So I placed an order for one professionally-made prototype copy of Manaforge! Yay! However, I did not use The Game Crafter like I wanted to. Instead, I ended up going with a company called Print and Play Games. Here's why...

I logged on to The Game Crafter's website to create Manaforge on there. Their website has a very slick interface where you can set up game 'projects', where you can specify the components for each project separately. It lets you browse through their website and pick out components for each game you want to make, customize those somewhat, and save them to the game. Then once your game is set up, you can print any number of copies of the game; specify game metadata such as name, designer, and description; and mark the game as 'public' and specify a MSRP, so people can order copies of your game printed on demand from the site. Pretty neat stuff!

However, while I was inputting my game components into their system, I noticed something. While TGC does have a good selection of components, their selection is somewhat fixed. If your game needs something that doesn't quite match what they have available, then you have to improvise. Specifically, Manaforge already has somewhat specific sizes for the game boards, and TGC did not have any boards available that were anywhere near the size I needed. I could've made it work, but it would've needed some graphical redesign work on the boards.

So, while I was wrestling with that, my designer Justin recommended that I check out Print and Play Games, since they had ready-made game boards of the size I needed. I had heard of the company before, but I hadn't given them much thought.

I jumped onto Print and Play's website and took a look around. Yes, they did in fact have the components I needed. Not only did they have the exact size of game board I needed for the main board, but for the player mats they had a 'custom board' option for making boards of any size, something that TGC cannot do.

I emailed the contact address listed on their site, and a representative got back to me within one day, a good turnaround time. She helped explain the ordering process, and asked me for a list of Manaforge's components. We chatted back and forth for a few days, ironing out the details and giving me what I needed to be able to reformat my graphical assets to their specifications. (Not a small task, I must say. :P )  She also game me a price estimate, which was slightly higher than TGC. (Manaforge in TGC would've cost about $80. Print and Play wanted just over $90, not counting shipping. Ouch.)

However, while I was changing my assets around, I found a couple of corners I could cut to conform to their printing process better, saving me a few dollars. Their website is good enough that you can order the game components one bit at a time and see how various minor changes affect the end price, allowing some production optimization.

Once I got everything set up, I used the interface on their website to set up a purchase cart containing all of Manaforge's components, uploading the various assets one at a time for each. It won't be as efficient for when I need to order more copies later, but overall it wasn't too bad.

And the best part is their speed. I don't recall the exact turnaround time estimate from TGC, but I want to say it would have been about two weeks from when I purchased the game until I had it in my hands, and that's not counting the additional time for shipping. Print and Play has a guaranteed two-day manufacturing time. That, plus a couple of extra dollars for priority shipping, means that I should have the game sometime around the coming weekend. Sold!

Here's hoping that everything turns out well during the production process. :)
 


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