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> SR4 cover has it's problems, but......, The logo thread inspired this
blakkie
post Aug 9 2005, 01:30 PM
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I was typing up an addemdum to a post in the rate the logo thread, and it occured to me instead i was typing up what was good about the SR4 cover. Where it is an improvement over the past covers.

First, i'll start by the problem i have with the SR1/SR2 logo. When i first saw it on the FLGS shelf i look like some sort of stylised cow skull leading me to believe it was some sort of western genre game like Deadlands. In a full stuffed magazine rack display that logo at the top is more promenent than the picture below. That combined with the juxtiposition of the Pat Benitar gunfight is probably a very large factor in my passing it by at first.

It wasn't till i started playing SR that it occured to me that it was likely a Troll skull. A logo that relies on that much [edit]inside[/edit] info to gronk doesn't seem like a good marketing choice. Sadly the faux West Coast native "S" is another example of that, but to my eye isn't quite as bad at that. YMMV.

I'll also say that the SR3 cover art didn't do a lot for me either to pick up the game. As has been stated often here, the "cartoony" look didn't really put the hook on me.

The SR4 cover is far from perfect. But at least it better communicates what the game is about than SR3 did, and it doesn't have the logo clash that SR1/SR2 did. It covers the magic, the guns, the knives, the wireless VR, the tech (hoving upside down toaster, etc.), the dirty urban future (VTOL, rat, biomedical waste box, grafetti), the oriental influence (now with a bonus pronounciation Easter egg!), and the crime. It even manages to hint at stealth using the disabled camera top-right, something that is difficult and that the SR1/SR2 cover didn't do. It doesn't cover the shaman/hermetic angle much (maybe when viewing the book-in-hand that snake skull necklace on the troll will help? still weak i think), though past covers only had the knee-feather and Disneyized leather outfit in SR1/SR2 in that respect and that could have easily been misinterpreted as just another fashion victim statement.

EDIT: There isn't any hint at the oriental influence in the SR1/SR2 cover, is there? No trolls, orks, or dorfs either. Just a elve (because they look good when done up as an extra from Lost Boys?) and a wolfman in the background.

The natural placement of all the characters is really what made the SR1/SR2 cover (the second best thing IMO is the detail in the bottom left pile of garbage). The highpoint of the cover sure wasn't the glittering left hand of Pat Benitar. That was certainly a much weaker suggestion of magic, and given the pop cultural times made it more like a funked Micheal Jackson thing.

EDIT: The SR4 troll's casting, while better, looks a bit too much like a shock glove or something. Didn't anyone tell the artist that magic is -GREEN-! ;) Or at least magic has some extra swirlies and effects that are far to inefficient to be mistaken as some tech device.

If only the posing and placement of the 4 runners and the opponents felt more natural on the SR4 cover i'd be inclined to say it was very good job. It isn't the massive draw in flash, but the cover in total does talk about the SR world with less miscommunication to those that don't know the game.
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Critias
post Aug 9 2005, 02:07 PM
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Saying "it could have been worse" isn't the same as saying "this is a great cover that will really make people excited about the new edition, catch the eye of the unwary newb and drag them into Shadowrun, and generally look really cool."
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blakkie
post Aug 9 2005, 02:29 PM
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QUOTE (Critias @ Aug 9 2005, 08:07 AM)
Saying "it could have been worse" isn't the same as saying "this is a great cover that will really make people excited about the new edition, catch the eye of the unwary newb and drag them into Shadowrun, and generally look really cool."

Only i'm not saying either of those, i'm saying it is better at conveying what SR is than past covers. An art delight and all time classic cover, no. Able to get the job done of communicating what is inside, yes.

I'm taken back to the Mr. Plow Simpsons episode when he hires the arty director to do a high budget TV ad. After seeing it on TV....

Lisa: Was that your ad?
Homer: I don't know. *confused, sad, and fightened look*

If you flash without actually communicating what you are trying to sell that doesn't do you much good either, and frankly flash is much more subjective. So you communicate while keeping it from being straightout fugly on first glance. After the first notice personally i'm more inclined to then flip through the book than go on to do a detailed critique of the art. Plus frankly very little art is without the "WTF is that detail suppose to be?" factor showing up under scrutiny.

