Funded! This project was successfully funded on March 19, 2013.

Update #57 - For backers only

Secrets

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For backers only. If you're a backer of this project, please log in to read this post.


Update #56

Shipping: BASICALLY DONE. Web store: OPEN FOR BUSINESS.

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Great news! With a few very brief exceptions, OUR SHIPPING IS DONE!!

In today's video, I show you a little BEHIND THE SCENES of the shipping process, and give you a lot of newsy-type updates that I will also REITERATE BELOW IN TEXT FORM.

  • 1. If you still haven't gotten your game...
  • 2. Wholesale accounts now available!
  • 3. Web store now open!

POINT THE FIRST

The few orders that HAVE NOT yet shipped are limited to customized games (Germans or tins) that got sent by the shipping company to the wrong person, and we are now waiting for them to be returned to us, so we can send them on to you instead. 

This is one of the many "I couldn't have made it up if it were fiction" mistakes that drops the jaw of everyone I tell them: how they just took games off a shelf, each specifically labeled with a person's name on it, and shipped them to other, random people. My heartfelt thanks to you other people who have graciously gone out of your way to make sure we get them back.

If you have not yet gotten your game, please check this list for your initials. These are the orders that we have and know about and that are still pending (but will be shipped as soon as we can). If your initials are on the list, no need to do anything, unless you need to change your shipping address. We'll ship it just a few days, I hope.

If your initials are NOT on the list, and we have not otherwise corresponded, please let me know right away, preferably by emailing info at machineofdeath.net (subject line: "Missing Order").

POINT THE SECOND

Are you a retail store? Do you have a favorite retail store? Are there retail stores in your city? Is your city in the United States? Are you the mayor of a city in the United States? Do you work for the mayor of a city or municipality in the United States? Are you familiar with the concept of retail stores and comfortable simply walking into random ones and issuing cryptic demands? Point the person in charge of purchasing at this link: machineofdeath.net/wholesale

That's where retail stores (just in the U.S., to start with) can sign up for a wholesale account to obtain Machine of Death games for resale. 

For example, if you're near Little Rock, Arkansas, stop by Game Goblins for all your MOD needs! Is Game Goblins better than your local store, because it now stocks Machine of Death? If your local store is Game Goblins, then no, by definition.

POINT THE THIRD

The time is nigh for Machine of Death to become available for retail sale to the public. We're going to sell it to game stores, at conventions (such as Emerald City, TCAF, Comic-Con, and Gen Con), and through our existing TopatoCo store (where you can get T-shirts, books, and posters). We're also going to sell it on Amazon.

But while we're waiting for the incompetent humans at the shipping company to get dozens of pallets of games out to the Amazon and TopatoCo warehouses, I've set up a little auxiliary web store, the Machine of Death Official Procurement Station

Many of the various bonus items from the Kickstarter are available, as well as the "Kickstarter Upgrade Pack" (all the expansion decks that weren't in the Kickstarter base tier). Our newest book THIS IS HOW YOU DIE isn't there, but you can get it on AmazonThe store is open and ready for your orders.

If you want to get any bonus decks or anything else above and beyond what you've already received, this is where you can

If your friends want to get the game now that they've played it with you, this is where they can

If you're reading this and you don't already have a copy of the game, YOU CAN NOW GET IT HERE.

There is going to come a day, fine friends, when I'm going to say "The game is formally 'out', and let us trumpet this fact from the rooftops!" That day is not quite here. But you can buy games online, now. What does this make our current moment? How is it defined – is the game 'out' now? How can it not be, when you can indeed buy it right now? This is a point for historians to debate.

FINALLY

As I mention in the video, this isn't the end...There are still stretch goals and additional content that were sidelined by the shipping, but are now back on my to-do list. 

Top of the list is the fully handwritten game that I owe one lucky (?) backer:

 It'll be an achievement rivaling those of mighty Herakles, I CAN ONLY IMAGINE. Watch for that in an update coming soon!! 


