When Arthaus released the cover image of BESM 3, many on the net expressed their displeasure and wondered why such a shitty choice was made. "Surely you could have done better!" some exclaimed!
Well, the cover was designed by Adam Jury with consultation with me ... and it is exactly what I was hoping for. So I'll have to disagree that it's a crap cover.
Fans will naturally look at a cover in a completely different light that I needed to, since I was approaching it from a marketing point of view. In such a competitive industry with thousands of products released each year, it was vital to build the relaunch of BESM 3 as a strongly identifiable visual brand as well as a game brand. This brand would have several distinguishing features that would help it stand out on shelves:
1. A single strong character focus. For the core book, we featured a Skeleton Key character archetype (dimensional traveller) that displayed visual elements from many genres/worlds. This helped reinforce the game as a multi-genre anime game. For future supplements/world books, we would feature a Key character archetype from each relevant world (for example, a demon Key on the Bazaroth/horror book).
2. Strong distinct logo in the top 1/3 of the book. This is essential to ensure that the title can be seen when shelved on a tiered rack (like how comics are displayed).
3. Strong, duo-tone colour theme that will stand out. The red of the core book is so strong that it is easily identifiable from a very long distance away. The duo-tone format provides a unique brand identifier for the line, so that even when we used different colours for each supplement (duo-blue, duo-green, duo-purple, etc.), the line maintains a uniformity.
4. Abstract elements (squares) that are intended to be more designy than illustrative. Squares on the core book, circles or lightning or triangles on others. The design adds balance to the offset character and provides a more modern appearance.
5. The BESM logo itself was chosen for it's modern/graffiti/sk8r style. Something a little edgier and less rigid (but still readable) was created to position BESM as a brand in touch with the newer generation of gamers and anime fans, rather than one that reached back to the old-school gamer.
While you may not agree that BESM 3 is an exceptionally strong cover, you cannot deny that a lot of thought when into its design. We weren't just creating a game, we were creating a brand ... and we envisioned a line of books that would form a strong visual identity as a whole, yet were unique unto themselves (with distinct colours identifying each supplement).
I think we succeeded, and that Adam did a great job. Unfortunately, the line will not materialise as we envisioned, so the BESM 3 cover must stand on its own.
Which I think it does proudly.