Turing Tumble Progress Update #7: Our Pre-Production Sample Arrived!
Hello friends! Today we have two fun bits of news:
1. We will release the virtual pack on Monday the 13th. For those of you who get the Virtual Pack as part of your reward level or as an add-on, we're going to "lock down" your order on BackerKit that same morning. "Locking down" your order means that you won't be able to add or remove items from your order from that point on. So if you'd like to add or remove anything from your order, please remember to do so before Monday.
2. Yesterday was a very big day - the first complete sample of the game arrived! Injection molded parts and all. Here's the unboxing:
I was anxious and excited - will the box look any good? Will the plastic parts work right? Will the game have a good quality feel?
LongPack Games already warned us of a few issues. Apparently the box was unavoidably scuffed when they stretched paper over it, so we will have to add a matte lamination to the surface to prevent that. Also, the injection molded parts aren't the correct color - they were made with some randomly colored plastic that the molder had on hand at the time. They are also still rough - they didn't remove the machine marks and they didn't add any texture yet.
I was surprised to see the spot varnish on the box. I expected that this version of the box would just be inkjet printed, but it actually looks like a final product.
I was shocked at how nice the box looked when I pulled it out. It looks and feels amazing! Here are some more pictures of it:
When I opened it up, here's what it looked like on the inside:
You can see all sorts of machine marks on the surface of the board. Those will go away when they put the final touches on the injection molds. One real problem, though, is that the board is warped. If you look along the far edge, you can see the board bows down. That's likely caused by the injection molding process. When the plastic cools, it shrinks, which can cause it to deform. Fortunately there are things molders can do to reduce warpage, so hopefully they will solve that problem in the next iteration.
I pulled the board off the top and it looked like this:
The board supports will be black in the final version. Here they're dirty white and the rubber feet haven't been added yet. Also, you'll notice the circles in the top vacuum tray aren't cut out. You should be able to stick your fingers through them to pull off this layer. They're planning to do that in the next iteration.
Down to the next layer. I took off the top vac tray and this is what I found:
The parts didn't stay in their spots, but I think that's ok. When the game is shipped to you, the parts will all be in bags inside the two big trays. It's only after you take out all the parts and put them in their individual holes that they could possibly shake out of their spots. Even so, I did my own shake test where I put all the parts in their spots, closed the box, and shook it around as hard as I could. Only a few parts came out of their slots and they didn't move far. Certainly the game could be stored on its side or even upside down and the parts would all stay in their places. You probably couldn't store your game in a paint mixer, though.
At this point, I started putting the board together and testing all the parts, so I completely forgot to keep taking pictures. But I did go back just now and take pictures with the old prototype parts inside (so the colors would be correct):
There are more than a few issues we'll need to work through with the injection molded parts. I think the molders were a bit conservative on this first iteration and made all the joints loose. So the ramps, for instance, wiggle around on the pins so much that they often fly off the board when balls run over them:
Crossovers do the same thing. One good bit of news is that the injection molded parts have considerably less friction than the CNC milled parts I've been using. This makes the gears and gear bits work like a dream. Here we have 5 gear bits connected in a line and they work perfectly. I'm sure you could add even more, but I didn't test that, yet.
Yesterday I put together a comprehensive list of about 50 changes that need to be made and I sent them off to LongPack. They've already started working on them. I suspect it will take 2-3 more iterations before we go into production. We'll find out soon how long they think these changes will take to complete.
Overall, we're very, very happy with how things turned out so far. It looks and feels like a high quality game or kit. And it's satisfyingly heavy at 6.7 lbs.
Thanks again to you all! More to come next week when we release the Virtual Pack.
Paul and Alyssa