You want to make a board game.
But how do you…make a board game?
I’m not talking about play-testing or art or any of that. I’m talking about manufacturing.
How do you work with a manufacturer to turn that beautiful idea in your head or on some index cards covered in Sharpie into a real, marketable board game product?
That’s where Panda Game Manufacturing comes in. They’re one of the most famous board game manufacturers out there. Asmodee’s used them, as has Stonemaier, Z-Man, GMT, Leder Games, and a bunch of other huge publishers.
So that’s why I’ve brought on Tyler Lipchen, Senior Project Manager and Prepress Specialist at Panda.
This transcript was generated with AI and may contain occasional minor errors.
Brandon Rollins: You want to make a board game, but how do you make a board game? I’m not talking about playtesting or art or any of that. I’m talking about manufacturing. How do you work with a manufacturer to turn that beautiful idea in your head or on some index cards covered in sharpie into a real marketable board game product?
That’s where Panda Game Manufacturing comes in. They’re one of the most famous board game manufacturers out there. Asmodee’s used them, as has Stonemaier, Z Man, GMT, Leader Games, and a whole bunch of other huge publishers. So that’s why I’ve brought on Tyler Lipchin, Senior Project Manager and Pre Press Specialist at Panda.
Now it’s funny, I had pitched the idea of an interview with the topic of a crash course in manufacturing board games when I was working with Panda on this. Turns out they had a slideshow already made, ready to go, that was almost a word for word match on what I was looking for. I couldn’t ask for any better, so they’re going to do that slideshow today.
Now we’re going to cut to that in just a minute, but real quick. My name is Brandon. This video is brought to you by FulfillRite. We ship orders for e commerce and crowdfunding. Link below for more details, and quotes are always free. Now, one last quick note, I edited this one with a light touch because we just want to keep it simple and lo fi and honest, just like two professionals on a Zoom call, but this time with screen sharing.
So, alright, let’s cut to the interview. So, yeah, thank you again for coming on. I really appreciate it. Yeah, no worries. Yeah, I, I love, um, that you just happened to have exactly the kind of thing that we wanted to cover anyway, just sitting around in your Google Drive ready to go. I couldn’t have asked for better.
Tyler Lipchen: Yeah, we get, we get asked the question a lot. So yeah, we’ve definitely
Brandon Rollins: come prepared. Yeah, you’re ready for it. I like that. Um, we can jump into this thing
Tyler Lipchen: whenever you’re ready. Yeah, sounds good. Sounds good. So this is our crash course in, in, in tabletop game manufacturing. Um, this is an introduction to, um, to, uh, Panda’s process in particular, but this process will be very, very similar for any mass production, um, uh, uh, supplier.
The 1st part of it will kind of go through the whole process, but some parts of it will be more geared towards like a print on demand. But the majority of this presentation will be for a full mass production facility. My name is Tyler. I’m from Panda. As you know, I am a senior project manager and pre press specialist.
Um, so I kind of handle projects from the consultation, quoting phase all the way through to, I do run pre press checks and design verification. Um, and then I actually manage a project all the way through to completion, even help with some shipping as well. So, um, that’s who I am. Uh, but let’s get into the production process.
Cause that’s why you’re all here. So. There we go. So this is a typical manufacturing process. So, um, you will reach out, uh, at the beginning of your journey, whether you’re in the middle of a game design, or you’re planning a crowdfunding campaign, or you’re a publisher who has a product that you’ve kind of gotten past alpha testing.
So like you’ve been playtesting it, you have a good idea of the specifications of how many cards you need, how big your board has to be. Um, you have a A working prototype, um, that that could be a mass production game eventually, right? That’s kind of when you want to reach out for quotes with manufacturers because otherwise it too much is in flux and you make it an estimate that’s not really accurate.
So, um, uh, the 1st part of the process is reaching out for a quote, and I believe you should reach out for a quote once you have a working prototype. And then you just match specs to reach out for a quote. You can do it through. There are some online estimator tools. Panda has an estimator tool on our website, so you can use that to start.
If you want just a rough estimate or you can reach out to us directly for a quote, at that point you’ll be put in touch with the project manager like myself, um, who will review your specifications. Um, there are ways you can input specifications into our website. Um, or if you have like an Excel document or something, you can also work with your project manager to fill out your specs that way.
Um, someone like me and myself, again, a project manager, will review your specifications. Uh, we’ll look out for, for, um, things that don’t quite match, like maybe your, you know, the components don’t fit inside your box, or maybe you’ve kind of asked for something that’s a little bit kind of, um, uh, whether we can do it or not.
Uh, we’ll kind of look for any kind of hedge cases, anything, any tweaks we can make. Um, and also during that initial stage, we might make some, uh, suggestions. Uh, certain materials, uh, more obvious, some like cost saving suggestions. Um, if you want, um, there’s also a bit of consultation for crowdfunding, which we’ll talk about kind of at the end of the presentation where there, there’s a little bit of extra, uh, consultation that goes along with that.
Um, but generally speaking. You’ll speak to one of us or you’ll send in your specs and we’ll provide a quote. Now once you’re happy with the quote and you want to sign the quote and you’ve solidified your quantities, um, then we go into the next stage which is called design verification, um, which will be checking your files.
