At Essen this year, Ruthless will be released in three languages! English German and Polish. From Alley cat Games, Board Games Circus and Lucrum Games. This game is not only illustrated by me but is also my design.
Take a look at these three new games I illustrated from the beginning of 2018. Western Legends, Isidore and Werewords.
For many months I have been busily working away Western Legends. A sandbox style board game based in a the Wild West and featuring iconic characters of the era. This game comes from new company Kolossal games. Headed by Travis Chance a well established name in the industry. We met at Essen in 2016 when he was working with Indie Boards and Cards and I pitched him my own game Ruthless. Western Legends has just launched on Kickstarter and funded very fast. It is a great project and you should take a look.
The art direction of the game presented an interesting challenge. Designing something bold, thematic but also unique and not cliche. After trying out a few options we decided to go for a comic/painterly vibe. It feels both appropriate to the them but also fresh.
This is quite a different style to some of the other work in my portfolio and took some practice to get the right feel of loose, expressive ink and watercolour. The illustrations could have been more precise but the benefit significantly from the exaggerated roughness. It gives the illustrations movement though spontaneity.
Once the base content was established then I was able to tackle the player boards and later the game board. Here I decided to adjust the style. Keeping the painterly quality but going for something with more body and tactility.
The campaign ends on 29th Jan. After that I will add a full project into my portfolio.
My latest project is Western Legends for new company Kolossal games. Western themed games tend to have a bit of a cliched look and feel so we are trying to go for something a bit different. So we settled on a watercolour feel for the illustrations. Western Legends will be on Kickstarter in Jan 2018.
Green Hook Games is a website focused on art in board games. Niklas Høøk, has interviewed some amazing artists including Naiide and Vincent Dutrait. Two heros of mine. So I am very honoured to have been asked. It is a really good chat with a lot of pictures of my process asn studio also.
Take a look: http://www.greenhookgames.com/rolandsrevenge/
The last game I worked on was Kaiju Crush for Fireside Games. It is a city destruction monster game with some great strategic gameplay. I illustrated 35 city tiles for the game. We chose an unusual set of angles angle, getting away from the generic isometric form that is so much associated with app games. I am really pleased with this work and look forward to uploading more of the art later this week.
This time last year I began a personal project to re-illustrate GMT's Battle Line, designed by Reiner Knizia. I had no real plan for the art except as an experiment in modernising and beautifying a great but neglected classic, for my on interest and satisfaction.As my work progressed I and I showed it to people I started to wonder if there was a way I could use the art. It was looking great and it would be such a shame to waste it. I approached GMT but they are not a publisher that values aesthetics and were not keen on spending the money to update their version.
I had also been posting progress reports on Board Game Geek, the hub for analogue gaming news and information. One day I received and message via this site from the game designers assistant. In short Reiner Knizia offered me the opportunity to acquire a limited license to Battle Line. This was a rare and exciting opportunity. I was not sure what to do though. I was an illustrator and graphic designer not a producer or publisher. I know all about print but production and distribution was a whole other world.
After a period of procrastination I decided I would make a leap of faith. It is not every day such opportunities arrive and it would be a learning adventure.
After a somewhat steep learning curve in production and marketing I released a 100 copy limited edition in January of 2017. The edition sold out in 3 days, made a bit of money and taught me a whole lot of new skills. Six months later following a lot of requests from the people who missed out I am now about to publish a second and final edition. This time of 400 copies through my company Roland's Revenge Games. The quality of the production is going to be improved and equally the risk is higher. I am very proud of the product though and certain it will do well. It has already sold 200 copies in 4 days.
This process has been wonderful and I'm sure that I am a better illustrator for it. Understanding games development from another angle makes me an even better asset to new clients. With my own game Ruthless also coming to the market this year I am now a games illustrator, games designer and game publisher. I am looking forwards to further adventures in the games world.
Thanks for reading
Did you know Roland's Revenge is also a micro publisher. Reiner Knizia has extended my Battle Line license to 500. So a sencond edition of 400 is due to be published this summer. You can subscribe to the mailing list on the Battle Line portfolio page for advanced pre orders.
Here are some pics of the new box I just made up.
I have added a new project to my portfolio. I am really excited to share this concept art I did with you. It is a project I am very proud of. Currently the project remains unannounced so I can share more details of what it is for yet.
