Etched Utara Dice + The Costs of Custom Dice





(Click to embiggen!)

I ordered etched Utara dice from GameStation and they just arrived! (You can see the bidding process in this post.) So, for those of you who want to venture in the wild and wooly world of dice games, I'll share some key info.

Here was the timeline:
March 4: Sent request for estimate to GameStation.
March 6: Receive quote from GameStation. (Next business day, basically.)
March 17: Call GameStation toll-free to order 30d. Get a digital proof same day!
March 28: 30 custom dice arrive in the mail.

Here are the specs and final numbers:
16mm square-edged opaque blank dice
Custom face on each side
Etch only
Cost+Shipping: $81

I'm happy with my purchase. The rep at GameStation (Jason W) was prompt and very helpful at every step of the process. Plus, the dice look fantastic. I don't know why the etching option is lower-priced. We've roughed up these dice quite a bit over the past few days and show no signs of wear.

The price of the order may seem high for thirty dice, but this was a very small run and many vendors won't even bother producing a set this small in quantity. Now, I have a great set of dice to bring to conventions and run demos. With this strong prototype, I can create promotional videos and pitch to partners or, later, create a Kickstarter campaign. I'm excited about the possibilities!

» Many thanks to Jason at GameStation for making Utara dice a reality.
» Super special thanks to Tim Rodriguez of Dice+Food+Lodging for recommending GameStation.
» How to play Utara

20 comments:

  1. What kind of files did you provide for Gamestation to make the dice? Illustrator? .jpg?

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  2. I supplied a separate vector .EPS file for each face, labeled with by number. 1.EPS goes on the 1 face, 2.EPS on the 2 face, and so on.

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  3. those look really slick, great job

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  4. Beautiful! Are you going to be at GenCon?

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  5. When I grow up, I wanna design awesome games like you, Daniel. At least I've the name part down already. :-)

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  6. » mleavitt: Thanks! GameStation did a really splendid job on these and FAST!

    » barsoomcore: I'll be at GenCon with the Utara dice in-hand. I hope to demo all my games as much as possible while I'm there. :)

    » Daniel: The name is the hardest part! :P

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  7. These look great! Well done.
    And the price doesn't seem too bad for such a small run. Thems the breaks of the biz.

    Thanks for the info!

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  8. Any time. I hope information like this helps other game designers.

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  9. These look amazing! Last night, Brett was totally praising your decision to include pips.

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  10. They look beautiful.

    If I were buying the game as a set, I'd love if it came with a cloth map / playing surface.

    Something like this, small islands and lots of sea, but with more of a grid and a more prominant, compass rose.
    http://www.disneyonlineworlds.com/images/b/bc/News_items_newsletter14_cloth_map.jpg

    I know that sort of thing would add significantly to the production cost. But your art capabilities are so huge that it would be a shame not to feature them more prominantly.

    (Though, the dice do feature your art sensibilities well.)

    And the fact that they are usable number dice is outstanding - it's the perfect combination of custom dice quirkiness with regular dice functionality. I will definitely be ready to purchase them once you do a big run. Hopefully in marbalized blue!

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  11. It just so happens I've been looking up the possibilities for custom printed cloth from Spoonflower.

    Out of curiosity, what's your price range for a product like this?

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  12. I have a hard time paying more than $.50 per dice, even for a particularly cool set of them.

    I would suggest 2 packages, if you can swing it. One would be a simple blister pack set of 10 dice with a rules pamphlet. And big lettering saying "You need at least 2 of these to play Utara." and sell that for $5.

    Then make a "full game" pack with 20 dice and a cloth board and sell it for $10.

    I know it would be hard to hit those price points without Hasbro-type scale. But those would be the ideal.

    I think if you inflate each of those by 50%, you'd be fine. And you'd probably have to do that to make a profit on custom dice.

    More than that, though, and it's going to be a tougher sell, I think.

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  13. Yeah, those price points will be tough as an individual, independent publisher. My plan right now is to create a cloth nautical map through Spoonflower as a prototype. I already have a custom cloth dice bag coming from Dragon Chow Games, too. Along with the etched dice, I'll post a promotional video, a press release and a bunch of high-res photographs to sell to publishers. I'll also demo the game a million times at GenCon and PAX. :P With luck, a Steve Jackson or Fantasy Flight will take interest.

    I'll pursue that course for six months-to-a-year. If no one bites, I'll publish independently. That will require a Kickstarter campaign, though. The idea there is to sell naming rights for features of the Utara map. Actually, the map is created by the Kickstarter pledges. A $10 pledge creates an island one grid-cell in size that you can name. More pledges create larger areas like archipelagos, reefs, continents and constellations.

    With a successful Kickstarter, I can more easily produce and sell the half-pack or full-pack units. So that's the master plan so far. Your thoughts?

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  14. I was also going to suggest different packaging versions, one with a map and one without at a lower price point. There is already an army of battle-mats out there that can provide the grid for cardinal movement, and a casual gamer that comes across your game while browsing a shelf might be more inclined to invest in Utara at a lower cost.

