I’ll be posting updates every two weeks until we’ve completed fulfilling all rewards due on this project, and some days—like today—I will also be piggybacking backer-exclusive content to show elements or previews of things as we move forward. Even though some of you are understandably still frustrated over the delays and my silence of late 2015, I’ve been very grateful for the encouragement and support that has come our way. So what’s going on?
Printing Quotes Coming In
I’ve solicited updated printing quotes from the top two companies (who I’ve worked with before on multiple projects in the past) who had quoted previously but whose bids had expired. Consulting with some of the development team I also reached out to another recommended company for the opportunity. I’m expecting the estimates to hit my inbox this week, so the book will be printed in either Dallas (Texas), Minneapolis (Minnesota), or Callahan (Florida). Within a few weeks after receiving the final quote I will be able to transfer the deposit and schedule our time on the press and I’ll be able to report a much more solid timetable of when the books will be in my warehouse, my office, and what the plans are for shipping things out to the backers and pre-order customers.
Starship Warden Sourcebook & Short Adventure
Two upcoming products are the the Starship Warden sourcebook—the ideal companion volume to the core book—and an as-yet-untitled 16 page adventure. I’ve been talking to the development team about both and have already mapped out the rough chapter-breakdown of the sourcebook. I will post a backer-only update of the rough outline right after this public update goes online. The next stage will be a detailed breakdown of each chapter with estimated word counts to guide the writing of this 128 page softcover book. I’ve solicited ideas for the short adventure, which will be an ideal one-shot to play through in a roughly four hour time span (much like a convention or in-store event). I’m trying to find something with a tight enough scope for the length (6-8 encounters) but still capture the elements of exploration, forgotten technology, and mutant madness that makes Metamorphosis Alpha a unique RPG environment. I’ll be posting a short synopsis of the adventure plot for backers in the next update.
Some of you know that another crowdfunding venture recently completed for miniatures tied into Metamorphosis Alpha. While I’m not directly involved in that project, I provided the content and all the artwork to the team a while back for inspiration to develop that product line. Minis are a great companion for our game as well as the “classic” MA RPG. We’re talking about ways to cross-promote both product lines for the betterment of both.
I’ll be reviewing the other pending rewards for the various backer tiers in the next two weeks and making sure there is a plan for each. One discussion that’s already taken place is the hardcover edition of the book for the backer levels and I have a good idea of where those books will printed when we get to that point.
My birthday will have come and gone by next update, and I want to let you know that I’m grateful for your support—even those of you who are unhappy right now. I wish I could change how things went in the past, but I will do my best for a positive future for this product line and our company. I hope your 2016 is off to an excellent start!
Next Update: Monday, February 1, 2016
Well folks, we’ve reached 2016 and you haven’t heard from me in a while. It’s been a long time. An inexcusably long time. And as difficult as it is to face the music and open up to a lot of people I have disappointed, it’s important that I fix things. Delays are one thing, but delays and silence are not the way I want to conduct myself, run my business, or represent the people I work with on this and other projects.
As I’ve detailed in previous updates, there were a lot of factors that led to the delays in getting the Metamorphosis Alpha RPG core book completed. There were writers that I couldn’t replace who were extremely late turning in their work, artwork and maps that came in late, and me having to do complete additional writing and revisions that were way outside the schedule that I had blocked out for it all. Because of the production delays it threw off the plan, and I extended the licensing advances I offered to an extremely patient Jim Ward (who was and is dealing with serious long-term health issues) and I had to shuffle money around to try and make everything work. I thought that I would be able to afford the printing and fulfillment of the print book just after a short delay following the release of the eBook version. But luck was not exactly on my side for most of last year, and circumstances ended up getting even tougher for me.
At the same time, the delays in finishing the content of the main RPG book really upset and disillusioned some of you. I got a certain level of backlash even when I posted good news, and it made it really difficult to post updates that didn’t have anything substantive to say or good news to share other than things were “in progress.” I should have written a version of this update way back at that point. Instead, I got overwhelmed by a lot of things and pulled away. It was supposed to be a short hiatus to get both my plans and my head together so we could move forward on this project and the material to follow. But I went into “survival mode” and just focused on short-term earning for my family that dragged out to the end of the year. One bright spot is that on December 9, 2015 my son Jensen was born after a long and difficult pregnancy. He’s healthy and beautiful and already inspiring me to be a better man.