In February I work with new publisher Restoration Games to revive a game from 1979. Bringing it to the modern hobby boardgames market. Rob Daviau (Pandemic Legacy) Handled the game redesign and I got to re-imagine the board and character art. The art direction was to bring the colourful noir style I developed for my game Suspicion to this family deduction game. Redesigning the characters was fun and playful work. The board for the game though offered more of a challenge for me to get my teeth into. It is a large board representing a shopping district in a city with four distinct locations. It would have been easy to make a sterile cross section but I really wanted it to feel like a living environment. The balance of interesting and details and space for the gameplay without making a play space that was too gamerly was the task I set myself.
I finally had a chance to finish the artwork over the holidays. This is now ready to go to print and will be my first mini foray into publishing! More news on that coming soon. For now here is the artwork.
I live and work with the attitude that if I am going to do a thing then I am all in. So when Ruthless, the game I was designing and illustrating started to look promising I jumped in.
Spiel is the largest games event in the world. It is a great place to shop and discover new gamesbut also the best place to make new contacts and meet publishers. Last year I went for one day as an illustrator with Suspicion as my business card and not having booked any meetings in advance. This year I went with a much expanded portfolio of games projects and my game Ruthless. I booked a table to exhibit my game. Printed banners and flyers. Made 30 copies of my game - including 2600 hand stickers tokens 30 handmade drawstring bags in addition to the cards etc. I also organised lots of meetings in advance. The preparations had taken most of my free time for two months and cost a small fortune but I was ready. Excited and anxious I headed to Essen for the games fair. Wondering if I had made a big mistake or it would all be worth it. Either way it was going to be an adventure.
The scale of Spiel is hard to exaggerate. Hall after hall of booths full of game companies. Filled with thousands of people hauling amazing numbers of newly purchased games and lots of small meeting rooms full of hopeful new designers pitching their hopeful projects. This temporary bustling world would be work and home for four days.
I set up my booth with Gijs who had kindly come to help me out. We had a table in the prototype space for new/unsigned designs. Having gotten there early enough to secure a prime spot and put up the banners and decorated the table. Ruthless had a really good presence and stood out well. So far I was pleased to have made the extra effort with the preparations.
My first meeting was booked for an hour after we arrived. Following a panic to get wifi access and riding a wave of adrenaline and anxiety I went to deliver my first pitch and show my work. I laid out Ruthless on a table surrounded by boxes, as the publishers booth was still being erected. Despite the chaotic start, the publisher was interested in the mechanics of Ruthless so we played a few rounds of the game. Still interested he asked if he could take a copy to play with his colleagues. Finally I relaxed and showed my illustration work which was very enthusiastically received. It was a perfect start to the 4 days ahead. It was great to get some approval from a publisher that I had made something interesting. A professional opinion on a creative endeavour was an accolade in and of itself.
Over the next two days I had meetings from 9am-12. Then I would rush back through the hordes of excited gamers to get to my booth and take over from Gijs who was demoing for me. As I had no idea what to expect from the publisher angle, having a booth was a good way to generate some interest in Ruthless incase I decided Kickstarter was my best option following Essen. Having an actual presence also drew some extra publishers to stop by and chat too about the game and the art. So whilst the extra work of running the booth daily was heavy the pay-off was worth it. We ran a daily competition to win a copy of the prototype. This and the banners drew a steady flow of interest. Many people demoed the game for a few rounds and every day a few groups wanted to play a whole game.
The meetings I had were mostly a combination of showing Ruthless and my portfolio to a producer and art director (or some similar combination). I also had a few illustration only meetings. I had been pretty stressed about the meetings but in the end I quite enjoyed them. Ruthless was received with interest by all of the publishers I showed to and almost all took prototypes to test further. All the people I met were very open and interested and it was nice to meet so may nice people. One meeting where the demo was a disaster, as a result of a nightmare card draw that hadn’t occurred in hundreds of playtests, was great for some critical feedback and a good chat, I took some note and he also took a prototype in the end to my surprise!
My illustration portfolio was an even greater success and so I bounced through the weekend happy and increasingly exhausted. Surviving on adrenaline, beer meat and potatoes. Mid way through On On Saturday we packed up early and went to get beers try out some games and do some shopping with the funds from selling the prototypes.
In retrospect then this year’s Spiel adventure was a great experience that promises much for the coming year. This is the end of a chapter though and not the story. Will Ruthless find a publisher? What games will I get to work on next year? and will I do it all again next year?
Stop press: at the time of writing I am talking to two publishers about publishing Ruthless. Watch this space…
Roland's Revenge Games is a new site specialised in games illustration and design from Roland the Illustrator. With over 12 years experience working on games digital and tabletop games I can bring far more to your games development than pretty pictures. I have a solid working knowledge of games production and a passion for games from drawing them to playing them and even designing my own. All these things give me a knowledge of the medium that enables me to collaborate with games designers and publishers to take new games to a higher level.