Getting Started

Wherein we create a game from scratch with Paperize

Start Paperize

In order to turn our game idea into a physical prototype as quickly as possible, we've decided to follow the Paperize workflow:

  • design our game in a Google Spreadsheet
  • organize the images in our Google Drive
  • use to generate print-and-play PDF-files from those assets
  • print, play, ponder, repeat

To start the process, we visit

Logging In

Looking to the top right corner of the app, we click the "Sign In" menu item.

The 'Sign In' Link

We are presented with a pop-out window that allows us to log in with our Google accounts.

The Google Pop-out Sign-in Form

After entering our credentials, we need to give Paperize access to our Google Drive and Google Sheets.

The Google Permissions Screen

Notice that Paperize can ONLY see and modify files that it actually creates, it cannot see, modify, or delete any of your other Google Drive files, and thus is very secure.

And that's it! Paperize will complete the login process, including creating a "" folder in our Google Drive, and dropping a special file in it, "paperize_database.json". You can view these details by clicking the "Database" menu item now visible at the top of the screen.

The 'Database' Link
The Database Popover

Learn more about Google Authorization

Creating a New Game

The first screen of Paperize lists our games, and since we have only just started, we have no games to list. Let's remedy that!

We click the button titled "New Game" and fill in a title.

New Game Button
New Game Form

We notice a handful of checkboxes related to Google Drive:

  • one creates a folder to go with this game
  • one creates an "Images" folder inside the game folder
  • one creates a Spreadsheet inside the game folder

All of these are useful for rapidly putting a game together without tedious tasks, so we leave them checked.

We click "Start Designing", the game is created as well as the Google Drive assets, and we are dropped into the game editor.

Learn more about the Game resource

Creating a New Component

In Paperize, our games are made up of components. A component is a deck of cards, a stack of tiles, player mats, even instruction manuals and promotional inserts could be modeled as components.

We click the button titled "New Component" and fill in a title.

New Component Button
New Component Form

Again we see a checkbox related to our assets in Google Drive: this one creates a new worksheet inside of this game's spreadsheet (remember, a spreadsheet was created for this game automatically in the last step.)

Once again we agree that this is saving us time, so we leave it checked.

We click "Create Component" and see the component appear on the left side of the screen, with its Spreadsheet and Template settings open in the middle and right of the screen.

Selected Component Screen

Learn more about the Component resource

Importing a Spreadsheet

Because we checked the box on the previous steps, this game has a spreadsheet in Drive already, and a new worksheet inside that spreadsheet is created and linked to this component automatically.

Don't Have A Spreadsheet?

If you didn't use the checkbox in the previous step, or you decide to change your spreadsheet by clicking the 'Edit' button:

The 'Edit Spreadsheet' Link

You can easily select an existing Spreadsheet or have Paperize create a new one for you.

New Spreadsheet Menu

Let's Get Some Data!

Click the icon next to the Spreadsheet's name and we're taken directly to Google Sheets, ready to edit.

Link to Google Sheet

Data Generation: Spreadsheet Values

We know Paperize is all about being lean, so it leverages Google Sheets instead of creating a custom data entry interface. (philosophy of surplus computing)

First Row: Property Names

The first row should be the names of the things we want on our cards, called "properties". It can be things like "Name", "Cost", "Text", "Rules", "Image Name", etc. It is completely arbitrary what you name your properties.

Spreasheet With Property Names Filled In

We click back over to Paperize and refresh the spreadsheet there:

The 'Refresh Spreadsheet' Link

A moment later, the property names appear in the Spreadsheet panel:


Great! We've proven that the link between Paperize and Google Sheets is working. But we still don't have any cards, and that's where the rest of the rows in the spreadsheet come in...

Remaining Rows: Component Items

Each row corresponds to a single item on the table: a specific card, tile, or token. We know our game has 14 cards, so we set about editing 14 rows with the information we need on the cards:


We click over to Paperize, refresh the spreadsheet, and see the number of items jump up to our desired value of 14, matching the number of rows we added. But that data is a little fish...


We notice some severe duplication in our data: of course, many cards occur multiple times! Luckily, this is just the kind of thing Paperize was created to solve...

Shortcut: Quantity Property

In order to remove the duplicates, we apply a new property to the spreadsheet, "Quantity", and fill it with the number of times each card appears in the deck:


Much cleaner. We click over to Paperize and refresh the spreadsheet, seeing our number of items drop. Now, utilizing the Quantity Property setting in the Spreadsheet panel:


...Paperize steps in to relieve us of the tedious labor of duplicating cards, and we see our item count return to 14.

TODO: Provide some data. "Click to copy" a Google Drive resource.

Learn more about how Paperize uses Spreadsheets

Editing the Template

We have 14 items, but they're all blank! Not very exciting, is it? We begin to build out the template for our game in earnest by clicking "Edit" on the Template panel:


And we are greeted with the Template Editor, once described as "a poor implementation of about 1% of an Adobe tool, and yet somehow still completely necessary and appropriate for the tabletop industry", but we digress.

Here's the basic design we want to create:


It looks like it's 3 shapes, 3 chunks of text, and an image.

Adding the Shape Layers

Learn more about Shape Layers

Adding the Text Layers

Learn more about Text Layers

Adding the Image Layer...

Asset Acquisition: Image Source

We need some images to put into our game. Not final artwork or anything, just something quick that does a reasonable job of setting the tone. Luckily there is a lot of very good, very free stuff out there, and there are very good tools that help you find it! (philosophy of surplus culture)

Today we're using Google Image Search with licensing settings:


We search for "medieval guard" and find some things we can use. In order to get them into Paperize, we want to populate the "Images" folder that was created for us when we originally created the game.

Filling Our Images Folder on Google Drive

Here's the routine we follow to do this:

  • click the image we like in the Google Image Search results, so it expands
  • right-click the expanded image and select "Save Image as..."
  • name the image something simple, like "Guard", then proceed with the download
  • visit our folder in Google Drive
  • open the game's folder inside the folder
  • open the "Images" folder inside the game folder
  • upload the image here


Great! Now we repeat this process for the other 7 card types in our game, until our image folder looks like this:


Refreshing the Folder in Paperize

Clicking back over to our game prototype in progress, we now need to tell Paperize about all these new images. We do this with the Drive Explorer, found in the main menu after you close the Template Editor.


Drill down to the images folder we just filled, and click the refresh button adjacent to it:


Now we see all of our images are indexed, and we are ready to finish the template!


Learn more about how Paperize uses Images

Finishing the Template

Back in the Template panel, we click "Edit" to re-open the template editor, and select our image layer:


Inside the settings panel, we click "Image Content", then select "Dynamic", so that Paperize will set the image based on information from the Spreadsheet.


Now we specify how the spreadsheet info becomes a Google Drive file name. In this case, we have named our images exactly matching the "Name" property for each item, i.e. there Name is "Guard" and the associated image in Drive is named "Guard". All we have to do is set the dynamic image property to "Name", and Paperize begins pulling in the images.


Now let's turn all this into a PDF we can download, distribute, and print!

Learn more about Image Layers

PDF Printing

Pleased with what we've created, we close the Template Editor and look for the "Print" button: