Changing mark symbol?

Tell us your thoughts on the WTactics aesthetics, but make sure you stay constructive.
Forum rules
Legal: Only post art that is legally yours. By posting you agree that the material you post may be licensed by WTactics using the GPL2 or later license(s) and/or be re-licensed by us to other open source licenses as explained here. Critics: Are welcome, but no artist will revise his/her work, no matter how correct the critics are. Notice that this is an economical issue.
User avatar
Ravenchild
developer
Posts: 131
Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2010 19:21
Location: Germany

Changing mark symbol?

Post by Ravenchild » Sat Jul 02, 2011 18:01

All mark-symbols remind me too much of the MTG tab symbol. Maybe we can develop a different icon? Something like a glowing orb would be cool, because it implies activation.


Minor edit & topic split by snowdrop
User avatar
snowdrop
developer
Posts: 794
Joined: Mon Feb 01, 2010 15:25
Location: Sweden
Contact:

Re: Changing mark symbol?

Post by snowdrop » Sun Jul 03, 2011 09:00

Image

Image
Top picture is our mark symbol by Q_x. Bottom one is "tap symbol" from MtG, all copyrights etc by Wizards of the Coast according to them.


I agree the resemblance is there. The arrow is so generic that it's re-occurring in some shape or form in many games since it has almost universal symbolic value.

In our case though that value is officially somewhat reduced by the fact that we openly declare that people may mark however they want.

We only do so due to legal reasons though. Admittedly the easiest and best way to mark a state of a card is to physically rotate it 90, 180 and/or 270 degrees. (Anything in between those is problematic in practice, while possible in theory and perfectly executable in a digital game).

What's good with the arrow symbol is that it's, as far as I know, Q_x own design. I'm not even sure Q_x had seen the WotC one before drawing our current one.

I honestly also don't believe that anyone can really hold the copyright of an arrow symbol. At least here in Sweden it is legally impossible due to the generic nature of the shape - it would be equalled to owning the copyright of the geometrical shape of a square or a circle or whatever. So, at least we're probably not in any kind of legal twilight zone here.

The question that then remains is if we can have a symbol for marking that makes more sense. I take it you believe we can, because just avoiding the usage of an arrow in our game doesn't in itself add anything to it.

I don't know if there can be a better symbol. I often believe perfection is nowhere to be found, so I guess there probably can. I don't have any good ideas myself, but luckily you guys are around. :) I'm open for suggestions, and would prefer to see them as SVG in Inkscape and posted in here using the "GPL2 or later" ;)

What's important to keep the following in mind:
  • I've not decided yet on if we'll use "drop capped" versions of the mark symbol or not (as shown on blog)
  • If we do use drop capped mark symbols the symbol should scale well and be one and the same in drop capped and normal size.
  • Normal size of the mark symbol is about the same height as the letter "h" in the card text, meaning, about the height of a line of text. (Q_x, forgive me for my lameness in this field and spank me with corrections if needed be). The mark symbal can/should be wider though.
  • The mark symbol must look perfect in one colour and have as little details as possible.
aspidites
Posts: 101
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2011 22:39

Re: Changing mark symbol?

Post by aspidites » Sun Jul 03, 2011 22:20

The problem with an arrow is that it implies cards should be marked by turning them, when in fact, that isn't the case.
User avatar
snowdrop
developer
Posts: 794
Joined: Mon Feb 01, 2010 15:25
Location: Sweden
Contact:

Re: Changing mark symbol?

Post by snowdrop » Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:22

It is and isn't the case: It indicates marking, according to what we write explicitly. We tell people - that have to read the rules anyway in order to play the game - that they're allowed to mark however they want.

If we used whatever other symbol the same could be said - that we don't encourage a certain method of marking in the rules. True?

While it being so, the fact remains that most CCG:s utilize a specific method - rotating the cards on table to mark a change of state. Hence the players are already using it and are accustomed to it. Could be an argument for easy rules learning/transition...
User avatar
Q_x
developer
Posts: 334
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 15:10

Re: Changing mark symbol?

