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Build mechanical computers powered by marbles to solve logic puzzles. Escape planet Eniac and discover how computers work.
Build mechanical computers powered by marbles to solve logic puzzles. Escape planet Eniac and discover how computers work.
4,198 backers pledged $404,071 to help bring this project to life.

Turing Tumble progress update #2

Posted by Paul Boswell (Creator)

Hi backers!

Before jumping into the progress update, I thought I’d mention that we’re only a day or two away from sending out the backer survey where you can update your shipping information, order add-ons, or order more copies of Turing Tumble at Kickstarter pricing. We'll send another update when it's all the way ready.

I figured you might like to see where we've been doing most of our work. It’s our craft-room-turned-home-office. Alyssa and I switch off doing work and taking care of the boys. And yes, that monitor is just as amazing as it looks.

Where the magic happens!
Where the magic happens!

The last few weeks have been busy! Alyssa and I made a lot of progress. Things are moving on schedule, though it has been a bit more stressful than I expected. I suppose it’s like starting any new job - it takes a little time to get comfortable. One month in, we’re starting to get used to the new situation and we’re having more fun with it.

The biggest news is that we locked in with a manufacturer and they’ll probably begin production next week! I did a lot of shopping around before choosing them. One of the most useful resources was created by James Mathe of Minion Games. It’s a long list of companies that manufacture games. After talking to several of the manufacturers on the list and getting quotes, we decided to go with LongPack Games. They do high quality work, the price was right, and the rep we're working with has a long history of making injection molds himself. He’s been really helpful already.

Where things are at now

There are four big sections of this project: the plastic parts, the puzzle book, the box, and shipping.

The plastic parts

If you remember in the last update, I modified a bunch of the parts and designed a new board support. The CNC milling company mixed up my order, so I only received the last of the parts yesterday. Fortunately, the parts worked! The balance is perfect and the parts are more reliable and sturdier. There were only two problems:

1) The board support I made was flimsy. ABS plastic isn’t as rigid as I thought. Also, the steepest tilt angle (75 degrees) was too steep. At that angle, the crossover parts wiggle off the board. I couldn’t think of a good way to overcome the problem without making major design changes, so I ended up omitting that steep tilt angle. I redesigned the board support, giving it thicker ribs, a retro-futuristic design, rubber feet (so it doesn’t slide back while you put parts on the board), and I left two tilt angles: 45 degrees and 60 degrees.

The new board stand
The new board stand

2) There’s a slight ramp in the two sections at the top of the board where the balls are held. In order to reduce the board dimensions, I had reduced that ramp angle from 5 degrees to 3 degrees. Evidently that was a bad choice. The balls didn’t always roll down the shallower ramp. So I put it back to 5 degrees.

The new prototype of the board stand should arrive in a week and a half, but we’re actually going to get started on production before it arrives. And with that, the design of the plastic parts is essentially complete. Yay!

The puzzle book

Getting the puzzle book in final form has been a big job. It’s well over 100 pages long with the comics, the puzzles, the solutions, and various other pages. We’re making good progress, though. Jiaoyang did some nice art for the front and back covers. Here are ideas for the front and back covers of the puzzle book. We haven’t finalized them, yet.

Possible front cover of the puzzle book
Possible front cover of the puzzle book


Possible back cover of the puzzle book
Possible back cover of the puzzle book

It will be spiral bound so it’s easy to keep open.

What’s left to do:

  • Create the other 9 puzzles
  • Add a couple pages about Alan Turing and about how this computer relates to a regular, silicon-based computer.
  • Edits/beta testing

The box 

The box is going to be slick. :) It will be made of thick paperboard and will have a magnetic latch. It’ll be shaped sort of like a big book. We’ll make sure the magnet is strong so it doesn’t open when you turn it upside down. 

At this point, everything but the art on the box is good to go. To that end, we’ve been working with some contract artists, and just yesterday we pulled in a company named Mackey Creative here in MN to help us, too. Surprisingly, of all parts of this project, the box art will probably be the very last thing we’ll have finished. 


Wow, this part is amazingly complicated. Originally, we planned to work with a company who would handle all of our shipping. It’s still a possibility, but we’ve found it’s quite expensive to do it that way. Shipping will be the single most expensive part of this project, so anything we can do to shave cost saves a lot of money. 

We’ve been learning all about Incoterms, VAT, duty, freight forwarding, shipping containers, and shipping by boat, truck, train, and plane. We’ll probably piece together our shipping by working with local distribution centers in several countries. 

VAT is going to cost a lot more than we expected. VAT is normally a ~20% tax charged on all imported goods to most countries. Other Kickstarter projects have gotten around VAT by importing large quantities into countries with a declared cost of just the manufacturing cost. However, those who monitor such things recently put out a clarification stating that VAT for crowdfunding campaigns must be charged on the entire purchase price + the shipping cost. Ouch!

The plan

Here's a rough projected timeline:

Injection molds take ~40 days to produce. I expect we’ll have a little back-and-forth after that, so it may be 80 days until we’re ready to go into mass production with the plastic parts. In the meantime, we’ll finish up the booklet and the box art. 

Production of 10,000 copies may take 30 days, and then shipping by boat will take 30-50 days. Add two more weeks for freight to the fulfillment centers, packing into shipping boxes, and local shipping. This is probably a conservative estimate, but it looks right now like you’ll still have your games in January.

