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Making a Physical Product (jonw.com)
317 points by j0ncc on Apr 1, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 131 comments

I liked this article and would like to see more like it. With the maker movement, Kickstarter, 3D printing, etc there now seems to be a lot more interest in making physical products. But the isn't a lot of public information about the costs and processes involved, compared to say the number of tutorials on how to build web app or a mobile app.

I noticed that the actual cost of the 'product' is less than 40% of the total project costs. And labour isn't even factored in.

I was just involved in making a small injection molded part. I was surprised how easy and inexpensive it was. For all the hype 3D printing is getting, I think there could be lots more businesses in making injection molding more accessible.

Wrote a few articles a couple years ago for HN on physical products here's one of them: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1840896

elaborated a bit more here: http://curtgeen.com/post/7575880635/expanded-part1-design

I've been out of it for a few years but if you have any questions I should be able to point you in the right direction.

they do a great job at explaining injection molding:


> But the isn't a lot of public information about the costs and processes involved, compared to say the number of tutorials on how to build web app or a mobile app.

This is because your are in the field. Say you were a person, who has never programmed anything in their life, but has a great idea for an app. Where would you even start? It would seem to me that finding good programmers is as difficult as finding good factories.

> I noticed that the actual cost of the 'product' is less than 40% of the total project costs.

This is why Apple is the largest company in the world, not Foxconn.

Do you mind if I ask what was the quantity for your injection molded part, and what company you ended up going with.

Last time I tried to price injection molding it was way too much.

My dad runs a small plastic injection molding company. He's got a single bread and butter product they make, but he's always looking for new ideas.

Is there a way for people to easily connect with manufacturers in the USA? My dads shop is really small and hungry vs some shop you could find in a google search with lots of machines (and expensive)

A solution to this problem is EXACTLY what my co-founder and I are working on right now. We're working to be Match.com for custom-made parts, and highly specialized shops like your dad's are the ideal use case for our product. Would you be willing to talk directly or put me in touch with your dad? We'd love to help out any way we can.

I'm looking for a match to a die casting or cnc milling shop. Your contact info is not in your profile. Care to shoot me an email?

Hi grannyg00se! I don't see an email in your profile, so:

1. Rob 2. SupplyBetter.com

1 @ 2 is my email. Let's talk.

Have a landing page or someplace to signup for more info later?

Yes, indeed! supplybetter.com is our landing page. We're always looking for feedback on our service and site, so feel free to hit us up!

HN auto-links URLs in your post (eg. http://supplybetter.com), but you need to include the http://.

(I find auto-linking lowers click friction for me, personally.)

Getting listed at Thomasnet.com[1] would be a good start.

[1] http://www.thomasnet.com/products/injection-molding-custom-9...

mfg.com is a place that I use to find new suppliers on a regular basis.

I'll have to check at work tomorrow, but fairly low, maybe 1000 - 2000. It was a plastic case with one bottom and two tops. The company we used has these jigs that can make molds out of a combination of custom parts and generic parts to keep machining to a minimum. The molds only work in their machines, so you don't end up owning the tooling, but I still think it's worth it.

Also did a plastic clip with a live hinge, and I think a steel tool was under $7,000 and parts under a $1.

Compared to 3D printing, we hit the break even point at around 100 cases.

I was just surprised since the last time I was involved in manufacturing was the 90s and was paying $100,000 for tooling for office telephones.

I'm also interested in the company that you used for the injection mold. Looking forward to your answer.

Thanks a bunch.

The best I've found so far for low (<10,000) unit injection mold runs is Protomold.

Another vote for Protomold here. Their prototyping prices are good, and they will help you adjust your design to mold well. The only main drawbacks are that you don't own the mold (forget about moving it to a different manufacturer), and they aren't keen on machining very small features.

He says in the article: "5,000 dice + shipping: $1,808 ($0.36 per dice, enough dice for 333 sets)"

Learc83 is talking to Figbug, who is not the article author.

I was at a presentation about the logistical aspects of production during PAX and 3D printing is almost illogical. The current machines aren't fast enough, and the quality isn't there compared to what you can get for an injection mould.

From what the panelists were saying, the closest thing to 3D printing could be useful for would be to use a high resolution printer to create a few masters from which you could create your moulds instead.

Really cool to see the numbers and congrats on making the product!

