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Thread: poor artwork putting off new players

  1. #41
    Forum Veteran rreinesch's Avatar
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    Re: poor artwork putting off new players

    Quote Originally Posted by Fort View Post
    I like ASL counters..quite a bit actually. They are a perfect example of form fitting fucntion.
    Amen to that. The primary purpose of a counter should be to relay the information needed to play the game first and making it pretty second. Given the complexity of AFVs in ASL the amount of information that each counter relays is really pretty extensive. I had this happen once when I was explaining to someone not familiar with the game the information arrayed on the counter and proceeded to explain each part of the counter and the functionality it conveyed. It's actually surprising how long you can talk about the just the data that an AFV counter provides.

    Rick
    Proud member of the BFP Team. Look for additional information and product ordering here: www.boundingfire.com where the best in ASL can be found.

  2. #42
    Just this guy, you know?
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    Re: poor artwork putting off new players

    One of the things I've always liked about ASL is the match-up between a realistic top-down view of the buildings and the top-down view of the vehicles, guns, and SW. It helps to increase the feel that the units are actually on the terrain and interacting with it. It's even better with DASL, since the counters cover up the terrain less. (You might think that should logically lead to me arguing for doing the infantry with a top-down view as well -- but I think that always looks dumb, so no.)

    The map from Canadian Crucible (back in post 14) is very pretty to look at, but once the game has started, having hedges with pretty shadows has nothing whatsoever to do with the side-view platoon of tanks next to it. They don't "interact", if that means anything. I don't find myself imagining the tanks lined up along the hedge, so the prettiness adds nothing.

    Having said all that, the truth is that once the game has started, I'm not really picturing the action based on the graphics of the board or counters anyway. When I move a 4-6-7 across a Kibler-drawn road between two beautiful Kibler-drawn buildings, I'm not picturing it as a scene, I'm thinking of it as "collection of potential abilities represented by this counter" crossing "vulnerable hex" from "+3 Stone TEM" to "+3 Stone TEM", plus all the LOS possibilities surrounding the action.

    That means that:

    • What's on the infantry counters really doesn't matter -- as long as I can easily tell which type of counter it is when I look at the board.

    One of the ways in which ASL's graphic design is absolutely brilliant is the three/two/one silhouettes on the different sizes of infantry counters. It's incredibly easy to pick out which are leaders, which are MMCs, and which are SWs, although I sometimes have to do a double-check on squad versus half-squad.
    • What's on the vehicle and gun counters might matter a bit more -- depending on how often I have to use the counter as a reference.

    If it's a simple, familiar vehicle where I can remember the details of without even having to look at the counter, it could be day-glo pink camo-patterned with gothic type face and it wouldn't matter to me. If it's a complex vehicle, then it's quite important that the information be easy to read and easy to translate. Given that even those simple, familiar vehicles seemed pretty complex to me when I started all those years ago, I'd strongly recommend sticking with "easy to read and translate".
    • The map artwork has two key requirements: Ease of telling terrain types apart, and clarity for LOS purposes. Everything else is relatively meaningless.

    One "too pretty for its own good" aspect I've noted in modern maps is the ones that insist on filling open ground areas with field patterns just to give the wandering eye something to look at. Because, you know, when I'm playing a company-level game I want to be able to imagine my entire company moving around in and interacting with each of those fields... not.

    My take is that if the graphic is there just to give the wandering eye something to look at, all it accomplishes is making the eye wander in the middle of the game. I don't want to have to stop and think in the middle of the game about what a certain graphic is supposed to represent.

    As for clarity for LOS, the biggest offender IMO is shadows. I don't know whether Canadian Crucible uses true LOS but if it does, those building shadows would be a major offender. In fact, this is one place where ASL's own graphic design falls down, since most boards do include building shadows and the occasional LOS dispute because of them.
    The irony is that I did fall in love with ASL partly because of those shadows. They were part of the (what seemed at the time, anyway) "photo-realistic" style of the boards when compared with the abstracted boards of games like Panzer Leader. So I can definitely understand that there's some value to having artwork that will appeal to the new player. In the end, though, I think playability comes first and "sex appeal" only second.


    John

  3. #43
    Forum Guru olli's Avatar
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    Re: poor artwork putting off new players

    Quote Originally Posted by Patrocles View Post
    I agree with you for the counters. The unit counters are functional but a bit bland. On the converse I do not want to see a lot of extra graphics that make the counter too busy and do not add any play value. I really like MMPs Canadian crucible counters and board artwork


    On the other hand some of the WSS game counters can be 'too busy' with the ugly watermarks. of course, imho,ymmv (though I do love the board artwork).
    I like the maps from both the above games, canadian crucible counters are nice, the WSS ones with all the background clutter puts me off, especially the dumbing down for people way that they have the national flags in one corner, in a similar to the DftB scenario cards in which the dumb people need to know that you use german counters for the german etc....
    Dice Tower and Map Holder maker

  4. #44
    Forum Guardian zgrose's Avatar
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    Re: poor artwork putting off new players

    Playable AND sexy are not mutually exclusive traits. Its 30+ years of backwards compatibility that puts the dampers on any wholesale evolutionary design. VASL skins would be the best way to pragmatically get anything done for those that would like something "sexier". Heck, VASL already solves one of the counter/map issues with the Zoom button.

