The design process of a playing piece.

Now that summer is here, and I've got some more free time on my hands, I decided it was time to make some headway on my board game Politeia again. What I really needed now was to make some pieces to represent the Poleis or city states that the players were to control.

Each faction needs a unique building that they will feel the urge to defend. My design process started with a few principles; I needed a good silhouette to distinguish the pieces at a glance; then I needed something striking and unique to capture the player's imagination.

The first step was to set up some tiles and start making multiple forms to get a sense of what the scale would do to the forms, and to see what kinds of shapes would be permissible at all. The conclusion from this exercise was that a bigger bulkier form made more sense. It seemed more stationary and imposing, and achievement to take down.

After this was done I had some sketching and thinking to do. To make the forms as distinguishable as possible, I wanted one form based on a cylinder, one on a pyramid and the last one on a square.

I happened to have some time during church service, as I had to take care of my son, and while sitting with the other children, drawing, came to think of the minaret of Samarra, a circular spire stretching far into the air, and inspiration to Doré's interpretation of the tower of babel. I sketched it from memory in the lower left corner. The next step would be to work on the idea to get a feel for it.

At home, that same evening, I sat down to paint and draw the form. I found that the angle of the envelopes would have to be shallow - but that I liked the overall shape. I decided to try to make a clay model of it.

The following day I made this new clay model. This exact one is too big for the game, but I think the overall shape is where I want it to be. The idea stage of this process is important; swift iteration and an overall approach; but now I have come to the stage where the process shifts to one of refinement. But that will be for part two of this post.