Donning the Purple: The Art in Kickstarter #1
Welcome to a new feature focusing on Kickstarter games. As I often talk to game designers and artists involved in Kickstarter projects it seemed only right that I give this some more attention on my site.
For this first article I'm happy to be joined by Petter Schanke Olsen, of Tompet Games.
Hello Petter, and thanks for taking the time to speak to us. Firstly, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I live in Norway and I’m a movie producer by day and a board game designer by night. I launched my first game on Kickstarter in 2016 and that was a light war game called ‘Kill the King’. Now, I'm Kickstarting my second game which is called ‘Donning the Purple’.
I also run a blog where I interview other board game creators about the different tactics they use on Kickstarter.
I have played board games all my life but kind of rediscovered them again when I played games like Dominion and Agricola 3 or so years ago. Now I tend to play medium to heavy strategy games. The longer the better!
So, can you describe your Kickstarter game to us and what makes it interesting?
Donning the Purple is an asymmetrical king of the hill game with a bit of worker placement. Each player leads a powerful family in ancient Rome, trying to get the most victory points during 4 rounds. If your family member becomes the emperor and manages to hold the position he can earn lots of points. However, he will also become the target of the other players, as they will try to dethrone him and become the new emperor themselves.
How long have you been working on this game? What made you launch the campaign now?
I have worked on the game for 1.5 years. It is now finally complete and we have come to a place where we want to be in regards to the marketing so this seems to be a good time to launch. February is also a good month to launch in general.
We have paid for the art and prototypes ourselves but we need your help to get the funds to print the game. We chose Kickstarter as our crowdfunding platform because that is where the board gamers are.
What was the inspiration or core idea that drove your work on the art?
I have two different art styles in the game:
For the game board, I wanted an old and detailed styled map. So I contacted Daniel Hasenbos who is a cartographer and we worked out a style for the map and it has now become the main attraction of Donning the Purple. Daniel carefully illustrated every palm tree, monument, and coastline. He has a great eye for detail and by intense research has added historically correct buildings and monuments throughout the Roman empire.
Joeri Lefevre provides the other art style in the game. He has made all the card art and the amazing box art. I wanted his art pieces to be classical and to depict different situations in the daily life of Roman people and I think he has done an awesome job. I gave Joeri this sketch when I was telling him how I wanted the box art to look and this is what he turned it into.
Could you tell us about the biggest challenges you’ve faced in creating the art for this game and how you’ve overcome them?
I'm going to let my artists answer this:
"My job was to design the map for Donning the Purple. The map needed to show the Roman Empire at its height, covering most of Europe and the lands around the Mediterranean.
With this came the first challenge. The map needed to give an impression of the geography of the land, but at the same time, it shouldn't distract the players from the game itself. I decided to go for a muted color palette, as not to take attention away from all the other elements of the map, and of course the game.
The map also needed to capture the feel of the Roman Era, while keeping all elements of the map clear, and visible. Throughout the map, I made sure to hide famous features and structures of that time. In addition to that, each capital city is drawn in a style that identifies that area's architecture. This was a great way to show different architectural influences around the Roman Empire.
The result is an elegant map of the Roman Empire, with many hidden details for players to explore. These details, together with the overall feel of the map help people immerse themselves in Donning the Purple!"
"One of the interesting aspects of the project is that it’s based in history. How did the people dress at that time? What did the environment look like? I tried to find the answer to these questions in archaeological finds, other artists interpretations of that time, and photos of real-life re-enactors. That’s the formal stuff, but the real challenge is balancing this historical background, with the requirements of the board game and my own artistic interest.
A goal of the image is the story it needs to tell when playing the game. How do I show the player who they are and who the enemy is? Poses, expressions and the colors of garments help to tell the story. To create this, I looked at good reference photos or when needed, shot my own.
Artistically, I aimed to give the box art a hint of a neoclassical painting. With this aesthetic, I hope to introduce the viewer to the historical setting of the game. In the cards, I take a more direct perspective if the concept allows it. To do everything in a manageable timeframe I chose an impressionistic loose way of painting. In the end, it’s an interesting mix of challenges that come together in the images I make."
Do you have any stretch goals involving the artwork? If so how will you manage them?
Yes if we are so lucky and reach some of our stretch goals there will be more art! But I can't say more than that at the moment
What advice would you give to anyone looking to launch a Kickstarter game?
Make sure you bring a crowd with you to Kickstarter. Do not rely on Kickstarter providing the backers you need and also read these blogs! Kickstarterlessons.com & Jamesmathe.com