- Jan 25, 2017
- Reaction score
- Club Hel, Downtown Megacity
This is something I've been working on since this spring. I have gone through about 80 design iterations since then, and I think I've reached the point where no further polishing can be done. The design is final (only exception being extremely minor changes that might be necessary to keep some things just so legible on the printed inlay).
I wanted to make a set of custom clays. Got an inlaid sample chip set of CPCs back in February and was immediately sold on them. Been brainstorming for design ideas, and I've come up with something I really like.
I've kept much secrecy about the details of the design so far because I firmly believe that the first impression makes or breaks everything about a design. If I had showed you unfinished design mockups, I would have spoiled you and wouldn't be able to receive truly unbiased feedback on the final design from you anymore.
There's no external designer involved here, I've done it all by myself. While graphics design is not my profession – I'm a software developer – I see myself on a slightly-above-medium amateur level. And during my time at university, I had the chance to get a somewhat cheap license for the Adobe Master Collection software suite (CS6 perpetual license, screw this subscription ripoff), so software isn't limiting me too much.
My requirements for the set were:
- The set is supposed to be for cash games, mainly starting at 25¢/50¢ (but occasionally as low as 5¢/10¢ or 10¢/25¢) but it should have enough headroom for bigger games later on. It should be long-lasting, fit for a variety of stakes. A set for life. I want a set of real high-quality chips where even "non-conoisseurs" get the impression that they are holding something valuable in their hands. I already have some crappy cheap metal insert plastics (some ancient set of "official casino weight" dice chips as well) and a set of custom Sun-Fly ceramics for micro- and low-stakes cash games, but even those ceramics just sound and feel somewhat cheap compared to those CPC samples I got.
- I wanted a theme I have some kind of connection to, but at the same time too obscure for any outsider to notice. You could probably compare this to the very subtle style Musterbrand uses for many (but not all) pieces of their game merchandise. Take for example this hoodie. Could you tell that it's a reference to a game if you didn't know the Half-Life series? Doesn't look like your ordinary, obvious, "in your face" style game/movie merch (that prominently features official, well-known brand logos and the likes) to the uninitiated, but merely like a regular generic-design piece.
- The edge spots and colors should of course fit the theme I'd decide for, but ultimately I was looking to get somewhat "modern" looking chips in a predominantly dark/muted color scheme with only bright/vivid color spots. Denomination base colors should be the classic ones ($1 white, $5 red, $25 green, $100 black, $500 purple, ...), and for the 25¢/5¢ fracs I have yet to find nicer looking base colors than blue and brown that blend in well with the rest of the set.
- Altogether, it should be as unconnected to the real world as possible. No references to real names or locations on them. At most, I'd have put a very small monogram of my real name on them, but I haven't found a good spot on the inlay where it won't ruin the relative cleanliness of the design.
The Matrix movies have left a big, lasting impression on me. There are only few other movies, games and books that have managed. And of all those, Matrix was the only instance that provided me with a theme idea that would fit my design constraints.
If you did watch the movies, you'll instantly recognize this scene:
Owned by the Merovingian, a relic program from older versions of the Matrix, in its current version an exile himself who provides an enclave for fellow exiles at his localities. At first glance, it's a high class fetish night club, but hey – who knows what sorts of things happen in the backrooms there? (apart from the obvious )
The Merovingian has a lot of henchmen around him. Take those bald-headed bouncers for example. What do they do when they're not busy getting their butts kicked by a tiny asian? Or Cain and Abel. Or the twins. Just standing or sitting around all the time must be boring as hell. Merv himself, in that fancy Dracula-esque suit, doesn't exactly look like he came to the club to party with the rubber-and-leather crowd down there either. I personally at least could well imagine they'd all occasionally sit down in one of the numerous back rooms this locality sure has to play some high-stakes poker
My inlay design features the ornament with that medieval touch you can see all over the club, but most prominently on the balcony railing:
I've been thinking about also incorporating a drawing of the just-as-iconic entrance to the club:
But full color didn't look good to me and neither did a B/W line art, so I scrapped the idea.
New – Renders by @Ray-Col!
H Mold is of course the obvious choice for this name I'd say, also looks the cleanest to me. I was unsure about the broad ring around the pattern that's just plain, but it has this fine grid pattern you can feel, so I'm satisfied with it.
I got myself a full color sample set from CPC way in advance to make 100% sure my chosen colors work well. Photos and renders are nice but can only ever give a rough idea; to really be able to judge, I need to see the colors directly in person, not on a screen. Also have all mold and inlay shape samples.
I've tried to use at least one dayglo color for the spots of as many chips as I could without compromising on the daylight visible design. I figured using black light fluorescents would make very much sense in a night club themed set, and also help with telling apart denominations easier during play.