One nit to emphasize the value in basic accounting knowledge for others when going down the manufacturing route: it's $11.37 _gross_ margin (aka gross profit, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gross_margin ), not _net_ profit (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Profit_Margin ). While this may sound silly and academic, net confers a sense of finality -- it includes all costs, marketing, discounts to sell remnant inventory, depreciations... everything. Learning this distinction will also introduce you to inventory management, promotion cycles, and all sorts of other crazy business skills to help you get to the next level in building a game business. There are hundreds of years of wisdom built up about manufacturing that all has to funnel through.... accounting...

For example, having >50% net profit is fantastic for manufacturing! Having >50% gross profit is on par for low-scale, specialty products. Jon's 11.37 is a gross profit and on par. Knowing nothing about this specific market, the standard advice in this case is to focus on growing the market rather than reducing costs at this point. (This is a business-model version of the 'don't scale prematurely' mantra you hear in tech considering his price of $20/game doesn't seem insane).

Back-of-the-envelope calculations show the gross revenue for all 333 sets is $6,660. Assuming he's included all costs, this means:

  Revenue:    $6,660
  Costs:      $4,660
  Net Profit: $2,000
Which means a net profit of $6/set, a little more than 25% of the sale. Depending on how aggressively he wants the market, he should offer discounts to influential or trend-setting groups of people in the 25% range.

Another way to look at this business is he would get a return of $2,000 for $4,660 in capital (since he has 1 production run), or 50% ROI... also not too shabby (if sold at retail price).

And yet another way to look at this is manufacturing the product over 8 hours yields $2000, or $250/hour... better than most. It's unclear how much time he spent on the admin and design tasks, but since this is a labor of love... let's assume it was leisure time and free :) It also means a second production run may get him an economy scale from re-using the design and website assets for even more $$$/hour.

All-in-all, this looks great across the board, and I wish the Jon the best of luck in bringing Space Dice to the world!

Good analysis.

One comment though - if the intention is to get the game onto the shelf in retail stores, there's not enough margin in it at the current cost/pricing.

A store is going to require most (or all) of that margin - in most "dice game" type stores, if you want to put a product on the shelf at $20, you're going to need to sell it to the store for somewhere around $14 or they're not going to be interested.

Seems to me that at least an investigation into whether getting a run of 3,000 or 30,000 sets made up (and outsourcing the 80 or 800hrs of packaging work) would be a worthwhile exercise rather than being premature optimisation.

Most retail outlets in my experience would want to purchase the $20 retail item for $8, giving them a 60% margin. Source - 20 years of doing this.

I'm making a product, and selling mostly online.

I was shocked (in the newbies do) to find out about the sort of gross margins retailers want. From where we are now, it seems like the only way we could reach that is through economies of scale that we are uncertain would pay off. Chicken meets egg once again?

In the market we're in (musical instruments/audio) the retailers with stores are going away, sales have moved online.

I'm not sure yet but I think the margins for online retailers could be less?

Look at how much money online retailers make, after their costs their profit margins are mostly single digit meaning they don't have a lot of room to cut costs. Also if retailers can wring profits out of you they will, online or offline.

Just me being cynical, but this fact is what is wrong with the entire world. Everyone wants to make things as cheap as possible, and then sell them as expensive as possible.

Every single thing in our lives is driven by this dynamic and it is a cancer.

What is the way out of this that keeps people happy and doesn't destroy us?

I think your view of reality is a little distorted. No offense intended.

Would you be willing to pay $10 for a gallon of gas? Probably not. However, if you were open to paying this much the entire gasoline supply chain would not have to worry as much about their costs. It's action-reaction. Supply and demand.

Put a different way: If government somehow mandated tomorrow that on Monday gasoline will be $10 per gallon, gas company CEO's would be able to relax and not have to optimize their cost structure for some time.

Of course, this does not happen. People shop at Walmart and price shop online. In most businesses with decent competition it is actually very hard to make money without extreme attention to cost optimization. Popular liberal lore is that CEOs optimize cost because they are greedy. That is almost indescribably ridiculous. You optimize costs because if you don't, you die.

You should go through the exercise on Excel to see the effects. Pretend to start a business that will sell five items picked at random from Amazon.