Update #55

Custom cards / Shipping Update / Seattle / and SOMETHING RAD

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Hello everyone! IN TODAY'S UPDATE:

  • Custom cards photos! (A TEASE)
  • Shipping update!
  • Seattle in March – and other conventions in 2014!
  • THIS IS RAD

CUSTOM CARDS PHOTOS

It's a great sign that so many people have been posting so many fun photos of their game that it's taken a little bit to go through them all!! I have chosen some new CUSTOM CARD WINNERS and queued them up to post at themachineofdeath.tumblr.com over the next week and beyond. One a day, or thereabouts, until we get through all 50! 

(Which means that we have about 7 weeks left for the contest – and I'm certain that everyone still waiting for a game will have theirs by then. The reasons why are in the next section!)

I posted three custom card winners in a previous post, but here's a little tease of the next three winners! These are the new cards I created:

But who gets these cards? I won't reveal the winners now – you'll have to check in at themachineofdeath.tumblr.com over the next couple of days!!

To enter the contest yourself, post a creative picture (define that however you like) and tweet it with #machineofdeath! If you don't have Twitter, you can also email it to me (info at machineofdeath.net). If you don't have email, how are you even a part of this Kickstarter? 

But I like Twitter because it lets everyone else see it too, just by searching the hashtag!

SHIPPING UPDATE

I'm very pleased that, as of my last count a few days ago, only 339 orders remained in our shipping company's "yet to ship" queue! (Not counting reships due to returned packages, of which there are about another 40.) 

Unfortunately, the reason these had not yet been shipped is mostly because they included something special: a personalized certificate, a specific box number, cards in tins or German, things like that.

I hate that! I hate that the people who ordered the most special games are having to wait the longest. But I do think I have finally figured out the reason, and it may surprise you.

A few days ago, I made a video exploring some possible reasons why things are taking so long – seeking a unified theory of slowdown, as it were. Check it out:

That video was made the day we returned home from the shipping company warehouse, having found a huge pile of orders sitting stalled – and all the rest queued up, unprocessed, behind them – due to questions like "How many spacers are supposed to go in this wooden box?" and "Where is the perfectly unremarkable game that is supposed to go in this order?" and "I dunno, something about a book??"

My assistant Aimée and I spent six hours packing each order by hand while the warehouse staff looked at us in a completely uninterested (and occasionally condescending) manner. But at least I had confidence that the REMAINDER of the orders had nothing preventing them from shipping immediately, and I could go back to my 12-hours-a-day task of answering emails trying to correct all their prior mistakes.

CUT TO: Monday afternoon and no progress had been made with the shipments! Also I checked what they were charging me for freight and it's not too different than what I'd pay if I did it myself. Also there have been so many unanticipated issues with their work that I had this gnawing feeling in my gut just dreading what the next one would be.

So I fired them! 

And told them to put everything on a truck and send it to me!

And rented the vacant office next door! 

And hired some intelligent people!

And spent a very late night twisting the shipping company's spreadsheets into a packing list format! 

And now we are shipping everything ourselves.

Which means this is happening:

There are still a handful of hiccups – in a hilarious twist, the request for them to send me everything on a truck took as long for them to process as the orders themselves were taking, which means I'm still waiting for a bunch more to arrive today and tomorrow – but they are now all passing through my (or my trusted minions') hands and thus I actually smiled and laughed a bunch yesterday which is a really nice feeling.

I don't want to throw the company under the bus too hard – except to clarify that it is not Make That Thing, run by my friends Holly and Sara and which would have done a better job, probably, but which the freight-from-China circumstances precluded us from using – because this company did do an excellent job at one thing: putting a super simple order into a super simple box and repeating that 9,000 times. 

