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.
Hi all, Scott here. This is the second update in the new series of communications about the RRT Kickstarter project. It covers a lot of ground, so I broke it up into three sections to make it easier to find what you are looking for.
Again, thank you to all who have responded to my previous two posts - your feedback, both positive and negative, have been read. I appreciate your willingness to engage with me as I and the rest of the Palladium staff work on completing this project.
We have been in contact with the manufacturer I mentioned in the last update several times over the past two weeks, giving answers and clarifying our expectations on a number of issues. We had hoped to have their revised quote by now but are still waiting. This is a very large and complex project with many parts to it, so we want to make sure all the specs are correct and properly considered.
In the meantime we have reached out to several other manufacturers (ten in total) in case the manufacturer we are currently working with is not able to satisfy our need for quality assurance, delivery time frame, etc. On that front, we have received responses from several that are interested in the project and a few that aren’t due to already full production schedules.
Force Organization Chart
I was made aware last week of the fact that some people involved with the development of RRT had put together a Force Organization Chart, but that this chart was never released to the backers and players of the game. Is the Force Organization Chart still something you would like to see released as a downloadable PDF through the website DriveThruRPG.com? Please let me know in the comments below.
Secondhand Backers and Changes to Your Contact & Shipping Information
The week before last I received a request from a gentleman who wrote the following: “There are some of us that backed the project secondhand via a friend or colleague. Those of us that are not officially linked to the project do not receive notices about updates for the Kickstarter project. Would it be possible to be on a mailing list [with] notifications of when an update is posted to the Kickstarter page[?]”
I do not know how many Secondhand Backers we might have, but with 5,342 people who backed this project firsthand, it seems likely that there are others. To address their needs I would ask that they please send an e-mail with the subject “Secondary Backer” to firstname.lastname@example.org from the e-mail account that they would prefer we send a notice to. The Secondhand Backers also NEED to identify in the body of the email the individual with whom they supported this project, so that we can verify their claim with the Backer on record. Once we have confirmed this, we will add your email to a list of all the Secondhand Backer’s e-mail addresses so that we can send out a notice to you each time I post a new update to the Kickstarter page.
For our firsthand backers, if you know a Secondhand Backer please let them know about this and work with us to help keep them informed. And thank you for your help!
Updating Your Information
Also, I noted more than a few comments in the past two weeks asking how someone could update their contact/shipping information. While we are still a while away from producing, much less shipping, Wave 2 we encourage backers to updated your contact info sooner rather than later to avoid possible shipping problems. Please be sure to include the name that you backed under and your new contact/shipping information and send it to email@example.com.
Questions and Answers
Question 1 - Will I be at GenCon this year?
Answer 1 - Unfortunately, no. At this time I have too much work to do here to be able to go. Maybe next year, or the year after? It depends on how well things are running at Palladium. I am committed to seeing Palladium grow and RRT become the living juggernaut it deserves to be. I can do that best right now by staying here and working.
Question 2 - Is the plan to produce all of Wave 2 at once or piecemeal?
Answer 2 - We are planning on producing all of Wave 2 at once. That way when we receive it at our warehouse we can immediately send the backers their full pledges. The release of packs to stores for retail purchasers however will go in several small waves - I have already discussed with our largest distributor how best to proceed when the time comes. More details will come as we (finally!) go into production and near shipping.
Question 3 - Do you still expect to have Wave 2 by the end of 2017?
Answer 3 - With the extended delay in getting back the revised quote, an end-of-year release for Wave 2 is beginning to appear less and less likely. However, we will not know until we see the quotes and hammer out all the final details. I will not rule it out until I hear otherwise. The manufacturer is aware of how badly we and you want this game delivered, which is one of the reasons they are taking such a hard look at all aspects of the project before giving us a final answer.
Several people have asked for renders of the Wave 2 game pieces - I will work on getting those posted here for you.
To all of our backers in the United States, I hope you have a great and safe 4th of July celebration!
As I have previously promised you, I will be back again no later than two weeks from today with another update - that is Tuesday, July 18th.
Hi all! Scott here. Thank you to everyone who has welcomed me and wished me good luck. Your warm reception is appreciated.
Here are a few quick answers to some of your questions. I have numbered each question/answer pair so that in your comments and further questions you do not have to type out anything lengthy, just the question number if you’d like. Please let me know if you like this format or not.
Question 1 - There have been several variations of this question, but Dunrick put it most succinctly when he wrote, “Why should we trust you..?”
