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Subject: Dealing with drift rss

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Jørgen Brunborg-Næss
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Hi there!

Looking for feedback from someone with experience from professional printing.

I'm designing and self-publishing a game (or game system) called Green Box of Games. Currently I've printed a few prototypes with thegamecrafter.com, and my plan is to use them to do a limited print run of a 100 games for Essen.

The game uses square tiles, and I have designed them with small markings on the sides and corners to allow them to "snap" together to form different square or hexagonal grid layouts. However, I am experiencing drift, so while the front side of the tiles look pretty perfect, the back side is a bit off mark, making my border markings look not so good.

The help pages on thegamecrafter clearly state that this should be expected, and their recommendation is "don't use borders on the back", so I'm not exactly surprised.

Also, I figure I can live with this at the moment for a limited first edition/prototype run, but I'm finally arriving at my question:

Could I expect less drift if the game were to be produced by a "proper" printing company, as opposed to a cheap print-on-demand service like thegamecrafter? Or does everyone have to deal with more or less the same risk of drift?

If the answer is "you'll always get drift", then I guess I should be seriously considering changing my design, but if I can expect higher precision in a professional print run then I'll probably leave it for now.

Here's an image to illustrate:

The green tiles (front) have perfect symmetrical and equally sized markings along the sides, but not quite so for the brown tiles (back).

Thanks!
Jørgen

 
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Maarten D. de Jong
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Gwarv wrote:
Could I expect less drift if the game were to be produced by a "proper" printing company, as opposed to a cheap print-on-demand service like thegamecrafter?

You can expect, and in fact demand, far smaller offset differences. But you'll pay as it requires much more robust machinery to pull it off. Just take a look at a deck of cards with front and back matter: if there are any offsets, the naked eye can barely see them. This means tolerances of 0,1 mm or less.
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Craig Somerton
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While I don't have any real experience with the manufacturing process - No matter the company, you are almost guaranteed to get a certain level of misalignment and bleed.

Once you realise how games are manufactured, you'll understand that no company has the time or resources to ensure every single piece in the printing process is perfectly aligned - there are certainly quality checks, but expecting perfect precision will simply leave you disappointed.

The size of the card can vary, the guides can move, the cutting die can shift minutely with each cut, humans can make mistakes - so many variables. This is why all companies recommend a bleed around chits, tokens and cards, to allow for this variability.

The only way you're going to get that type of perfection, with almost zero tolerance, is to do it yourself of get someone to do individual bespoke versions. The minute you introduce some form of automated process, small discrepancies will creep-in, and you need to make allowances for that.

Hell, most of us have games on our shelves from major publishers and manufacturers, where the chits or cards aren't quite aligned perfectly.

If you are interested, here is a fascinating video from Ludo Fact - one of Germany's biggest and best production companies. It is definitely worth watching to see the effort that goes into mass producing a game. Smaller companies like Game Crafter wouldn't operate on this scale, but the methods are still the same.

The video is also very useful in understanding why it costs so much to produce a game - the equipment, expertise and human involvement is enormous. Watching it certainly stopped me quibbling about paying a good price for a high-quality game.



EDIT: Fixed a few typos.
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Jørgen Brunborg-Næss
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Thanks for the input! I don't need absolute perfection, but keeping the offset below 1 mm would be nice.
 
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B C Z
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If you need that level of precision, you're probably looking a medium that is "not cardboard".
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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I haven't tried to make a game where this was a serious issue, but the tolerances I've occasionally heard are more along the lines of 1/8" (about 3mm).

(Though I think that was for alignment between printing and cutting; alignment between printing on two sides of the same component might be different.)
 
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Jørgen Brunborg-Næss
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Alright, then I guess my options are:
a: Change the design, or
b: Pray, or
c: Pretend it's ok

:-)
 
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James Campbell
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I work in an offset printing facility and even during the printing process you will find there is a certain level of tolerance for drift.

This is compounded during the process of adhering the printed pages to the board and then add the drift in the cutting process and you're at least doubling the chances of drift.

You cannot avoid it, but it can be mitigated. Ask the manufacturers what their tolerances are. If you want lower tolerance than any will provide, then you will likely pay through the nose for it.

Design for a certain amount of drift. It's your best bet.
 
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Andre Voest
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Hi Jorgen,

unfortunately you will never completely get rid of the drift. The problem is that there are several automated steps that are involved in this. For tiles there are two steps of laminating the print onto the Cardboard (front- & backside) plus one more step when the board is being punched. So even though the machines can reduce the single drift to less than a millimeter, if the drifts are in opposite direction they can add up to almost 2 mm of variance.
My recommandation would be that you check out other tile laying games and how they solved this design-wise.

Cheers,
Andre
 
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