Outside of character posing/placement being a slight distracting fugly the SR4 cover does that very well, and i don't think the distraction is fatal flaw for doing it's job. I'm guessing that in it's physical form it will be more than passable cover.

P.S. Someone here mentioned their eye being drawn upwards. I'm not sure that is a particularly bad thing, since the logo is up there?
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Mugzy
post Aug 9 2005, 02:58 PM
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QUOTE (blakkie)


EDIT: There isn't any hint at the oriental influence in the SR1/SR2 cover, is there? No trolls, orks, or dorfs either. Just a elve (because they look good when done up as an extra from Lost Boys?) and a wolfman in the background.

The natural placement of all the characters is really what made the SR1/SR2 cover (the second best thing IMO is the detail in the bottom left pile of garbage). The highpoint of the cover sure wasn't the glittering left hand of Pat Benitar. That was certainly a much weaker suggestion of magic, and given the pop cultural times made it more like a funked Micheal Jackson thing.

Just to respond to this, why does the cover need an "Oriental Influence?" Being on the street doesn't necessarily mean you deal with a Japanacorp every single day or moment.

Frankly, I like the direction SR has took with dealing with that influence, and has got away from the "monolithic Japan rules the world" stereotype that already thrives in Cyberpunk 2020 and in Gibson's novels. Granted, they may have been quite the inspiration, but they're not the be all end all.

As for the picture, I dont think there need to be said influence at all. Even Japanese corporations wouldn't put a huge Japanese sign up in a largely non Japanese speaking area. It would be a waste of money.

It's presence to me smacks of anime-fanboi-dom (which is my own personal beef with anime, and I'll let that one lie)

I'm not so sure on this new cover. The thing that gets me is the Sammy's spur being on the wrong side of the arm. Other than that, I don't mind the picture overall. I can live with MC Hammer pants...


The old cover of SR1/2 wasn't perfect, but it fit with the times it was out. Magic was subtle, the 80's were still in, and it featured a few of the coolest runners out there: Dodger, Ghost-who-Walks, and Sally Tsung. Too bad, that by the time 2nd Ed hit, you couldn't "Run naked" in the matrix anymore as Dodger is.

Then again I could just be smokin the crack pipe a little much lately.
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Kagetenshi
post Aug 9 2005, 04:02 PM
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QUOTE (blakkie)
P.S. Someone here mentioned their eye being drawn upwards. I'm not sure that is a particularly bad thing, since the logo is up there?

It is a bad thing, since I was talking about the eye being drawn upwards past the logo and off into nothing in particular.

~J
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Shadow
post Aug 9 2005, 04:17 PM
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Blakkie, no matter how much you blindly praise the mistakes of SR4, I don't think there going to give you a free copy.

The SR4 cover is bad. Period. Saying its better than the previous cover is like saying Episode II wasn't as bad as Episode I (which it was). Its still bad. Nothing about it is worth having on your flagship book. The last three source books have all had covers that are far superior, both technically and artistically.

The only reasons I can imagine for going with this for the cover as opposed to something better are,

1. The artist is a friend (or family member) of someone who works for Fanpro.

2. They like it and feel it represents the new Shadowrun (cartoony and simplified)

Now I am not going to say the artist is bad. I am married to an artist, I know they have good work and bad. Sometimes work that initially seems really good turns bad after you look at it enough. I am just saying this piece (and the pieces of art we have seen from inside the book) are not their best work. And the flagship book of the new line should have the best of the best. That is if they want it to succeed.
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Birdy
post Aug 9 2005, 04:39 PM
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Mugzy, you didn't read much Cyberpunk 2020, did you? Aside from maybe a bad review?

There is one! major Japanase Con (Arasaka) and that's it.

