I have a game at the early stages of design, and I have a question for those with more experience in the getting-stuff-actually-made end of the business.
The concept for this game is that it takes place in the vicinity of a black hole, and I want to capture as much of the weirdness of that environment as possible without overwhelming the players. Things like asymmetric movement costs can be printed on the board easily enough, and I'm still working out how to balance time dilation (actions taking longer the closer you are to the event horizon).
One design element that could add to the theme would be to represent the curved space with an actual curved board. Something similar to the green wireframe image, but covered in hexes, and being cut-off at an event horizon so the bell doesn't get so deep that it's hard to manipulate the ships.
For a prototype, it would actually be laid out as a truncated cone pattern and use magnetic sheets on the underside to keep pieces in place. A production game would more likely use little pegs and holes to keep ships in place, and end up with more of a trumpet bell shape.
The alternative would be to have a flat six-sided hexmap with the black hole simply occupying the center.
I thought it prudent to make this decision now in the really early stages because it makes a difference for movement rules. It would be awkward for a magnet- or peg-based board to allow more than one ship in the same hex.
Though the curved board would better communicate the different spatial regions, and the problem of breaking it into bits that fit in the box can be solved, I'm wondering just how expensive a board-sized plastic sculpture would be. And if a publisher would immediately reject the idea as infeasible.
Or maybe there is a much simpler approach that I missed?