Game Manual Design Development

I’ve started off designing the manual with the front cover, because it seemed like a good place to start. I wanted this to be similar to the opening screen of the game, so I started off by making a higher resolution version of the game’s logo. I tested out various ways that I could make the Hanko stamp in Illustrator, using various line styles and shapes.

Hanko stamps seem to come mainly in either square, circle or oval, although on some sites I’ve found rectangular ones. The problem with using Hiragana instead of the more appropriate Kanji is that it needs some sort of alignment to make sense, otherwise I would rearrange the letters to make a formation that best fit any of these shapes! For this reason, I felt that a rectangle would be best. I tested each shape out with the title, and definitely felt that rectangle suited best.

To accompany the logo, I’ve also been working on a background image for the pages of the manual. This pattern is based on the auspicious cloud patterns I researched earlier for cloud design. I used the pen tool in illustrator to create this outline first:

I’ve then adapted this in Photoshop. I’ve created two variations- one for the cover and a more subtle version to be used on the other pages of the manual. The more subtle variation uses a white version of this outline with a very pale purple background. This is the same colour as the menus and the title screen in the game.

The version I’ve made for the front cover is slightly more elaborate. I’ve used darker colours to closely resemble the game’s title screen, and I’ve merged the line colour with the background colour. I originally planned to place the logo in the first third of the grid, but after a little rearranging and testing I realised it actually had much more impact in the centre. I don’t want to add anything more to the cover now, so it makes sense to sit in the centre of the page.

I’ve started filling in the first few pages of the manual, but haven’t finished any single page yet. The contents page is looking the most finished right now, as there wasn’t much to put in it in the first place! I’m working on little bits like the number tabs on the side of the page which resemble the style of the game’s GUI to keep the document consistent with the game.

One addition I’ve made since I wrote up the original contents is a “travel guide” in the back, which contains a table of Hiragana and a few Japanese phrases that the player can look out for in the game, although not everything will be included. If the player really wanted to, they could use the Hiragana table and run the romaji through a translator to see what comes up. This could turn up some pretty good results. As a test, I ran one of the phrases I’ve used through Google Translate and ended up with this:

I have it under good authority that the phrase I typed, “onaka ga suite imasen”, means “I am not hungry”, although obviously this doesn’t translate well literally!


Again, apologies for the offensive way that I try to represent a similarity to kanji… Here I’ve tried to write “Week 15: Nihongo ga dekimasu”, which roughly translates as “I speak Japanese”, which above all else is a lie, although the little bits that I do know have been pretty useful today!

One of the things I realised probably should have been given more attention in the new time plan is a main menu for the game. I realised that before I could really go on to start preparing for physical designs, I had to give the game a real identity, and this is normally seen for the first time in the game’s opening screen/main menu (where there isn’t a physical casing involved!). A while ago I started out planning ideas for the game’s logo, mainly working out typographical layout solutions to combine a simple title with a small hiragana subtitle. So far I’ve been using the typeface Dejavu Sans for pretty much EVERYTHING, from use on this blog and in my devlog videos to in-game typography (although this becomes very distorted with the anti-aliasing off). I picked the font out a while ago for the Pecha Kucha because it was clear and clean, which made it great for the presentation. I felt that it set a neat tone for the game, as I was hoping to avoid creating messy graphics, and it suits contemporary Japanese “Zen minimalism”. So I’ve rolled with the font until now, and I was also planning to use it for the game’s logo, although I did stray a little into wandering what other typefaces would look and feel like…

The one that I felt worked best was probably the first design I made where the hiragana sits on top of the title, although I wasn’t really sure about the placement of any sort of logo or icon like the sakura blossom in the dot of the i.

The other typographical ideas I had were based more on traditional Japanese writing styles. The logo for the Wii game Okami does this very well using traditional black, white and red, where the red is also a representation of the Japanese flag (if only I’d got there first…)

You’ll also notice the little red mark at the end of the text. As far as I’m aware, this is a Japanese Hanko, which is like an official stamp used as a signature in Japan. Where there is handwriting in traditional Japanese texts, you will often see a little red stamp below it to mark who wrote it. The ink used to write was traditionally black, which is why the colour scheme seems so Japanese! I felt as though I should change the Hiragana in my logo to red, and started to experiment with brush-written typefaces to compare the effectiveness in context.

The problem with introducing this style here however is that the rest of the game would be very inconsistent, and I don’t like to use more typefaces than necessary in any one project. I started to like the hand-written look of the title, but decided that I couldn’t really use the same font for the menu’s options without changing fonts throughout the rest of the game. I feel like the hand-painted style typography is more appropriate to the game than the contemporary Dejavu sans, but should be restricted to the main title and not body copy. I found another typeface called Paul’s Kanji which I felt suited the game and had a very hand-written look, so I started to experiment with some new layouts using this font. Without adapting the typeface, the logo started looking more like this:

However, I’ve adapted it slightly for legibility and to keep it simple:

I also tried this font out written vertically, as traditionally Japanese test was often written in columns:

I haven’t managed to find a similar style font for the Japanese Hiragana subtitle here yet, but I may work on drawing over this myself to keep the style going. I will either make it appear in brush strokes or in the style of a Hanko. For in game uses, I’ve created a pixel version of this logo to keep the retro themes running throughout. For the main menu screen, I’ve used a silhouette of one of my Sakura tree designs to emulate a Japanese inked painting and used the vertical style logo at one side. The image below isn’t the finished title screen, but starts to set the basis for the game’s identity which can be applied elsewhere. The spotlight-style circle shape is taken from the still images I have been drawing for the game’s introduction, and I’m planning to use a similar effect where large still images are concerned throughout the game.

When placed in the game, the “main menu” will appear in front of the tree beside the logo, giving the player the options to start, load or quit the game. For the rest of this week I want to finish this and the rest of the game’s introduction slideshow, and from here continue to use the game’s emerging identity for other game elements and physical designs. As the Font River site suggests, I would like to thank Paul for his great work.