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Publisher Diary: Ettana, or Details on a Debut

Madhumita Mani
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Board Game: Ettana: The Looms of Kanchi
After starting with the classic Settlers of Catan, our passion for board games has continued to grow and eventually brought us to starting Mad4Fun Games and releasing our very own board game — Ettana: The Looms of Kanchi from Madhu Sundar.

What stirred us about board games are the elements in them like luck, strategy, tactics, wit, and being economical in all your moves. If you give it a thought, you realize that it is just like your everyday life, except that it is compressed within an hour of gameplay. And the best part? You do not need to win every time — you just need to enjoy while you're at it!

Although creating a board game came with its own set of challenges, we managed to get people intrigued to know more! Our games are designed in Switzerland, made in India, and shipped worldwide. Thus, we ensure the Swiss precision in every little detail while sticking to our Indian traditions through the game name, artwork, theme, and philosophy.

Our aim with Ettana was not to get people to win, but to send out a feeling of satisfaction and fun of achieving a goal. At first, you might think it is a tough process as a first-time publisher, but we assure you that it was also enjoyable, informative, and captivating throughout our whole journey.

Board Game: Ettana: The Looms of Kanchi

While creating our board game, we were enlightened about the intricacies of the entire process, intricacies that we have shared in many posts on our "First-time Board Game Publisher" blog on BGG. This process might look complicated and long, but we have broken down every bit into a different phase to help you understand it better. It is a beautiful process to see a mere thought that randomly might have occurred to you, now being created into something real.

We like to call this process a rollercoaster of phases that must be completed while creating your own board game, which finally leads to its publication. Why a rollercoaster, if you may ask? Because although a rollercoaster has its ups and downs, it is always pleasurable the entire time you're on it. It is the exact same feeling while publishing your own board game.

We believe that sharing our experience with you can hopefully help make the board game publishing process much smoother than you'd expect. We have learned from all the downfalls of being a first-time board game publisher, but have risen up from mistakes to be better than we were a minute ago, so let us get right into it!

Each section below links to an in-depth analysis of each phase, with that analysis being available both on our website and in our BGG blog. Our blogs are detailed to take you through a board game journey, although this is just our experience, of course, and there are different ways to go about the whole process. (Feel free to comment or contact us for any information or clarifications that you might need through your publication process. We are more than happy to help with some valuable input!)

From gallery of mad4fungames

Ideation is the foundation to publishing any board game. Deciding on the gameplay, mechanisms, and your theme is crucial, without which you would not even have a real game to call your own. Just as we created Ettana with the concept of handlooms and annas, elements in your game need to stand out. How do you make sure the game does not get boring? How many players can play it? What is the game objective? We shall help you raise all these important questions in our blog.

Plus, creating the most interesting gaming components will help catch your audience's eye. If you want people to come back and tell you that they're addicted to your game, spend the right amount of time ideating! To cover these crucial base points, take your first step by reading more about Board Game Ideation.

From gallery of mad4fungames

How do you transform your thinking into creative visuals? Through a lucrative Design phase.

Your thoughts will now be put into physically creating and designing your board game according to how you'd like it to look. For the entire design process, you obviously need a good graphic designer or illustrator. In our blog, we have a few resources and websites that we came across while creating Ettana, which can massively ease the design process.

While you focus on the design, (1) remember to get the barcode (EAN/UPC) to be printed on the box, (2) you should think about shipping, and (3) factor in the "meteorological norms". We go into detail on these design hurdles in our Board Game Design article.

From gallery of mad4fungames

Don't miss out on the Legal and Regulatory Phase to extensively secure and protect your board game from IP violation. In this blog, we talk about three major chunks of legal norms that you should adhere to: general confidentiality agreement/contracts, intellectual property rights, and toy safety certification.

As a first-time board game publisher, these aspects are key as they secure your ideas and protect the development of your product. The basic requirements that we talk about are the well-defined terms and conditions, having a standard template, deciding on deliverables and quantity of the game components like the cards, tokens, tiles, and the designs of every component. We urge repeated quality checks during this phase.

Did you know people ignore getting a toy safety certification but then fall into legal trouble in the future? The "CE" mark validates your product with international standards. If you believe that it is always better to be safe than sorry, take a look at our Board Game Legal & Regulatory post on some legal guidelines.