After that we go into pre production. Uh, which will be, uh, kind of digital printed a sample of your game and any samples of any source components, which are non printed components, then mass production, then assembly, and then shipping. And that is kind of the whole process from start to finish. I want to go through each of those, uh, points, uh, in detail, and then we’ll give you some, some tips and tricks, uh, and some more information on crowdfunding in particular at the end of the
Brandon Rollins: presentation as well.
Now, I do have a brief question about the manufacturing, the, um, Manufacturing process more broadly. And that is, I I’m seeing more and more people are doing this kind of, um, design for manufacturing kind of process where they get really smart about it. And they figure out what is actually feasible in terms of costs before they get too hung up on any idea.
Now, it sounds like your online pricing calculator can already help people with that to some extent, but do you have additional resources that can help people in that scenario?
Tyler Lipchen: Yeah, yeah, for sure. No, it’s a really good idea to, um, you know, as you’re as you’re building a tabletop game is to consider manufacturing.
We actually have a presentation called game design with manufacturing in mind that goes through it in detail. Um, but because you’re building a product and because it has to, you know, um. Take up a physical space is actual physical thing, uh, knowing a lot more about, um, kind of your, your, your, your limitations and your opportunities with certain components, uh, is only going to help your design, uh, and earlier, earlier you think about that, the better is going to be in your final product.
Um, so if you go to the Panda website, panda. gm. com and go to tools. Uh, there are a lot of tools there that can help you out. We have a graphic design guidebook, um, and a component guidebook and a crowd funding guidebook, plus templates, a template generator, and, and all sorts of, of, um, of tools that can help you out throughout that process as well.
Um, also just flipping through the website in general, like we go through each component on the website itself. Just reading through those, uh, and get familiar with them, uh, will make a big difference in your game design.
Brandon Rollins: Yeah, that, that sounds good. And I can’t recommend enough that people just get involved early in trying to cut off costs before they, uh, Commit really hard to something because if you get the costs under control early, it makes everything else easier.
And as a note for you and me, um, any of those resources you just mentioned, if you just send me the links after the, after we do this recording, I’ll drop those down in the comments. Anybody who’s watching this can, can go to the landing pages or any other resources you may want to link
Tyler Lipchen: them to. Yeah. Yeah.
It sounds perfect. Sounds good. There’s a slide at the very end that talks about tools as well. So we’re kind of jumping ahead of ourselves here, but I figured it’s a good question. It’s all good. I’m kind of jumping all over the place already, but that’s okay. Uh, like I said, you got lots of questions. Um, you know, a lot of your, your clients, people you work with have questions that you’re kind of, um, you’re, you’re kind of their avatar right now.
Aren’t you kind of speaking for them? So, um, so that’s fine. Yeah. We can jump around a little bit if we have to. Okay. Awesome. So let’s go through the first bit, which was quoting, which I kind of already talked mostly about. Um, but again, we have an estimator tool online. Some of the manufacturing may also have estimator tools.
Um, you can request a formal quote, I think you’ll have a consultation with, with your project manager. Um, go to the components, um, again, offer suggestions. And then of course there’s crowdfunding. Uh, we do have a crowdfunding package. We will talk about, uh, later on in the presentation as well. Um, but for that, we will have offered crowdfunding advice, how to particularly look at manufacturing.
Um, For crowdfunding project, uh, planning, stretch goals and add ons, and also talk about prototypes and review copies as well, which is very important for crowdfunding. So I’ll talk about that a bit at the end, but during this quoting process, that is something you will be talking about as you’re quoting your project for sure.
Um, next up, after you sign the quote, as I said, we go into design verification, and this is pre press. At this point, you will be assigned a dedicated pre press specialist. Again, I’m a dual role. I do project management and pre press, but if your project manager isn’t a dual role, you’ll be assigned a specific pre press specialist.
You’ll upload your files to our website. We have a custom built FTP, uh, for all of your files. Uh, we’ll check your files, provide a pre press report, which will say, um, kind of where there are issues. Um, any suggestions we have, uh, if there’s an issue that we, that you need to correct, we’ll provide information on how to correct it with screenshots and the whole lot.
So, um, we’ll send that report back to you. You’ll amend the files and re upload the files to us. We’ll check them again. And we’ll kind of go back and forth until I’m happy with your files. Once I’m happy with them, I will send them to our factory. Uh, they will do another final check and then create digital proofs for you.
Once you approve the digital proofs, that kind of finishes the design verification phase, and then we go into pre production.
Brandon Rollins: Do you guys tend to have a lot of back and forth on the, um, on the prepress
Tyler Lipchen: part? Yep, absolutely. Okay. For sure.
Brandon Rollins: And that’s… Complicated to account for in Kickstarter,
Tyler Lipchen: right? Yes, absolutely.
That’s one of the, probably one of the longest, um, it can be one of the longest phases in the whole production process, uh, cause it really depends on your files, um, how, how long it takes. It could take two weeks. It could take two years. Who knows? Depends on your files. But the advantage, um, you know, of working, working with Panda, working with someone like myself, is that you have a pre press specialist on call, um, who will talk you through everything, right?
