Progress Report and a Trip to the PROTOTYPE GRAVEYARD (OooOoOooo... Scary!)
TL;DR: We're even closer to Infernal Dice, and you can get a deeper look at the prototypes that didn't make it onto our viable-candidate list. Details below!
Hey all! Fred here. Carrie is battling snow and soccer this week, so I'm stepping in for this update. Try to contain your disappointment!
How's The Campaign Doing?
This has been a great week for the Kickstarter. We're nearly 50% of the way through our Infernal Dice stretch goal. At the time of this writing we're at $17,154 and 684 backers, which is a very interesting set of numbers.
Why? Because if each one of those 684 backers added $8 to their pledge, we'd reach the Infernal Dice stretch goal. ($8 is the price we're putting on those Infernal beauties!)
Today marks the start of our last full week of the campaign. Come next Tuesday we'll be teetering on the cusp of the final 48 hours of the campaign, when pledge traffic usually starts to pick up again. If we are close to or (better yet) past that Infernal goal by the time we hit the 48 hour mark, it'll put us in the best possible shape for pursuing our later goals during the final surge. Your help getting us there is appreciated!
Obviously it might look at this point like your favorite preview-item isn't going to get funded this time around, but trust me on this, that's okay. We've gotten some incredible data here and the whole process of preparing for this campaign has given us a ton of prototype designs that we can look at rolling out when budget does become available months or years down the line. Planning out our future is good and we'll be returning to your comments on the updates for this project whenever the topic of Dice or Points comes up again. So yes, we may not reach some of our stretch goals, but that doesn't mean the dice or points those goals represent won't ever happen. We're committed to continuing to grow our line of accessories for Fate in the next five years and beyond.
If you're curious about some of the history of the whole Fate accessories line, I tweeted up a thread about that over the weekend, which you can find starting here: https://twitter.com/fredhicks/status/965269395261059072 — in this thread I talk about the past five years of Fate Dice sales, why we didn't have as much money to subsidize the goals on this campaign as we did on the first one, and the difference between Kickstarting to launch a new line of dice vs. maintaining an existing line of dice and Kickstarting to expand it. Deep data dive, ahoy!
But, speaking of prototypes...
Enter... The PROTOTYPE GRAVEYARD!
Folks, it is crazy tough to get dice colors right. I spend a lot of time with a PANTONE color book, trying to visualize what certain colors applied to certain materials and processes will look like, and I don't always get it right. This has led to some aggravating near-misses and entertaining belly-flops over time, and the run-up to this Kickstarter was no different. There's also only so far you can push on asking for color tests and other die samples from your manufacturer before they start to want to charge you serious money for the time you're eating up.
And so, I have a pile of various prototypes that are considerably less likely to see the light of day. The previews we've given you so far have all been for dice sets we feel are pretty darn viable. The ones I'm about to show you... less so. Some are "on the bubble" as it were, just barely missing the cut, while others were just plain bad.
At least to our eyes. Maybe your take is different, so if you see something here you think deserves a second chance, speak up! We'd love to hear your thoughts.
First up are the Void Dice. When we got access to a manufacturer that could provide us with the layered style of dice, I went all in, trying to assemble a number of color sequences that were more subtle than some of the strong-striping high-contrast ones I'd seen in some of the samples. With our Infernal Dice (see above) as well as the others in the current stretch goal set that effort produced something really special. Void Dice were intended to be a part of that, looking much like the Infernal Dice do but in the purple spectrum. The problem is most of the purples used were just too darn dark, and the brighter middle stripe contrasted too much with those colors. If I take another run at the Void Dice concept, I may try to reverse the flow and have it start with brighter purple on the outsides of the gradient, shading into darker purple in the middle. The concept's not dead, but this implementation of it certainly is.
Some of the samples we got looked amazing. They were items from another publisher's use of layered techniques to produce a variety of styles in your standard D&D polyhedrals. Two of them we wanted to do as Fate Dice, but the manufacturer (rightly so) balked at what amounted to a request to reverse engineer the colors of that other publisher's dice. In one of those cases, I took inspiration from a layered set that looked a lot like jade and played around with the hues and layer-sequence... which got us the Malachite Dice you see in our stretch goal list. Success! But...
