CatPrint Interview: Printing Your Own Game Cards

CatPrint interviewed one of our customers, Josh P., regarding how he created and printed his own card game!

What’s the appeal in creating your own game using cards over other mediums?
There’s a lot that is appealing about cards. From a game design perspective, cards have a bunch of interesting properties: they’re large enough to write rules on, small enough to use as tokens, can show partial information when facedown or hide information altogether (when not in play). They can have orientation or spatial relationships to other game elements. Plus, they’re very familiar to most game players, and are easy for people to handle, randomize, sort, or conceal.

For the design stages of a game, it’s easy to get ahold of blank cards and write on them, which makes prototyping and iterating really fast. Even quality printed cards are inexpensive to produce, compared to dice, boards, or miniatures.

As a bonus, they travel compactly and are not choking hazards (though you probably still shouldn’t let children put cards in their mouths).

Cool examples from the Card Game

Cool examples from the Card Game

What did you look for in the artwork?
Since I’m not an artist myself and I wanted to build this game independently, my first requirement was that all the artwork be in the public domain, CC0- or CC-BY-liscensed. The art started out as an afterthought – I just tried to find illustrative images appropriately licensed on the Internet. However, as this project has matured, I’ve found the visual appeal of the artwork to be a large part of the fun. So, now I’m looking for art that can inspire the imagination and enhance a gamer’s mental image of the people and places in the game.

In concrete terms, I guess I like images with high contrast, displaying motion or action or relationships. The art has to fit the light fantasy/adventure theme of the game.

What did you look for in materials?
The biggest drawback of using cards is that they’re not terribly sturdy, so it’s important to offset that weakness by printing on high quality materials with a good finish. The ideal cards are elastic, crease-, tear-, and water-resistant. Rounded corners contribute to the longevity, and the cut and thickness of the material affects how well it survives shuffling. Plastic playing cards are a little nicer in many of these aspects but I haven’t found anyone who is printing on them for a competitive price.

Who do you see playing your game?
I’m shameless in that I only tried to make a game I want to play, without another specific audience in mind. It probably involves too much information and reading to be appealing to most children, so that leaves adult and teen gamers. It doesn’t have a collectable aspect so it may be more accessible for beginner gamers, and it plays fairly well across age gaps. Given that, the elements of chance, and the theme, I imagine it would mostly be played as a family game.

What was the most difficult aspect of designing this card game?
Well, I don’t think I’m done yet. The most challenging part of the process for me is play testing. It’s not easy to get a group of 5 people to sit down to try it, and then try it again, and again. Definitely most of the work comes after the first design, and the game looks and plays very differently from my first ideas.


2 thoughts on “CatPrint Interview: Printing Your Own Game Cards

  1. Pingback: 2015: CatPrint Year in Review! | CatPrint Digital Printing Blog

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