They’ll talk you through how to set up your files if you need to. They’ll provide, again, they’ll provide feedback on your files to help you out. Um, And that, and that’s really important because again, it can be challenging, especially if you’re doing it all yourself. Like if you have a graphic designer who is used to tabletop games, um, it’s a little bit easier because they, you know, they kind know what they’re doing, you know, and they, they speak the lingo, right?
Um, but if you doing it yourself, which a lot of time creators are, uh, it helps to have a dedicated pre-press specialist to help talk you through these things and help check your files as you go. So. Um, don’t be too daunt. Like, don’t be too, you know, uh, you know, scared of it. It’s not like it’s going to, like, delay your project for years and years, so to speak.
Um, but it is something that you will likely need some extra support for, particularly on your first project. Uh, you will find it’s, it’s a steep learning curve, but once you do that first project. Um, the, the, you know, the reprints are very, very simple compared to a first time project. And even like a new project with an existing client, um, I find is just so much easier because like you’ve been through the process, you’ve read the design guidebook, you’ve had a pre print support, you know, what, what can be fixed.
You don’t make the same issues, you know, don’t make the same mistakes twice usually. Um, so it gets the first time. Budget extra time for sure, but after that, like it gets a lot easier to become second nature and you start to set up your files properly when you start a new game design, like, you know what card sizes you want, you have templates for the bleed and the margins, you know what to look out for, you can start to like, you know, as as an art director, help brief your artists on what you want and work within the restrictions of the components of the media.
And that makes a big difference to you’ll definitely find it. Artists and graphic designers who are, uh, industry veterans, um, their work is, is phenomenal. Um, you know, their files are, are perfect when they come in for design verification. Like it just goes right through prepress. It’s very smooth, but they work within the constraints that are inherent in the actual product and the actual processes.
Um, but they still make it look good. Right. Like, you know, they have, they have to adhere to bleed on tokens and cards, but they, they, they know those margins and bleed so well to actually use them third vantage, which is part of design. Like that’s part of game design, right? Like restrictions breed creativity, don’t they?
Like that’s, that’s inherent. Um, so same thing goes with the, with the pre press files. And again, using a graph designer who’s, who’s experienced, um, is definitely worth looking into.
Brandon Rollins: I think something just to point out for somebody who’s like, and it’s like, it’s YouTube, we get quite a general audience, but like, if you’ve never done a board game file before, or like any kind of printed marketing or media or whatever, um, that bleed is basically, you have to, um, Assume that whatever you make printed is going to have the edges cut off, so you just have to make sure that all of the critical stuff fits within a certain safe zone, and the rest is you bleed in your trim, and that’s what that’s called.
There’s neat diagrams for this, I might pop that up on
Tyler Lipchen: screen too. Yeah. And then the templates that you get through the template generator, uh, on our website does have the margin lines and the bleed lines, and it has a legend to explain what they are and things like that as well. So it’s pretty, pretty, you know, once you get the hang of it, it’s, it’s, uh, it gets a lot easier.
Like I said, just a bit of a learning curve. Awesome. So, uh, going through, uh, after design verification, after the digital proofs are approved, we go into pre production. So, um, at this point, uh, it says here, this is the final quality control checkpoint before mass production. Uh, we will produce a full pre production copy of your game.
That’s called the PPC for short. And that is, uh, it’s a digitally printed version of your game, so it’s used, uh, printed using a digital printer, not the offset printers that we use for mass production. Um, but it will be using the same materials and finishes as your final game. Um, the, uh, anything that’s going to be cut is going to be, uh, trimmed with a plotter as opposed to die cuts.
Um, this is very complicated. We may opt for DICUS, depending on your project manager will determine what’s best. Um, but it’s going to be a physical version of your game. Okay, kind of like, you know, kind of like a prototype you’d get at a print on demand service. Um, and this is going to be shipped to you, and then your project manager and you are going to have a, have a call.
You’re going to hop in a video call, you’re going to review the game, review the PPC, you’re going to play the game a few times with it. You have a video call with your project manager to go through any issues that you have. Now, at this point, If you have any issues, it’s fine. It can be fixed. If you find a typo in your rule book, we just go back to design verification, upload a new rule book, we check it, digital proofs are fine, approved, off we go.
Um, so at this point you can make changes if you need to. Um, after this point is when we go into mass production where it can be a lot more costly, but this is kind of like your last checkpoint before we go, we go on to mass production. Uh, during this stage, you’ll also be getting samples of any non printed components, which I call source components in this case, but, um, That would be things like dice, uh, wood, you know, wood, meeples, wood, cubes, plastic cubes, um, custom plastic minis, um, metal.
Uh, those all have kind of their own, their own process. Uh, but it’s very similar to, you know, basic print that we’ve talked about so far, like you’ll upload your files for like, it’s a three, five, we will check it, we will provide feedback, you know, re re sculpting feedback, but it’s a 3d mini or, or metal or something like that.
Um, you know, we will be some of the modifications we can do ourselves when it comes to plastic minis or metal. Um, We might revert back to you. We’ll show you what has to be done because it’s too big of a change or something like that, but we’ll, we’ll optimize your design files for, for the manufacturing process, right?
