How To Make A Card Game To Sell? The Ultimate Guideline (2023)

How to make a card game to sell as an indie card game developer?

Obviously, you’ve heard about card games like Magic, YuGiOh, and Pokémon releasing unique sets quarterly and distributing those sets via collectible boosters. These are what most people would call trading card games. Their success is due to a large number of product designs and non-stop pack launches. But for small-scale operations, that’s a distant dream.

As a leading game card printing company that has helped numerous creators realize their card game dreams, WJPC will use this article to walk you through how to go from a card game concept to a prototype to turning it into a finished project.

How To Make A Card Game To Sell?

1. Thinking And Ideas – Designing A Card Game

A. Generate Creative Game Ideas

how to create a card game

The initial phase of any project involves conceiving a compelling card game idea. There are various approaches to sparking inspiration and developing innovative concepts for your game. One method is to take an existing game you adore and modify its major gameplay elements. By doing so, you’ll gain fresh perspectives on the game and critically analyze its components. Removing elements can help you understand the essence and purpose of different game mechanics.

Alternatively, you can start with a theme or system from the real world that fascinates you and build your game around it. This approach provides a clear direction for the type of game you want to create and how players will interact within it.

Examples of the creative process abound in the gaming industry. For instance, the critically acclaimed game “Undertale” gained inspiration from classic role-playing games (RPGs) but incorporated unique mechanics, such as allowing players to choose non-violent options for encounters with enemies, leading to different outcomes and story paths.

Another success story is “Minecraft,” which originated from the idea of combining elements of sandbox play with survival mechanics, allowing players to explore, create, and thrive in an open-world environment.

Drawing inspiration from various real-world themes can also enrich your game’s elements. For example, if your game involves characters in space, you can look to books, movies, and other space-related media for creative ideas.

Additionally, the film industry serves as an excellent source of inspiration due to its competitive nature and well-defined components. Elements such as scripts, directors, actors, genres, and release dates can be quantified and integrated into your game design. As most people have some understanding of how the film industry operates, the concepts in your game will likely be easily comprehensible to players.

You can use this design method called Collaborative Sketching to come up with how to make a card game:

  1. Grab five people.
  2. Give each person a unique marker color and a piece of blank paper.
  3. Each person will take 15 minutes to draw three different ideas on their paper.
  4. When the time is up, pass your paper to the next person.
  5. Take 5 minutes to build upon the previous person’s ideas.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 by passing the paper clockwise until you get your own.
  7. Review and synthesize the ideas.

P.S. Everyone should remain silent from steps 1 to 6, try to sketch, and refrain from using too much text.

In summary, creativity in game design can emerge from diverse sources: adapting existing games, drawing inspiration from real-world themes, aligning themes with rules, and experimenting with different ideas to refine the gameplay experience. By following these steps and seeking inspiration from various examples, game designers can create engaging and captivating experiences for players.

B. Know Your Users And Goals

card game development

If you do the research, you’ll be surprised to find that almost all users play classic card games like poker, regardless of age and gender. Some other very popular card games are trading card games such as Pokemon, which are very popular among children and young adults.

In addition to the user’s age and gender, you also need to understand the user’s behavior and interests. Try to understand what your target audience needs in a game and what their preferences are.

Generally speaking, most card game players play these games just to pass the boring time, which is why they are classified in the category of casual gamers. Additionally, such users enjoy playing simple games that are easy to navigate and understand.

By identifying the interests and behaviors of your target market, you can easily improve your game and gain more users in a short period of time.

Five Types Of Card Gamers:

