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Tradewars - Homeworld: Prototype

Well I am ALMOST completely finished with the 8th prototype for "Tradewars - Homeworld". This prototype will be in sparkling COLOUR and have placeholder artwork (Space/Stars). This version of the prototype will be made via The Game Crafter ( and I will have four (4) decks printed to allow blind testing with up to four (4) players!

All that remains is to produce the cards with bleeds (black) and one "Game Reference Card" which allows players to remind themselves of the various roles and starship rules.

I am very excited to playtest this version, since there were a lot of kinks ironed out in the last playtest session. Also having a colour prototype may lead to a video of game play (I have a couple of options for this).

So we are moving forwards towards being ready for the Kickstarter. I have just revised ALL the reward levels and hope that the approach we will be using for the Kickstarter will be *successful*!

For the designers that I have discussed *blind* playtesting, that should be happening SOON (Maybe in December).

For now, I am finishing this prototype and I am still working on product packaging and pricing...


Hey way to go. Solid

Hey way to go. Solid prototyping is one of the biggest hurdles. Congrats!

Order for Prototype #8 placed

So I finally got around to setting up Prototype #8 on The Game Crafter.

I added all the parts needed to play the game. the price came up just shy of $20.00 per set. I obviously ordered the maximum sets to be playtested which would be four (4). Adding the USPS shipping to me was another $20.00 making the overall total cost to buy the game from The Game Crafter at $100.00!

The funny thing is that the game set are still INCOMPLETE! I did not add the game's RULEBOOK (30 pages, about 5,000 words) and the game's mat which is used to track money and health.

I excluded the mat because TGC does not have the correct sized mat (and I want the mat to be chipboard not paper stock). And I omitted the rulebook simply because I wanted to lower the cost! Otherwise the amount would have been $25.00 for each game set...

I hope I get a few batches of playtests with this versions because it seems foolish to waste $100.00 for producing the prototype if they do not get properly playtested! I can't wait to see and hold the cards... even if there is only space/stars as placeholder artwork... It will be cool to play the game in FULL COLOUR for the very first time! Will also make it worthwhile to create a video since the cards are in colour!

I should be getting the game sets in a couple of weeks (yes - TGC is busy with over 250 orders in queue for production). I hope the box with sets is filled with *Peanuts* so I can reuse the packaging for sending my prototype sets to *Blind* playtesters!!!

We're moving along... slowly but surely!

Note: Here is the link to the bill of sale, for those people who want proof! :)

Refining the product

I have been consulting game manufacturers to figure out how much production costs will be.

I have recently been suggested a "plastic tray" to keep all the cards properly sorted while being stored. This is one big disadvantage with The Game Crafter (TGC) is that even if you structure your decks into subdivisions (for example deck #1, deck #2, etc.) the cards that will be included in the packaging will all be RANDOM. It will contain all the cards, but in no specific order.

Other manufacturers operate a little bit differently in that if Deck #1 contains 15 cards, that deck will ALWAYS contain the SAME 15 cards. Moreover they will shrink wrap the deck... Which is cool when you first buy/open the box!

Getting back to the "plastic tray" it looks similar to the tray used in the game "Clue" (thin black plastic tray). It the only game that I own with a "plastic tray"! :)

So far I have been discussing the dice I want used for the game. For 500 units I buy, I will order 5,500 dice! Whoopah! Yes = 5,500 dice (you read correctly the first time)! And so I found these cool, very professional coloured dice (Black, White and Blue). But they look a little bit chrome-like and have gold pips (Blue and Black). Anyhow I am still awaiting news regarding these dice... For buying 5,500 dice, you want to make sure players get the nicest possible dice. Yeah sure, I COULD have gone EL-CHEAPO standard dice - but I think players will appreciate the chrome-like dice! ;)

I will keep you all informed on the refinements of the prototype as I move along!

Note: I also need to keep in mind the shipping cost of the pallet to my residence (which may include duties) and the additional cost of shipping the product to people around the US.

109 in production queue

Well it finally says that my order is "in production"... Not sure how accurate this is considering there are 109 orders ahead of me...? A little bit confusing... Well let's hope the order is really in production... so that I can receive it earlier than initial estimates!

Update: I got information from other TGC designers that "in production" simply means that the order CANNOT be cancelled. I still need to wait for the 109 other orders to complete before they start fulfilling my order! Good to know though...

