Making a Physical Copy of My Game: Sticking a USB Drive in a Cassette Tape (with extra steps)

Or: How to Make Your Game into a Zette (Zine in a Cassette Case)

inspired by @giwake on cohost last month, i made my game real :>

Tiny Con was coming up so i worked really hard to get some physical copies of my game made in time, and i’m really pleased with the final results!

they’re up in my art studio’s store now if you’d like to check it out 💜

i can’t decide if i want to do a write up of my process or a tutorial of how to do this yourself, so i’m gonna split the difference and do a little bit of both!!


Materials i used (necessary):

  • Empty cassette cases from eBay (i got 22 used ones for $11.91)
  • 20 USB drives, also eBay (20 in 4GB size for $47.18)
  • Paper

Materials i used because i wanted to be Extra:

  • Shrink plastic (printable) from Daiso (6 Hagaki sized sheets for $3.78, makes 5 charms/sheet or 30 total charms)
  • Cell phone straps (i had leftovers from my clay charm sculpting days)
  • Epson Matte Premium Presentation Paper (50 sheets for $10.99)
    • for the cover, flap cards, and tab cards. but you can use regular paper if you prefer
  • LD Glossy Printable Sticker Paper (100 sheets for$17.99)
    • for the sticker inclusions, USB drive labels, and envelope seals
  • Avery Laminate adhesive sheets (50 sheets for $18.99)
    • to make the zine covers glossy and protect he USB drive labels
  • Holographic laminate (36 sheets for $9.99)
    • for a fancier sticker
  • Dark blue colored paper
    • for the envelopes
  • Dot stickers for keeping finished cases closed

Tools used (necessary):

  • Scissors
  • (Color) printer
  • Ruler/straight edge
  • (Masking) tape

Tools used (Extra):

  • Silhouette Cameo cutting machine
  • Bone folder
  • Permanent crafter’s tape/glue stick

Box Art

first step i did was make some box art!

luckily i had a bunch of assets ready from when i made CCS’s steam page, so i rearranged all the elements to fit the template for a U-card i found on, and added some elements from Wii cases using this lovely game cover template mega pack from NeoRame, as well as some box art blurbs

my used cassette cases had varying widths of back panel, so when designing the cover, i made sure to leave lots of room to cut through it different ways – you can see this in the space between the top of “Game Pak Includes:” and the blue background area, as well as the space on either side of the included items text for the trapezoid shape on some of them.

Prototyping the Insides

at first i wasn’t sure if i was going to have time to add in much else in the zette besides the USB of the game and maybe a sticker, but i’ll be damned if i wasn’t going to try.

my vision was to include a holographic sticker; a strap charm, since the USB sticks had a little loop perfect for it; a one-page zine artbook/game manual; and a slip of paper with an redemption key on it, and i wanted that tucked in a tiny little envelope.

i already got the stickers printed and cut, so i could measure how they’d fit in the case with the protoype bits. i ended up having to trim the first sticker batch juuust a lil cuz i wanted them to be as big as could fit and was too stubborn to downsized ’em enough haha.

i used some scrap paper and got everything seated in the case how i wanted. the tabs i cut on the backing board to make room for the pegs ended up being a perfect dual purpose way to wrap around and secure the USB drive to the inside! score. after the prototype was all set up how i wanted, i took measurements of everything

and then measured everything out in photoshop so i could get my cutting machine and printer to do most of the hard work for me!

Stickers & Shrink Charms

this is the sticker i designed! i have a repository of pictures of creatures people have made for just such a project. i covered them with holographic laminate before cutting. sparklyyyy

i found this shrink paper at daiso while gathering supplies for tiny con! i managed to print 5 of these lil paw cursors per shrink paper sheet. i did some failed experiments trying to print both sides (other side too shiny, ink wouldn’t take) and drawing the other side by hand with a sharpie (too much effort)

i cut the shinks by hand and punched the holes with a standard hole punch. i love my giant spring scissors; i actually used some smaller scissors at first, but it turns out the big spring one was way easier to control and get around corners despite the size.

once right out of the oven they got a flattening treatment, and then on to straps they went!

Tiny Envelopes!!!!

