My Third Update
Hi all, Scott here.
Here is my third update for RRT.
Consolidating How We Get You Information
Since I have taken over communications for RRT Wave 2 with regular, every other week posts, I have requested that Kevin forgo mentioning RRT Wave 2 in the Weekly Updates. This will be the main place for updates; only occasional mentions of RRT will be in the Weekly Updates when we feel it is truly warranted, such as reaching major milestones or have exciting news. Of course, upcoming events involving the RRT game – such as tournaments and organized play – will continue to be mentioned when appropriate in the Weekly Updates.
Manufacturing Quotes and the Process of Getting Them
We got three new quotes at the end of last week, a refined quote from the factory that we’ve been dealing with as well as initial quotes from two others that we had reached out to. We are currently analyzing the information in the quotes - a task that is not as simple as it may sound.
Several people have reached out to me in comments here, through e-mails and by phone since my last Update, asking that I give greater detail about just what goes on with setting up a major production like Wave 2, i.e. - getting a quote. So for those who are curious, please read on (if you’re not interested, you can skip down to the next bolded title).
The process of getting a quote is not as simple as picking up the phone and calling the manufacturing plant. Once we have identified “manufacturers” we feel have the capabilities for the project, we contact them to set up an initial meeting. (The “manufacturers” are usually either brokers who work with several factories, or the English speaking sales team of a Chinese manufacturer. For clarity, I will just refer to both as brokers.) In the meeting we go over the project with the broker, letting them know what exactly we need in the finished product, quantity and rough time line, special needs or concerns, and other details. Most brokers represent more than one factory/manufacturer, and they sometimes have to consult with them before being able to tell us if they can fulfill a production's needs and what they will require or can offer.
Next, we submit a spec sheet with the basic specifications for the products we want them to manufacture. The spec sheet for Wave 2 is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with 300+ lines and 7 or more columns. We send the spec sheet as well as a few 3D model files that are representations of the work that needs to be done to the broker. The broker then reviews the information and can ask for clarification on points, or additional info.
Once the broker feels that they have enough information, they reach out to their manufacturing contacts to see which, if any, plants have the capacity and capability to take on the project. They send them the spec sheet along with the model files and our expressed wishes about quality, quantity, and schedule to the plant(s) that are interested.
Now comes the long part. With most of the manufacturing plants being in China, they start off by translating the English information into Chinese. Unfortunately, translation is not an exact science, and there are sometimes interpretation errors that crop up, leading to back and forth exchanges between the manufacturer and the broker. If the broker doesn’t know the answer, they contact us. Sometimes it takes several of these exchanges to get the issue resolved. It doesn’t help that not only do these exchanges have to be translated back and forth between languages, but also very different time zones.
When the manufacturer is finally confident they have enough information, they look at their capabilities, put together a plan on how they intend to accomplish the work, figure out costs and time, and put together their quote. These quotes are not just “we can do the job for $XXX and have it to you by XXX”. They instead are broken down into their own spreadsheet as well as a written summary – all of which have to once again be translated into English. The quote itemizes details such as part count, material costs (and alternatives if the manufacturer has them to offer), projected time lines, work methods, a projected delivery date (for when the production run will end, not when it will be shipped – which is our job to set up – or when it will arrive to us), and other matters. The manufacturer sends the quote to the broker, who will go through it themselves looking for any obviously missing data or mistranslations. If there are any issues to be addressed the broker will try to do so, which can be another back and forth exchange, and then finally the quote gets back to us to review. We may have questions or concerns to address or clarify.
At the end of all this, we will get a draft contract for the work, which itself will need to be closely scrutinized to make sure it addresses EVERYTHING that we’ve worked out with the manufacturer. Any changes that need to be made have to be negotiated, which is facilitated by the broker. Once that process is done then we can finally enter manufacturing.
Wow, that was a lot of words. So how does all that apply to our current situation?
The thing to remember is the manufacturers are companies made up of people like you and me - people who are trying to do their jobs in the best and most efficient way possible - but putting together a quote takes time on their end, and time on ours. The manufacturer wants to do the quote as fast and well as possible in order to minimize their costs, time expenditure and to better their chances of getting the job (manufacturing is extremely competitive, and every manufacturer knows that any job they bid on is not in the bag until they have a signed contract). At the same time the manufacturer has to make sure that they can deliver on what it is they are promising. And it takes time on our side when we get the quote to see exactly what is being promised, and making sure it fits what we need. That's where we are at right now.