It’s like, we’ll check wood. If, um, if some parts are too thin and we’re very breakable, we’ll offer feedback, say, Oh, you know, we should pick them up the legs on this, this wooden meeple, um, or, you know, the details on this plastic mini aren’t going to show us, we should deepen these here or we should move, you know, the arm is right here and we move it to like this angle here.
Then the molds will open easier. You know, things like that is the kind of advice that we’ll offer. I said, some things we can fix ourselves for you. Um, some things we might be too much of a change that we want to, um, we want you to, to be the one to change it, uh, to make sure that it’s exactly how you want it.
Uh, well, any of these changes that we do make, we’ll always show you in advance, whether it be through a digital files or email or through a video call to make sure you approve any change that we do make as well. For any source components. Um, but once you approve those samples and the PPC, then we move on to mass production.
Yeah. And do you have any questions or comments about pre production? No, you’re good. Okay. Yeah. So then mass production. Um, at this point, all the paper, the printed components will be printed and die cut. Um, any of the non printed components will be produced. Uh, and we will make one mass production copy, that’s MPC for short.
Uh, and that’ll be assembled and sent to you. That, the MPC is, for all intents and purposes, a retail version of your game. Uh, everything will be die cut, everything will be assembled into the box. Um, you’ll have a plastic tray, for example, and it’ll be assembled into the tray. And then we’ll be shrink wrapped and sent to you.
The only difference between the mass production copy and the final, final, final retail copies are that while we send the MPC to you for you to check, we will be acclimatizing all of your components in our factory to avoid like warping and any kind of damage from moisture. So while we send the NPC to you, um, we’ll have another video call.
Uh, you’ll unbox it. I always recommend you videotape your unboxing for your NPCs because the way that it was assembled in that box will be how it’s assembled for final. Um, at this point, again, you can’t really, well, you can change something, but it’d be costly. If you need to have you find a type or at this point or something like that, you’d have to reprint all your rule books if that was the case.
Uh, but we have so many checkpoints beforehand that, that rarely ever happens. There’s an issue at that point. Um, but one thing we can change is the way things are assembled in the box, because nothing’s been assembled yet. We’ve just produced everything. So that’s why I say, always videotape your, your MPC unboxing, just so you remember how it was packaged and it’s how you want it to be packaged.
Um, so yeah, we have a call. We go through the MPC, everything is approved. We go into final assembly.
Brandon Rollins: Yeah. Are you able to do like runs of say 15, 20, 30, if you wanted to send out copies to
Tyler Lipchen: reviewers? I will talk about that when we get to the crowdfunding section. Yeah, don’t worry. We’ll talk about that in a minute.
Um, cool. So after mass production, this is the mass production, like, you know, 1500 2000 units. We’re talking, um, after that, we go into assembly as where we actually assemble everything into the boxes. For your instructions and then your shrink draft, um, the packing, the cartons, cartons go on the pallets. Uh, and then when they wait your shipping plan, this point, they can go into a shipping container, um, that they’re being transported by ocean.
Uh, they could be packing the cartons to go on airplanes. It all depends on what your shipping plan is, uh, during the mass production process, um, that’s usually. You know, quite a lengthy time where there’s not a lot for, for me and you to do. Um, so during that time, we tend to talk about shipping, make sure your shipping plan is in place, talk to FulfillRight, make sure everything’s in, uh, all your ducks are lined up so that when the games do ship, um, everything is in order from there.
So, um, that Kind of concludes the entire production process from start to finish for timelines is a quick summary, uh, design verification. The time that takes against variable files, uh, you know, for a first time client, first project planned about four weeks, um, could be a lot less, could be a lot more. It really depends on your files.
Um, Uh, pre production, uh, but before we start pre production, that’s when your first deposit invoices due, again, this could change depending on which manufacturer is, uh, who your manufacturer is or your relationship with the manufacturer, but typically speaking, the deposit invoices due before any, any kind of samples are made, um, pre production two to four weeks depends on the, on the game, depends on the components, um, some components might take longer for pre production, like again, custom metal, custom plastics will normally take longer than that.
Yeah. But dice and wood are quite quick, and so is print for pre production. Mass production, 8 12 weeks, again, totally depends on the type of components, how many different types of components you have, and your overall order quantity, right? As you can imagine, you know, making 2, 000 games is different from making 20, 000 games.
So mass production can vary. Also depends on the time of year. Um, you know, if it, if it, your mass production goes over a Chinese New Year, for example, our factories close, all Chinese factories are closed over Chinese New Year. That might add three or four weeks to your production process because of the time of year when you went into production.
After that final assembly, again, two to four weeks, um, could be a little bit longer cause it depends on the complexity of the assembly. And of course, the order. Once again, assembling 2000 games, uh, it doesn’t take as long as assembling 20, 000 games, assembling a legacy game that has, you know, certain components and certain compartments that are sealed that are in certain parts of the box.
That takes a lot longer to assemble than just some shrink wrapped cards in a tuck box, right? So, um, again, these are all kind of just overall general. You know, kind of like a pandemic style game where you’ve got a bit of print, a bit of, you know, a bit of plastic, that kind of thing all put together. But it can definitely vary.