Update 2: 62 in production queue. Maybe my game sets will get made tomorrow (20 November) or the day after. Seems to be a busy time for TGC... Lots of other orders to manufacture. I guess the game gets shipped the next day or so... Still awaiting to see what the product will look like. It will be my first order from TGC with cards. Previously I had purchased parts only.

Update 3: Finally Shipped! (11/22/2013)

Kickstarter is almost ready

Well I have put up some *preliminary* images on the Kickstarter - still need to wait to get a legitimate copy of the software I am using. We have also defined some *stretch rewards* and hope gamers will be interested in those to help attract more contributions for the game. It will be such that with those stretch rewards we can actually produce the game without taking a loss...

Yes it's funny to be talking about taking a loss... The margins in producing a Kickstarter can't be exaggerated if you want people to contribute. As such the margins are very tight and we need to go over our funding goal if we want to be in the black (so to speak). I could up the funding goal but I am worried that this might turn away potential contributions... So I am sticking with the original funding goal and hope that contributors are interested in our stretch rewards!

Note: I would prefer having a lower funding goal and achieving it, even if this means going into the red. I really want to get the artwork done for the product and can't wait to collaborate with my artist! I already have plans for the game and really want to begin talks again about the game and seeing who is interested in it. I already have interest and the game is not 100% done. We still need to do some more playtesting, I want to do some *blind* playtesting as well and we also have preliminary artwork to do for the Kickstarter. So plenty of things to be busy with.

After the Kickstarter, we will continue to refine the product as we go further in developing the artwork. This will take several months (4 to 5 months). Of course during the early time, there will be more playtesting and maybe some fine tuning, later on there will be the actual *making* of the cards such that we have enough time to manufacture and deliver on our product to contributors.

So still plenty to do... Even if I just *break even*!

Nice dice are important. I

Nice dice are important.

I really liked the look of Dwarven Miner on Kickstarter awhile back and i was all poised to back it - even with the ludicrous European shipping.

.. and then

I noticed it came with oodles of piddly 12mm dice, which i would have had to replace. With the cost of replacing all thise dice it made me think twice, and I didnt back it.

Looks a tidy dice rolling game though :)

Not used for rolling

In my game, the dice are not used for rolling. Well technically MOST dice are not used for rolling. They are used as counters to deplete time or turns. Black dice deplete each turn and white dice deplete only on certain roles (not rolls). The one exception is the Blue dice which gets rolled... But there are five (5) White and Black dice and only one (1) Blue dice...

Talking about shipping, I need to re-examine my margins/rewards because I did not take into account the costly shipping to contributors... I am recalculating this to make sure that I am not in the hole $6,000! :P

Love Dice as Counters

The more games that I see that use dice in this manner, the more I love this use for them. They're such a convenient, and often times very nice looking, tool with which to accomplish this end.

Kickstarter re-think

Well I have re-factored my funding goal and pledges. What I did is take each reward and figure out the COST to me. Then I checked to see if I was in the RED or in the BLACK. Obviously I factored things such as shipping (forgot that one!), production, cost of boxes, software (for the Kickstarter) and professional fees (already paid).

Here is the bottom line: I had to DOUBLE the funding goal to meet the margins.

And obviously I just break even with this doubling (because of shipping - it costs like $20 to ship a package anywhere in the US). Since I want to buy a standard sized box for ALL rewards (I don't want to run around for all kinds of different packaging and then worry about quantity, etc.). One sized box that can accommodate from one (1) to four (4) game sets is what I want to have.

If you have like 300-600 boxes to ship that's $6,000 to $12,000 of shipping charges!!! That's NOT a SMALL amount! It's like 1/3 of the freaken price/cost!

It did not seem that much - until I did the calculations and suddenly figured out that my initial goal was SO BAD that I would be OUT/SHORT this amount!!! With the revised pricing, I have a least rectified this error (And it was going to be a BIG one!) Another designer warned me to be very careful about margins and costs. Kickstarter's are not big money makers. Yes you do see some campaigns that earn more, but the goal is being able to fund YOUR GOAL.

I have an artist that can't wait to design the cards... And I am happy about that. I just hope we will be able to realize the delivery of the project...

Backup plan

In case anyone was wondering, if I do not attain my Kickstarter's goal, I will unfortunately be unable to fund the artwork for the game...

Even if this does happen, I do have a backup plan:

-I have been talking with ONE publisher that has already told me that they would love to look at the game.

