Game Seeds

June 7, 2010

Liselore Goedhart illustrates Game Seeds, a set of little spirits that you can play with and combine to bring new characters and game ideas to life. With a concept design by Niki Smit, Christophe Berg turns the artwork into a game card—design a game by playing a game.


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Illustration sketches. © Liselore Goedhart.

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Illustration sketches. © Liselore Goedhart.

Game Seeds artwork by Liselore Goedhart

For Game Seeds, I wanted to use a simple and stylized design that gives the player a guideline, but does not steer them in one direction. In my designs, I always try to portray an emotion or feeling using very little elements. The ideal outcome is for a viewer or player to add in their own imagination and creativity.

The first part of my design process is research and inspiration. For the Game Seeds illustrations, I began with the lines of basic geometric shapes, patterns and pixel art. I created moodboards that helped me to eventually come up with the first idea for the illustrations: an isometric setting made out of little cubes. I used these cubes as a uniform setting knowing the whole design would require thirty-six individual illustrations for the playing cards. I wanted the illustrations to be simple yet playful icons. Some icons, such as lifestyle and gender, were very easy to design, but time and species needed more iteration.

Every action needed a solid concept and portrayal of the action. With my colleague at Monobanda, Niki Smit, I sat down and doodled up most of the 36 actions. The biggest challenge was explaining the actions without referring too much to the real world. The insight we saw was how much of our visual communication is based on icons from everyday life.

During brainstorms, the process of thinking in terms of behavior at the micro and macro level fostered new ideas. Then life started really to emerge. The final idea to use little spirits (the Game Seeds) helped us to avoid a distant and abstract graphic design. The Seeds bring life! We combined organic blob-like creatures and a static setting, which transforms into all kinds of situations. It was edgy and recognizable. We think that the same process will work for the players.

Designing the actions in Adobe Illustrator was like playing a game myself: moving around the building blocks, playing with the postures of the Seeds, and even laughing aloud when moving around their little beady eyes to make them look a little bit more quirky and funny.

Opening up a deck of cards for the first time was an amazing experience — to finally be able to hold the cards and see the result of my work. The reactions I received about the design continue to be overwhelming. It’s inspiring to see how people perceive the illustrations and think about other actions and ways to use them.

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Concept art. © Liselore Goedhart.

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Icon design. © Liselore Goedhart.

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Final illustrations. © Liselore Goedhart.

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Game Seeds card game. © Liselore Goedhart.

Game Seeds card game by Christopher Berg

Game Seeds is a card game designed to spice up your brainstorm sessions on Character and Game Design.

Game Seeds are wild free-spirited tiny creatures that you can play with, combine, hack and get inspired by to bring new characters and game ideas to life, so with the goal to embed the gameplay and the future player’s actions in the behavior of the designed characters.

Object of Game Seeds: Design a Hero, Design a Sidekick, Design a Game by playing with a deck of cards.

Improving your skills on character design is all about practicing. The more you play, the better you will eventually become. Use improvisation to foster your creativity.

Game Seeds has been designed by the Utrecht School of the Arts, Monobanda and Metagama for designers, students and creative professionals. Game Seeds is also to be used for workshops on Character Design as a playful experience and a real playcentric approach to creating Innovative Games.

A project commissioned by the Utrecht School of the Arts: Games & Interaction.

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Game Seeds card game. © Niki Smit.