Madoka Magic – Why Madoka?
Designing this block of Magic cards turned out to be quite the adventure. There were so many problems that came up getting this project going that I could feel a real kinship with the people who make this game for real. It turned out that this wasn’t just a way for me to showcase how I would do Magic differently, but it was also a chance for me to learn that making these cards is no easy task—not that I assumed my design was just going to make itself. It was never my intention to reinvent the game, but to stay true to its spirit while finding ways to make it closer to my vision of what it should be.
One of the early dilemmas I encountered was picking an aesthetic theme. You see, this isn’t the first time I tried to design a set of Magic cards. Back in college I dabbled around with Magic Set Editor and one of the major problems I kept running into was being able to find art that adequately fit the theme of the card that I was going for. I’d constantly come up empty handed and I knew going into this project that if I wanted it to look good, it needed a consistent visual style for which there was a lot of art that was both sufficiently diverse and easily accessible.
Clearly, creating my own artwork for the cards was out of the question—I’m decent enough with Photoshop, but I’m no artist and the time I’d need to invest to reach the level of quality I’d want for my own satisfaction was logistically absurd to say the least. Fortunately, I’m something of a collector of digital anime art and I frequent several image boards, so I knew before I even started making my first card there was enough depth of content and popularity within the Madoka community to support this endeavor.
The next question I had to address was whether or not Madoka had enough resonant flavor to fit into Magic’s established formula without feeling forced. To my delight, this turned out to be a fortuitous windfall since each of the five main characters of Madoka Magica correspond nearly perfectly to each of the five color philosophies of Magic. This would lead me down some straightforward paths to creating some really fun top-down designed cards. But that’s an entire post unto itself, so I’ll save that for another time.
What solidified my decision to go with Madoka for my block’s flavor were several utilitarian aspects that added a lot of practicality to my creation. For one thing, I knew if I wanted to share this set with the world, I needed to find an audience that would have an active interest in the content just at a glance. In a way, this was an attempt to hedge my bets and ensure that I had a target audience ready to go. Before I realized what I was doing, I’d stumbled into marketing strategies for my “product.”
Lastly, my own expertise with the Madoka mythos meant that working on my designs wouldn’t be the struggle it could have been if I was trying to invent an entire concept from the ground up. After all, I wasn’t trying to show how well I can create entire settings or what kind of story I could write to best compliment what was the real heart of the project—the design. What was also important for making sufficient progress was that this was not supposed to be a job. This is just a hobby and I knew that if I wasn’t having fun creating, then what were the chances that others would enjoy reading and analyzing (and hopefully playing with) my cards? Looking back on almost a year since making the set’s first card, I’m confident I made the right aesthetic choice because I really enjoyed working on this homebrew Magic set and it’s my hope those feelings come through when others see the result of my work.