We all have ideas for new board games. Okay, maybe not all of us. But who hasn't sat through a long game of Monopoly or Risk and thought "This game would be way better if..." After taking that first step away from a base game, it's only a few more to determine rules and objectives, maybe even moving to designing a game board (or whatever you would call the set-up for "Cones of Dunshire"). You might be ready to commission custom boxes, but hold one second. How do you know what the box needs?
Yes, the box needs to fulfill the basic needs: holding the game contents safely and securely, providing a pleasant experience for the user, things like that. But the cost associated with custom boxes usually doesn't rise to the top of the list. It's admittedly less interesting than choosing player tokens or designing a game board. But it's arguably one of the most important parts of launching your original board game.
Custom Boxes: Your First Quest
New ideas for board games can come from any source of inspiration. It might be, like we mentioned above, a new take on an old tradition. It could be something entirely new and original, educational or strictly fun, or any other variety of elements. But in the early planning of the game, keep in mind how this needs to be packaged. Not just from a business or marketing sense, but from a practical and logistical standpoint as well.
Pare down what's necessary to play the game
From an imaginary perspective, designing an intricate game with lots of player pieces and tokens, cards and chips, might come off like a great idea. But a game doesn't need to be upward of 100 pieces to be fun (well, unless we're talking about a literal puzzle). Think of it this way: the more pieces your game has, the more it will cost to produce, and the more it will cost in stores. Additionally, it will affect your packaging requirements.
Using your pared down model, start to think through what style of packaging is necessary
Custom boxes need to be able to provide protection for fragile game pieces or simply provide a home for the collective pieces and board. If these pieces are heavy, then a sturdier material, like chipboard, is going to be needed. If they're breakable in any way, consider foam inserts or plastic molding trays to keep them safe. Or, if there are other things that need to be kept from rolling around (like dice), that's another kind of tray. At Sunrise, based in Minnesota, we've helped many gamemasters think through their packaging. Bring your needs to us, and we can work through them.
Make a list of the things necessary for the box
And not just art. People who pick this thing up off the shelf want to know a little bit more, so give them a little teaser. Provide a statement about the game and any other relevant information. Does it include small, possibly choke-able pieces for little kids? Add that a caution might be necessary. Is there a recommended age range for the game? Add that too. Add anything that might be necessary from a legal perspective, but don't forget that this is what needs to sell customers.
Sunrise Packaging has been helping gaming auteurs in Minnesota and beyond to create their masterpieces for decades. We know how to prevent expensive errors and miscalculations, and how to help you think through what elements your custom boxes need to be effective. Contact us today!
Playing games is something that goes back to the beginning of sentient beings. Ok, I don’t *know* that, but we can assume that once beings started being able to think complex thoughts, they were able to become bored. And out of boredom comes attempts at relief, right? That sentiment has endured for centuries. There’s evidence that ancient Romans played tic-tac-toe; Anne Boleyn was quite adept at chess; and in modern times, a simple word game on cards can take the world by storm. It’s no wonder that board games and card games are among some of the most funded Kickstarters. A custom game box is a great way to draw attention to your Kickstarter as well as spread the word about your product.
Ad Magic CEO Shari Spiro (recently profiled in Bloomberg) knows a thing or two about designing a custom game box. Her company has created packaging for the understated Cards Against Humanity and the more crass Poop: The Game, to name a few. Here are a few considerations for those getting ready to design a custom box for a Kickstarter board game or card game.
Considerations For Your Custom Game Box Design
Have a plan
Don’t pull a number out of thin air when it comes to packaging costs. The goal is to make money, obviously, so think critically about what you want to sell for, and we here at Sunrise can help provide options from there.
A little whimsy is doable
Crazy custom game packaging abounds on Kickstarter, and not all packaging companies can handle the most extreme. Remember, while outlandish ideas are great to grab attention, they’re not always sustainable. Keep the whimsy to the design, the content, and the game itself.
Leverage your network
Spiro has her favorite vendors and producers to accomplish the challenges that customers place in front of her. Game makers can also reach out to the other people they know who are working to create games, or Kickstarter campaigns, and capitalize on their lessons learned.
Board games and card games are among the most ambitious projects on Kickstarter. They require a varied skillset: creative, logical, ambitious, not to mention entrepreneurial. Crowdfunding is still something of an emerging model, with clear successes and failures as far as projects go. Do your due diligence when it comes to packaging your product. It can help attract funders in the early stages, and it’ll garner new customers as your product launches.
