Launch & Iterate: a Google Recruiting Card Game

Cards, Design, Illustration, New Piece, Packaging, Print

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I am so pleased to finally be able to post the final product of this project. It took almost a year to finalize, and it was so much fun to work on, so am thrilled to finally share it.

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This is a co-op game with the end goal of launching the most products. Designed as a game to play at recruiting events, it is targeted at programmers and people familiar with programming lingo and/or Google, but no reason why anyone who just loves games couldn’t play it, too.

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The game design and mechanics were already mostly defined by the time the Google team who worked on it decided they were ready to reach out to a designer to create the game’s art. I came in to do a test round with their scratch deck and I was immediately inspired. They had a really good concept for game play, fun and clever ways to incorporate the Google brand and programming job functions into the theme of the game, and also had already compiled most of the details about verbiage, card distribution, game balance, etc. So it was my job to take the pieces and ideas and put them into a cohesive looking deck with fun, bold, Google-esque graphics.

I have played enough card games to understand some of the more practical elements required in making a good deck of cards, such as combining colors with symbols to make identifying types of cards easier (especially for color blind folks), putting at-a-glance info on the sides and corners of cards since they’re typically held fanned out in your hand, and also making sure layouts are consistent, fonts are legible, and type isn’t too small. These basic requirements, along with keeping text and pertinent design elements within the proper margins, were my guides in getting the designs started. I also had the benefit of having a well-defined brand to work with, which uses eye-catching, bold, primary colors (they also have their own font!).

It’s a thrill to see how this project evolved. I commend my contact at Google immensely for being such a great communicator. She was very organized and thoughtful with feedback (both her own and what she compiled and filtered down to me from the rest of the team), and I feel the feedback and changes they suggested really furthered the design immensely. Looking back on some of my round 1 and 2 ideas makes the excellence of their input and insight so clear as you compare it to our final product. I absolutely love when a project comes together in such a way.

So I started with a relatively blank canvas. The scratch deck they had created had a rough card layout with a solid bar of color on the left side with text on the blank space adjacent. It wasn’t a bad starting point, since the majority of the cards would be hand-held, and having that left bar for at-a-glance icons turned out to the basis for the final design of most of the cards in the deck.

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Sample of Tech Cards

So, a brief synopsis, there are Tech Cards, Event Cards, Launch Cards, as well as penalty/bonus cards, in addition to 4 “Tech Stack Base” cards.

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Basic Game Layout, Tech Stack Base cards “F0,” “A0,” “S0,” and “T0” in the center, Tech draw pile on the left, Launch cards below that, Event cards bottom right, and then penalty/bonus cards available as needed.

Tech cards are split into Tech Stack cards (labeled with F, A, S, or T and numbered 1-7) that will get piled on top of one of the 4 coordinating stacks on the game area. Each color is assigned a color and shape (blue/square, red/circle, yellow/4-pointed star or green/triangle).

 

Print

Additionally, there are “One-Shot” Tech cards that do not get stacked on the base piles, but are instead used one time and then discarded and are black with no attached symbol.

Print

Other cards in the deck are not held in-hand such as the Tech Stack Base cards, Penalty/Bonus Cards, Launches, and Events.

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Penalty and Bonus Cards

Penalty Cards will either get placed on top of a Stack, or in front of a Player.

Launch Cards are the basis of how you earn points in the game, by earning Users.

Launch Card Diagram

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Launch Cards

All the Launch cards were cleverly designed as one of Google’s April Fool jokes (aka, products that were not real and were also far-fetched and hilarious). Examples such as Scratch and Sniff Google Searches, Locate a nearby kitten, Google Translate for Animals, etc.

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I created the art for these based on the graphics or videos that still remain on Google’s April Fool websites and YouTube, keeping it as close to the originals as an Illustrator working with vectors can (only raster images that remain are the Google Maps 8-bit logo and the $20 bill coming out of Google Mobile ATM).
The thing I found most illuminating now that I’ve had a little break from working on the project and can now sit back and see the final product against the many revisions we worked through to get there, are the Event cards.
Print
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Event Cards

These guys really went through some transformations.

Samples Description 1 events

Event Card Proposed Design, Phase 1

 

Samples Description 2 events

Event Card Proposed Design, Phase 2

 

Samples Description 3 events

Event Card Proposed Design, Phase 3

 

Samples Description 4 events

Event Card Proposed Design, Phase 4, with 4 options for layout

 

Samples Description 5 events

Event Card Proposed Design, Phase 5 – getting close, but not quite right.

 

Samples Description 6 events

Event Card Proposed Design, Phase 6 – with 4 options for treatment.

I really enjoy how the eventually turned out, and find the process in getting to that point so valuable and interesting.

This is a culmination of roughly 70 hours of work for me over the course of 10 months including a folded page with instructions (not including the Visually Impaired version we augmented the layout for). I loved every minute and it inspired me to want to design and create the art for my own games (it’s really hard, btw). I really loved brainstorming with a team of super smart people to realize what I believe is a really thoughtfully designed game. I will jump on any chance to do it again.

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For you Board Game Geeks, here’s a link to the game on BGG.

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