Showing posts with label POD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label POD. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Mini cards (2.5"x1.75") now available at - this is a big deal; those could be super-useful for not only cards, but also currency, markers, tokens, abilities, etc.  They're far cheaper per card than the regular size at about nine cents a card (if you can get your game into sets of 32).  Very cool - this is one I've been waiting for.

UPDATE: The pricing for these cards isn't actually cheaper than the bigger cards, which is weird.  I was wrong.  I suppose that the cutting and handling are more difficult for these, but they're definitely saving on printing and ink, so I'm not sure what the economics are.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Big cards from TGC

New jumbo card template
(from TGC site) announces a new big card size (they call them Jumbo cards).  At 3.5" by 5.5", they're about the size of a photograph. My mind jumped to Dixit - the only game that I came up with quickly that uses super-big cards. In Dixit's case, I think it's for two reasons; one, because the cards are the focus for all players simultaneously, so everybody needs to be able to see them, and two, to show off the beautiful artwork by Marie Cardouat.

Neat-o Dixit art
(from a review by
Tiffany Smith
on BGG)
I'm always happy to see new options there, but I can't immediately figure out how I'd use this. Still, it could be fun, and now that it's there, I'm sure I can make my way toward it in future designs.  What I'd really like to see is mini-cards, but of course those are much harder to make in a print-on-demand format. The cutting doesn't get any more precise when you shrink the cards, so you have more and more of the card edge needed for a safety buffer.

Friday, December 9, 2011

TheGameCrafter offers hexes and square cards

TGC Hex card template is now offering hex cards and square cards. The hexes are 3.5" the short way, 3.75" diagonal, and the squares are 3.5" on a side.  They're printed 12 to a page (regular poker cards are 18 to a page), and a page of printed cardstock in whatever form you choose is $2.29 at TGC, so if you make your deck divisible by 12, that's 19 cents a card - pretty great.

This is a really cool new feature - I love it when they add new printed options.  This one is especially good because it allows for map-building games (although the tiles are the standard thick glossy cardstock, so not too thick).  I don't think either of these will fit too well in the new tuckbox or printed small box options TGC offers, but they'd go in the big all-purpose 10"x10" boxes they use.

Here are links to the particular description pages with templates for designers:
Hexes here
Squares here

Thursday, December 1, 2011

More printed boxes at TGC. medium box (from TGC site) adds another box size.  This is a bit bigger (and heftier) than their tuckboxes, and is apparently fully customizable like the tuckboxes.  The foam insert is an interesting touch.  At first sight, it seemed a little cheesy to me, but I haven't seen one in real life, and the more I think about it, the more I think it might work well.  I'm just used to cardboard or plastic inserts rather than foam.  The design seems pretty flexible, but it also doesn't allow a ton of stuff to fit in the box - each of the four bays can hold 68 cards or a small stash of plastic bits.  The box can't hold any of their printed boards other than the 4x4 mini-board size, but it does allow the custom 1.25" token chips with stickers, which are a super-flexible option for many games.

This is maybe more attractive than their full-size box for small games with only cards and bits (no boards).  At $4, it would be a significant fraction of the cost of a game, I'd bet, but it could also look pretty sharp if you print all over the box.  The closure might not stand up to repeated use, but games don't get opened all that much, and I shouldn't judge it before I see it in person.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

More on SuperiorPOD's new service

In an earlier post today, I mentioned SuperiorPOD's new distribution service, and I said I couldn't find much detail on what extra parts they offer.  Well, further research has revealed this page which has a good summary of the other stuff they offer.

The bottom line: more printed products and components and generally cheaper than's current offerings, especially for game boxes, but still a fairly maddeningly opaque site with hard-to-find templates, details, and pricing.  If you're willing to write and ask, it looks like you can eventually work out what you need, but some folks in the forum above indicate a pretty slow set-up process (extending to months). I'd rather have it readily available and clear, like TGC does.  As of now, it looks like you can't have both things (good prices, more extensive printed component offerings, and possible game store distribution of SuperiorPOD vs. straightforward, easy-to-use interface, easy storefront site, and numerous plastic parts of TGC).