If you’re watching Netflix’s Stranger Things, take note: no spoilers appear below, but there is minor discussion on plot points. The introduction to the main characters features a scene that would convey very different things just a few years ago. They’re sitting around, playing Dungeons & Dragons (or DnD). Since the show takes place in 1983, it’s clear that they’re being depicted as classic 80’s *nerds,* so to speak. And to drive the message home, they’re also part of the AV Club, get picked on by bullies, and are general outsiders. However, with the relatively recent rise of “geek chic,” these kids are endearing through our 2016 lenses. Also, DnD is experiencing a resurgence of popularity due to all this attention. Since Sunrise Packaging is in the business of boxes, it seems appropriate to turn our attention to making a custom game box for the new wave of DnD-ers.
DnD Needs Assessment
Although online versions exist, this is a game best played in person with a group. It’s a group effort. As the OG of fantasy role playing tabletop games, the custom game box needs to be as iconic as its contents. Color schemes typically fall on the darker end of the spectrum, highlighted with fiery reds, oranges and yellows.
The party of adventurers might always meet at one person’s home, or the set might travel around. This means the box needs to be both durable and easy-to-move. Light, built in handles of some sort, but rigid and strong enough to withstand transportation. DnD game boards usually fold up, but a custom game board might need more room to lay flat. Some kind of rigid insert might be necessary. Partially for presentation, but also to keep the pieces and dice intact. It’s kind of like using a peg board for tool organization. When they’re outlined, you know exactly which one is missing. Same goes for a custom box insert.
DnD Custom Game Box
So what have we arrived at when it comes to a custom game box, specifically for DnD?
For starters, a custom two-piece setup box is the classic game box style.* The turned edge style is also ideal for the design and strength components. Turned edge boxes are made of chipboard, which is extremely durable. It also lends itself well to a variety of wraps which can best display dynamic DnD graphics and colors. Further custom options can include foil stamped linen or embossed fibers for a slightly Medieval-like feel.
To keep the innards and gaming items in place, the set up box is perfect for multiple types of inserts. Think custom die cut foam, thermoformed tray, insider liners…the options vary as much as DnD gameplay. Add in some sort of handle and you’ve got a party in a box. Literally.
Form follows function is the box design rule of thumb. But you can have a little fun with it.
Such is the case with Aluminoes™, a collection of beautifully crafted aluminum dominoes. Their high quality construction paired with sharp colors, inlaid with crystals, and the ability to be custom engraved make Aluminoes™ a top-tier version of the classic game. This is a product that’s a perfect candidate for upscale box design. A twist on our Front Open box, this radical packaging features stylized windows that preview the product and riser for a sturdier fit. The overlapping lid secures into place with hidden magnetic tabs providing a luxurious enclosure.
The rectangular windows add a symmetry to the minimalist design. The box is a stunning black with hints of white in the form of the offset logo. This symmetry, coupled with the black-and-white theme, is reminiscent of more traditional dominoes, but the product itself is anything but traditional.
We love designing boxes to complement products. You don’t want packaging that steals the show entirely, nor would you want a product that is a diamond inside of a piece of coal. Aluminoes™ and their packaging represent a perfect middle ground between artistic design and functional storage. Keepsake packaging that becomes an instant memento, while retaining a sleek, modern look.
Learn more about Aluminoes™ by visiting their website here, and stay dialed into our blog for more interesting concept designs.
When I report on a game for this blog, I try to make sure it ticks a few boxes. For one, it needs to have depth; a plot or mechanic of sustenance so that I actually have something to talk about. It needs to be entertaining, for obvious reasons. And, perhaps most of all, there needs to be something noteworthy about the packaging.
The game I played this weekend is called T.I.M.E Stories, published by Space Cowboys–and it didn’t just tick all the boxes, it punched through them. Especially in the packaging department. Calling this game box “noteworthy” is an understatement.
But we’ll get to that in a bit. First, let’s see if I can sum up T.I.M.E Stories. Oh boy.
