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Magnetic Billiards: Blueprint


Icon v2.0?

Blog posted by Ste Pickford on Wed, 14 Dec 2011
Subject: Magnetic Billiards: Blueprint

Ste Pickford

This is either the best graphic I've ever drawn, or the worst. I've no idea any more!

It's an idea for a new icon for Blueprint on iOS, for version 2.0 which we're just finishing up at the moment.

It makes me laugh when I look at it, so maybe it's a winner?

The image shows the new icon graphic at more or less full size, then at the size it would appear in iTunes on PC / Mac, then at the smaller size on an iPad screen, with the current version of the icon shown for comparison.

I was never quite sure about the original icon. It's nice and colourful and eye-catching, and the both the rainbow background and the blueprint drawing are both actual graphics from within the game, but somehow it doesn't really represent the game. I always worry that people might click on it expecting one thing, then be disappointed that the game isn't what the icon suggested.

The problem is that images directly from the game itself don't make great screenshots or icon images. Perversely, in the modern world of video games, we didn't start out with an idea that made great screenshots for marketing, instead we designed a game that played really well, but which doesn't necessarily look great in static images. I struggled with the design for the original icon as I started out trying to do something more descriptive of the game, but it looked rubbish (click the image to view my original icon concepts).

We're making a lot of changes to the product for v2.0, so I thought refreshing the icon would be a good idea, and a couple of people have complained that they didn't like the original icon. There's also some vague received wisdom I've picked up that supposedly changing your icon can give your sales a boost, and also that icons with 'eyes' in can increase sales as well.

We're really into the idea of emphasising the 'home made' aspect of our indie games, which is why we've put ourselves in Blueprint so much. Not because we're big-headed and want to be famous, but because we want to put a human face to the developers, rather than a faceless corporation or anonymous studio. Extending this to the icon seems like the right thing to do.

I'm sure there's a danger that a beardy bloke smiling out from the icon will put off a percentage people browsing the App Store, but at the same time hopefully it will look different and fresh and funny enough to attract a different percentage of people to click on it as well?

It's never been our aim to simply make the most commercial products possible by copying whatever this year's hit games are doing, so we haven't got any cute birds with enormous eyes that we can stick on the icon. The whole point of us being 'indie' is to work on game concepts that are original, and that we can't make any other way, but at the same time it would be nice to make a living from the game we've made, so we're always up for ideas that will improve sales without compromising the product.

What do you think?


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It makes me think that it's a brain training game.

Also, I think it's too detailed. The actual size I'd see it at is about 1/4 of that size.


Another vote for "too complex". If people put the game in a folder on their iPad "desktop" (I do), they get an even tinier image to look at when the folder is shown. At present, the brightness of the current icon means it's still recognisable. I'd suggest a single feature from the game like a cluster or a ball being "buzzed", even if you have to fake the colours to make it look bright. I think there's no harm in using real-looking billiard balls - I'm sure people are happy to see the game images as representations rather than the real thing.



It actually looks okay on a real phone. I don't there's any requirement to resolve all the details if the main shapes are clear.

Does an icon need to explain the game or just catch your eye? I don't think you can tell the gameplay of Angry Birds from the icon.


No need to explain the gameplay in an icon. What I think is needed is a simple image that has a clear association with the app. If you think people associate MB with a ball more than your face, I reckon a ball or similar is the better icon.


While a little too busy, I guess it is more illustrative of actual gameplay and does catch your attention.


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