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Game manufacturing question

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Joined: 08/30/2012

While trying to figure out where to get my game made for publishing purposes, I discovered that there's no one in my country who manufactures games. Now, while I know that many people get their games made in China, I think it should be possible to open a small business dedicated to making board and card games.

However, I'm not rushing into anything and am currently doing research so would appreciate some help.
- I think a good printer and a laser cutter would enable me to create cards and custom dice and figures (the laser cutters can engrave and cut wood if it's not too thick, right?)
- What about game boxes? Is the best way for them to print on thick card stock and cut to the shape then assemble (glue) the box by hand?
- One thing I don't know is how are real game boards made (the kind in Risk, Conquest of the Empire, Lords of Waterdeep, Samarkand...). I imagine the process is similar when creating tiles (like in Settlers of Cattan). But, what is this process? Are these boards somehow printed directly onto the material (and what material is that exactly?) or some other way?

Like I said, since no one manufactures games in my country I have nowhere to find out so I'm asking here. Any help appreciated:)

Joined: 04/08/2012
Where to find a publisher

A few members on this forum suggest a few places. The game crafter. Print on Demand. Check out 360manufacturing

Dralius's picture
Joined: 07/26/2008
the_k wrote:Like I said,

the_k wrote:
Like I said, since no one manufactures games in my country I have nowhere to find out so I'm asking here. Any help appreciated:)

What country are you in?

Joined: 08/30/2012
Stormyknight1976 wrote:A few

Stormyknight1976 wrote:
A few members on this forum suggest a few places. The game crafter. Print on Demand. Check out 360manufacturing

Yeah, I looked around the net and found a few places which I could use for getting my game made, but I'm considering filling the niche for such a business in my country. So the question is not if you could recommend somewhere (although more options are always welcome) but if you can help me with some basic of what is needed for a manufacturing business.

Dralius wrote:
What country are you in?


So, any thoughts on machinery and other stuff needed related to all I said above?

Joined: 04/08/2012
Acquiring equipment

I am also acquiring equipment, but at the moment I and my team are looking at 360manufacturing services for our product needs in the future. I hope you find what your looking for.

Taffer's picture
Joined: 04/14/2012
There was just another thread

There was just another thread with a link to a video about how games are made in Ludo Fact (Germany) factory.

Was quite interesting to learn about all the automating machinery they use.

Joined: 06/07/2012
This video shows how a game

This video shows how a game is made - including how the boards you asked about are put together.

Here are some brief answers to your other questions.

Printing cards on a home printer is possible, but they wont equal the cards dedicated manufacturers make. Quality card stock generally has three layers to it. A front, a back and the important middle. The middle layer is a different type of material that prevents players seeing through a card.

Other factors include the varnish applied to cards (counters and boards) which not only protects them it also gives them extra rigidity. Texture finishes like linen are also important. A linen finish feels nice to the touch and it helps shuffling because it provides the cards with an air cushion. A round corner cutter is also required to make those nice round edges, which help to protect the cards.

Most of the cards you see in games are printed on special card stock which is only available to purchase in bulk.

In relation to the printing this can be done at home with a quality printer. However, you will quickly discover that one of the biggest expenses in home printing is the cost of ink. To offset this you could invest in a 'continuous ink system' or CISS. Google search CISS.

Adding one of these to your printer will save you loads of cash. Simply put they allow you to add bottles of ink to your printer so you dont have to buy the ridiculously overpriced cartridges. However, they are only available for certain printers.

The printer I use is a Cannon Pixma ix6550. Its prints quick, gives decent print quality, a CISS is available for it, it offers up to A2 prints and it does what a printer is supposed to do - so it isnt bundled with frivolous extras like a fax machine, copier, toaster and radio which all bump up the price.

In respect to a laser cutter it will do some things well and other things not so well. First off, they are expensive. Secondly, its a very hot laser so if you try and cut paper with it you will just end up with a small fire. You can cut wood and other materials, but once again it runs hot so you may get scorching on materials like wood. It will engrave though.

A better option would be a CNC router. Hobby routers can be had for a reasonable price these days - but like everything you get what you pay for. I made mine and it cost me about £700 to put together a quality machine. A similar spec machine would have cost me double the price or more if id bought it retail.

However, unless you know EXACTLY what you are doing and what parts you are buying I wouldnt advise building your own or attempting it. And the cheap build your own out of balsa wood plans on ebay are a bit of a joke.

A decent CNC router can cut out simple 2D wooden objects easily, or counters with a vinyl knife instead of a router. If you have the right software. Vectric aspire can also do 3D objects with a 3 axis CNC router. ArtCam Pro is another nice bit of software.

