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Cheap, low to medium volume, QUALITY prototypes

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Anonymous

Good afternoon all...

I'm wondering how much interest there might be in this... I'm asking because I'm thinking of starting a company to cater to what we need, cheap, low volume prototypes that actually look good....

However I may be fooling myself into thinking that there is a big demand for this type of stuff... What I'm talking about is boards, boxes, cards, counters, info tracking sheets, pens/penceils, dice, etc... (boxes/boards and cards all professional quality, glossy heavy stock for the cards, with rounded edges etc... )

And what I'm thinking about is runs such as 5 to 25 or 50 games.. (even as low as 1 game)

For prices ranging from 50 to 100 bux a game (granted that's a bit steep, but were talking about doing everything for your prototype)

Or even lower quality version (such as say, not rounding cards corners, or no box, or maybe it's just a card game or it's a board game with only a couple of pieces and no cards) that would be much cheaper (such as say 20 -50 bux a copy.. )

Would anyone be interested in this, granted I know the price is a bit steep, but with the low volume avalible I think it would be worth it (as opposed to getting your game made for 7 bux each but having to buy a 1,000 or 5,000 run minimum... )

I'm asking because I actually have the means (I have alot of printing equipment, and a LOT of connections in my area with different print shops etc...) However before I start investing some money into starting it up (with things such as demo prototypes, website, etc) I was wondering how interested others would be....

I'm also thinking that if this works out, my website will show prices for various things right there were you can see it (such as, 50 cards with 3 colors on front 2 colors on the back, rounded edges would cost such and such dollars)... So that way you can see how much your game might cost to prototype with out having to fill out one of those 'info forms' and waiting for a month to hear back....

I want to start something that people like us can afford, that's store quality and ready to submit to a gaming company or show to a local gaming store, and who knows, perhaps I'll find that I can print very,very cheaply and could even make smallish, affordable printings of your game...

But, if anyone's interested please just give a quick reply, based on the # of people interested I'm going to make my decison and I could have the website up by july if it all works out....

Satori

DarkDream
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Cheap, low to medium volume, QUALITY prototypes

Satori,

I think it is a great idea and I support you whole heartedly. For amateurs like us, I think we are only looking to make a small number of prototypes at a reasonable cost.

Some of the sites I've seen that do prototypes ask *way* too much, in my opinion, and the ones that seem to ask a reasonable amount for a full production version require at least 5,000 copies made which is well out of my budget.

Go for it. I'm definitely interested, and I wager a lot of others on this forum would be interested.

--DarkDream

Verseboy
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Cheap, low to medium volume, QUALITY prototypes

Your prototype idea raises a question that perhaps others can answer: In terms of appearance, how polished do prototypes need to be?

Obviously, first impressions are important. That's why you take a shower and brush your teeth before going on a first date or going to a job interview. The flip side of that, though, is game companies know they are looking at a prototype. They are interested in questions of how does it play. All the dressing up in the world isn't going to change the fact that a game is dull, and a brilliant game ought to be able to shine through the most rudimentary prototype. To the extent that a bad prototype actually interferes with game play, then production values matter. After that, I'm not so sure. And unless you are an artist or have a very specific vision for the look of a game, I suspect the company will want to put their own people on it.

That said, I put a fair amount of effort into my prototypes. I want to make a good impression, too. I don't round the corners of my cards or coat them in any way, though. I create a functional box and put the name on it, but I don't do anything that would be mistaken for store-ready.

Thoughts from those in the know?

I'm not saying yours is a good idea or a bad one. It simply caused me to wonder what is acceptable in the world of prototypes.

Steve

jwarrend
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Cheap, low to medium volume, QUALITY prototypes

I find this idea very interesting, particularly from the perspective of just having a nice copy of my games to play even if they don't end up getting published (or if I don't choose to submit them). Being able to spend $100 for a "pretty" version of one of my own games would definitely be an investment I'd consider making.

