Monday, February 29, 2016

Another "Seth Jaffee Development"

I remember back in 2008 having aspirations of becoming a professional game developer. I enjoyed designing games, and wanted to have some published, but I felt my real strength was in development.

I should clarify... in the video game world, the term "developer" is often synonymous with "designer" and "programmer". That is an unfortunate fact of language and jargon, as in the board game world it means something different. The best way I've found to describe it is to liken games to books:

Books have an author, who comes up with the idea for the story, writes a rough draft, and refines it into a finished book.

Books have an editor, who cleans up the language, revising the story as needed, and puts on finishing touches for publication.

And books have a publisher, who chooses which books to publish, employs editors and printers, and brings the book to market.

Games draw a distinct parallel to books in many ways, and production is no different:

Games have an author, who comes up with an idea for the game, writes a preliminary rule set, playtests and iterates to refine it into a finished game. In the board game world we often refer to the author as the "designer".

Games have an editor, who cleans up the balance, revises the mechanics as needed, and puts on finishing touches for publication. In the board game world we often refer to the editor as the "developer".

And of course games have a publisher, who chooses which games to publish, employs developers and manufacturers, and brings the game to market.

Ever since Michael started Tasty Minstrel Games back in 2009, My dream of becoming a professional developer has become more and more a reality... Indeed, today I can list Board Game Developer and Board Game Designer on my resume alongside Structural Engineer. Achievement unlocked!

A few years ago, Michael suggested that I launch a company to do game development, rather than doing it as an individual. I guess the idea there is to build a brand, and maybe position myself better down the road. I didn't mind the idea, but as someone who's usually quite comfortable with the status quo, I never got around to pursuing the idea. Recently Michael brought it up again, and I have finally started looking into it a bit.

I figure one major part of building a brand is to have a name and accompanying logo. I think a logo on game boxes will be much more recognizable than my name in small print on the back of the box or buried in the rulebook. I know a lot of great graphic designers, but before I shell out a couple hundred bucks to one of them for a professional quality logo, I thought I ought to have a good idea of what I want. As such, I started to think of (a) names for such an endeavor, and (b) concepts for a logo design.

As for a name, I'm fond of Seth Jaffee Development. It's straightforward, it includes my name, and it's even got a subtle bit of word play -- as in, anything I put the logo on could be considered a Seth Jaffee development. And if it's a game, hat probably means it was developed by Seth Jaffee.

As for a logo, I have two front-runner ideas that I kinda like. I'm open to suggestions for others as well.

Seth Jaffee Development logo idea #1

Possibly the better of the two ideas, Idea #1 is to make the logo look something like a professional stamp -- like a seal of approval. For reference, I pinned a few images I found online (I especially like this one). My quick not-an-artist mockup in MS Paint looks something like this:

In an effort to get a better idea of what this would look like, I went on and solicited a better version of this logo idea. I'm sorry Gavan, I know you hate that site, but my plan was to get concepts fleshed out, and maybe find a designer I could hire in the future for real work. 

To be honest, I didn't expect much for $5... and this is what I got (after 1 revision -- the first version looked almost exactly like my attempt above):

In general I think this does a better job of communicating my initial idea than my sketch did, but I would want something a lot better/cooler looking than this for a finished logo.

Seth Jaffee Development logo idea #2

The other thought I had was to do something that incorporated my signature, which appears in shiny foil ink on the covers of the Eminent Domain boxes for Kickstarter backers. I like that autograph, and I could see using it in the logo above as well (professional seals are always accompanied by a signature).

But the other idea I had was to just use the autograph itself, along with the word DEVELOPMENT, perhaps in a style like was used for the Eminent Domain tech card titles (like a shiny metallic look). My crappy sketch in MS Paint:

Attempt #1 from the fiverr guy (I'll note that the colors look wrong in this PNG):

In some ways I like this one... it's simple, kind of elegant, and I like the red highlight (again, the colors are all weird in that png). But I had asked for that to be my actual autograph, and I wanted some more texture to the letters, so after a revision request I got this:

To be quite honest, I feel like this is pretty half-assed. The first version of Idea #2 seemed like they put more thought and effort into it, this one looks like they just took files I sent them and dropped them on top of each other. As I said, I didn't expect much for $5, but the spacing is pretty poor, and the size of "development' seems pretty small compared to the rest. I suspect this would look a lot better if that bottom word were bigger and moved such that it were more centered, and with the top of "development" much closer o the bottom of the "eth" and "a" in my name. And maybe the autograph would look good in a dark red or burgundy?

Now that I have these (and actually, I should have another set coming from a different designer), I should be have a better idea of what I want, and maybe a better starting point to give a real graphic designer to work from. I was kind of hoping that the $5 "tryout" would impress enough that I'd want to hire the designer themselves... I feel like that's what fiverr is really good for. But so far, I'm not all that impressed. Maybe I'm just spoiled by being friends with so many great graphics people!

So, what do you think? Which of these ideas seems better to you? Do you have an idea you think would trump these? I'd love to read about it in the comments!

EDIT: My good friend, a professional graphic designer from Uruguay, read my comments about this on FaceBook and surprised me with a really good version of a logo! Check it out and let me know what you think:
 I really like it. but I'm not sure about the "Board Game" part, or the doubling up of my name -- I suppose that's because the autograph might not be legible. Any suggestions or comments on this?

One thing I noticed from the last one above (the on I called "half-assed") was that they took my signature and cleaned up the lines a bit or something... made them look bolder. Does anybody thing that looks better than the signature in the latest version?


Unknown said...

How about a logo that is sort-of being constructed: think Escher's hand-drawing-a-hand-drawing-a-hand... a finished 'end' phasing in to a draft end?

BraveSirPatrick said...

I think you should name them Jaffevlopments. Try and say that out loud a few times.

John said...

I love the signature with printed name.
Signature alone would be unreadable/illegible?