Almost everyone who’s ever played a game has had an idea for how to make it better. To tweak it, improve it, or even build something new from its miniatures, cards, cubes, and concepts.
At Gameplaywright and Atlas Games, we think making games is awesome. We believe it's one of the most challenging, fun, rewarding things you can do. If you’ve ever thought about making a game of your own, we want to help.
We made The White Box for you.
The White Box is a learning, planning, and prototyping tool for tabletop game designers.
It contains a book of 18 essays on game design and production, covering subjects like where to find a great concept, how to use randomness, what to ask playtesters, and whether it’s wise to self-publish.
It includes an abundance of components to get you started right away, from cubes and meeples to dice, discs, and chits.
Maybe you have a golden idea inside you burning to come out. Maybe you want to tell a story or explore a problem. Do you dream of seeing your name on a box at your local game store? Or perhaps you see game design as a path to fame, fortune, and a satisfying career.
The White Box is for aspiring professionals, creative young people, and literally anyone who’s ever wanted to build their own game without having to plunder their game library for bits.
If you believe creating games is awesome, The White Box is for you.
The White Box Essays, a 128-page perfect bound book about how to make games
Two punchboard sheets of custom counters and markers, some blank, others pre-printed with numbers, actions, elements, icons, and more
100 standard wooden cubes (25 each of red, green, yellow, and blue, 8 mm each)
24 standard wooden meeples (6 each of red, green, yellow, and blue, 12 mm each)
4 giant wooden cubes (1 each of red, green, yellow, and blue, 25 mm each)
40 plastic discs (10 each of red, green, yellow, and blue, 12 x 3 mm each)
50 plastic discs (25 each of gold and silver, 12 x 3 mm each)
- 8 standard six-sided dice (2 each of red, green, yellow, and blue, 16 mm each)
- A $5 gift card to The Game Crafter, thanks to their generosity (limitations apply — one redemption per account, for example)
- A $5 coupon card for printing at DriveThruCards, thanks to their generosity (limitations may apply)
- A $10 offer for custom card printing from Cartamundi, as part of their sponsorship of The White Box (see our May 16 backer update). Note that this offer only extends to campaign backers, including Brick & Mortar backers' first wholesale purchase.
Precise specifications subject to modest changes.
Jeremy Holcomb (The Duke, Timestreams) is a professor of game design at DigiPen Institute of Technology. He conceived The White Box and wrote The White Box Essays to answer all of the perennial convention-panel “How to” questions in detail, for everyone.
Jeff Tidball (Doctor Who Time Clash, Horus Heresy) has taught game design workshops at Origins and Gen Con, and lectured at the GAMA Trade Show and Kansas City Art Institute. He convinced Jeremy to work with Gameplaywright to bring The White Box to you.
Atlas Games (Gloom, Once Upon a Time) came on board to contribute logistical expertise and deep channel partnerships, to make The White Box more than a one-and-done, flash-in-the-pan project.
Renee Knipe jumped in to cut video, coordinate logistics, draft text, come up with great ideas, and take care of a million other things.
Our team has created and delivered dozens of tabletop game projects, and we’re united in our excitement about the art and business of games.
Unlocked: Two more essays bring the total to 20, if we raise $15,000.
Unlocked: The digital edition of Jeff Tidball's Band or Album social game will be added if we make $20,000.
Unlocked: A third sheet of punchboard tokens rounds out the cardboard, at $25,000.
Unlocked: A set of black components join the roster if we enlist 1,000 backers in total:
- 25 standard (8 mm) black wooden cubes
- 6 standard (12 mm) black wooden meeples
- 1 giant (25 mm) black wooden cube
- 10 plastic (12 x 3 mm) black discs
- 2 standard (16mm) black six-sided dice
You can help make this happen by spreading the word on social media, texting your friend who’s always tweaking game rules, and emailing your cousin in high school who keeps saying they want to design games.
