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Keeping box size in mind...

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Sundog
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Are there standard box sizes for boardgames? While designing the multiple game boards that make up this particular game, I'd like to ensure it's feasibility by designing around a particular box size.

Is this possible?

phpbbadmin
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curious

Are you going to self publish this game? If so you might want to see about using existing box sizes. Stuff like shoe boxes, apparel boxes, etc. Go to the various packaging stores on the web and browse what they have available. Request samples. That's the best thing I can tell you to do. It will be much cheaper if you use preexisting boxes rather than having custom boxes created for your game.

If you are going to get this game published by a company, I wouldnt' worry about it. That's their job and so you shouldn't lose any sleep over it.
HTH.
Darke

Sundog
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Keeping box size in mind...

I won't be publishing this myself. I'm type A, so I normally think ahead to save myself the trouble of redoing anything. I see that Avalon Hill boxed their games in one of about 4 sizes. If this game advances to the publishing level, I want it to fit in a box size not considered "custom".

phpbbadmin
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Again

Let me stress that a lot of publishers will take your game prototype and COMPLETELY redo it to their liking. This might mean graphics, layout, EVERYTHING (a lot of times even the rules). For instance, when Apples to Apples was submitted to Out of the Box ga mes, it was actually a board game. Out of the Box changed it so drastically that it was changed to card game format... Let me reiterate that unless the publisher requests things in a certain format, I wouldn't worry about trying to get your game to fit nicely into an 'industry standard' box. Odds are the publisher won't care or it won't matter.

-Darke

Sundog
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Keeping box size in mind...

Thanks Darke - to sum it up, you're saying that if someone other than myself publishes my game; the game may end up in a state in which I didn't intend?

hpox
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Keeping box size in mind...

I don't think I have more than a couple of boxes that are the same format in my whole game collection (about 50 games)

Anonymous
Keeping box size in mind...

Sundog,

No, the point is... if you intend to sell your game to a publishing company who will print it for you... don't worry about it.

The publishing company is, at the very least, going to change your artwork/layout to their liking... which means THEY will decide how big the boards are and thus, the box.

You don't need to worry about anything but the gameplay.

Tyler

Sundog
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Keeping box size in mind...

Thanks guys - I know I seem pretty hardheaded about this. Alright, there is no such thing as standard box size(s). Point taken.

FastLearner
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Keeping box size in mind...

Sundog wrote:
Thanks guys - I know I seem pretty hardheaded about this. Alright, there is no such thing as standard box size(s). Point taken.

It's not so much that... each game company does tend to have a few standard sizes.

It's that it doesn't matter what size your prototype is (as long as it could at least somewhat realistically be created -- if the game required a board the size of the average living room and it can't be reengineered to be smaller then you probably don't have a marketable game).

Think of it like being a book author: as an author you may choose a particular typeface and size for your manuscript, but the publisher won't care as long as he can read it, since he's going to completely reformat it. What the publisher cares about is whether or not the intellectual property is any good: that's what you're selling.

Just as an author needs to consider whether the word count (length) of his submission is appropriate, so too do you need to consider whether the game could be feasibly produced if you want to sell it, but the specifics of your prototype's visuals and layout are very likely going to be completely thrown away if they buy the game.

You're selling the idea.

To sum, it's not a lack of standard size; it's that it doesn't hardly matter if there's a standard size (beyond "reasonable for that publisher").

-- Matthew

Sundog
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Keeping box size in mind...

Thanks Matthew - I completely understand now. I should have understood a few posts ago, but I am hardheaded (my wife tells me so).

My problem is: I have blinders on when it comes to "selling" my design to a publisher. I suppose my initial intent was to make this particular game for my own personal gratification. Then after showing the concepts to a few people, it was suggested I design with mass production in mind.

You never say never, because everything has its price. But, I couldn't see myself "selling" this idea to a publisher just to have them turn hours and hours of hard work upside down...

FastLearner
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Keeping box size in mind...

I can appreciate that. It's the constant dilemma of the artist, really. Writers deal with it all the time: editors (and publishers) ruining their work. I think it depends on your goal: if you want other people to have the fun of playing your game then it won't matter too much what the publisher does, but if you want people to appreciate your specific creation then probably only self-publishing is going to match your desire.

-- Matthew

PS: No judgment intended on what you might want, mind you: I know that if I was a painter, for example, I wouldn't want a publisher to "touch up" my painting. Different strokes and all that.

DavemanUK
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just imagine for now

While the 'dont worry about the art' pragmatic approach is best, there's no harm in imagining your boxed game all nicely packaged purely to remind you of the theme you are trying to cohesively represent in your game. It also acts as a nice motivator :)

Dave W.
(I imagine a box cover of merchants walking through a C18th French Town with the shopkeepers biding them well)

FastLearner
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Keeping box size in mind...

