It's Done. What's Next?
Well, it’s done! That’s right.
The Kickstarter for Infected! is officially over!
If you have not received any part of your pledge yet, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will sort it out for you straight away. There are still a couple of people who haven’t filled out their details, and I have been unable to get through to. So if you find yourself reading this now, please get in touch with me. Of if you have any questions too.
To recap the Kickstarter, here are some highlights:
- We raised $26,523 on the Kickstarter (though in fact, after fees and a few pledges that didn't go through, that amount ended up being about $23,000), and another $5300 through Backerkit preorders. In total that's roughly $28,300!
- We had 308 Kickstarter backers and 32 Pre-Order backers. A lot of Kickstarter backers also chose to upgrade their pledges through Backerkit.
- We did a 1000 book print run, and fulfilled it internationally, with warehouses in the USA, UK and Australia.
- We are having a French, Brazilian and German translation being done (so, so cool – I’ll certainly keep you posted about these).
- I learned to work with an international team of artists, editors, playtesters, bloggers and enthusiasts.
- We created a community of people who like Immersion RPG and Infected, and have built it into something far greater than it was two years ago. I now have over 500 people on my newsletter (if you haven’t yet joined, you can sign up here to stay in touch for future projects).
- And best of all, I found that my backers are simply amazing people. I have made a lot of friends, and been simply amazed by the support, positivity and helpfulness of everyone! I have not had a single backer who was negative at all, even when faced at times with significant delays. This makes me feel truly blessed. My backers are the best anyone could hope for. So that’s you guys. Take a pat on the back. You have made this journey truly worth it in every way.
I learnt a lot of valuable lessons on this Kickstarter road, and most of them I have written down on my blog at immersion-rpg.com
For printing I went with Regal Printing in Hong Kong, who I found did a job of high quality. At times their speed was quite bad, and sometimes communication as well – more than a few times I found something had stopped, but they hadn’t notified me of the problem, so were just waiting for me to “somehow” know that it had occurred.
However they were always rapidly available to answer my emails and phone calls, and I found this made it possible. I would recommend them if you have a very clear deadline with them, and if you are familiar with the way to prepare and upload files (this is something I will be writing about further on my blog).
Fulfillment was in some ways very easy, and in other ways a nightmare. I used an import specialist to assist me with the shipping to each company (as the books were coming from Hong Kong). This is something you need, but no one seems to mention anywhere! The only way I could find one was to be referred through a daisy-chain of them!
I had to use a second specialist to get them into the USA. If anyone needs their details, please let me know.
Getting the books to each warehouse was fairly simple, though the dice and reference cards were not sent to Australia for some reason, and I had to have them separately shipped back.
Once in each country, I had a warehouse and fulfillment operator to assist me.
In Australia this was Aetherworks, who I can highly recommend. They were kind enough to invite me over to their warehouse, showed me around and chatted to me for several hours, explaining the ins and outs. They even allowed me to help them with the picking and packing, which saved some money (and made me realise just how hard it is to do!).
In all my dealings with them I have been very impressed. They even showed me how best to create a spreadsheet to make it sensible for quick fulfillment (this will be in another blog, quite soon).
In the UK this was Gamesquest. Similarly I have been very impressed with them. Their communication is fast, and it was as simple as sending it over with a spreadsheet. Done. I think one or two books disappeared in transit, but this happened in Australia too and I put down to postal issues, not them – they had tracking numbers for each item.
In the USA this was Fulfillrite, and this is a more complex answer. I found at first that this was a complete disaster for me. But to be fair to them and the situation, I should mention that I now consider them excellent to work with.
This is rather surprising, but I realise that it was primarily a matter of miscommunication and not understanding their system. Unlike Gamesquest and Aetherworks, Fulfillrite have an online database that you upload each order to. Unfortunately, this requires a totally different layout of the spreadsheet, which I found took me many hours to get right – because if you get any part of it wrong, it will reject your upload. I found that when emailing them, they were prompt with replying, but not always very helpful in their communication – they mostly suggested I check out their tutorials. However, these actually didn’t show me how to do what I wanted to do (which was extremely basic actually), and this was very frustrating.
Additionally, I found that because I didn’t label my boxes according to their specifications, one of my boxes was lost for a while. I’m not sure how it could have become lost actually, but lost it was, at least until I came across the manifest they had signed, which stated the number of boxes they had received - and which was clear evidence that the box had arrived. By the time they located it however, I had already sent out spares from the UK, so this cost me quite dearly.
Eventually, with several orders sitting there unable to be completed for a fairly long time, I openly complained in a Kickstarter update, and then they called me. On the phone they explained how it worked, and since then I have found the system very good.