But when we presented them with customized orders, and inventory in low quantities that couldn't tolerate any being lost in the caverns of the warehouse, and similar-looking items that were in fact different inside – and then, furthermore, told them to stop all foreign shipments when I heard about the issues some international backers were having with FedEx deliveries – it was just an anchor dropped through their deck. They completely derailed. In the words of my favorite website, MaritimeIntel.com, you might even say the project became in grave danger of "splitting in two and sinking, as the crash left an eight-metre hole on one side and it is tilting at a 20-degree angle."

If you are interested in writing a business manual with "Lessons For CEOs" and "Management Tips" and "B2B Methodologies Easy To Digest While Browsing This Book At The Airport", here are a few strategies I would not recommend you include:

• Never have a single human being who understands all parts of a project. Always make sure that responsibilities are divvied between four or, ideally, more than six people so that no single person has a complete understanding of the thing from start to finish.

• Never empower lower-level employees to solve problems on their own, or institute a system where they can flag them and have them addressed up the chain. Instead, allow problems to sit around unaddressed until someone with power notices and asks about them (or ideally, until the end of the universe, so that way nobody has to deal with it, ever!).

• Always promise whatever the customer wants to hear so he will stop bugging you, regardless of whether what you have promised is feasible or will actually happen.

And you know what? I would much rather if there be mistakes, they be my honest mistakes and not dumb mistakes I have to take responsibility for. 

I am super privileged to be (and somewhat spoiled by being!) a self-employed person who can just do things, who can turn on a dime, who can follow my enthusiasm, and who can make decisions based on what is intuitively best for the project. 

Interacting with a monolithic organization where none of those things are true has been a tough process! Because for those people, if something goes wrong, it's bad and you have to hear from me yelling at you all day long, but if something goes well, who cares – you don't care about the product or the campaign, you're just a hired hand. 

The result over time, I think, is that you become a human whose work is a source of net negative experiences. So I think what I saw was people who have learned to stifle their reactions to things going wrong, in order to avoid that average skewing even more negative. Thus, they don't care; thus, your orders were sitting around moldering while I pulled my hair out every day.

TWO MORE POSSIBLE EXPLANATIONS FOR ALL THIS GOING WRONG are:

• The wizard's curse stretched back in time to YEARS AGO, before I ever CONCEIVED of this game, to when this shipping company was first founded and its hiring and training practices were codified; 

• Or, much more likely, everyone there read this book by Ryan North:

I think they must have given this out in bulk at that place. 

ANYWAY. Everything is solved now forever. Hooray!!

CONVENTIONS 2014

In about a month I'll be in Seattle for the Emerald City Comicon, March 28-30! One of my favorite shows of the year. I'll have the game and the expansions for sale (of course); I will be offering custom cards on demand; and I'll also be involved in the following events:

Machine of Death Draw-and-Guess: "Join cartoonists playing a non-trademarked version of Pictionary, using clues issued from a Machine of Death. The Machine, of course, can tell you exactly how you are going to die in just a few cryptic words!" This panel will be hosted by me and Ryan North, and feature FAMOUS ARTISTS Aaron Diaz, Dylan Meconis, Becky Dreistadt, and Kris Straub! Always a hilarious time. • Friday, March 28, 4:10pm, Hall B

How To Sell Merchandise Without Feeling Like You're Selling Out: "As a creator you might be or be thinking about selling merch online but you don't feel like t-shirts are really your 'thing'. Join TopatoCo creators David Malki, Chris Yates, & Dante Shepherd for our talk about creative merch & beyond the ubiquitous T-shirt." I hope by the time the panel rolls around, I will have formulated a clever answer to the question in the panel's title. • Saturday, March 29, 3:00pm, Room TCC 302

Urban Dictionary – The Game Show: "What do those terms in Urban Dictionary even mean? Has anybody ever used them before, for realsies?? In this GAME SHOW, our group of panelists attempts to define the weirdest, grossest terms the website has to offer. Mostly they will get it wrong!!" This DEFINITELY 18+ panel will be hosted by me and feature contestants Ryan North, Chip Zdarsky, Erika Moen, and Kate Leth! • Saturday, March 29, 6:10pm, Hall B

