Game layout

We love it when our customers adapt our games and make them their own. We’ve seen bespoke invitations, badges, items, handouts and character booklets. In fact, I think that anything that could be customised has been customised.

 Of course, we’re slightly embarrassed that our basic layout isn’t a bit better. But we’re the first to admit that design layout isn’t our strength (our strength is, we hope, writing and developing hugely entertaining murder mystery party games).

Despite appearances, we do think about layout quite a bit. For example, we know that our games are often played in dim lighting by people whose eyesight probably isn’t as good as it once was. So we try to make sure our game materials are clear and easy to read. (Black text on a white background might not be trendy, but it’s clear and easy to read.)

Hollywood Lies Character Pack
A typical character pack from Hollywood Lies

Our games’ layout has also changed (and improved, we think) over the years. So we’ve combined the abilities, secrets and information into the main character files so reduce the number of different pieces of paper. (Unfortunately we still need to update the old games – there’s just too much to do!)

We’ve dipped our toe into the murky waters of “professionally designed” layouts with A Dead Man’s Chest. We have to be honest, we’re not completely convinced by the result. And sales are basically no different from before the change – which is encouraging as it suggests that the quality of our games is more important than how they look. But it has meant that we haven’t rushed to getting all our games professionally laid out.

Plus if the look of our games were “better”, it might take away our customers’ opportunity to be creative with the components.

In case you’re wondering how that works, we don’t use anything fancy for our layouts. Mo uses Microsoft Word and Steve uses Libreoffice and then we create pdfs from them. The big advantage of using a standard system is that we can provide the original files if one of our customers wants to customise their party. That’s not so easy if all we have is an Adobe InDesign file from a professional.

We’re occasionally talk about exploring other layouts for our games – but to be honest we’re unlikely to change the formula without good reason.

This entry was posted in Design on by .

About Steve Hatherley

Steve is one half of Freeform Games and wrote Death on the Gambia, The Roswell Incident, Hollywood Lies (and its seasonal variants Halloween Lies and Christmas Lies). He has edited many, many others. He lives in Yorkshire, England with his wife, daughter and dog.

4 thoughts on “Game layout

  1. Doris Arnett-Gary

    I think your layout is fine, it definitely does allow for creativity! If you changed it I’d probably make it my own anyway :-). I’ve probably done 9 or 10 games and the layout has never been an issue. Don’t spend extra money if you don’t have to! 🙂

  2. Gavin Stockden

    I have had a problem before with older people who were not really able to read the character sheets.

    It might be nice if there was a large print option.. But not completely necessary. As long as we can get the original files we can do that ourselves?

    1. Mo Holkar

      Yes, absolutely, Gavin. It would be awkward for us to have to maintain a separate large-print version of each of our games, but we’re very happy to let customers enlarge the print themselves from the original files as required.


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