We sure hope it goes faster than that. :) We’ll keep you updated as we go. 

Thanks again for your support,

Paul and Alyssa

Melina, Chris Reece, and 53 more people like this update.


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    1. Nata Di on

      Sorry, but the manga style is not mine...:-/

    2. Tat Leong on

      Congrats on settling down with a manufacturer! Spiral bound = Attention to details!
      Really really really helpful manufacturer list you put up there! I am also doing my own Kickstarter and we are also at the manufacturer stage so this resource guide is super helpful! Just one question, did you get the manufacturer to sign an NNN (non-disclosure, non-use, non-circumvention) agreement? Was trying to find them online but I only found generic NDA agreements.

    3. Missing avatar

      Lisa M

      I don't recall seeing a survey. Please post a link how I may check and complete. Thank you.

    4. Alyssa Boswell Collaborator on

      Thanks all! Love the feedback and ideas coming through. @Susie: Look for an email from me.

    5. Susie Honsinger on

      So much positive news! This is wonderful. I am so looking forward to using this game with my computer students next year. Paul, Alyssa, I have been selected to present at FETC in Orlando in January - a 2-h workshop on using tangible, non-screen toys to teach computational thinking! I'd love it if you could reach out to me about getting the Turing Tumble in hand early enough that I can bring it along for workshop attendees to try out! Again, thanks for creating such a fabulous toy.

    6. Jeffrey Owen

      Whether or not manga/anime art style looks good or not is entirely subjective. That being said, this was the style presented from the beginning. It looks great to me and is very serviceable to present the rules and scenarios in the rulebook. I'm imagining this turning out very well.

    7. Missing avatar

      FredericLep on

      Going all the way to China for the project? That is dedication! I sure hope you will have a nice trip!

    8. Paul Boswell Creator on

      Thanks for all the comments! We really appreciate the kind words and the opinions! It's always nice to get feedback. I wouldn't worry about the art - even if you're no fan of anime I think you'll like what it adds to the game. I plan to fly out to Shanghai in the next week or two with a prototype in hand to make sure production gets off on the right foot and the engineers understand how everything fits together. I found a bug in the board stands that I'm fixing today.

    9. Matt on

      Thanks for the update. I appreciate all the attention to detail in the mechanisms.

      As for the book, ... I like that it's spiral bound. I too am no fan of Anime, but yes the original campaign shows various panels from the book in a similar style. I wish the cover at least had some more identity - as it is, it's just sort of "girl with blank stare and short shorts on the front with title" and "girl with blank stare and short shorts on the back". It looks interchangeable with a million other "anime things". ... now I'm starting to worry the comic is full of a bunch of casual upskirt weirdness.

      I didn't back this game for the art, but I don't think it should be a throwaway either. Maybe I've been spoiled by other projects (Grimslingers, Dungeon Degenerates.. even Nova Cry, which I'm never going to see!), but I feel like this could be better: more Studio Ghibli, less Sailor Moon.

      Art is subjective (to a point), and there's a production schedule and all, but .. yeah. There's my feedback. I do think the story / comic approach to lead through the puzzles is great.

      Thanks -

    10. Kalman Perenyi

      I love the puzzle book covers, I'd suggest to keep it like that (or very close). :)

    11. JJRR on

      You've clearly done a stellar job for your first Kickstarter: even if you were caught by surprise on a couple of things you didn't know much about--e.g. distribution, shipping--perseverance and communication with backers is all we can ask for. You're letting us know about these obstacles, and outlining your plan to address. Tremendous job on this. Thanks to both of you.

    12. Missing avatar

      FredericLep on

      The manga style was presented since the beginning of the project, so it should not be a surprise for any backer really. I personally think it will help a lot to involve young kids into the game: I am always amazed how much popular that kind of animation is with the younger crowd and I am already a fan myself!

      Awesome update! Keep up the good work!!!

    13. Suzanne Rondinelli

      Terrific! I love your detailed memo. Just from this update alone, I truly feel I am part of the start-up. Unfortunately you both are doing all the work, as we sit drinking a Mai Tai, on a beautiful beach. ;) (One can dream.)

    14. Jim Saxon

      The anime/manga theme for the covers just doesn't seem to fit the game. It might work if there was some context tying to the subject matter.

    15. Jamie on

      Thanks for the detailed and thorough update! Sounds great -- hope the shipping gets easier. :-)

    16. Missing avatar


      Love the artwork!

      And the progress, thanks for the update!

    17. Luds on

      Nevermind, I realize the art is all over the place. Hopefully my kid will like it ;)

    18. Luds on

      Eh. Not a fan of animes/mangas. My 2 cents, they just don't fit the game at all.

    19. Oglik Naes

      Great update!

    20. Phil Stocks

      That packaging: looks like a book, contains a Turing machine, and it looks like there is a story of a teenage girl learning to use it... Have you by any chance read diamond age by Neal Stevenson?

    21. Jeffrey Owen

      Good work you two! Sounds like a baptism by fire. Make sure to get a final production copy before going into mass production so everything is exactly the way you want it to be, no surprises. And while you are still looking around for shipping, make sure whoever you decide to go with ships the games SAFELY. No envelopes or anything skimpy. In a box with peanuts or air bubble packaging. Keep up the good work! Cheers.