Sep 262013
Game of the District Messenger Boy game compon...

Board game design and fabrication (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here are a number of articles that I’ve found particularly interesting and insightful:

All About Art” – a podcast about the mechanics of art and printing for board games. The relevant section starts at about 21:30.
Chip Kidd – TED Presentation - Interesting ideas on design… nothing game specific.
“Ten Rules for Maker Businesses” by Wired’s Chris Anderson — Rule #1 – the first in a series of articles about running a small business making things.
Days of Wonder CEO explains how iPad Ticket to Ride boosted sales of the real thing - a very interesting article about combining a computer game with a traditional board game.
3 simple steps to create lasting board game success – an article about running a board game publishing business.
Tim Schafer’s Top 5 Pitch Tips for Kickstarter Success – Tim Schafer on using Kickstarter for crowdfunding for a video game, but his advice is applicable to board games too.
Demystifying Business Models For Fun and Profit: how to know whether your business will sink or swim – a great article on business models.
Brenda Brathwaite Talks to TED About Designing Games to Teach Historical and Moral Lessons – The content of the talk is quite interesting, but it is also intriguing how Brenda is adding to the tools for game crafting and game design.
Ten Exciting Designers Doing Exciting Things–On innovation in indie design / development – list of a some innovative game designers.
Shrink-Film Gaming Minis – using shrink-film (Shrinky-Dinks when I was a kid, I think) to make game counters.

I’m not particularly interested in conventional game publishing, but I found this article on making quality board game prototypes interesting.

I like Days of Wonder strategy of making both digital and physical versions of board games. The importance of tablets and mobile games on phones is certainly something to follow.

At the other end of the spectrum, people make finely crafted traditional games into a successful business… why can’t original game designers do the same?

Planning a Kickstarter campaign guide. Also, the challenge of dealing with a successful Kickstarter campaign in terms of scaling Kickstarter product production… and another article on the glories of production scaling.

Good article at a good blog by Dr. Lewis Pulsipher on how the board game biz works. Important information on pricing and distribution… read it! Also, a good article on board game publishing and a fun little article on how many dice you get to ship with your game… everything costs!

Craig Mod’s essay on book cover design. Nifty. Inspirational about game packaging.

Plastic bags - not really a big issue for the kind of games I want to build, but you should definitely look at this if you are going to ship components. I bought a game recently and I was a bit angry that they hadn’t bothered to package the whole game together… in a plastic bag, at least. The old Metagames (hello, Warp War, Rivets and the original OGRE) that I bought when I was young at least put everything in a bag!

Play Board games online and a nice set of handmade games, hmm, I like where this is going.

Ludocraft’s spec sheet for submitting a board game for manufacture… speaking of which, a great documentary on Ludocraft’s board game manufacturing process.
Arduino-Powered Wire Bending Machine – wire for game construction… why not?
Abigail’s Whimsical Sand Pendulum – Neat project. How else can we make games once we break out of the “board” in the board game? I’ve also wondered about building yard sculpture as large games…. mega-Jenga, perhaps?
A Blanket That Knows its Own Shape – woodworking, ceramics, even sewing. These are the “platforms” of successful craft businesses. How can we use them for game design? And, of course, electronics don’t have to be the sole property of computer games!
CATAN 3D Collector’s Edition – Yes, Settlers of Catan is one of the biggest boardgames in recent years, but why is it virtually the only game with truly high quality components in a VERY limited edition?
Handcrafted Western Australian Jarrah Two Up Set.. – A nice craft piece for the Australian gambling game Two Up.
Game Knight is also interested in the craft of game components. They had a sucessful Kickstarter campaign to create poker chip based currency to replace the paper or plastic chits most games provide they also have a list of other high quality game components and game component makers.

Dice. I’ve not figured out how I can make them myself… yet. My first, failed strategy was to use a promotional products company to print custom dice for my game Dice Holdem. It did bring costs down a lot. I suspect that this is what Eric Harshbarger is doing with his custom dice. I think I used P&L Gifts when I had my custom dice made, but their web site has changed and is now password protected…I was happy with their service at that time.
I’ve been intrigued by the idea of active mechanical mechanisms for games (NOT MOUSETRAP!):
WOW! A Visit to Cabaret with Thai TV – a video of the Cabaret Mechanical Theater in the UK. Ignore the music. There are some neat automata shown rather too briefly.