  • Heavy card gamers: These customers are usually experienced players who like to play board games that are highly strategic and require a lot of time to play. They tend to prefer games with complex rules, complex game mechanics, and a high level of player interaction. Games that appeal to serious board gamers include Twilight Imperium, Terra Mystica, and Through the Ages.
  • Light card gamers: These customers are usually more casual gamers who prefer to play card games that are easier to learn and play. They tend to prefer games that have a quick setup and can be played in one to two hours. Games that appeal to light gamers include Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, and Settlers of Catan.
  • Educational card gamers: These customers are usually teachers or parents who want to use games as a tool to teach a certain topic to others or younger generations. They tend to prefer games that help with skill building, critical thinking, and overall education. Examples of games that appeal to educational gamers include Monopoly, Chess, and Scrabble.
  • Role-playing game (RPG) fans: These are a diverse and passionate group of gamers with a deep appreciation for role-playing games. When applied to card games, players take on the role of fictional characters in a narrative-driven world. These games typically allow players to make choices that affect the story, character development, and game outcome, providing a high level of immersion and personalization. For example, popular RPG series like The Elder Scrolls, Final Fantasy, The Witcher, and Mass Effect have huge and loyal fans around the world.
  • Families with children: These clients are usually parents who want to spend quality time with their children while playing fun and easy-to-understand games. They tend to prefer games that are age-appropriate, have simple rules, and can be played in a relatively short amount of time. Games that appeal to families with children include Codename, Sushi Go, and Dixit. (Some families will also enjoy Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, and Hi Ho! Cherry-O.)
  • Adults who want to party: These customers are usually young adults who like to play social games and fun games with friends while drinking or hanging out. They tend to prefer humor, parties, and games that don’t require much strategy or deep thought. Games that appeal to adults who want to party include Cards Against Humanity, What Do You Meme?, and Joking Hazard.

2. Creating A Card Game – Determine Rules And Player Strategy

creating a card game

Once you have settled on your theme, the next step is to define the core elements of your game and its mechanics. Begin by jotting down every idea that comes to mind, ensuring you capture every thought on paper.

Your initial concept may be rough, and if you were to explain it quickly to ten different people, they would likely interpret it in ten different ways. The key now is to delve into this concept as much as possible, exploring every aspect that piques your interest. Your aim is to gain a comprehensive understanding of what your game should be and how it should be played.

At this stage, it is beneficial to jot down not only the main ideas but also the intention behind each idea. Additionally, consider exploring alternative concepts or variations of the original idea. Having multiple potential approaches to achieve the same result will prevent roadblocks when critical systems need to be redesigned.

Furthermore, it is crucial to delve into the working mechanics of the game. As you develop it, keep asking yourself questions to avoid overlooking finer details and to continuously analyze your design direction.

When you are creating a card game, consider asking yourself questions like:

  • How many players will participate in the game?
  • What should be the ideal duration of the gameplay?
  • What decisions will players make, and when will they make them?
  • How will players make these choices?
  • How will one player’s decisions impact others?
  • What form of interaction will players have with each other?
  • Are there exclusive choices for some players?
  • What is the progression of the game? Is it strictly turn-based or staged turn-based?
  • What actions can players take?
  • How will the outcomes of these actions be determined?
  • What are the players’ ultimate goals?
  • How can players achieve victory?

Even if you don’t have all the answers yet, keeping these questions in mind while working will likely lead you to the solutions you seek. The answers to these questions are essential for conducting successful playtests and building prototypes. Once your documentation clearly conveys what the game is and how it works, you will know you are ready to move forward, even if it is not yet perfect.

3. Card Game Development – Craft And Streamline Content

designing a card game

Now that you have a solid understanding of how to create a card game, it’s time to bring everything to life and begin card game development. The complexity of this stage depends on the type of game you’re developing.

For abstract strategy games like chess or checkers, this phase is relatively straightforward, primarily focusing on balancing and finalizing rules and pieces. However, if you’re creating a content-rich game, like a movie-based game, be prepared to invest significant time and effort into determining the type of content required.

To streamline the development process, start by organizing your game’s interactions. Create a comprehensive list of all the potential interactions you envision during gameplay.

This list will serve as a valuable reference while crafting various game elements, ensuring no important interactions are overlooked. Additionally, keeping track of how often each type of interaction is used will ensure a well-balanced and diverse gaming experience.

Take the time to write clear rules for generating character statistics or defining how specific card types should function. Establishing these rules early on will maintain consistency in your designs and facilitate the integration of new designers into the project later.

During this phase, expect that some of the work you do may ultimately prove unnecessary or unusable. As you refine your game mechanics, certain ideas might not work as intended or require reiteration. Don’t be disheartened by this reality; it’s all part of the creative process.