The conditions are simple:

  - You mortgage your house and invest $200K in this 
    new business.
  - You have to compete with Amazon.  
  - You have to pay yourself a reasonable salary.  
  - You have to hire some people (you can't do everything).  
  - You have to pay rent, utilities, marketing costs,
    accounting, insurance, taxes, etc.  
  - You have to grow gross profits 25% per year or more.
  - You also have to pay-off your $200K loan in, say, 
    five years.
Do that on paper and tell me what you learn. Post all your numbers online for us to see and verify.

Now do it in real life and realize it is TEN to ONE-HUNDRED times harder.

Then come to HN and read posts from people who firmly believe business is driven by greed. What would you say to them to have them understand?

Right. Most who have never started and run a business have less than zero clue as to the realities and basic math one must face. They can opine all they want, yet the reality is that they simply don't have a good frame of reference. All they see is the price at the pump. And they always want to pay less.

EDIT: Layout and punctuation. Typed earlier today on an iPad, which is just horrible for entering and editing text. There are times when vim makes so much sense...

On the contrary, I think this dynamic (combined with strong human rights) is a great blessing to humanity. In a market economy, 'as expensively as possible' tends to mean 'not very expensively', and 'make things as cheap as possible' means 'make your processes more efficient'. And efficiency is the reason why we can have nice things.

While I dont take issue with your optimism and logic, I think it is flawed and naive, even if only due to the following:

Go to a grocery store; Safeway or whole foods. Note the prices for items based on their qty/weight/etc.

Now go to a restaurant wholesale style place (not a costco, which is an illusion of savings).

A place like "cash and carry" (there is one in oakland) where the small scale restaurateurs purchase goods for sale and markup to Joe Consumer.

Look at the price difference and what you, even as a non-wholesale-licensed-individual can purchase.

Now, the price you are paying in a place like cash and carry is still a profitable amount for both cash and carry AND the upstream providers to them (distributors, farmers, whomever) - but the prices are far less than a Safeway...

So, while I think that the statement you made is true, to a point, I think that we need a revolution in what industries gouge and which don't.

Food prices are being designed to kill. (I'd love to go into detail but it just hit midnight and I have a GOT episode to rewatch)

Supermarkets have absolutely tiny net profits, usually just a couple of percent. They have substantially greater labour costs than a wholesaler. They have higher rents, because their stores are less densely stocked and in more convenient (and more expensive) locations. They have high shrinkage on many products, losing >30% of their fresh produce and bakery goods to spoilage and a significant proportion of product to theft and employee fraud.

Food is cheap to buy from a cash-and-carry because it's cheap to sell. It's sold straight off the pallet, in an out-of-town warehouse with dirt cheap rent. Average SKU value is much higher, massively reducing labour costs. Shrinkage is tiny, because of the high turnover of perishable goods and the greater security possible in a warehouse store. Cash-and-carry wholesalers still have very tight margins, but they have much lower costs than supermarkets.

Food retail is ruthlessly competitive on price, because there are so few other points of differentiation. The idea that there's a malevolent conspiracy in food pricing is utterly farcical to anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of the food supply chain.

Food is a very bad example for you to pick to make your point. Margins are slim, because basically everybody can get in on this game quite easily. If you think you can supply a better product at a better price, or if you think there is demand for a better product at a higher price, why don't you go for it? I'll tell you: because if you'd start doing the math, you'd find out that no, it can't really be done at a much better price/quality ration. And the amount of offerings is already so big, consumers have total choice over their cost vs quality preferences.

Price overhangs like you describe exist for a reason. Either the competition has some advantage that lets them price cheaper than Safeway, or they're subsidizing prices temporarily to gain market share. I'd be curious as to which industries you think are ripe for revolution due to price gouging.

I really like this analysis as well - can I ask where the "standard advice" comes from? And if it's from an MBA, what school? I haven't seen this kind of quantified strategizing taught before; I've been winging it and would love to pick up some formal knowledge if it exists.

Every industry has a financial fingerprint, if you will. If you are the manufacturer of a consumer product you look at your supply chain for your cost structure and your channels of distribution for your profit structure. Both affect your business dynamically and managing them is one of the toughest things an entrepreneur has to do.

In consumer goods it is not too uncommon to have multiple layers in the distribution channel between you and the ultimate consumer of your product? This is part of the "fingerprint" I spoke about. For example, you might have a representative take 7%, distributor take 35% and retailer 25% off list. So, yes, the manufacturer never sees list price pouring into its bank account.

Financial folks outhouse with lots of business experience are familiar with the supply chain and distribution channel fingerprints across a number of business types. Armed with this data you can certainly do some quick back-of-the-napkin calculations to understand the basics of a proposed venture.

