11 June 2018 | 28 Comments
“Always” and “never” are words I rarely use with my manufacturer, Panda. Every product is different, so the decisions we make about components are unique to each individual product.
But every now and then I realize that there’s something I always want a certain way (or never want it another way). I thought I’d share this short list with you today in case it’s helpful for other game creators.
- I always want latex-free rubber bands (if I need rubber bands). Some people are allergic to latex, so it’s an easy problem to avoid at no extra expense.
- I always want easy-peel shrinkwrapped decks of cards. It’s super annoying to try to dig your fingernails into a tightly shrinkwrapped deck of cards. Easy-peel isn’t always available (it depends on the size of the deck), when when it’s an option, I always choose it.
- I never want glossy game boards. We did this once–on the original version of Tuscany–despite my concerns about glare, and I should have listened to my gut. Overhead lighting creates glare on glossy game boards, making it very difficult for players to see parts of the board from certain angles. I much prefer a matte finish.
- I always want air holes in plastic bags. Some backers suggested this for Scythe during the original KS campaign, and we’ve stuck with them ever since. With 2 tiny holes in plastic bags (no extra cost), you make it easier for players to put away components, as they don’t have to squeeze the air out of the bag. It’s a little thing, but the little things add up to creating a more positive experience.
- I always want symmetrical card backs. It’s completely possible that on certain print runs of a game, the cards may accidentally be rotated 180 degrees on the card sheet. So if the back of the card isn’t symmetrical, you may end up with cards in some copies of the game being oriented the right way and other cards being “upside down” in relation to the card backs. To prevent that from ever happening, we make most of our card backs symmetrical so there is no up or down.
- I always want linen embossing. This applies to cards, player mats, boxes, and game boards. Perhaps this is subjective, but I just think it feels nicer, and linen-embossed cards seem to slide around less than other cards. I would probably only avoid linen in instances where there are really small details in the art that could be interrupted by the tiny ridges, like in 7th Continent, or if I want to put reflective highlights on the box.
- I always start to make non-printed components first. Non-printed components like wooden meeples, miniatures, metal coins, etc take longer to make than printed components like cards, boards, etc. So I usually start making the non-printed components 3-4 weeks before we send the final print PDFs to Panda.
- Packaging tips. This is more of a packaging tip than a manufacturing tip: Make sure the name of your game is on all 6 sides of the box. If it’s a small expansion that will fit into the core box, consider packaging it in sturdy disposable packaging (so it can be shipped in a bubble bag).
I’ve tried to focus specifically on manufacturing details here, though there are lots of other little product design decisions I make that don’t necessarily involve a conversation with my manufacturer (like colorblind considerations and printing playtester names on the side of the box bottom). If there’s anything you always or never request from your manufacturer, feel free to share it in the comments below!
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