Answer 1 - You shouldn’t, not yet. I haven’t done anything to earn your trust. I hope that I will earn your trust as we start to make real progress toward completing RRT Wave 2.
Question 2 - Why does your post say that the conference call between the manufacturer and Wayne & Kevin happened on 7/16/2017, almost a month in the future?
Answer 2 - Simple answer, I made a mistake. My brain glitched as I was writing the post - I had meant to write 6/16/2017.
Question 3 - Forar had a very good question; I can’t think of a better way of putting it, so I will quote it here. “...I think that the first thing that would be reasonable to touch base on is the delivery time frame; is the goal still to deliver in 2017?”
Answer 3 - Part of the conference call with the manufacturer on 6/16/2017 was spent discussing delivery in 2017. The manufacturer expressed that they believed a fourth quarter delivery was probably possible. We asked them to look closely at this while working up the revised quote and see if they could give us a firm commitment for delivery. Until I hear otherwise, I will rely upon their current expectations. If that changes, I will let you know as soon as we find out.
Question 4 - Richard wrote, “Do you really think we will get Wave 2?”
Answer 4 - Yes, I do. Palladium is committed to seeing Wave 2 released and RRT supported and continuing.
This is all I can post at the moment. My next scheduled update to you will be on July 4th; if I can post more often I will. Please understand however that my job duties extend well beyond helping to get Wave 2 out. So while it may take some time for me to post responses to your many questions, you can count on my updates every two weeks.
Again, thank you for welcoming me to this dynamic community.
Hi all! This is Scott Gibbons, the new business manager for Palladium Books®. I’m sorry I haven’t posted here earlier, but I have been working hard to get an accurate assessment of where Palladium Books® stands, not only overall, but specifically with regard to Robotech® RPG Tactics™ I have some news that I hope you will find both positive and welcome. (Please note, this is largely taken from the last Weekly Update, with some additional information added by me.)
First, Wayne and Kevin spent half of Friday morning (7/16/2017) on a conference call with a manufacturer (I did not sit in on the call due to another pressing business need that morning). During the call they discussed the manufacturer’s initial quote on producing Wave 2 which we had received the day before. There were some points in the quote that needed clarification, as well as setting expectations for what we need in the finished game pieces. All in all it was a productive call and we are looking forward to getting a revised quote soon.
Second, a lot is going on with all aspects of RRT Wave 2. I have been learning about the plans for the relaunch of the game line and the strong support for the game that will happen when the relaunch takes place. Support will take the form of new product releases, demo kits, tournaments, organized play, and a lot of other things. Things that you have been looking forward to and that I feel you will enjoy. As soon as we have hard details and strong estimated release dates, we will be thrilled to share them with you.
In the mean time, I will be checking in with all of you in another update here on the Kickstarter page no later than July 4th, 2017. From here on out, I personally will be posting updates every two weeks - even if nothing has changed I will check in to let you know.
Now to answer a few questions that have been brought up about myself:
- Yes, I did develop a Rifts board game that I brought to the past three Palladium Open Houses held by Palladium Books®. I began developing this board game nearly 16 years ago as a hobby, well before Carmen ever began development on his.
- No, I have not been brought in to bring my Rifts board game to market. As I said above, I developed it as a hobby for my own enjoyment. If it should ever be made into an actual product sold by Palladium, I would be thrilled, but I am not holding my breath for it at this time and it is not why I’m here. I’m here to make a difference and to help grow the company.
- The reason I left the toy company I used to manage is because the owner decided to relocate the business. He wanted very badly for me to come with him, but I had family obligations that prevented me from moving at that time. I did however oversee the company’s move to a different state and spent a month at his new location hiring and training his new employees to ensure that things were up and running smoothly before I left.
- Kevin brought me on board at the end of May. We held off announcing my joining the Palladium family until we knew for certain that I would be a good fit with the company.
- I am Palladium’s business manager, not Kevin’s yes-man (though I can understand people’s justifiable concerns about me being such). Over the last few weeks, I have become intimately familiar with all aspects of the company on all fronts, financial and otherwise. While it is not the biggest company I have ever worked for, the potential to become a giant in the gaming world is definitely present. Kevin has also been extremely accommodating with supplying me all the information, introductions, and tools I need to be successful in my new position.
The RRT support team and I will be monitoring the comments section here. If you have any additional questions for me (that I can answer - certain business negotiations will need to remain confidential for the time being), please feel free to post them here. I will answer as many of them as I can as quickly as I can.
Thank you for your time and support!