My machine has been err borrowed indefinately by my dad for inlay work and the like - hes an antique dealer/restorer.

The problem is that the software to run a CNC router or a laser cutter is hugely expensive to buy and if you dont have any CNC machining experience difficult to grasp. Vectric Aspire is 1500 euros - unless you happen to acquire the software free somehow.

The smaller packages like ArtCam Express or Aspire Cut2d at 125 euros are quite reasonable and will handle wooden meeples or tokens and the like very easily.

If you just want to cut out tokens - of any wacky shape, from 2-3mm card stock you would be better off with a good electronic die cutter. Most of them are crappy things used to make greeting cards and they will choke at any card thickness over 1mm.

However, the Blackcat Cougar, Pazzles Inspiration and KNK Zing are worth considering.

Out of the three I would definately go for the Zing. It will handle thick card stock, the software is simple and user friendly and you can custom cut anything - some cutters have you buy expensive cartridges, eww. At $399 its a bit of a steal. It will also cut to print, meaning you just pop in your design and it will autocut it out for you - see simple.

It would be ideal for making game boxes as well.

All told, making your own games requires a lot of knowledge in a lot of different areas and it can get expensive really quickly - if you are after something resembling a professional finish.

So, what do I really think about the idea of making games myself?

Do I have the tools and knowledge to make games with an acceptable degree of quality, YES.

Would I try to set myself up as a producer of finished ready to sell games for others - NO definately not.

With all the equipment costs involved, the ongoing material costs and most importantly my labour costs it isnt financially viable.

However, making prototype pieces for others (such as counters, hex terrain pieces and so on) might be a viable alternative and something you might consider instead.

Its still not for me though :)

Oh, and if you tell us which country you are in the people here might be able shed some light on the state of manufacturing there.

Joined: 08/30/2012
Wow BubbleChucks thanks for a

Wow BubbleChucks thanks for a great answer. Still have to watch the movie, kinda hard to find 40 minutes to sit down but I'll squeeze it in over the weekend.

First, let me mention that I am doing this research to see if it is possible to open a business here (Croatia by the way, already mentioned it up above). So I am thinking of investing a couple of thousand euros into the machinery, but that's the point of research, to see how much it all costs and how it works, then I'll see if it is feasible. for printing I was definitely thinking of buying a quality printer specially for printing cards and boards. (still have to watch to find out how boards are made). Your printer looks nice but still gives me the impression of a home printer. Any professional ones you could recommend?
LOVE the CISS! It would be great to have a CISS capable printer.
You say three layers for the cards...I was under the impression it is a single layer special cardstock, not that you have three layers and then put them together. So, ummm, you got me kinda confused here. As for which cardstock the cards are printed on if you have any recommendations...again, I doubt I can find it for purchase here.

OK, so far a printer would print the cards (those 3 layers still confuse me) and then they need to be cut out. I like the KNK Zing. Would I still need a round corner cutter or would the Zing be able to cut the corners?
Applying varnish is done with spray or brush, right? I prefer the spray method. Again, any particular varnish type to look for?

On to the cutter. The Zing will not be able to cut simple wooden shapes for figures nor engrave (for custom dice or figures). So perhaps a professional laser cutter is still the way to go? There must be some which can power down the laser enough to not cause a fire when cutting cards and such, but still be able to cut small meeples or the like. Of course, if I'm wrong and it can be done with Zing all the better.

So more explanations with a bit more details would be really appreciated and I'll find the time to watch that movie.

Joined: 06/07/2012
Hello Again Yup, mine is a

Hello Again

Yup, mine is a home printer - i prototype :). A laser printer would be better for a number of reasons. You have to let the ink dry before applying a coating on an ink jet printer. In contrast a your prints come out of a laser printer dry and ready to finish immediately. Laser printers are also quicker and generally provide a better quality of printing.

The print costs are also on the lower side, but nowhere near as cheap as you can print with a CISS. Equivalent CISS systems are very hard to find for laser printers and your choice will be very limited.

The ink cost is very important when printing. You cost your card stock, varnish and say to yourself hmm that worked out ok, so why am I loosing money. And the answer is that you didnt factor in the ink costs. As I said before the cost of INK is HUGE contributor to the overall cost - especially if you are running off sheets of cards will full colour printing.

Professional card stock, if you can find it in small amounts, is complete and ready made. It commonly has 2 or more layers. The most frequent types have a front and back and the middle is a graphite glue which is generally blue or black. It holds the two faces together, gives a nice spring to the cards and it prevents see through.