Distribution service

From a new e-mail I got this morning - SuperiorPOD is trying to bridge the gap between print-on-demand, direct sales (which TheGameCrafter and SuperiorPOD itself provide) and getting games into actual retail stores.  The service they've set up is here - Adventure Game Source.  It looks like what they're doing is creating a wholesale style distribution service, similar to what traditionally published games use, that retail stores can order from.  They also claim to have printing capabilities for lots of different parts and packaging.

Key things I don't know yet:

  • How does the MSRP for a game get set?  Given that they're offering a 45% discount off this price for distributors, and that print-on-demand costs are generally far higher than printing a whole bunch of a game at once, this could be tricky.
  • How hard is it to get listed through the service?  They only have an e-mail address to send your stuff too, and that makes it look like they need to look over your game and approve it for their model.  I'm not sure how hard it is to be accepted to the program. 
One thing that has always frustrated me with SuperiorPOD's site is that, even though they seem to have some pretty neat publication options and a lot of flexibility, their site is difficult to navigate, and key pricing or design information is hard or impossible to find.

So, I don't really know what to make of this. I got some copies of my games from them a while ago, and the quality was excellent, although the timing and communication left a lot to be desired.  The merge and then un-merge with TheGameCrafter has left these two companies as rivals.  From my point of view TGC has some advantages - clear, relatively easy-to-use website, consistent service, clear lines of communication, and lots and lots of standard game parts - but cedes ground to SuperiorPOD in other areas, like cost, variety of printed parts and packaging, and now this distribution option.

I see that Andreas Propst has moved Elemental Clash to this service, so he must have found an advantage there.  Maybe I'll see what they can do with Diggity.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

TGC offering actual gameboards

Example new TGC board.
Image from their post (linked above)
See here.  These look as good as regular gameboards, and I assume the printing and development interface will meet TGC's high standards.  At $10 a pop, they add significantly to the cost of your game, but this is still a killer feature, allowing you to produce nearly any component via TGC.

They're originally 18"x18" and fold twice to 9"x9", which means they'll fit in TheGameCrafter's new standard black boxes.  Pretty cool.  I'm going to see if I can stretch/pad the Yoggity artwork to fit and then get one printed up.  Hopefully it will also work for my product-in-development, Zombie Ball.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Boxes and real game boards, printed on demand.

Wow.  SuperiorPOD is now doing full gameboards and printed set-up boxes, they announced on BGDF.  There's a bit of an arms race going on between SuperiorPOD and TheGameCrafter at the moment, but this is a big step forward for SuperiorPOD.  TGC has promised chipboard boards for a while (although I don't know if they're going to be wrapped like SuperiorPOD), but not a fully printed box (TGC currently has a nice black box with the option for a printed sticker on top).
Pictures from here:

This looks like the real deal.  About $4-5 per box, $4-5 per board if they're part of a whole game printed there.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

New CCG POD - the link

Here's a link to the announcement from SuperiorPOD I commented on in my earlier post.

New CCG POD possibilities

The game print-on-demand company SuperiorPOD has announced the ability to create card packs with random frequencies, such as would be required to make a collectible card game (CCG) like Magic or Pokemon.  There are tons of independent designers who have ideas for this kind of game, but it's been very hard to get them made because of the high cost of printing.  Having this capability in a print-on-demand service is great for those folks, and it's been an often-requested and so far unfulfilled wish in the forums at The GameCrafter.

I'm a little dubious that you could get an indy CCG off the ground.  Even with this potential printing solution, it's going to be hard to get enough of an audience that they'll be willing to send lots of money away just for a chance at getting a rare card, especially when there are lots of CCGs already saturating the market.  But I don't know that market well - none of that kind of game ever did much for me.  Card-based combat and the interrelationships of abilities I like, but the idea that you'd do better if you spent more on cards always killed it for me.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Game Crafter v 2.0

Some really exciting changes at The Game Crafter described here.  The biggest in my opinion will be the chip-board game boards, the much better profit-sharing, and the box options.  But nearly all of it sounds like a great improvement.  The requirement that a game be purchased at least once before being released should also cut back on the ocean o' crap that print-on-demand services suffer from.  And if they can solve the nagging card-cutting issues, then that should be really great too.

