Artist Interview: Kelly Forrest
Today we have an interview with Kelly Forrest one of the powerhouse trio behind the game 44 BCE. The game 44 BCE is a game that simulates the intrigue of the court post Ceaser. The game is big and sprawling but keeps everything intuitive during each phase of the turn. Kelly Forrest not only lead the theme, layout and graphic choices for the game she is also working as a publisher. 44 BCE hit kickstarter on May 24th so check out all of Kelly and the teams hard work.
My name is Kelly Forrest, and I’m a publisher at Gray Forrest Games. We are a small three-person company, and each of us does a bit of everything. Over the past three years, I have been working on 44 BCE, our first board game. I primarily focus on the theme, layout, and graphic design.
What brought you into graphic design?
Graphic design is something that I grew into overtime. My undergraduate studies were in marketing and advertising. In those days, I used Quark Express for layouts and Spray Mount to turn everything I owned into a sticky mess. I love being able to communicate visually. Ultimately, graphic design became a wonderful creative outlet for me. I enjoy being able to transfer concepts and visions from my head and onto the screen.
How did you get involved in 44 BCE and how different is this work than other graphic design work you have done?
Three years ago, Christian pulled a dusty box out of our closet. He told me how he and Holt, our lead designer, created this really cool game back in 2004. Christian had always wanted to publish it, so he and I started tinkering with the layout and design. Our game grew from there. We found people to help with the art, did a ton of research, and formed a company with Holt.
Almost all of my professional experience has been in business-to-business applications. Creating a board game is different in some ways, but there are also a lot of similarities. Although you still need to operate within branding constraints, there is much more room for creative expression in designing a board game. For instance, in 44 BCE, we included characters and design elements from history to pull the players into the theme.
What is currently your favorite game to play?
My favorite game is Dominion. We had every expansion at one point, but now there are a couple more expansions that we need to add to our collection.
What is your favorite game from an artistic point of view?
There are so many stunning games, and they seem to get even more beautiful each day. One that immediately comes to mind is Wingspan. I really appreciate the amount of detail illustrated in each bird. My dad is an ornithologist, so we gifted Wingspan to him. It warmed my heart to see him study every detail of the birds and read every card.
What did you find was the most difficult part of the design process?
My biggest challenge during the design process is that I am a perfectionist. I constantly find something that I want to change. All three of us are like that by nature. Hence the reason it has taken 18 years to get a game to where it is now. However, I’ve only been working on it for the past three, so it’s not my fault.
What was your favorite part about the design process?
I love maps, floorplans, and puzzles, so my favorite aspect of the design of this game was figuring out the flow and spatial relations for all the pieces. When I first started working on the layouts, I cut out multiple sizes of cards, boards, and tiles. I spent hours at the kitchen table trying to figure out the most optimal configurations
Who is your favorite character from 44 BCE and why?
My favorite character from history is Cleopatra. She was both massively influential and intelligent. In the game, my favorite is Agrippa. I love the artwork on his screen!
What was the hardest issue you had to overcome?
One challenge that comes to mind was finding the ideal layout for our cards. There is so much information to convey, and I wanted to showcase the artwork. I spent many days and sleepless nights manipulating each object until I felt everything was right.
Another challenge that I really enjoyed was the redesign of our gameboard. We initially only included the structure tiles but decided it would function better as a player aid. This change significantly improved the game, but it was difficult to achieve. I wanted to design a gameboard that would fit on top of most tables; however, there are several components in 44 BCE. I did my best to include everything we wanted on the board without overcrowding and keeping it a reasonable size. In the end, the design turned out very well.
As a first-time publisher, getting the word out is incredibly challenging. We have taken our game to local game shops, attended a couple of conventions, and sent them to a few previewers. We have received quite a bit of positive feedback, and word of mouth has helped us tremendously on this journey.
So that is really three challenges, but we have learned so much over the past three years. I am proud of what we have accomplished and can’t wait to share 44 BCE. It truly is a labor of love with a hint of backstabbing, but only while playing.
What's next for you?
The first thing I’m going to do is take a break and take the family to Disney World! Once we return, the next on our agenda is to create player powers for 44 BCE, and we have another game in the works.
What is the airspeed of an unladen swallow?
Haha! Great Question! African or European? ;0)
Want to know more about 44 BCE and the team over at Gray Forrest games? Here are some links...