Despite any challenges thrown my way, the fulfillment of this project and communicating with you has always been my responsibility. I didn’t meet my end of the bargain, and for that I apologize.
The Good News
I’ve told you what went wrong, but I am NOT throwing my hands in the air and walking away. Admitting fault and apologizing are good first steps, but now it’s time to make things right. I want to move forward and build my business, and that’s not going to happen until I address my obligations and make good on outstanding promises.
A little while back I sent a coil-bound printed version of the book to Jim Ward while he was in the hospital in Milwaukee. He told me that he really likes this new incarnation of Metamorphosis Alpha. The presentation of the rules, the writing style, information, and visuals got praise from the very first person I was hoping to please with all of this. Jim is not just my licensor, but he’s been a mentor and friend for a long time. I hate that it’s taken so long and my own struggles have delayed it, but I’m going to make sure both he and you can flip through the final retail version and get some gaming in with it.
So what’s in the works? First step is that I’ve got both Plan A and Plan B in progress to cover the printing of the main book. I’m getting updated quotes in from my top three printer choices so I can decide which will get the business. I’m going to write up a synopsis for adventure concepts (for the short- and long-format scenarios) that I will be moving forward with in the next few months. And I’m going to outline the Starship Warden sourcebook that I’m excited to produce, a book that will pair with the core book to offer everything one could ask for to run a Metamorphosis Alpha campaign. I’m also going to get the t-shirt rewards and other offerings together that I owe certain backer tiers.
As part of my commitment to make things right and get my business back on track, I’ve taken a leave of absence from my volunteer position as Vice President of the Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA). I will resume the duties of my current term once things are properly moving forward.
I am putting together an update calender for every other Monday, beginning today and continuing until all pending rewards have been delivered. But I’ll warn you now that sometimes there won’t be much to say while we’re waiting on certain things like printing to complete or a draft of future material put together, but I’ll at least give a recap of what’s going on. I’ll close each post with the date of the next expected update.
Personal Communication: In my time away from Kickstarter my messages got really backed up and my work email is choked with spam. In the interest of making sure I can respond to future communications in a timely fashion, I’m declaring Email Bankruptcy. I’m going to set up an entirely new account specifically for communicating with crowfunding backers and will give you all that information in the next update in two weeks.
I messed up, you guys, and I’m sorry. But I’m going to fix things one step at a time, and keep you updated once every two weeks until we’re done.
Next Update: January 18, 2016
I'm caught up on all the requests I'm aware of from backers who were missing their download codes for the core book. If you haven't seen your link/code by email, please leave a comment below and I'll get it to you manually. Just a few quick pieces of business!
Bonus (Free!) Content
I've updated the playtest/demo characters to our current format. They can be printed out to jump into a game quickly—including the great ink illustrations by lead artist Lindsay Archer! We've also got a printable blank character sheet handy for you as well. Just click >> here << to see our bonus content page. I'll be adding to it in the coming weeks to include some extra stuff that wasn't included in the final cut of the core book.
The digital edition is just the beginning. I'm getting updated quotes from the printers that bid on the job previously, plus I'm speaking to a few new companies based on the recommendations of colleagues. I'm also exploring a change in warehousing/fulfillment options for Signal Fire Studios products in general, and I've got to make those final determinations before I lock in a print contract.
There are a few small pieces of errata I've made note of already, and I'm going to come up with an easy way you all can participate if you spot something you believe needs correcting and would like to help out. We want the print version of the book to be as sharp as possible!
I've begun more brainstorming on the full-length adventure I will be writing for backers (and digital sale) and have a few ideas that would be fun to explore in Metamorphosis Alpha. In addition, I've had a few early conversations about the upcoming Starship Warden sourcebook, and soon I'm going to solicit a wish-list from all of you for just what you'd like to see in the book. If you'd like to participate in the process give a little thought on what content would be in an ideal companion to the core game. (Note: All backers at $10 or higher will get the digital version of these products completely for free.)
I'll give everyone a solid update on what's going on after Comic-Con in San Diego, where we'll be showing off a preview of the RPG along with our book and card game products. Thanks again to you all for making it possible for us to continue our adventures in game publishing!