the games are shipping to us, and then to you
This weekend, we got word that your Ninth World games are about to be trucked to the port of Shanghai. They will start shipping to various ports of call in the next two weeks. Here's what they look like.
I know those are just shrink-wrapped cardboard boxes, but that's what we've been hoping to see for many months. Getting the games to us has been an extraordinarily arduous journey. See below for details on why it took so long.
Meanwhile, here are some technical details you might be interested in.
Three ships come sailing in
Quartermaster Logistics is helping us coordinate shipping to our various ports, and then will be helping us with fulfillment. They've provided us with these details.
- The first boat should leave China around April 20, headed for Sydney, Australia.
- The second boat should leave China around April 21, headed for Southampton, England.
- The third boat should leave China around April 23, headed for Jacksonville, Florida.
Meanwhile, we're having copies of the playmaps couriered directly to us in Seattle. Paul, Bo, Monte, Shauna, and I will sign the playmaps we need to sign, then send them on to Florida to meet our games.
We don't know exactly how long it will take for the boats to get where they're going, for the games to clear customs, and for copies to be fulfilled to backers. We expect to hear about some of that in time for our next update.
We've reopened our pledge manager
Given how late the game is, we wanted to give you a chance to go back into our PledgeManager and change your address in case you haven't seen our requests on this subject. So you'll likely be getting a notification from us soon that lets you go back into your account. This is for a very limited time, because we will need to close it again to export the data for shipping. Note that this is just for shipping; we're not opening the PledgeManager up for new orders or changes to orders.
The PledgeManager can be found here.
Why production took so long
Backer Nathan Michael asked: "Any chance of having a detailed explanation of why this Kickstarter was so delayed?" Sure, we'd be happy to explain. When you finish all files on a game in August and don't see them sent for delivery until April, a whole lot of things have to go wrong. Here is what we did at each stage of the production sequence.
- Last April, we finish all design and art, and start importing the text and art into the graphic frames. This finishes in June.
- We head to China in early July and get the game housed with a printer, Whatz Games.
- We deliver the files to the printer in late July (the game) to mid-August (the box and playmap). At this point we believe the game might be out in late 2017.
- Per our printers' request, we reupload additional box files in late August and early September.
- The factory changes details on the box in late September, so we redo them again.
- In early October, the factory alerts us to two more slots on the town/wilderness deck press sheet, so we make a pair of Jade Colossus-themed promo cards in mid-October and upload those. We're not on a schedule yet, so we use the delay to rebuild the board. At this point we won't make Christmas, but the factory believes the game will be complete and shipped before Chinese New Year.
- In November, we finally get on the printing schedule. We upload additional files for the playmap. We get e-proofs in, and make corrections. Unfortunately, the heroes and powers' card frames all need to be redone from scratch. So we redo those.
- In December, we get told that we need to redo the dice. So we do. We also get asked to upload a new box wrap for the game.
- In early January, we finally see various objects being finalized for printing, and the first versions of the trays being made.
- In mid-January, printing finally begins. We do the UV spot gloss for the box wrap. We are told we can make Chinese New Year.
- In early February, all the individual parts are finished, but as they are being assembled for shipment before New Year, the printer discovers a disastrous error with the box sleeve. Based on a misunderstanding of file templates, the whole sleeve has been printed larger than the paper allows. The sleeve has to be trashed and printed again. We miss Chinese New Year.
- In early March, the printer discovers another disastrous error with the inner box wrap. Due to a mixup in file formats, several images are not oriented correctly; one is entirely upside-down. Thankfully, these inner box wraps are not yet attached to the boxes, so they can be reprinted.
- In late March, it's all done. All the games, playmaps, Beyond packs, promo cards, and shipping cartons are finished and packed for shipment.
- In early April, the boxes are palletized and prepared to be sent to the port in Shanghai, where they will begin their trek toward the US, UK, and Australia.
That is not a sequence I'm interested in repeating. We're used to some things going wrong in a production process, but we're not used to nearly everything going wrong. This all contrasts with our other recent experience with Thornwatch—which, amazingly, caught up to this game in production due to most things going right with that game (and it being printed in the USA). Now, we didn't even START the file creation on Thornwatch until after The Ninth World was at the printer, and it looks like the two games are going to get to backers within a month or two of each other. That just boggles our minds.
So that's a long way of explaining why The Ninth World is much later than expected. None of it is terribly interesting; it's all just production problems manifesting in sequence. Importantly, the printer caught the two potential disasters at the end, and made them right so you don't have to stare at a badly printed game forever. We're grateful to Whatz Games for working diligently to make this game great, no matter how long it took.
A whole lot of people have worked really hard to get this game out to you fine folks. Not just us at Lone Shark, but also Monte Cook Games, Whatz Games, and Quartermaster. We're excited to begin the next stage of that process—getting the games to our fulfillment centers around the world. With luck, this next step will go a lot more smoothly than some of our other processes in producing the game. Fingers crossed, anyway.
Thanks for reading all of this, and thanks as always for supporting The Ninth World.
Mike and the Sharks