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BESM 3 cover - BESM 3 — LiveJournal
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BESM 3 cover

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.
10 comments :: Leave a comment
jcfiala From: jcfiala Date: January 22nd, 2007 04:58 am (UTC) (Link)
I actually have always thought of the cover as being pretty good. In addition to everything you said, the boxes floating on the side remind me of the bubbles on the GURPS 3rd edition cover.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 22nd, 2007 05:13 am (UTC) (Link)

Eraser Phrases

I never said the cover was crap, far from it. I just think I could have done better ith the logo and the "designy" elements. Of course that's mostly because of my own tastes in graphic design. Either way, a cover I can change, it's the content I'm after.
From: strongblade Date: January 22nd, 2007 05:42 am (UTC) (Link)


While my initial reaction to the cover was 'meh'. And (not unlike the previous anonymous poster, I'm big on graphical design elements and layouts) so it never really grabbed me. After seeing inside the book I am more in tune with it. The font matches the book in a consistant and clean way. I could go either way with the squares (although knowing now that this was to be a common theme of bold geometric graphics throughout the planned series of books allows me to see it in a more positive light).

And of course, I have fallen in love with Geyer's art style which is awesome (IMHO).

The cover is very good. About the only part that (for me) I would have done differently is the double-oval where the title is. Admittedly, I can't think of what exactly I would have done different. If anything I would have simply done a single oval or maybe kept the square motif going a bit more. Or maybe just had the logo without ovals. But based on positioning, it would have been harder to read if it printed over the character's hair.

Overall, knowing the idea behind the series of books, the overall design makes more sense and I could visualize how well the pieces would work. I like the cover better now that I've seen more of how all the elements come together.

On it's own, as 'just a cover' I wouldn't think much of it. As a series of covers, as well as seeing the inside layout and design of the book itself it is quite fitting and works quite well.

Now that I look at it, the double-oval kind of looks to mimic the ∞ symbol on the Skeleton Key's head in a way...
From: vaklam Date: January 22nd, 2007 03:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like the cover! I'm going to buy BESM3 regardless of what's on the front but I agree with all the points you made above. Also, red is a good choice. It should stand out amongst all the whites, browns and blacks I see on so many other RPG covers.

I like the portrait. The subject has just the right combination of "whimsical" and "badass" that I'm looking for in an Anime-based game.

Good work!
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 22nd, 2007 11:18 pm (UTC) (Link)


It's good to see you around Mark. I think many of us are just pleased that we will be able to take this buggy out for a spin. Thanks for finding a publisher.

mike_mccall From: mike_mccall Date: January 23rd, 2007 07:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
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).

That makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately, she doesn't say "dimensional traveller" to me. She looks a lot more like a typical magical girl, only with a sword. So it misses the point a little.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 26th, 2007 08:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just wanted to say that I love the cover and it's proposed Vanilla variant. In fact the whole book is beautiful. I miss the smaller size of the previous editions but the hardcover makes up for the bigger size. Well done.

nelc From: nelc Date: January 27th, 2007 01:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
The illustration is striking, and I have no problem with that. Where it falls down is the game title, which is just meh.

I'd've made it bigger (say about +40%), used a different font, and maybe centralised it. Either the font should be more scrawly, or more... mmm, cultured, neater. As it is, it looks unfinished. As a designer of miniscule repute myself, I keep wanting to reach into that title and do something more to it.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 14th, 2007 04:52 am (UTC) (Link)

Interior layout

I think the cover is very bright and dynamic. It would definitely grab a book browser's attention.

Then the theme is carried on into the interior of the book.
The off center title and sidebar boxes. The use of bright primary colors. The scrawled font. And the awesome art.
It's all informal and professional at the same time.

The whole visual theme makes me want to *play* with the game, rather than just *work* with it like most other systems.

Great job!!
Now I'm going to get out some crayons so I can draw my characters. :P
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 30th, 2009 02:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

BESM 3 Cover + other stuff

I always really liked the cover for the 3rd edition. I wasn't happy to see the game end. I'm actually attempting to start a campaign now and have been trying to find a character generation program to assist my players in char creation.
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