Status report, arrived goods, tough decisions, and many orders ready to ship with your help
This update has two parts: a first part written by Richard S. Hetley for Jamie Wallis
A second part written by Mikaël Louys for Megara Entertainment SARL.
Please read the two parts to get the whole picture.
PART ONE: RICHARD HETLEY'S UPDATE FOR JAMIE WALLIS AND GREYWOOD PUBLISHING
This is Richard S. Hetley here, reporting with the word from Jamie Wallis. It's been a long time but we're nearing the project's end. This update covers:
What is ready to SHIP TO YOU RIGHT NOW, if you can help Greywood Publishing with the expense. (Also notes about what has been shipped already.)
A request for you to pay your shipping, and what we'll give you in return for your help.
An updated explanation of the money problems.
Acknowledgment of where it may be impossible to fulfill SOME rewards from this project. (If more funding is available in the future, this can improve.)
As I said, this information comes straight from Jamie: I'm the one writing because I've been the face of these many Kickstarters, and I want to talk with you kind people about this project that matters to all of us. I hope it makes sense somewhere in the seven-page text document I'm translating into an update. Now . . .
What rewards are ready to ship
The BOARD GAME exists and is in Greywood's hands!
We need to credit Jamie for all he did here. He writes "they are stored in a damp free garage on pallets with a huge tarp under them to keep them dry," so they are ready and safe.
The FIGURE PACK (duplicates of all the figures in the main game) also exists and is in the same pile! Jamie doesn't yet have spare plastic stands for these, but that's easy to resolve and he has promised they will be ready to deliver.
The 3-D MINIATURE OF LONE WOLF exists and all packs are in Greywood's hands!
The miniatures are protected in plastic. We should emphasize this packaging is designed to be utilitarian, not "collectible." Because getting the miniature to you intact is what's important, Jamie will open the blister packs by hand to stuff them with extra bubble wrap before shipping.
AUTUMN SNOW is in active shipping! It is Megara's project and so Mikaël Louys is sending them himself. You can see progress on the Facebook page.
The SCENARIO PACK .PDF will exist soon! This electronic file requires only a layout effort and then it can be distributed to you backers. Jamie says it is ready to announce.
For the high-level pledge rewards, the 1980's ORIGINAL ART has been shipped, the HAND-PAINTED 3-D MINIATURES have been shipped, and the ORIGINAL ART PIECE DRAWN FOR THIS CAMPAIGN has been shipped. Are our records wrong about any of these? Please let us know.
Then, of the REDRAWN CLASSIC IMAGES IN FULL-COLOR, Gary Chalk has completed one and we are still waiting on the other.
The SIGNED PRINTS are not ready: we have only a few of the total. Also, two of you who pledged for signed prints never filled your survey! Best do so now!
This leaves the MAP PACK and ARTBOOK. We will discuss these further: they are in partial completion only.
What we ask you to pay, and what we'll give you
Jamie Wallis has done the math for current shipping expenses. Again, we acknowledge that you already paid for shipping: the financial problems will be discussed in a moment, but in short there is no money left to ship as we had originally budgeted.
Jamie has shipping methods lined up that will work for any parcel up to 5 kg for all relevant parts of the world. This works fine since the board game is around 2.75 kg (Didn't we say it was 2.2 kg? More on this is in a moment) and no add-ons are heavy enough to push it beyond that boundary. Therefore . . .
If you have pledged for anything OTHER THAN THE MAP PACK, ARTBOOK, AND SIGNED PRINTS, we ask you to pay the following by location and you will receive all your rewards:
USA and Canada, £24.50
Europe (Spain, France, Germany, Hungry, Italy, Austria and Belgium only), £18.50
The rest of the world (including the remaining European countries), £33.00
These pay for shipping, the shipper itself, and a small fee because this time we're using Paypal. Please send the funds to Jamie Wallis at email@example.com via Paypal:
If you are an existing Paypal user, be sure your shipping address is up-to-date. In the "Special instructions to seller" field, please state your Kickstarter username and the listed price of your pledge level. For example, suppose your username is "Chalkfan" and you selected the $58 for the game and 3-D miniature, but actually paid $63 to add on the scenario pack. You should state "Chalkfan, $58" on Paypal. Then Greywood would look up "Chalkfan" on Kickstarter and know to ship the game, one miniature, the add-on scenario pack, and your new freebies (see below).
