Why reviewing your digital and physical proofs thoroughly is so important (and what can happen if you don’t)
Last week we went over finalizing your art and graphic design so that you could submit all your files to your manufacturer. Today we will dive into working with your manufacturer to develop the digital and physical proofs for your game.
You might think that it’s simply a matter of uploading your files and your manufacturer will be ready to crank out copies of your game. But it’s not that simple.
There’s often a lot of back and forth, clarifying specific details and ensuring that all files are formatted just right. This can often stretch from days into weeks and even take over a month from start to finish depending on the project.
So, make sure to allocate time in your schedule to go through this process properly. Catching mistakes at this early stage is critical because catching them too late can be very costly.
The first proof that your manufacturer will provide is a digital version. This will often be in the form of PDF’s, displaying your cards in the layout you have indicated, along with your box and any other components in separate files.
Make sure to go through all the files with a lot of detail. Ensure the cards are in the right order and are lined up properly with the appropriate backs. Make sure your box has all the appropriate markings.
Your manufacturer will often be able to provide a template based on the dimensions of all your components. This can help your graphic designer to line everything up just right, including space for bleed lines (essentially making sure all the important stuff fits on your cards, boards, rules, etc. and nothing is cut off).
Let your manufacturer know if anything looks out of place. Ask them to make necessary changes, if applicable, and provide an updated version. Once everything looks good, you can give your approval to proceed.
This is your last opportunity to make sure everything looks good before anything goes to print, so make sure to zoom in and look at everything in detail.
Once you have signed off on the digital proof of your game, you’ll need to make payment for the physical proof to be made and shipped to you.
They will be making this physical proof by hand, using different machines than they will use for the mass production of your game. So, this proof copy will be much more expensive than your print run will be (likely around $500 give or take).
It may take days or even weeks for your manufacturer to produce this physical copy and then it must be shipped to you.
Evaluating your physical proof copy
When that package arrives with a physical proof copy of your game, you’re going to be ecstatic. You won’t be able to wait to crack it open and see what your professionally crafted game now looks like.
But don’t get too excited just yet. You want to have a record of how everything looks when it arrives.
It’s a good idea to take pictures or even a video of you unboxing it so that you can easily refer back and see how everything was placed in your game box. This is helpful, as you can let your manufacturer know if anything should be organized differently. Going by memory will be a lot harder.
It’s important to take your time and go through every component, every card, and every word and icon used in your game. You might just catch something that you didn’t notice when you were staring at the digital version on your screen. Sometimes having a copy physically there in front of you makes it easier to catch these mistakes.
And mistakes do happen. We’re all human and we all make them.
Catching these mistakes now could save you a lot of headaches and plenty of money, so I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to really review everything carefully.
In my game, Relics of Rajavihara, one backer discovered that one of the levels was impossible to beat. I went over this level many times and realized they were correct. One block that was necessary to complete the level was missed in the layout. Fortunately, this was a bonus card and not one from the main campaign.
It was also discovered that two combinations of new challenges that are introduced after the campaign were not solvable. There were literally thousands of combinations and not every single one of them could be tested, however, when all the new challenges for a level were tested together, they could be completed. there were just a couple of minor conflicts when certain challenges were included and others were excluded.
Reprinting the card and two challenge sheets wasn’t overly expensive, however, the cost to mail these out to people all over the world would really add up
Fortunately for me, Relics of Rajavihara is a game in which you will most likely only ever play a level once. I was also about to launch an expansion for the game, so this presented me with options I could give my backers. I provided them all with a corrected card and two corrected challenge sheets that they could immediately print off or view them digitally. I also included reprints of the card and sheets in the upcoming expansion and offered physical reprints for anyone who wanted them. They would also be corrected in the next print run of the original game.
Backers were pleased to have multiple options and rather than having to mail well over a thousand copies, only a few hundred were needed, as many were glad to wait for the reprints that would be included in the expansion or simply use the digital versions provided.
This might not be so easy to do for a game that goes direct to retail. In this case, corrections may have to be made in a later edition, as it is virtually impossible to track down everyone who purchased your game. But being able to do the right thing for your backers is always the right choice. It may be costly and time-consuming, but this will also increase their opinion of you.
I know when my physical proof for Montalo’s Revenge arrives, I will not only be looking at every card and component in great detail, I will also play through every individual level at least once to ensure that everything is just right.
Wrapping it up
It’s definitely worth taking the time to review both your digital and physical proofs thoroughly in order to reduce costly errors down the road.
If you have questions or you think something is just a bit off, talk to your manufacturer. It may be an easier fix than you think.
As the old proverb states, “measure twice, cut once.”
It’s better to get these things right the first time.
Next week, we’ll look at finalizing your pledges and putting in the order with your manufacturer.
What questions do you have about digital and physical proofs?
Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.