Today marks a something of bittersweet update. Indeed brave explorers, the day has come for the Final Friday Update!
What does this mean? Wave One and Wave Two have shipped. Replacement parts and missing items are in progress and will be finished soon, and even these are winding down quickly. Please don’t hesitate to contact our customer service at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about your items.
Super Dungeon Explore: Forgotten King, was the first Kickstarter Soda Pop Miniatures has ever entirely self-run since separating from our former publisher. When we began the Kickstarter we were bright-eyed, fresh-faced, significantly smaller and bursting with enthusiasm. Lets take a look back at this massive first project to see what went right, what went wrong, what was learned, and what was awesome.
This is a long, long update, so grab a drink and sit back!
Keep it Contained — Sort of
When we started the Kickstarter we had watched as much larger companies had struggled under the weight of bloated Kickstarters. Our first goal was to set a hard limit on what we would do for the Kickstarter — no getting swept up in excitement and creating brand new stretch goals. (We had already learned that lesson!) We succeeded in that goal, however the goals we had decided on were still many, MANY models.
It took a long time to get everything we unlocked sculpted. An even longer time to get everything 3D printed and molds made. Ultimately, we even split the project between two factories to try to get everything complete more quickly!
The size of the project was bigger on rules development as well. Not only were we updating the classic rules and rulebook, but we were creating a whole new game mode, updating every single card we had ever produced for both modes, and building all new profiles for an incredible array of new models. At the time John was tackling all the art and sculpting creative direction. I was the only rules writer, and was also tag-teaming all customer service with Ross. To say I underestimated this task is a gross understatement. The undertaking was enormous and took much longer than anticipated. (Yes, I intentionally tried to use “under” words as often as possible in the last two sentences.)
We learned from this for our Ninja All-Star Kickstarter, which featured almost 100% complete sculpts, art, and rules before we even began the Kickstarter.
Shipping to the World
Our other big goal at the beginning was to be able to provide worldwide shipping options to help out our foreign backers, by both reducing shipping costs and minimizing or eliminating customs fees. This was an infrastructure that, newly separated from our publisher, we needed to build from the ground up and as quickly as possible.
In the office we have a joke that Amazon ruined shipping and customer service for any company that isn’t Amazon. Amazon’s infrastructure is incredible. They have the benefit of controlling every level of it. Amazon will even provide fulfillment for small companies. Indeed, many Kickstarters have made use of this service, and this was the first option we looked at. We quickly discovered that the number of options we provided to customers made Amazon fulfillment back-breakingly expensive. Amazon loves to ship one thing to lots of people. But the moment you need to ship 11,000 orders and 45,000 items in random configurations they charge you per item, not just per shipment. Ouch!
For a company our size, with the order complexity we had, we needed to build our shipping infrastructure through paid third party fulfillment centers and distribution partners, willing to help (for pay of course). It is fantastic that such a thing is possible, but you cede a lot of control. You send them product and packing lists and then the rest in their hands. Which, because these are professional companies, the turnaround is generally exceptional. However, when mistakes are made on either end such as the fulfillment center not receiving appropriate quantities of product, labels with incorrect addresses (or postage), etc, it becomes a long game of emails and phone calls to get all the right pieces moving to resolve the issues. This is often exacerbated by time differences, and our Production and Warehouse Ninjas have missed many hours of sleep just so they could call a warehouse on the other side of the world.
Ultimately, our shipping network worked well, even if it had some hiccups along the way. Wave One was shipped incredibly quickly, and was in people’s hands with a very swift turnaround time and minimal mix-ups. Wave Two, which technically was smaller, was also much more complex and took significantly longer. However, when you zoom out an look at the numbers Wave Two’s success percentage of correct and timely orders was very good.
Kickstarter is like Siegfried & Roy. When the tiger is behaving it’s a glorious and entertaining show. When something goes wrong, you’re poor Roy getting mauled.
Many people think of Kickstarter as though it is a simple preorder, except nothing could be further from the truth. When a company lists a normal non-Kickstarter, product for preorder it’s probably done, or mostly done and in manufacturing. The hurdles of development have been jumped and emergencies contained. The company has done all of the hard work behind the curtain and has a nice shiny 90% certain release date, so its time to let people start preordering and purchasing. That is not Kickstarter.
