Have you ever found yourself deeply immersed in a board game with your friends, and thought, “I wonder if I could create something like this?”
Creating your own board game can feel like a daunting task. It’s easy to hear the words “board game design” and imagine complicated blueprints, endless nights of playtesting and a process that can leave you, well, less interested in board games than you were before you started.
The reality is that knowing how to make a board game is a skill, and like any other skill, with the right approach, you can learn it.
In fact, many of our most successful board game designer customers started out in exactly the same place as you — learning from the beginning.
The purpose of this guide, and our entire Hero Time University section, is to walk you through the process of making a board game from beginning to end, all without overwhelming you with complicated terminology or too much information.
Think of it as “Making a Board Game 101,” with our team of design, marketing and board game industry experts as your professors.
Before we get started, let’s get two important things out of the way:
First, creating and publishing an original board game is a serious commitment. You don’t need a huge budget or decades of experience, but you do need a clear vision and the time to execute it to its fullest.
In other words, there’s lots of work involved, including work that you might not even think about before you start the process of creating your game.
Second, creating a successful board game isn’t only about your creative vision — it’s also about making sure your board game finds its place in the board game market and reaches your target audience.
This means that you’ll need to spend some of your time working out who you want to reach with your game and making sure it’s an appealing commercial product.
We’ll walk you through all of this in the sections below, helping you develop your knowledge and transform yourself from a board game enthusiast into a skilled board game creator with your first game to your name.
If you feel like you need more help with any one step in creating your finished game, feel free to get in touch with us for one-on-one help.
To get started, use any of the sections below or navigate to specific Hero Time University pages using the sidebar on the left.
A simple but effective way to find inspiration for your very own board game is to understand how existing, successful board games fit into specific categories, as well as the mechanics that make them so much fun to play.
Many great games are all about area control, while others pit you against your fellow players in a game of social deduction. Some games are classic roll-and-moves, while others take you and your fellow players through a specific campaign or event.
Understanding the different types of board games can help you discover your idea and give you the knowledge about game mechanics to turn it into a more concrete concept.
It can also help you work out things like your game’s player count (how many players can play it at once), the basic gameplay and high-level design information.
Our guide to types of board games shares 39 common types of board games and explains how popular, successful games have used these mechanics to become modern classics.
Making your board game starts with great design. Designing your board game is a process that covers everything from base mechanics to artwork, your game’s rules, and even the pieces you need to manufacture to physically bring the game to life.
The design of your game directly impacts everything from how it’s played to how much it’s going to cost to manufacture, making this an absolutely critical step in your game’s development.
It also involves finding out what the key “fun factor” of your game is — the “core fantasy” of the game, which will keep players coming back for more.
Our guide to designing your board game explains how you can take your board game idea and create an actionable plan to turn it into a real, working prototype that’s ready for production.
One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from board game designers is whether they should self-publish their new game or use a publisher.
There are several ways to publish your game, including self-funding it, using a platform such as Kickstarter, or working with a game publisher. Our guide to publishing your board game explains your options in detail to help you decide on which is best for your game.
Every board game is made up of pieces — tokens, game cards, dice, wooden pieces, boxes and even the folding game boards that you’ll use to play games.
As you create your board game, you’ll need to design all of these pieces, from sizing and colors to the specific materials used for each piece.
Our board game pieces section breaks these down piece by piece (excuse the pun) to help you understand the entire process of making cards, boxes, models, dice and the other components that players will use to play your board game.
Board games can vary hugely in terms of cost, largely as a result of the degree of customization that’s possible. Because of regional differences in costs, different manufacturers might give you totally different quotes to manufacture your board game.
There’s no one-size-fits-all price that applies to board games, but there is a logic to how games are priced. Our detailed section on board game manufacturing costs explains how these work to help you anticipate the amount much you’ll need to invest to bring your game to life.
Great board game art isn’t just about making your game aesthetically pleasing — it’s also about giving it a distinct personality and character. Good design means your board, game cards and other pieces look great, and that your game is easy for players to understand.
It also means your game is designed with the printing and manufacturing process in mind — an aspect of board game design that’s critical for producing an excellent product.
Our board game and playing card game art section covers everything you need to know about the art side of designing your own game, with detailed videos from Chris Whitpan to guide you through every step of the graphic design and illustration process.
Manufacturing your game can feel like a minefield of potential problems, which is why it’s critical to develop a strong understanding of the manufacturing process before you start this step in the board game creation process.
In our manufacturing a board game section, we’ll walk you through the process of choosing your board game manufacturer, working out the exact specifications of your game, creating a sample version of your game, and finally, manufacturing your retail game effectively.
We’ll also teach you about common manufacturing issues to look out for, as well as the precise steps you can take to make sure your manufacturing process is a success.
Board games need to be tested for safety before they can go on sale. There are several major safety regulations that you’ll need to comply with in order to sell your board game in the USA, UK, European Union, Australia, New Zealand and other major markets.
These include the following regulations:
Some marketplaces, like Amazon, also require new games to have a CPC (Children’s Product Certificate) to go on sale.
As a game designer, dealing with regulations can seem like a headache. The good news is that these safety tests and regulations aren’t as intimidating as they seem, and good manufacturing practices can go a long way towards helping you pass each regulator’s testing process.
This is why it’s so critical to choose a manufacturer that doesn’t just understand how your game works, but also understands the regulatory environment in your target markets.
Our full guide to safety tests for games explains the tests your game will need to pass to go on sale, as well as how these can vary from one country and economic area to another.
Once your game is a finished product, it’s time to box it up and ship it. Shipping your game from China to your home country or target market is a multi-step process that involves transporting it to a local port, shipping it to your destination, warehousing and delivery.
There are also other aspects to the shipping and fulfillment process, which can vary depending on where you plan to sell your game.
Our guide to shipping your game from China covers everything you need to know about how to ship your game, from sea freight and air freight options to frequently asked questions related to game shipping and delivery.
The best games aren’t just cool ideas paired with great design and game mechanics — they’re also marketed effectively. The right marketing helps your game reach its audience and lets you keep making money from it, allowing you to build a real business around your creation.
Marketing your board game can be a challenging process, but there are plenty of channels that you can use to reach your target audience and make them aware of your game.
There’s no one-size-fits-all way to market your board game. You might choose to sell your game on Amazon or Etsy, make your own website to promote your game, partner with local game and hobby stores, or do a mix of everything.
Our guide to marketing and selling your game covers the As to Zs of promoting your game and reaching your target customers, from the fundamentals of board game marketing to advertising your game successfully.
Need personal assistance and guidance? We’re here to help you with every step of your board game or card game development journey. Book a call now to talk to our team and find out more about how you can turn your game concept into a reality.
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– Hersh (Founder of HeroTime)
– Hersh (Founder of HeroTime)
– Hersh (Founder of HeroTime)
– Hersh (Founder of HeroTime)