Card games

Shape Up! textless question

One thing I’d like to do with Shape Up! is to not have any text on the cards. Partly to allow people who don’t read English to play it, and partly because it seems that it should be possible to present a pretty abstract game like this more elegantly without text.

I’ve found it surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly) difficult. Take a look at this:

Textless Shape Up! test
The textless version on the left is supposed to convey the same information as the current version on the right (except reds rather than blues). It’s not clear to me that it (a) does so, and (b) doesn’t look horrible. I’m having real difficulty with communicating eg the concept of ‘reds, but they might be star, triangle or square, and they might be hollow or solid’ in an iconic image.

(Star has replaced circle as one of the three shapes, if you remember that from earlier versions.)

I guess it doesn’t really matter, because the game is playable as is, and the scoring is fairly clear if you read the rules and see the examples therein. But I have a nagging feeling that there is a good illustration out there, and I just haven’t found it yet. Any ideas?

17 replies on “Shape Up! textless question”

Didn’t realise circle wasn’t a pattern, so I guess you were trying that, just that I expect circle to be NOT square, star etc, whereas a blob may not be such a strong category

If half shade doesn’t suggest full/emtpy, then similar problem with dots, unless you can do a gradient dots pattern, which might be hard in such a small icon

Mm, I’d agree that something less “shapey” would be nice for the non-shape specific icon – maybe what I think of as a “splat” shape?

I do think that the text-free version is less clear, and also very cluttered-looking. I can understand the appeal of making it text-free, but don’t have any useful suggestions on how to do the “+1” bit cleanly, thus reducing the clutter.

Yes, I guess the underlying problem is that the scoring system itself is not very elegant. I introduced the “+1” bit because a lot of games ended up tied on the basic scores, but maybe there was a better way of getting round that.

Mm, I did initially try dots, but it ended up looking like a fainter solid colour: the size is the problem, as you say.

Good idea about an indistinct shape, a ‘cloud’ type of thing maybe?

I like an ink drop, that’s good. Still not sure how best to represent ‘could be solid-colour or hollow’ upon that, but at least it has an area to work with.

I guess these images have a transparent background – and I read my friends’ list on a page with a black background. Boy that was confusing for a while 🙂

Having pondered this for a bit and not come up with anything great, my current thinking is that the solid/outline coding is really where the problem arises.

The way I’d fix this (which is not to say it’s necessarily a recommendation) is to ditch solid and hollow in favour of two patterns. Stripey and spotty, perhaps? This then lets you use solid shapes for all your icons except the pattern icons, which can be circles with the corresponding patterns in.

Also, I’d be inclined to use ” x3″ in place of ” “. Whilst numerals are sort of alphabetical I think they’re sufficiently widely understood that the improved elegance makes up for the reduced accessibility. (I assume the game will still come with a rulebook?)

I would have just the first item in each scoring, with a generic +1 icon to remind people that longer lines score more (plus noted in rules, of course). That might be cleaner.

Excellent, this looks a lot better already I think:

I’m not sure about ditching the repetition of the symbol, because it is important for people to remember that they must be 3 reds adjacent in a straight line, not just any old reds * 3 somewhere on a row or column. Hopefully that would be intuitively obvious (and so stick in the mind after reading it in the rules), but I had one playtester on Saturday who tried to score (a) three reds separated by other colours, and (b) an elbow-shaped group. So I’m a bit wary unless people feel it looks truly hideous.

I like that apart from the fact that there’s only one dot in each of the circular “dotty shape” icons. I realise they’ll be very small on the cards, but I think without at least two dots it looks a bit like an eyeball!

because it is important for people to remember that they must be 3 reds adjacent in a straight line, not just any old reds

Good point – I hadn’t considered that aspect.

Maybe it would look nicer if you vertically aligned all the ‘=’ and all the score numbers in each column? (And possibly right-justified the rows of things. Not sure.)

Mm, I think right-aligned does look a bit better:

I’ll have a think about the dot pattern. Suspect to get more than one in, they may get unidentifiably tiny. Hmm.

(And that’s what the striped fill will look like at small size.)

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