We've ordered prototypes about 4 times now, and we're impressed that the quality keeps improving. Shrink wrap is much better, cards/boxes/tiles look sharp and clean, chit slugs are super easy to punch out.
There has been some variety/inconsistency with some of the pieces (e.g. white and black gems for Oolong have been different size, color, and quality each time, and print colors for Barricado cards are a bit on the cool side since the previous version), though that is understandable given the nature of supply and print-on-demand.
Our biggest struggle right now is mostly with product selection. We've made accomodations to fit the current selection and to keep prices low. By far the most important thing we'd really love to see is 2" square cards (to match the 2" square tiles). Another would be circle tiles (instead of just cards). Minimally, yet another would be a bi- or quad-fold board that fits the small and/or med pro boxes. I know you don't have boxes to fit them, but a 24" quad-fold board would also be cool.
Also curious to know if your business model would have room for partnerships with other part vendors (I'm thinking specifically with a place like meeplesource) so we could include a wider variety of bits in Game Crafter games.
We'll have a card game to post shortly, so really interested to see how big decks feel, and see the tuck boxes. Keep up the great work. You all have been a great resource for our new business!
John & Sarah
Black Straw Games
Thanks for taking the time to share a detailed testimonial. We greatly appreciate it. I've provided some additional information below for your reference:
Quality: Yay! super glad to hear you're happy with our quality. We are constantly improving our products and process so it's nice to hear people are noticing! :)
Variety/consistency: Gems, like some of the other types of components we have in inventory are not identical and are provided by the manufacturer with an understood variance. Unfortunately there isn't much we can do with these because of how they're made. If you want something more similar to one another (and cheaper) we offer plastic crystals now. You can see them at https://www.thegamecrafter.com/parts#keyword=crystal. They are a bit smaller than gems though.
Cards: You're correct about this. There are many factors involved with printing presses and we cannot guarantee perfect color matching between orders. Bulk orders that are printed at the same time have the best chance of being the same because the printer calibration and environment factors are the same when they are printed. If you ever think this is too severe then you can contact our support team and verify that it isn't a production issue. But if it's only a minor difference then we'll likely tell you that it's within our production tolerances.
2" Cards/circle tiles/24"game board: Be sure to post your product/feature ideas on our Ideas forum. It's under the community menu and you can use your crafter points to vote for existing ideas or post your own. I think there's already a request for a 2" square card and you can lend your vote to it as well. Our development team is constantly looking at the ideas forum and trying to deliver new products/features that the community wants. :)
Partnerships: We're always interested in partnerships that are mutually beneficial. I'm not sure other parts vendors would be interested in selling their game pieces in our online shop, but you're welcome to reach out and ask them if they'd be interested. If so, we might be able to come to some sort of an agreement.
Thanks again for sharing your feedback. We appreciate that can have such open dialog with the community and we always do our best to give you all what you want! :) We just need to make sure what we provide is generically useful for most game designers and cost efficient for everyone.
I can't speak for other designers, but I'm perfectly okay with some colour variance between orders. The only time I really see it as a problem is if there's variance within a single game (which, thankfully, doesn't appear to happen very often).
Other than a problem with one of the first decks I printed (which TGC corrected and made good on), every deck/game I've ordered has been about as close to perfect as I think it's possible for print-on-demand to be.
I continue to be impressed.
C. Scott Davis