MAGIC: THE GATHERING
UI/UX DESIGN, ILLUSTRATION, LAYOUT DESIGN, GRAPHICS, MOTION GRAPHICS, CONCEPTS
Magic: The Gathering (MTG) is a trading card and digital collectible card game that has well over an estimated 30 million players worldwide. While classically a paper trading card game, it had branched out into the digital game world with Magic: The Gathering Online (MTGO) in 2002. While it currently still has an estimated 300K active players, it is used primarily by Professional Magic players and has had trouble gaining newer players due to its outdated interface and lack of flashy animations and VFX.
In 2009 Wizards of the Coast, the company that created MTG, launched a second digital MTG game called Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers. When I joined Wizards of the Coast in 2016, the game was in full-swing and in need of a digital artists and designer to help with both a backlog of work as well as a fresh approach on presentation of UI and motion graphics.
In April of 2017, “Magic Duels” released it’s final expansion and I moved internally to the aforementioned MTGO. I helped with digital art and UI elements and eventually was tasked with concepting a digital facelift on the dated client which got the intention of the Art Director of a newly formed team which would eventually become Magic: The Gathering – Arena. I joined the team as Senior UI Designer.
MTGA launched it’s beta game in September of 2018 to record numbers and fantastic reviews.
VANITY DIGITAL CARDBACKS
I designed custom digital cardbacks for the game using existing Magic card art from the applicable sets. The cardbacks with frames were granted for free to players, where as the frameless options were sold in the game’s store. These acted as a way to express oneself by way of customizing the look of your cards in-game. This is a small sampeling of various options from two different sets.
OFFICIAL GAME LOGO
As I was considering the direction I wanted to go with creating this logo, I knew that we wanted something that could be easily recognizable as an official Magic the Gathering product, yet also uniquly different from the existing Magic products. This was the final result.
Like most digital trading card games (TCGs), Magic rules state that you can only have four copies of a given card in your playable deck. A such, owning a fifth copy of a card in your collection is unnecessary and most digital TCGs will “dust” your fifth copy. The accumulation of this “dust” is used to craft an unowned different card. In Arena our team decided to skip this “dusting” mechanic and instead randomly award players with “wildcards”.
Magic cards (even in their paper format) come in four different rarities (Common, Uncommon, Rare, and “Mythic” Rare) and Arena’s wildcards come in these rarities and can be redeemed for any card in the game that matches said rarity.
As I was concepting what these wildcards should look like, one of the main components I needed to consider was iconography. This icon/symbol would show up in many places including in navigation so it needed to be unique and meaningful. Since by definition these cards could be redeemed for “any” card, it brought to mind one of the most iconic (and expensive) cards in Magic history: the Black Lotus.
Using this lotus flower as a springboard I incorporated Magic’s official logo, the Planeswalker symbol, and thus was born Arena’s official wildcard icon.
Final, In-Game Wildcards
Making use of the icongraphy I had created, I took heavy inspiration from the default “deckmaster” cardback design found on all paper Magic cards, especially in regards to the oval frame. As each wildcard is given a rarity which, when crafted, will craft a card of that same rarity, it was only obvious that these wildcards would have the color profiles of the four rarity options; namely common, uncommon, rare, and mythic (left to right).