In very early drafts, I had a $1000 chip in butterscotch, just a single barrel, to add a bit to the overall set color balance. Scrapped it though and went with double the amount in extra $500s instead in my chip breakdown plan. Later, I realized my original plan to use the "pill" chip (see further down) as an undenominated 5¢/10¢ will do me no good as it re-uses two colors prominent on other chips (25¢ and $5) that will definitely be in play at the same time, so I ended up making a butterscotch chip again - a dedicated, denominated 5¢ chip - while I moved the pill chip off to the side to be used as maybe card guards or something like that only.
I am fully aware that the circular text and the sub-logo text are too small to be easily legible during play, but that's not a requirement for me. Even if you need to take a magnifying glass to read it, as long as it's still legible in the first place I'm fine with it. The circular text on the denominated chips only contains the denomination value spelled out in words anyway, so it adds no additional info. The only thing that really needs to be legible without aid during play is the denomination, and I believe its font size is just so big enough to still satisfy that criterion.
I really wanted to have a different back side and had multiple drafts, but none of them looked good, so I've sticked to identical front/back inlays.
Every chip in the set has a tie to the theme:
5¢ – Cookie
This was actually the very last chip I designed, and I almost painted myself into a corner with this one because I had already used so many colors on my other chips and I was running out of theme ties. Luckily, I remembered that the Oracle doesn't only like candy, but also chocolate chip cookies! You can see her making the dough for some in a scene in Matrix Revolutions.
312 or 318 spots would probably have made more sense from an inlay progression view, but the only thing that will make the chip really look like a chocolate chip cookie to me are x14 spots (and 318 spots were too expensive for a 5¢ chip in my eyes anyway). But well, I've only used xD14 spots for the higher denoms, so it still kind of works out.
In case you don't like brown chips - hey man, cookies need love, too.
25¢ – Reality
Color grading in the Matrix movies follows a basic principle: Scenes taking place in the "real world" are tinted blue, while scenes taking place inside the Matrix are tinted green. It's also fitting that this is on one of the lowest-denomination chips – in the real world, living standards appear to be a lot lower than what the freed people had while they were still connected to the Matrix. A slight hint of green to make the chip look a bit more interesting, and for the fact that you can't ever fully escape the dream world.
I've had this one's base color in Dark Blue for a long time in earlier drafts, which is hard to tell apart from black at a quick glance in less than stellar lighting conditions. Retro Blue was considered, but the color just was a bit too saturated for my taste to look good, plus it would have introduced an unweighted chip to the denominated set.
Ultimately I've settled with the regular Blue, which is still quite dark but by far not as dark as Dark Blue, plus it still has low saturation. I'm positive that the bright edge spots will make these stand out enough from the $20 and $100 even though their base colors are all close together.
$1 – Bullet
Pretty much a no-brainer. Don't think though that I'll ever have as many $1 chips as you can see bullets flying in the Matrix movies
I'm absolutely done on this one. Simple and elegant while still carrying just enough detail with the edge spots to make the chip look interesting.
Regular White was too muddy and too bright to look good for a base color, so I went with Gray. Which also fits better because well, bullets are made of metal, and metal isn't white.
$5 – Woman in Red
A very remarkable scene as well, the woman in red acting as the distraction in a training program for new redpills:
There is nothing left to think about here. I love this one! My favorite chip in the set, closely followed by the $1.
She is an eye-catcher, and being valued at just $5, she's guaranteed to be seen in pretty much any game I'll play.
$20 – Simulation
As already explained in the notes for the 25¢ chip, color grading in the Matrix movies consistently tints scenes set inside the Matrix in green.
Originally this was a $25 chip, but after reading up on arguments pro/contra $20/$25, I think for my intended use (or most common use) I'd fare much better with $20 chips. I can't stand yellow for a $20 at all though for this set, so my compromise was to change the denom but keep it green.
I really prefer the Dark Green body color. I've tried swapping the Dark Green base and regular Green spot, but it just didn't look as good and fitting. Retro Green as base color was considered too, but is just not the right hue for this setting; it reminds me a bit of 70s and earlier but certainly has no connection to the retro computer screen green I have in mind. I think the very different and bright spots make the 25¢, $20, $100 and $500 distinguishable enough.
$100 – Drill Head
The first line in the machines' attack forces in the final battle for Zion - huge drills digging tunnels straight into the docks to bypass the main external defense systems.
This chip's design I was long unsure about. I needed an edge spot that would fit into the progression, which meant 6 of something, but I also originally tried to not have duplicate shaped inlays. 6xx spots only go well with Tri-Moon though (I can't stand Hub and Clover), Scallop and Cog were already in use, and I couldn't find a good spot for the $500 that would allow me to move away from the Tri-Moon shape on that one instead.
Ultimately I bit the bullet and went with Tri-Moon for both $100 and $500. Since the $100 is black anyway, it won't be visible as prominently anyway, but it'd have been more awkward to leave one chip in the middle of the progression without a shaped inlay.
$500 – Hovercraft
Ships roughly resembling submarines that allow the human resistance to navigate the dangerous destroyed world's sewage tunnel systems. They are equipped with large electrical hover pads that allow them to fly at a moderate height.