Bankers for decades have put together private companies financials from loan applications and generated "standard" financial ratios which function as "fingerprints" for an industry. Part of getting a commercial loan is having your companies financials compared to others from your industry, if your numbers are out of step from the industry when you ask for a loan questions will be asked.


I'm not sure which part you are calling advice, but the terms are all accounting 101. The approach to scaling a new product is also very basic. If you are three years into an undergraduate business degree in any University you should know most of this.

Why make an iPhone app to keep track of planets owned when you could just make a simple paper based scorecard? Or am I missing something about the complexity of the game? An app might be useful but you want the game to be playable by the largest number of peopl possible and there could be some opportunity for recurring revenue from selling the scorecards.

I think the idea of an iOS app sounds great. Why waste paper when you can simply click "new game" on your phone?

Why waste plastic on dice when you can click, "new roll" on your phone? Some people might like games like this because they're not digital.

This is precisely it.

Also if the author wanted he could simply add in some cheap d10s that each player could use to keep track of their current planet values.

Because it's not as fun as physically rolling the dice. There's not much additional gain to writing down the score on a piece of paper versus keeping score on an app tailored towards the game.

Yeah, it's also possible that I considered that and disagree with you. I'm not saying that everyone will prefer keeping score on paper, but some people really do and some other people will appreciate not having an iPhone on the table when they play a dice game.

Not everyone has an iPhone. Young children do/should not have smartphones. Paper does not require constant updates, maintenance and bugfixes. Paper is cheaper. People want to play physical games without the distraction of devices. People don't want the hassle of downloading an app before they can play a game. If the complexity of scoring requires an app, it's too complicated.

I think there's scope for including the scoring as part of the packaging, no "waste paper". My first inclination is a two part sleeve - but I'm assuming then it's a two player game, more players requires some ingenuity - the sleeves start at zero score and cover the lower numbers, moving towards the highest possible score at the centre as the sleeves meet and cover the whole container.

Perhaps a graduated stick, like a long cocktail stick/drink stirrer, for each player, you pull the stick across a line (eg from under the box) to indicate the score. Another way would be to have a stack of counters, like tiddlywinks, you could upsell different counter sets then (half marbles, cut stones, metal, different designs). Counters might work for tie-ins - planets of the Starfleet federation, planets named for houses of GoT or such. Or yes d10's as a sibling comment mentions.

Doesn't mean you couldn't have an app too, but then why not simulate the dice, etc., if you're going to need an app to play the game?

Download zombie dice. It does pretty much that. Score tracking, die rolling, etc. And I'll tell you that it's hardly what you'd call fun (even though I'd say Zombie dice isn't that interesting).

You don't even need a paper score card. The Munchkin card game suggests using pennies to keep track of your hp. You could just suggest that, everyone should have something they can use as "counters" and you don't need to sink the costs into a score pad.

"I spent a few hours hacking together a little rails app which would play out 100,000 rolls in a few seconds and tell me the chances of everything coming up. "

Why did the author write a rails app to run statistical experiments on what are easy to calculate probabilities? It seems that if you want to make a probability based game you ought to have at least a working knowledge of the basics.

The rules require knowledge of the dice' relative orientations in meatspace and I believe subsequent rolls in a turn exhibit memory (dice are not equivalent), which makes the conditional probabilities substantially more difficult than a Monte Carlo simulation.

Unless the script simulated dice orientation, I don't think it would help any there. Having read the rules of the game I think there's still a pretty good closed-form solution, minus the dice orientation stuff, that wouldn't take a lot of work to find.

Or better yet you could write a script to compute exact probabilities!

Maybe the rules are too complex to work out the probabilities directly. For example, landing on each property in Monopoly.

The real question is why write a rails app? How does a web application framework help you roll dice?

Maybe because that makes it easier to put it online and link to it from a blog post, and raise awareness of the game. Blog posts can be both useful for other entrepreneurs as well as great marketing.

Actually, it's pretty simple to use Markov chains to calculate the expected time spent as each property in Monopoly.

I can forgive that - I often accidentally say 'rails' when I mean ruby as well.

Except this is a Rails app, not just Ruby.

> How does a web application framework help you roll dice?

Many games also include an online component. This can easily just be the start of a new product...

>Why did the author write a rails app to run statistical experiments on what are easy to calculate probabilities?

