Project Update - 07 May 2018
Hello fellow Mountaineers! At long last, an update!
First off, I apologize for the delay. I was waiting because I wanted some more concrete manufacturing details to give you, but unfortunately, we still aren’t quite there. Hopefully by the end of this week! Keep your fingers crossed, because we might have some extra goodies for you. (:
Short & Sweet Update
If you don’t feel like reading an entire huge post, here is the bullet point version of this update (and check out the photos at the bottom)!
- Manufacturing quotes have been taking too long, but we’ll have the final information to make a decision on who we go with this week.
- The Crowdox Pledge Manager is still open, but as soon as we place our manufacturing order, we’ll close it.
- If you need to change your address, that is still available (and will be for a few months).
- If proof-reading is your thing, please take a look at these cards, and let me know if you see spelling/grammar/consistency errors! (Each card has a number, so reference that number in your comments.)
- Due to circumstances, some of which were beyond my control, an August delivery is looking impractical. We are now looking at September/October for fulfillment. I’m really sorry about this. Initially I had hoped to fulfill before August, but this now looks impractical.
- Speaking of August, my wife and I are expecting our first child early that month. Hurrah for offspring to train in the ways of climbing and hiking! Boo for needing to find a different full time job.... (-:
To summarize, I’m still working non stop on making your game, manufacturing was delayed slightly, but we are committed to fulfilling a quality and super fun board game late this summer!
If you want to know more of the gory details, keep reading below. (-:
Getting accurate final quotes for Mountaineers has been a pain in the butt. For every manufacturer we’ve quoted with, it takes close to a month to get the details accurate (and hence the prices accurate). Unfortunately, between multiple complex products, language barriers, and time zone differences, this is just how it goes…
For this project, I’ve been getting quotes from 3 different manufacturers. One manufacturer is based in Europe, they’ve helped us quote Mountaineers for quite a while, and if we went with them, they would probably have a faster turn-around time (and fast freight times, especially to our European backers). The downside is that they are expensive, and I’m not in love with the quality from our last project with them.
The other two manufacturers are based in China. One is very well-known, and would have very high quality, but they are also extremely busy, and getting booked with them takes time and would delay the project quite a bit. The other one is also well known, but has lower costs (but also more difficult communication channels). However, the lower costs might allow us to add some nice component upgrades (and still stay on budget).
Anyways, I’ve been working with all these manufacturers and should have all the facts necessary to make a decision this week. I’m pretty sure I know which one we’ll use, but I’m waiting for a few more emails (which are supposed to come today) to see if there is any reason to change.
Except for a few minor things, the game cards are finished! Here is a link to a PDF with the playing cards for Mountaineers (all editions). If proofreading is your thing, I’d definitely appreciate you taking a look and letting me know if you see any major spelling/grammar/consistency/play-ability errors. If you make a comment, please use the cards reference number so I know which one you are referring too.
I’m hoping to have the rule book and other assets finished up this week as well, so stay tuned for those!
Delayed Fulfillment Date
Currently, I think an August fulfillment date is impractical though I’m still going to try for it. Mostly likely, games will start arriving in Sep/Oct. I still don’t have good timeline estimates, because it will depend on the manufacturer (and the contract manufacturers they use for things like the wood components, etc...).
I’m bummed about this and it is super annoying. I’m the type of personality that doesn’t like to promise things I can’t do, and as a gamer, I feel like this “tarnishes” my KS fulfillment record. But on the flipside, this whole project has definitely been a learning process, and I’ll be more prepared for our future projects.
A Story of Things Gone Wrong…
There are a couple things which have led up to where we are now, and the Kickstarter being delayed. The first and most obvious, was project creep. In spite of my best efforts, the stretch goals we added and the mechanics changes we made during the campaign, ended up not only require more playtesting but also make manufacturing trickier, both of which delayed and complicated things. What I thought would be finished in December, took until late February.
The second biggest factor, has been getting accurate quotes from manufacturers, which I touched on briefly earlier. Despite my best attempts to show the differences between the different versions and clearly label everything, there is always something that ends up being misunderstood by the project manager, resulting in roughly 10-15 quote iterations before everything is actually correct. And when you are dealing with international manufacturers, often the fastest response you can get is 1 email per 1-2 days, which is pretty slow.
