Logo Development

When I talked to a marketing consultant, she advised that I needed a logo as soon as possible. For a variety of reasons, I didn’t follow up on that for over a year.

Last month I met with Pixel Parlor, a local design studio. I showed some of the art from the game and discussed my overall goals (e.g. it’s unlikely that we’ll have a physical box, which drove the King of Dragon Pass logo). In the meeting they asked me two questions I didn’t have an answer for: what were some logos I liked? And what were competitive games?

It turned out that was an interesting search. There are an awful lot of clichéd logos for fantasy computer games! So I broadened my search to include paper & dice RPGs and board games. For digital games, I thought the Monkey Island and Legend of Zelda series worked well. I liked the current Dungeons & Dragons logo, with the draconic ampersand (though it doesn’t work as well as D&D, since the three glyphs smudge together without enough contrast). The Fate logo also stood out. And the Scythe boardgame had a good logo.

As for competitive games, since Six Ages will be similar to King of Dragon Pass, there’s really nothing else like it. I suspect it will appeal to people who also like Sunless Sea, 80 Days, Sorcery, Banner Saga, Out There, and Reigns. But I also wouldn’t say they’re competition.

Pixel Parlor presented six design approaches. Here’s a representative subset:

I ran the designs by the Six Ages team and Chaosium (licensor of the setting). There was no clear consensus, so I asked Pixel Parlor to iterate on the two favorites. Here’s a couple examples from round 2:

Again I asked what the team thought. Again there wasn’t a definite favorite. I zoomed out to see all the logos at the same time. When they were small, it seemed like the carved style font was the most recognizable at small sizes. Which would be important in say a Steam listing.

I didn’t really like the E that looked like a greek Σ, however. So I asked for another set of variations. Again there wasn’t a clear winner, but I finally picked the one that wasn’t likely to be confused for a game about ancient Greece.

Hopefully this will prove distinctive and help suggest what the game is about (one of the artists noted that the lettering reminded him of the Gloranthan runes). At any rate, it’s nice seeing in the game.

Update: I just noticed that Pixel Parlor also wrote about this.

Author: David

Creator of Six Ages and King of Dragon Pass

16 thoughts on “Logo Development”

  1. Looks great! Without getting into specifics, could you describe how you contracted their services? IE flat rate, hourly, or some combination? Working with freelancers is always a minefield for indie devs!

    1. Don’t see why it needs to be a minefield, unless you’re trying to get someone to work for free (or for future royalties), which we never do.

      They gave us a flat fee estimate, based on their hourly rate (which they discounted because we were an indie).

      1. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories for paid commission work too, mostly just about lack of professionalism. I think it comes from folks not knowing how to pick credible groups to work with, or being tempted by people offering lower prices without considering that there might be a reason they can’t ask the prices that professionals do. Lots of people on the internet who know how to draw, but don’t have experience running their business effectively, so for indie devs who also don’t have business experience it can be tough to recognize who’s going to be easy to work with and who’s a kid with no idea what they’re doing.

  2. It definitely looks good. The knife has a good silhouette and distinctive details. Not sure about the fuzziness at the edges of the letters, though. Seems to me they would be better with either clean edges or noise (like the runes at the top of this very page).

    Have you thought about what goes behind the logo? It seems to me that although it looks fine on white, it would look better on a dark backdrop, either plain black or something like the night sky in a more cinematic image (like the KoDP boxart, though you wouldn’t want to pair this with a red sky like that one). Worth thinking about if you haven’t already, since I’m sure you’re going to want to slap this on images for promotional purposes.

  3. I’m a little mixed. It’s passable.

    I feel like this look and style is representative so many logos today, especially smaller indie games, logos cleave too soundly to the formula so they all end up getting that crisp, colorful look. This is pretty minimal so it can’t really shout, but it has that……over designed slickness that to me characterizes a lot of game logos.

