How To Create A Print and Play Board Game in InDesign

I am documenting my journey as I create my board game, Dream Force: Mission Space. I am almost done with my Print and Play! I received a lot of great feedback on the playtesting survey that I created. This feedback informed my playtesting format- mostly whether to create a prototype to put on a digital platform or to create a print and play . The survey was really helpful in showing me that my next step was to create a print and play prototype. The problem was- I had no idea how to do that.

I am not, by any means, a graphic designer. This was my first-ever board game. So, of course, I turned to the knower of all things- the Internet. I needed help figuring out how exactly to create a print and play.

Based on my online research, it seems that most people turn to one of two programs to design their print and plays- at least ones with card decks. Those two programs are Nandeck and Adobe InDesign. I’m sure there are others, but these were the two that I kept encountering in my research. The glaring difference between the two is that NanDeck is free and Adobe InDeisgn is not. 

I managed to find helpful instructional videos for both programs. StreamlinedGaming has an informative video that shows the step-by-step process of using NanDeck to create cards for your prototype. Despite the video being very helpful, Nandeck just wasn’t for me. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Check out the link and the video though because it might work for you and your project. 

The other option is Adobe InDesign. I found this great tutorial that taught me everything I needed to know in order to create my card decks for my prototype. Coalition Game Studio has an awesome step-by-step video you can follow to get started. 

After watching this video, I was able to use Adobe InDesign to create the card decks I needed for my prototype. I decided to add what I learned to the information you can find online in the hopes that it will help someone out! This is a step-by-step process you can follow to create your own card deck using Adobe Indesign. You can also check out my video where I do a brief tutorial.

1) Create a Spreadsheet:

The first step is to create your spreadsheet and populate it with the information you want reflected on the cards in your deck. The first row should be your category titles and then each row after that will represent one of the cards in the deck. All the information you input in the spreadsheet will be reflected on the cards in InDeisgn once you do the data merge. 

2) Download The Spreadsheet:

A simple but important step. Adobe InDesign will only read .csv files so when you download the document, make sure you download it as a .csv document.

3) Date Merge:

 Once you are in InDesign, you will be asked to create a new document. Set your size parameters for the size card you’d like to create. A standard card is 63mm x 88mm. To perform the data merge, you will go to Windows > Utility > Data Merge > Select Data Source. At this point you will click the spreadsheet file that you just downloaded.

4) Drag and Drop:

Once all that is done, it is really a matter of dragging and dropping. To insert text, you’ll use the type tool, and to insert images, you will use the frame tool. You can pull the frame or text boxes where you want them on the card and then click the category you want to populate there. In the bottom right corner of the data merge window, there is a preview button. This will allow you to see how your data looks on the card and you can make edits as needed. Below is an example of one of the cads I was able to create using this program.

5) Save And Export:

I would  do a “save as” an InDesign document so that you can make future changes directly in InDesign. To export for printing you have a couple of options: as a PDF or as a JPEG. From here you will be able to get it to your playtesters!

I hope you found this information helpful for your project. Dream Force: Mission Space is for children ages 3-5. If you’d like to be a playtester, please click the button below and I can send you more information. 

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