Good article on traditional board game production costs.

Good sample game playtester disclosure agreement.

How-to video making a traditional peg game.

Waldschattenspiel - a wild game using light and shadow. It doesn’t look like the game is commercially available (at least in the US). If you can’t buy it, there are plans to make Waldschattenspiel yourself. It’s made me think about creating a chess game using light… hmmm.

Wooden Pagoda Tower Game.

Opinionated Gamers has a great series of interviews with board game designers.

I’m very interested in how game developers “make it” as businesses. Small Box Games seems to use limited print runs and keeping things all in the family and GMT Games has its “500″ pre-order system. My goal, to make a reasonable living as a game designer.

Miniatures are a great game component. There’s no denying it. I’m not sure that I’m ready to make them… yet, but these videos look like you could get started doing this at a reasonable cost… you don’t need to be a big game company to make your own miniatures.
Toy Soldiers Forever: homecasting – the basics. A great place to start.
How Miniatures are Born – good information on spincasting at home. This is scarily do-able.
Stoney’s Video Blog 5 creating a dragon buckle – another video on spincasting.

Another way to make small scale production game components is with ceramics. Polymer clay is an interesting medium since it fires at temperatures that you can achieve in a standard oven (300 degrees Fahrenheit) . Several people have already produced components useable with existing games including the MeepleSource – who’ve produced components for Settlers of Catan.

Adhesives… sometimes, you’ve got glue stuff together. Its nice to know your options.

A mold-making tutorial.

Nifty butterflies with paper and wire… how in the world can you use this in a game?

I’m intrigued by transferring images from paper to wood or polymer clay as a way to get high quality graphical design into a wooden or polymer clay game (without being a great artist!).

1. Continuous Ink Systems should substantially reduce the price of the basic image.

2. Heat Transfer and Heat Press systems for transferring images. Transfer paper can work with your laser, inkjet, or dye sublimation printer. For prototyping and personal projects, use whatever printer you have. Based on my early research, Canon professional inkjet printers are looking pretty good.

3. An approach that is suitable for personal use games, but probably not for production is using water or another solvent to go from a printed image onto wood or clay. This can be done directly from a paper printout, but there are commercial products that may work better with higher quality such as Lazertran.

If you are printing in just a few colors, silk screen printing is a good option, especially for production quantities as it is pretty cheap after you’ve made your stencil. Apparently, you can print full color with this process, but I don’t understand how… yet. This guy is using a vinyl cutter for making his screen printing stencils.. which is pretty slick looking.

3D printing. Its pretty cool, but still pretty expensive. From what I’ve seen, the quality is not there for production, but I may be wrong.

Great scroll saw tutorials from Sheila Landry. The scroll saw is a great way to make highly customized and intricate designs in wood. Sheila has also done some work with painting on scroll work. A scroll saw is basically a basic CNC machine at a fraction of the price.

If you need metal or random scientific bits, check these guys out. American Science Surplus has some lenses that could be used to make your own Werewolf game pieces like a recent Kickstarter. You’ve got to be creative with how you are going to make your games!

If you are working in wood, you may want to understand wood better. Also, you may want some hardware. For most small scale project, I think wiping varnish is probably the best finish option unless you’ve got a sprayer. This is an area where I plan to do more research.

Custom poker chips can be used for game pieces, not just currency from or Poker Chip Lounge – a coold idea that came from Game Knight.

A lot of people prototype or make board games and pieces with different paper, cardboard, or other paper product variants. I’m more interested in direct printing onto wood or other materials or, if I must, attach paper to wood: a good resource for adhering things together, a craft guide to attaching paper to wood, “How to attach paper to wood”, I’m not sure if this one is best, but the products are used for permanent, archival projects.

I’d be negligent if I didn’t mention sites that will print your “game on demand”: The Game Crafter. (NOTE – There are a number of these resources, please help! REMINDER TO ME – Find more!)

Good interview with Kim Vandenbroucke, a successful game designer.

Good pair of articles on sculpting for toys (and, presumably, games) with Scott Hensey. A great pair of videos. Scott Hensey: Toy Creator and “Make Your Own Toy Sculpting Wax“.

Really, really awesome resource on casting and 3D printing to make molds. Check this one out!!!

Any comments and suggestions welcome! This is a living resource which I hope you find useful

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Share your thoughts and knowlege, fellow Ludonauts!

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