Professional Tools for Self-Publishers: "Join a pair of independent publishing professionals for a discussion of avenues to self-publishing and tools for bridging the gap between D.I.Y. and traditional publishing models; followed by a Q&A and troubleshooting session for self-publishers." Hosted by Rachel Edidin of Wired, and featuring me as well! I'm the other half of the pair!! • Sunday, March 30, 11:00am, ROOM 2B

Later this year I'll also be at:

  • Toronto Comic Arts Festival, May 10-11
  • Maker Faire Bay Area, May 17-18 (San Mateo) (tentative)
  • San Diego Comic-Con, July 18-21
  • Gen Con, August 14-17 (Indianapolis)

But more details on those as they approach!

FINALLY: THIS IS SUPER RAD

MOD backer David Cole tweeted this picture a while back:

 I retweeted it today and THE OFFICIAL MEETUP ACCOUNT RESPONDED:

 So, you know what you have to do.

Also, hats off to you, social media person at Meetup who is also a Machine of Death fan and who has the power to do things like this within your corporate environment! If you ever write a business book, I know a few people who could stand to read it.


Update #54

TEN WAYS to generate targets in your games!

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 IN TODAY'S VIDEO – in what is hopefully the first of several posts and videos about GAMEPLAY instead of SHIPPING – I go over Generating Targets! 

Did you know there are at least TEN DIFFERENT WAYS to generate targets so that you never run out of ideas and/or people to murder? I didn't, until I listed them all out! It's a good video, check it out!!

Key links mentioned in the video:

machineofdeath.net/gca – Game resources, including the manual as a PDF! Here, you can also download and print out extra blank Intel Sheets if you use up the whole notepad. (If you have ALREADY used up that whole notepad, STOP PLAYING GAMES and GO OUTSIDE for just a LITTLE WHILE)

It's linked on the above page too, but here's the direct link to the intel spreadsheet! You can read other people's entries or add your own! NO RULES. JUST RIGHT

intel.machineofdeath.net – The randomizer "app" (really a webpage)! You can access it from any phone OR just on your computer. You cannot access this without a computer, it WILL NOT WORK. The timer music is on here too!

GAME CONTENTS CHECKLIST

A few people have written to ask if they're supposed to have duplicate Gift Cards in the base game (yes, there are 2 or 3 of each one); where the blank cards are (in the Viper Hacksaw deck); or whether a die is supposed to come with the game (um, yes). 

So for your handy reference I present here the GAME CONTENTS CHECKLIST. First, the base game!

 Here's the Side Effects expansions (what we called the Sidecar Box in the Kickstarter):

 And finally, the Deluxe Box:

If you're missing anything please let me know! If you're missing the plastic bag, though, I'm not going to send you another one. You can manage.

Bonus Link: Planet Money!

The shirt I'm wearing in the video above came from another Kickstarter, the Planet Money T-Shirt! As part of the campaign for the shirt, the Planet Money radio reporters traveled the world, from the cotton fields to the weaving plant to the container yards, following the path that a T-shirt takes from seed to body.

I personally found it really interesting, because while they were interviewing factory workers in Bangladesh, I was at our own factory in China! And while they were breezing through customs in Columbia, I was wrangling with customs in Long Beach. 

Their reporting (radio stories, plus bonus videos) is all at planetmoney.com/shirt! I recommend checking it out, it is GOOD and INTERESTING.

SHIPPING CONTINUES!!


Update #53

Brief shipping update! KNOWN ISSUES PART 3

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Hello everyone! I am very excited to see people receive their games, and to read very kind reviews such as this one! So glad that so many of you have gotten your game and played it and had a good time. THAT'S WHAT THIS THING IS FOR.

Retailer-level backer Foam Brain Games took their resale copies to the Arisia convention in Boston recently, and reported that they sold out immediately and they want to restock! This is great news! (If you are a retailer-level backer, feel free to message me your store info so I can add you to a formal 'vendors' section on our website.) 

