Timeline Update, Factory Samples & Pledge Manager Opening Date
Whew! It has been a suuuper busy 6 weeks since our last update. We want to fill you in on everything going on, but first, we want to apologize (again) for betraying our commitment to bi-weekly updates. This is the second time we’ve taken longer than we aimed and we’re aware that for some of you that is really disappointing. In truth, Seize the Bean has been much more successful than we expected and we’ve been overwhelmed with all the (mostly positive) messages and comments coming our way on every platform. As you know by now, transparent communication is very important to us, so when we’re not timely with our responses or updates, we’re really not proud of it. We’re still learning how to balance this part of the business with all the cool, creative stuff we’re doing. So, thank you all for giving us the benefit of the doubt and hanging in while we sort out our messaging!
In the last update we said we wouldn’t put a bunch of things together into one update, though due to our busy event schedule recently it’s been hard to get things out separately, so we have to admit we’ve got another chunky one for you all. With that said, let’s get into the nitty gritty of production timelines, manufacturing samples and that eagerly-awaited pledge manager...
This is no easy way to say this so we’re just going to give it to you straight: we won’t be able to deliver in October as we had hoped. In fact, if we are 100% transparent, a safe delivery date is February. Yes, February, 2019. We know that while reading this a lot of you will feel upset, let down, or just straight-up angry. That’s a five month delay from our originally estimated delivery date (of September, 2018). We want to explain this and we hope your excitement for the project and your understanding of our situation and our mistakes might help balance out any sorrow or impatience you might feel.
It all comes down to art. We had originally thought that we had enough of a headstart on the art and that we could get a lot more done in a given week than we actually can in reality. Our early estimates were way off. With only a single (amazing) artist there is a limit to what can be done. In case you’re wondering if we’ve just been over here lazing about, we’re happy to report we do have the art of almost 300 cards done (277, as of today, to be exact), and a majority of that is the hard stuff first (customer art, Kickstarter backer portraits, etc). We did originally attempt to speed up the process in a few ways, but the drop in quality was noticeable and so we promptly scrapped that approach. We felt it best if we went back to allowing Mario to work at the pace required to deliver the quality we expect for Seize the Bean (and frankly, anything from Quality Beast). We wanted to wait a bit to get an average of how much card art we could get done in a given week and now that we are confident with that average we’ve taken some serious time to granularly estimate a more realistic timeline and reconfirm it not only with our team but with our manufacturer, too. Here it is broken down:
- September 3rd, 2018 = All Files Uploaded to Panda (our manufacturer)
- September 14th, 2018 = Design Verification Complete (meaning, all files 100% approved)
- September 28th, 2018 = Pre-Production Copy Arrives (for our feedback and proofing)
- October 8th, 2018 = Mass Production Begins
- November 19th, 2018 = First Mass Production Copy Arrives (for last minute emergency checks)
- December 3rd, 2018 = Mass Production Finished & Assembly Begins
- December 17th, 2018 = All Games Leave the Factory
As you can see, we’d have the game on its way this year and even beat the holiday season shipping crunch, however, it would be on an estimated 6-week-boat-ride to each fulfilment center and then be on its way to you. This is why we estimate an arrival time of February. Depending on where you are in the world (and if games get slowed down in customs at certain fulfilment centers) it could be a bit faster or slower.
The only three things we can do about this timeline is to communicate it transparently to you all (as we are doing now), apologize for it, and learn from it. We are truly sorry if this upsets anyone but this does not change a single thing about the project: we are dedicated to delivering you a extremely fun, high quality game dripping with theme. And we hope you will stand by us on this wild ride which is a learning process for us too!
With the bad news out of the way, we’re extremely excited to be able to share our first round of manufacturing samples! What we haven’t formally announced until now is that we’re working with Panda as our manufacturing partner. If you’re new to that name, they’re known in the industry for delivering super hiqh quality components. They produced the amazing Stonemaier Treasure Chests, and now our resin Snack Pack is following the same production process, which we’re really stoked about.
For those wanting something a bit more dynamic then a text-and-pictures-update, check out our video recap from the UK Games Expo in which Seize the Bean’s lead designer, Dylan, goes through each of the samples one-by-one and in detail:
Here’s some more detail on those components, are you ready?
Let’s start with the most important component: the beans.
These are pretty much spot on and totally put us at ease about what Panda is capable of. You can see the resin sculpt is very accurate and the paint job is quite realistic. There’s a nub on the bottom that we’re discussing with Panda about (though highly unlikely you can even see it in these pics, it’s so small) but in general the only thing to do here is increase their size to about 7mm x 12mm.
Milk samples were given to us, but we won’t go through these now. Why? Because the sizing on the spec sheet was wrong and we ended up with some very… elongated milk cartons. Don’t worry, Panda has assured us that with a simple update of the spec sheet we’ll be seeing more cubic milks as intended. We should be seeing a second round of resin samples at the end of this month (June) so we can share more then. The coloring and sculpts were looking good though.
Sugar cubes. Well, what can we say – it’s a start at least…
These are definitely not yet meeting our expectations. And Panda knows that and has assured us they will continue to work on the shape, size, sculpt, texture and coloring to get it to look as close to our 3D printed prototype as possible. More info about these as the second round of samples come in.
Regarding variations on milk and sugar for dealing with the issue of running out of resources, we did get samples of two color versions of milk (two different label colors) and brown sugar samples though we’ve got a lot of feedback on these for Panda so we’ll show them when the next round comes in. Same thing for the scoop, we did receive a sample, but it’s not quite the right size so we’re doing some back-and-forth there and we’ll share it in the next round.