Therer is an equal sized US corp (Militech) and a host of bigger fish, often from Europe or International (EBM, Raven Microcyb, Orbital Air, SovOil)

The US of Punk is the Paria Nation of the world, the big ones are the Euros, the Japs are the Hyenas

Birdy
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chevalier_neon
post Aug 9 2005, 04:43 PM
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QUOTE (Birdy)

The US of Punk is the Paria Nation of the world, the big ones are the Euros, the Japs are the Hyenas

Birdy

And that's how things should be ! :D

Why wasn't I born 60 years later...
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Mugzy
post Aug 9 2005, 04:55 PM
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Birdy - Guilty. Aside from conversations with players and whatnot, I was under the impression that it was very Japan-ruled. I suppose the guy just liked to use Arasaka an awful lot.

So, I guess I'm looking like the great immortal dork here....
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Nikoli
post Aug 9 2005, 04:57 PM
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Nah, that would require you to refuse to accept someone else's opinion as at least on par with your own for value
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Birdy
post Aug 9 2005, 05:07 PM
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QUOTE (Mugzy)
Birdy - Guilty. Aside from conversations with players and whatnot, I was under the impression that it was very Japan-ruled. I suppose the guy just liked to use Arasaka an awful lot.

So, I guess I'm looking like the great immortal dork here....

Actually if you play US you see a lot of Arasaka Security aka "The Black Lobsters". They are to CP what Atztech was to 1st/2nd Edition SR: The "really bad guys".

Actually they where not that bad. They would shoot at you, send a light BattleSuit at you, torture you a bit, beat up you parents, eat you dog, pull a scotsman on your pet sheep and similar minor stuff. 8)

The "good guys" aka Militech aks "Amerikas Arsenal" would shoot at you - with a Battletank, send in a Heavy BattleSuit, drop some cluster ammo on your parents home, killing your dog and pet sheep and look "The Good Guy" while doing so. :D

Early campaigns/scenarios overused the Aras a "bit".

The last campaign "Stormfront/Shockwave" overkilled them a bit :P


All in all, CP is a nice universe to borrow and steal from for CP use, even more if you use the "novell sourcebooks" based on books by Walter Jon Williams and Mr. Efflinger. It's also a slightly different take on what the characters are and where they stand. I.e Eurosource and EurosourcePlus come recommended for a "high level" campaign while NeoTribes and Home of the Brave get the same for a biker / tramp campaign

Birdy



Johny Silverhand once asked me, wether there was a difference between a corp boot on his head and a military one. I told him the military had far bigger boots.

Welcome to those king size boots!

(Morgan Blackhand, Shockwave)
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Steadfast
post Aug 9 2005, 05:12 PM
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Back to the issue at hand, he cover itself should inspire you to pick up the book, and read at least the backside of it, of what you shall find inside or rather what it is all about.
If a cover dos not get you to grab it in 10 seconds after the cover registered in your frontal lobe, its a) not your think anyway, or rather b) it misses the point completly.

Now, trying as I might I am biased in this as I know what I should expect from SR.
But, lets be objective here, what dos a youngster (meaning starting roleplayer, actual age probably clearly does not indicate that the person is young by age ;)), who may have not heard of the cyberpunk genre at all think if he sees this cover.

Allright, granted most of the ppl. who ARE interested in RPG have heard about SR, no sweat. Annyhow, the idea of a cover should not be to be an improvement of the last version or to be a NEW cover, just for NEWs-Sake.

So, Iam not sure, is the art by itself horrid? No, I guess not. Is the scene depicted absolutely terrible, from the RP-Univers POV? No, it can happen, and prolly in a good number of game rounds, will.

For a comparison between the older edition covers, well, Frankly, Iam biased, as I do like Paul Bonners art quite some. So, His cover is of course, in my book at least, the supreme cover of them all so far.

Ok, end story, I dun like it (the cover), from the fading from bluish green to the top black to allow the SR "logo" to be in its bluish tone, over the ridiculous big placement of "stylish" but uninspired Fluff (Matrix codes etc.) to the frag-awfull, but thanks to the "logo" enforced, low placement of the same logo, it is somehow heavyhanded and not getting me to pick it up. If I wouldn't know, what it is. Too much wasted space instead of getting the inner Punk/ Gamer anxious to get it IMO.
Maybe they are filling it with something and this is just the prototype, we'll see.