People have been asking me how they can buy more copies, too, which is great! But I'm not going to open wider, non-backer sales for more games until all the Kickstarter copies are out. Rest assured, however, I will make a lot of noise once they are available! I will mention it here, of course, but I have also set up a dedicated mailing list for that specific notification over at machineofdeath.net/gca.

I am also reviewing your many great pictures under the #machineofdeath hashtag as well. I'll have more on that in a little bit. Right now, however, I am in full-on COMMAND CENTER MODE as I manage the remaining shipping. I am pushing more computing power at tracking your games than NASA had at their disposal for Columbus' sailing of the Atlantic, or whatever.

••• IMPORTANT NOTE •••

If you have already received your game, great! The rest of this update is NOT FOR YOU. If you continue reading it, you will find yourself charged with a voyeuristic thrill. That is NOT RECOMMENDED because WHO LIKES THAT ANYWAY??

SHIPPING UPDATES #3

• Shipping confirmations are being sent from the email address CSR@webcsr.info. If you haven't gotten one, make sure it's not getting filtered as spam.

• If you received your Deluxe Box, but not the other stuff that was supposed to come with it, I'm pleased to say that all those reshipments have now gone out. You should get them soon! They were shipped to the same address that your original box went to, so if that's a problem please let me know. 

• There's a batch of a couple hundred domestic shipments still in progress...Everything stopped so the reshipments above could go out, and since then I have been very carefully and painstakingly explaining to the shipping company how to match up the custom box numbers, custom assembled orders (tins, Germans, etc), and custom certificates with specific orders. Because those orders can't simply be reshipped if something goes wrong, this is a very painstaking process and is still ongoing. They tell me that is supposed to finish in the coming week.

There's also a handful of non-custom orders – mostly, the ones that requested to be held for the holidays and were thus bumped to the end of the queue, but also some others as well that I can't find a common thread between – that are just lingering in the back, smoking in their leather jackets and generally being rebellious. I don't have any answer for that except that I am going to send them to the vice-principal's office if they don't shape up and fly right real soon here!! 

Canadian shipments: Our shipping facility in California generates a Canada Post label, but then the package has to make it out of America to a Canada Post depot before it will actually start being actively tracked in their system. I've seen that take 7-10 days. So if you got a notification but the actual tracking info doesn't make sense yet, that's probably why. 

"When should I worry?" Never. Never worry. Worry is the mindwaster.

International shipments: Couple of things here. We were recommended to use FedEx for international shipments because (a) it's trackable door-to-door; (b) it's more secure than the post in many parts of the world; and (c) our shipping company does such volume that it's actually pretty economical, under their account.

What I have learned this week and last, however, is that FedEx has had some baffling issues with billing these shipments. If you've received a notice from FedEx, you're not alone. Here are the notices I have received to date:

This speaks to some enormous and systemic confusion on their part. I am trying to work it out with various people at FedEx, but I have no answers of yet. 

If you received a bill and you paid it, God bless you. You have paid a slight surcharge to be excused from whatever tsunami of dark magic still circles about this wizard-blighted matter. If it helps, know that I am furious about it.  

If you have not paid it, there may be a way I can fight it, but I have no hard information for you yet, I'm sorry to say. Feel free to drop me an email so I can respond to you with whatever we end up learning.

As a first step, once I learned about this billing issue, I immediately stopped all international shipping to prevent this from happening with any future shipments. So about 40% of international orders are still on hold, waiting for us to figure out how to proceed with the remainder using a different carrier.

Unfortunately it's not as simple as "just use USPS for the rest", because that's not trackable and costs about twice as much per package. We are looking into our other options now – I think DHL has a thing where they feed parcels into the destination country's postal system? – but we're still collecting info in order to make the best decision for the rest. If you have advice or feedback on this matter, please leave a comment on this post, I appreciate all perspectives!

