The core of the game could be traced back to two things- tarot cards and classic playing cards. The overtly simple and clean design language that these adopt allows them to be incredibly flexible for the purposes of gaming, and became the starting point for the card design and the key identity of Fate Foretold.
The initial game had numerous 'alpha' phases which slowly evolved based on test game feedback, but they were rooted in the classic "all art" look of Tarot.
As the project progressed, I attempted a comprehensive analysis of modern game card design- finding it very varied and also very aesthetically unique. Digital versus print limitations aside, all cards seemed to contain a fairly standard hierarchy of name-resource-art-text with the frame existing as a signifier for the card's "type" based on the game's resources or playstyle. Some are more successful than others, with the added complexity of a game quickly crowding the card face. Given the tarot inspirations, I knew I wanted Fate Foretold cards to be more art than anything else, which was inherently limiting, but the increased card size gave me room to play with the design.
As the card design developed it became the centerpiece of the brand, and began a feedback-loop with other branding elements, like the color palette and typographical choices. Each jump in the design is rooted in playtesting and game mechanical changes- with the final design manifesting as an art-deco card that reads as Tarot from afar, card-game up close, and visually interesting but uncluttered despite its heritage. Key innovations included increasing visual mass for the card's color, adding a colored text box as a visual note for cards with special abilities, and the addition of "lore text" which fleshed out the concept of the card to those unfamiliar with Tarot or fantasy. Moving away from certain Tarot design notes, like putting the name on the bottom of the card, were difficult choices to make, but entirely rooted in test customer expectations and readability of the cards once in use.
The final game has 9 unique card faces and two cards backs (one monochrome, one in color). Each 'standard' face is similar barring color based on the card's suit. There are also token cards, horizontal sigil cards, and special tarot cards that are not part of the game but a special Kickstarter reward where the design language of Tarot is more maintained and honored.
Development of the game included creating four Suits- similar to classic cards Heart, Diamond, Spade, and Club suits. Tied into the iconography of ancient religions and what I viewed as the "key pieces" of human interaction, the new suits were labeled Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul, with icons for each to be denoted on the cards themselves. Each is designed to read well at a small scale and be visually distinct at a glance, reinforcing the already color-separated card identity with an iconic one as well. These also made for a great baseline for the eventual Fate Foretold iconography to tie the brand together.
Each icon is depicted either in or next to its key color- a key part of the brand and association. The open-source typeface Yataghan was chosen for the type logo with slight adjustments, and the core color/texture of gold was used to elevate the game to a place of sanctity and prestige while keeping the emotional link to the archaic and ancient nature of it and not losing to modern or clean design aesthetics.
Part of the icon design process for the Fate Foretold icon, similar to the development used on each of the sigils. Working off iconography found in ancient sources like the Omega symbol, sun, and moon provided a breadth of inspiration.
The final icon and logo, in flat and 3D render.
The Kickstarter launched on September 1st, 2016, and although the card designs were still not quite finalized, they were close enough to consider the game fleshed-out enough for a backer video and regional demos which we did from Georgia through California.
Aside from game design, management, and graphic design, I also contributed a lot of my own illustrations to Fate Foretold, both in the initial and after-Kickstarter phases. Development of artwork, including keystone art like the one below, were critical in creating the look and feel required for a fantasy game.
The Oracle, as she would later be called, appeared as not only the center of our poster campaign that stretched across North Carolina, but on a majority of our online branding as well. Similar to the large art portion of the cards, Fate Foretold spoke to its fans through evocative artwork, and The Oracle was created to hit that exact sweet spot between production illustration and standalone artwork.
Although only a handfull of artist were involved in the Kickstarter project, the final production had over 20 involved artist spread across three continents, each working to create breathtaking illustrations that bridged the occult with fantasy.
Directing people to Kickstarter was difficult if they weren't familiar with the platform. To push more in-person sales online, I created counter-top POP solutions that distributed our business card. We created these by hand and set them out in local game stores and game conventions.
Another undertaking that ended up being hand-crafted due to budget constraints, three POP standees were created at 5'6" tall for select game stores and promotional use during our game demos. These were eye-catching and high-impact pieces to spread awareness of the game.
Social media elements for Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook were crafted to encourage backer and fan outreach and awareness.
Instructional and explanatory boards were created for our campaign and given to local game stores and set up during demos so passers-by could read about the game without having to engage if they didn't want to, which was critical for the oft-curious but oft-shy gaming community.
Package design for the Kickstarter, showing off the key elements of Fate Foretold. This would eventually be re-designed for production.
New packaging and game in their final form, based off of customer feedback, production constraints, and promoting brand awareness for Fate Foretold. The box as it will be seen in stores in 2017!