The creativity that you put to paper will now be used to create something tangible, i.e., a prototype. Through our Prototyping blog, we explain how it validates the design of everything in your board game and how you can use testing to see whether it actually feels as expected, whilst trying to create an appeal with the audience through how it looks.

The prototypes, once finalized, are sent to other board gamers or reviewers so that they can provide their inputs. This will result in suggestions, tweaks, and changes in the game. There are many distinct ways that we will provide through which you can go about this entire phase, the most standard one is building the game using what you already have available at home. We used a few websites during the prototyping of Ettana and split this phase into three different stages for easy execution. The end result should be manufacturing a pre-production copy of the board game.

If you want to be well prepared with all your game components and designs while diving into prototypes, this Board Game Prototype post is for you!

Board Game: Ettana: The Looms of Kanchi

The Production Phase is by far the most important one as your creation is now being published for the masses. This blog will help you out with the main checklist you need during this phase. From asking for quotes from your manufacturer to confirming the answers to questions like what the components are, the sizes you need, the quality and quantity, the color patterns, the designs, and the game box assembly, we have assessed it all!

We focus the most on the idea of deciding the MOQ (minimum order quantity) with your manufacturer. Working out on a simple business case file to break down and store information on the different types of costs you will incur such as the fixed costs, one-time costs, production costs, and logistics costs are vital in this phase. The entire production process requires a final timeline that you will have to affirm. We are sure that this Board Game Production article will be of some assistance to you!

From gallery of mad4fungames

How do you get your board game copies to reach your doting supporters as soon as possible? Logistics Phase to the rescue!

Although this section might seem quite complex at first, you are going to be hassle-free once all your logistics aspects are in place, i.e., pricing, packaging, transportation, warehousing, and shipping. You need to settle on the idea of where you want to ship the board game, which countries would you like to ship to, from where do you want to ship, the quantity you will be making, and depending on that where you would like to store your inventory. Depending on the size of the game box, you will need cartons and packing materials.

You need to be very clear about who you'd want as your logistic provider. We suggest comparing many to find the right fit. It is key to estimate the shipping costs upfront, keeping in mind the tax rules, VAT, import/export, and customs duties of the place of production and destination. A lot of elements to keep in mind right? We hope you figure out a smooth sail for your logistics once you read our Board Game Logistics article.

The Marketing Phase might seem like the easiest of tasks, but just a little head's up that it can either make or break you! Thus, we would like this article to help you out as much as possible, and make your game a success.

It is always key to have a reasonable and predetermined budget for the marketing process. When it comes to the general approach to marketing, you need to find the right medium to do it, especially through social media. Each separate platform plays a different role in marketing your board game. Getting the right reviews from the right people is a task for every board gamer, but we have some insights for you.

You may also choose to go for crowdfunding campaigns through Kickstarter to bring your project into the public eye. Trust us when we say that you don't need a lot of marketing — just the right kind of marketing. If that grabs your attention, read more about this phase here: Board Game Marketing.

You are now on your final path of the Sales and Finance Phase! This article caters to all of the details from pricing to using different sales channels. The most basic thing is, of course, having your own website. We use Shopify for the same and can affirm its quality services. In addition, you need to register for a well-known payment gateway with credit/debit payments. Fun fact: Amazon has business models that we recommend all first-time board gamers tap into!

Once it comes to delivery and fulfillment, every sale and purchase needs to be properly recorded from a financial perspective by using the right accounting tools. The other option you could go for is hosting providers by paying a nominal fee and using their tools for financial management. We bet this information will be useful as well as intriguing to you as a first-time publisher. We do speak from our very own experience: Board Game Sales.

From gallery of mad4fungames

And with that, you are done with the whole process of publishing your own game! We personally feel grateful that we could share our experience as first-time board gamers through these articles to all board gamers out there! If we managed to help you out in some way, we have succeeded!

If you have the intent to grow and make more games, you need to be organized and keep this entire process as structured as possible. Although this journey might seem tough to go through, it is also extremely rewarding when you see reviews and customer feedback that will genuinely put a smile on your face. Before you know it, you will be learning, growing, and doing things you have never done before. You will definitely make your own discoveries along the way, and we urge you to share the same with all your fellow board gamers out there.

We'd like to conclude by giving you a reminder that while you're at this entire process, let this not slip your mind: "It is all about the journey, not the destination." Have a little fun and enjoy what you have created off your bare mind before preparing it to get out into the real world!

Founder, Mad4Fun Games

From gallery of mad4fungames
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