But, well, I am but one and the world is big.

And of course:

IT MUST BE MINE!!!

Darn fan boy Iam.

huzzah

-.-

regards
Daniel
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SL James
post Aug 9 2005, 05:23 PM
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QUOTE (Shadow @ Aug 9 2005, 10:17 AM)
Now I am not going to say the artist is bad. I am married to an artist, I know they have good work and bad. Sometimes work that initially seems really good turns bad after you look at it enough. I am just saying this piece (and the pieces of art we have seen from inside the book) are not their best work. And the flagship book of the new line should have the best of the best. That is if they want it to succeed.

See, the problem with this image is that, for me, the first time I saw it (in the Fanpro 2005 catalog) it was never right. I'm not an artist. I don't know how to technically explain how it fails to work, but it did. The second image, the cover image with the biomonitor or GPS or whetever the bald bug had a display for under his forearm looks even worse because, amongst other things, the spur that replaced it looks so counterintuitive that I can recognize something is just wrong with the image. Someone, or actually a couple of people, howerver, did provide their or second-hand learned opinions on art and design as to why the second image (the actual cover image) doesn't work, mostly focusing on poor lighting and multiple, conflicting POVs (IIRC).

My point is, this isn't an image that lends itself to be considered a piece of shit only by someone who has spent time looking at it intently and realizing that the ostensible subjects of the art are a group of morons. It's a non-appealing piece of art which, I agree, could have been much better given the last couple of covers. Even System Failure's cover would have been better than this if for no other reason than it's just a better piece of work intuitively to my non-artistic brain.

I like the First and Second Edition cover image because it looks cool, although I don't imagine that I would have picked up Shadowrun at all if I had just seen the cover image of Third (ick) instead of sliding into it based upon referrals. Like the Third Edition cover, at its heart this image and cover just look awful upon a first impression, and while I admire your willingness to not cast aspersions based on a certin amount of principle or whatnot, I have no hesitation in saying that in my lay opinion I think this cover sucks, and Fanpro could have, and should have, done a lot better.
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Nerbert
post Aug 9 2005, 09:05 PM
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Lets see what the cover implies at a first glance, art aside. Lets assume that our fictional audience knows nothing about Shadowrun at all and found it on a shelf next to Dungeons and Dragons. That seems reasonable to me.

"This book describes the circumstances surrounding a group of people various shapes, sizes and backgrounds attempting to influence the doorway of some sort of monolithic building. Relevent to the circumstances are short men who can manipulate electronic laser images somehow, giant men with horns who shoot lightning bolts, dominatrixes with swords, dudes with sharp pokers coming out of their arms, and eveyone has guns."

Now, clearly, this image leaves much to be desired. But, in broad strokes, I think it accomplishes what it was supposed to. It highlights the wide variety of characters in the setting, it touches briefly on hacking, magic and combat and it has an implication, perhaps murky, that teamwork and tactics are an important part of the game.

Now, I do agree that the characters are goofy looking, the emphasis is all on the wrong things and that the teamwork and tactics of the group pictured are seriously, fatally flawed. My point is that I do not believe that the chosen art hinders the book in any way.

And lets face it, your cover art is not what you're relying on to bring new players into the game. It might be an important part, but I don't think its a significant factor. I mean artistically the 1e D&D books are like two big turds mushed together, but it was still the face that launched a thousand d20 expansions.
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Shadow
post Aug 9 2005, 09:18 PM
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Just hop on the 'yes man' train Nerbert, you should be able to get a job at Lucas Arts easy, right after Blakkie.

The cover is EXACTLY what brings in new buyers. Why do you think Book publishers spend so much money on the covers of their books? Because when you are in a book store inundated with other books, a good cover is the only thing that separates the best sellers from the bargain bin.

Fanpro claims that they want people who have never played Shadowrun before to buy this book, this is why they are doing it. That cover will not do it. I wouldn't buy this book if I knew nothing about Shadowrun just Because the cover looks like something my two year old drew.

I am sure since they are going to be pimping it at Origins they will get plenty of feedback, and either it will sell really well, or it wont. Just because I like Shadowrun I hope it sells well. But part of me hopes it doesn't because of the disastrous mistakes made in marketing it.