Additionally, I’ve had some not-so-great luck with people who were going to be helping with the project, but ended up not being able to follow through fully. Earlier this year, I had promising talks and meetings with someone who was going to come on as a co-founder and help grow the company, and who also connected me with a graphic designer who seemed passionate about Mountaineers, and wanted to do all the design work at a reasonable cost. I also had someone helping me with social media stuff, and another person who was going to help with accounting/tax stuff for 2017.
Because of this, I took on another game project (Kartoffelkrieg) which was going viral and getting a lot of traction on the internet. My reasoning was that since my team was growing, I was contracting/delegating much of the Mountaineers artwork, had someone working on accounting, and was contracting much of the Kickstarter Strategy/Art/Marketing work for Kartoffelkrieg, that this would be a no-brainer business move.
I even had a highly respected consultant helping me on the Kartoffelkrieg Kickstarter. Add the fact that my wife and I are expecting our first child in August, and I had a large incentive for growing the business and trying to make it profitable! (Note that the Mountaineers Kickstarter helped us break even, but I’m still not getting paid.)
For the first couple weeks, everything seemed to be going fine. I was focusing mostly on manufacturing details for Mountaineers, and all the other things that come with running a company. Then, things started going downhill. The cofounder I wanted to bring on board, changed their mind about being involved, and ultimately decided to leave and focus on their own board games.
The person who was going to help with accounting/taxes was no longer available. The artists for Kartoffelkrieg kept giving me problems, and the reviewers for it were getting delayed. The graphic designer for Mountaineers stopped being responsive to my messages requesting work updates, and then dropped the project leaving most things completely unfinished (but still taking half of the work payment).
I attended the GAMA convention hoping to spark some interest in Mountaineers from distributers, but got only mediocre interest, thanks to the glut of games in the board game industry. (Side note: for distribution, it’s all about who you know and having a campaign that does over a million dollars and thousands of copies. Fortunately though, retailers loved the game, so I think we’ll focus on going direct to them.) And, in spite of the consulting help, the Kartoffelkrieg campaign was going poorly. With everything piling up, I realized some changes were needed.
So, I cancelled the Kartoffelkrieg campaign, and postponed it to a later date. I spent ~roughly 2 weeks learning accrual accounting (thanks to a university student), getting our accounting methods changed, books balanced, and taxes submitted before the deadline. (Still nervously waiting to hear if everything was accepted.)
I then restarted the graphic designer work for Mountaineers myself, as it was too late in the project to bring on a brand new designer. I was able to reuse a few of the assets that the bailed designer had created, but a lot of things had to be designed from scratch, which takes time.
For the last 3 weeks, I’ve been focusing on the manufacturing quotes and graphic files/assets for Mountaineers. I’ve also been applying for jobs on the side, as I need to be able to support my wife and our baby come August. (Gotta love the US health care / parental leave system for entrepreneurs. Not!)
My goal is to get all the design work finish asap, so that when we sign the manufacturing contract, everything is ready to go. And I guess that the good news, is that I’ve been doing my homework on the production side, so things should go fairly smoothly from here on out.
I’ve probably given you more information then you needed, but I want to be open and transparent about what is going on. Hindsight 20/20, I’ve learned some lesson for the future about what I should do differently. And honestly, some of these circumstances were simply beyond my control. It’s hard to control the decisions that other people make.
Overall, I’m remaining positive about the project (barring the fulfillment delay). The final game is looking great. I like how most of the cards have turned out. I’ve got all the names for the Legendary backers ready to go on the mountain. We are working on some changes to the pegs to make them more durable and easy to see.
Manufacturing details are nearly finished. People are still pre-ordering Mountaineers in spite of me doing nearly zero marketing for it. I had a job interview for a technical writing position (if you’re the hiring manager, please don’t judge my abilities based on this update)! And we are adding a little Mountaineer to our family come August! Here’s to hoping I don’t have to sell my climbing gear to pay for the delivery!
Finally, I have you, my awesome backers who hopefully aren’t too disappointed in me for the lack of updates and delayed fulfillment. I’m really sorry about the lack of communication. You deserve better.
Thanks for your support of this project (and me). And remember, in Oregon, May is the start of the spring mountaineering season. Get out there and bag some peaks! And share the photos in our Facebook group!
Till next time,