• Finally – regarding international orders – we have also learned that FedEx will charge us for packages both ways (sending and returning). So if you refuse a package due to strange fees – a perfectly reasonable reaction – I will unfortunately still be liable for those fees and the return shipping. So before you refuse a package, please write to me so we can attempt to solve whatever the problem is.

If you've read this far, you are probably as tired of hearing about this as I am! And my wife and my assistant and the shipping company and our FedEx rep and anyone within earshot of shouts coming from my office and my therapist. I am collecting these anecdotes into a manuscript for a book, tentatively titled What I Did: How I Managed A Half-Million Dollar Kickstarter And Didn't End Up Losing ALL That Money To Mystery Fees, Only Most Of It. I'd tell you to pre-order it now but I don't really want any extra work right now, so set aside a dollar in an envelope and send it to me in a year.


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  • Pledge $299 or more
    You selected

    5 backers All gone!

    "GOAT STARE" – Any lesser tier that you want (except EARLY BIRD), PLUS we show your copy of the game to a goat before we ship it to you. (Photographic proof provided.) Non-US backers, please add the listed shipping cost of the reward tier you want.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $333 or more
    You selected

    0 backers

    "CONTAINMENT" – Any lesser tier that you want (except EARLY BIRD), PLUS we package your copy of the game in any random container we have sitting around the house. No predictions or guarantees on what that might be. No refunds. (Non-US backers, please add the listed shipping cost of the reward tier you want.)

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $369 or more
    You selected

    0 backers

    "IMPACT" – Any lesser tier that you want (except EARLY BIRD), PLUS your copy of the game ships completely destroyed. Includes a video of us destroying your copy of the game specifically, and calling you names while we do it. (Non-US backers, please add the listed shipping cost of the reward tier you want.)

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $444 or more
    You selected

    0 backers

    "DEMENTIA" – Any lesser tier that you want (except EARLY BIRD), EXCEPT that your copy of the game features COMPLETELY BLANK CARDS. No printing on the cards whatsoever. (Non-US backers, please add the listed shipping cost of the reward tier you want.)

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $488 or more
    You selected

    1 backer All gone!

    "PENNED" – Any lesser tier that you want (except EARLY BIRD), EXCEPT that your copy of the game features COMPLETELY BLANK CARDS that I have PERSONALLY HANDWRITTEN all the info back onto. (Non-US backers, please add the listed shipping cost of the reward tier you want.)

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $500 or more
    You selected

    1 backer Limited (5 left of 6)

    "CONTACT" – Everything in LUXURY (including the deluxe game box), plus David & Kris will play the game with you and your friends via Skype!

    Estimated delivery:
    Add $40 USD to ship outside the US
  • Pledge $1,000 or more
    You selected

    3 backers Limited (2 left of 5)

    "FROM ABOVE" – You become the SPONSOR of 15 extra cards added to the base game. We'll work with you to craft them, and you'll also get everything in LUXURY (including the deluxe game box). You'll be credited in the rulebook as well.

    Estimated delivery:
    Add $40 USD to ship outside the US
  • Pledge $3,000 or more
    You selected

    0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)

    "VISITATION" – Everything in LUXURY, plus David & Kris will COME TO YOUR HOUSE and play the game with you AND BRING PIZZA!! (US/Canada only, please)

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $9,999 or more
    You selected

    0 backers Limited (8 left of 8)

    "CAR" – Any tier TYCOON or lesser that you want (except EARLY BIRD), PLUS a car, delivered to your house or place of business. Registration transferred into your name. You do not get to choose what kind of car it is, nor the condition of the car, but you will own it. (US only.)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships within the US only
  • Pledge $10,000 or more
    You selected

    0 backers Limited (666 left of 666)

    "BAD DECISIONS" – A 4-hour MP3 of garbled, distorted, unlistenable wails of your name, screeched over and over and over and over by the foulest voices we can summon. No copy of the game is included with this tier. (To add a copy of the game, use our Add-On page.)

    Estimated delivery:
Funding period

- (33 days)