(I know it's a long one, so I've bolded a few key paragraphs if you're in a hurry, but urge you to read the whole thing if you want the details)
The situation -
As you’ll know from the recent updates, our order for one load of components didn’t work out, forcing us to organize a re-order with other suppliers. Over the past two weeks we have been running around trying to get things back on track as quick as we could. We’ve reached out to suppliers, got samples, and negotiated rough prices and dates with people.
Our intention, as outlined in the previous updates, was to get things back on track as quickly as possible, so that has been our main objective.
We did indeed manage to find a way to get things back on track quickly. As of the start of this week we could have probably pushed things and still got things out by the end of the month like we planned in the last few updates, but it does come at a cost.
Firstly, it would involve doing a rush order with companies we don’t know, in countries we can’t visit, and have no track record of. We have to take it on their word that everything will be done in time and with no problems. We have no reason to disbelieve them of course, and they are seemingly reputable companies with good client lists, but if they have over-promised or something goes wrong we don’t want to end up in the same situation we are in now but another few weeks down the road. We would rather be sure.
Secondly, from the samples we have received the components would be of a lower quality than we had before. Perhaps an inevitability of them being able to produce faster.
So we can get things done quickly, but the compromise is working with unfamiliar companies, and a lower quality product.
On the other hand, we can go with someone more familiar to us and more local, not rush the order, get everything done right, and have everything finished to the top quality, but it will take longer than the quick order. We have companies we know are good, but they are quoting us 6 to 8 weeks. We originally left that as the second option in favour of the faster method outlined above, but as we’ve already explained that option has its drawbacks too.
It just happens to be the more complex to produce items are the ones we’ve ended up having problems with (which I suppose is a matter of probability; if anything is likely to cause trouble, it’s going to be the more complex pieces). The irritating other side to that is the fact that these components also take the longest to set up, produce, and sort out.
So we have found ourselves faced with a really difficult choice – minimise this delay as much as possible and get thing out as quick as we can, but compromise on quality and risk potential further upset if anything goes wrong, or play it safe, get everything to a high quality, but add more time to the estimated delivery date, potentially upsetting backers.
What we are doing & why -
So, in the end, we’ve decided it’s probably best to go with the long-term strategy, not rush out an inferior product, and rather get something that’s as good as we can make it.
The main reasoning behind this is our vision for the game – we have always wanted this game to be all about high quality. The main comment we have had from backers thus far aside from just telling us how excited they are about the game, is commenting on how good everything looks and commending us on the amount of work that must have gone into everything, and we’ve been overjoyed by these comments, as that’s been exactly what we’ve been aiming for since the start.
We know that many backers want to keep their games for the long term, while some have talked about selling them on in the future after they have finished with them. I know that you can go on eBay now and buy some of the most successful Kickstarter board games for way more than their initial Kickstarter price. When games are good, and unique, and interesting, and really well made, they retain value, and in many cases go up in value. Especially a limited edition first run as Kickstarters tend to be. But the game has to have a reputation for quality. If the game is known for flimsy low quality components that don’t last, then the value won’t last either, whether you’re selling it on, or just keeping parts on display on your office shelf.
We want this to be the kind of game that you still see up for sale second-hand in ten years’
time with people excitedly bidding to get their hands on a weird cult classic, and all the components look as fresh as the day it was made. We have never wanted it to be the kind of game played once and then thrown away like a happy-meal toy because everything is falling apart.
Because of that vision of the game we have, faced with this tough situation we’ve been put into, we’ve decided we have to go for quality over speed. I know that some people will agree with this and think it’s fine, whereas other will disagree and be frustrated, but I hope that in the future, when this delay is a distant memory but the quality and reputation of the game are still very much alive, those backers will come around to the idea that the long-term strategy was the superior one.
I just want to reiterate that we are not saying we plan to drag our feet – we still intend to get the game out as quickly as possible, that’s what everyone wants. But it will be as quickly as possible without compromising on quality.
With the new order saying 6-8 weeks, and giving us say 2 weeks to get everything together after that, we’re looking now at a D-day of 8-10 weeks from today. We know that really sucks, and we truly, genuinely tried our best to get this problem sorted out faster than that. But in the end we couldn’t find a way to do it without compromising the final product, and so we had to make a call, and annoying and frustrating as it is right now, we think in time this long-term thinking will prove to be the right move.
I’ll apologise, again of course, for being in the situation where we have to make a decision such as this, but as you know it was largely outside of our control. I still feel awful about it. I’ve been told that half of kickstarters don’t make their estimated delivery date, but we wanted so, so much to be in the half that do. As regular readers of these updates may know I’m the kind of geek to sit around planning a hugely elaborate puzzle game, rather than much of a salesman or public speaker, and the thought of having to come out and tell 1500 people bad news is something I’ve been dreading. That’s why we have always erred on the side of caution, and put so much effort into trying to get everything to work out perfectly; I never wanted to be in the position to disappoint anyone. Making these kinds of decisions where there is no right answer (speed & compromised quality VS quality & compromised speed) has been honestly the most difficult part of this process so far. In fact, I’ve been so affected by it, that I decided that I couldn’t just leave it there without doing something to make it up to you guys. So there is a silver lining –
Silver lining -
As you’ll know, the game features some multimedia content online (cartoon videos etc). Some of you purchased custom printed USB sticks with this data pre-loaded onto it. Those sticks have already been printed, but earlier this week I reached out and asked the supplier if we could potentially pay to update the data on the drives. This means that any time over the next few weeks that I am not spending sorting out the final components I can spend making the multimedia content even better. If you guys have to wait a little while more to get the game, then I want to be spending that time making the game you get even better, to make it up to you. I’ve got some cool ideas to up the overall quality, and maybe add a few new little things we didn’t have time for before, I’ll see how it goes and post updates about them as I work on them. When we come to ship out, I will re-load the sticks and everything will go ahead as intended before, but a lot better. It’s just a little something I thought that I could do to make the final product even higher quality.
Thanks for reading, and appreciating the difficulty of the dilemma. You’ve been a fantastic group of backers from the start, and we will continue to do all we can to bring you the best game we can.