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On Design

So, some thoughts on design, inspired by a new logo and subsequent redesign of the Lensflare web page. Which, presumably, you're looking at right now (unless enough time has passed that either the logo or web page has changed again, of course).

I suppose the first question that a reader might have is... Why the new logo in the first place? That's not really a difficult question, though. It's because the old logo was crap. Not because it was ugly or anything, but because it was less a logo than 3D art. It looked fine in the loading screen of a game, or on a screen in general, but it was useless for print (e.g., for business cards), too busy to be iconic and just all around inflexible for general use. Basically I wanted something new that worked well for all of those things.

So, What Did I Do?

Several things: I made a new logo. I made a design and picked a font that suited it. I updated the web page to use the new logo, and mirrored the color scheme. I repeated aspects of the logo for various decorative elements (i.e., the hexagons in the header and footer bars, the simplified version of the logo in the upper left, also used for the favicon). I also replaced the generic sans-serif fonts with a font I've been using in the games, re-colored the TSC page (because, eh, the green was too much, I guess). I re-did the fonts on the Elexi, EM16, and TSC pages to match the fonts I use in-game. Well, in the case of TSC, they're actually the fonts I'm using in TSC2, and in the case of EM16, they're actually the fonts I'll probably use in EM20 (because I can't actually get the fonts I used in the games on the web trivially — or legally, most likely — they're iOS/OSX system fonts).

The Logo and Process

It's probably safe to say that if my design process isn't unique, it's certainly pretty unusual. Starting with the logo itself, let's call it "logo design as code" (riffing off of "infrastructure as code," which was a thing — and the whole reason for its existence, actually — at my old company, Chef).

It's not the design itself. That's pretty straightforward. I mean, it started with hexagons — I do strategy games, so there had to be hexagons. Although, ironically, none of the three games I've done so far use hexagons. Or even the next five games I'll do (judging by the more-or-less fleshed out design docs I have). Hexagons evoke the right strategic feel, though. So, hexagons: check.


There also had to be a lensflare. So I made a stylized version of that with the hexagons, and added lines to make it blindingly(!) obvious what I was doing. Then added the text, and voilà! A logo.

For color... I actually designed the logo originally in greyscale, because to be completely honest, I was designing for print first. Why? Because I need new business cards and I didn't want them to look like crap.[1] But I needed a colorized version too (for digital). For that, I started with the yellow (or gold, really) I've been using for the name all along (for decades — Lensflare existed long before there was a game company to match. Although I did slightly switch things up by using an HSV-specified color close to the old RGB I was using). I kept it to a three-color palette (all using colors with a yellow base for a consistent feel), with a red-orange for the central flare and blue-ish cyan-teal for the reflections.[2] Gold for the lines to match the text.

The result is kind of bold and iconic (in a geometric sense), with quite a bit of a retro sixties/seventies graphic design feel to it, I think (both in terms of color and overall design). Obviously I like it, or I wouldn't have kept it. Other people may hate it (who knows?) but the second opinions I've gotten so far are broadly positive.

The more interesting part (to me, anyway) is how I actually made the logo. Being me, I wrote a program that generated it; you might say the logo specifications or the reference design is the code itself (here if you actually want to see it). One result of that is that the logos on the web page are raw SVG, not images. Which I suppose might make it a bit harder for people to copy it (meaning for articles and such if we got coverage — I doubt many sites are set up to deal with including SVG. As for actually copying the SVG itself, that's trivial. It's both served on the web page and in the site source code itself which I obviously don't make any particular effort to hide). The other result of that is that if anyone is still using IE8, I've basically told them to go jump in a fire, because they can't see the logo or any of the decorative bits on the page. And I basically don't care (I think the page will actually degrade fine for them, though, other than that). If it turns out it's a bigger problem, generating images from the SVG is no big deal, but so far I mostly haven't bothered.

One last technical note: all of the fonts I'm using are Google fonts. You can see in the page source or on Github which ones I'm using for what. You can also read the credits in Elexi to see which ones I used there; TSC2 will be the same.

Other News

Development on TSC2 has more or less crawled to a halt for a couple reasons, not least of which is that I'm looking for a full-time day job. In the short term, it will probably pick up again in the immediate future (watching youtube videos on data-oriented design, which while not 100% applicable to what I do have at least been inspiring), but whenever I do start a full-time job it will probably come to a complete halt for a while, and thereafter go at least somewhat slowly (as it will be back to being a spare-time sort of thing, i.e., as time and energy permit). But we'll see how things go.

Also, methinks I should probably strive to post something a bit more often here. I ought to be able to handle doing at least one post a month; my posting schedule has been pretty pathetic here of late.

[1] So! Here at last is the real reason I made a new logo. Now you know the truth.

[2] Honesty compels me to admit that originally I'd started with a blue-gold dichromatic scheme which is almost a cliche with the 3D art I've done — I've used that pairing so often. But I ended up backing off the blues in this case because the red central flare just didn't fit that, making everything riff on primary yellow instead.


Tags: design, lensflare, tsc2, web development

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These are Doug's bloggish thoughts on game development, specifically on the games he's writing for Lensflare, or on Lensflare-related topics more generally. Or whatever he wants to write here, really, but those are the sorts of things to expect. Doug has strong opinions (loosely held) about many things — he could claim that he doesn't speak for Lensflare Games, but that'd be silly considering that (for all practical purposes) he is Lensflare Games. Still (for what little it matters) he's not always wearing that hat here. And yes, this is an actual picture of Doug (okay, not really, but the story behind it is too long to go into right now).

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