I just sent the last bits of text from the backer submissions to Phillip for layout. The process for Hunt the Wicked is a little different than a lot of games out there, and I think that it is one of the reasons I’m able to produce polished content so quickly. Namely, the fact that I allow artwork and layout to be done simultaneously and in parallel, rather than waiting for one to finish before the other.
The primary benefit of this is, of course, less turnaround time to get the final product finished. The drawbacks (which I think can be largely mitigated with some careful planning and execution) are primarily two fold:
- Compromised layout “flow”
- Final aesthetic feels incomplete or disconnected
The flow of the text and artwork is important – and something that is pretty easy to screw up if you don’t know what you’re doing. Thankfully I have Phillip Gessert to help me out with that – and he definitely knows what he’s doing. The biggest issues you see with broken layout in RPGs is either too much (or not enough) white space, and art that doesn’t match with the content.
There’s no way around it – customizing your art to fit a specific space, and a specific piece of content is the best way to go. It is also extremely time consuming, and honestly I think there are diminishing returns if you do a few things. Namely, use somewhat uniform art sizes and aspect ratios that can be plugged in nearly anywhere, err on the side of “too much” white space (far fewer issues with too much than not enough), and encourage a lot of natural page breaks around headers and sections.
Once you get the first layout pass down, you’ll have a bunch of gaps where art can (and often should) fill. I trust Phillip enough to decide where these gaps should go, and he does it as he goes along paying special attention to the amount of words per page and section, where the next page break is going to go, and how the whole thing looks both in spread and single page view.
While that process is going on, I’m directing Winston and my other artists to create specific pieces – but with enough flexibility in their content so that they are largely relevant in an entire chapter or section. For example, the majority of the game’s artwork is focused on cool pictures of Bounty Hunters. Is this somewhat generic picture of an unrelated Hunter as perfectly fitting as a customized piece that relates to the content on the page? No. But, we can usually get pretty close and cut our development time in half (or less).
I figure out based on the budget how many pieces of art that will be (at least roughly), and give that number to Phillip so he can incorporate that many intentional gaps into his layout. Then, by the time the layout is finished, most of the art is finished, and I go through and assign each piece to a spot that I think fits both the content and the aesthetic / layout of the page. Phillip drops them in, and that’s pretty dang close to your final product.
As of right now (12/14/2015), Phillip is putting the finishing touches on the artless layout, and I’m waiting for a few more pieces from Winston. Once I receive the layout with the numbered gaps, I’ll start matching art as Winston finishes up. This process usually only takes a couple of days, but it really just depends on the art production speed and if any corrections to layout / art have to be made.
All of this is to say that we’re still on schedule for a February (or maybe even earlier) release. Thanks again!