Most Kickstarters, even when they are from established companies, are new ideas that are still in the early stages of development, sometimes even conception. Not only that but the curtain is pulled back entirely. Backers demand information, and depending on the company’s communication policy, backers get to see every bump and bruise along the way.
People love getting information. In fact, the more information you give them, the more they want. This is good and bad. Good in that people are engaged and excited for your product and anxiously await all news. Bad is the old adage, “give them an inch and they take a mile.” This is especially true when something goes wrong. A bad news update will get you responses ranging from: second guessing everything you’ve done, to spammed demand for answers, to outright being called a liar, to helpful concern, to patient goodwill and helpfulness.
During development and production things change. Sometimes a deadline is missed. Sometimes you discover after everything has been packaged that the packaging is faulty and it needs to get redone. Sometimes a shipment that you were assured would arrive one month shows up three months later. Weekly updates, allows backers to see all these occurrences. It also makes it so that we were not always able to give firm information, because things were still in progress. Sometimes it even forced backers to watch as progress goes backwards, sideways, or, on happy occasions, speeds forward. It can be a wild ride, and sometimes it is just downright stressful.
Our policy from the beginning was complete transparency. We pledged to provide backers with weekly updates, whether they were good, bad, boring, or transcendent. We stuck to that pledge and never missed a single update. There were highs and there were lows, but we are happy to have shared it all with you.
Big and Awesome
This update is already getting super long, and frankly I could talk all night about Kickstarter’s ups and downs. Lets close by looking at some of the incredible accomplishments of this Kickstarter.
- 6589 Backers who love the dungeons which are super.
- 30 Brand new Super Dungeon products created.
- 66 Models Sculpted
- 214,700 50mm Bases
- 1,371,610 25mm Bases
- 278,400 Dice rolling stars.
- 82,800 Slimes unleashed upon the world!
- 58,819 Words Printed in 3 books and on over 350 cards (Not including duplicate card definitions.)
- 135 Backers who never completed the pledge manager. (Their orders are in now!)
- 44,122 Items packed into...
- 10,839 Shipments made to...
- 54 Countries
- Most Packages - United States
Fewest Packages (Tie) - Slovakia, Latvia, Iceland, Hungary, Croatia, Guadeloupe, Gibraltar, Costa Rica, Brunei Darussalam, United Arab Emirates.
- Most times a package had to be resent because a backer moved and didn’t update their address - 3
- 13,850 Customer Emails
- 3215 Private Messages
- 30,188 (and growing) General Comments
- 757 of which were all Nephastus, only to be crushed by the…
- 1981 made by the mighty Nekodachi
- 7 New Employees
- 75 Friday Updates
- 74 “Drunk” Fridays
Look at how awesome that is!
Forgotten King has been an amazing experience for Soda Pop Miniatures, Ninja Division, and most of all — Super Dungeon Explore. It’s hard to believe how far our bright little video game inspired board game has come in such a short time, and we have so much more we want to share with you!
We have Super Dungeon Tactics on its way — the video game inspired by the board game, inspired by video games! We still have entire realms that need to be explored, monsters to destroy, and Heroes to recruit. We have new game modes to change how you play, like revised PVP Arena, Horde, and —
That’s right, Super Dungeon is about to level up! Super Dungeon Legends has been a passion project of ours, and while providing you with advancement paths between games, it has grown far beyond that. Legends will provide you with all the tools you need to turn your games of Super Dungeon into an adventure roleplaying game! Adventures, campaigns, skills, shopping, crafting, schemes, and more all await you, when Super Dungeon Legends comes to Kickstarter this fall. We'll be providing you with updates about this new and exciting way to play Super Dungeon over the coming months!
So this is it.
Lets finish with a hearty, “Thank you!” from both Soda Pop Miniatures and Ninja Division. Your enthusiasm and enjoyment makes building Super Dungeon Explore a true pleasure.
Until next time, may you always roll stars and—