What Do You Do With A Problem Like Errata?
1. Learn from our mistakes: Any mistake is an opportunity for improvement and, as such, has value. We should make sure not to miss such opportunities.
2. A multi-layered Quality Assurance procedure: QA consists of many parts in a boardgame production process. We have, over the course of three years, taken many actions to best prevent errors from occurring or recurring and they are fewer today than earlier. But regardless, in light of the recent errors we have decided to further improve some of the steps and also add a number of steps to the process. We cannot stress enough how serious we take this work. Going forward, our QA process consists of:
- Solid file handling: Clear naming conventions to prevent the wrong files being used and errors in art assets links. A good folder structure that facilitates files being easy to find and always stored in the intended places.
- Solid version handling: All files in a project are stored in our cloud services and everyone working with them has to have them automatically in sync with their locally stored versions. In addition, everyone has channels for communicating who is working on a file and when a file is being edited, including when this work starts and stops.
- Agile process tools: Our work is organized through scrum, using digital tools. These are organized to minimize mistakes generated from confusion regarding who works on what and to ensure that certain aspects and components are not missed.
- Internal design proof: Some of the design process continues after the development of art and layout has started. Before the game designers hand the game’s complete content to the development team, the designers proof it in a thorough process where every individual component’s entire data set is double checked.
- Semi-Automated proof: Whenever errors occur, we save them in a list. This list is used as a checklist to make sure that errors that have occurred in previous games are not recurring.
- External proofreaders: As soon as texts are final, we have several external proofreaders checking the game’s content. Language, the science, terminology, internal references, and icon/details are among the things that are being checked.
- Internal development proof: The illustrators, production artists, art director, and production coordinator all look through the files carefully in a meeting dedicated to this, as a last step before leaving the final versions of the files for the production process to start.
- Backer proof: As a part of the communication with our backers for a certain game, we share all files with them. Within a set time frame, they will have the opportunity to check all files to find potential errors. We anticipate that there will not be any errors in these files because we've already caught them. But this step evolved from numerous requests for this level of transparency and we think it's a great idea. Contributions from dedicated customers who can help us see what we have missed is valuable and real in the boardgame community.
- Discord proof: In the same way as for Backer proof, our Discord server members get all files shared and get a set time frame within which they will have the opportunity to check all files to find potential errors. Discord server members will get this opportunity for all games, not only the ones they have backed.
- Manufacturer proof: A good manufacturer is scrutinizing every detail in a project. They can not give much feedback on the content but they can check all physical aspects of the game. We appreciate and encourage the manufacturers we collaborate with to be mercilessly thorough in this step, which sometimes prolongs the production process considerably, but that is better than errors.
- E-proof: The first version of the game sent to us from the manufacturer is called an e-proof. This is all files that are going to be printed, in pdf format, meaning all cards are in big sheets fitting 60 or so per sheet, the box is folded out, all cut and print marks are there etc. When this arrives the entire team sets other tasks aside and dedicates a day or more, as needed, to look through everything in detail, correcting potential errors.
- Digital proof: The second version of the game sent to us from the manufacturer is called a digital sample. This is a complete version of the game, cut and formatted as the final product, including additional components other than the printed ones, i.e. wooden, plastic, metal etc. This version however is printed using a digital printer, not the actual manufacturing machines and the box and boards are handmade/glued. As with the e-proofs, when this arrives the entire team sets other tasks aside and dedicates a day or more, as needed, to look through every component including every card, in detail, correcting potential errors.
- Production proof: The third version of the game sent to us from the manufacturer is called a production sample. As with the digital sample, this is a complete version of the game, but this is the final product, taken from the first ones printed by the big printing machines and cut/glued/shrink-wrapped by the big manufacturing belts. As with the digital sample, when this arrives, the entire team sets other tasks aside and dedicates a day or more, as needed, to look through every component including every card, in detail, correcting potential errors.
The absolute goal is that this process now has enough redundancy for there to be no errors in our games. However, we are not naive. Nothing is 100% fail proof. We create complex games. High Frontier for example, has a card info database with more than 50,000 cells, over 200 pages of dense rules and a map with several thousand bits of information. And many of our games have a similar level of complexity. Even though our goal is absolutely zero errors, we have a plan for what we will do if errors occur.
3. Annual Errata Pack: Every year we will print an errata pack, at the manufacturers, containing any components where errors have been found during the calendar year. These packs will be available on our web store for FREE plus shipping costs. If an Annual Errata Pack is added to an order containing other items, they will not add any shipping cost so, in this case, shipping will also be free. The first Annual Errata Pack will be for all games released in 2020, and it will include corrected Bios series errata cards for the incorrect cards that were sent out this autumn.
4. Digital Errata: Printing at manufacturers is a slow process. For those who want the corrected versions of the cards as soon as possible, they will be made available on www.ionsmg.com as PDFs that can be downloaded and printed.
5. Local Errata printing: For those who want the corrected versions of the cards as soon as possible and in a quality that may more closely resemble the components in the game, the errata files for cards will also be made available on The Game Crafter (and potentially on other similar services), with permissions for anything copyrighted.
6. Error Transparency: Each game has a place online where details on this game’s printings and errors are clearly stated (with pictures of cards and how to identify which printing you have). On this page we will continue to provide errata files as well as updated changes due to Living Rules. We will continually work to ensure these files work well for customers.
7. Living rules in the manufactured version’s layout: We value our living rules concept, which apart from being a great way to involve our players and communicate with them, is a tool for continuous error proofing. We want the living rules to be accessible for as many as possible. Living rules exist already during the design and development of our games. After manufacturing, the living rules are made into pdf-versions, laid out like the printed versions of the rules, to make them easy to access and read for anyone. They are available at a central repository for all our games’ rules. https://cutt.ly/ion-rules
About the Bios:Origins errata cards errors:
We will send all backers of the Bios:Origins Kickstarter campaign a survey to indicate their preference: to use the cards as received with their pledge, to utilize another method such as the digital errata or local errata printing to update their game, have backed Bios:Mesofauna and will receive the corrected cards in their pledge, or would like the new printing of these errata cards mailed to them directly, at no charge. In this survey, we will provide a timeline for the new printing.