Perhaps it's along the same lines as the physical prototype he made prior to that.

"It really helped to make a prototype, as I could actually play the game rather than everything being hypothetical."

Building the app seems like perfectly logical extension of that.

>It seems that if you want to make a probability based game you ought to have at least a working knowledge of the basics.

Yet here he is with a fully finished product in spite of that notion. He wanted to make a game, he made a game using the tools he was aware of and comfortable with.

> It seems that if you want to make a probability based game you ought to have at least a working knowledge of the basics.

People have been making games of chance since long before advanced mathematics. Being a statistician doesn't necessarily mean you can design a great game - the opposite holds as well.

That's true, but I'm sure it would have helped while the author was trying to balance the game out to better understand the sources of particular imbalances, rather than having to guess-and-iterate on them.

The guess-and-iterate method would still be more efficient than trying to work through a stats textbook if the author is not educated in mathematics, though. Anyway, a lot of people don't enjoy learning math (crazy as that concept may seem to me, and, I guess, you) but guessing-and-iterating on a game you're excited about would always be fun.

Very fair. I guess more maths isn't always better after all.

Because people who get stuff done typically use whatever they know and make it work "good enough" while people who don't get things done (like me too often) spend their time thinking about the proper language, statistics, probability, and the like.

Probably because he was able to do it extremely quickly and have something more visual to use. People sometimes like that ya know.

"In space, noone can hear you roll! The fate of the galaxy is in your hands, as you race your friends to create (or destroy) planets. Who will be the first to 10? Only the dice know."

Ouch, two errors:

"noone" -> "no one"

"hands, as" -> "hands as"

Harsh to call them errors. Noone is a legitimate spelling, if uncommon[1], and comma usage is basically a subjective artform, although I agree it doesn't read very well in the quoted sentence.

[1] http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/noone

Fixed this. Thank you!

There are also two icons labeled "supernova" at the bottom of the page, which seems like a mistake. Good luck!

... and "blackhole" is not a word, it's two.

In your instructions PDF (linked from the article), at the top of page 2 (under "How To Play"), it reads:

"The first to player is whoever..."

I think that should say "first to play".

For your next run you should shop around for a different tube supplier, it's a huge portion of your unit cost (24%) and I bet you can drop its price by at least half.

Or consider not using a tube! The bottoms fall out if you shake them to shuffle which has caused at least one case of Zombie Dice ending up in all corners of a small bar to my knowledge :|

I'd consider a bag.

Check out yazoomills.com. They make amazing tubes, and have fantastic customer service. I'm guessing you can get your tube price down to $0.40/tube or less with an order of 2,000 or so tubes.

It's eye-opening to see a breakdown of the process behind conceiving, designing, and manufacturing a product. I think that for many, this process is hidden behind smoke and mirrors, but Jon made it appear doable and worthwhile.

It's also empowering to know that he did this with ~$5000 USD. I have no doubt that small-scale production like this would have been prohibitively difficult (read: annoying/costly) even five years ago.

Awesome! (purchased) I've been reading about game design and playing with ideas myself. The prototyping was _this_ past Christmas? So you went from concept to sales in three months!? That seems fabulous. Congrats.

You mention that you've been reading about game design, any recommendations?

Only sporadically, much of it online.. I have found this book highly recommended and plan on kindle-ing it soon: http://www.amazon.com/Rules-Play-Game-Design-Fundamentals/dp...

Would love to see a follow-up on what you actually try to do in terms of marketing and distribution - as I'm finishing up my first 7-song album, I'm painfully aware that even after all the songwriting, recording, mixing, mastering, and product design, "release day" means that you are still only half done.

In case you miss it in the middle of the article, these are the instructions for the game: http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0218/2060/files/spacedice.p...

I did miss it, thanks. It would be nice if the instructions were linked on the site itself, of course, but I didn't see them there.

All that work and there's still a typo on the first sentence, second page.

And the directions are still pretty confusing. For example, I had no idea the debris' orientation mattered until I saw the examples. And what happens if there's a dispute about whether the debris is aiming at a planet or not? And also, can I keep a planet if I didn't roll a sun with it? I assume not, but it's not explicitly clear. And what's the difference between orange and yellow space debris? Also, the How to Play section indicates I should only keep planets and black holes, but don't I also keep stars so that my planets stay habitable?

The answers are there, but I agree that it could be quite a bit clearer.

