Tricks of the Trade - From Skeleton to SetLogin or register to post comments
|Wed, 2012-02-22 05:22|
Creative Direction Award
From Skeleton to Set
Last time, I left you with this mess of text (I have slightly altered it to incorporate my returning keyword choice)...
CW01 - creauture, small, flying, new keyword 1
You're probably wondering, how do all of those codes become finalized cards in a set file? Let me show you an example of one way to do just that No need to look through it all, just get the gist . Not the most exciting set you've ever seen, right? The most difficult part in creating a set file from a skeleton is the temptation to create exactly what you see coded. Remember though, that your set is taking place in a world, and that the skeleton is not some legal document to be followed word for word in order to create a well balanced set. So how do we get away from just what the skeleton says, and incorporate aspects of our world? (Side note: It's not that I hate green and red, but I just didn't have enough time to finish their incorporation into the set yet. Hopefully I can run through them in a later article.)
Dripping with Flavor
Flavor, probably the most frustrating thing for designers to get into sets. At Wizards, an entire department is there to make sure that cards have interesting back stories and fit their sets(often using flavor text, though sometimes done with mechanics). You however, don't have an entire department to help you out (If you do, can I borrow them some time?) The first thing is to envision the kind of world that would contain your topic and message (see my first article if those terms sound foreign). Take a mental journey down the streets of your world, and begin to imagine what kinds of people and objects you would encounter. Using a word or notepad document, write down different things you envision as key "tropes" in your world. If you are having trouble taking a mental journey through your world, another great option is to look at popular fiction's examples of it, which was done extensively in Innistrad's design (with references to Jekkeyl and Hyde, The Excorcism, Buffy the vampire slayer, numerous zombie films, and Twilight). The trick is to create a world that is relatable to human experience, and I believe that we are all familiar with what a world filled with greed looks like. Here is my list for Arknia so far...
note that your list can continue to expand as you think of things, and that single concepts on it can be used on multiple cards. For example, numerous cards will likely involve paying for services. You may also want to create a second list of things that do not make sense in your world, because a large part of a sets flavor is actually what isn't in it. For example, a zombie would look rather out of place in a world full of greed, because they are mindless (depends on which zombie lore you adhere to) , and therefore cannot be motivated by the desire for money. I might also want to leave out creature types like "beast" or "bear" from my set, because it is also difficult to imagine them being motivated by money. With the two lists in hand, you're probably still wondering what any of this has to do with getting away from the first set file I showed you. The answer
Putting Some Meat on Those Bones
So where do flavor and formality collide in card design? Right here, right now. With your skeleton and list, you have both components perfectly separated. I'm going to walk through my proccess of taking each of those bare bones cards from the original file, altering them to incorporate the different things on my list that are at home in my set. Let's go over some prime examples of how the set's flavor improved, and what techniques I used to add in the flavor without destroying the integrity of the skeleton. First, let's take a look at a very different set...
CW01: I knew I wanted to use gold somehow in my set, so I started with a card that could produce it. However my first version of gold was that I would have separate cards that let you "spend it". Try to make your counters do something on their own, becuase In limited, counter generators can be opened while counter users may not be. This was a juge change to the set, allowing gold to work like Eldrazi spawns, but I believe that this way it can both do something on it's own and be flavorfully "spent". Flavorfully, this creature is "going to work" for the turn and gets gold for it (which it gives to you).
Silly as it seems, creating the "legal document" version of a set is actually a very effective way to begin the process of making your fully fledged set. When I was going through this process for Arknia, ideas kept jumping out at me on how I might make the cards more interesting. When this happened, I would write them into the card notes, and continue forward. This process really helped me think of numerous possible ways to incorporate the flavor or greed into my set, and since I couldn't actually add any of them until I had gone through the whole thing, it let me pick my best (and most complementary) ideas to work together. I would highly recommend this method to a new designer after completing their design skeleton for commons.
Side Note: The results of the poll from last week are in! It seems that almost everyone wants an article on creating mechanics that fit into your sets flavor (option D). You got a sneak preview in this article as to what many of the major mechanics in Arknia will be, but next weeks article will look in depth at their creation, and will cover how you can create the perfect mechanics for your sets. This week, anyone who wants to can PM me their set idea and I can include my take on what mechanics to use in it within the article (please label these Tricks of the Trade: set submission). You can also PM any article topics you might want to see in the future, in case the last poll didn't include a topic you would really like to see (please label these Tricks of the Trade: tricks of the trade article ideas). Next weeks article will include a poll with the topics you guys have sent me, and in two weeks from that date, the article will be up on the forums!
Until then, may you enjoy creating beauty from legal text!
P.S. Are there any comments/responses? This is a little disappointing honestly.
EDIT: Fixed several formatting errors.