Thursday, March 8

Components - Cost and feasibility

I am getting very close to finishing up the artwork for Archaeology. This means I'll be heading into actual production soon which is exciting but a tad scary. My brand new stack cutter arrived today, so I am all set for some heavy duty chopping!

Lately I have been thinking about the different types of components that go into games, and how easy it is for me to produce them. It is an interesting topic for me because half the reason I chose to make Archaeology first was because I thought that out of all my developing games, it had the easiest components to construct. However, development has shown me that some things I thought would be easy are hard, and vice versa!

So for my own use (and anyone else who is interested!) here is a list of component types and how easy/cost-effective they are for me to make. After each heading I have a list of exactly what processes are required, and then a rating of A, B or C for ease and cost. A is of course the most feasible. (Keep in mind I am working alone, and am basing this assessment on the cost of printing and materials in Australia.)

Board (no fold)
Printing, mounting, back mounting (if desired), cutting
Ease: A Cost: A

Board (one fold)
Printing, mounting, taping, back-mounting, cutting
Ease: B Cost: A

Board (more than one fold)
Printing, mounting, lots of taping, back-mounting, cutting
Ease: C Cost: A

Cards (printed on one sheet)
Printing, cutting
Ease: B (lots of cutting) Cost: B

Cards (pre-printed, cut and packaged)
Nothing, just order them!
Ease: A Cost: C

Tiles (straight edges, one sided)
Printing, mounting, cutting
Ease: B Cost: A

Tiles (straight edges, two sided)
Printing, mounting, back-mounting, cutting
Ease: C Cost: B

Tiles (curved edges, complex shapes)
Now we're getting into the world of die-cutting, which has expensive entry-costs and is something I am yet to really explore. The costs seem quite high to me though.

Wooden Pieces
Ordered online from good ol' Germany
Ease: A Cost: B - C (depending on amount)

Printing, mounting, cutting, assembly
Ease: C Cost: A
(These are a pain to make, but I am yet to find a cheap solution in custom box production)

So there are my thoughts at this stage. Archaeology is tough because it has a folding board and a lot of cards. However the price isn't too bad all up. Other games of mine I feel will be much simpler to construct, but may cost a bit more, especially those with wooden components.

I feel a lot more could be said about the ups and downs of producing each component type. If anyone is interested in discussing this further just let me know. I often wonder if every self-publisher has their own methods for each of these processes!


Jack said...

I'd agree with most of what you've said. What is a stack-cutter? Can you point to a URL?

I'm going to post a series of articles about how I make a game box - they might be of interest to you?



Phil said...

A stack cutter is like a guillotine, except it can cut through a large stack of paper/card. The stack is fastened in place before the cut, and a large handle is used to create more downward pressure.

Mine can cut through 500 sheets of standard paper. It is great for cutting up boards and tiles, and will be invaluable for cutting up sheets of cards.

I got a no-name brand one new on ebay for $70, which was a great deal as it works fine (despite its poorly translated instruction book!). It was bought from an ebay-only business. Here is a link to their store, just do a search for 'paper cutter'.

I haven't had too much luck investigating them elsewhere, as they seem to mainly be a high-end office product. This is one of the few 'consumer level' ones I have come across. There may be more selection in your part of the world.

Really worth picking one up!

Phil said...

PS: Would love to see your game box article! There is a helpful one over at the Board Game Designers' Forum, which I have sort of adapted for when I make boxes.

Jack said...

Hiya Phil,