Turing Tumble progress update #2
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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