Tag Archives: print on demand

Boardgame Print Shop Adds Boards

As a print shop for boardgames, The Game Crafter has always had a fairly gaping hole in their service. They didn’t do boards. Yes, you read that right. Not what you would probably call boards, anyway. But that changed yesterday, with the addition of 18-inch quad-fold boards to their catalog.

I could pretend that I just whipped up a full-size Salta board today, but I won’t. This move was announced some time ago, so I had most of the graphic design ready to pull the trigger on.

Review: Story Games Portrait Cards

Story Game Character Portraits
I’ve written before about Jeff Preston’s 108 Terrible Character Portraits, and about the print-on-demand service at The Game Crafter. It’s surprising that I didn’t think before of putting the two together. Luckily, though, it didn’t, because I’d have been disappointed to find that someone got there first. Continue reading Review: Story Games Portrait Cards

On Your Marks…

Racing game notes
Here we see what game design often entails, unglamorously enough: a spreadsheet. Well, actually a table, comparing and contrasting a motley assortment of racing games I happen to own, or have played. This is what it looks like for me to try to visualize the space of prior art, poking for holes in between the things that I know have already been done. People say I’m analytical. Continue reading On Your Marks…

Feature Creep

Salta board
I’ve stumbled into another graphic redesign of a classic strategy game. I lay the blame on Schmittberger’s New Rules for Classic Games. Based on the marketing blurbs, I expected the book to be all game variants, but that’s not exactly so. Schmittberger also gets into regional variations on folk games (which is what got me thinking again about International Checkers) as well as lesser-known games that can be played using classic game parts. It’s this last category where I found Salta. Continue reading Feature Creep

That Was Quick

CheckerboardI got my orthogonal-board International Checkers set up on The Game Crafter’s online store. So that can be officially signed off.

I must say, even after working on a lot of projects with quite short schedules (by the standards of professional, team projects) there’s something really refreshing about doing little side projects which can be measured in days (and far from full working days at that).

The Match

The Game Crafter’s new website revision is live, so I’ll be putting my custom International Checkers up there soon. They’re requiring a bit more polish on the game pages than before, which has got me updating a bunch of my images from the DicePack project. Those are still a little rough around the edges after my first pass, but at least usable.

The MatchThat has got me thinking about images to put up with the other project, and right now I’d like to focus on just one. One component of the publisher’s site is “action shots,” allowing you to show close-ups of game components, how the game is set up and played, and such. Okay, so I’ll set up my proof copy of the checkerboard and take some shots.

But, wait, maybe somebody should be playing the game? Nobody here but me. That’s the train of thought that lead to this split-screen effects shot of me playing Checkers against myself. Continue reading The Match

Dots and Crosses

Corrected, color International Checkers boardCanny observers of yesterday’s entry will notice that I managed to either mirror-image or rotate the checkerboards. Conven­tion­ally, the lower-left corner is playable. This makes absolutely no significant difference to gameplay (hey, look, another example of an isomorphism), but is the sort of thing that any seasoned Checkers player would notice. That’s fixed, which segues nicely into the topic of finishing touches.

I now have a couple of design projects sitting unfinished. I feel like I’ve done the central work, but a number of small tasks remain. The temptation to move on to more interesting problems is strong, but I believe that finishing is what separates craftsmanship from Just Messing Around, so I’m fighting it. The definition of this is relative, by the way; if there were someone else responsible for the downstream tasks, I’d be finished. But no, things like instruction sheets, page banners for the print-on-demand shop, double-checking proofs — these are the i’s that must be dotted and the t’s that must be crossed. Honestly, if I were more serious, I’d be doing a blind playtest also, to catch whatever I’ve missed.

While I’m touching on the topic, by the way, it so happens that Spanish publisher Nestorgames has recently come out with a portable International Checkers board for €16.00 (plus shipping), or twenty-some US dollars. So, you still have to send away to Spain, but it’s better than the $50.00 or so you’d sink on a nice wooden board elsewhere.

Nestor always seems a nice enough fellow on BoardGameGeek, so I thought I’d mention it. It’s not like I’m in this to compete with him.

Using the Whole Buffalo

Now we get into some technical details. Whenever you’re making cards, you’re probably printing more than one of them on a sheet. This is one of those things that’s so obvious that it goes without saying, even when it should be said. I can name at least one entire game (the eleven-card Pico) that was created simply because there was space left on a card sheet in another project.

In our case, we need thirty-six cards to represent all dice combinations. It’d be good to also include a card you could stuff in the lower part of the deck to trigger a re-shuffle (to keep the last few cards from being entirely predictable). I happen to be thinking of printing through The Game Crafter, which at the time I was first thinking of this project used sixteen-card sheets. Okay, so it happens that they’ll soon be switching to eighteen-card sheets, which starts making just thirty-six cards look attractive again, but travel back in time with me here. Thirty-seven cards on three sheets leave a lot of wasted space. Eleven cards’ worth, in fact. What can we do with that (aside from re-publishing Pico)?

domino cardWell, another game accessory that looks an awful lot like a pair of dice is a domino. The cards we’re already planning on cover twenty-one out of the twenty-eight that appear in a set of double-six dominos. So, we could include that feature for zero extra cost of goods. This also helps with the previously mentioned problem of the narrow scope of the project. It supports more experiences, plus a portable domino set makes the whole project not just an expansion to other games.

Sure, this is all pretty basic. But I think it’s a good simple example of a broadly-applicable design principle. In the end, we’re looking at making real usable objects with tools that have their own constraints and affordances. In this case it’s a printing method, but it’s always something, and that always influences the design process.

One side note: I spent some time fixing the white points on the photos I took, so the white die now looks white and not pale grey. The grey background looks better by contrast. I only mention it because it’s something I learned about photography in the course of this project. Yay, learning!

Next: I don’t know; do the indices throw the balance of the cards off a bit? Would it look bad to also have another index over the shadow in the lower right, or should I move the background image a bit? Maybe I’ll just make ice cream.

Print-on-Demand Jump Gate Wins GAMES 100 Game of the Year

GAMES Magazine has been doing an annual “GAMES 100” awards issue since 1980, with a “Game of the Year” since 1991. This year the nod has reportedly gone to Jump Gate, a self-published, print on demand title by Matt Worden.

Now, the GAMES awards have sometimes been a little idiosyncratic. But for a POD game like this to come out of nowhere and take the slot that last year went to Small World? That’s more than idiosyncratic; it’s shocking.

This bears further investigation. Oh, and the ever-prolific reviewer Tom Vasel quite liked it too, which seems a good place to start:

Sources: here and here