Sunday, January 14, 2018

Behind the Scenes of Boardgaming: The Pre-Press Process

I was reading an old thread on BGG where the topic of pre-press came up. It reminded me that most people who play games, those that aren't "in the biz," are not aware of the process games go through before they land on the store shelves, or in your online shopping cart. One of the most common, yet least well known steps is the pre-press process.

Pre-press is a process you go through with the manufacturer before going to print (just like it sounds). In that process, the manufacturer analyzes your files and alerts you to any errors they find (RGB instead of CMYK colors for example, or insufficient bleed or spacing between elements on your punchboard), and makes sure the files you gave them match the contract specs.

From there they make a digital, or "soft" proof, which you review to make sure things look right. This is a VERY important step, as it's the first, and cheapest, way to avoid a stupid mistake such as working off of an old file (with incorrect info), or there are somehow accidentally too many card backs, so the backs and fronts don't line up properly. This last one may sound super specific, and that is because it has happened to me twice now. Once was an expensive problem to fix, because the cards were printed that way, and I didn't notice until I got physical copies in my hand. More recently it happened again, but this time I noticed it in the soft proof.

With the digital proofs approved, the manufacturer moves on to create a "hard proof" or "production proof." This looks like an actual copy of the game, but it's not really. It used to be they'd send two things: a "white box proof," with all the correct materials but nothing printed, and a "color proof," with stuff printed but not on the right materials. Nowadays some manufacturers combine that into a single step, where they send you a box that looks pretty much like the real deal, except the punchboards are laser cut instead of punched (they don't want to create the die until they know it's correct), and a few other small details.

All of these steps comprise "pre-press." Once the hard proof is approved, the manufacturer creates the dies and goes to print for real, printing, cutting, and assembling thousands of copies of your game. Any mistakes that slipped through at this point are now written in stone. Well, written in cardboard anyway :)

1 comment:

Michael Brown said...

By the way, Seth, if you are interested in me playtesting any of your other games with my lunch group, I would be interested in trying them out.

Also, if you are interested, I have made a website for designers to post games that they want playtested (to get the word out and attract playtesters). It is called PlaytestHub. You can find it on google pretty easily. I don't know if you want your WIPs so publicly available, but it might find you more playtesters.