Cover Story

Cover - 501 - All 4 versions - 080318As I previously posted, we’ve had to change the name of our game, Center Stage, to Upstaged. As I’m writing this, I feel overall the name change has been a blessing in disguise. “Upstaged” seems to really bring out the excitement that I want the game to elicit, and it seems a bit more marketable.

I recently took to Facebook via Koalatie’s FB page, some board game development groups, and my own personal page to ask opinions on what cover we should go with for the game. The results were a little surprising.



For the cover we use the logo as a stage for the artists to perform on, and we use an upside down microphone (you know, like a mic dropping) as an exclamation point at the end of the logo. Also, in this iteration of the cover we are featuring the silhouettes of the singers as well (thanks for the suggestion, Anthony Juarez!). Our goal is that when people first glance at the box, we want it to not only catch their eye, but for them to immediately know that the game has a music theme and is competitive.



I posted four different cover choices on Facebook for people to pick from:

Cover - 501 - All 4 versions - 080318
Cover A) Blue, light rays going up
Cover B) Rainbow, light rays going up
Cover C) Red, light rays going up
Cover D) Red, light rays going down

Then I let people respond and I tallied their responses in a Google spreadsheet.

Since there are people that voted for more than one cover, or they preferred one cover over the other, I created a simple rating system to help me analyze the information further. If a person voted for two covers as their first choice, both of those choices received 4 points. If they had a preference of one cover over another, their first choice received 4 points, and their next choice received 3 points. If they did not mention a cover option as one of their choices, that cover received 0 points.



Total responses: 91

Points Rating
Cover - 501 - Blue, Rays Up - 080318 copy 62 0.17
Cover - 501 - Rainbow, Rays Up - 080318 copy
241 0.66
Cover - 501 - Red, Rays Up - 080318 copy
84 0.23
Cover - 501 - Red, Rays Down - 080318 copy
53 0.15



Choice B, “Rainbow, light rays going up,” won by a landslide. Overall, it had the most first place votes as well. A majority of voters also did not pick more than one cover.

However, just to make sure, I developed a simple formula to create a more accurate reflection of the relative rating strength of the covers compared to the others:

(Number of Points / 4) / Number of Respondents = Relative Rating

Using this formula, the highest Relative Rating score theoretically would be a “1.00.”

As you can see, the results essentially told the same story. Of note, cover C did get a lot of second place votes.


Recommendations and Thoughts

Rainbow wasn’t even an option until a week before the survey. The only reason it became an option is because during a live blind playtest, one of the playtesters, Diane, suggested that the cover be rainbow to reflect the different colors of the music genres in the game. I wasn’t keen on the idea since I thought it would look gaudy. But for those that know me, especially in this game design process, if an idea is simple to explore, then I’m going to try it to a certain degree, even if I don’t necessarily agree with it. You never know what it may lead to.

Tony Wang, our wonderful graphic artist, was able to do the rainbow in a classy way. Furthermore, it really brought out the silhouettes. I think, most importantly, it stands out. It stands out among the four covers, and it stands out on a shelf full of games. Just so you know, Tony and I both were very skeptical about the idea, but after seeing the whole project on a table, well, yeah. table presence!

Also, I believe that the rainbow color scheme resonates most with my target audience — the casual and non-gamers. I am developing Upstaged as a gateway game, meaning, a game that is used to introduce someone to the modern tabletop board game. I think that many respondents on my personal FB post are these people, and the rainbow drew them in the most. Let’s hope it has the same effect on the casual audience when the game goes to Kickstarter, and ultimately, on store shelves.


A Couple Asides About Color Choices

In general, my favorite color is blue. And I know some people voted on certain colors simply because of it’s their favorite. For example, I bleed blue and gold because I am a Bruin. In fact, some people who contributed to the voting specifically did not pick any of the red options because it looked maroon and yellow, you know, USC colors. I’m glad to know that by picking rainbow, they may not disown me as a friend.

When rainbow was becoming the clear choice going forward, the thought did cross my mind to do a variation on the rainbow. Namely, making the color scheme roughly imitate the colors and design of the Philippine flag. I am Filipino. I was thinking it would be nice to somehow incorporate an homage to my country of ethnic origin. However, I decided against it because the whole spirit of us using silhouettes instead of fully drawn images of people for the singer cards is that by being vague, we can truly be all inclusive. Perhaps I’ll write a blog post soon about the silhouettes and how we got there, but yeah, it has become very important for us as a team that we are using silhouettes. Luckily, when compared to many other themes, silhouettes just work well with a music-themed game. I’m not ruling out the possibility of paying homages to things in my life that I love such as Filipino culture through my games in the future. I mean, after all, both games that we are developing right now deal with music, which has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. But for now, I felt it was important to have the cover of our first game be as inviting to everyone as possible.



box-15_125x125x30-1_v2_RAINBOW - 08-12-18We’ve made some slight adjustments to the rainbow cover art so far. Namely, Tony brought the bright color all the way to the top of the box now so the silhouettes stand out more, and just some minor spacing things for the text. Tony also created the corresponding runways that attach to the box, and we tested the look on the table during a playtest event along with one of the red ones. Yes, many gamers like black tablecloths over their tables. However, I think the rainbow colored one looks striking in comparison on any table. Barring any other disaster or amazing epiphany, it’s what we’re going with moving forward.

As I mentioned above, there is a Koalatie Facebook page that you can click to and like. I’ll admit, I’m not much of a Twitter guy (more on that in an upcoming article, What’s in a Name: Part 3), but FB I’m cool with. I’ve also started an official Upstaged FB page if you’d like to join and check out the latest progress and discussion on Upstaged as we move forward in the development and marketing processes.

Finally, I just want to thank everyone who took time out of their schedule to give me their opinion. Hopefully it gave you a little something different to do during your busy day and something fun to look at. Maybe you’ll even give Upstaged a try some time 😉



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