Blue Iron Game
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Hi guys!



We have been developing a game, Blue Iron: Dawn of the Old Age, in which 2-4 players engage in a battle royal against an ancient golem. You can fully customize your character, a mage, with different kinds of spells and abilities, and combine these spells in your attacks!

We're looking for advice in making a print-and-play for our game! Currently what we have for our PnP is:
- A pdf file containing 9 cards per page, black-and-white ready
- A pdf file for the boards, printable in A4/letter, black-and-white ready
- A list of the other components required, in addition to a pdf file of printable stickers (for dice and tokens)
- The rulebook

What we want to know is, how much is too much? Our full game consists of ~250 cards, and we can't imagine putting everything into the PnP. At what point will you say "Hell no I'm not printing and cutting all this stuff"? How many cards will be optimal? Also, will printable card backs be necessary?

Also, we are looking for any advice that can help people to enjoy the PnP version better!

Thanks a lot!

Do visit our website at blueirongame.com
 
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B C Z
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Reston
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Once you hit a critical threshold of cards, which seems to be about the 'one poker deck' level, it is reasonable to assume that PnPers may opt for an artscow or other commercial deck printing solution.

Sticking to a reasonable number of artscow multiples (52/54/55, I forget which) would be very friendly to those wanting to create their own copies. (and would allow color impressions)


Now... how good is the game and does that justify the PnP expense? That's the real question; and one that cannot be easily answered.
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Sean T
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I usually estimate that I will lose about 30-50% of the people that would be interested for every page beyond the first that they have to print and cut. This % goes up for every page that has many cuts per page. If it is only cards, then the number of games assembled goes up as cards are easy to make.

If you give people the option between a sample and the full game though, most people would probably download the full game. Not all will print it out though.

Card backs are not necessary (I sleeve PnP games), but if you include a single sheet of card backs, people can print it out themselves.

For tokens, you will probably want to make sure they are square to make cutting chipboard easier unless they are to be adhered to wood discs.
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Blue Iron Game
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Right - seems better to just separate the files so people can print what they want.

What do you guys think about using placeholder artwork (taken from google) in a PnP? Is it necessary or will it be better to just leave the space for the artwork blank?
 
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Raithyn
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Personally, I'm willing to cut up two pages (18 cards) for a low ink PNP that I might or might not be interested in. I'll definitely cut out a full deck (54 cards or six pages) if I'm excited about the game.

I mainly tend to PnP solo games because I'm okay with little/poor art if it's a good game. I may redesign the cards myself after pledging/pre-ordering. If I'm going to convince three other people to play a PnP with me, I need it to look nice. That can be done with only a little art, but it takes effort. If I'm excited enough to print off 54 cards for a four player game, I'll probably give it a simple retheme if necessary. What I really ask is that you provide a cross section of the game that's worth playing, even though there's only a small number of cards compared to your production set.

I'm fine with circular tokens but it's a good idea to make them look nice as squares or rectangles too. Avoid hexes that have to line up together. That's a turn-off if I'm ambivalent at all. Custom dice faces are iffy. Include a translation table for standard d6 if able.

For comparison, the free PnPs for the Tiny Epic series have enough style and content to earn a few test plays with my friends. Galaxies only got printed after someone reworked the PnP with standard pips.

Hopefully something in all that opinionated mess is helpful.

EDIT: One last thought, for a test set, backs are a thoughtful touch, but I won't actually print them. They should always be on separate pages unless the cards are double sided and the template has someone folding the paper to make them line up. Even then, separate front and back sheets that fit back-to-back is better.
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Jake Staines
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Grantham
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Personally, I'll happily print four or five pages for games I'm curious about, ten or fifteen for games I'm quite interested in, or up to more or less any size for games I'm totally sold on.