If you are unfamiliar with Paypal, don't worry: it is simple and secure. Go to the site and click the "Send" button at the top. Input firstname.lastname@example.org and the amount in "GBP." Select "This is for a good or service" when prompted. Follow the steps for account creation (trust me, you'll use it again someday), then use "Special instructions to seller" as above.
If for whatever reason you cannot set up an account, then contact Jamie at the above address and make an arrangement personally (but please use Paypal if there's any way you can).
Greywood will give you the following in return for your help:
Your rewards will receive priority in shipping, as Jamie will start shipping as he starts receiving funds. (Note: it still will take months to complete the shipping.)
You will receive a FREE DIGITAL DOWNLOAD OF THE CUT-OUT MAP BOARD. This is the special board from the map pack. Not everyone wants to cut up an original board, so this lets you print them at your leisure.
You will receive EXTRA GAME COMPONENTS.
What "extras"? It so happens that the board game shipment included spares:
The 5 kg threshold means Greywood has space in each shipment that will cost him nothing to fill. Jamie will add two extra map boards to every reward fulfillment where he receives your help in shipping; and, if he runs out, he will include other bonuses instead.
Sound good? We've tested this and determined that an international shipment is pretty solid:
You can see slight damage in the packaging, which is why Jamie will add bubble wrap to the miniature blister packs. If you're interested, I'd gladly fill another update with an illustrated unpacking.
Now, you may be concerned about the map pack (which is used by the scenario pack) or the artbook. It's long been the plan to minimize shipping by doing only a single shipment per person, and the latter are not ready yet. If you have (or want) any of those in your reward shipment, you might wish to hold off on paying as you read the rest of this update.
The money challenge, revisited
If we're asking you for yet more money, you deserve to know why. If you followed us before, you've seen this is the most difficulty we've ever faced in a project.
Here's an updated run-down of what challenges we surmounted and what ones smacked us in the face.
We planned, of course, for plenty: your pledge was to pay for the production of each item, its shipping worldwide, the time and effort (and royalties) of the people at work here, and Kickstarter and credit card fees. "Shipping worldwide" was discussed in that above link: it costs more than the item itself. So, as stated, rising shipping costs have been downright horrible.
The Kickstarter and credit card fees were around $3,000, which is a little less than 10% (as usual on this site).
Now you add the expenses discussed earlier: rising shipping costs. Recall the board game turned out heavier than expected? Twice? It's the map boards. They are 2.5 mm thick, which matches the playing pieces and will be awesome for play, but they were supposed to be 1 mm thick. The box is full to the brim and somewhat awkward now. Jamie reported this:
"Because we needed to get copies of the game to Indiecon, the long advertised launch for the game, we omitted the usual proofing methods that [the printers] insist on. I proofed the product via photographs rather than a physical proof copy to my house. I had it in my head that the boards would be 1 mm thick and I didn't see any reason to question the photo as it just looked like a flat game board of really good quality. The first we knew about the board thickness was when we opened the first box at Indiecon. I asked to get the boards changed to a thinner stock but as the game was approved they had already moved to mass production."
Then, as Mikaël stated recently, there were taxes involved in receiving the goods. This was part of deciding which printer to use, and should have fit within the initial budget, but by this point ate up the rest of the money. We did everything we could once we started seeing problems with the plan, but the fact remains that the Kickstarter money is spent.
Thus we have two faults that sapped the money: unplanned losses in simply getting the money where it needed to go, and problems in production and shipping that raised costs thereafter.
We want to do everything we can. That means thinking about the future.
