plan your tcg

Careful planning is the key to future success! Here are some important points to consider while thinking about creating a TCG.

Of course, these are only suggestions and should be taken as such. Feel free to take some pieces of advice and not others!

new planning tool!

I've created an Excel spreadsheet that can be used in planning your TCG. Yes, I'm weird. =p

It has an area for planning game rewards and will display the total number of cards members can earn by playing standard games. This works together with a section that lets you plan your levels - and it will show you HOW FAST members will level up based on the games. Note that this section DOES NOT take rewards for accomplishments like level up and mastering into account.

Still, it's food for thought!
Download Rahenna's TCG Planner (v0.1 - initial release)

the time factor

Before planning anything, you need to answer this question honestly:
Do I have time to create and run a TCG?

It is VERY possible to be a busy person with many things to do and still run a successful TCG, but realize that you will have to make some sacrifices in order to do so. TCGs can and will eat up a large amount of time, so you'll need to be committed to updating regularly and answering forms promptly.

By opening a TCG, you are making a silent contract with your members, promising to maintain the site. They are counting on you, and if they're let down too many times, they WILL quit. It's a bit like having a job or a neverending homework assignment.

And remember, a planned and announced hiatus will be okay with just about everyone, but disappearing for three weeks and THEN going on hiatus is going to tick people off, so don't be afraid to take a break when you need it! All of your reasonable members will understand, and those who aren't reasonable... well, you're better off without them anyway!

Your members are counting on you to update on time. Don't make promises that you can't keep; members are much more forgiving if you are honest upfront about needing to go on hiatus or skip an update.

choose a subject

When choosing the subject of your TCG, you need to consider many things. Though I hold up specific examples, these points can apply to any type of TCG.

First, is the subject you are considering something that you TRULY love, or just a fad obsession that will fade in a month? Don't create a TCG that you are likely to abandon, or just to say "I made the first TCG for [xyz]."

Second, how original is your idea? Does the world really need another Harry Potter TCG complete with house cup and levels called "first year" through "auror"? If you are considering a TCG about a subject that has been covered many times, you will need to work extra hard to prove that your game is fresh and original, especially if there are active, established TCGs on the same subject.

Third, are you able to find images for your subject? If you are making a TCG based on a TV show, for example, are there screenshot galleries online, or are you able to take your own screenshots?

And finally, are there enough fans of your subject out there? It is generally a bad idea to make a TCG for anything but the most popular series, celebrities, or bands, OR for a subject that doesn't attract TCG players.

For example, my old Castlevania TCG. There's literally thousands of Castlevania fans out there, but as most TCG players are female and most video game players are male, membership was very low throughout the life of the TCG. I eventually closed it because I didn't want to run a TCG for less than ten active players.

In summary, when choosing a subject, ask yourself...
- Will this subject hold my interest for a long time?
- Is my idea original?
- Can I find enough images?
- Are there enough fans?

graphic & web skills

When you visit a TCG, how do you decide that you want to join? You're probably drawn in by the subject first, then you check out the layout and the card template. Even if the layout isn't the best, potential members will make their final decision based on the card template; that's what they'll be collecting, after all, so they want the template to be attractive.

Thus, your card template is of the utmost importance! Don't be afraid to make several sample templates and ask trade buddies or the owners and members of other TCGs what they think.

template DOs
- DO choose a size that is large enough to showcase your images
- DO use a pixel font for clarity
- DO leave a good amount of space to fit your deck name
- DO be satisfied with your template BEFORE making many card sets!

template DON'Ts
- DON'T make your border so elaborate that the image is obscured
- DON'T make your cards too narrow or too small

The layout is also important to visitors, but remember that you can always ask a friend for help or use a pretty premade.

card images

Though your template is important, the quality of the images inside the template is also key. Familiarize yourself with your graphics program. Learn what it can do to help improve the quality of images.

It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to resize, sharpen, and adjust the colors of your images, especially if you are using screenshots. I have seen many movie TCGs with cards made from very dark screenshots in a bright, colorful template. This just highlights the darkness of the images and makes them even harder to see.

One final tip. Jacking up the saturation on an image once it is resized usually makes it look better. Don't be afraid to experiment, and don't be afraid that the image is too colorful.

when working with images...
- adjust brightness and contrast, especially when working with screenshots
- ALWAYS sharpen after resizing
- try oversaturating after resizing