It’s been awhile since we posted part 3 of this mini series. A lot has happened in my personal life but I want to refocus on putting out content that you can read and hopefully learn from by using personal experiences on my self-publishing journey.
Today we are going to be finishing up this four-part series where we have been taking a closer look at the quoting process of manufacturing to bring awareness to what goes into your game box as you are developing your game. In this final conversation, we are going to be looking at unique components that really give your title that extra layer of satisfaction when it hits the table. Let’s dive in.
The first component that comes to mind when I think about unique game pieces is miniatures. Nowadays, mini’s aren’t all that unique, in fact, you see them in tons of games but the process of making them is fairly involved and therefore is going to cost a good chunk of change to get them produced.
The cost of including these specialty components can be quite steep, forcing the cost of your game to increase. How can you offer these premium components to those who are willing to pay the higher price but still have an affordable version of your game? Over the course of my game-developing adventure, I have discovered a few different ways for those of us just starting out to make that happen.
One of the daunting aspects about looking at including specialty components in your game is the assumption that you will have to order these components through your main manufacturer, meaning you have to meet the MOQ for these extra components. Luckily, that isn’t your only option.
Some manufacturers are willing to make a smaller number than their MOQ of a select amount of upgraded components. They understand the Kickstarter model and how there are different tiers that backers can pledge with different rewards. If you want to offer higher-paying backers with an upgraded component, you offer both options using this method. Unfortunately, the MOQ varies widely depending on the component and manufacturer but it’s worth asking.
If you haven’t reached out to a manufacturer before, I highly recommend just going for it. It may seem daunting and feel like you must have everything accounted for before you can even go to that step, but that’s not true. Start with just the basics of what this game needs to be functional. Write out the component specs in a spread sheet using columns to specify each bit of info: name of component, rough estimate of dimensions, material used, details on the component, and quantity in each box. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
Here is the spread sheet that I use for Gnomes and Wizards’ base game.
After you have compiled your spread sheet, you can just send this directly to manufacturers. Some manufacturers want you to use their client system to enter in all of this info but I suggest first sending the spread sheet to see if they can quote based on that. It wont hurt to ask and it will save you a ton of time just making one spread sheet for all of the manufacturers you send this to.
I spent a great deal of time going through various manufacturer’s online quoting systems. I learned a lot about each of my components and the process helped me make some decisions so it’s wasn’t a waste of time but once these decisions have been made, you just want to be able to quickly shop around for what different manufacturers have to offer.
Back to specialty components. After you have created your raw spread sheet and started narrowing down manufacturers that stand out to you, you can start discussing specialty components with them. Ask them if they can do smaller runs for backers who want to spend a bit more to upgrade their experience.
If your manufacturer can do a smaller run for these upgraded component, typically they will just mark the outside of the box to discern which units have the different components. This can be a graphic that goes on the box or maybe just a sticker that goes on the plastic wrap but make sure you and your manufacturer come up with a clear distinction so there isn’t confusion when it’s time to ship your game.
Alternatively, you can look outside your manufacturer if find somewhere that will do these components cheaper. You may even have some craftsmanship skills and want to choose a DIY solution. Your backers could really cherish this if they know you personally had a hand in making the physical components.
Whatever you choose, make sure it’s of professional quality. Determine if you want to offer these items retail after all your backers have received their copies. That will help you determine how many sets of this specialty component you’ll want and which solution makes the most sense for you. There are a ton of small shops that will do custom work like this. If you are getting small quantities of something, it may be cheaper than trying to get them manufactured by a large company.
Come up with a few different solutions at various budgets. Let’s look at a couple different budget options for the miniature example we previously discussed. Lets say you’re making a pirate game and you want to replace the starting player token with a pirate ship model. Well, if it’s only one mini, and you only get a couple hundred backers, you could find a royalty-free design and do a print run on a high quality 3D printer.
What if you get a couple thousand backers? Well now your budget for these specialty components has increased and you can commission a 3d designer to make you a custom model and get a bigger print run. Get a quote from manufacturers to just to create the minis for this project. These specialty items don’t actually have to be included in the main game box when you send them out to backers. They can be packaged separately and the backer can combine them later.
For CavernWire Games, miniatures aren’t a good example because we are purposefully trying to stay away from minis, at least the typical grey miniature figures that need to be painted to look finished. A better example that we have worked with is the power crystals for Gnomes and Wizards.
They are still technically minis in regards to how they are made but because of their simple geometry and that there are only two different models, we have a few more options. If we get a few hundred backers, we are considering making these power crystals ourselves. We have many different tools available to us to make these components. The most probable option is to use our resin 3d printer to create these. We could either print them outright, or we can print a set and make silicone molds using our prints.
If we get thousands of backers, this could take a great deal of time so we would likely use the extra funds to just have them create these items separately and would package them individually when it it is time to fulfill the pledges.
In conclusion of this four-part series, I would like to state that everything that I have passed on to you has been based on my experience thus far with CavernWire games and with my other business, Fangorn Forge. Although I have not had a game produced by a manufacturer yet, I have gone through the process of getting other gaming products created by manufacturers.
With that being said, there are a lot less components to the products that I have had manufactured thus far so I presume there is much for me to learn post-funding for my first tabletop game. What tips have you learned about getting quotes for your designs? Let me know in the comments below.