Yes, the cards are now available at Artscow, soon at The Game Crafter site. But before you run off to make your purchase, please take time to read the following. You should understand how I intend to handle things for the future when more fan related products might be commercially produced and offered through me and Fantistic Diversions. Here is what has happened…
I looked at 11 Print-on-Demand operations producing games and/or game components. In the future, I may/will offer OFGI (OFBI) components for which I would like to make a few pennies. Such will help support this site, OFGI, and future NFP fan products without me incurring costs beyond what I already do. Here is the criteria I used in reviewing P.O.D. operations for NFP and/or commercial products:
- Secure Publishing Portal
- This allows full management of graphic, text, and at-site components added to a product, as well as at site product listing content (in the better ones). This is needed (as much as is possible) to make certain that all is done correctly on my end of the production process. I am using similar portals for e-self-publishing of works by Barb and me from NobleDead.org (in addition to our novels from a New York publishing house). I know what is possible in such portals and have expectations as a professional (as well as an ex-code-head and past partner in a private IT consultancy with national and international clients).
- Price / Sale Activation Control
- This is needed so that NFP products are sold as close as possible to “cost,” if not at exact cost. In some cases, if a product needs corrections, it should taken offline until such are complete, so that no more customers get a flawed product. Sometimes errors do happen, and they need to be kept from spreading.
- Store Credit vs. Royalty Option
- Where NFP products are concerned, I need to route any royalties due to price point limits away from a cash income. Such “profit” on NFP products will be taken as store credit for use (only) in test copies to check production quality on current and future NFP products. This may not seem important to some of you, but it is to me as a self-employed professional. I do not want to deal with fragments of income; I have enough bookkeeping to do already for my taxes.
- Product Activity / Sales Reports
- Even for NFP products, this allows knowing when one has gone fallow for too long and should likely be retired. If store credit is adequately building up, I know when there is enough to use for test copies… which I am paying cash for right now. I already spend enough pocket change on my own games / expansions, plus on software, add-ons, stock graphics, etc. used in fan projects.
Yes, all of this seems fussy to some, but it is necessary for my convenience to keep doing what I am doing here at Fantastic Diversions. Out of 11 P.O.D. services tested, only one fulfilled all of these (though it is glitchy and barely adequate on three points). Two other operations fulfilled some of these, enough to make them optional choices.
I got around generic error messages thrown at me by their publishing portal by deleting the whole product project and starting from scratch. Still, when it came time to “publish” the CoA Reference Cards deck, I go another surprise. I clicked the “publish” button expecting the product to go live, and instead…
9 Days, 7 Hours, 49 Minutes, 40 Seconds
You must view your printed game in person before you can publish it to the shop.
Okay. So I had to order up my own product (at cost) and wait for it to arrive before the product could be bought by anyone else. Reminds me of the old “bait’n’switch” confidence trick.
The product should arrive toward the end of the month. There is a queue listing for ordered products being produce at TGC, and my is down the list quite a ways. TGC was not the only P.O.D. using this kind of surprise; 7 others did so as well. There was usually always something that tripped up the user and made them pay somehow for their own product before offering it for sale to others.
From what I could see in logging out and entering the site as a customer, the product is not viewable as “pending.” Some are now wondering why I continue to bother with TGC; it is the only P.O.D. that fulfilled all of my requirements, though it was less than optimal in any of them. Here is what it is going to cost you (once the product goes live at TGC) based on my purchase from inside the USA and as copied from my online receipt (which never arrived as an email as well).
|Cities of Adventure: Reference Cards||1||$8.36||$8.36|
|Shipping Method: USPS First-Class||$3.43|
Due to price being restricted to the tired old “$?.99” structure — as if that missing penny fools anyone anymore — CoA Reference Cards at TGC will retail at $8.99. I used the cheapest shipping that I could; why they are not offering the better “media” rate for a boxed game I do not know. The insurance part was optional, but I took it anyway. TGC is located in the USA, so those of you ordering from elsewhere in the world should be prepared.
This one offers nothing for profit oriented sales. That does make things quite clean where NFP products are concerned, but cost to you is an issue.
The product at TGC includes a printed, custom fit tuck box that I designed. Artscow offers the same, but at extra cost, so I chose not to add a tuckbox at this site. Still, the price of the deck alone is $11 USD vs. $9 at TGC with the tuckbox. Then of course there is the shipping & handling for a product coming out of China; I cannot estimate that for you.
I do not care for this at all, considering the extra costs people will incur. And I have no time to order up a deck from them to check the production quality. You use them at your own risk, but overall as heard from others, they tend to be dependable.
Andrew Tullsen (owner) has been helpful with all my inquiries and testing his offerings through publishing a minor product from the OFGI component system (Digit Dice). His P&PG site is where I will very likely do future components for the Open Fantasy Game Initiative, including variations on the first component tried there (with much more interesting ones to come later).
Unlike TGC, he offers economical packing in simple ziplock like bags suitiable for components vs. full games. TGC expects every product listed with them to be packaged (expensively) as if it were a full game. But when components are few and still require some packaging, the man-hours involved still drive the price up too much a P&PG. The best that can be done for CoA “at cost” is $14 plus s&h. Pretty close to other P.O.D.s, and I will be considering setting up CoA at the P&PG site soon. I figure it does not hurt to have this available at more than one site around the world so people can pick and chosen what is most cost effective when s&h to their doors is added in. And Andrew holds the lead for all 11 P.O.D. operations tested in the area of personal service to me.
Are You Ready to Buy?
As mentioned, CoA Reference Cards are not yet available at The Game Crafter Site or Print & Play games, but TGC will have it up within another 9 days (fingers crossed), and I am still looking into distributing through P&PG.
On the other hand, if your patience is worn thin (like mine) for how long it has taken to make this deck available, then hop over and order up your copy at Artscow right now (for a little extra coin and no tuckbox).
Thank you for taking the time to read through all of this. To some it may not seem to matter, but these details will affect what is to come, first all when it comes time to offer commercially produced versions of Runebound Tales: In the Wild.