November 21, 2013

In our oh so digital world it’s easy to collaborate and work on ideas online. There are a plethora of free useful web tools that offer a long list of features. But sometimes analog is just better and this is often true with white boarding new ideas.

White Board Options

Let’s face it. The cost of white boards are usually prohibitive to most indie developers. $30 for a 2’ x 3’ is not something to sneeze at - plus, 2x3 is tiny for all the ideas we will be thinking up. A ready-to-use melamine 8x4 white board with hangers in the back and marker rail can cost you $240 ($7.50 / sq ft) at your nearest office supply box store. So that’s definitely out of the question for me. Plus, I don’t like the restrictive nature of this type of board. If you want to double up on them the bevel will make it hard to use.

Another option is a paint specifically made to act like a white board surface. The most common one that I hear about is called IdeaPaint. This stuff is pretty cool. You literally (yes, I know this word no longer has any meaning) paint the stuff on a wall, let it dry for a couple days, and use it like a white board. If I had the money, I might invest in this and turn all my walls into white boards. However, the cost is still prohibitive at $225 per bucket which “covers 50 sq ft” ($4.50 / sq ft). So cheaper than buying a physical white board if you don’t count the painting supplies and primer which can cost around $30-40. Still too costly for me.

The third option is to purchase this awesome construction board called “Thrifty White” from your local hardware store. This board is 8x4 for a total of 32 sq ft and according to the website costs $13.38 ($0.42 / sq ft HOLY COW). The price must have increased because I remember spending less than $10 on all my supplies. This stuff is very similar to the material used in white boards and is extremely cheap in comparison. You’ll need to do some handy work to get it hung up though since the board is more than a couple pounds. A couple of screws and washers will do the trick though.

My Experience

Thrifty White isn’t exactly the same thing as white board but it’s damn close enough for me and at the price I paid, I’m extremely happy with it. The first thing you need to do is to find the location of the studs in your wall - you can do this with an inexpensive stud finder. If you don’t have one you can pick one up for $5-10 at a hardware store and you will probably use it in the future for another project anyways.

One thing to keep in mind is that these boards are not specifically made for this purpose and may be beat up a bit. Some may have scratches on the white surface and others may have fraying on the edges and corners. Look for a good piece that you’re happy with. If not, ask them to hold a couple clean ones as soon as the next shipment comes in.

Screw and washer

You may want 1 or 2 people to hold up the board on the wall while you secure the screws into the studs but I actually accomplished this by myself with no help by propping up some boxes to hold half the board while I held the other half. You’ll need a power screw driver with a drill bit to drill holes into the material first. If you don’t have drill bits or misplaced them, like I did last year, you can probably still force the screws through the thrifty board with little force - I did this and it worked perfectly for me. Make sure you get wood screws and washers that fit the screws. I used 8 screws to hold up the board in total.

Marker Residue

One issue with the board, and with nearly all white boards, is left over shadow residue from old marks. The photo really shows it but when looking at it in real life it’s really not as bad. Be sure to use your favorite glass cleaner to remove stubborn marks and you should be golden. Leaving marker on the surface for months on end may be more difficulty to remove but will come off after two wipes.

Posted by @LunarPeter

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It's been over 2 years since the release of my first game, Lawnmower Challenge, and over a year since the sequel was actively being worked on. The sequel, which will feature a panda instead of a lawnmower, is nearly complete and has been in that state for a very long time. It's finally time to push through the last 10% which means I need to find a talented programmer who can help. Continue reading

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