"Finish what you start" versus "understand your limitations"
As stated, there is no money left. The map pack and artbook are only partially completed, as follows:
Map pack: The graphic design part is straightforward. The printing is the problem. If the map boards are 2.5 mm now by accident, doesn't the map pack have to match? This means the map pack would cost more than expected (and . . . more than you paid during the campaign). A quick estimate suggests 80% of the cost of a board game.
Artbook: The problem is that only about half of Gary's legally-available artwork has been found and scanned. All Lone Wolf art is ready. Gun Dogs, the more recent project Gary Chalk released with Jamie Wallis, was available from the start. Sundered Lands has a few pieces ready. But there is zero Redwall. Now what?
The map pack has a corollary issue that the scenario pack (my .pdf of extra battles) makes use of the new boards! This is one reason to give you the cut-out sheet for free electronically, but obviously this doesn't cover everything.
So we are talking internally about what to do. Now ask yourself. Do we:
Admit defeat and ship only the products that exist, annulling the map pack and artbook?
Ship the products that exist, hope for money to appear sometime in the nebulous future, and then ship the missing add-ons months later?
Ship the products that exist, lower the quality on the missing add-ons, STILL have to wait for more money to manufacture the lower-quality versions, and then ship the add-ons?
And if we "ship the missing add-ons in the nebulous future," do we ask you to split your rewards and pay shipping TWICE?
"Nebulous" wait time is built in anyway: people who pledged for existing rewards but who DON'T help with the Paypal shipping campaign will have to wait while Greywood gets the money to fulfill these.
"Lowering the quality" would mean printing a thinner map pack (that would not match the base game in thickness) and accepting fewer illustrations in Gary Chalk's artbook.
I know, I know: I'm a Redwall fan too. I'm the one who went hunting for Redwall fan communities in order to advertise the campaign. I don't want to abandon the quest. But unless someone can produce more cash for Greywood, these are the options.
Inevitably, there arises the question of refunds. A small number of people have asked for one. I will record the username of everyone who asks, but the answer is the same: the money isn't there to do anything yet.
Now we ask what you think.
We think that the quality on everything that's been completed is up to expectations. Gary Chalk's creation is amazing. We hope you'll be satisfied with your shipments once you receive them, and that you can help the process get started.
Me, I'm heartened by the successful work of other people on Kickstarter who've gotten to this state: the short version is that it's not uncommon to need more cash, and Kickstarter projects typically deliver even if they must do so late.
The long version is that I learned some lessons following the struggles of Lori and Corey Cole in the Hero-U project and American McGee in Alice: Otherlands, creators with a history of mainstream success. Despite appearances, a project financed on Kickstarter has a better chance of success than anything financed in private game development. Projects by private publishers are launched and cancelled all the time. But Kickstarter creators have an audience; and we CARE about our audience, mind you! What's unusual isn't that creators suffer delays and rising costs: what's unusual is that Kickstarter is a place where these people admit it in public.
Not to excuse the faults or minimize the problems. For these Greywood Publishing wants to apologize. I just say all this because I'm dedicated to transparency with you, and I'm here to share games (and related products) that I hope make people happy.
If you are affected by the issues (especially the map pack and artbook), feel free to express your thoughts in the comments. And, of course, we're available for private discussion.
Thank you again for your patience and support.
PART TWO: MIKAEL LOUYS'S UPDATE FOR MEGARA ENTERTAINMENT
Hello Lone Wolf the Boardgame backers.
I would like to offer a few precisions, as the Founder and CEO of Megara Entertainment worldwide, to what has been explained by Richard above in Part One.
Since the start and before the campaign started, we had agreed with Gary and Jamie that Megara would take 10% of the campaign to manage it because neither Gary nor Jamie wanted to do this and they asked us for our help and expertise. Greywood wanted to manufacture and ship the product from start but they asked us to run the campaign page ; and they wanted as well to benefit from our ealier Kickstarter customers fond of Lone Wolf and gamebooks. The 10% was splitted as follows : 5% for Richard (only to do updates and run the page until the campaign ends ; normally Jamie was supposed to take over the updates after this) and 5% for Megara SARL (owning Megara LLC) because it was normal that Megara would take 5% because Greywood would access all our previous customers and it's normal that this isn't free.