Amen to that. In fact I go way overboard and work up title designs and all kinds of graphics. It makes the playtests more fun and does, indeed, keep me "in the mood" of the game.

I just work hard to remember that it's likely to all get chucked if it ever gets published. :)

-- Matthew

Anonymous
Does size matter?

I think that if you have a dream of how you want the final product to look, you should make your samples as close to the real thing as possible. If it's well designed, you'll have a much better chance of seeing it actually produced that way. If it is poorly designed but has the right mechanics, it will be altered.

That said, it is probable that the final will be tweaked to accomadate press and equipment capabilities in order to keep manufacturing costs reasonable. Ie: if you could make a box .50 inche smaller and print the box top and bottom on 1 press sheet instead of 2, it's something that as a manufacturer I would do.

Aerjen
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Keeping box size in mind...

8O Well I'm shocked. I never stopped to realize this. That's a couple of points to self-publishing for me. Do you guys know, whether this is the same everywhere, or if there are some countries (like e.g. the Netherlands) where they leave most of the artwork and design intact? I usually send a lot of time on the looks and I'de hate to see them shot by some artist, who doesn't grasp what I was trying to express with the artwork.

zaiga
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Keeping box size in mind...

Aerjen wrote:
8O Well I'm shocked. I never stopped to realize this. That's a couple of points to self-publishing for me. Do you guys know, whether this is the same everywhere, or if there are some countries (like e.g. the Netherlands) where they leave most of the artwork and design intact? I usually send a lot of time on the looks and I'de hate to see them shot by some artist, who doesn't grasp what I was trying to express with the artwork.

Well, I am shocked that a lot of people didn't realize this! I only know of one game (that wasn't self-published) where the prototype art was kept intact (Coloretto). In almost all other cases the publisher will completely re-do the artwork. Most of the time this will be because the original artwork just isn't very good which is OK, publishers don't expect game designers to be the new Rembrandt, as long as the art used for the prototype is functional. In other cases the artwork will need to be redone because it has to fit industry standards or because the publisher decides to use different components.

You could say that this is a negative point, but I see it as a positive, because it means I have to pay less attention to making the game look great, instead I can focus on the gameplay and the mechanics. For example, the graphics I used for my prototype of "Gheos" are functional, but very mundane and if the game would ever get published I would actually be shocked if the publisher decided to use the original art. Even for "Urban Construct" where I put a lot of time and effort into the art I expect the publisher to completely redo all of it.

- René Wiersma

jwarrend
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Keeping box size in mind...

I must say that I think we're putting the cart a bit before the horse here -- saying "My goodness, if they publish my game, they could change my artwork?" is a bit like saying "If I'm president, I could be impeached?" The fact is, getting the game published is quite an accomplishment in and of itself!

That said, it does raise the interesting question of how much "say" you have in the final product. My guess is that it isn't all that much -- you're selling them the game system, and they can do what they want with it. This includes changing the art, changing the theme even. I would be interested to hear how much leverage the designer is given in directing this process. I suspect it increases as your "brand name" increases.

This raises a very interesting dilemma -- self-publish, in which case you'll likely be doing a small run and substandard on the quality end, or license, in which case you run the risk of your art being changed.

For me, I put very little effort into the artwork beyond "functionality" concerns, since I have no art skills. This makes publication more attractive to me, because it means I could see the game with "real art". But, I'd still like to have some say in the published product. Yet, for me, that's not something I can think about now, since if I don't design a great game in the first place, all the time I spent worrying about the art will be for nought since the game isn't good enough to get sold anyway.

In that sense, I'd encourage you to work more on the game itself. Keep in mind that everyone's friends encourage them to publish their games. You need to be more brutal of a critic than they are, and you need to know for yourself when the game is ready to go. If you're spending a lot of time on the art and want to keep what you have, then maybe indeed self-publication may be the better route for you. But don't go either route until the game itself is as good as it can be!

-Jeff

Anonymous
Keeping box size in mind...

Quote:
No, the point is... if you intend to sell your game to a publishing company who will print it for you... don't worry about it.

The publishing company is, at the very least, going to change your artwork/layout to their liking... which means THEY will decide how big the boards are and thus, the box.

You don't need to worry about anything but the gameplay.

Now to completely contradict myself. (I seem to do that a lot here)

Most of my games ARE done up all pretty. Some, which are card games that are numbers driven (ie........ Lost Cities) NEED artwork just to get away from looking at big numbers on the protos. So, generally, I do some "art" (read: crappy line drawings) to fill the white space on my protos.