> Can I keep a planet if I didn't roll a sun with it?

No - suns make planets habitable (see the Sun section); you can only keep habitable planets and black holes.

>What's the difference between orange and yellow space debris?

There is no difference between red and orange space debris (there are no yellow -- the colors in the instructions are slightly off from what the dice actually show). There's also no difference between yellow and green planets/suns -- take a look at the image in the article that shows all the dice laid out. I think it'll clear that question up.

>but don't I also keep stars so that my planets stay habitable?

That makes logical sense, but since the instructions specifically state to keep only planets and black holes, no, suns go back in the tube. I think the logic behind this is two-fold: One, since planets and black holes are the only metric for score, any planet that you keep has a star in its imaginary galaxy, so a planet that is by a player actually represents not just a planet but also "at least one star." Two, a green/orange die going back into the tube helps keep the game points flowing.

Even with you pointing it out, I had to read the sentence twice to find it.

As a huge board-gamer, I always love seeing the "making-of" of different games, and this one is no exception. I especially thought the prototype was pretty hilarious, but it definitely makes sense to have one when working with a physical product.

I'm not too surprised at how much the costs ended up turning out to be, but I am curious as to how long it took to assemble everything together, from prototype to finish? I guess the main difference for a physical product is really the time it takes to get from prototype to sellable product, rather than just hacking something out in a weekend and getting it out there immediately.

Did anyone come across some good articles on dealing with suppliers on alibaba (test-runs, QA, IP, shipping, customs, etc.)?

Use a throwaway account when dealing on Alibaba your email is either sold or leaked and you will receive a thousand scam offers per second after sending an inquiry to a vendor.

I did manage to do a test run of 100 custom cellphones there though and it worked out fine. I had a friend who speaks Mandarin actually call the place directly though and didn't deal through Alibaba

don't deal with alibaba, contact the manufacturer directly. Most have reps in either Singapore, Hong Kong, or Taiwan that you can talk with, just need to find them.

Coincidentally, I made a plastic d6 in my home workshop yesterday using silicone molds. This is just a prototype for more molding work in the future.


Loved this post, great that he wrote a rails app and nice to get the costs at the end too.

I tried to make a wi-fi kettle with a wifi module in that had a API, the prototype alone was a huge expense (£25k+) and to get it into production was around £200k (CE certified etc). In the end I just wrote up the blog post (here http://www.mobileinc.co.uk/2010/03/introducing-the-twettle-p...)

Props to anyone who makes something physical, it's dedication, passion and investment

So did you make it onto kickstarter? You just spent the £25k out of pocket for the prototype?

No we didn't make it as at the time they wouldn't let UK residents apply to Kickstarter.

We didn't spend money on the prototype in the end, we just couldn't get the backing, it would probably be a lot easier these days tho (it was 3/4 years ago)

Did it implement RFC 2324?

Purchased. I love hearing stories from people who just got up off the couch and did something.

Congratulations! Can't wait to play!

Got a couple emails asking me questions, this is the company I always used in the US for prototyping. They are a little expensive but fast. They also have great resources that will answer all your questions:


This really resonates with me. I am currently working on a physical product of my own. In a world where digital goods are the norm, I'm thinking of publishing a bi-weekly magazine.

I'm still really in the planning stages, as I haven't got any experience on this front at all. But I do have some of the digital backbone in place already. And I have my ideas stirring in a pot now. All that's needed is for me to start cooking.

Anyway, I would just like to say that I am inspired by what I'm seeing here. I'll work as hard as I possibly can. Wish me luck!

Interesting post. The author could save another 0.83$ per package by skipping the included instruction manual.

I think it's safe to assume that very close to 100% of users will have an internet connection available when playing this game, unless they're on a vacation abroad. I would opt for: 1. Full manual + videos on spacedice.com, aimed for use before the first time one plays the game. 2. Abridged version of manual printed on the tube, mainly meant for recalling some specifics of the game.

It's hard to gesticulate wildly and throw digital instructions at your opponent while disagreeing on the rules.

I'm impressed by how fast you decided to go into production. How many playtests did you do? I know a bunch of people who failed with a game that wasn't sufficiently tested. I experienced that the main faults in game design are testing with the same group over and over again, and relying to much on calculations rather than getting real life feedback.

