02/28/2011 MM: "Nuts & Bolts: Filling In the Design Skeleton"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
"I'm curious for any feedback. Feel free to drop me a line in my email, via the Discuss link below, or on Twitter (@maro254)."

I liked the article.  I like seeing some of the not-so-obvious constraints that Design labors under.  It's amazing how fast the skeleton fills up, but I can see how important it is to have an outline like that.

That being said, it seems like you might think about including a few (five or fewer...probably fewer) "wildcard" slots in each outline that can be anything at all.  A place reserved for the awesome, on-theme cards that just don't fit otherwise due to lack of space.  That would also allow for just a tiny bit of variation from the theme, so that every once in a while, say, blue gets just as many creatures as black does.
Heh, many of these things were automatically learned/applied during the GDS2 process =)

"I'm curious for any feedback. Feel free to drop me a line in my email, via the Discuss link below, or on Twitter (@maro254)."

I liked the article.  I like seeing some of the not-so-obvious constraints that Design labors under.  It's amazing how fast the skeleton fills up, but I can see how important it is to have an outline like that.

That being said, it seems like you might think about including a few (five or fewer...probably fewer) "wildcard" slots in each outline that can be anything at all.  A place reserved for the awesome, on-theme cards that just don't fit otherwise due to lack of space.  That would also allow for just a tiny bit of variation from the theme, so that every once in a while, say, blue gets just as many creatures as black does.



That probably happens at rare/mythic and maybe at uncommon, but the commons must be functional first, awesome second.

Step #5 stresses that if you have an awesome on-theme card that doesn't fit, it can be made fit. If there truly is a lack of space, that probably means you already have too much awesome and too little functionality in your commons so it's a good idea not to add another awesome card.
Set skeletons are an awesome tool. I'm very grateful to MaRo for telling us about them. This kind of guidance is incredibly useful for amateur designers.

My online web database for home-made Magic cards, somewhat confusingly also called Multiverse, supports set skeletons. Here are a couple of examples:
Arcunda's set skeleton: Note how the owner is methodically first specifying then designing each colour's commons: WUB have skeleton slots specified and cards created; red common slots are specified but not yet designed; green are yet to be specified.
Clockwork Wing's skeleton: I'm being somewhat less methodical than Chris: I have a few scattered holes like CW08, UW03, RU06 and so on, but I've mostly got designs for all my coloured slots; still lots of artifacts to fill in. 

My Multiverse will also generate the skeleton for your set. If anyone wants to have a play around, you can muck around with the Test set's skeleton without needing to create a whole new cardset yourself (although you're welcome to do that too).

I've already got a link from the Skeleton About page to MaRo's last article on skeletons; now I need to link this new one as well
Heh, many of these things were automatically learned/applied during the GDS2 process =)

Yeah, this article was particularly fascinating to read through the GDS2 lens. I feel like we stumbled around quite a bit on how we utilized the skeletons during rounds 1 and 2 (well, I certainly did- this article would have been a great leg up then), but by round 4, we'd latched onto a process that was a microcosm of what MaRo describes here (like reorganizing slots because Blight Treason was such a perfect fit).
This article felt like it should have been titled:

"How to fill out a TPS report."

Mark, didn't you get that memo?
Angoth: He did say in his original "Nuts & Bolts" column that the content would be a little dry and of somewhat specialised interest... i.e., of interest to those who like to know the nitty gritty details of how card sets are assembled. The "Nults & Bolts" if you will. Many people don't have an interest in nuts & bolts, which is probably why he restricts this to once a year, but for those of us who do, it's gold dust...
"If the theme of your set isn't in common, it isn't your theme."

Interesting, this implies that Kamigawa failed at having a Legendary maters theme.  Kitsune Healer seems to be the only Kamigawa common that references legendary cards.
I'm a little surprised that noone else has commented about the weird, phyrexian/mirrodin hybrid symbol. What could this mean?
I'm a little surprised that noone else has commented about the weird, phyrexian/mirrodin hybrid symbol. What could this mean?


It's the Mirrodin Besieged set symbol. It's hard to see the combination on the cards because of the size.
I'm a little surprised that noone else has commented about the weird, phyrexian/mirrodin hybrid symbol. What could this mean?


It's the Mirrodin Besieged set symbol. It's hard to see the combination on the cards because of the size.



Wow, now I feel dumb. I guess I'd never really realized what the MB set symbol actually was!
I'm a little surprised that noone else has commented about the weird, phyrexian/mirrodin hybrid symbol. What could this mean?


It's the Mirrodin Besieged set symbol. It's hard to see the combination on the cards because of the size.


Wow, now I feel dumb. I guess I'd never really realized what the MB set symbol actually was!


Wizards has a history of expansion symbols that make no sense. Or cannot be identified.
My first Nuts & Bolts column in 2010 was about card codes. My Nuts & Bolts column for 2011 explained how you used these card codes to create a design skeleton.  Today's column is about filling in that skeleton.



Umm....

You know you're getting old when you can't even remember what year it is.
My first Nuts & Bolts column in 2010 was about card codes. My Nuts & Bolts column for 2011 explained how you used these card codes to create a design skeleton.  Today's column is about filling in that skeleton.



Umm....

You know you're getting old when you can't even remember what year it is.



Yeah, I noticed that to, maybe he is just to busy designing cards for one of the 2012 sets or something.

I always like these kind of articles although I imagine it can be difficult to distinguish between cards you need to leave out and cards you have to make room for in your skeleton. I would love to see some real life examples of stuff like that one day. (If possible of course)
"If the theme of your set isn't in common, it isn't your theme."

Interesting, this implies that Kamigawa failed at having a Legendary maters theme.  Kitsune Healer seems to be the only Kamigawa common that references legendary cards.


Rosewater has stated that Kamigawa did indeed fail at having a Legendary matters theme (he described it as "as fan": if you only ever see zero or one legendary cards in a pack, how is that a theme?).
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