While working on M.I.N.D for all these years I have met really cool people, online
and offline. Many times people come to me and ask how can a single person
create a full board game from ground up when it seem like so much work. Usually,
this is not the way things go in the industry, as there is a whole team doing the
work, but sometimes, rare gems like Xia and Gloomhaven appear. Well, even
though I am yet to be as successful as the mentioned games, I was still able to put
together a board game that looks very professional and I think I have some good
advice for creators regarding their prototypes:

#1 The Art

This can go from expensive to very expensive as talented artists don't work for
free nor should they. But do not, under any circumstances, underestimate the value
of a good looking art in your game. Not to hint that you can get away with a bad
game, but shiny things do sell a lot more. Just look at the video gaming industry
where the story or game play is often secondary to the visuals.

Designers may many times overlook the importance of a great art on the card, or
on the board as they think if it's fun people will play it. “Hey, it has the text players
need to know, why do I need more?”. Well the answer is to get people engaged in
the theme and make them perceive value in your game. Remember that ideally
your game will see a lot of use and people will play it over and over again. If the
visuals are boring to watch the mechanics will be able to do only so much till they
get bored of looking at it. Not only that, but if the game is not good looking many
people will just skip it.

Now, it is OK to do the art yourself if you have a good background in this, but if
you only try to be cheap and save some bucks then you are not treating your
project seriously enough. If you do not have the skills to do all the art in your
game nor the budget then change the design on your game to make it require less

#2. Components

From tokens to cards these are what make your game and what people will see
and handle while playing it. There may be different philosophies on how to
approach making components but for me it's to make a game I would play and
would like to use quite often. So bad cards and boards I will definitely not want to
have so if you respect your customer you should do the best possible to put the
best quality inside that box. This may sound like preaching, but unless you are a
big company to have a brand established and know your stuff, you should really
do your best to impress people with your game, and being cheap and having bad
components is not the way. Now, don't go on the extreme and make a box that
costs the customer 50 euros.

Now I will tell you the companies I've used to make my prototype and what
components they have made me.

www.thegamecrafter.com - they have lots of stuff board game related but I
have used them only to order dice, meeples, markers and pawns. They have a
pretty good website, some ok prices and the components arrive without a
problem. For me it was quite pricey as shipping was high from the U.S. Overall, I
really recommend using them for the components above, just because they have a
variety of choices on each type. So what ever you need, it's a good chance they

www.printplaygames.com - this is Andrew Tullsen’s website and he is an
awesome guy that I found via BoardGameGeek. For a small company there were
just too many people recommending him so I thought I give him a try. Personally I
do not like his website, but I've contacted him via email or his on-line messaging
feature on the website.

I have used this website to order the game box, circle and square tokens and
the playing boards. The game box had white borders everywhere as he has
some limitations on how he can make it and I wasn't satisfied with it at all. Could
not use it because it looked really unprofessional.

The boards were nice but the ones made here in Bucharest at a local shop were
even better and cheaper so I decide not use them. However, the tokens are very
well made and have only a small misalignment between sides so I can recommend
him for that part of your game. Note that his website also features lots of other
components, but I had already ordered my share from TheGameCrafter.

I want to mention that once I received a really bad batch of tokens, with a huge
misalignment. I was very upset so I messaged Andrew and he did the whole order
again and shipped it to me on his own expense. While it did cost me time, overall
it was very nice of him to do that. So I can fully recommend him for your tokens.

www.printerstudio.com - boy, this is such a great website and I made all my
cards here. It has a great user interface to add art for your cards, you can save
albums and they have quite often coupon giveaways. The cards can have different
types of thickness and finishers and all come in a special plastic box. Those boxes
were so nice that I've ordered some extra just to have them.

The customers service is also nice as once my order was a week late and they were
nice to resend my whole order once again, thinking it was lost in the mail. So they
really care about their customers. They can do many more custom things, from
playmats to custom mugs, but I really recommend them for your cards, no matter
the size. They will have no problem. Zero.

www.shapeways.com - if you want to make miniatures this is the place to do it
for your prototype. Initially I wanted to make the 3D printing here in Bucharest and
had a great success with the main Leader characters as they did turn out AMAZING
from the local company. But once I've found ShapeWays I realized how expensive
they really were and to top that they somehow could not make from the same
material anymore.

Shapeways doesn't have that material either but they do have lots of other options
for your components and now they even come COLORED. This is a huge plus. Also,
this is also a company that respects its customers as one time they were late with
an order and they gave me a coupon to make me feel better. Also, they have a
very on spot customer service. They are very professionals.

#3. The Game Box

Now, if there is really one thing you must pay to do it right then the game box is
that one. People mostly really do judge a book by its cover so you should present
the game on the shelf really well. It needs to pop up and feel like it has a great
game inside. I am not saying this to make you cheat, but to make you aware that
the downside is really there. You can have the greatest game inside, if it's inside an
ugly box there are chances people will pick something flashy from the shelf.
Unfortunately I cannot give you a place to go for this one as I made mine at a local
shop here in Bucharest but I think I recommend going with TheGameCrafter.