Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Army Ants and Visual Style and Other Philosophy Stuff

I am thinking about what to do with my newest iteration of Army Ants rules, which are hammering into place quite nicely, and I have started noodling with some art. A few things that make this 'different' from other things I've done recently - since I want to go 'old school' with the game, I also want to go old school with my drawing as much as I can. Thirty years ago, my art was all heavy blacks with a lot of small linework. One of the biggest things I didn't like about my work, in general, was contrast between backgrounds and characters. In general, my art was very 'flat', with everything merging together. It was sometimes difficult to tell the foreground from the background, especially when I was adding layers of detailed background. So, I figure for this, I'll do a few things:

- Ants are simple lines with heavy blacks with a little bit of linework (but minimal) for texture and mid-shadowing.
- Backgrounds are gray-scale for high contrast with the characters. No gray-scale in the characters at all.
- Long antennae are back! One of the quirky things about my drawing back then was that the antennae of the ants got shorter and stubbier as I went. I'm going back to the bigger antennae of the first few issues I drew. Hey, it's old school!

This drawing is an example of the kind of thinking I have around this. It's going to take me a few tries to really nail it down, but I can see where this is headed. 

Now... as for the game itself...

I'm thinking of going in a different direction with the game. I've got the core rulebook down to ten pages in a Word Document (8 1/2 x 11)... I'm going through, and it can do almost everything my previous 100+ page versions of the game can do, because I've got the mechanics so narrowly focused and clean that the game doesn't need any secondary mechanical systems. There's one core mechanic that applies almost everywhere, along with porting over the system of likelihoods (which I've still tweaked slightly) for the GM side. I might just release this thing at ten pages, and then do modules to expand the game, adding... well, anything.

I talked a little bit with a good friend about this the other day... and he suggested going bigger. Go for the 200-page, full-color release with all of the bells and whistles. Incude everything I can think of with this package. Swing for the fences.

Yeah. I could do that. But, this is the reality. I don't think I'm selling many books, regardless of what I do. I've tried a lot of different approaches and philosophies and strategies and ... always get the same result. I'm not complaining. To be clear, I'm grateful to have the creative work I have, and I'm grateful for anyone who supports anything I do. I'm just accepting that this is what it is.

So, if reaching the largest possible audience is not a consideration, then what is? Building a game over time. If I put together a really, really tight package that's ten pages for a dollar, and then release pay-what-you-want one-page expansions that are tight, and do that slowly and methodically and consistently over time, then maybe I build an audience. And maybe that audience wants a larger package. And then maybe, a year or two or five or never down the road, I go back and put it all together into a bells-and-whistles package. Right now, I don't have the audience to do that. And that's okay. 

So, I think my focus for this week or two is on getting some more play testing done, getting a few pages of Cupcake Scouts done (because I'd still like to finish this first story arc before the beginning of school), and maybe getting the Army Ants core rules out there 'officially' in some capacity.

No comments:

Post a Comment