What We Did Right
Everything is in the mail. EVERYTHING. And it's March 19. Our goal was to begin mailing in April. That isn't for another 13 days. The project funded on February 29. That was 19 days ago. Less than three weeks. This is the kind of performance that I've wanted to hit all along, but have sadly failed to do with every single project. I think that it took the combined lessons (some of them pretty harsh) learned from the last four microgame projects to make this one work the way I've wanted it to go all along. That sucks, nobody likes learning lessons the hard way. But, eh, here we are. It was a longer road than intended, but I think we're in a good place right now, with our experience. In particular:
Component Weights: These were excrutiatingly accurate, and we pushed this game right up to the very edge of what could be done. And I mean RIGHT at the edge. It clocks in at *exactly* the weight limit for our budgeted postage. If it was one tenth of an ounce greater, we'd have been over the weight limit and our postage expense would have skyrocketed. This was a little bit too close for comfort, so I'd like to back off a touch on future games and leave at least a little bit of wiggle room. Lesson: Measure every single component as accurately as you can imagine, and then measure it again.
Envelopes: Starting the return addressing and postaging on the first week of the campaign was one of the smartest moves imaginable. We got to the end, and we had an abundance of envelopes (2000+) with return addresses already applied, and we had 600 each with international and domestic postage. All we had to do was slip in a game, print the mailing address, and seal it up. Front-loading the previous two tasks made doing these later tasks so much easier, we didn't suffer any bottlenecks. Lesson: Begin preparing for fulfillment during the campaign, not after it.
Address Processing: We bought a printer with the refund from the last project, when the printer messed up the envelopes. And our intention was to use that printer to make sure we didn't run into those problems again, by printing out own addresses. And let me tell you, address processing this way was SOOOOOOO much easier than using a printing service to run the envelopes. One of the major advantages was that we aren't limited to the 26 letters of the English alphabet. We could go ahead and print funky stuff like Chinese characters and Slavic/Cyrillic stuff, even some Greek ones. That should cut down on lost/delayed games, I should think. Also, printing out labels was easier than printing directly to envelopes. I tried that once, and it didn't work the way I wanted it to. That's why we're doing the label thing. Downside: our printer won't feed label sheets from a tray, so we have to manually feed each label sheet. And when we have to print 1300 labels, and each sheet has 10 address labels on it ... yeah, that's hours on end of standing here at the printer, manually feeding each and every label sheet. But we got it done. Lesson: Printing your own labels for international backers, instead of trying to hire someone, will keep your blood pressure down.
What We Did Wrong
Address Labels: Not so much something we did wrong, but an important lesson learned. Mail Merge won't print a partially merged document. Here's what happened.
Lisa was printing the address labels, 130 pages worth, and was (like a rockstar) patiently feeding each page manually. Now, every time she feeds a page manually, she has to press the "okay" button on the printer, and it prints the next sheet. Then it pauses and asks for another one. Well the problem is that the printer has an "okay" button when feeding, but it instantly changes to a "cancel" button after you hit "okay." So if you get a little twitchy, or you leave your finger there for too long, it prints that one sheet and then cancels the rest of the run. And canceling the run when you have like 42 pages still left to print is not cool. So she did that by accident, and then tried to print just everything from a certain page on, but the print job never went through. It was listed as going through, but the printer wouldn't print. It just sat there, idle. We ran through all sorts of diagnostics, printed out test sheets, rebooted the computer, rebooted the printer, unplugged it and let it sit and then rebooted it again, ran printer self-diagnostics, printed other documents, but no go. No matter what we did, we couldn't print the labels. We couldn't figure it out. Well, we crashed around midnight and decided to tackle it again the next day.
Eventually, Lisa figured it out: you can't print a partial Mail Merged document. You have to print the whole thing ... for whatever reason. So she went through the mailing list, created an entirely new table with only the remaining addresses, Mail Merged that into a new address label template, and hit print. And it zipped right through it, everything was fine.
I know, weird, right?
But, whatever, it's not a Kickstarter project if there isn't some crazy sort of hiccup that we never knew even existed. Now we know ... AND KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE!!! (Sorry, couldn't resist.) So that only caused a one day delay, so instead of shipping everything 14 days early, we ended up shipping it 13 days early. So was it even a delay, since we still shipped early? Semantics. *shrug*