Once my game gets to a point where I'm happy with it, I begin to beg/borrow/steal artwork. Sometimes I pay for it. Sometimes I beg. Sometimes, not often, but sometimes I find a collection online that is perfect and I steal it... then I beg for someone to do layout. In actuality, most of my games are full-color with nice graphics and complete with box.

But... then again.... this was all long before I got the "gotta be published" bug. I did these nice proto's because I was playing the games with my friends and family and didn't really care to invest the time/money to get published...

Soooo........

Now I actually have 2 games being revied for publishing... and, when I sent them off, I sent a stripped copy. No art, no finish, just words and numbers on cards and lines/words on boards. Nothing fancy. The way I look at it is this:

If my game isn't good enough to stand on it's own without flair, I should't try to cover it up with pretty graphics.

That's just me.
Tyler

jwarrend
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Keeping box size in mind...

Random_Person wrote:

If my game isn't good enough to stand on it's own without flair, I should't try to cover it up with pretty graphics.

In that case, let me contradict myself!

I think sending a stripped down version is valid, but on the other hand, I don't think there's anything wrong with sending a "gussied up version". A game that has nice presentation and components that integrate the theme and mechanics is going to be more fun to play, and there's nothing wrong with, as someone here said, giving them something that they'll want to like even before they start playing! After all, the game once sold is going to be evaluated on the aesthetics, so giving the publisher more than just black and white text with no graphics at all isn't necessarily going to give them an accurate picture of what the game is potentially going to be in production form.

I think that spending all your time worrying about getting the visuals "perfect" is unnecessary, but removing any visual aspects from your design might not be necessary either.

-Jeff

Sundog
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Keeping box size in mind...

Great ideas guys - seems like a good topic for debate. But clearly, I now see two very valid ways of approaching the game design process. We all should continue to design & submit based on our personal strengths, but not get the "cart before the horse" as was suggested earlier.

No matter how strong we may be in the visuals area, certainly the game mechanics should work well first. For me (strong in visuals), I do go about designing in this fashion, but I also look at any creation as a piece of visual art - and unfortunately cannot envision the completed product without thinking about the one beautiful little 1/2" counter that will spend most of it's life inside the box. And once again, the hardheaded side of me doesn't want a publisher making vast changes to a game which I've enjoyed putting hours into.

I guess this makes me an artist instead of a game designer

Keith

Anonymous
Keeping box size in mind...

jwarrend wrote:
I think sending a stripped down version is valid, but on the other hand, I don't think there's anything wrong with sending a "gussied up version".
-Jeff

I don't think there is anything wrong with it... depending on the application. There are some games that would starve without artwork/theme.

What I should have said is this:

The games I have in review are more "german" in deisign... thus the theme has a "tacked on" feel to it. I chose, when submitting, to leave the theme and artwork off of the mechanics so as not to bias the publishers opinion. I read an interview with Reiner Knizia once where he commented that he sent Ra to a publisher who simply wouldn't look at it because it was an "Egyptian" game. The theme could have been easily fixed to whatever was their liking, but instead they refused right-out.

I chose, when submitting, to leave the theme off and propose multiple themes for each game. One, in fact, has HAD multiple themes throughout the games existance... 6 actually. And I submitted the game stripped of any of these... but I included them in my address. I decided that if someone would turn down Reiner on a theme... I was going "themeless" :-)

Tyler

Deviant
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Keeping box size in mind...

Google is your best friend. Remember that if you need artwork for your prototype. It's not wrong, it's not illegal - remember, you're just doing this to give your prototype some flavor. If you decide to self-publish then you'll need some original art, but otherwise anything goes. Other good sources for art are the Microsoft Clip Art Gallery (cut and paste from Word to paintbrush, and you've got an image file), and Altavista.

I have a weakness for designing my own art. It's half the fun for me, so I don't worry about it any, but if you intend to make game design a career it can be counter-productive.

FastLearner
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Keeping box size in mind...

Note also that rules and gameplay are often changed as well. Games go through something like this series of stages (which, based on much reading, are basically what all publishers do, though they may call them different things and break them up slightly differently -- I'd love to see how this matches up with gamemaker's company):

Design: The basic game is designed. Either an in-house design or an out-of-house submission is created. Here all of the core game concepts are invented, and the game is playtested any number of times to ensure that everything works together, and to refine the game in an "evolutionary" way (as described elsewhere). Truly blind playtesting (where the full game, rules and all, is given to a group to play, with no guidance) will only occur if an out-of-house designer is being used, and even then it will just be the designer doing it, to ensure that potential publishers will have a good experience with the submission.

