Sea of Thieves

Immersion & Concepting | Bonus Sea of Thieves Designer Diaries #7 with Elliott Smith

Ahoy, shipmates! I'm Elliott, one of the Graphic Designers on the team that brought the swashbuckling world of Sea of Thieves to the tabletop in Sea of Thieves: Voyage of Legends.

Captain Sherwin has been guiding you through the game mechanics, and I've taken command of the designer diary galleon to provide some insights into how we captured the incredible world of Sea of Thieves when making the game. So, let's set sail and delve into an exciting voyage of research, concepts, and design development for this project.

Immersion in the world

First, we established our creative direction. Our goal was to seamlessly blend Voyage of Legends with the Seas of Thieves environment, making the game board, cards, and tokens feel at home on a tavern table in an outpost.

To achieve this, we dove deep into the game itself. We gathered reference material, brainstormed concepts, absorbed gameplay features, and immersed ourselves in the vibrant visuals of Sea of Thieves. Countless pictures were taken in play to capture the essence of the game, creating a reference library to pull ideas and concepts from the game that would translate well to a tabletop component.

Simultaneously, our talented shipmates at Rare provided us with in-game artwork assets and custom 3D model renders, which played a vital role in crafting the components of Voyage of Legends. Textures, character renders, menu items, and tattoo artwork formed a unique visual library within The Devil's Shroud.

Using our collected references, we created a number of cohesive mood boards to guide our artistic style and align it with the seafaring world of Sea of Thieves.

Concepts taking shape

Armed with our insights and research, we began developing artwork concepts for Voyage of Legends. We started by crafting key assets that informed and inspired the overall visuals, establishing design rules and the general composition of each game component. While not every element reached its final print-ready version, we created a distinct library of concepts that laid the foundation for the design direction. Once we were satisfied with the game's aesthetics, we delved deep into each part of the game's components.

For the cards, we drew inspiration from the game's UI style, adapting it to suit the board game. This allowed us to deliver gameplay information and frame characters while staying true to the Sea of Thieves experience.

Drawing from items like the Captain's Logbook, we created distinct themed decorative borders for each card set, complemented by tattoo illustrations. These tattoo artwork pieces can also be found on tokens and player cards, which feature textures and styling inspired by Sea of Thieves, further immersing players in their tabletop voyages.

Designing the player's ship cards was a particularly enjoyable part of the process. We aimed to capture the feel of being aboard a ship, whether embarking on your first journey on a sloop or a galleon. Taking an overhead view of the ship deck, we provided ample space for your crew and the piles of treasure you'll be stowing away in your ship's hold.

The gameboard, a centerpiece of Sea of Thieves: Voyage of Legends, was designed to recreate the atmosphere of a tavern table in an outpost. It serves as a familiar hub where players can track their progress and house the various cards needed to become a pirate legend.

And what about the sea map your crew will navigate? Inspired by the map found on your in-game ship and the mesmerizing colours of the sea, we crafted a detailed playing space reminiscent of the video game. Ocean hazard cards capture the essence of underwater terrors, such as the Kraken, wrapping its tentacles around the cards themselves.

We added artistic details to these cards to give players a sense of the challenges they would face. Voyage cards within the game also feature familiar faces, adding to the immersive experience we aimed to capture for those familiar with the video game.

Unfortunately, some elements had to walk the plank. Although we had some original box concepts that didn't make the cut, they were an enjoyable part of the creative process that led us to our final design. Here are some of the designs that didn't make it.

But don’t worry, we were able to rework some of these at least - one became the cover of the rulebook, and another the cover sheet when you first open your copy of the game. Only one then currently rests on the Ferry of the Damned...

Getting ready for your maiden voyage

Now that we've shared a glimpse of the graphic design work found below the decks, we hope you're excited about your journey towards becoming a true pirate legend.

Stay tuned for gameplay videos on the horizon, and join us on the Steamforged Games Discord channel to chat with Sherwin and the team about the adventures you'll embark on in the game.

Fair winds and following seas, shipmates!