Post by Q_x » Mon Jul 04, 2011 15:58

Every step to take here should be made towards cultivating a consistent visual communication system. Mark should be a part of text world rather than fancy image, as this is the environment it will be most seen in - like when on description, with neighbors like "discard" or "two cards", or in manual.
Arrow was pretty much the most obvious thing (but it works!) and I have nothing against using anything else, as long as it will be easy to recognize and memorize, can be done in one color, and it will need no translation (in this case we can use just word "mark" or "[m]"). What else I can think about is a check mark (as in check boxes), which should work just as good (even if it's slightly more confusing). What synonyms we may have for "marking" and "marked"?
Just to let your imagination flow in the right direction... "Tagging" and "tagged", "toggling" and "toggled", "using" and "used", "deactivating" and "inactive" - just shoot, and we maybe find together another way of illustrating the process :)
I'm the filthy bastard you wish you never met.
User avatar
snowdrop
developer
Posts: 794
Joined: Mon Feb 01, 2010 15:25
Location: Sweden
Contact:

Re: Changing mark symbol?

Post by snowdrop » Wed Jul 06, 2011 11:42

a consistent visual communication system. Mark should be a part of text world rather than fancy image, as this is the environment it will be most seen in - like when on description, with neighbors like "discard" or "two cards", or in manual
This is an interesting topic Q_x raises about consistency. I agree it's unconsistent to have symbol for mark but no symbol for any other cost.

There are two ways to make it consistent: Either have symbols for all kinds of costs & prerequisites, which is a very bad idea since it would generate heaps of symbols that have to be learned and keep generating them over time, or one could just remove mark symbol altogether and replace it with text as is suggested.

This begs the question why most(?) CCG:s seem to use a mark symbol and don't spell it out in text in the cases where marking is a core rule and reoccurring all the time (in our case it's when 1) moving 2) attacking 3) a common cost when using one or another activated ability 4) a cost when another card is using an activated ability).

Curious enough we can see, in the picture I posted above in another post, WotC moving away from using the short and rotated "T" (abbreviation for "tap", tilted to show that they want you to rotate card) and to a more generic symbol instead - the arrow. Later on they also realised how bad it was to have the rectangle background clutter inside the circle and removed it as well.

I don't know the answer to why they would prefer symbol and break text consistency. My wild guesses are that:

a) Presence: The state and functions that can be connected to the tap are so common and integrated into the game that it's happening all the time. MtG uses it non-stop, for everything. That is the first and perhaps most important thing that has to be in place when asking ourself what we should create symbols for: If something would not be used in every game and a core way to handle things it would make little sense to create symbols for it since the learning/decoding of the symbols steepens learning curves and makes makes it harder to play the game instead of easier.

b) Space: It creates a little space on the cards. In their first case they used a "T", it's an abbreviation, but more than that it is primarily, I think, a symbol. Thing is that the T doesn't create more space than the arrow symbol. It's the exact same size. So... using a T instead of "Tap" creates space (albeit very little), but using arrow instead of T creates no extra space. We have to assume there is some other reason then for why they opted for an arrow instead of the tilted T. But what?

c) Translation: Arrow is global, most people would understand it. It hardly requires any translation once you're acquainted with the rules you know what it means. Then again, you would be the same even if it was a "T". Also, if a whole card is getting translated to another language, does it really matter if the T has to be replaced with an X instead? I hardly think so. I don't believe that translation is the reason for why arrows are used.

d) Transition: If you have played other CCG:s you would directly understand what the symbol meant and also something about the rules system in general. This is a stronger point than the translation one, but again, it would be perfectly clear to the player after reading the rules no matter what the symbol or letter was.

e) Ease: It would be easier for most players to recognize a symbol that's re-occurring than to read a whole word for it every time. However, while this could explain why one would go from the word "loremipsum" to "T" it explains less why one would go from "tap" to "T" and even lesser why one would go from "T" to "arrowsymbol". T is still a symbol. Or... is perceiving a symbol that is a letter somehow slower than perceiving another symbol in the game that is also not dubbling as a letter? I wouldn't know, it's on the borderlands to psychology/perception/biology here....

What's exciting here is how I fail to see why WotC opted for an arrow instead of a T. Does anyone have a good explanation? If there is one, I'd say it could be very relevant to the topic Q_x raises. If not, maybe there could be some other reasoning presented to why one should use a mark symbol instead of writing out marking as just an "M" to keep text consistency.