I'll have to see how my games transition - I'm going to have some problems with Yoggity, since the game board is sized at their board size that's being discontinued, but I can probably figure something out.

This sounds really cool.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

TGC game creators aim for big time

I just got done taking part in Matt Worden's game designer chat on's new chat tool.  Interesting, although I was already pretty familiar with Matt's experience.  I didn't know he'd been so heavily involved in BGDF in earlier days, and it was interesting to learn that his most successful game, Jump Gate, was a Game Design Showdown entry there.

Some other designers on there are trying to figure out how to grow their audience.  One, Eddie from Nightstalker Games, has just released a couple of games and is starting up a blog, too - similar to my strategy (such as it is).  Another, CW Karstens, has tried to work the reviewer circuit, with some success - a mention in's podcast (they discuss his game, Field Hospital, at the 62 minute mark).

But it's still tough garnering publicity.  Matt described sending games out to reviewers, kind of in the dark, but that's led to his Games 100 success.  Maybe there's something there - the boardgame media seems small and fragmented, but maybe that's a viable strategy.

Monday, November 1, 2010

New SuperiorPOD products

SuperiorPOD has unveiled a new web interface and some new products, both of which are improvements.  The old website was a bear to use; you had to download templates and FTP them back, and it was tough to figure out the ordering process and your order status.  It also had a number of clunky web design elements and misspellings, which didn't affect the product but made them seem less serious.  For 18 card decks, the new web site seems to allow you to create your cards within a graphic editor; that's probably a lot easier for most folks to use, although I think I'd rather still make my art in a commercial program on my home computer and transfer it in finished form.  That's still the system for the larger card decks.

They're also offering custom printed tuck boxes for a variety of deck sizes, from the traditional 54 up to 108 in a side-by-side two-deck format.  That's really neat.  With this improvement, you really have a chance to print up a small print run of a game and sell it individually without making the big investment of large scale printing.

The drawbacks?  Well, the tuck boxes cost about $0.50 to $1.00 each depending on quantity, and the cards are reasonable but not cheap - they also get discounted in quantity, but you're still going to be paying six to ten cents a card.  So, for Diggity, for example, I could do the 108-card deck and box and get to about $9 a copy ordering six at a time.  That's a price I could probably barely make money at if I were selling them myself over the web or at conventions or whatever, but not something you could go into bigger production with, and the box is a tuckbox rather than a setup box, so it won't look as nice as sturdier packaging.

I had issues with delays (not quality) with SuperiorPOD when I ordered through them which I've detailed here, and TheGameCrafter recently ended their relationship with SuperiorPOD based on quality concerns, but SuperiorPOD did make me a nice set of quality games.

They say they've got a faster digital press now, so orders get out within two weeks.  They also say they'll assemble finished copies of your game if you get them printed at the same time you order the boxes.  Shrink wrapped too.  Pretty neat.

The website is way better now, and the boxes are something TheGameCrafter can't do yet, so they may well be worth a look if you're looking to print good quality card games in small numbers.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Jump Gate wins Games GOTY

I posted a few days ago about Matt Worden's Jump Gate, which is an indie game published through The Game Crafter. Well, Games Magazine has named Matt's game its traditional Game of the Year for 2010. That's pretty terrific in a lot of ways - it's great for Matt, and great that the magazine was willing to consider an independent designer who self-published through TGC. The reaction on BGG was a mixture of admiration, befuddlement, and typical internet snark, but I'm sure this will help Matt get more exposure (and sales!) for his game, and maybe a commercial-scale print run, which would be great.

In the meantime, you can pick up this year's winner at The Game Crafter. Congratulations to Matt!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Jump Gate review and the complexity of newfangled technology

Matt Worden is (at least superficially) like me - he's designed a number of computer games, is also into designing board games, and has published some of them through TheGameCrafter.