That 10% Megara took was known from the start by Jamie and he was supposed to do his maths and the shipping and manufacturing based on the fact that a bit less than 10% was going to (Kickstarter+Amazon Payment) and 10% to Megara. I remember advising him at the time to set up a higher unit price for the game and higher shipping fees in order not to be in a difficult situation afterwards. Apparently in the end he did not listen to me. So first of all it's Jamie's fault because HE decided alone without Gary all the unit prices and shipping fees. Maybe Richard gave him a few advice as well, as far as I remembered, but in the end it's Greywood who has set up all the pledges levels and I hoped at the time that Jamie decided wisely ; he didn't. I am not to be blamed for this.
Recently, Jamie started to insult me with not apparent reasons, just because I was pushing him to fix his mistakes and go talk with the customers directly, or maybe because I reminded him all his mistakes during this campaign. So far I have been hiding the other reasons why Greywood is lacking cash after manufacturing, because I thought Jamie was a friend. It apparently turns out he doesn't respect me any longer. I received insults while just trying to help him sort his problems. Not to mention that for months Richard Gary and I were running after him to get answers for the backers and he would not show at Skype meetings or answering emails on time, and sometimes the info wasn't clear. We often got the same excuse : "I'm sorry guys I am bipolar". Fine. But Jamie decided all alone without Gary how many units to produce, which manufacturer to use and so on. Fine again.
I have been trying to build a good reputation for Megara for years. Before the few Kickstarter Megara has run, we sold thousands of other products on other various platforms. Each time Megara was responsible. When there was a problem I took on my own money to refund customers. Why ? Because to me, a good repute is better than having plenty of cash and being detested.
For the Lone Wolf Campaign, Megara only got around 2000 euros (the 10%). We also got the money for the Autumn Snow add-on (around 40 add-ons produced by Megara instead of Greywood). That's all. All the rest of the money went to Greywood and I had myself no control on how Jamie would spend the money or manufacture this or that.
At the beginning I just wanted to help Gary and Jamie because they didn't feel like running a campaign themselves ; and they were happy to benefit from our customers against the 10%. I said yes because I was seeing Gary and Jamie as friends and helping friends is good for your karma. I am still now friends with Gary and doing business with him ; he suffered like me from some of the poor decisions Jamie took.
I also need to protect my back and show if needed some proof that Jamie was responsible for the shortfall of money. Because I have a reputation for Megara. I have protected Jamie long enough, only to end up being insulted by him (when I NEVER insulted him). I am deeply saddened by this behaviour of him. Maybe he doesn't remember the time when he had a big personal problem years ago and he asked me to lend him some money to move to a new house because he could not afford at the time moving, he had to but he had no friends except me at the time to help him. I gladly helped him and sent him money - money that he never refunded to me years ago, now that is situation is better. At the time he told me 'You are my best friend, thank you Mikael, for the constant psychological help (I would listen to all his problems) and for the financial help, so I can start a new life and pay my moving to a new city'.
Now I regret having helped him at that time, and I regret having helped him a second time with this Kickstarter campaign. Because in the end he is insulting me and telling me 'I never want to talk with you again, if you write me again your email will directly go into my recycle bin'.
Maybe because I have put him in front of his responsibilities many times and he did not like it at all in the end. Such a childish behaviour, and despicable attitude.
As I have been insulted and assured that we will never be friends again (HE decided this for me, I was shocked), I don't see know why I would go on protecting his back and hiding stuff that even Richard is hiding. The point is, I am not sure Jamie deserves any additional money, but if you want to get your games you will probably have to. I hope he will deliver and fulfill. He will probably! But I am not happy that we are to the point that he needs more money.