    Consider the following: http://i.imgur.com/bqwSDhG.png

    Notice any similarities in the format, in the visual language? Stylized font + object for punctuation + color fade on the text for a sense of depth. (Note: Darkest Dungeons is a fantastic game and its logo is very representative of its tone and content.)

    I feel like this logo for Six Ages accomplishes that, but a little weakly. I can get from the visual read of the logo that the game is tribal, with hints of Nordic sprinkled in there. But it doesn’t really evoke anything from me, and I feel like the tribalism tone of the game is sort of muted because those letters are handled so plainly, functionally.

    Example B: The Curious Expedition. http://curious-expedition.com/

    That logo manages to say a lot about the game through font choices and textures (which your’s lacks one of those elements in a big way.) It dresses up the logo with a lot of things (moss for example) which IMO should be avoided before the logo starts looking too crowded and unprintable.

    Example C: The Banner Saga. http://stoicstudio.com/forum/showthread.php?151-The-Banner-Saga-Logo

    There’s a lot of art you can do with your logo to express the game’s theme and tone, without making it an over-dressed mess. TBS kinda treads that line with the font choice but I think it works.

    I would’ve though some runes from Six Ages would make some good dressing or punctuation. The knife is nice and simple and has a style and that’s good. May it’s just the absence of a border on the letters that is bugging me, that makes it seem a little…weightless?

    I dunno, I’m sure it’s fine. I can feels and nitpick graphic design things like this all day if I let myself. But I’d encourage you to work toward a logo that actually makes you feel something about your game.

    1. Based on his response to my post, that it’ll be on a splash image, I think it’s nice enough. It’ll pop more on a dark background and that knife is amazing.

  4. Im no designer myself but since playing KODP from its release years (my first was the demo thou), I wanted to compare Six Ages logo and title desgin with those of KODP. You know the runic W shaped one. Then I tried to remember what was the design for the KODP title but I couldnt recall it. No matter how hard i try. So i opened the game adns saw that was a simple font (:

    Back to kodp logo, i like it because first of all it looks serious. Background and the W shape has wore out. The design itself represents the hand drawen art of the game. Plus, it has a mystery in it. A runic letter, unknown, more to explore, magical, mythical.

    I dont bother with Six Ages logo, since im a fan, id buy it anyway. But as for the newcomers, the current Six Ages logo gives the impression is that the game is one of those pay-for-play crap. You know all those flash-game style apps that pop up every single day.

    The fading color from left to right is the main culprit. It cries “im computer made im a photoshop effect”. And the blade, it looks from a rsndom maker created game.

    It is hard to explain, but what im tryin to say is, if i were to be a newbie, with no idea of kodp, and came across this logo, i’d expect a clash of titans kind of game with nordic themes from the look of it 🙂

  5. I also kind of agree with a few of the comments above, the logo in it’s current state does look a little pay-to-play app like. While being “just a font” so to speak, KODP’s logo is really striking and bold. I can see that deep red W shape clearly in my mind. The current logo is very “greek” and typical of games based in this time period. Perhaps a typeface closer to nordic writings or runes would be better?

  6. A couple of you are comparing the icon to the logo. They’re not the same, and they serve different purposes.

  7. I think you chose the best one overall.

    For general inspiration on integrating cultural/thematic art into the game and GUI, you might want to check out Predynastic Egypt. Besides being a fun indie worker placement game in its own right, I love what they’ve done with working Egyptian inspired art and music into many aspects of the game and interface.


  8. I like the chosen logo most. Problem with Greece stylish font is that it gives the impression that the game is about Ancient Greece mythology. This Blog is almost like a crash course for game development processes. 🙂

  9. Very interesting to read about the process. Thanks for sharing. I totally get the Egypt comment. For me, it shouts ‘Aztec’ in all its variations. The exception being the knife, which looks Mongolian (read praxian). It doesn’t represent the Celtic hill tribe feeling that KoDP gave me but who’s to say it should.

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