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Kickstarter Lessons: How to submit your files for print the right way

In our last week’s article, we discussed the benefits of working with multiple fulfilment companies. Today, we’ll be going over everything you need to do to ensure your game gets printed and manufactured exactly to your specifications.

Your game box might be made up of lots of different components. Cards, player mats, pawns, tokens, rules, a board, and, of course, you have the box itself.

There are so many parts that you have to make sure are just right and it can help to have others look over everything for you to ensure you haven’t missed anything. A second or third set of eyes is always appreciated.

But even when you’re sure you have everything just right, mistakes can still happen. That’s why we’re going to go over the steps you can take to make sure your backers get the exact experience you intended.

Make sure your instructions are clear

You’re most likely going to be having your game manufactured in China. If this is the case, you’ll want to be aware that you’ll sometimes run into some language barriers in the process. This isn’t always the case and you may end up with a wonderful project manager who communicates very well.

That’s why it’s important to consider many things besides the cost alone when considering a manufacturer. Communication is definitely one factor that you’ll want to take into account.

When you submit your print files to your manufacturer, make sure you are very clear about how everything is supposed to look, where components will be placed in the box (if this is important for your game), and anything else that is relevant.

If you have multiple decks of cards or unique backs, you’ll want to ensure all cards are lined up properly so that the fronts and backs match. Communicate clearly which fronts go with which backs.

It could be very helpful to provide pictures or even a short video showing how everything should look. Use your existing prototype as an example and show your manufacturer exactly how everything should look and be placed in your game box.

Double-check every last detail

You’ll receive a digital proof for your approval from your manufacturer before they begin to print and assemble a physical proof for you, so this is your opportunity to look over everything before you spend hundreds of dollars on that sample (if your manufacturer charges for the physical sample – they likely will). 

Review all the files, ensuring wording and icons are correct, everything is lined up and not cut off in any way, and that nothing is missing. Compare this to the files you submitted, as well as with your prototype to ensure card and component counts are accurate and that you’re not missing anything.

Once approved, your manufacturer will put together a physical proof copy of your game. They will likely use different equipment than they will use in mass production, so it will look close to how your final game will appear, but might not be exact.

For example, My manufacturer did not place the UV spot finish on the box top for the physical sample of Relics of Rajavihara. It just wasn’t possible for this version, since different equipment is used to assemble this. My manufacturer did communicate this to me in advance, so it wasn’t a surprise to me when my copy arrived.

However, there’s one (big) thing I goofed on. When my manufacturer sent me a photo of the physical sample before mailing it to me, I realized they had printed the wooden crates using an old image. I had provided the new image to them in a separate file and thought I had been clear that they should use this new image in place of the old one, but this was missed. However, I completely missed this myself when I was reviewing the digital files, so this was on me.

They had to change the silkscreen and re-print the blocks, which cost me some money and delayed getting the physical sample to me. But it was worth it to get everything just right.

When I received the sample, it looked fantastic! There were only a few recommendations I made, including:

  • Lightening the colour on the wooden blocks
  • Ensuring the quality of an envelope was good (it came with a tear)
  • Re-sizing one of the tuck boxes, which was smaller than the specs
  • Re-ordering the cards

This last one was crucial for my game, as every level is in a different tuck box, and all levels are in order, with an introduction card at the front of the deck and a card at the back of the deck indicating that players should flip over the deck and start at the other end. Well, the backs were where the fronts should have been and vice-versa, so players would see the introduction to the next level rather than the card referring them to the other end of the deck.

I shot a short video so that I could demonstrate the correct order of the cards and the direction they should face. However, when I received the final mass production sample, the cards were still in the wrong order! Luckily, we discussed this and came up with a fix, flipping over the top and bottom cards in each deck to show the most relevant cards there. This required more assembly time, but my manufacturer was very good about fixing this error.

This is why getting that sample and reviewing it with an eagle eye is so important!

What game have you received through Kickstarter that you could tell the creator looked at every detail to get things just right?

Please let me know by leaving a comment.

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