My own answer would be that most activated abilities will only cost the/a card to mark, and nothing else and that it seems to be easier/faster for the eye & mind to make out a symbol among the letter symbols. Check out the exampls below:
markalts.png

(Press image for larger view. Also note this is only valid while not mixing colours etc, which I still think we shouldn't do except for perhaps lighten/darken the shade the text is already written in)

I'd argue that the worst idea would be 3 & 6 as it is "melting in" with the rest of the text. Any one of the other are better, I think. The best text one is 5, but here we have an issue with our choice to bold named abilities (so either they have to be shown in another way, or if they are shown in bold, then 5 isn't an option). I don't like 1 very much as that drop cap M couldn't be easily differentiated from a normal drop cap M in card text where the creature had an ability and that ability didn't cost mark to activate.
What else I can think about is a check mark (as in check boxes), which should work just as good (even if it's slightly more confusing).
Agree they'd work, but I don't think they're better than arrow. I also think a filled and unfilled square/circle would be better than trying to squeeze in checkbox-V:s. (In same manner I don't belive that the undropcapped positive arrow is a good idea when having it inline in small size.)
What synonyms we may have for "marking" and "marked"?
Just to let your imagination flow in the right direction... "Tagging" and "tagged", "toggling" and "toggled", "using" and "used", "deactivating" and "inactive" - just shoot, and we maybe find together another way of illustrating the process
I'm not sure why we need swap out the word "mark/marked" with something else, but maybe searching for synonyms would help one find better symbols as well, as you suggest. :)

(If we were to replace the word "mark" with something it should a) be equally short or shorter and b) at least as informative and c) at least as generic. I'd say WotC use of "tap" was a hit as it's easy to say & takes little space, where the saying part is the most important.

I don't know if "tap", in the English language, already meant what it means in MtG, if it did then it was a really good choice by them. ("Tilt" is something that comes to my mind, while "tap" for me was the same as the place you get water from or soemathing you hit softly with your finger.... but I'm no native anglo and have a poor vocabulary...))
User avatar
Q_x
developer
Posts: 334
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 15:10

Re: Changing mark symbol?

Post by Q_x » Wed Jul 06, 2011 13:25

Oh, that's a nice graphics out there. I would add some extra variants though, like using a different font for expressing a cost (sans serif one for example), or an underline. This will mix up stuff a lot visually - but if you follow any serious scientific literature, there are quite some examples of mixing sans serif text with serif symbols and greek letters - so it may not be that bad in the end.

But I think estimating what we might need is far more important.
We discussed this thing a bit, but really: does anybody imagine having a cost on a particular card, that goes like: marking two cards, discarding one from hand, one from table and paying 3 gold?

My point is that we need a way to make clear what is the cost, and what is the result. And I doubt if we would need more than a line, maximum two, to write the cost in the end. But certainly more, than just one letter. We may want some really funny things to happen that will be specific to a single card only, like discarding a card from RP. So how to write that? Is making the cost with bold alone or any font change not enough?

Honestly, I think a drop cap may in the end reduce readability here, especially as it would use most probably same font as regular text.
We can of course standardize the costs to gold, marked cards, card discarded from hand, table and piled, but I'd rather be creative when inventing a card...

My proposals, that is for one font only, are sketched below. "M" stands for single-character cost, may be a symbol, and longer stuff is cost expressed with words. None of this ideas uses drop caps. Bold may be bold, but may be ANY variation: font, color and others. This are two consistent (working together) examples:

Example 1 (pretty much 4 and 5 example from above):

Title
Type
M: Effect that may
go in several lines

M: Effect that may
go in several lines

Example 2 (with longer cost effects start from newline):

Title
Type
Cost that may go in
several lines
:
Effect that may have many
lines as well
-----------------
Cost that may go in
several lines
:
Effect that may have many
lines as well

If use line to separate those, or not, is just aesthetic question, I think with line we may squeeze more onto cards, that's all
I'm the filthy bastard you wish you never met.
User avatar
snowdrop
developer
Posts: 794
Joined: Mon Feb 01, 2010 15:25
Location: Sweden
Contact:

Re: Changing mark symbol?

