Geek present: tools for making trading cards!

Geek’s been working on this trading card game off and on for a year at least and he’s finally gotten XM3RPG (more on that later) finished enough to get back to the trading cards.  He’s been using normal paper printed test cards and playing with a few friends to play-test the game but cutting all the cards out with scissors is a pain and it’s hard to make them even so he really wanted a paper cutter this year for a gift.

Good paper cutters are made of metal – don’t get the plastic because the torque of the cutting arm always breaks them at the joint between the cutting arm and the plastic base.  Yes the good ones do cost more, but this one we got wasn’t so bad:   Dahle Vantage 18″ Paper Trimmer (Amazon link benefits G&D – Thanks!) and he has been asking for a long time and is ready to take this out for play-testing in public and wants a higher quality prototype for that.

picture of the new paper cutter

After pricing professional printing services, color copying and printing our own, Dad also sprung for a Brother HL-4150cdn High-Speed Color Laser Printer and a ream of Hammermill “Color Copy Digital Cover” 100lb 8.5″ x 11″ paper (the heaviest FedEx/Kinkos had – they had 110lb paper, but the 100lb coverstock was thicker and stiffer, also smoother, more glossy).  Cost more at first, but will allow us to retire the expensive-to-feed inkjet whose cartridges gum up with disuse and increase their operational cost even more.

This printer can be setup to have a straight print path using the manual load paper feed on the front and opening the back to prevent the turn to deliver the paper to the top of the printer.  Driver for Mac OS X 10.6 seems to work well (access to duplex options, print quality and color settings, “Thicker” paper setting, and so on).

Here’s a picture of some finished cards, a sheet of uncut cards, and a ream of the paper we are using:

picture of printer, paper, uncut page, cards and sandpaper

If you zoom in  you’ll see a clue to what that stuff to the right between the finished cards and the ream of paper is for 🙂   See it?  NO? Ok, I’ll tell – it’s 100 grit and 220 grit sandpaper! “Huh? What for?” you ask.  Dad piled all nine cards together and held them tightly near each corner while using the sandpaper to round the corner as a test.  Happy to report that it worked pretty darn well!  Dad will likely build a jig with two card shaped pieces of wood to use as end-pieces on either side of a stack of cards (maybe 30 at a time?) and then use a wood clamp to clamp it all together.  Then we’ll try using the random orbital sander to “zip zip” and get a pile of rounded cornered cards!

Observent readers will notice that the cards are all the same and that they have a placeholder image of a gem on them.  Yes, this is a gem based trading card game and these are topaz gem cards in particular.  In this game the base gem cards are like “land” cards in that other trading card game in that you need a lot of them to play with the more interesting cards.  More details when we’re ready to release this.  Considering trying a kickstarter project to fund a professional card printing run to get high quality cards and reasonable per-card cost.

Pretty fun stuff.  Geek is hoping to get 10+ decks put together tomorrow so we can take them to Guardian Games for a public play-test with people who might be willing.  We’ll see if we can get this all together by 3pm!  The rules still need to get written down, cards printed, cut (that’s the time consuming part), the corners rounded and actual decks built.  Should be a busy day!  Perfect winter break funky weather activity though.

Oh, making the card pages to be printed?  Well, that’s a bit complicated… see it started in Pages, spent time in filemaker (when a database seemed better for management as the number of cards grew), then back to pages, through a spreadsheet (Numbers & Excel both actually) and then through BBEdit (to create XML) and finally to a python program that takes the XML files, the image files and builds pdf files from them.  Then we open those in Preview and print them 9 per page.  This evolution was over six months as the project as grown.  Dad’s already starting to design a cocoa app to do all this more easily, but he’s got a game to finish first!

BTW – this printer does a great job on black and white text.  And the color is quite good.  Haven’t tried photos on photo paper yet, but photo printed just to plain xerox paper actually looks pretty good.  Certainly as good a the expensive color copier at Mom’s work.  Very vivid color, quite fast (once it warms up), and a reasonable cost laser color printer – nice!  It’s also a duplex printer and has ethernet.  The HL-4570cdw adds the wireless networking and maybe a little faster.  Didn’t have on in stock at Office Depot and they were $200 more expensive.  So Dad observed that ethernet cables are cheap and got the HL-4150cdn 🙂

What was the Mom doing while Dad was getting this setup and tested and Geek was at a big gaming party at a friends house?  THIS:

kitchen counter mess

Yep, making a terrible MESS in the kitchen!  I even had fragments in my water glass back next to the cookie jar!  Luckily it was all for a good cause…

picture of Truffle filling cooling

What’s that you say?  Why it’s Truffle Filling cooling – YUM!!!  Yep, she’s making home-made truffles again (with that giant chocolate bar Dad posted a picture of to twitter if you happened to see it awhile back).  These are Earl Gray tea steeped in whipping cream and chocolate filling which will either be dusted in cocoa or dipped in pure chocolate – I have to figure out how to get on her xmas list! 🙂  She even got these cute little mini-take-out style boxes to make truffle gift boxes:

picture of a pile of empty boxes to be filled with home-made truffles for Christmas gifts.

Busy evening!


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