Remember that just because an idea doesn’t work now doesn’t mean it’s lost forever. Store these concepts carefully, as they might come in handy later or be adapted into future iterations.

Once you’ve fine-tuned all the game mechanics, this phase represents the last significant step in the game design process. After this, you’ll mainly focus on understanding your game, enhancing its visual appeal, refining gameplay, and strategizing for successful marketing.

Devote ample time and thought to this step, as careful consideration now will reduce the need for extensive rework later. By approaching content development and simplification with patience and diligence, you’ll pave the way for a polished and captivating gaming experience that resonates with players.

4. Design And Refine Your Game Prototype

how to design card game

With content development behind you, it’s time to bring your game to life by creating a prototype. Remember, your prototype doesn’t need to be visually stunning at this stage. While appealing designs and artwork can enhance the player experience, investing too much time in aesthetics prematurely can be a waste if major changes or scrapping of the game occur during playtesting.

Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean you should neglect layout and readability. Even though these designs are not final, consider the crucial information that players need to understand and strategize effectively.

If your game involves multiple decks, ensure that each card is distinguishable to players by indicating the deck it belongs to. During prototyping, simple methods like using different paper colors for each deck can suffice, while the final product will require clear and well-crafted designs for each card or piece type.

To ease the prototyping process, employ techniques like drawing the map on a whiteboard or computer, enabling easy modifications, or creating printable maps where you can draw territory lines later. Additionally, using separate pieces of paper or cardboard for each country allows you to experiment with different configurations until you find the optimal setup.

Once you’ve gathered valuable feedback from playtesting, it’s time to move on to “Prototype 2.0” (or subsequent versions, depending on the number of changes needed). Design each card, either manually or digitally.

Develop a logo to brand your game, emphasizing the importance of consistent visual elements across the game and its packaging. Create a pack of brand guidelines for future reference, especially if you plan to introduce expansion packs or related elements.

If drawing isn’t your strong suit, don’t worry about how to design card games! Numerous platforms, such as Freelancer, Fiverr, Upwork, and Behance, host talented graphic artists who can bring your ideas to life. Follow these steps to collaborate effectively with an artist:

  • Prepare a brief for designing a card game, providing essential details while allowing the artist some creative freedom.
  • Review multiple graphic designers’ portfolios to find a style that appeals to you.
  • Inquire about their fees, considering the purchase of commercial rights for the graphics.
  • Clearly describe the key elements you want to see in each design, using visual references to communicate your ideas effectively.
  • Request rough sketches from the artist before refining the lines and colors, as changes are easier to make at this stage.

By approaching prototype design with clarity and flexibility, you’ll be one step closer to creating a visually appealing and well-polished game that captivates players and reflects a cohesive brand.

5. The Crucial Stage: Test Your Card Game

card game testing

Once your prototype is ready, it’s time to embark on the most pivotal phase of game development: playtesting. This is where all your ideas come to life, and you can witness firsthand how your game performs. Most importantly, it’s an opportunity to determine whether your game is genuinely fun.

If you’re collaborating with others on the game, try playing a few rounds together before involving new players. This preliminary playtesting allows you to identify and address any easily fixable glitches or bugs and gain a deeper understanding of the game’s flow.

While it’s essential to consider your own opinions and insights during playtesting, be aware that your familiarity with the game’s development may influence your perspective.

Unconscious bias might lead you to justify certain feelings about the game. Take note of your observations and feelings while playing, but also seek the input of external playtesters to obtain unbiased feedback.

After initial playtesting, involve new players and observe their reactions. Playtesting for card games is similar to video game playtesting. Ensure the game is set up before they arrive and provide a clear, comprehensive explanation of the rules.

Consider providing players with a rulebook and observing how well they grasp the game mechanics. This exercise will reveal the clarity and effectiveness of your rulebook. It’s advisable to videotape the playtest sessions and timestamp significant events for easy reference. If recording isn’t feasible, take detailed notes to capture valuable feedback from players.

Pay attention to the duration of each game session and the overall game time. If the game consistently runs longer or shorter than intended, you need to identify and address the factors contributing to this discrepancy.

