VASSAL application icons, again

I commissioned some icon sketches from a graphic designer friend of mine in
order to get more ideas for our app icon. Here they are. Comments please.

The first page consists of some better-worked out sketches, which I’m attaching
with this post. The next three pages, which I’ll attach to the next post, are some
of the earlier sketches in case any of them arouse interest.

Here are the three pages of earlier sketches.

I won’t comment on what I like until others have had a chance, other than to
scotch #13 because it looks like there’s should be a swastika in a wreath
hiding behind the “V”.

On May 17, 2008, at 11:00 AM, uckelman wrote:

OK. I’ll send my comments.

First off, I don’t really see any of these as being superior to the
last set of what was already produced. So I would stick with what we
already have.

But as to the candidates, here is my take on some of them:

Positive Category:

  1. [V with lightning bolt]. Nicely iconic. Abstract, which I think
    is good for a general purpose program. The V is prominent and aids in
    the identification of the name. Would work nicely and be easy to pick
    out on a crowded Mac doc or in icon view in a folder of applications.

  2. [V pennant] Also nicely iconic. The flag suggests military action
    without being too specific about the type.

  3. [3 hexes in front of V]. A nice hex-based icon. The “V” could
    perhaps be a bit more prominent. The infantry unit type is suitably
    generic. Ties in to the existing hex-related logos and thus supports
    continuity in the program image.

  4. [V on shield with stars]. Heraldic. Heraldry makes for a nice
    icon. Although this may be a bit more medieval looking, it is meant
    as a coat of arms and so isn’t really era-specific. The “V” is
    stylized, so it may be a bit obscure. I like it better and 2, where
    the sword in front really overshadows the “V”. There is the
    possibility of some icon confusion with other programs like “Install
    Shield” or some anti-virus software icons. I wonder how this would
    look with hexes in place of the stars?

Negative Category:

  1. [V Medal] Medal motiv. I didn’t really like any of the medal-
    themed selections. I don’t think it really conveys what the program
    is about.

  2. [Ancient helmet]. I didn’t like this because it didn’t link to
    the “V” for mnemonics and because it was a bit too period-centric. It
    seems to suggest ancient warfare rather than something generic.

  3. [Chess pawn]. “V” is obscured. Also too suggestive of chess,
    rather than wargames or other games per se.

  4. [Attack arrow on map in hex]. Too generic. This looks like it
    could apply to any wargame, and thus doesn’t help in establishing a
    nice brand.

  5. [V on die]. Dice motiv. In general I don’t have a problem with
    the other suggested dice patterns (other than the nit that none of the
    dice depicted have legal spot combinations). But I don’t particularly
    like the “V” on this one, since it is a bit squished.

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Here’s what I think the logo should depict:

  • A nice big “V”
  • Generic game element (hexes, dice, counters) but nothing that suggests a particular genre (or that’s generically military)
  • The Internet

So I’d turn away from the metals, shields and other military symbols. I like a combination of #12 and #14. #12 is the only one that has anything vaguely internet-looking (the lightning bolt implies speed), and #14 has hexes and a counter, but the “V” is too obscured.

I kind of the liked the one on sheet 5.3 with a V in front of three hexes (second from the left on the top row). Something like that with some internet-symbolism would be the direction I’d go.


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On May 19, 2008, at 1:16 PM, Rodney Kinney wrote:

Well, my dock has three identical icons for three different versions
of the Protege editor that I use. So that gave me the idea that if we
had two dice in the Vassal icon, they could be made functional and
their faces could be used to show the version number with a 3, 1
result showing. This could be updated for each release and would give
the different versions each a distinctive but related icon.

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Now that everybody’s had a chance to comment, I’ll weigh in with my

I think #1 and #7 look too “varsity”.

For #2 and #3, for me no “V” wihch goes all the way across a sheild will
ever look like the letter “V” instead of a chevron, so I’m not keen on
these either.

I like #4. The pawn looks a bit too chess, but I think it could be made
to look less like a chess pawn and more generic (like a “Sorry” pawn).
This one is my second-favorite.

I’m not sure what #8 is supposed to be—a crate?

I think my favorite on the first page is #11. I don’t agree at all with
the claim that we should avoid anything military-specific. Our core
audience is wargamers, after all.

With #14, you only see the “V” if you know what you’re looking for, so
I’m not keen on the way it is presently.

For #9: If we have a die as part of our logo, then every single virtual
gameboard program in active development will have a die in their logos.
Also, I think the angle the “V” makes is odd.

My overall favorite is the sketch of the cannon in the hex on the 5-3
page. I think it’s distinctive and very different from the icons which
our competitors have, and it’s not overly-complex, so should scale well.
It reminds me of the cannon from Risk, which certainly falls in the realm
of “popular games”, yet it also conveys something about a common use of

I also like the stack of counters motif from the 5-4 page, but I’m dubious
about how well this design will scale down. (Incidentally, did anyone notice
that the top unit on the stack on the thrid page is a an anti-tank unit?)

It seems that I have preferences which are almost exactly opposite of
Thomas’s (aside from the comment that the dice be correct—which is
funny, since Matt has made some art for me before containing 2d6 with
correct faces), and am not much in agreeement with anyone else, either.
As far as indicating version numbers on dice, I like the idea, except
that it doesn’t work so hot for numbers not on a d6, which we frequently
have in our vesion numbers.

As far as alluding to the Internet (Rodney’s comment), I don’t see the
need for that anymore in 2008. Would anyone expect these days that a
program which doesn’t have something indicating the Internet in its
icon won’t be usable on the net?

Copying here what Michael said to me:

Anything to do with chess is out. I’m not sure about the military
award theme either. I like the idea of combining a big V with
hexagons. I kind of like the top left-most one on the first sketch –
even though it’s kind of generic. If you get the right shading, it
could look good.

Brent, who didn’t post here, concurred with Rodney.

Hmm. I’m going to give Matt (the artist) a chance to mull all this over
and take a few days to think about how to proceed myself.