    I personally like the Kickstarter idea better for various reasons. It's a more unique approach to the development, and it comes with it's own player base that's already invested in the game. That might not be enough to surmount realistic cost vs. sell issues, and It does come with it's own limited resources that a publisher could provide for you. I'd love to suggest price points to you, but I have to recognize that I am already invested in your idea and I would be willing to pay more than someone browsing a game shop or toy store shelf.

    That brings me to this thought. Not only would I be willing to invest in a Kickstarter campaign (I have $50 sitting here that I would commit right now for a reef or ocean trench), but I would also pay more for a well produced limited edition first run. Is it possible that you can approach both routes? Is a quality first-run and a deal with a game publisher mutually exclusive? I am ignorant of copyright laws and concerns that a commercial publisher would have regarding that.

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  15. No, they're certainly not mutually exclusive avenues. However, I have a lot on my plate and if I can strike a deal where someone else handles the vagaries of production, assembly, shipping and fulfillment, I'll pursue that first. Perhaps I'll be more inclined to go for something more home-run after I have Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple out the door.

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  16. Let me add some of my thoughts on the matter... I'll probably get rambly, sorry.

    First of all, the possible final price: simply and clearly put, 5$ is too low. You'll be underselling yourself, giving the impression of a cheap game that does not deserve attention.
    Irrational? Yes, but very, very true.

    Utara is a smallish filler game, something you'll whip out for a quick 3-4 games while waiting for other people, and so on. In the same market there is Zombie Dice, for example: 12 dollars for 13 opaque custom dice and a cup (and 12EUR, I should add, here in Italy).

    If the "standard Utara" will have 20 dice then shooting for a 12-15 dollars price seems only reasonable (and that's for the standard, without considering the boutique edition, the pretty cloth map).

    Custom dice, simply put, cost more than bog-standard opaque chessex dice. A 12dice fudge dice pack costs 10+ EUR, and people know they can't expect to get them at .50 per die. Heck single dice in fancy colors/styles are often sold at 1EUR per die at game fairs.

    I'm not saying to buy into the crazy Q-workshop prices, but don't use the price of standard dice to gauge your price, either.

    As I said in my play-report... more dice are better, simply put. If you find you have a bit of margin, put in 4 more dice. The game will only benefit of it.

    Booster packs... nice idea, but can quickly cannibalize the sales of the base set: the game is easy to learn and does not REALLY need the mat.

    A "boutique" editon funded by kickstarter would make a lot of sense, and could have nice upgrades for the backers as the pledge increases:

    - 20 dice
    - 20 dice and mat
    - 20 dice, mat and fancy bag
    - 30 dice, mat, compass
    - and so on :)
    ...the highest could include a couple of the laser-etched dice from the prototype set, as a "collector item", for example.

    Oh, and before I forget, let me reiterate that the idea of a playmat that is ALSO the dice carrying bag would totally rule.

    Man, if you were close to me I'd talk your ears off Daniel :-D

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  17. I have to agree that $5 for any set is an undersell.

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  18. Let me add some of my thoughts on the matter... I'll probably get rambly, sorry.

    First of all, the possible final price: simply and clearly put, 5$ is too low. You'll be underselling yourself, giving the impression of a cheap game that does not deserve attention.
    Irrational? Yes, but very, very true.

    Utara is a smallish filler game, something you'll whip out for a quick 3-4 games while waiting for other people, and so on. In the same market there is Zombie Dice, for example: 12 dollars for 13 opaque custom dice and a cup (and 12EUR, I should add, here in Italy).

    If the "standard Utara" will have 20 dice then shooting for a 12-15 dollars price seems only reasonable (and that's for the standard, without considering the boutique edition, the pretty cloth map).

    Custom dice, simply put, cost more than bog-standard opaque chessex dice. A 12dice fudge dice pack costs 10+ EUR, and people know they can't expect to get them at .50 per die. Heck single dice in fancy colors/styles are often sold at 1EUR per die at game fairs.

    I'm not saying to buy into the crazy Q-workshop prices, but don't use the price of standard dice to gauge your price, either.

    As I said in my play-report... more dice are better, simply put. If you find you have a bit of margin, put in 4 more dice. The game will only benefit of it.

    Booster packs... nice idea, but can quickly cannibalize the sales of the base set: the game is easy to learn and does not REALLY need the mat.

    A "boutique" editon funded by kickstarter would make a lot of sense, and could have nice upgrades for the backers as the pledge increases:

    - 20 dice
    - 20 dice and mat
    - 20 dice, mat and fancy bag
    - 30 dice, mat, compass
    - and so on :)
    ...the highest could include a couple of the laser-etched dice from the prototype set, as a "collector item", for example.

    Oh, and before I forget, let me reiterate that the idea of a playmat that is ALSO the dice carrying bag would totally rule.

    Man, if you were close to me I'd talk your ears off Daniel :-D

    ReplyDelete
  19. Beautiful! Are you going to be at GenCon?

    ReplyDelete

Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.