Varnish or lamination is a detailed subject as well - professional card makers use special top secret formulaes. You want the cards to slip instead of sticking. A clear acrylic varnish has been known to work resonable well but its trial and error im afraid.

The zing is a fairly simple and straight forward hobby machine. It wont cut wood or metal .. and if you try then it will cry, splutter and die. It will cut out rounded corner cards and anything else you want to cut out from sub 3mm card stock.

A laser cutter is a serious piece of kit that works on the same principles as a cnc router. The only difference is the cutting tool. One uses a laser torch and the other a router. You will use the same programming instructions and software for both machines. The best thing to do is google diy cnc router - its a huge topic on its own with lots to learn.

CNC routers are generally cheaper than laser cutters and you can even pick up reasonable ones off ebay from china. These tend to come with trapezoidal screws instead of ballscrews and premium components. The accuracy is a little less but i would guess they are fine for simple woodworking.

Whats a trapezoidal screw and a ballscrew - see google :)

Search on ebay for cnc router or cnc milling machine - smaller 30cm by 20cm cutting area machines can be seen for about £500 inc freight.

But I would strongly recommend that you learn about the machines, and im sure you will, before you even think about reaching into your wallet :)

This is a CNC router in operation -

and a gorgeous home made cnc router cutting through alluminium

CNC routers are a serious piece of kit that will carve through wood and softer metals like alluminium with ease - although you might need to water cool the drill bit when routing metal. They are more than enough to make meeples and wooden wotnots.

Set up your cutting program on the computer, line up your sheet of wood, hit go and then watch tv or do something else while it does the work - simple.

I suggested the Zing because it has the print and cut feature shown in the video which makes things easy. Again it works on the same principle as a laser cutter and router - it just uses a vinyl cutter in place of a laser or router. Its strictly lightweight and a router offers the same and a lot more - its just takes a bit more learning to get the most from it.

Def watch the vids ive posted and follow the links - you will learn a lot in a short space of time. I cant recommend a progessional printer - since ive never looked into buying one myself. The one in the first vid looks nice though - except it costs 2.5 million euros :)

Joined: 08/30/2012
Thanks again! I watched the

Thanks again!
I watched the video about manufacturing and feel I know a bit more.
I will do some more research online and pose further questions here if you, BubbleChucks, or anyone else, can help out.


Joined: 06/07/2012
No problem :) Oh and dont

No problem :)

Oh and dont forget to check out the other links I posted. One of them had a forwarding link to Arjowiggins - a manufacturer of professional card stock.

Arjowiggins make quality card stock which is available through their Playper range in a variety of formats. Playper Gloss, Playper Silk, Playper Matt and Playper Junior (economic entry level line).

These formats are available in a large range of paper weights. 300 gm paper would make excellent cards. Any heavier and they will be hard to shuffle, and choosing a lighter weight paper will produce thinner cards.

Arjowiggins have a distributor in Croatia

You could try contacting them for availability, price and minimum order quantities for their Playper range.

Working out your future materials costs and material availability will be a big factor in your decision about starting a small publishers. If you could secure an ongoing supply of professional quality card stock you would be well on the way to making top quality card decks.

Add in a quality printer and something to quickly cut the cards out and the only thing you have to do is coat them with a varnish. Something to protect the surface without obscuring the printing or leaving the cards sticky to the touch.

Joined: 08/30/2012
Yes the materials need to be

Yes the materials need to be worked out, but I also need to find a quality printer and cutter.
However, I think I might be on to something so we'll see.

Thanks again for all your help. I might ask opinions when I find the machines:)

Joined: 12/21/2012
are you talking about DIY or mass production run

BubbleChucks said good information about some manufacturing process. But are you taking about industrial mass production run or just DIY(do it yourself) only?
inventing a game, publishing game, distributing a game, manufacturing game, etc. different company must have different position. If you are considering publishing game, you should pay main attention to game idea, game copyright, find cooperator to do marketing. If you are considering industrial professional manufacturing, you should think the solution must be based on industrial manufactring to have cost-effective pricing and standard quality. Generally speaking, board game mass production need several industries to work together. There are also many special machines, technics involved, professional workers and experts too. Does your region has manufacturing background such as plastic forming, printing and packaging, vacuum forming, small woodware production, die-casting, Poured out process, advanced assembling line, mould tooling base, lab testing certer, etc. If no this background at your region, your pricing will not be cost-effective, and your manufacturing board game is not workable in your region. You can look at the catalogue of factory for reference from following site:

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