Walking by the Heavy Gear shelf and the Rolemaster shelf it struck me how both game lines maintain their consistency of graphics, but to a much differing degree.
I like graphics. Some game series appear more visually unified than others. I think that’s great. Books that are consistent across their entire series catch my eye, look great on the shelf, and tempt me to take the game for a spin.
Not everybody thinks that graphical unity is ideal; I accept that. And I’ll start with what I’d reckon most would say is too much consistency.
Heavy Gear uses appropriately heavy graphics on the cover and spine. You really have to focus to see the lettering, though. Perhaps the visual fatigue is intentional. I don’t know much about the game.
Rolemaster went for simplicity in the late-80s/early-90s. The rulebooks keep the lettering on the spines… mostly… consistent through the various companions. Yet they had different colors, which distinguishes one book from another.
On the top of the Rolemaster stack are the Genre books. At least that’s what ICE called them at the end. Visually, they have nothing in common. These sourcebooks seem to have been a testing ground for graphics.
And series names:
Robin Hood (1987): No series
Mythic Greece (1988): “A Rolemaster Classic”
Vikings (1989): “Campaign Classics”
Pirates (1990): “Campaign Classics”
Mythic Egypt (1990): “Campaign Classics”
Outlaw (1991): “A Genre Book for Rolemaster and Space Master” [Space Master and Outlaw?! That well predates Firefly/Serenity.]
At Rapier’s Point (1993): “A Genre Book for Rolemaster”
Arabian Nights (1994): “A Genre Book for Rolemaster”
I’ll close by saying I have no training in graphical design, but the subject interests me. I see a lot of games pass through, and some grab me more than others. I’ll write more about RPG curb appeal in the future.