We will continue working with the manufacturers, going back and forth with them as described above until we have completed the process and gotten Wave 2 done. I know it is a long process, further complicated by the large scope of this project, but I want to reiterate that we want you to get Wave 2, and we want to see RRT become the game it deserves to be. I appreciate your patience as we continue this project.
Now to answer some of the questions I’m sure many people will have:
Question: Couldn’t a more experienced manufacturer, one who has done this sort of work a gazillion times and knows all the ins and outs, speed up this process? After all, they’ve already done it!
Answer: Unfortunately manufacturing detailed figurines is not linear when going from one game line to another. Just as one manufacturer may be great at producing organic forms such as fantasy characters and monsters but have problems depicting vehicles and mecha, while another is the exact opposite, and a third can’t do it all. Manufacturing processes that work for one company’s games and requirements won’t necessarily work for another’s. Thus our need to carefully scrutinize the quotes, to make sure that we (and you) get quality rewards for RRT Wave 2.
Question: Why not cut out all the translation problems by just going with a company in the United States?
Answer: Cost. The fact of the matter is that we want to make RRT into a growing, expansive game that will bring joy to fans for years to come. Unfortunately, manufacturing in China or somewhere comparable offers the most affordable way to be able to have a viable game that makes enough profit to support itself.
Question: Are we going to get RRT done by the end of this year?
Answer: Here are some details from one of the quotes as to a (rough) time line for production once the quoting process and contract are finished and signed:
● Pre-production (going over figurine files, making molds, etc.) = 5-6 weeks.
● Production = 10-14 weeks.
● Final Assembly (putting things in packages, etc) = 1-3 weeks.
At the time of this writing there is just under 24 weeks left in 2017. Using the estimated time line above, then yes, "technically" the RRT Wave 2 rewards could indeed be done by the end of the year. However, this estimate does not take into account things like sample reviewing, changes if necessary, approvals, where we may fit in the manufacturer’s schedule (they have obligations to other clients), possible delays (another job runs over, a machine breaks down, etc), overseas shipping, loading and unloading times, time in customs, time to ship the containers from the West Coast to us here in Michigan, or time for us to ship Wave 2 out to you. While the RRT Wave 2 production may begin/finish in 2017, it would be overly optimistic to say that they will be in your hands by the end of 2017.
Force Organization Charts
Thank you to everyone who responded to my question about the Force Org charts in my last update. I have people reviewing the old files now to make sure that there are no game-play/balance issues with them, and then will do the art and graphic design. Once the charts are ready they will be released as a free PDF on DriveThruRPG.
A New Robotech® Board Game – Not by Palladium Books
Last week we received several inquiries about a recently discovered website that is announcing a new board game based on Robotech®. This board game is not one of our projects. We reached out to Harmony Gold about it and they let us know that, with the Sony movie in the pipeline, we should start seeing limited licenses being announced in the coming months for many new Robotech products.
We are excited for our friends at Harmony Gold and wish them and all of their newest partners great success!
Questions and Answers
Question 1: Why ask for people to update their shipping info (Ship To address, email, and phone number) now when you are nowhere close to actually shipping us Wave 2?
Answer 1: It is true that we are nowhere close at present to shipping you your RRT Wave 2 game pieces. However, by keeping our shipping information up to date, once we finally do get Wave 2 in our warehouse, we should only have to update a few addresses of backers who have moved in just the last month or two, instead of trying to update everyone who has moved since Wave 1 was shipped. Basically, by doing the majority of the work now we make the actual shipping easier, quicker and more efficient when that day comes.
Question 2: Where are the new renders you talked about in your last Update?
Answer 2: My sincerest apologies for the delay. The renders will begin posting as I can get to them in the next few days. I had hoped to have them up before now but other business matters took up my time and focus.
I hope everyone is having a safe and fun Summer.
For those who are interested and going, there will be an organized RRT game at Gencon. We should have photos from the event posted to our Facebook page during and after Gencon.
As I have previously promised you, I will be back again no later than two weeks from today with another update - that is Tuesday, August 1st.