If the only thing I knew about SR4 was the art and the 'Faqs' you couldn't bribe me to buy it. The art sucks, and in my experience if they didn't put the effort in the art, they didn't put the effort in the rest of the book.
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Dashifen
post Aug 9 2005, 09:32 PM
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Okay, I stayed out of it but I'll chime in now. I actually quite like the cover. The first thing I saw when I looked at it wasn't the backwards spur, or the dwarf's lips, or what ever other things people have nitpicked about it. What I saw was that it appears that the group was actually attempting a shadowrun. Granted, they're doing it badly, but it's a start.

The 3E book didn't seem that way with it's jumble of figures trying to hang onto a scaffold and some troll with a gun shooting out of frame. The 2E book was better since, again, it looked like a team of people attempting an infiltration but it seemed bland to me at the time, too little action. Course, the 3E and 4E books have, perhaps, too much action in them, but that's an arguement for another thread, I suppose. Never honestly seen a 1E book -- could look one up but that seems to be too much trouble.

All in all, I think that the covers have gotten better. Not necessarily what I would have chosen, but I agree with others in saying tha I think this cover will help to sell the book. It's interesting, it's engaging, and frankly, I like it. Perhaps my mentality is otherwise than the rest of you, but I've always pictured Shadowrun as a fantasy game with technology as opposed to a cyberpunk game with magic, the latter seeming to be the prevalent outlook on the boards. Perhaps there is something there that has caused the divide?
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the_dunner
post Aug 9 2005, 09:55 PM
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QUOTE (Shadow)
The cover is EXACTLY what brings in new buyers.

Apparently, you've never heard the expression, "Never judge a book by it's cover."
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Jrayjoker
post Aug 9 2005, 10:03 PM
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QUOTE (the_dunner)
QUOTE (Shadow @ Aug 9 2005, 04:18 PM)
The cover is EXACTLY what brings in new buyers.

Apparently, you've never heard the expression, "Never judge a book by it's cover."

Good advice, but tough to follow, unfortunately.
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Nerbert
post Aug 9 2005, 11:06 PM
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CNET's top 10 dot com failures.

There are some companies in there with most polished marketing strategies in the business. Celebrity endorsements, cute mascots and glitzy advertising aren't enough to save a flawed product or poor timing.

In the short term, yes, the cover of a book might make all the difference between a few individual people. But by the same token, I think there's going to be just as many people who crack the book open for a look just to see what the hell is supposed to be going on. On the long term Shadowrun will stand or fall on its own merits.

The way I see it, the purpose of the cover art is to convey the idea of the book in broad, abstract ways. Personally, I think it succeeds at this, even though the execution leaves much to be desired.
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Shadow
post Aug 9 2005, 11:08 PM
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Is that like "Patience is a virtue"? And "If something is worth doing, it is worth doing right".

Cause I think FP needs to think about that.

I just noticed something and I think its cool, the Elf cick that is about to die, she is carrying her Katana correctly, blade up. Thats a little detail that often gets lost. To bad the rest of the picture didn't get done with that kind of attention to detail.
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arcady
post Aug 9 2005, 11:11 PM
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QUOTE (the_dunner)
QUOTE (Shadow @ Aug 9 2005, 04:18 PM)
The cover is EXACTLY what brings in new buyers.

Apparently, you've never heard the expression, "Never judge a book by it's cover."

The reason that phrase is said is to tell people to -stop- doing it. Too many people judge things by the surface, and that it an attempt to tell them to look deeper.

Doesn't work in sales though.

If I want to get you to buy product X, I can't rely upon having your momma there telling you to stop judging me so quickly based on just my sex appeal.

Momma might give you the smack down when you bring me home, but she ain't there when you're out shopping.
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Kagetenshi
post Aug 9 2005, 11:11 PM
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Nerbert: -10 points for failure to understand marketing.

Just because excellent marketing campaigns can't save flawed products doesn't mean that poor to abysmal marketing can't sink excellent products. Flawed products with good marketing can sometimes break even for a while, as well. Marketing with no product (or idea of how to make money on it) is what typified the tech bubble.