A set of white components rounds things out if we get 100 retail backers:
- 25 standard (8 mm) white wooden cubes
- 6 standard (12 mm) white wooden meeples
- 1 giant (25 mm) white wooden cube
- 10 plastic (12 x 3 mm) white discs
- 2 standard (16mm) white six-sided dice
You can help make this happen by dropping your friendly local game store a note on their Facebook page, or mentioning it to the owner when you’re there.
Unlocked: A print-and-play copy of Letter Head will be included with every copy of The White Box, as well as for every digital backer, if pledges total $50,000. Letter Head is a word-forming card game from Atlas Games that's unusually well-suited to developing new games and hacking old ones.
Unlocked: Guest essays from Erin Hawley, Jay Little, and Jeff Tidball will be added to The White Box Essays if we raise $60,000.
Unlocked: We'll create an audiobook version of The White Box Essays at $75,000 in total pledges, and distribute it to all backers at all reward tiers.
Unlocked: Four more essays from Jeremy Holcomb will be added at $95,000. They'll cover contracts, Kickstarter, writing sell sheets, and promoting and demonstrating your game at conventions.
No additional stretch goals will be added. We're going to concentrate on delivering all of these on time and at the quality level you expect. Thank you, backers!
Store owners ask: Why not release this normally? Why Kickstarter? That’s a great question. The straight answer is that nobody’s made anything like The White Box before, so we're not sure how many people want it. Kickstarter can answer that question.
We think The White Box will be big. But even if it's huge, we're not going to reach everyone in the 28 days this Kickstarter runs. Which is why we’re trying so hard to get stores involved. We don’t think game design is going away. We want game designers to buy The White Box in your store for the next 20 years.
This product was priced to be an auto-purchase for your customers who're interested in game design. What starts with your recommendation will end, we hope, with a lifelong customer who’s grateful that your advice helped them get started in game design, and who's happy to buy dice, meeples, card sleeves, and games from you for years.
We talked to store owners about this campaign. We think it's retail-friendly because:
- The price is the price. The White Box is worth thirty bucks. That’s what it costs to back the campaign, that’s the MSRP we’ll put on the back.
- Your customers get everything. We’ll give you access to the digital edition so you can pass it along to your customers who buy physical copies of The White Box from you.
- We won’t tie up your capital. You'll choose your quantity and pay the balance — with your pledge counted as a credit — the month before we ship.
- You’ll get the discount you expect. Your discount is 50%, with shipping at cost.
- You’ll get it before your competitors. We'll ship to retail backers at least three weeks before we ship to general distribution.
- You’ll have long-term access. Atlas Games will make physical editions of The White Box available through distribution. It will work for you for years to come.
- Something for your staff. Retail backers can give the digital edition to every current and future employee. Everyone who’s excited about game design is an advocate, so we want to bring everyone in your store into the fold.
Retail backers must be established, brick-and-mortar, retail game stores.
Gameplaywright is a publisher of nonfiction books about games, gaming, and gamers. The titles offered in our “plus” tiers are…
Things We Think About Games collects bite-sized thoughts about games. It spans the breadth of games and the depths of gaming, offering insights about collecting, playing, critiquing, designing, and publishing.
The Bones: Us and Our Dice gathers writing about fandom and family — about gamers, camaraderie, and memories — and ties them together where they meet: our dice. Contributors include Wil Wheaton, Keith Baker, John Kovalic, Ken Hite, and Chuck Wendig.
Risks and challenges
Jeremy has drafted all 18 essays. Redlining and layout are in progress.
Wooden cubes and printed books are mature technology, and manufacturing quotes are in hand from reliable vendors Atlas Games has worked with before.
Between them, Jeff and Atlas have produced and released dozens of games, including successful Kickstarter campaigns for Unknown Armies 3, Feng Shui 2, and Band or Album.
Manufacturing delays do sometimes happen. Dockworkers sometimes go on strike. Those things are beyond our control, but we realize life is risk and we’ve chosen delivery dates with that in mind. All told, the work is nearly done and we have a long history of delivering quality products on time.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)