This is good news and the better news is that this publisher deals with China for the manufacturing of their games and therefore can get better pricing than I. The only thing is if they might be willing to fund the artist I have located and maybe let him and I determine the artwork that will be used by the game.

This one is not obvious... It will take some negotiation (maybe). But up front they are very keen on seeing more of the game... So that's my PLAN B, so to speak.

Finally Shipped! (11/22/2013)

So my game is finally made and shipping out today (11/22) according to TGC's website.

The other tid-bit worthy of mention, is that I priced one of my *Stretch Rewards* and obtained a wholesale price for the item. I won't say what it is except to say that the price for the item is $1.75... Now I am unsure if that could get discounted by a volume discount (if I order like 500-1000)... But we'll see when the time comes. What I needed to know is if the reward would be a worthwhile reward (price-wise).

So my stretch rewards look good to go. I even got the *snazzy* royal blue dice with gold pips! The Black dice will also have gold pips!! They both look pretty cool. Much nicer than white pips...

I also got my pricing to a more reasonable amount (with volume). I still have ONE last item that needs pricing (and I hope it doesn't break the bank!)...

Game Reference Card

I have added a picture of the Game's Reference Card... Check it out if you would like to know the different types of roles or starships you can command in "Tradewars - Homeworld"!

I am really excited about "Prototype #8", I can't wait to see the coloured cards and give the game a try!

Weird snail-mail!

Well I got one (1) of the two (2) boxes that were shipping from TGC. But unfortunately that box ONLY had ONE (1) game set... So I guess I can playtest the solitary scenario... But not duals or versus games. Not that it matters much since I alone can only playtest the solitary scenario...

The cards look *FANTASTIC* with the exception of some cards not being properly centered when die cutting. Meh, so they aren't perfect... I hope that my production run will produce better quality than the TGC prototype I have received. There are only about five or six cards that are poorly centered (although the cards were designed all the same way). My guess the die cutting was off-centre when those cards were cut. No biggie.

The box (although only a simple box with the logo and some colour) looks pretty decent. Can't wait to get the real copies of the game (with the box cover artwork and all!) :)

The weird part is the SHIPPING. For some reason, the other box has three (3) game sets and was stuck at the border (don't know why). It was in Mississauga ("was sent for further processing.") and seems to be on it's merry way to me. I hope I can get it before Friday - so that I can do some playtesting by the weekend!

We shall see... Stay tuned!

Update: The post office says that the 2nd box should be delivered by 2 December (next Monday). So much for the Friday delivery! :P

Production details

Well I got an e-mail from a manufacturer saying that they are looking into my most recent request.

I won't hide what I am working on:

  • I want my game box to be used as a sorting and transporting component.

Basically I designed the game box to allow players to sort their cards and place them within the box such that the card remain in the order chosen. The box also has place for dice and wooden components, always making sure that those component's don't mix with the cards.

What I am using to accomplish this is a *Plastic Tray*. My most recent request is to get a quote as to how much it would cost to produce the tray and include it in my game sets.

Hopefully this request doesn't break the bank... I'm trying to squeak by with my production margins. I'm designing a game that has quality (nice dice, sturdy box, plastic tray, etc.) The one sticky point I hope will be better than prototypes is the die cutting done on the cards... My first TGC prototype has turned up some cards that are off-centre... If people are paying for a game set, I'm sure they want the best possible quality. And so I hope the production-run for contributors will be of higher quality!

Game mat revised

As per my last playtest session, it was determined that accumulating 1,000 qS for the "Tradewars" scenario was TOO HIGH. I currently have reduced the goal to 200 qS (20% the original goal). I had initially thought that I would modify the *Game Mat* to only allow for up to 200 points to be tallied.

But as I was making those changes, it struck me: perhaps other Scenarios might have STRONGER Trade value cards and might score more points. Like for example a 50 point card which could be a rare type of resource like *Enriched Uranium* (or something). Having such higher resource cards could up the end-game goal...

So I have therefore kept the "Game Mat" with the 999 qS bank. The extra scoring that could occur in a game *Expansion* can now co-exist with the original "Tradewars - 200 qS." scenario!

Note: I also had to drop the Homeworld Life points from 30 to 18... This works for both duals and versus games in addition to adding more tension in the solitary "The Derelict" scenario.

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blog | by Dr. Radut