And then, of course, shipping in the pre COVID world, ocean shipping, four to six weeks to the Western US, six to eight weeks to Eastern USA or Europe, air shipping, one to two, one to three weeks, land shipping, one to three weeks. That’s usually local to China will be anything that’s going to be a land ship for us.
Again, if you’re working with a European manufacturer, like in Poland or Germany, You know, land shipping can be anywhere in Europe, so it’s a bit different there. But, um, that’s kind of the general guidelines. Um, you know, shipping times as of the, this recording are actually, you know, pretty good. Um, so if that’s, that’s actually pretty accurate at this, at this point in time, but it can, tomorrow it can change.
So don’t just check out the date stamp when this is posted. Uh, don’t quote me on that. Um, so that’s the whole production process. Do you have any questions before I move on from there? I’m with you so
Brandon Rollins: far. I, I mean, this is like, this is, this is thorough. You guys have clearly refined this over time to, you know, kind of, um, anticipate the questions.
Tyler Lipchen: Anyways, one thing I should mention, I didn’t mention it before, is that the final invoice, we said the deposit invoice is due typically before pre production, uh, the final invoice is due before the game ship. So um, again, that’s something that you would talk with your project manager throughout the mass production, you’ll be preparing the final invoice, perhaps if Panda’s handling some of your shipping for you, that would put on your final invoice as well as we discuss your shipping plans and things like that.
Awesome. Moving on. Uh, so general tips, like I said before, every first project is a learning curve. Um, so build in buffer time to begin with, right? You have to learn how to do a lot of these things as well. Um, keep usability and user experience in mind at all times. Uh, things like choosing the right colors to, you know, to avoid any challenges for people who are colorblind.
Um, choosing the right components for the job. Uh, we also do a presentation on, um, you know, UX and UI and, and, you know, game design with manufacturing in mind. Um, there’s a lot of information, um, that you can find online about this as well, but always keep the overall experience in mind, you know, like your, the way your, your tray is laid out, like, you know, think about how it’s going to be stored, how it’s going to be used, uh, throughout the entire process, because once again, game design is product design, as I said before.
Um, any game specific requirements, um, you should mention during quoting and consultation. So, um. Some games are straightforward like it’s it’s a card game. It’s me in a box. There’s a board in the scoring track, whatever. If it’s like a legacy game and you want things assembled a certain way or cards in a certain order, that’s something that’s a bit more unique.
So just be sure to mention that during our consultations. We’ll normally ask for like the elevator pitch of the game and ask how it plays that helps a lot with. What advice we can give, um, all of us are gamers at Panda. We’re all project managers are gamers. So we, we understand, we understand the lingo.
Um, if you have like a, uh, if you’re at a convention, like let us play your game, right? Like let us play tests with you. Um, if you have a mod on, uh, on online, uh, like tabletopia or TTS or something, let us play it. It helps a ton when we’re consulting you on the game and gives us a lot more context as to what you’re going for.
So. I think that’s kind of very unique for your game. Please mention it to us early. Um, think about stretch goals and fulfillment early, uh, which we talked about before and I’ll talk about again later, um, and consider table presence. Um, do more with less, right? I mean, your table presence is going to sell your game board.
Games are viral by nature. Yeah, there are solo games. Yes. But most games are multiplayer. In order to play them with somebody, you have to actually bring them to your table and show them to them. And if your game is very photogenic, uh, you know, games go viral very easily on Instagram and Facebook and social media.
Right? So consider your table presence at all times, right? That’s going to help your game overall, especially if you’re crowdfunding or trying to build up an audience at conventions. So, some tips and tricks. Cost savings. Materials and options. Um, that’s obvious cost savings, what kind of cardstocks you choose and what kind of grayboard you’re going to choose.
As you mentioned before, design with cost in mind. It’s always going to help. Um, use components, uh, in multiple ways if you can. Right. There are certain ways you can, um, you know, you can use cards to, to keep score like bonanza, right? The back of the card is how you keep your points, your scores, right? Um, think about multiple functions for, for certain components, maximize your printing sheets, right?
Um, cards print on a big giant sheet. Uh, your standard poker size car, 63 by 88 millimeter cards, uh, print 54 cards per sheet. Well, there’s 54 cards in a card deck. So, if you print 55 cards, you’re going to have to do two full sheets of, um, use two sheets. So, use 54 cards, right? Um, or, you know, max yourself out if you can.
Um, if you have, you know, 50 cards in your game, well, you kind of have four extra cards to be maybe rules reference cards or something, right? Or, or maybe they’re an advertisement for your next game or something like that, right? Um, so just use that to your advantage. Optimize your punchboard dialines as well.
Um, with Panda, we make everything bespoke. Uh, so we make your dialines bespoke, um, for your punchboards. So, utilize them. Maximize them. Maximize the space. Get the most out of it. Um, use custom shapes, right? Like double, triple encode your information. So instead of having just… Uh, you know, a coin that has a one and a coin that has a five, you can make the five bigger.
