Friday, August 30, 2013

The battle for space

NSKN Games has already published two games which are considered by many “heavy games” or “gamer’s games”. While we are not disputing this statement, we realized that this is also the result of misconception brought to the gaming world by the size of the respective game boxes.

Warriors & Traders, our first release, is presented is a 35 x 35 x 8 cm game box, about 1.5 times the volume of a “normal” game box. Exodus: Proxima Centauri, our successful game released in 2012 has been dressed in a 40 x 30 x 10 cm box, another “monster” filled with several hundred wooden, plastic and cardboard components.
We realized how difficult it must be even for the friendliest of our fans to organize games of various sizes and shapes on a shelf meant to host hundreds of titles. Early this year we started a project meant to make our games stand out by not standing out as awkwardly large or too long or wide. With our engineering background, we tried to think outside the box so that we can fit large games in regular boxes. But this was not all. Not only did we decide to avoid any quality compromise, we also wanted to improve the quality of all components and to relocate most of our production from China back to Europe, so we can have a better control over the quality of our board games.
We put all these ideas under one umbrella which we called “less is more”. It became a company policy which we will adhere to from now on. So, let’s see what is this policy all about:
  • top quality without any compromise – that’s something you hear every day and time will be our best witness
  • maximum functionality - every component in every box of NSKN Games must have its purpose. From the final prototype of a working board game to the final printed version, we are still play-testing until we decide there cannot be less components. We are striving to avoid redundancy, so that we can simply provide all the components needed to play the game to its full extent. No more, no less.
  • shape and size – with our gaming and our engineering background, we discovered we are very good at optimizing. We are considering the shape and size of each component and we are using every bit of space on our punch-boards until we are certain that the space is used optimally. while following the theme of the game.
  • standard box, smart ideas – the quality, feel and replay value of a board game is neither increased nor decreased by the size of its box. Manufacturing companies are able to meet almost any demand, it is only up to us to come up with the ideal solution. We chose to fit our “out-of-the-box” ideas in a standard sized box, so you will discover our games to be carefully thought, but heavier (and please take the word literally) that your usual square-boxed board games.
  • more cardboard, less air – a standard box has a volume of about 6000 cubic centimeters or 360 cubic inches. Most games use between one third and a half of this space. We decided to fill in as much as we need of this volume. We are not afraid of removing a cardboard insert and place as many as 15 punch-boards in a box on top of a few hundred wooden and plastic pieces. By giving large games in small boxes, we are hoping that our customers and fans will feel they get exactly what they pay for.
Our first experiment with the standard box is the Revised Edition of Exodus: Proxima CentauriWe are taking a risk going again the trend of the industry. Many publishers are going for non-standard sizes and even shapes. We also want to stand out, but through different means, some of which we've listed above.
We believe that this is a sign of respect for our fans. What do you think? Would you rather play, buy and store a special type of box or a standard one?

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Let's take a look at the artwork of Praetor

The box of Praetor

From the moment I imagined Praetor and its whole universe, I had something very clear in mind, I wanted the art work to show the grandeur of the Roman cities at the peak of their glory. 

I believe in the functionality of the artwork in board games and its main purpose - to serve and blend into the game mechanics - but I am also able to admire and fall in love with a game just because of its great artwork. For Praetor, we aimed for both, combining great illustrations with functional graphic design elements with the purpose to make the game play interesting and challenging while pleasing the eye.

It took us a long time to discover the perfect artist for the job, but I believe that in the end we found the key to success. The artwork below came out of the hand of David Szilagyi. So, let's take a look...


Arc de Triomphe

Imperial Outpost


Marble Quarry

Gold Mine

So, what do you think? 

Find out more on the NSKN official website Facebook  | BGG |  ScoopIT Magazine 
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Monday, August 26, 2013

Exodus: Proxima Centauri revised edition

Wow, it's been more than one month since our last post... time passed so quickly. We have not been on holidays. on the contrary, we spent almost 100% of our time on the re-print of Exodus: Proxima Centauri

The first edition sold out on our level and with most of the distributors sometime in March and since then we turned down several orders of a several hundred copies. We thought that it would be impossible or, at least, financially suicidal to print this game again, without any quality issues. But, in everyone's life comes a time when you decide to think outside the box. And that is exactly what happened to us when we decided to make a revised edition. We kept the major concepts in place, but we went on and made changes in the graphic design and the ergonomics of the game, based on gamers' feedback and our own sessions of play-testing. We started with a clear goal in mind: a revised edition with better game play, less fiddliness and more sci-fi look and with top quality components.

The front of the box

To make sure that the quality is what we expected it to be, we requested offers only from manufacturing companies with a proven record of delivering the best and we made it part of the plan to check the quality throughout the entire production process. 

With all that in mind, we started a long process of analyzing and rethinking every component in the game. As we progressed, every component which we considered final underwent a graphic design upgrade and found its place on one of the 15 punchboards in the game.

New planet hex

At the same time, we chose the manufacturing company. We chose to produce the game in Poland, so that we can stick to our promise - controlling the quality every step of the way. Together with them we looked for and found solutions to every problem we encountered on the way.

For example, inspired by other recent games, we decided to replace the thick paper player boards with 2mm cardboard. This would allow better marking of the technologies and reduce the risk of ruining the game in the middle. With the old player boards, one little lack of attention could cause big trouble, with one swift movement a player could swipe all the technology cubes from his player board and then take a long time trying to figure out what had he previously researched. With the new boards, the wooden cubes go in the player board, reducing the risk of such an event.

Upgraded player board

This was just a simple example of our work, thinking about players first and the costs later. On the NSKN website, you can see a full list of changes in the revised edition of Exodus.

As I write this blog post, the production is ongoing and we are confident that we will be able to bring the new Exodus to Spiel '13 Essen.

In a few days, we'll bring more news, a status update and a surprise for those who own the original edition of Exodus.

Find out more on the NSKN official website Facebook  | BGG |  ScoopIT Magazine 
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