Barista meeples are looking pretty close to perfect.
The main change here is size (we want to bump them up to about 16mm x 20mm, which is the size of the meeples in, say, Topiary). We’d also like to tweak the color and back print. For the color, even though there are no player colors in Seize the Bean (and we’d encourage everyone to play with a diverse set of baristas) we’d still like to have four unique colors and as of right now two of them are too close together. Also, for the five and six player expansion we’d love to introduce a fifth and sixth color, to increase that sense of diversity (and fun).
Cubee meeples are 100% done.
Size, shape, print, color – everything is rad. We’re stoked about these and if you were at the UK Games Expo in-person then you got to see them in the flesh! (Er... in the fur, rather?)
Resource Bags are started, but not yet meeting our expectations.
The main issue here is that the bags need to be a bit more sturdy. We’re exploring the possibility of an inner lining with Panda. Also, the sizing is wrong, and to make the contents as accessible as possible we really need to lock that down. The drawstrings are also not present (yet) but will be sewn into the bags, and the prints will likely be different on the bean, milk and sugar bags. We may also play a bit with some color tweaks on the bag materials themselves.
We did also get player resource bags, but like some of the items noted above, we’re not very happy with these as they are, and we’d rather wait for the next round of samples to show some imagery of them.
The first player and next first player tokens are steadily on their way, too.
Weight and size-wise these are grand. We’d like to see the sculpt a bit more polished, which is quite hard with a resin figure of this size, but Panda has said they’ll see what they can do. On a very exciting note they’ve agreed to try a cool experiment with us: we want to make the two cups much more distinguishable so we’ve been discussing details for both. We don’t want to give away too much yet, but let’s just say this might be another chance for us to work latte art into the game…
And finally, we come to the resin Snack Pack. Or, at least half of it, for now.
We’ll be quick here, as this update is already huge: the moka pot is on point as far as sculpt and size and color. We’re requesting that the factory put some finishing touches onto it with a bit more detailed shading, but generally we love the direction it’s going in. The pie is pretty much there, but we want to go the extra mile and try to stick a dollop of whipped cream on top, and also adjust the color so that the crust is distinguishable from the inner top and bottom layers. Other than that, like the moka pot, the pie’s sizing and sculpt are both really clean and we’re quite impressed with Panda’s resin work so far. Lastly, the strong coffee needs a bit bigger size and it needs an improvement in the sculpt to get the bag looking more plump and organic and less geometrical. Also, the paint job needs to be a bit less sloppy (that silver scoop shouldn’t be partial brown) and include some more realistic shading. But it’s certainly on its way too!
What about the rest of the snack pack? We’ll show the soy bean, the donut and the croissant in the next wave of samples. We received some of these, but were quite unhappy with the first round. However, don’t let this worry you; Panda has assured us this is quite normal in the process and the steps that Stonemaier took for their Treasure Chest pieces were very similar. We can expect to have at least three rounds of samples for the resin so there’s a lot of room to improve things.
And finally, the player mat. It’s mentioned in the video (and depicted!), briefly, so we should note it here. We won’t be showing pics or describing it in detail yet as we’re still conducting some tests, but what we can say is that Panda is open to try and add a thin backing to it to help it from sliding around. As far as our early experiences go, this is about the only thing we had major feedback on.
Boom! That’s a lot! But hopefully this should all be exciting news as it shows some real progress on what Panda is calling “a monster of a game”. You can all be proud to be a part of this project – without your support we would’ve never gotten this far. And having seen even these early rough draft samples we’re getting extremely excited for the final product. It’s going to be wild to unbox!
June 25th. We promise. And unless you have questions, that’s about all we think we need to say on the topic! ;)
Jokes aside, for those that missed our notes in past updates or in the comments section, we waited this long for two main reasons: 1) we wanted to try and contact as many regional retailers as possible to provide more opportunities for store pick-ups. We did this because early on in the campaign it became apparent that shipping costs were a financial barrier for a lot of avid gamers. Since discovering this we’ve done everything we can to cut those costs down, and partnering with retailers for store pick-ups is part of that. The problem is that it slows things way down (much more than we would’ve guessed). And 2) we really wanted to get a final verdict on the play mat material as well. By now, we’re done waiting on these two topics and we’re just going to open the pledge manager on the 25th of June whether or not these topics are resolved.
What’s that mean? It means that if we get agreements for store pick-ups later, after the pledge manager is open, we’ll be sure to inform everyone and give you the chance to go back in and change your shipping (where possible).
It also means that if you order a play mat and we have to change the material later we will do our very best to not alter the price. If for some reason we’re forced to, we won’t lock anyone into anything, but instead refund the cost of the original play mat and give people the chance to decide if they want the second version. That being said, we’re working closely with Panda to discuss a good compromise that will avoid this whole process and we’re excited to share more news on that as a second wave of samples arrive!
We said it in the past update and above in this one but we want to say it once more and commit to it (third time’s a charm, perhaps): we’ll do our very best to get back to a bi-weekly update schedule. At this point, we have only two more events on our immediate schedule (Ducosim on July 1st and then Berlin Brettspiel Con at the end of July) so we shouldn’t be getting slammed with too much travel preventing us from communicating more consistently. And for those of you requesting event photos, perhaps we’ll save those for the next update! ;)
See you all on June 25th (if not sooner), for the next update, celebrating the opening of the pledge manager and some more awesome news as we progress on other topics such as the Cubee plushie and the milk carton deck box!
From all of us here at Quality Beast, thank you so much for your support, your understanding, and your positive energy as we push towards the finish line of this amazing project.