But hey, it looks awesome. Great Design. If you come over to the largest game fair in Essen (Germany) this year, I may grab one ;)

Curious why you chose to spend $2.06 on the tubing stateside? That's a lot of money for packaging, and then to have to assemble the kits together. I'd try and get as much done in China as possible, especially the tubing, which would run you far less and you would be shipping a finished product and minimizing costs a ton.

Happy to help anyone who needs guidance on sourcing and manufacturing in China. I've become pretty savvy over the years.

Hi rianelli, if you don't mind I'd love to take you up on your offer and bounce some questions off of you. I can be contacted at hn.torvid at recursor.net


The landing page is missing an important piece. The explanation of how the game works in text. Its beautiful, well structured, but missing that key part. I was ready to give it a try, but I did not want to see the video. You have to include an explanation in text. Or even an image of how it works. You are losing sales to this. Fix it.

Not sure if you are aware (or its designed that way) but on your website you have two different dice both labeled 'supernova'.

The costs breakdown neglects his own time put into the project.

To get the real total cost (which must be estimated), we should know how many hours he spent on it, and what his expected hourly rate might be if he were an independent contractor.

You can't really decide whether or not the endeavor was a net gain unless you also take your own time into account.

Did you ever consider maybe some endeavors in life are pursued for reasons other than profit?

Well, it is possible to simultaneously enjoy your work and also put a monetary value on your time. These two things aren't mutually exclusive.

And besides, if profits are not a motive, why analyze them to begin with?

Good article. I've been working on a board game prototype on and off for a couple of years and have decks of cards with things taped on them that look very similar to your dice. My plan was to perfect the mechanics and then just make an iPad app, but I think this demonstrates a boutique print run is not that unfeasible.

This looks great. I have no experience with selling physical products and so not sure what it takes, but I would think selling these on various specialty websites and specialty stores could work great. Thinkgeek.com is one that comes to mind.

This sounds really cool. Congrats on shipping it!

I'd love to check it out, but I don't think I'd enjoy it very much due to my being color blind. Have you given any thought to designing the images to not be dependent on color?

Article read like an episode of Shark Tank. These sorts of real constraints is good information to mix into not-always-related-to-business technical discussions.

I watched the video on the site and still didn't really get how the game worked. I couldn't find any written instructions on the site.

Neither did I but the video was so cute that I bought a pack (actually three with friends to lower the shipping per pack)

Very cool, but I missed a board when I saw the video of the game. Still seems to be very interesting.

> I spent a few hours hacking together a little rails app which would play out 100,000 rolls in a few seconds and tell me the chances of everything coming up.

Can't people do the math anymore, they have to simulate everything?! And they have to do it with a mtf web framework?! A spreadsheet and some pen and paper to figure out the formulas would've sufficed...

And yet here he is, selling an actual product to actual customers, and you're sitting at your desk with your presumed 'advanced math knowledge' bitching about others not knowing how to do math...

Have you considered selling these in Target or Walmart, or perhaps specialty stores?

Hobbyist stores will probably require keystoning: if the retail price is $20 then the maximum wholesale price they can pay is $10. Note the margins on the product, now wince.

Also, arranging distribution with them is very problematic. (Source: I had delusions of running one, once.)

I didn't downvote you.

You mention Walmart. The OP has an initial run of 5,000 units. He doesn't have nearly enough to get taken up by Walmart and they'll stiff him on profits.

Toys and games are a vicious market. Getting into Walmart is a mixed blessing.

Speciality shops is a good idea though.

Why did I get downvoted? It seems like a legimate question about the process?

Every game I've ever played has a suggested age range, e.g., 5+ years old.

Is this good for kids?

Really cool. Just purchased!

Wow, my Space Dice just arrived. That was fast! I guess being one town away had something to do with it.

I'll play it later with my kids and see what they think (my opinion rarely counts these days).

This was front page all day, I'm surprised he has any left to sell.

Very well done and finally. WoW! God does plays dice!

How did you find the company to make the packaging?

$69 for 1 yr of a .com domain? You need to shop around more.

But pretty inspiring! Good looking game!

Maybe he bought it from someone else or paid for multiple years.

It was only registered for 1 year so I was pretty sure it wasn't the latter. And far too cheap to be bought from someone else. But since it was an expiring domain I guess it was money well spent.

$69 is the standard cost to backorder an expiring domain at namejet etc.

This is what happened. Luckily the domain happened to be dropping a few days after I decided I wanted it.

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