Post by snowdrop » Wed Jul 06, 2011 16:26

Q_x wrote:But I think estimating what we might need is far more important. /../ does anybody imagine having a cost ..., that goes like: marking two cards, discarding one from hand, one from table and paying 3 gold? /../ We can of course standardize the costs to gold, marked cards, card discarded from hand, table and piled, but I'd rather be creative when inventing a card...
I can imagine cards that cost anything and can't think of a single good thing with standardizing them. Standardizing means the player knows beforehand that there won't ever be a card that costs anything beyond x y z and that the only thing that changes is the quantity.

Standardizing manly means limiting our options, as you point out. While your example is extreme in the sense that it has a long text cost and therefore would be rare I think that it should at least be theoretically possible to create such cards, even if they would be rare.

What wouldn't be as rare are cards that have costs like this (number is just indicating a diff example here, but I think that the higher the number the rarer the usage would be):

1. mark,
2. customtext
3. mark, customtext
4. customtext, customtext
5. mark, goldcost, customtext

In the examples I also totally omit the new "assign" feature (if that's to be used that is) that I wrote about in the ORC rules recently, and I also omit the marking of other cards (rectangle with number in inside). Add those two in the mix and you get some smooth Cajun Stew, offering mighty fine taste and almost limitless design creativity. It empowers us to create cards that are really dynamic and that have costs that are very adapted to the cards usage.

Here are some " semi-exotic cost" examples of what I think an advanced ccg should be able to handle:

1. Show hand to target opponent
2. Discard 2 cards in hand at random
3. Show 5 top cards of deck to the opponent with the least influence.

As a general rule I don't think a card should have more than 2 customtext costs, at most, on the same card. It's way better to be inventive with 1, max 2, custom texts and really try to find something interesting than to have a combo of 3-4 customtext costs that are all mediocre. That would just be bad design and simple quantifying, which should better be done with gold cost or marking. I think your example is a good one of how we should avoid doing it:

Code: Select all

" marking two cards, discarding one from hand, one from table and paying 3 gold"
It reads something like this:

Code: Select all

[2], 3, discard a card from hand, discard a card from your kingdom:
It "only" uses two customtexts as cardcost but I think one should easily be ditched and/or either the other re-constructed or the gold cost raised instead. (I know you took a silly example and wouldn't suggest that cost - I'm just re-using your example here which suited very well..)
My point is that we need a way to make clear what is the cost, and what is the result
In ORC I suggest the same as in MtG and probably other games as well. Use a delimiter. All that is to the left is cost, all to the right of that delimiter is the effect. As simple as that. I don't see any problems with it either (until I made a mess by showing the dropcaps in combo with cerature abilities that have a cost, but more about that soon). The delimiter I suggested is the colon sign (:), which is good since it's already a part of any normal keyboard and makes life easier for both players and designers in some minimal regard, but better yet is that it is a natural delimiter already, even before we use it as one. It's perhaps one of the more perfect characters to express what we want to say - "first this , then that follows". I don't think there is any confusion about what is cost and what is the effect of you paying that cost with a syntax that's

Code: Select all

price(s) : effect(s) 

Code: Select all

price1, price2  : effect1. effect2.... 
And I doubt if we would need more than a line, maximum two, to write the cost in the end
I share your doubt & would take it even further: It should actively be avoided.
qx wrote:like discarding a card from RP. So how to write that? Is making the cost with bold alone or any font change not enough?
Both, in separate, would be enough. WotC use neither. They just use plain text followed by a colon. I don't think they are optimal though and think we can do it better.

As I wrote in previous reply though using bolds and italics should not be the case if we also use it for the named abilities, which we currently do. I'm not sure yet, but I have some reservations about using bold at all for ability cost as it would be very heavy and chunky/massive when using it for customtext. Imagine 1,5 or 2 lines of bolded text, being the cost, and then seeing the effect. It wouldn't really look good (just subjective aesthetics though). I have included a sample:

Image

I think 12/11 is the easiest to look at and that it diffs itself most from effect text without looking too heavy, but the fun part is that 7/8 look next best.

While I usually like Italics i think it's horrid to read several lines of text in them, not to mention doing so in small sizes, and I also don't think they diff a lot here from effect text. They almost blend nicely, which isn't our intent. Then there's still the problem with this being in conflict with the named abilities that are written in bolditalic.