The resistance only has very few, and they're huge. Nice denomination match.
Lavender and even Purple were just too bright to really fit into the lineup, so I sticked to Blurple. The sheer amount of bright thin edge spots should make this one easily recognizable though despite the dark body color.
These all are no-denomination, multi-purpose chips – maybe a complimentary card guard or beverage token or something like that.
The design of #1 obviously draws on the "blue pill, red pill" theme. The inlay features circular text labels that read two short quotes from the movies on each side:
- Choice is an illusion / Cause and effect (tied to Merv, and so to the club theme)
- Ignorance is bliss / Desert of the real (Cypher/Morpheus quotes tied to simulation and reality)
Would have preferred to have this one 100% UV reactive, but unfortunately there is no DG Red
The design on #3 is a stylized white rabbit in ASCII art, a hommage to the more comic-like white rabbit tattoo on Dujour's shoulder from a scene in the first movie:
Those bear my monogram; I'll be using them for all kinds of things.
2200 chips, plus replacements and non-denom chips for various purposes. Set should be able to cover two tables just fine, or one table extremely good.
Took me a while to get the required money together, but I was thinking, the longer I work on the design, the more refined it'll be when the deadline actually comes. After all, I've paid about double the amount my first car cost (used, but hey, still!) for this, so I wanted to make damn sure I'll be satisfied with it for a long, long time.
- 5¢ x 200
- 25¢ x 320
- $1 x 400
- $5 x 800
- $20 x 300
- $100 x 140
- $500 x 40
Total bank: $44490
(I used the Lady Luck Club set breakdown as base)
On top of that come, as said, replacement chips split across all denoms, the special design chips shown (plus a few more personal ones) as well as a bunch of extra sample sets for personal use.
The bank is big enough to accomodate games much bigger than I could ever see me playing in the foreseeable future, but that's exactly how I want it. Shelling out that amount of money, I want to make sure I don't ever have to order add-ons because I "outgrow" the set in terms of stakes. (Adding more $1s later to make the set fit for limit games would be a different thing for me.)
Think there's enough low-denom chips per player to cover low-stakes use perfectly as well: 10x5¢ = $0.50 / 16x25¢ = $4 / 20x$1 = $20 / total $24.50, in very small denominations only, for everyone. And that's considering 20 people concurrently playing. Even more available if I just have one full table.
Some of you will probably say I've included too many 25¢ chips in that breakdown, but I prefer having the option to throw more on the table in case my players prefer to place very finely tuned bets instead of just rounding up/down to the next dollar.
I've been torn here.
On the one hand I fully get there's a lot of chip collectors around here which is also why samples are frequently requested and offered, and I don't want to spoil the fun for them. On the other hand, this is supposed to be used as a real cash set, and while of course the danger is very low, it's still a fact that as soon as you give chips away for less than their nominal value, you make room for potential trouble should one of the samples ever find their way back and into your game. Regardless of how low the chance for that is, it is still greater than zero.
What I've decided on was to make slightly modified inlays for sample chips - namely adding a tiny icon in a place where you can't simply paint over it. It barely changes the overall appearance but will help me tell live chips and samples apart. This allows me to offer samples for all denominations with confidence. The undenominated chips will not have a sample marking.
- @Psypher1000: 1 denom set + 1 of all extras + 1 DB
- @Jeff: 1 denom set + 1 of all extras + 1 DB
- @Forty4: 1 denom set + 1 of all extras
- @Sparty: 1 denom set + 1 of all extras
- @Ronoh: 1 DB
- @PAZ: 1 denom set + 1 of all extras
- @tommythecat: 1 denom set + 1 of all extras + 1 DB
David has already told me that my main set alone is big enough to immediately trigger a production run, so you shouldn't have to wait too long until you'll have the samples in hand. David's estimate was chips arriving at my doorstep roughly around new year worst-case if production started now; so add the 1 1/2 week sample order time window and the time it'll take for the chips to travel from me to you on top of that.
First add-on - September 2018
Bumped up the number of all denominations, especially $1 and $5 to 1000 each for limit, and ordered a small quantity of snappers. No samples were offered, and I only ordered a minimal number of extras (unmarked) for myself. However, I received a good bunch of bonus snappers.
- 25¢ x 80 (total 400)
- $1 x 600 (total 1000)
- $2.50 x 60
- $5 x 200 (total 1000)
- $20 x 100 (total 400)
- $100 x 60 (total 200)
Second add-on - October 2020
Changed my mind on the $20 vs. $25 considerations over time. I still see the value for a $20 in limit together with $1 chips, but I ended up preferring $25s like I have in my Paradise set for everything else. Plus, this adds a bit more base color contrast to the old $100. Should also look sick under UV light.
The $100 I wanted to brighten up just a little. Charcoal is a better match for the steel of which the gigantic drill heads are made anyway, and this brings out the shaped inlay better. In the original design I wanted to stick to the traditional chip colors so I made it black.
- $25 x 200
- $100 V2 x 100, partial replacement only