You can make it, uh, you know, a Pentagon instead of, um, instead of a circle, right? Like you can change the shape, change the sizes to help that accessibility as well for no extra cost for manufacturing, at least with us. Um, and then of course, minimize the box size. Um, that’s, that hint is particularly for crowdfunding.
Um, if you want a big shot, like a, a good shelf presence for retail, you might want a bigger box than what’s needed. Uh, but generally speaking, most people want the smallest box size possible. Cause it’s going to save you a lot on shipping. Yeah. Ocean shipping is dependent on volume. So the smaller your box, the better it’s going to be for you overall.
Brandon Rollins: a good tip for order fulfillment as well. The smaller the box, the more likely it is to get a price break on literally any kind of shipping, especially if you can get into the like the smallest possible flat rate box
Tyler Lipchen: by USPS. I was going to say flat rates make a big difference, don’t they?
Brandon Rollins: Oh yeah, for sure.
Tyler Lipchen: Yeah, absolutely. Um, awesome. Time save, uh, time save, sorry, those are cost savings. Talk about some things that can save you on production time. First of all, follow our design guidebook, which I’ll talk about later. That’s in our tools section on our, on our webpage. Um, plan your shipping strategy in advance.
Again, this, this helps a lot with any kind of delays. Um, start sampling as early as possible. You know, um, come talk to us early as possible. Start consulting. You know, you can find. A lot of times during, just during a consultation on video, we can, uh, you know, uh, find a lot of challenges, uh, that you’re going to, that you’re going to run into a lot of kind of roadblocks along the way, um, you know, kind of pinpoint where, where, where in the production process, your delays might happen, um, just by having a chat with one of us, we’ve seen it before, usually.
Use early design verification. I’m going to talk about this when we get to crowdfunding, but early design verification is basically, um, that design verification, that pre press process, doing that way in advance of, um, actual production, which we’ll talk about in a second. And of course, utilize prototype services, which will also help a lot.
So, um, I’ll get to those when we talk about crowdfunding. One thing to consider as well, uh, with manufacturing is using sustainable components. Um, we can make your games FSC certified. Um, so if that’s important to you, please chat to us. Um, sometimes there’s an extra cost involved behind the material, sometimes not.
Um, we can replace shrink wrap with alternatives. We have like paper bands for cards. We have paper wrap or wafer stickers for boxes, things like that. Um, you can use a varnish instead of a laminate on your game boards and boxes. Um, you use a plastic, laminate is like a plastic sheet that goes over top of the print to protect it.
Very, um, very standard for boxes and game boards, but a varnish will, uh, will make your games a lot more recyclable. Um, you can replace plastic inserts with either molded paper trays, like pulp trays, um, or cardboard inserts. Um, and there’s going to be plenty more tips to come as we go along. Uh, we’re constantly trying to find ways to reduce, um, you know, disposable plastics, one use plastics, things like that.
So, um, okay. Keep following our website and our social media. We’ll, we’ll be constantly announcing any advances we have.
Brandon Rollins: It’s getting more cost efficient all the time
Tyler Lipchen: too. It is. Yes. It’s going more standard, right? The more standard becomes the more cost efficient it becomes. It becomes, um, cool. I mean, just one second.
Okay. So the moment we’ve been talking about. For the half the presentation is crowdfunding tips. Um, so on our website, again, PandaGM. com slash tools, there is a crowdfunding guidebook. Um, they just, if you’re new to crowdfunding and new to the tabletop space in regards to crowdfunding, read this through.
It’s a quick read. Um, it’s just a great introduction to like how crowdfunding works with a tabletop space. It’s a little bit different. Um, the expectations with tabletop games as opposed to other projects. Um, also ask your project manager about the crowdfunding package that we offer. So, um, let’s talk about that briefly.
So we’re talking about prototypes. We talked a bit about early design verification So panda has a crowdfunding package, which is a suite of services Um that is geared specifically towards crowdfunding projects So this includes a crowdfunding consultation where we’ll have a call with you talk about your project.
We will talk about Finding your MVP, your minimum viable product, which is going to be. The version of your game that is like the bare minimum that you’ll be happy with that will be your funding will be based around. It doesn’t mean like replace all the plastic means with cardboard standees, right? It’s whatever version of your game is the version that you as a creator are going to be happy with on the market.
That could involve a whole lot of plastic means it could not, right? It depends on your project. And then also going through all of the stretch goals for that offering suggestions for stretch goals and kind of component upgrades, um, talking through the best. Um, materials and finishes, uh, for your game in particular.
Talking about add ons, uh, if you have like a deluxe game, a retail game that’s being produced at the same time, we’ll talk about how we can kind of separate the components and how we work assembly for that kind of thing. We’ll also offer suggestions on, um, you know, marketing, um, and fulfillment, uh, and shipping and things like that as well.
Um, along with that crowdfunding, uh, the consultations, we will also, um, talk about prototypes. So what will happen is we will do, uh, we can do prototypes for your, uh, for your campaign, which you’d use for, um, demos, review copies, uh, convention, you know, convention presence, taking photographs and videos, how to play videos and things like that.
