As a company that specializes in logo design, we often show off our work by featuring projects as standalone artwork in our logo design gallery and portfolios. Nothing wrong with that per se, but it’s often more interesting to see the logo in its native habitat, in context, and as it was ultimately used. Sure, we can always look at how our work end up in stereotypical uses – letterhead & stationery design for example – but there are times when a particular logo’s story is a little more fun than your typical branding exercise. Take this logo (above) we designed way back in 2001 for a then in-development board game called Dice Man. Originally, we were tasked to design the product logo, but as the project went on, we were brought in to design the entire product, board game, instruction manual (which, truth to tell, I was never quite able to understand) as well as the box itself.
As well as a standalone logo, our team also designed the Dice Man central character (above) which was incorporated into every aspect of the product itself (the original R & D plans saw die-cut plastic Dice Men as part of the game play, but production costs shelved that idea in favor of wooden pegs, pinched from another game). Using the game concept sketches, and in close discussions with the developer we also designed the game board itself.
All the material for Dice Man was developed in Adobe Illustrator – one of the main concerns of the day (believe it or not) was the file size of Photoshop files. Internet bandwidth wasn’t was it is today, and there were some concerns of e-mailing large files to Hong Kong, where the game was to be manufactured. The physical size of game board packaging would have seen Photoshop files weighing in at hundreds of megs, so any artwork was created in smaller vector graphics native to Illustrator. Not a big deal – all the logos and support artwork were created in Illustrator anyway – but it restricted us in the use of special FX that would have jazzed things up a little bit.
Must admit I was a bit of a skeptic and saw the exercise as a little bit of a ‘pipe dream’ for the developer. Using dice as the backbone of a game, a board game at that, didn’t seem to me to be the height of cutting edge, and I wondered if there was a market for such a product. Stuart (his last name escapes me), the inventor of Dice Man, was positively contagious in his excitement, so we gave the project our all, and when we were completed wished him the best (I was never quite convinced that this game would see the light of day). The Logo Factory can be pretty fast-paced at times, so once the artwork files were shipped, the game fell off our radar as we moved on to numerous new projects.
A couple of Christmases later, I was at our local Toys R Us, looking for some presents for the kids, and what should I find in the board game section but pristine copies of Dice Man, in all their plastic-wrapped glory. Felt a little guilty for doubting the potential of the game, and decided that judging a board game’s success or marketability probably wasn’t my bag after all. Much to my later regret, I didn’t pick up a copy, and other than telling the gang at the shop “you’re never going to believe what I saw at Toys R Us“, didn’t give the game any further thought.
Until this morning when I stumbled onto this listing on Board Game Geek, a website devoted to famous and obscure board games alike. While Dice Man has long since disappeared from Toys R Us shelves, looks like it’s carved out a place in board game history with true aficionados. And go figure – Dice Man also won the Swedish gaming industry’s Årets Spel (Game of the Year) in the 2001 Children’s category. Looks like some congrats are in order.
And I should really think twice about doubting clients and their pipe dreams.
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