Are you proposing to include graphic design services as part of the package, or would designers need to supply you with camera-ready materials? I ask because to me, the area where my game prototypes fall short is primarily visual panache -- I'm neither an artist nor a graphic designer, so my games are functional but not pretty. The quality of the components certainly could stand to improve, but given the choice, I'd probably be as or more interested in a graphics overhaul as opposed to just a components overhaul. Are you planning to/able to provide those kinds of services?

Also, for most of my games, I prefer to use wooden components for the players. Would you have some flexibility in the kind of pieces that were included, or are you proposing just to handle the "printable" aspects of the design?

Anyway, I think this is a great idea. i have no idea how widespread the interest would be, but it's certainly a service I'd consider using if my games got "done" enough to warrant the beautification process!

-Jeff

IngredientX
IngredientX's picture
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Joined: 07/26/2008
Cheap, low to medium volume, QUALITY prototypes

I've been playing around with a similar idea, but stopped thinking about it when I remembered that I have zero capital, and less business acumen to raise some... :roll:

My thought was making generic "game design kits" that could be purchased by amateur game designers for their prototypes. These would be sold in different packages, like...

- Blank cards. Much like the blank playing cards Darke is working on getting us. Obviously, glossy-coated cards of playing-card stock is probably too much to do; but perforated, heavy stock with rounded corners would be perfect. A designer could punch a template into his/her favorite design program, print the cards, punch them out, and have prototype cards with no cutting, trimming, or corner-rounding.

- Blank tiles. Much like blank cards, but the user would print out labels that would fit onto perforated tiles. The tiles could be square (Carcassonne), hexagonal (Settlers of Catan), or round (any kind of coins). The lables could be spaced to allow bleeding to the edge.

- Blank boards. This would be a biggie; a single board, about 7" by 10", with no folds (like Robo Rally). The board surface could be printed out on a single page of heavy cardstock, with a perforated area about the size of the board to allow bleed. Once the cardstock is printed, it could be punched out and attached to the board with paperclips or spray adhesive (the former at first, while changes to the board are made; the latter after the board is finalized). If more space is needed, multiple boards can be created, and laid adjacent to one another (again, like Robo Rally).

- The holy grail: a custom software application that could import game text and art, and print it out. It would know all the various templates (and automatically check through any available Internet connection for new templates); allow the user to build a large board surface, and automatically designate print areas across the multiple boards; link to single artwork files for the game art, so if one image gets changed, the designer wouldn't have to update all the game components; and intellignetly print out fronts and backs, so if cards have unique backs, it would properly match them with their proper fronts.

Ambitious? Yes! But I think there might just be a market for this. It would certainly be more profitable than entire prototypes. With these kits, a game designer can come up with five copies of their games for about $100 and a couple of hours of work; certainly much better than anything than exists now.

Of course, if anyone would be kind enough to drop $50,000 in my PayPal account, I'd see what I could do about realizing this idea (after a good brainstorming vacation in Venice, of course... ;) )

Anonymous
Cheap, low to medium volume, QUALITY prototypes

DarkDream wrote:
Satori,

I think it is a great idea and I support you whole heartedly. For amateurs like us, I think we are only looking to make a small number of prototypes at a reasonable cost.

Some of the sites I've seen that do prototypes ask *way* too much, in my opinion, and the ones that seem to ask a reasonable amount for a full production version require at least 5,000 copies made which is well out of my budget.

Go for it. I'm definitely interested, and I wager a lot of others on this forum would be interested.

--DarkDream

Cool... I've not read all the messages so if I missed something, I'll be back later....
But, first off...the price I gave may actually be less than what I was saying earlier (such as oh, around say 70 bux for one and of course less for more, maybe even down to 30 bux each for 25 or more... I'm still working with my print connections to find out prices... but it's looking really promising... )
Second, as for the quality of the prototypes, what I'm talking about is straight on store quality, boards/boxes would be exactly the same quality as say Hasbro...
However, I'm still in debate on a few things, perhaps you could all help me make a decesion... It's the cards... I want them to be 'game quality' such as the type you'd find in any board game, heavy stock, varnished, rounded edges.... However, this may make a prototype too expensive (as it is I think this is the most costly part... However I being a game maker/player also want the 'good cards'.... But I think that I may be able to cut the price in 1/2 if I used say sheets of perforated cards for your game cards on heavy stock paper, granted not the same, but could be a cost saver... ( I want both but my connection informs me that I may have to invest too much to have access to both.... ) ..

