Chris from Panda gave me an update on the ship plastics this week. If you remember we’d requested one final revision on the plastics, to see if we could deal with the “melting” issues on 3 of the ships, and ensure that with every ship, the flight peg holes are intact. Chris gave me some good information on the injected plastic moulding process.
First off - there are no issues with the moulds themselves - the actual shape and contours of the metal moulds match the starships exactly. This means the issues are entirely with the process (as some of you had suggested previously!) not with the moulds themselves.
Process - A very simple overview of injected plastic moulding is this: A plastic mixture is heated, then pushed into the moulds at high pressure. The plastic is allowed to cool (for a short period) then the moulds open up and eject the finished product (little starships!).
Within this process we’re constrained to certain limitations - primarily, the larger models have a tendency for the plastics to cool before the mould is “full” of hot plastic. This is one cause of the “melting” effect. The other cause is that plastic can contract slightly when cooling - this can also cause a slight “melting” effect.
To combat this, there are couple options: Divide a large model into smaller pieces and then reassemble after moulding and glue together. However, this would require new sculpts, multiple moulds, and increased production costs for assembly. We cannot go this route - I am unwilling to increase the project timeline by months, and we don’t have the budget.
The other option is to vary the consistency of the plastics being used. In general you want to use a “hard” plastic, the harder the plastic the more detail is retained. However, a hard plastic has more tendency towards the “melting” effect.
With this revision the engineers have basically taken us as far as we can go within the physical production constraints. They’ve been honing a specific mixture of plastics to get the most detail with the least amount of melting. The results are good - not perfect - but I’m completely happy moving forward, knowing that we’ve done the best we can given the constraints of reality!
I’d like to be very clear: The issues here affect only 3 ships: Long Haul, Manchester, and the Merchant - and only Long Haul and Manchester appear to still have any visible melting.
As for the flight peg hole issues (from Mach Horror and the Sellsword) those were simply calibration errors - it takes quite a few runs to calibrate the machine (remember: pressure, temperature etc) with these mass-production machines.
This means that we can expect higher consistency and even better results in the final versions. I’ve also spoken with Chris and the flight peg holes will be a top QC priority.
Alright - all of that to say: I’ve approved the plastics for mass production! This means that thousands of little plastic starships are about to invade Shenzhen! I am very excited!!!!
I'd love to hear what you think the comments below!
Website Modding - Help!
My next topic is the faroffgames.com website. I’ve been working on a couple things and I’d really appreciate your help! I have been working on the Modding process for Xia - here’s the simple breakdown:
- 1. I’m going to release templates of: Cards, Ship Mats, Sector Tiles and Outfits.
- 2. You modify the templates (make a new mission type, or a cool starship design).
- 3. You submit your modification to the website.
- 4. The modification is reviewed and approved.
- 5. The modification is then added to a database.
- 6. You can browse the database and find, download, and print modifications that others have made.
I’ve been working on steps 3-6 the submitting, adding, and viewing of mods. At this point, I could really use your help! Here’s what you can do:
- Download the test files: Test_XiaModding.zip
- Unzip the files.
- Go to: http://www.faroffgames.com/modding/modsubmit/
- Pick any of the mod types to submit.
- Fill out the form and upload the test files (from Test.zip there's a PDF a STL and an PNG -image).
This would really help me out! Especially if all the different types of mods could be tested! The submissions are filtered into a Gmail address where I can sort through them and add them to the database.
I would also super appreciate any comments, feedback, or suggestions!!
Terms & Conditions - Help!
If you’re a legal type, I have a “Terms and Conditions” document that I've been working on, just grabbing bits from examples and modifying them.
Basically I want people to be free to submit mods that are not copyrighted works, and I don’t want to get in legal trouble for submissions. If you could take a few minutes and look over this document, that would really help me out!
I get lots of messages each week about updating your address two things:
I’ve added a page to our website with the address change form - please use this!
(Thanks to Jamey Stegmaier from Stonemaier Games for the form template)
Also - I will send out a notification email (and update) when we get close to shipping - this email will remind you to update your shipping address if necessary.
Alright - there’s been lots more work, but that’s all I’ve got time for today! I hope you have a safe weekend! If you’re a coffee drinker, I highly recommend securing a “Mexi-Mocha” from your favorite barista - we've only got 14 days left of winter, and it would be a shame to waste them! :)
Until next week, I’ll see you starside!