I should mention that they felt it was unfair for me to complain about them on Kickstarter, where they couldn’t have the right of reply. They also said I was the only person to have ever had this sort of difficulty.
What I can say for sure is that it was necessary for me to make that much of a fuss to get it sorted. After that, it has been fine.
So what does all that mean? I guess it’s a matter of communication and instructions. They were not as noob-friendly as the other two companies, but now that I know how to use their system, I can check orders any time, without having to email anyone. I can also upload orders very specifically. This is very useful. Unless of course you upload the order slightly wrong, as I did with the dice... and sent out five sets of dice to about thirty backers. Again, an expensive mistake to make, which required me to get more dice created (speaking of which, the people at Q-Workshop did my dice for me, and they are excellent).
My recommendation for anyone using Fulfillrite would be that you take the time to really become familiar with their system before using them. Make sure you follow their rules and guidelines exactly. It does make sense once you get the hang of it, but like any new program, it can take some time for this to happen.
Backerkit was another site that I was quite dubious of when I started, however I now find it is utterly invaluable. Do yourself a favour and use it! There’s no better way of keeping track of backer orders, their state of fulfillment. It is a little complex unfortunately, but it is still awesome to use.
I have had the pleasure of meeting Angus Abransson from Chronicle City, who has been kind enough to offer his services of marketing and promotion to the US and UK for me. This is utterly invaluable.
Angus, if you’re reading this, you are an absolute gem.
Aside from that I will be doing some online marketing to bring people to my online store (which is now nearly ready – it’s been a long time coming!). This will hopefully get some more sales, and will help to fund future works!
So What’s Next?
I've always had a bit of a problem of wanting to do more than I can fit into a day. There’s so much I want to do, and have been working on. As you likely know, Immersion RPG is a totally universal system. Its purpose is to allow you to play real characters with great depth in any sort of world you want, capturing a sense of reality and grit even in high fantasy and super powered campaigns. There’s a lot of potential for this system, and judging by the backer reviews it and Infected! have been garnering, people are really enjoying it.
So, next up is a finalization of these universal rules, with lots of playtester feedback. I’ve been testing it myself for about six or seven years now, and have run it through its paces in every direction I can think of. I’ve run it with large groups, small groups, online, face to face, at conventions, with new players, veterans, with those who love rolling and min-maxing their characters, as well as those who don’t like rolling at all and hate adding up.
This has allowed me to create a system that is very simple at heart, yet has depth. It is flexible enough that it can be what you want - super light and story based, or more crunchy and blow-by-blow.
The nature of a universal system I believe is that it should capture different types of gameplay, as well as different “feels” of game. It shouldn’t feel like a one-size-fits-all (which kind of poorly fits everyone, but doesn’t have that great “tailored” feel). Rather, it should feel like it captures the quintessence, subtlety and character of the setting and game you’re wanting to play.
That’s the ambition anyway.
So far, I think we’ve done it, but that’s also why I’m creating this rulebook. I’ve already written two earlier drafts, so I’m not starting from scratch, but it’s remarkable to see just how much it’s streamlined from my Infected! experience.
If you would like to become involved as a playtester, please join my newsletter, as I will be sending out beta samples there pretty soon!
The Next Infected Project
I haven’t forgotten Infected, and I will be doing more for this great setting! The next one will be an expansion of setting, going over some different geographical locations.
I’ve got some great ideas for Australia, Europe and Africa – but part of the fun of the Kickstarter will be that others can put in their ideas too!
It’s obviously quite a challenge to produce a book in the middle of a busy life. For Infected I did nothing else in my spare time. Just wrote and wrote and wrote. My schedule is even more tight now, working 7 days a week in my own store (which is much more than 9-5) and with a new baby just born!
However, I’m still making good progress. The key is to keep your eye on the mountain and focus on the important things. Unfortunately, because writing has to take precedence, my communication sometimes suffers, and I haven’t been as regular with my updates or blog posts as I would like to be. I’m aiming to rectify this and to get this back to a regular pace.
What Do You Think?
As always, I love hearing your feedback. I want to know what you think!
On the Immersion RPG Rulebook, I want to know what you want in it! What would you expect to be in such a book, and how would you find it an indispensable handbook?
Of course, we will be listing powers and skills and so on, but what else would make your Immersion RPG experience truly epic?
And on the next Infected book, please let me know what you want to see in it! Would you be keen for more scenarios, or would a book full of setting ideas and plot hooks be more up your alley?
As always, thank you for backing our project and making this a reality. You are awesome, and I look forward to hearing from you.
~Oliver R. Shead