During playtesting, avoid interfering with the players’ experience. Encourage them to share their opinions freely and without interruption. This prevents you from constantly interjecting with questions about different mechanics or comprehension difficulties.

Conclude each playtesting session with a post-game questionnaire or discussion with the players. Spend time engaging with them for 15 to 20 minutes, seeking their insights and opinions about the game. Some questions to consider include:

  • What was your favorite part of the game?
  • What was your least favorite part?
  • Which aspect was most challenging to understand? Why?
  • Is there any mechanic you would change, and how would you change it?
  • Do you think the game’s duration is suitable?
  • Are there any gameplay elements that feel unbalanced or unnecessary?
  • Would you be willing to play the game again?
  • Are any mechanics overly complicated or too easy to grasp?
  • Would you prefer specific game stages to be longer or shorter?
  • Did you find the game enjoyable?

Tailor the questions according to your game’s unique features, but always conclude playtesting by engaging players in a meaningful discussion to gain valuable insights into their experience and perception of the game. Avoid making assumptions about their thoughts; instead, seek their candid feedback to refine and enhance your game further.

Where can you find game testers?

There are many professional and rich testing sites on the Internet, such as Reddit board games. It is recommended that you do not just post to seek play testers. Instead, make sure you post your game in the correct section of the forum, with photos, details of the game’s features, and a link to the rules of the game (Google Docs is great for this as you can make it read-only).

A notable section of the forum is the play testers section. Include how to get the game to them and how to get it back, and consider using PnP (print and play). Here are some great resources for game tester discovery:

6. Bring Your Game To Life – Print You Card Game

making a card game

Congratulations! Your custom card game is now ready to become a reality! With the design complete, it’s time to proceed with printing and publishing your game.

Make sure all elements of your game, including cards, game board, pieces, and rule book, are meticulously finalized in terms of design and layout. If you plan to sell physical copies, invest time in determining the box design and packaging aesthetics. Consider the different release options for your game. Here are the most important ones:

  • Print and Play Immediately

This option involves offering a print-to-play version of your game, where players can purchase the game online and print it at home. This approach works well for small games like abstract strategy games, card strategy games, and games with few components.

Be mindful of potential limitations, such as players lacking access to high-quality printers or oversized paper, which may impact the printing process. Optimize your game for easy and cost-effective printing, and conduct test prints before the official launch.

  • Personal Print Runs

If you plan to handle printing yourself, consider selling the game through your personal website or business. This option is suitable for smaller print runs, as it may not be ideal for producing very large quantities of the game.

To support the printing process, explore crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or IndieGoGo to secure funding for your project. Although monetizing personal print runs can be challenging, it offers a great opportunity for personal projects or catering to a niche audience.

For convenience and professional quality, you can also collaborate with an experienced custom playing card and card game manufacturer like WJPC. They provide easy online upload of your designs, material choices, custom packaging options, and quick turnaround at competitive prices.

Many independent creators have successfully completed their printing and delivery projects with WJPC’s support, and customers who cooperate on Kickstarter projects can enjoy a 6% discount on EXW orders (factory price only)!

  • Find a Publisher

Another option is to approach a publisher and pitch your game for publication. Most publishers have dedicated pages on their websites for game idea submissions. While each publisher operates differently, you will typically submit a digital or physical copy of your game for review.

Consider the theme of your game and align it with the preferences of the publisher. Sending a sci-fi space opera game to a company primarily focused on medieval combat games may not be the best fit. Be mindful of their existing game genres or themes to enhance your chances of acceptance.

By carefully considering these release options and tailoring your approach to your game’s unique attributes, you’ll be well on your way to bringing your card game to life and sharing it with players around the world. Good luck on this exciting journey!

In Conclusion

Building a board game, like any project, requires dedication and effort. Don’t be disheartened if your first attempt doesn’t result in a perfect game. Each try is a learning experience.

Begin with simplicity, starting with any basic concept, and let your creativity flow around it. You might end up with a lackluster game that you discard, or you could discover a gem that sparks your passion and becomes a long-term project.

Remember, success hinges on taking the risk and taking action. So, don’t hesitate—dive in and start creating. Our professional game card manufacturing team is ready to assist you every step of the way!

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