Hey everybody! I’m Nick, graphic designer and developer for Root: Underworld. Writing isn’t exactly my strong suit, but today I want to talk about my relationship with Root, Leder Games, and my experience transitioning from being strictly a graphic designer to both a graphic designer and developer.
When I joined Leder Games in February of last year, I was nervous. The team was finalizing Root, and I was going to be primarily getting it ready for the factory and doing layout for Vast: The Mysterious Manor. These would be by far the largest projects I’d ever worked on. I remember being assigned to lay out the punchboard for Root. I worked slowly and diligently, reviewing the files over and over and over again, with my main goal being to simply avoid mistakes.
Once Root was sent off, Cole (as developer) and I (as graphic designer) were tasked to finish Vast: The Mysterious Manor. What started as another layout task quickly shifted before my eyes.
Being involved in this game earlier in the process, I saw how different graphic design for board games could be. I saw an opportunity to elevate the work I was doing, but this required greater changes. With the trust of Patrick and Cole, I started making more edits to mechanisms to improve not only visual clarity but conceptual clarity. The line between graphic design and game design started to blur. I was finding ways to link systems together by changing component designs. “Editing” extended beyond layout and leaked into rules. The result was a game where mechanisms inform graphic design and vice versa.
As I felt more confidence in my process,Cole and Patrick, asked me to be the developer on Root: Underworld. Patrick had already finished the preliminary design for the factions, and Root's graphical and visual language had been established. So again my goals shifted—now I wanted to distill what Patrick had created into its purest form. This process started to resemble my graphic design process, and I treated it as such. Similar to doing a rebrand, I cast a wide net of possibilities in building iterations and variants. When doing this, it’s not about each iteration being perfect, but rather to see what can be changed while maintaining its original identity. My computer has more than ten versions of both the Crows and the Moles, and I can look to those anytime our current version is falling flat or losing some edge. Doing that work upfront when you’re excited and have the energy to ideate pays huge dividends later on.
I've learned so much and I’m just so thankful for the support from the community as well as my coworkers. I can’t wait to share all of our hard work and passion with those who love the game as much as we do!
Also, there are many questions popping up in the comments and Kickstarter messages and it is very difficult for us to track. If you have any questions or concerns please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.