secondary consideration, and never mind whether "some players" want it or don't care. The game in this form would exist and grow specifically out of core interest (i.e. no edge cases), play, and discussion of play.

The nice thing about this idea is that you can put aside must-be-perfect must-be-optimal-strategy publication ideals. It gives you room to breathe, and to arrive at how to publish this thing later, with what sort of art, based on an actual community of interested parties. Without that room and time you will be forever subject to panic about what "someone" "might think" of anything you decide.

My main claim is that you appear to me to be stalled in terms of audience. Are you imagining people wandering through a game store picking up this game or that game, and happening upon your game? I suggest that this may not be the right audience image at all. Think instead of an enthusiastic, skilled player of your game mentioning it to someone else. Or about someone reading an actual play account here at the Forge. What kind of art is necessary for them, for this game, as you see it? Given a transitional form for the game as I describe above, can you see that you would be able to relax the tension about this question?

All right, all that said, here are some thoughts about art, and as I see it they result in such a murky, non-advice conclusion that my initial suggestion is supported.

1. Strangely, some forms of amateurish art are quite compelling. If the artist loves the topic and brings certain aspects to the subject into the viewer's attention, then enthusiasm may carry the day far beyond what a skilled, airbrushed, tuned, but possibly lifeless expensive illustration can do.

2. And yet I also agree with Guy's point - if the art is (a) not skilled and (b) lacks the quality I describe above (which admittedly is a risky proposition anyway), then you are diminishing your chances for sales by including it.

3. Fewer and bigger may be more effective than many and smaller. The most extreme form is to have a knockout cover and no internal illustrations. If you do that, then I suggest using some nice graphics to delineate chapters and topics within chapters.

4. The importance of style is incredibly debatable, and here again I agree with Guy. Are you seeing "manga" as an attractant for sales utterly without regard for any other aspect of the game? Or is an enjoyment of manga more like a sauce or an add-on? These are key publishing decisions because the former relies strongly on fans of manga seeing you as a pack-member and therefore buying the game as an act of subcultural solidarity, whereas the latter permits a local tuning of the genre form/style without damaging the topic.

As I said, these points (and any number of others to add) don't result in a conclusion. They merely show how rough and tumble the decision will have to be ... and as I see it, how far you are, in a good way, from needing to make any such decision.

Best, Ron
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drkrash
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Posts: 49


« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2009, 09:06:51 AM »

Thanks, Ron.

To clarify the manga part of it, specifically the game is about fighting video games.  Such characters are usually, though not exclusively, conceptualized in that style.  It is not an "anime RPG."

C
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greyorm
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« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2009, 09:16:17 AM »

(Oh, hah! Ron beat me to it by a couple minutes. But I'll repeat the advice anyways, as a secondary perspective on the same answers.)

1) Solicit art within my budget, which likely means artists who just want their name in a book, but who may not necessarily be all that great.

Honestly, you would be surprised. Certainly, most artists who are going to work for free (or near free) aren't going to be great, if you find someone who really loves your project or is just starting out and you are both OK with the rate (or lack thereof). My suggestion is to get the game together, run playtests and demos at Cons, get a core group of devoted fans together during beta, before you ever worry about art or publishing. One of them might end up being the artist you need, or knowing the artist you need.

You can also check around and see if anyone has manga stock art resources you can use.

Quote
2) Avoid bad art by using no art whatsoever.  But art seems to matter to a lot of players...

Whatever you do, NO art won't harm your project, but BAD art will. Then again, if this is a "manga-themed game" (which I'm not sure I entirely understand what you mean), if the manga-ness, the LOOK of it, is absolutely central-and-critical to the game in some fashion, rather than being a convenient term you're latching on to because it's based on or inspired by stories told using manga, then it NEEDS art, right?

Quote
3) Task a very skilled artist friend of mine who will work for cheap out of love...but who doesn't really do the art style in question very well at all.  I'd have a lot of "manga-like" art, but definitely not what people think of when they hear the term.

Doesn't do it "very well", as in "bad"? Or does it "differently" than what you want? There's a big distinction between those. The answer depends on which, and whether or not you're comfortable with art that doesn't match your concept of what it "should"(?) look like.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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drkrash
Member

Posts: 49


« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2009, 09:35:18 AM »

My last post answered greyorm's question about manga.

The other artist is a comic book artist in the traditional American style.  He has fooled with the artistic conventions of manga art, but even he'd often admit it looks less like traditional manga art and more like a superhero artist trying to draw manga. :)

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Jake Richmond
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« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2009, 10:04:12 AM »

How much is your budget? Art is often a lot less expensive then many people think. I'd suggest browsing one of the many art communities, finding a few artists you like and asking them for a quote. You may be surprised.
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