16 November 2011

GameTalk - "Standard" Symbology

There are NATO unit icons, the famous SPI hex-map textures, and universal CRT odds ratios. What sorts of symbols do you insist on game designers "standardizing" to these traditional benchmarks, and which ones are you willing to let them fiddle with for the sake of graphic design? How much intellectual work are you willing to invest in learning a new visual lexicon and how much do you want to eyeball the images and get right to playing?

By: Brant


IronMan said...

Speaking as someone who cut his teeth on all the old SPI games, I still have a strong attraction to NATO counters and standard terrains. I also like the fairly unsaturated maps they produced.

I'm all for new things but I haven't yet seen very many wargames over the last few years that have improved on that. The counters with real vehicle sils are an improvement in the right context. Maps? Most just strike me as too dark / too contrasty / or too colour saturated to study without causing eye bleed.

Just my $0.02 worth.

Brian said...

The hobby has certain graphic conventions (NATO symbols, unit factors on the bottom of the counter with the combat factor to the left, the "Z" readout for tactical games, etc.), and I think if one is doing a standard wargame, then one should observe as many of them as possible. This allows players to get into the game without struggling with the visuals too much. Graphic experimentation for the sake of experimentation is not good and we can see some of the results in early issues of Against the odds magazine, for example.

However, if you are not doing a conventional wargame, there is no reason to respect these graphic conventions, except to respect the fading visual acuity of most players (and their tendency to confuse the rules of one game with another). But what you use instead must be clear and consistent and easy to follow, otherwise you are just tripping yourself up.

All hail Redmond Simonsen; he did so much for us! (and alll we did in return was complain about that map for Sorceror...)