He recently had a pretty positive review from Tom Vasel via the Dice Tower podcast, which I'm sure is fun for Matt.  The game looks fun, and the review is thorough. As a guy who's publishing, at least initially, through TGC, It's interesting to me how Vasel critiques the components.  It's definitely true that the pawns and chips are generic at TGC, although Matt made use of the fact that TGC offers a bunch of different spaceship models, so his game happens to have a thematic link with the generic components.  But the cards from TGC are actually pretty great, and the little boards that Matt uses are thin but functional.  Also, the artwork for Matt's game is far, far above the average TGC game, definitely commercial quality.  The packaging (small white corrugated box, crumpled rules) that TGC offers are definitely not up to the standards of traditionally-published games, and that's tough - the game inside might be terrific, but the packaging isn't up to that level.  It shouldn't matter if the game is fun and the parts work, but with quality expectations high it's hard to compete when you're doing small print runs or print-on-demand.

It's also interesting to me that this whole process is so new-media - a guy designs a game, publishes it via a web-interface on a POD site, gets it reviewed by an avid and knowledgeable though non-professional critic, who posts it for free to be seen worldwide on a video sharing site.  This is not a process which would have even been imaginable in 1995, and now it just seems commonplace.

And here I am blogging about it.  We've come a long way in a short time, even if we don't realize it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Splitsville for SuperiorPOD and TheGameCrafter

After a relatively short marriage, SuperiorPOD and TheGameCrafter are parting ways.  Here's the official announcement.  I've posted about my experience with both companies, and I think those differences are what drove them apart here.  SuperiorPOD produced fine quality work for me, and had a wider variety of printed materials, but working with them was somewhere between frustrating and maddening - very little communication, and a long delay (40 days) in getting my stuff.

Recent posts on the TGC forums have highlighted some production quality problems at the SuperiorPOD facility - cards sent with parts blank, bad cutting, no rounded corners, etc. - so I think TGC's decision to pull out to maintain their reputation for quality and service was probably a good one in the long run, although obviously the transition (retransition? untransition?) will be difficult.  TGC occasionally has made printing mistakes (see mine here), but they're generally quickly addressed.  I think the head of the company, Tavis Parker, occasionally lets his emotions run too free on their forums (see the ongoing discussion on my link above, and then this thread here).  Sometimes, it's better to have the customer, no matter how misguided, get the last word.  But he runs a good company that provides good quality service, and I'll certainly keep using them.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Another source for cards

Here's a link to PrinterStudio, another place that will do custom-printed playing cards.  54 card decks, come in a box, personalized boxes also available.  Probably wouldn't work for custom games that use lots of cards - is likely a better option there - but for standard card games, this might work, and it's not too costly.  Only 150 DPI, though, so they likely won't look as nice as some of the others.

Monday, July 19, 2010

TGC + SuperiorPOD: Official Announcement

They've announced it officially; SuperiorPOD and TheGameCrafter have joined forces, with the web side managed by TGC and the production side mostly by SuperiorPOD.

Of course, readers of this blog knew this back on July 6.  Quite the intrepid neo-journalist I have become, right?  Trust Plankton Games Journal for all your trivial insidery game-self-publishing news tidbits of interest to tiny audiences.

Hopefully, this will mean more options for game production and better bulk discounts for micro print runs.

Friday, July 9, 2010

TGC Sticker issues

One of the coolest things does is let you print stickers that you can then affix to their 1.25" tokens.  I've been using those for Yoggity.  My new set has a slight glitch, though - if you can see in the picture there, the art is just a percent or two bigger than the spread between the stickers, which means that the registration isn't exact, and the stickers shift a little from the top to the bottom of the page.

I used their templates and suggested safe zones, so all my art is on the sticker, but it's still a little dorky looking.  There's a close up of one on the top vs. one on the bottom below.  It looks worse for the paint buckets than for these pieces.

Not a big deal. I've reported it to TGC in their forums, so we'll see what comes of that.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Yoggity Quick Peek

Here's a quick peek at the new Yoggity components fresh out of the box.  My crappy webcam doesn't do them justice, but they look great.  More later.