Freelance Knight

Freelancer Fact-Finding – Case File #3

Freelancer Fact-Finding – Case File #3

Freelancer Fact-Finding – Case File #3

You ask questions, I find answers.

Really… I want this topic to be that simple. My purpose for this blog has always been to share about my experiences in the game industry. Beyond just my experiences, what interests you about the game industry, freelancing, Gen Con, or other game-related topics? From your questions, I will find topics to research and then share my findings with you.

Our third Fact-Finding has resulted from another question posted in The Tavern (the InnRoads Ministries‘ Facebook group) by Zach Lorton. He has a game design question which had me reaching out to publishers and designers I know.

Question from Zach Lorton:

Game designers: What aspect of the game design process do you feel the least adequate in? Graphic design, artwork, rules description, mechanics? When trying to find others to fill those gaps, what criteria do you search by?

From Brian Berg (rpg designer) of Total Party Kill Games

Definitely artwork and graphic design.  Those simply are not my talents.  I feel fine writing and designing mechanics, but wrapping the product in a great shell is probably my biggest weakness.  Luckily for me, I outsource my weaknesses.

When looking for those to fill in where I cannot, I really try to look at their established work.  If you’re trying to sell your art, or graphic design, you had best have a website or deviantart account to showcase your work.  If you have some sample pages of layout work you are proud of, that also counts.  Show us how good you are, and have a wide array of images for the various styles you are capable of.

From Geoff Engelstein (game designer)

Artwork for me. However since that’s the realm of the publisher, I typically don’t have to coordinate it.

Close second is graphic design. I’m self-taught with Illustrator, but I stick with basic shapes and colors to make things clean and easy to understand in my prototypes.

From Lance Hill (game designer) of Funhill Games

My weakest area is playtesting.  I have a hard time getting a group of people together to test new ideas, whether it be schedule conflicts, lack of interest in playtesting, or any number of reasons.  There are game elements that I just do not try to implement in my designs because I know I won’t be able to properly test it before releasing the game.

To fill this gap, I accept almost any breathing individual who is interested in playtesting my stuff.

Matt Leacock (game designer)

Creative writing. I tend to sound a bit like a robot (cold, mechanical) when I write.

This is only for game design. I always turn to other people in the team (typically assembled by the publisher) for professional graphic design, illustration, and the final edit of the rules.

When looking for co-designers for projects, I consider reputation and depend on referrals.

From Jonathan Thompson (rpg designer) of Battlefield Press

I am lacking in the ability to do proper graphic design and artwork. I look for people that fit my particular style, basically going by what I like. There is no set criteria for me, it’s a lot of “I know it when I see it.” I do wish I could do more of it, not because people I am using are bad. Quite the contrary, but I would like to be able to do more to get more things out as I go.

From Cat Tobin (rpg designer) of Pelgrane Press

That’s a good question! Answering for both Pelgrane-as-a-company and as myself, the artwork and graphic design are definitely what we feel the least adequate in – we’ve just had a big in-house discussion about how to change this going forward and improve what we’re doing with it.

When trying to find someone to work on graphic design, I think the readability is the key criterion, followed very closely by the visual impact of their work. When I look at the right person’s work:

  • My eye follows the text in a natural way – the design points to where I read next
  • It’s adequately spaced and formatted with pull-quotes, text boxes or images to break up the text blocks
  • It’s accessible to visually impaired or colourblind people
  • It looks good, and makes me excited to read more – it has interesting, legible fonts and an attractive aesthetic

When trying to find someone to work on art, it’s a bit more subjective, so I’ll give you my personal opinions. When I look at the right person’s work:

  • It’s technically realistic – anatomical proportions are accurate, the perspective reflects the world, the lighting is consisten
  • It’s representative – there’s a wide mix of races, genders, ages and body shapes represente
  • It’s dynamic, and well compose
  • It has an interesting and appealing aesthetic
  • It captures the right tone (e.g., noir, comedic, fantastic)
  • People in the image have agency – they’re not there as filler or fluff (particularly important for female characters)
  • It tells a story, and makes me want to know what happens next

If I receive further responses to this question, I will post them in the comments below, so you might want to check back later on this post.

Now that you have an idea of my purpose for these Freelancer Fact-Finding posts, feel free to email me (tr “at” further questions or message them to me on Facebook or Twitter.