Um, it will be digitally printed like your PPC. Um, the cutting, uh, will be, could be, um, die cut or plotted, depends on, on your game. And then any non printed components, um, we can also do prototypes for, uh, with the exception of. Plastic minis talk to your project manager, we may or may not be able to do plastic mini, it depends on your project.
But things like dice, things like wood, you know, simple plastics like cubes and things like that we can do for prototypes. And the advantage with working with us for prototypes is that everything will be bespoke. So if you have custom meats, we can do those for you, for prototypes. If you have custom dice, we can do those for you, for prototypes, which will make a, a massive splash on for when you go to reviewers and, uh, and, and try to show off your products.
I mean, there’ll still be a prototype, right? You know, the reviewers will still say this is a prototype. Things are substitute change, but is going to be a very good, very good prototype, um, to show off. Um, the quality, the quality is, I mean, sometimes I’m amazed by how good it is at the moment. It’s only getting better as well.
Um, so part of the, part of the package will be prototypes and with that will come early design verification because of course, in order to print your files, I’m going to have to check your files anyways, right? So I will go through the design verification process. Um, we’ll upload the files, we pre press checks with digital proofs, all of that, and then do the, the prototype.
And what that will help you out as well, not only do you get review copies and things like that, um, but, uh, when it comes to actually produce the game for mass production, we will have gone through the design verification process already. Okay. So some things may change, right? Like you may, the rule book might change.
Maybe you added some cards because there’s a stretch goal. So you have to upload a few extra files, but like 80 to 90 percent of the design verification process has been done already at this point, because you did it for prototypes. Um, you’ll still get a PPC because that’s for quality control, but because you’ve already seen the prototypes, which are very, very similar process, again, that pre production phase goes by a lot faster, right?
So if you haven’t changed like the dice at all, for example, like we can go, we can go to mass production if you approve those samples because we, because we make them all bespoke anyways. Um, it just saves you a lot on your production process, a lot of time. Your production process. So, um, that is, that’s the massive advantage of going through, um, you’re going through manufacturer, your, your final manufacturer, um, with, uh, with all your crowdfunding needs as well in advance.
So save you a lot of time, um, can save you a lot of costs in some cases in the beginning as well, because you have to pay for prototypes anyways, these days, right? Uh, it’s for your crowdfunding project. So, um, that is kind of our crowdfunding package and services that we can also offer things that we can help you with punch board layouts with packaging design, um, you know, plastic trade design to some degree, um, uh, you know, things like that.
We can, we can help you, you know, arrange your dial lines on your punch boards. And if you have anything. Dual layer boards. We can, we can help you with as well as part of that package. So, um, you know, really help hold your hand, especially if you’re new to, to tabletop games and crowdfunding. Um, it’s really nice to have a project manager and prepress specialist as part of your team, uh, to go through that process with you and help you out.
So. So that’s what we can help with crowdfunding. Um, and then a couple of tips for crowdfunding is talk to your project manager about your delivery timeline, because, uh, again, first time projects are going to take a lot of extra time when you go into production. It might cross over a Chinese new year.
For example, if you want your games out for Essin or Christmas, you got to really work back from those timelines. And you seem to have a lot less time than you think. If you think like, Oh yeah, I’m going to launch the campaign now. Then six months again, we’ll be arriving in stores. Well, I mean, ocean shipping might take eight weeks.
Well, design verification takes this many weeks and pre production, you know, this, you know, let us know your timelines in advance when you work backwards with a, with a realistic, you know, conservative timeline for you, for your project, because it was your first time creator. You don’t want, you want to be very upfront and transparent and honest with your backers.
Um, so. You know, knowing it, getting all the information in advance is going to help you a lot, um, to become, uh, a reliable creator who will go on to, you know, if you want to build a company out of this, where you want to build a publishing company, you want to gain that trust from your backers right away.
Um, so, you know, you use, use, use us, use your team. And as we’re here, we’re part of your team. So I’ll, you know, use us. Yeah, no questions here,
Brandon Rollins: but I, but I will say that yes, it is tremendously hard to make a board game and absolutely like reach out to a manufacturer early, like to get this help, not only with the manufacturing, but also with just figuring out the timeline in a fulfillment center relatively early too, because like.
In terms of two vendors to reach out to early, those are probably the two that if you get everything right and listen to the advice you get early, it will save you probably the most time and money and set you on track for that second, third, fourth product launch much, much easier.
Tyler Lipchen: For sure. For sure. Yeah.
You’ve got the relationship with the partners as well, right? Which helps. I would say there are kind of four pillars to your crowdfunding project. The like, uh, um, you know, four partners you want to, you want to have, um, the last one will be fulfillment, obviously shipping fulfillment. Second, last one will be your manufacturer.
So I’m going to make the game. Uh, then before that, you’re going to have to partner with a crowdfunding platform and a pledge manager, right? Would it be Kickstarter, backer kit, game found? Um, That’s a very important part of the process. Obviously, it’s going to determine how you structure everything. And then before that, before you even launch a campaign is marketing, you know, that’s becoming more and more necessary for successful project.
So working with, um, you know, some, some of the crowdfunding platforms offer marketing services like backer kit does working with a, with a, a program like launch boom, for example, um, you know, to get that marketing in advance. If you get those four, if you understand those four pillars, right, the marketing.