—> Tiny envelope template can be found here

i just used some colored paper for these. didn’t want anything too thick or it wouldn’t have folded easily. i had a hard enough time as it was folding these at such a small scale. a bone folder really helped with this

here’s how to fold the envelopes:

fold the sides in, then fold the bottom up to about halfway up the uncovered top flap

fold the bottom triangle again with the point aligned with the crease you made. then fold in two little trapezoids along the bottom edges like this

glue along those trapezoid flaps to secure, and then press firmly

fold down the top flap in a way that doesn’t have the tip overhang on the bottom. and it’s done!

USB Drive Labels & itch Key Slips

  • USB label size: about 3 cm by 1.5 cm per side
  • Key slip paper: 7 cm wide by 2.5 cm tall

the usb drives i got had free space on each side, which was a good canvas for tiny label stickers!

the keys i printed on the slightly thicker epson paper, folded twice in half. they fit in the envelopes perfectly snug

i finally remade my Xenon Fossil Games logo from a t-rex skull into a lenvow skull; on the other side went the CCS acronym. i used the floor pattern and UI panel border from my game for the key slips

i also made a tinytiny sticker to seal up the envelope :3c and drew a little kitty face on all of the key slips. they look real cute peekin’ outta there

One-Page Zine as a Game Manual/Mini Artbook

—> “One-page zine that will fit in a cassette case” template can be found here

my prototype case could fit one page of letter paper folded into a zine in there after a bit of trimming! so it was go time.

i tried to not be too precious about the formatting of this one – it’s still a zine after all! embrace the messyness! but i did have a lot of fun making it look like a little game manual too.

here’s how to fold a one-page zine! a bone folder and guillotine cutter help a lot with getting everything aligned nicely

i ended up using the crafters tape to keep the pages together where needed. it helped with keeping the pages together while flipping trough it.

i laminated the covers on most of them too! cuz i wanted that ~glossy~ game manual feel

Flaps & Tabs

—> Flap card & USB holder tab card template can be found here

i used the floor pattern from my game again on both sides of some of my epson paper since it was a nice thickness, so i figured it would work well for the flap card and usb holding tabs card.

i folded the curved part of the flaps twice to hold the thick stack of the zine and sticker together.

Loading up the data

i made sure to get all the major-ish bugs worked out before loading up the drives. i included an autorun.bat file that would set the icon of the drive, as well as a little readme file with a link back to the itch page for updates, and named each drive “CCS” !

i ended up making 15 zettes for Tiny Con. i’m really glad i have a 7-slot USB hub!

Final Assembly!

time to get ’em together baby. i used a liberal amount of crafter’s tape and masking tape for this.

first we got the u-cards into there, each trimmed according to the shape of each case. the trimmed part had to be adhered to the outside back, since even if it was a completely clear case, the pegs would be in the way if i attached the back panel to the inside.

i used a bit of crafter’s tape on the front u-card to keep it flat against the plastic. just a tiny bit, still can be removed and cleaned if someone wants to disassemble and use the case for something else

then the flap cards. i adhered them a bit lower instead of centered so you could read the words “Mini Artbook” when the zine was in there

then the tab cards! this was just a ton of masking tape lol. i tried to make sure the usb drive was wrapped with the tabs securly but not too tight, so you could slide it up and out. and then did more masking tape attaching of the charm and envelope, and finally the whole kit into the case.

aaaand it’s ready!!!! WAHOOO

they look sooooo nice all stacked up.

of course, i love to make signage, so i had to do that for these as well. i ended up sealing the finished ones with a little sticker dot, since it was little though for some of them to stay securely closed; the pegs pushed against the zine and flap card a bit too much. so i only had this sample one open at the con.

i sold 6 of these at TinyCon! i woulda probably sold more but i was helping to run the con too, and wasn’t at my table hawkin’ ’em enough, aaand also they were a bit hidden under the monitor for the game itself and behind my sticker set display.

but i’ve sold one online already, and they’ll get a new chance to shine at TFF this year in the artist alley so :3c wheeeee

if you’re interested, they’re up for sale here!!!

please make sure you show me if you make your own!!!! i’d love to see!!

ok bye!!!!