  5. #45
    Forum Guru dlazov's Avatar
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    Re: poor artwork putting off new players

    This is a war game, if you want sexy and sexier, then hang out with your wife (or her friends) or go to a whore house. We want mud blood and guts, dirt and grime, I don't want a bunch tits and ass on my counters, besides my wife will hit me ...
    Lima Lima Mike Foxtrot

  6. #46
    Forum Conscript Brown Bear's Avatar
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    Re: poor artwork putting off new players

    Quote Originally Posted by FargoGamer View Post

    seeing his enthusiasm for hammer of the scots i though i'd introduce him to some of the asl starter kit material with a view to teaching him how to play. but upon seeing the maps and counters his reaction was immediately negative. his comments were along the lines of 'crappy artwork', 'old fashioned looking', 'too small to read' .
    For me personally, speaking as a 19 year old whom has just been playing for a year now, the thing that makes ASL what it is, is the out of time feel, in a generation of Third Person HD Shooters, and High Tech RTS PC games, and it makes ASL different and ironically the games potential flaw was the main attraction for me! Look at Risk-a very simplistic game (in terms of art) yet still has worldwide pull?
    The issue I think for your brother may be the 2D aspect of the game, which I do understand and also believe that this aspect of the game has room for development-and may be a great chance to overhaul the aesthetic side of ASL. I do love the old boards though with the hand drawn details!
    Brown Bear

  7. #47
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    Re: poor artwork putting off new players

    You bring up some good points, Brown Bear. There is a charm with old school games that rely on imagination and real-world components. It's a similar sentiment behind the cyberpunk movement, a desire for an analog world to escape from the digital tyranny of the computer. French historian Michèle Perrot once called it "the quiet violence of the computer". Real world games are more human speed and in some ways more satisfying, though less visceral (for better or worse). At age 19 you are ahead of the curve in recognizing that.

  8. #48
    Forum Commando daveramsey's Avatar
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    Re: poor artwork putting off new players

    A great looking counter certainly helps the initial impression, but as Trevor mentioned above, ASL can't go looking to compete on the bling scale of wargaming. That's Flames of War territory on one extreme and combat commander on the other. ASL's strength is in its all encompassing scope of WW2, its support across publishers and its player base.

    As Perry said in one of the half-squad interviews when asked about updating counter art: flashy counters look great for a few minutes, but the impression wears off and you just need the nitty-gritty of information in the midst of a scenario.

    I think scenario cards could do with a revamp, they're a little formulaic these days (Pete Shelling's "Shellshock" cards were quite funky, from recollection) - but all of this is just chrome. It's like a book with a flashy cover, or a different font. The story's the same, and ultimately that's how we judge the quality of the offering - not by a first glance but by the substance that it delivers.

  9. #49
    ASL Player trevpr1's Avatar
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    Re: poor artwork putting off new players

    Quote Originally Posted by rreinesch View Post
    Amen to that. The primary purpose of a counter should be to relay the information needed to play the game first and making it pretty second. Given the complexity of AFVs in ASL the amount of information that each counter relays is really pretty extensive. I had this happen once when I was explaining to someone not familiar with the game the information arrayed on the counter and proceeded to explain each part of the counter and the functionality it conveyed. It's actually surprising how long you can talk about the just the data that an AFV counter provides.

    Rick
    I did precisely the same thing with a US M4A276(W). Recipient of the little talk was agog. He's a major gamer but declines ASl realising that the best way to get any good at it is to eschew all others (although that hasn't worked for me so far). Loser!

    I love ASL counters the way they are. Can't say that it doesn't mean more aren't useful.
    Regards,

    Trev Edwards

    Have you hugged your rulebook today?

  10. #50
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    Re: poor artwork putting off new players

    Quote Originally Posted by richfam View Post
    What evidence do you have that the game is struggling to attract new players?

    ASLSK #1 has gone through five printings so far, is currently awaiting a sixth printing, and reportedly is (or was) the single most popular game MMP has ever released. A poll last year, with over 400 ASL players responding, reveals that over 37% began playing on/after 2004 (when ASLSK #1 was released); over 25% have started playing in just the last five years alone:

    The ASL Survey 2011
    http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/...sl-survey-2011

    This evidence suggests that ASL is doing spectacularly well... not struggling! Granted, you don't see a lot of new players here on Gamesquad, but I think much of that is due to the nature and reputation of this site, which can be a bit intimidating to a new player. There are lots of new ASLSK players over on BGG, along with lots of ASLSK players who have graduated to full ASL.



    One problem with redoing the ASL counters is that there are close to 20,000 of them now. It would be a major project that is probably beyond MMP's capabilities/budget, even if the majority of ASL players would be in favor of it (which is by no means certain).

    It's also important to note that a game that is as intense and complex as ASL, that can sometimes take quite a long time to play (with campaign games or monster scenarios), probably benefits more from the plain, legible counters that we have now than it would from the fancy, graphics-overloaded counters that are so popular today in simpler, shorter games. Legible = plain, regardless of how many people might mistakenly believe otherwise.

    The Singling historical map is a good example. As an experiment, it was done is a photo-realistic style that is unlike any other ASL map, and it is quite striking. But the heavy shadows cast by the buildings make judging tricky LOS situations more difficult that it should be, as it can be hard to tell where the building ends and the shadow begins unless you look closely with good lighting. A beautiful map? Yes; Legible and easy to use? Not as much as a "plain old" ASL map. In terms of making the game easy to play, it was NOT an improvement.
    My future son-in-law (age 25) has watched me play SASL on VASL along with some of my other old AH war games and is also into those first person-shooter games online. He showed some interest in learning ASL until he picks up the rulebook. I don't have any of the SKs, so I showed him SQDLDR on VASL and my own old beatup SL game. He liked the programmed learning system and took the rules home to study; I promised him we'd do The Guards Counterattack sometime soon if he was interested.

    I did show him the Training Manual and he glanced through it. He wasn't put off by the counters or the maps; he was simply put off by the complexity of the game and the need to learn so many rules. Even starting with just infantry, there's nearly 100 pages of material in Ch. A and B alone. So if it's the way it has to be, I'll start at the beginning and dangle the beauty of increased complexity before his eyes.

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