But what do you all think... are perforated cards acceptable? or would you all prefer the good cards... (or I could save money on cards that were heavy stock, varnished that weren't rounded on the corners... )

Oh... and about game peices... I want to offer everything for the prototype, but when/if I start this up I think that I won't be able to cost effectivly offer casted peices, granted I could print up 'tokens' or the like but I think I'll leave casting plastic/resin pieces till later... unless someone's game depends on it.... )

But... just a little more info for now... each night I talk to my buddy I get more info...

Satori

Anonymous
Cheap, low to medium volume, QUALITY prototypes

jwarrend wrote:
Are you proposing to include graphic design services as part of the package, or would designers need to supply you with camera-ready materials? I ask because to me, the area where my game prototypes fall short is primarily visual panache -- I'm neither an artist nor a graphic designer, so my games are functional but not pretty. The quality of the components certainly could stand to improve, but given the choice, I'd probably be as or more interested in a graphics overhaul as opposed to just a components overhaul. Are you planning to/able to provide those kinds of services?

Also, for most of my games, I prefer to use wooden components for the players. Would you have some flexibility in the kind of pieces that were included, or are you proposing just to handle the "printable" aspects of the design?

-Jeff

Okay... I've had more time to look at these/talk to my 'guy' about it....
And more info...
First - Yes, I do plan on and want to offer art work for your games (since I know how much of a pain in the ass this can be to get cheaply), and I'm talking to a guy right now that's just starting out, but he's pretty good and I may get him to do art for me on an hourly basis.... (so it would be cost effective for us all.. ) And secondly I would offer wooden pieces, plastic pieces, spinners, counters,ect... (I would of course try to 'recycle' some peices from old board games if possible, such as colored tokens for player pieces, ect... , saves us all money that way... )
And lastly... I've mulled it over and I think that even if I don't go 'full bore' on this idea I'm going to atleast do it small wise... (so perhaps at first instead of having a website I'll just send out brocures or something..) because I think (and am pretty sure) that this could be profitable even on a small scale (especially since I've got 5 games I'd also liked prototyped and I've only gotten one done so far... But it looks great (I showed it to the guys at KenzerCo during a convention and I think they thought I was lying about making the game myself (until they saw my name/email on the box that is.. ) ) so I think this is a good idea and I'm going to run with it... I'll keep you all informed (because I don't think I'll be able to really get into it until after my next convention memorial day weekend... )
I'm also thinking that I may get in touch with some of you in regards to 'specifics' about your games so I could get more of an idea what others may want in the long run....
But... it's looking promising
Satori

Anonymous
Cheap, low to medium volume, QUALITY prototypes

IngredientX wrote:
I've been playing around with a similar idea, but stopped thinking about it when I remembered that I have zero capital, and less business acumen to raise some... :roll:

My thought was making generic "game design kits" that could be purchased by amateur game designers for their prototypes. These would be sold in different packages, like...

Good idea, and actually I've been kicking something similar around with my other plan.... However I'm thinking of making metal game boards with lots of magnetic counters/empty 'rooms', grid pieces, etc... That way you could use the kit to make lots of different boards/games, and then if something needs to be changed it could be done right away..Also I was thinking of putting some white vynil over the board so you could use dry erase markers to make notes/changes draw extras, etc.... This may be one of the things offered by my potential prototype company... (I've been kicking this one around for about 4 months now.... what I need is to get on top of it and stop thinking about it.... )

Satori

Anonymous
I need you!

