Tabletop role-playing games offer a wonderful opportunity to bond with friends while escaping into a captivating fantasy world. However, crafting an immersive and visually stunning game board can prove to be quite challenging. As an enthusiastic player of tabletop RPGs, I found myself consistently dissatisfied with the available options for battlemats. They were either overpriced, of low quality, or lacked the versatility I craved. Driven by a desire to fill this gap, I embarked on a year-long journey to create a brand that offers high-quality battlemats at a fair price point. Join me in this blog post as I take you through the entire process that led to the creation of MadebyGrunk.
Step 1: Concept
The main concept stemmed from the desire for simplicity and versatility. Many existing game maps feature highly specific terrain or markings that can detract from full immersion, while also limiting the reusability of the maps unless they are completely blank - a decidedly dull option. After brainstorming ideas and soliciting feedback from fellow gamers, the decision was made to begin with a versatile Grasslands theme that would offer players the flexibility to create a wide variety of settings and scenarios.
Step 2: Design
The design process started by putting all the brainstormed ideas onto paper. We created a comprehensive list of requirements and features, including minimalist design, gridlines integrated into the map, and extreme attention to detail. To ensure the best possible outcome, we enlisted the help of an expert graphic designer.
Eleven iterations later, we arrived at the final design. The design went through multiple refinements, including small details that most users may not notice at first glance. We thoroughly scrutinized different elements of the design to achieve the desired outcome. Once the final design was approved, we added the brand logo, and then focused on determining the best materials to use.
Step 3: Materials
Finding the right balance of materials was a crucial aspect, as we wanted to ensure that the materials used aligned with our concept requirements. After careful consideration, we opted for PET as the top layer to provide both flexibility and durability, while also ensuring longevity for dry-wipe pens. Additionally, we needed to ensure that the printed layer was waterproof, as exposure to even a small amount of water can ruin cheaper paper-based battlemats. To achieve this, we decided to use high-quality PVC with fine printing.
When it came to the base, magnetic rubber was an obvious choice. However, we wanted to ensure that the adhesion was strong, and that the rubber had good strength and flexibility. This led us to our manufacturing partner, who specialized in magnet manufacturing. With a uniform magnetization and saturation within the rubber, we were able to strike the perfect balance between strength and quality.
Step 4: Packaging
Selecting the right packaging was critical to ensure our product reached customers safely and with an added value. After much deliberation, we decided on tube packaging due to its durability, compactness, and its ability to showcase the map in all its glory. However, finding the right tube was a journey in itself. We underwent a series of tests to ensure that the tube was strong enough to withstand transportation and that the print quality was up to our standards. We also increased the diameter of the tube to prevent the map from curling up when used without a magnetic base.
We wanted to make it easy for our customers to navigate through their collection of maps, and so we opted to have the print on the lid of the tube. Additionally, we wanted to inject some fun into our packaging, so we included a picture of our beloved character Grunk hard at work. Finally, we made sure to include both pens and erasers within the tube, recognizing that customers often purchase multiple maps and may need additional writing materials. Overall, our packaging serves as an excellent addition to our high-quality product, ensuring that our customers receive an exceptional experience from start to finish.
Step 5: Prototyping
Before commencing with manufacturing and shipment, it was necessary to conduct rigorous testing. The maps and tubes underwent destructive testing, and we made over 10 variations before finalizing the product that we sell today. Although it was a time-consuming step, it was crucial to ensure that we were thorough and left no room for error. Nonetheless, we understand that there is always room for improvement, and MadebyGrunk is committed to continuously making changes and enhancements until we and our customers are fully satisfied.
Step 6: Manufacture
Finally, with all the pieces in place, it was time to begin manufacturing, and surprisingly, this turned out to be the smoothest stage of the entire process. Everything ran like clockwork, with no hiccups or unexpected issues to slow us down. And now, we stand with hundreds of top-quality maps ready for you to snap up and use in your grand adventures and epic boss battles.
At MadebyGrunk, our mission is to provide the tabletop RPG community with the finest-quality and most versatile battlemats available. From the initial concept to the finished product, we meticulously craft each mat with great attention to detail, ensuring it meets our exacting standards of quality, durability, design, and versatility. We believe that a well-designed game board can elevate gameplay and make it an unforgettable experience. Our commitment is to continue to expand our collection of affordable, versatile, and long-lasting battlemats that are perfect for any tabletop RPG.