Photo Credit : All photographs and images copyright John Debono-Cullen 2014
Pack of Heroes is a Superhero Card Game that I undertook the illustration and graphic design duties for. It was self published and produced via an incredibly successful crowd funding campaign. An independent game publisher approached me in the early stages of the game’s development, to complete all of the Illustration, graphic design and finished artwork for this project.
The project Included; the creation, development and illustration of 40 unique character and 12 weapon cards, designing the Pack of Heroes logo, designing the card and game play graphics, Illustrating and designing the games packaging, Illustrating and designing the included comic book, rules booklet and hero almanac, as well as managing the print production.
Pack of Heroes was produced by a two person team. In the early stages of production I (John Debono-Cullen) was approached by Phil Harding the director of Adventureland Games to undertake the Graphic Design and Illustration duties for a superhero card game that he was developing the mechanics for that went on to be called Pack of Hereos.
Over the course of the project my illustration background and interest in comic books saw the expansion of my role. Together Phil and I created the ideas behind many of the games heroes. I further developed the 40 unique characters illustrating them as well as; 12 weapon cards, designing the Pack of Heroes logo, designing the card and game play graphics, Illustrating and designing the games packaging, Illustrating and designing an included comic book, rules booklet and hero almanac and managing the print production. The mechanics of the game was developed by Phil around these character designs to suit each character's unique abilities.
The project was self published via the support of an online crowd funding campaign on kickstarter that was managed by Phil from Adventureland games. I contributed the creative elements for the campaign website and further updates throughout the campaign. A major part of the crowd funding campaign was the creation of stretch goals to maintain interest to drive support to reach the financial goal needed to produce the game. Here my role as graphic designer and Illustrator was used to develop Pack of Heroes into a brand, creating supporter merchandise including; T-shirts, Action Figures, Playmat, Badges, Woven Patch, Activity Book, Exclusive Card and Poster.
The initial brief for Pack of Heroes was to undertake the illustration and graphic design duties for the game working in a new fun style that reflected the look and feel of vintage superhero comic books and collector cards. The fact that the project was to be self-published and produced via the support of an online crowd funding campaign allowed this brief to vastly increase in scope and size as the fan/supporter base for the online crowd funding campaign increased.
Over the course of the crowd funding campaign the size of the game itself increased and the final brief for the project was: The creation, development and illustration of 40 unique superhero characters, the creation, development and illustration of 12 unique superhero weapon cards, designing the Pack of Heroes logo and branding, designing the card layout and game play graphics, Illustrating and designing the games packaging, Illustrating and designing the included comic book, rules booklet and hero almanac, as well as managing the print production and crowd funding campaign graphics.
The project's main innovation from an illustration and graphic design standpoint, is the creation of a vintage comic book visual style that reflects its fun gameplay and superhero subject mater without being too serious or too whimsical.
An initial goal of the game was to produce something fun that could be played by children and adults, engaging those within the niche, tabletop game or superhero comic book markets while appealing to a broader range of adults and children interested in pop culture.
The current tabletop game and superhero comic book market is saturated with products that are presented in a gritty hyper-real, superhero movie or video game style. A unique visual style was sought for Pack of Heroes to make it standout in this market and to engage a broader demographic, while appeasing tabletop game and comic book aficionados. The 40 characters of the game are illustrated in a style that evokes the pop and vibrancy of vintage comic book superheroes. Graphic design elements including: typographical treatments, packaging design, card design and game play graphics take queues from the design layouts and typography of vintage superhero comic books to further reinforce this visual style.
A challenge in the design process was creating continuity in the illustration of the game’s 40 characters. This continuity as well as the inclusion of the characters back-story on the reverse of the card not only gives the game uniformity but also allows the user to connect with these characters. Many games already in the market feature licensed, well-known characters from mythology, film, television or comic books so creating a new set of unique characters that had the familiar look and feel of characters you have know for years was very important.
A further challenge was the graphic design and layout of the cards themselves. The standardised presentation of the info graphics on each card allows the user to easily understand how to use the different abilities of each character without having to constantly refer to the rulebook. This information had to be simplified in a graphic way that directed gameplay without over-crowding the cards themselves. For example the use of the yellow star burst to represent a character’s unique arrival powers presents the information in a way that resembles the splash page of a vintage comic book but allows the arrival power to be instantly identified.
Pack of Heroes was self published and produced via a crowd funding campaign on Kickstarter. This allowed a clear engagement with the user throughout the course of the development of the game, as well as the growth of a supportive and vocal fan-base before final production had even taken place.
The crowd funding platform saw users testing pre-release versions of the game, voting on character designs, voicing their opinion on illustration and design decisions as they were being made while reinforcing the development and momentum of the project by supporting and sharing the campaign online.
The effectiveness of the illustration and graphic design work for Pack of Heroes was clearly demonstrated by this positive engagement as well as the final outcome of the Kickstater campaign that stretched its initial goal by 767%. This success allowed the game’s production to be expanded to include more characters, weapons cards an origin comic book, an expanded rules booklet and better quality printing and packaging.
Since its release Pack of Heroes has received many favorable reviews on gaming websites and by game reviewers on youtube.
This award celebrates creativity and innovation in the traditional or digital visual representation of ideas and messages. Consideration given to clarity of communication and the matching information style to audience.