~J
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arcady
post Aug 9 2005, 11:17 PM
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QUOTE (blakkie @ Aug 9 2005, 06:30 AM)
First, i'll start by the problem i have with the SR1/SR2 logo. When i first saw it on the FLGS shelf i look like some sort of stylised cow skull leading me to believe it was some sort of western genre game like Deadlands. In a full stuffed magazine rack display that logo at the top is more promenent than the picture below. That combined with the juxtiposition of the Pat Benitar gunfight is probably a very large factor in my passing it by at first.

Hey in 1989 when that SR1 cover came out, Elmore was 'kewl' to gamers, and being as out of date as they tend to be, a lot of them were probably still listening to Pat Benitar (hey, if she can guest appear on Charmed, she can't be all washed up).

But even if not, -Big Hair ™- was still in...

Maybe by the time you saw it those two things had fallen by the wayside but that just points out how ephemeral style is. That said, I had a very similar reaction to the cow skull, and I bought the first edition the first month it ws out.

Also, 'Shadowrunner' didn't always mean the same thing in 1E, let alone always what it means now. Sometimes they were just 'rebels with a cause', othertimes they were 'holding out against the man', and the idea that they 'worked for the man off the official payroll' hadn't become the official mantra yet. Shadowrun 1E in the early days was trying to produce the same 'anti-heroes' that Cyberpunk2013 was claiming. Focus shifted, but that's why you got things like 'rockers or rocker wannabes' on covers or as module themes.
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Glav
post Aug 10 2005, 12:30 AM
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I cry for this cover. :( The street sam's hand is still broken (and he's smiling about it), the ninja-elf is running the wrong way...and ...

Yeah. It's gone to press, so we have to accept that nothing we said mattered.
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blakkie
post Aug 10 2005, 12:59 AM
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QUOTE (Shadow @ Aug 9 2005, 03:18 PM)
Just hop on the 'yes man' train Nerbert, you should be able to get a job at Lucas Arts easy, right after Blakkie.

He is just in it for the freebie copy of the SR4 BBB. :wobble: Of course there is the small issue that both Nerbert and i said we didn't like the cover from an art asthetics POV, so we are probably down the list. It is a good thing i forgot to mention what i think about the faux Matrix letters on the right side of the cover (i think that is what they are) or i'd definately be SOL.

QUOTE
Hey in 1989 when that SR1 cover came out, Elmore was 'kewl' to gamers, and being as out of date as they tend to be, a lot of them were probably still listening to Pat Benitar (hey, if she can guest appear on Charmed, she can't be all washed up).


Really? I'd infer from a guest appearance on Charmed that she was washed up with career clinging to the life support of residual kitsch. :)

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Just to respond to this, why does the cover need an "Oriental Influence?" Being on the street doesn't necessarily mean you deal with a Japanacorp every single day or moment.


You are thinking too specifically. The picture should tell a story about the whole of what they'll find inside. Now if the oriental influence has completely left town in SR4, and i doubt that the oriental gangs have, then it likely shouldn't be there on the cover. This is a composite picture, a symbolic representation of the contents.

If the cover doesn't match the contents you'll get the wrong people picking it up. People that you have the best shot at holding once they open the cover are the ones that open the book looking for what they see on the cover. Once they flip open the book the flash on the cover is mostly irrelavent, save for those people that buy books chalk full of words for the few pictures they like. Yes, those people exist but i wouldn't want to try build a long term player base concentrating on that group.

I guess the pop cultral phrase for it is "staying on message". A consistant communication with the [potential] customer about a product that is different from competitors but something they are likely to want.
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P.S. Someone here mentioned their eye being drawn upwards. I'm not sure that is a particularly bad thing, since the logo is up there?


It is a bad thing, since I was talking about the eye being drawn upwards past the logo and off into nothing in particular.


Hrmmm, i just don't get that? I barely get following upward. But then i haven't printed it out (no colour printer where i am), so maybe that would make a difference? I do get the closed in feeling from the sides. *shrug*
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