... the other set we really liked were a rainbow, but after the manufacturer made reluctant sounds about that, I figured I'd try to scramble up the colors in a non-ROYGBIV order to see if we could still get a broad-spectrum result. We certainly did get that in these "Psychedelic Dice" prototypes, but, ugh, it just looked like a big clashing eyesore to me, a tie-dyed car crash of color. As with the Void Dice, I think the concept may be right, but the colors and sequencing certainly wasn't, so these go under the "back to the drawing-board" column.
Here's a close miss that we decided to take a second run on — our first-round red and blue dice for the Primary set. Their main problem was that they weren't Primary enough. The blue ended up being too greeny-blue, and the red had a powdery, tomato-y quality to them. They're still attractive dice, but they didn't directly nail the target, so we went for a second round resulting in the Primary Dice preview we've shown in our prior update.
Then we get into the Toxic Venom sequence... We took several runs at the idea of some "toxic" dice themed around poison, radiation, that sort of thing. Dice you'd bring to a post-apocalypse. That has produced some of our more colorful failures.
This first style was built out of the colors for the Spooky Dice set, with glow in the dark ink, and the two die material colors swirled together. The swirl wasn't bad, but we liked the other three styles that landed in the Spooky set more, so this one got left on the cutting room floor. I mean, I kinda like them, but I wasn't sure I liked them enough to say "make me 20,000 of these." (Why 20k? 4 dice, 5000-set minimum order.)
I also tried to marry yellow ink with yellow-green translucent dice for a reptilian venom vibe, but the yellow ink was too pale and we had other parts of the green hued spectrum we also wanted to explore, so these were a dud. They actually photograph a little better than they look in person (that yellow is paler than shown).
Then there's this hot mess. I was going for the same two-color swirled-material effect you see in the Spooky-derived swirled ones above, but I wanted to see a mix of yellow and green to really give that don't-touch-it-it'll-turn-you-into-a-mutant vibe. Problem is the factory just couldn't manage to craft a swirl that let those two colors maintain their separate identities, and the green ended up blending into the yellow rather than contrasting with it. Really just a train wreck.
But, I didn't want to end this look behind the curtain on a pile of failures. These final two are ones I actually like quite a bit, but didn't see a way for us to find a home for them.
There were also some questions about whether they'd actually have shelf appeal if they were released to the retail market. Sometimes something looks great once you've got it in your hand and out of a package, but it would likely look dull or unattractive in the package, and when that's the case you really shouldn't invest the money in getting them made only to see them fail to sell. Both of these sets potentially have that problem.
First is the Smoke & Silver Dice. Silver ink, translucent "smoke colored" dice. I think these look great, and they gave me a bit of that cyberpunk or noir feeling I was aiming for. Their biggest problem is that smoke colored dice tend to be poor sellers. Personally I like the look of smoke dice but I get the strong feeling that I'm the odd man out there. I'd love to hear your comments on these ones... maybe they could get resurrected as a stretch goal on an RPG project at some point in the future if it turns out we're off the mark about their sales potential.
And the last prototype is another favorite of mine: Cosmic Dice. Here, I wanted to pair the iridescent material seen in our Accelerated Core dice with a so-dark-it's-almost-black ultra-dark purple to create a sort of "star-field" look, with glow in the dark ink for the symbols evoking luminous celestial orbs. In person, with the right light, the effect absolutely delivers. But on a game store shelf, without some bright or direct light to help catch those iridescent highlights, these come off like they're black dice with white symbols on them, pretty darn dull. It's a pity, because I find them incredibly handsome.
Iridescent material is tricky stuff to work with. You can end up with an effect that's too subtle if you go too dark with your colors, and if you go too warm with a color, the rainbow spectra of the iridescent sparkles can end up shifting the apparent color far off of the actual hue you dyed the material with. Plus, it tends to be difficult to source in small quantities, sometimes requiring a higher minimum order quantity in order to be cost effective on a per-unit basis. I love its look tho!
At any rate, that's it for your GRAVEYARD TOUR (thunderclap!!! distant cackling!!!) of our prototype stash. Let us know if we made the right call in the comments below.
And remember, if you haven't added $8 to your pledge for those Infernal Dice yet, the best way you can make sure we actually get to make the Infernal Dice is to do so before we reach that goal. (If you're worried about pledging for something that doesn't get made, keep in mind you can always convert any overage you pledge into a purchase of our other available dice sets in BackerKit after the campaign ends, or put it towards an extra set of Fate Points!).
We're excited to see what the next week brings! If you have any questions for us, don't hesitate to reach out in the comments or through Kickstarter's private messaging system.
And of course, thanks as always for your support!