I Have a Board Game Idea – Now What? Part 15: The Hackers Guild Prototype Printing Postmortem

Shot of all game components including non-printed items like the dice and tracker pawns.

Welcome back everyone. At the end of July I was in the process of preparing to have the review copies of The Hackers Guild printed and I wrote a blog entry about the options available to designers looking to do just that. One of the options I talked about in the post was MyGamePrinted.com, a relative new company in the game manufacturing world who also ended up being my printer of choice. I also promised that I would write about my experiences working with them and that is what I will be talking about in today’s post.

A little background

S_493_131010I first “met” Chris on the Indie Game Alliance’s Facebook group for members when the discount that he had arranged was first announced. I was intrigued by his prototyping program and wanted to take advantage of the discount offered to IGA members. I asked Chris to introduce himself and tells us a little more about his company.

My name is Chris Newton and I am a Print Broker. I serve as an agent/liaison for board and card game designers. I serve a niche group of designers who are looking for smaller runs between 500 and 5,000 units. My clients are typically designers who are looking for help getting started in the self-publishing business and don’t know where to look for decent pricing and are unsure as to what exactly they need to successfully budget their Kickstarter campaigns and ultimately print their order.

As an American who is also a game designer with a mechanical engineering background, I also offer comfort to my clients as they know that I understand where they are coming from. I can speak their language both literal and figuratively.

I also am one of the few companies that embraces sampling and prototyping. My factory and I have made strides to develop a program that will allow the developers to afford a 20 piece prototype prior to fund raising.

Thanks Chris. Now for the rest of the post 🙂

Project Timeline

The project from start to finish took just under 4 months. Here is the timeline for the major events in the printing process:
  • May 7th, 2016 – initial contact and submission of game specifications
  • June 24th, 2016 – quote for prototype and final print run manufacturing was received
  • July 5th, 2016 – finalized prototype quote received
  • July 8th, 2016 – invoice for manufacturing paid
  • July 10, 2016 – art submitted and pre-press process started
  • July 21, 2016 – first eproof received
  • August 12, 2016 – final approval to start printing given
  • August 24, 2016 – estimated ship date
  • August 31, 2016 – actual ship date
  • September 2, 2016 – games arrived at my house

Thoughts on the process

I want to start by saying that my experience with Chris and the factory he represents wasn’t normal. It seemed like there were delays each time I turned around, from errors in the submitted artwork, miscommunications and misunderstandings, stock issues at the factory, art layout errors at the factory, and more. Indeed, at times in felt like everything that could go wrong did.

That said, I have to say that I was very impressed with the way the Chris handled the problems. He did his best to keep me apprised of the problems, offer solutions when needed, and was quick to apologize if the problem was with something he did. There were a couple of times where there was radio silence for a number of days, but I realize that things come up and life happens and it never was a huge problem. Also, often the delays in communication were caused by things that were out of Chris’ control like his contact being on business trips, having sick children, and other factory based issues.

I didn’t have any direct contact with the factory, but I was still impressed with the care that was taken to ensure the end product was the best it could be. In fact, some of the delays were a direct result of them possibly being too cautious.

While I was more than satisfied with the whole experience, and would feel comfortable recommending Chris to others, I still think that I would prefer dealing with the factory directly. Despite this, if I needed another large print run of prototypes I would work with Chris again.

Thoughts on the final product

Shot of a single, shrink wrapped game just waiting to be opened.

Shot of a single, shrink wrapped game just waiting to be opened.

I really can’t say enough about how happy I am with the final product. There were some minor cosmetic problems, like tokens not being centered, the die cuts not going all the way through so some of the tokens didn’t pop up nicely, and some glue lines and wrinkled corners on the top of the box, but a lot of them were to be expected based on the process that is used when they print their prototypes. The quality of the printing was excellent, and the materials that were used appear to be of a high quality.

Close up of the hacker mat for the Gambler.

Close up of the hacker mat for the Gambler.

The boxes the games arrived in looked to be sturdy, and were well taped. They also were custom made to fit the game boxes exactly which protected that games from being knocked around the inside of the box during transport. Each game was also individually shrink wrapped. All 20 of my games arrived in excellent condition.

The remainder of the games safe in their sealed boxes.

The remainder of the games safe in their sealed boxes.

Box one of three open and one of the games is already out. I had a hard time waiting for the camera to charge :)

Box one of three open and one of the games is already out. I had a hard time waiting for the camera to charge 🙂

I did have duplicated player mats in one box which means that one of my games isn’t complete, but all in all I am extremely satisfied with the end results. Also the games came really quickly once they were shipped which was nice.

Final Thoughts

Despite how long the process took, I am extremely pleased with the service I received from Chris and the final product that arrived from the factory. I will say that they do have a minimum order quantity of 20 for their prototypes, which may make them not an option for everyone. I would recommend Chris’ services without hesitation and will likely work with him again in the future.

That is everything for this post. Until next time, happy designing.

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