Stories Old as Time
Describing the story of the game is tricky. Not because the game lacks a plot (the exact opposite actually). In fact, the plot is so deep that half the fun is just making your way through the twists and turns in the story. The premise is that you’re a temporal agent of the T.I.M.E. Agency. So, yeah, it’s a time travel game. Those are rare enough in general, but T.I.M.E Stories is truly a gem. As a time-travelling cadet you are transported back to a time in history to fix some sort of disturbance. In the case of the base game, the destination is a mental asylum in 1927. All you know at the outset of the game is that something is going down and you need to handle it.
Want to know what it is? Tough. For one, the unfolding story is the ultimate mechanic. To spoil that is to ruin the game. And for two, well, my gaming group and I didn’t exactly beat it yet…
That’s right. Our first mission was a failure. But that’s the beauty of time travel. You can go back again and again until you get it right. And, believe me, you’ll want to go back.
If you didn’t guess, T.I.M.E Stories is cooperative. You and your team are trying to unravel the plot together via choices, puzzles, conflicts, and plenty other creative twists that you won’t see coming. As in all games, your choices are still your own and there’s always points of contention with your teammates at some point. But much like variety is the spice of life, competition is the spice of games–even co-op ones.
If you’re thinking But can I ever play again after I beat the story? welcome to the 20 straight minutes I spent in the game store trying to decide if it was worth it. But having played it, I can tell you that answer is a resounding yes. For a number of reasons, actually.
First of All
Good luck beating it on your first run through, hot shot. There are so many twists and turns in the story that even if you do come out victorious on all the challenges your first time through, you still probably missed a lot of side quests and scenarios. If you play again, your goal should be to discover those extra rooms, clues, and items. Or, if you did discover everything, next time do it faster. That’s the whole point of the T.I.M.E. Agency. Trying to achieve that “perfect run.”
There’s a dice-rolling element. I’d call it a combat mechanic, but there’s a lot more gray area in this game than just cut-and-dry combat. The clever and tension-building dice roll mechanic will make any replay a different adventure altogether.
There are more scenarios available utilizing the base set. Currently, there’s 3 available stories beyond the Asylum scenario, each with their own characters, plots, items, and quests. The stories have an end but, potentially, the game is endless.
Though, technically, it is a story-based game, meaning once you’ve played through, you get what’s going on. But much like a good movie you watch again, or a favorite book you come back to, eventually you’ll want to relive the experience.
Of course if you only play to play it once through, it’s very easy to savor the flavor of this game. That’s where the ingenious packaging comes in.
The Story on the T.I.M.E Stories Box
Image: Space Cowboys
I’ll start with the visuals. In a word: perfect. The custom game box is unbelievably eye-catching. Much like Tokaido, it favors the minimalist approach. But T.I.M.E Stories’ box makes Tokaido’s box look like a Jackson Pollack painting. Stark white with a simple, nearly-invisible font that ensures you’ll have to get up close and personal with the box to find out what it is, the biggest visual component is a right-skewed rendering of one of the time travel pods.. A subtle sliver and a hint of things to come. Perhaps my favorite aspect of the outer packaging is the use of both matte and gloss laminations, creating two different textures–one soft touch, one smooth–in conjunction with the crisp turned edges. If you turn the box over or unbox the game itself, that’s when the colors really start to pop. The gameboard itself is beautifully minimalist as well, allowing the beautiful era-appropriate artwork of the cards to shine once the game is in play. The simplicity of the board also lends itself to the replaying of scenarios. New decks, same board.
But that isn’t the ‘ingenious’ part of the game box.
The really cool feature of this box is the custom thermoformed insert. It’s the definition of unique. Not only does it pack the game components away in a very organized fashion (a huge bonus in itself), the molded plastic insert acts as a ‘pause’ feature, kind of like a video game. Specially-labeled and spaced compartments allow cards and tokens to be put away so that if you need to take a break in the gameplay, you can easily pick up where your team left off. There’s your other replay value factor: much like a bookmark in a book too good to finish, you can stretch the hours of gameplay out as long as you like.
Kudos, Space Cowboys. You thought way outside the box, by thinking way inside of it. Most impressive.
As an avid board-gamer and a packaging aficionado, I have to say that T.I.M.E Stories really is all it’s cracked up to be. Exciting story, nail-biting dice rolls, smart mechanics, high-art graphics, and truly unique features makes T.I.M.E Stories a game for the ages. H.G. Wells would be proud.
What did you play this weekend? Keep up with Geeky Goodies’#WhatDidYouPlayMondays hashtag and remember Sunrise Packaging for all your custom game board and game box production needs.