This may end up being 1 part The Game Crafter assessment and 10 parts personal bloggy stuff, so an upfront 'tldr' is that while this is the first service I've used after searching about, so far it is everything I'd hoped it could be if not more and I'm incredibly happy and relieved to find this is a rare case of 'the biggest fish' also being the best fish. I no longer have any desire to continue searching elsewhere regardless.
Yesterday both the first set of cards for "Mages of Ebenor" (with super prototype graphics) arrived and the second set (with final art but non-final rules) arrived (ordered later but set to important), and I could not have been any happier.
The cards felt infinitely better than any of the ones I had been using from multiple decks/card games when needing numbered cards for initial prototyping, amazing to shuffle, and after having spent almost a day trying to match photoshop filters to the color profile they provided I'm happy to see the colors came out absolutely perfectly.
So, beyond the fact I'm super happy with the quality of the tuck box/cards, why do I say in the thread title it has made game design accessible and fun again for me?
Because this site has done what I previously perceived to be impossible. It has made 'indie board game development' as accessible if not more so than the booming trend of computer indie game development, which I have trudged through for 5+ years now.
The shop front provided by this site is amazing, allows personalization and an easy layout for people to see if the game catches their interest or not, and it is well thought out, far more so than what Steam provides for its digital games.
(Though one point of minor critique would be that it'd be awesome to have a more flexible WYSIWYG editor for the games description).
But for games to even have accolades, and everything else going far beyond a bare minimum set of functionality, this site as a whole feels like it truly cares about board game development and providing that opportunity to people who aren't already successful enough for KickStarter campaigns and the likes.
Which brings me to my next point, where KickStarter has made it possible for people to be able to mass produce for an audience a boardgame if successful, The Game Crafter allows people who don't yet have a following or a fancy team/connections but have designs they want to make a reality to have that same opportunity.
While I hope my game reaches a larger audience, I'm still happily able to get a copy of my game for my family and their friends who thoroughly enjoyed playing it throughout its prototyping stage, and I can get 1 for the people I've had the honor of working with through many regrettably failed attempts to create computer games thorughout the years because of game engine developers not caring about those using there visual programming tools (3+ games cancelled in Unreal Engine 4 after months of producing each one because of engine side bugs between in-editor and exported functionality).
My favorite part of Board Game design is also the scariest, instead of having to program all you have to do is make rules (and sing/hope/pray to every wishing star available that players understand and follow those rules correctly after you've adjusted them an infinite amount of times). Prior to discovering this site I'd already started/almost completed a board game thanks to 'Tabletop Simulator' that sparked my initial passion and discovery of the current state of boardgame development after the final straw broke with a massive engine side AI bug in Unreal Engine 4 they seemingly have yet to fix (though I'll be moving that project from Tabletop Simulator to Tabletopia as soon as its KickStarter ends), and to be able to play test a game while actively designing/balancing/tweaking rules on the fly is the most incredible thing ever. Even though it is a very different structure to computer game design and it's harder to show off 'gameplay' in a compressed manner, it truly allows for a freedom of design and it is SO, MUCH, FUN!
While there are still games I hope to make and experiences that can only be accomplished within the realm of computer game design, I'm incredibly excited to know that for now I can make boardgames thanks to The Game Crafter with a massive array of component types and pieces and I look forward to having the opportunity to share these experiences without the fears of 'will this game export correctly' or posts of 'WHY NO MAC BUILD' and many more things negatively associated with computer game design, and I could not be more grateful to this site, I hope it continues forward strongly and with equal or great passion than I feel from it now.
Wow! That's quite a testimonial! Thanks for all the kind words. We really appreciate hearing honest feedback from customers. (good or bad.) The good is much more fun to read though!
We couldn't be happier to help people like you turn your ideas into real games. It's why we exist and what drives us to keep improving. Cheers!