Last thing about the pic above: Nevermind the poor choice of colour by me (grey) - in real case it would be some (probably darker) shade of the beige/yellow we use on the creature cards. I think it would be enough..
Honestly, I think a drop cap may in the end reduce readability here, especially as it would use most probably same font as regular text.
I think I agree the more I look at it. What makes a mess is that the drop cap covers two lines, but that the cost won't always be two lines or even a full line, also making a mess with the delimiter. So, let's ditch the drop cap when writing out costs.

I would however want to keep drop caps whenever a) we don't give out costs & b) it doesn't force us to shrink text beyond 9 (thats not an inkscape 9, its the one used by the world...probaby "pt") Unless of course there is still a readability issue with the drop caps, but if there is then it was there all the time on the Event-template as well...

So, on creatures we wouldn't use drop caps whenever we have activated abilities. That would solve all our problems. People may wonder why not, but then we have some good shit to show them in here. We exchange consistency for readability. We get extra-pretty looking cards when we can, and when we can't we get functional ones ;)
Example 2 (with longer cost effects start from newline):

Title
Type
Cost that may go in
several lines:
Effect that may have many
lines as well
It is virtually the same as we use already, with the diff that effect and cost don't share lines, ever. In one way one could argue that this improves readability since a player would know that the effect always starts on a new line, the one after colon. Then again, Costs also start on new lines, but that's not relevant since there would be a separator (empty space right now, line as you suggest to tighten it all some more)

Problem I see with this is that most costs are probaby 30 - 50% of a line. That would mean we often will waste 50 to 70% of a line. If you have 2 abilities then suddenly we waste 100% to 140% of a line. This also looks very strange(?) when you have a cost of only "m" or "3" etc, in which case it almost lowers readability since you have to not only read from left to right but also go down to next line - seemingly without a reason since we're used to reading full lines in society.
If use line to separate those, or not, is just aesthetic question, I think with line we may squeeze more onto cards, that's all
Agree... and yet, I don't: I think that we should have as little graphical elements as possible mixed in between the text and think space and "air" looks better (aesth). That said, isn't it so that text is easier read the less we have crammed in around/inbetween it? I get the feeling stuff will look "tight" when we have a line in there, like we really try to cram the text. And that it looks more "spatious" if there is air instead. Hrm... hard to say really without some nice and different examples...
verbalshadow
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 17:43

Re: Changing mark symbol?

Post by verbalshadow » Mon Aug 08, 2011 04:46

Some possible Mark icons. Posted for comment.

Image
User avatar
Q_x
developer
Posts: 334
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 15:10

Re: Changing mark symbol?

Post by Q_x » Mon Aug 08, 2011 10:39

Verbalshadow - your icons, unlike fonts, are using more than just one tone, so that's quite different than what I did earlier. But on the other hand - also some examples that snowdrop proposed are utilizing same principle. As long as I can agree on having two shades to use it inside the text area (your icons will still look perfectly well), I'd rather avoid having colorful graphics there - maybe if those would be really good...
The numbers, the arrows and the oval shape are taken from three different stories, but I think this can be easily merged - snowdrop was leading me really well in my attempt to achieve the goal. I like big numbers more than small.

Snowdrop:
My general conclusion for today is that cost is also an effect. Or rather the cost is just unpleasant part of the effect, and it even can be paid not prior to the positive part, but as a part of it (mark x creatures to do x something) or as the last stage of card's effect (like graving a caster of a given spell).

Italics are usually binded to specific names and keywords, I think it would be wise to keep it that way, so that card names can have it, maybe abilities, but not much more.
If we should use mark symbols - sure, I think it's the best choice.
Bold or tone change is a matter of how well we can use this second tone. If for one thing only (showing which part of effect is painful) - I'd say it's too little, but add anything (like verbal's mark) and it's OK.

It may be also misleading to use [m] alone sometimes. The question is what one can mark - does it have to be a caster in case of marking caster and another card? Can it be a random creature on a random front? Or both from one front? Faction - does it matter? and so on... Answers - maybe obvious for us - must be written down somewhere.

I'd rather avoid marking more than two creatures at once in general cases (one that starts the process and the other that it's focused on) - leaving a possibility for marking X cards as an elastic cost we have to have [m], [2m] and [xm] marks in case of joining information as verbalshadow proposed.
I'm the filthy bastard you wish you never met.
Post Reply