Try and lay your files out in a manner which makes it as easy as possible to align, cut, and assemble the pieces. For example, I will be more ready to print and build a game which has three printed sheets of hexagonal counters with an appropriate layout so that they can all be cut out with a series of long, straight cuts than I am a game which has a single printed sheet of hexagons which are all just tessellated together into a grid, requiring a lot of tiny stopped cuts.

For cards, I will personally prefer a 3x3 layout of nine cards per page if I want to make a rough-and-ready version of the game to try it out, 'cause I'll just sleeve them alongside regular playing cards or something. However, for 'nice' copies that I'm going to keep, I vastly prefer a four-cards-matched-with-backs-with-common-fold-line layout (as with Sean Forrester's Layout here), which makes it much easier to align fronts with backs.

A low-ink version of your game would be appreciated by a lot of people - no big blocks of unnecessary colour, outline or remove artwork and so on. Inkjet ink costs much more than printer paper, so this saves a fair bit of money for a lot of people who are interested in just trying out your game.

Of course, if you're making a commercial game in the long run it's probably better to aim your PnP at people making rough-and-ready versions to try it out, but if you ever plan to sell PnP files (or make them a reward in a KS campaign or something) people like me would thank you for making the PDFs out of individual images per card rather than one big three-by-three-cards image. Like that we can open them in Illustrator or Inkscape and re-arrange the cards to the layout we prefer.

If you're doing the rough-and-ready three-by-three card layout, it's helpful if you don't mix card backs which are required for the game with card backs which aren't - or give people the choice. If you lay out your cards with eight single-sided cards and one double-sided card per sheet then everyone who doesn't care about card backs has to print out eight generic card backs they don't need, but if you group all your double-sided cards on one page - or provide an optional backs-of-all-double-sided-cards sheet - then people can save a bit of ink/toner by not printing all the generic card backs.

Lay out your PnP files with crop marks that don't touch the edge of the components, and provide a few millimetres of bleed where necessary; it's not so easy to align stuff by hand for PnP as it is in a factory. And they still cock it up in the factory on a regular basis! This goes double if being able to tell what a token/card/etc. is from the 'wrong' side ruins your game.

As you've concluded yourself, if it's possible to play the game with just a subset of pieces, try and arrange your files to make it possible to print just that subset at once.

cscs wrote:

What do you guys think about using placeholder artwork (taken from google) in a PnP? Is it necessary or will it be better to just leave the space for the artwork blank?


Using placeholder artwork is acceptable when testing the game on your own or when demoing it to a publisher or whatever (it's common to put 'FPO' or 'For Position Only' over the artwork so it's clear to everyone that you're not intending to use it commercially), but when you publish a thing - and that includes putting a PnP file up for free download - then it's potentially copyright infringement.

If you're careful to find public-domain or Creative Commons artwork for your placeholders, then it's still fine, of course - knock yourself out. You can find artwork you can use in Google Image Search by dropping down the 'Search Tools' menu at the top of the page, selecting 'Usage Rights' and then an appropriate license. You probably want 'Labelled for Re-use with Modification', which is the most-permissive option; the non-commercial ones might be fine too if you don't plan to sell anything, but there's an argument that a free PnP demo for a commercial game is in itself a commercial use, since it's an advert for a commercial product.
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Sturv Tafvherd
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keeping it down to just 1 or 2 pages worth of printed components is the ideal for me. I'd even prefer "mini square cards" of roughly 1.5 inches (thus, 30 cards per page) instead of printing 3 or 4 pages of the regular size. And of course, ink-friendly art or even no art at all is fine.

Essentially, the point is this: I would pay retail for games I plan to play a lot; and I'd probably even spend my own time to get things printed via a Print on Demand site if the game is not in retail yet. However, I'd need to really know the game is worth it. Reviews, Videos, and Sample Sessions here on BGG are a big part of that research.

Print-and-Play, on the other hand, rarely has that much info available. So if I have to create my own (printed) components, I want to put the minimum effort into it ... at least until I get to know the game better
 
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