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The City of Games

Icon testing – The results!

1st July 2016 0

Last week we launched a questionnaire asking you to give feedback on our icons, we were overwhelmed by the feedback and had 70 responses! So thank you all and here are the results!


Overall the character stats proved to be very successful, most icons were universally understood and we don’t believe much work is required on these.



The most recognised icon was the heart, people described it as health, hit points and life which we’re happy with.One person used the word stamina which is close enough although worth flagging as stamina has another purpose within The City of Kings.There was a single instance of the word movement which may have been a mistake.



Not surprisingly attack was a highly recognised stat, key terms used were attack, strength and melee damage so this proved to be a successful icon.Other suggestions were fighting skill and combat, both are close enough but still worth pulling out as examples of different interpretations.



We were glad to see the four-leaf clover was universally recognised as luck with only 2 people suggesting other options.We did see hippi-ness and Druidic nature-powers as suggestions but we’re happy with the success of this icon.



This icon was both a disaster and a massive success depending on how you look at it. There was a 50/50 split between the use of range and accuracy/aim so you could argue only 50% of people got this correct.This is where we have to re-visit the purpose of the test and whilst we asked people to name the icon, we really wanted to understand what people felt the icon would mean.In this instance the icon represents your ability to hit a target that’s further away, accuracy represents the likelihood of hitting something but doesn’t necessarily mean something that is further away.We are undecided about whether this should be 97% of 48.5% but we are happy that the icon would be clear to understand for players given a little bit of context.



Most people used the words defence or armour which may better than shield but nearly everyone associated this with some sort of defensive stat which was the key test for this icon.Other suggestions were health, magic defence, block and endurance



It was difficult to decide which words would count for this icon, there was a large variety of similar suggestions including intelligence, smarts, wisdom and knowledge.We decided to think about the stat itself and what it represents – your ability to do additional things, as you become more intelligent you unlock more options. So we felt many of the words used sat within this description and were happy with the results.The words we didn’t allow were mind and mental, also investigation, logic, clairvoyance and whit came up.A few people commented the brain could be slightly lumpier which we agree with and have taken on board.



Move, speed and travel were heavily used words for this icon, we’re happy that they all sit within the purpose of this stat so another successful icon.Interestingly range was used several times, perhaps the thought was the range you can move? But we kept this as a fail in case it was meant in another way.Other suggestions were agility, stealth and one person didn’t have any ideas.



We were surprised that heal proved to be much more of a challenge than the other icons, several people said they didn’t know and a few suggested bonuses or additional actions.12% of people suggested this was health and some started to question whether that meant the heart represented something else.We are still above 75% which was our goal but it was interesting to see how an icon we considered to be one of the most obvious ended up being the least recognised character stat.




The enemy ability icon was a complete failure and nearly no one got it right. This isn’t a problem though as we were expecting it, whilst the character icons were fairly common stats people could be familiar with, this was something entirely new.In The City of Kings you will encounter enemies who will have randomly generated abilities, when you spawn a creature you take an ability from a bag. Without knowing this people would struggle to understand the icon but the important question was, what did people think it meant?


57% of people suggested this was either loot or a reward, when you fight a creature you get something. As an action this isn’t too different from our action, when you fight a creature you do get something – an ability token for the creature.

17% of people suggested poison, this was less expected but again not a bad thing as poison is a subset of our abilities.

Other suggestions included thief, killing capacity, danger, death with 4 people having no idea.

This is all very much open to interpretation but we are happy that a lot of the suggestions could overlap with our meaning. We’ll be doing some more research with this icon during playtests.


We considered worker stats to be somewhere in between character and enemy icons in terms of complexity. Without context these would be much harder to understand so we were happy with the results.



Gathering refers to mining, fishing, picking and cutting down trees, the action works the same but the resource obtained is dependent on your location. We decided to represent this with mining as trying to represent all 4 variations in a single icon would have been overly complex and not really needed.Most people said working, resource gathering or mining which we considered success. Other suggestions were building, yield, output and capacity. You could argue yield and output are also valid as the more gathering you have, the more resource you collect but we decided to keep them out of the success criteria as they were less related to the action.



58% isn’t too bad! The main words used to describe this were move, transport and speed which we think are all valid. This stat represents how far you can move in an action with your wagon which is used to hold resources.Interestingly 2 people even suggested this represented wagons but we felt this was a little too generic to be classed as a success.Other suggestions included productivity, farming, capacity, number of turns and the changing of ages with 3 people not putting anything.



0%! So scavenge failed miserably and no one really got close… It has proven to be a difficult icon for us and we’re currently re-thinking both the name and icon.The action represents searching a destroyed enemy location for items and we feel scavenge is thematically representative. We could change this to search and use a magnifying glass but this moves away from the theme.One of the questions we’re often faced with is simplicity vs realism and scavenge has sat in the middle of that discussion for a while now.


Finally we asked if there were any comments people had and we wanted to address a few.

The really small dark areas will likely not show up well at all sizes.

This is a valid point and we agree, these markings are there to help bring the icons into our theme/graphic design and help them blend a little with the world. If they don’t always show it wont cause problems but we do believe it looks nicer when they are visible!

Not enough contrast on black background for some colours

Completely valid, we should have mentioned on the form that the colours are not final and the background was just to help the icons stand out on the page. You’ll notice on this page they are on a different background colour again as they’ll be used in a variety of ways.

Do your icon colors have any relevance or are they arbitrarily chosen?

The colours serve no purpose, they are there just to help quickly identify matching icons from a glance/distance.

It’s hard to guess without knowing anything About the game

That’s why we did it!

We often find when we first play a game we look at all the icons with fear and know it will take a while to learn and become comfortable with them. So we want to get to a point where 75% of people could understand 75% of our icons without any knowledge of the game at all.



In summary we had 70 people give feedback on 12 icons, totalling 840 results. The total success rate was 73% which we are extremely happy with.We know there are still improvements to be done, especially on scavenge! So we’ll continue to make The City of Kings the best game possible with your help, thank you!

Frank West

Frank West is a gamer and designer based in Bristol, UK. He published his first board game, The City of Kings, in 2018 and now works on other games and organising events in the local area. His goal? To design and publish games focusing on immersive themes, fun mechanics and beautiful components. If you have any questions or would just like a chat, feel free to get in touch at any time!

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