So....timing is everything, I guess. I'm looking for someone that can print 104 cards with a tuck box. the cards are simple with two colors (black and one spot color) over black text. They have the same back. I don't care if the corners are rounded. I want the cards to be heavy stock (12 pt) and 2 side glossy. I'd like about 100 - 500 copies. Let me be your first customer!

I'm still testing it, so I still have some time, but I'd like to get this thing done asap.....

Let me know if you think you'll be able to print tuck boxes..........thanks

Anonymous
Re: I need you!

mattlehman wrote:
So....timing is everything, I guess. I'm looking for someone that can print 104 cards with a tuck box. the cards are simple with two colors (black and one spot color) over black text. They have the same back. I don't care if the corners are rounded. I want the cards to be heavy stock (12 pt) and 2 side glossy. I'd like about 100 - 500 copies. Let me be your first customer!

I'm still testing it, so I still have some time, but I'd like to get this thing done asap.....

Let me know if you think you'll be able to print tuck boxes..........thanks
Heh... Yes, and no... I can't say I'll be using the typical tuck boxes that we see in the store, but I will however be getting a stock of boxes for card games and printing on them (or printing on vynil and laying the finished product over the box... ).. it'll really depend on what's cheapest but still has the quality that I want/we need... that way the prices still remain low... But.. I'm going to try and get on this as fast as I can, but still, at the earliest I'm thinking about 2nd week of june before I'm ready to 'test run' some prototypes.... I'll keep you posted atleast weekly about the status though....

Satori

Anonymous
Cheap, low to medium volume, QUALITY prototypes

Okay... I'm still looking/figuring out money/ability to make the stuff...
(My biggest problem is that I'm basicly trying to do this with cash on hand, so it limits my ability at this point... )

But I was wondering how appealing the following might be for any/everyone...

1. If I offered board/card game prototypes of specific type/contents -
Meaning, If I only offered say game boards that were 16X16 inches to 21X21 inches, (boxes to match of course), along with having some 'extras' avalible for your game (such as cards if needed, tokens/counters/dice/info tracking sheets/spinners and perhaps printed game tokens), the art will still be offered, (they guy I'm working with is really really excited about doing more stuff... and he's good enough that he works at a print shop just doing art for them... ) but I may offer slightly modified clip art for your game (at a lower cost of course), along with instructions. So what I'm leaving out currently (and could add back in as the situation warrents) is triple folding boards, really big game boards (and really small game boards), wooden pieces (but I've seen lots of sources for them.. ), 'specialty boards', and miniratures (thought I've found a good source for them also...about 50 each.. ) oh.. and I would of course still offer 'game tokens' (the little colored tokens to represent your character... ) ...

And I'm still looking at 60-100 bux per game (but will vary greatly from game to game, hell a card only game may only run 30 bux a copy or a game with only counters, game peices a board/box and dice may be 50 bux or less... ) But I'm still talking about sellable quality games (not that this price would be fesable for resale.. but the quality (and art) is 1/2 the game in my opion... )..
So.. I'm just wondering what the intrest level in this might be (.. I figured I'm making my own prototypes and if I can do it cheaply there's no reason I shouldn't 'share the wealth'... (I say cheaply however, profit is still of importance.. ) ... ) if I was to 'limit' myself in the above mentioned manner.. (granted I eventually want to do 2 things, lower the prototype price, I'd like to be able to get them out around 30 to 40 bux max and also add more 'options' to the prototype... but I'm finding that if I try to offer too much the price of everyone's prototype skyrockets... so it's been suggested that I try to limit what we offer to start, then build on from there... good suggestion.. (and I've had to apply it to more than a few of my own game creations in the past.. .)
But I wanted to see what everyone else might think of my 'limitation' on prototypes....

(oh.. and if anyone's interested/has time, could you PM me with some 'specs' for your prototype, I'm curious what others may want/need but I may have overlooked or forgotten.. (or maybe I'm including too much, maybe no one (or very, very few) people have spinners, and I could leave them out all together... )...

Any help/feedback would be much appreciated...
Satori

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