The crowdfunding platform, uh, the manufacturing and the fulfillment, um, then that’s, that’s success right there, right? You, you hit those four things and you’re good. Um, so, uh, yeah, do, do, do your homework plan in advance and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to reach out. That’s what we’re here for, right?
That’s, that’s literally what we do. So, um, don’t be afraid. Um, Yeah, and there we go. My last point is a great design will go unnoticed without great marketing. So use marketing, uh, not just like professional marketing, you know, paid marketing, but just in general, like go to conventions, uh, you know, go to protospiels, go playtest your game out in public, um, you know, uh, post on board game geek, uh, go on social media, join design groups, um, participate in rules, uh, exchanges, join the online playtesting community as well.
Um, you know, yeah. Give, give and receive, right? Like playtest someone’s game, have them playtest yours, just be as involved as you can in the board game community. It’s still, it’s a growing industry. It’s become bigger and bigger every year, but it’s still a very intimate industry. People know each other, you know, by name and by face, right?
So get involved in the community as early as possible. Um, and, uh, and just give as much as you can, because whatever you give, you’ll, you’ll get back as well, right? Like, I mean, don’t just do it for the sake of getting back, but, The more you contribute to the community, the more we all build a community together, um, which is, that’s why we’re literally having this, this, this
Brandon Rollins: conversation, this video right now is literally
Tyler Lipchen: that, right?
Like, um, yeah, just give whatever you can to the community because it only helps it grow. Right. Um, and there’s, we’ve seen so much so far in the last, you know, 15, 20 years, especially of this hobby. Uh, and there’s still so much more to see. You know, there’s, whoever’s watching this right now, like, I can’t wait to see your creation when it hits Kickstarter, right, or hits back for kids.
So, um, so yeah, uh, don’t, don’t be afraid, you know, uh, to get out there, show your game, talk to people, talk to partners, uh, get involved. So last time we talked about tools, this is the page I promised. Uh, there’s a link right there, panagem. com slash tools. There’s template generators for custom dice and for any print components.
Uh, our guidebooks, the design guidebook that talks about, um, how to set your files for print. Um, so definitely read this and if you’re not doing your own files, send this to your graphic designer. Um, and any, any graphic designer who is like well versed in this. Book will be like your best friend when it comes to the production process for, for board games.
Um, the component guidebook talks about any non printed components. And of course, there’s also the crowdfunding guidebook as well. Um, so you’ll find all that on the tools page. Uh, and then the, uh, we got other resources as well. We have some badges and box markings. And then for the CE logo or the choking hazard logo as well, which by the way, if you need to save to test your game, please talk to your project manager well in advance.
That’s a conversation to have very early on. Um, there’s also some tools for the Adobe suite. There’s a pre flight profile. You can check your own files for certain for some of the big, um, the big mistakes we normally see for pre press. Uh, and there’s an export profile as well that will help export your files into a printable PDF that is, um.
Uh, that is in the, the, the color profile that we use for print. So, uh, visit the tools page, explore it. There’s a lot of good stuff on there. Read through all the guidebooks, um, and do yourself a big favor. And
Brandon Rollins: link is down there in the description for anybody who wants to access those resources.
Tyler Lipchen: Perfect.
Um, and yeah, any questions or information, uh, more information on our website, follow us on social media. You can always reach out on social media as well. Um, our helloappendagm. com inbox is, uh, manned by people. Not by robots. So if you have any general inquiries, just email there. If you want to get put in touch with the project manager again, just email us there.
If you want to, we’ll set you up with somebody in your time zone, preferably in your time zone or close to it. Um, and hopefully in your native language. We, um, we have. Project managers all over the world. Um, I sound like I’m from America, but I’m actually Canadian and I live in the UK. Go figure. We have project managers in Germany and Portugal and France, the UK.
Uh, and then of course, all across America as well. So you guys will find somebody in your time zone or close to it. That can help you out.
Brandon Rollins: Yeah, and, and anybody who’s got a question down below, I’ve asked all mine for, um, for the day and honestly, like you, you have already like front loaded a lot of the questions and answered those in the slides, but anybody who’s got questions, leave them down below in the comments, um, we’ll try and answer as many of them as we can as the fulfillment center has folks who’ve worked in board games.
So honestly, if we get stuck, we’ll just reach out to Panda and like, get a response to your comment as well. Thank you for watching this interview. I appreciate it, and I know that Tyler at Panda does, too. Details on both our companies are in the description. And just in case you missed the name earlier, my name is Brandon, here on behalf of FulfillRite.
If you need help shipping your orders, go to FulfillRite. com and request a quote. We’ve shipped for thousands of crowdfunding campaigns before, and we’re happy to help you ship yours, too. The quote doesn’t cost a thing, so if nothing else, you get some good information about pricing. Link in the description.
If you enjoyed this video, please take a moment to like and subscribe. Don’t forget to slap some postage on that bell so we can express ship new videos to you as soon as they drop. And last but not least, if you have any questions, leave a comment below. I will personally answer as many as I can. Thanks for watching.
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