Development: Here the publisher enlists the aid of game developers. Sometimes these folks are also designers, and other times they are guys who exclusively develop games. The role of the developer is to turn the idea for the game into a truly workable, sellable game. This might involve changing the theme, it might involve adding, changing, or removing game mechanisms in order to make the game "better" (in the eyes of the publisher of course, and sometimes the designer) or to make the game more feasible to produce (e.g. reducing card count or number of pieces), it will almost always involve rewriting the rules, and it will very, very likely involve creating all new artwork, both to make the game look the way the publisher wants it to and to improve (again, in the eyes of the publisher) playability. It is in this stage that the real blind playtesting will occur (if it's a good publisher), to ensure the thing they're about to make is going to work for someone who buys it blind. From what I have read, some publishers heavily involve the designer in this stage and some companies don't. It might vary by designer and developer, too.

Production: Here the physical production of the game is worked out. Gamemaker gave a perfect example of how a game board might be resized so that it fits inside a box that can be printed entirely on one press sheet instead of two. Issues that come up while the production folks are figuring out just how they'll produce the game will affect the final game, potentially quite a bit. If it turns out that producing x plastic pieces is 4 more than will fit in the mold space(s) then it's very likely time to develop the game some more, to cut the number of pieces down by 4. Once production is complete then the publisher is shipping some games out to distributors, and soon it will be in the hands of consumers.

Note that with an in-house design there may be very heavy overlap between Design and Development, and in any company there will be quite a bit of overlap between Development and Production, so the lines can be pretty blurry. The basic concepts, though, are there.

I didn't mention the other things that are going on concurrently to these stages, though they're important: marketing, financing, and management.

What the vast, vast majority of what the folks here on the BGDF are doing (but for the self-publishers) is just the first stage, Design. I know that I like to hope that if I really playtest the game well and I choose the right publisher then there's a good chance my game won't hardly change during development (but for the graphics), but I also know that it might well, and that's just part of the business.

Hopefully that helps put the potential designer-to-be-published's role in a better perspective. Your "baby" will almost undoubtedly be changed: for some of us that's great news, while for others it's horrific. :)

-- Matthew

Anonymous
Keeping box size in mind...

Awesome post FastLearner!
That really puts a lot of things in perspective in just the ammount of detail someone "outside" the industry can grasp.

Nothing to add.
Just praise :)

Tyler

Joe_Huber
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Keeping box size in mind...

FastLearner wrote:
Note also that rules and gameplay are often changed as well. Games go through something like this series of stages

...

Development: Here the publisher enlists the aid of game developers. Sometimes these folks are also designers, and other times they are guys who exclusively develop games. The role of the developer is to turn the idea for the game into a truly workable, sellable game. This might involve changing the theme, it might involve adding, changing, or removing game mechanisms in order to make the game "better" (in the eyes of the publisher of course, and sometimes the designer) or to make the game more feasible to produce (e.g. reducing card count or number of pieces), it will almost always involve rewriting the rules, and it will very, very likely involve creating all new artwork, both to make the game look the way the publisher wants it to and to improve (again, in the eyes of the publisher) playability. It is in this stage that the real blind playtesting will occur (if it's a good publisher), to ensure the thing they're about to make is going to work for someone who buys it blind. From what I have read, some publishers heavily involve the designer in this stage and some companies don't. It might vary by designer and developer, too.

This doesn't line up particularly closely to my experiences, for what it's worth. The _artwork_ doesn't really seem to be changed during this stage, though the presentation may. For a specific example - I had the chance to play Carcassonne during this stage, and it was Wrede's artwork on the tiles.

Additionally, game development is an area that varies _widely_ between publishers and even between games. Some games receive much heavier development than others.

Joe

FastLearner
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Keeping box size in mind...

Joe_Huber wrote:
This doesn't line up particularly closely to my experiences, for what it's worth. The _artwork_ doesn't really seem to be changed during this stage, though the presentation may. For a specific example - I had the chance to play Carcassonne during this stage, and it was Wrede's artwork on the tiles.

I can see that. I think it depends on the publisher quite a bit. I know one publisher who also blind playtests the final artwork, so it has to be done here, but I suspect (based on my non-game publishing experience) that this can vary a lot.

Quote:
Additionally, game development is an area that varies _widely_ between publishers and even between games. Some games receive much heavier development than others.

I'm certain that's true. In fact I'd bet that that's one of the most variable areas. I've heard stories of no development of all, and stories of massive development, where the game was quite different from the original.

Thanks very much for the personal experience addition!

-- Matthew

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