I will repeat what I have said in past comments and tell you more of the truth about what happened. I don't do it in a revenge spirit : believe me I have other things to attend, and I am at a convention right now.
Here are some hidden facts about what happened. I kept any emails by Jamie. I will not disclose details because it's his business.
Why doesn't Jamie have money to pay shipping and do refunds ?
1) Because he has set up a too low unit price and shipping fees for the game back then when he designed his pledges.
2) Maybe because he printed in China and had several thousands pounds of import taxes to pay when receiving the games. He is based in the UK, if he had ordered from a EU manufacturer = no import tax to pay! Maybe the retail price would have been a bit higher, but it was worth studying it - he did not study and went for China directly.
3) I was shocked to learn from Jamie that he ORDERED 1000 GAMES instead of the 300+ needed to ship the backers. Officially, he told me "It was a minimum they would not manufacture for less". I don't believe it so much, why : We are in a world where printing on demand is well established whether it is for boardgames or books. I know it myself, I use print on demand to print my Megara gamebooks. He could have at least asked many other providers to see if he could order just the minimum number of boardgames (300+) to fullfill the campaign, and in order to keep what's necessary to fulfill the shipping afterwards. Instead he paid a very high sum to the manufacturer...guess what... you guys have helped him get 700 extra games to sell by himself. This is so shocking. And then he tells you he doesn't have any more money. It's normal : I saw the bill, and he used almost all the Kickstarter money he got to order the games, knowing he would not have anything left for shipping. This is outrageous for the customers.
4) Last but not least, we were supposed to send the Kickstarter money from the Megara LLC's account in the US directly to Jamie's account in the UK. To minimize banking tranfer fees. As it's around 1500 USD to transfer around almost 30K USD from the US to the UK as the sum is large. Jamie told us : 'No problem. You can transfer the sum for the manufacturing and shipping of the games to my account at Greywood right after the campaign'. Then in November we were going to do it. He said to Richard : 'Richard, wait, in fact I don't have a business bank account ready to receive the Kickstarter funds. But it will be ready before the end of the year as planned'. Richard said : 'Good, because for tax reasons I can't keep the Kickstarter funds eternally and will have to send the funds to you before Dec 31st'. Jamie said : 'All right Richard and Mikael, noted, it will be ready.' At that point I wondered why he would not have a corporate bank account ready already since he was supposed to be in business before and he never said he didn't have one. We chased him all December and he said "Oh well I can't manage to open my company bank account on time, it seems my bank account will only be opened in January". We were shocked. He spent all December on what? To create a bank account it's usually fast. Richard said that as warned before for tax reasons he could not keep the Kickstarter funding on the LLC account because it was 80% Jamie's money (after the Kickstarter fees and Megara takings). I asked Gary what to do. Gary could not receive the money himself. Everybody asked if I could helped with Megara's SARL account in France (Megara SARL used to own 51% in Megara's LLC), holding the money on the Megara French account in January meanwhile Jamie finishes setting up his account. I told Gary, Richard and Jamie : 'Guys, if we do this, there will be twice bank transfer fees. In the end on Dec 31st the LLC in the US will send the funds (1st bank transfer fees of 1500 euros) to the SARL in France (holding it for Jamie) and then the SARL will have to send from France the funds to Jamie's Greywood accound in the UK (a second transfer fee of 1500 euros.)'
Gary and I blamed Jamie for not having respected what he said and having completely slacked. As a result, 3000 euros of banking fees were taken off the project instead of 1500 should Jamie would either have had from the start a corporate bank account or would have kept to his word of setting his account by the end of December at the latest. In fact, he took until February to do it, and then I sent him the funds....
It's the last time I help another company. And Jamie should apologize to me for having insulted me several times. Now I don't want to hear about him or his company, I just thought you guys backers had the rights to know what Jamie (and partly, Richard) were hiding you. Because I'm also a backer of that game, anyway.
Founder, Megara Entertainment SARL