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What did it really take to make Vanilla WoW? The game's first 3D level designer reveals the ugly, crazy world of making games.
What did it really take to make Vanilla WoW? The game's first 3D level designer reveals the ugly, crazy world of making games.
8,379 backers pledged $598,999 to help bring this project to life.

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Shipped

Posted by John Staats (Creator)
29 likes

Don't Panic! I've finally marked all orders as shipped. The Backerkit UI doesn't make the distinction between orders shipped and fulfilled (I consider this to be when backers have their rewards), but I as long as we know the difference then that's what counts. The status of "shipped" simply means your book has left the warehouse. I wouldn't even guess that half of them are in the hands of backers, but they are all en route. 

Today I sent to my printer's delivery department the second list of backers who needed replacement rewards. These were the late payers, anyone whose books were damaged, and for Americans who never received their copies. The first batch of replacements are shipping tomorrow (or so says my printer), so it's taking 2 weeks for them to prepare, label, and order a truck to pickup new deliveries.    :(

  • If you're in the US and haven't received your reward, please email john@whenitsready.com and I'll look into your order. (EDIT: If you haven't received your books, you might be in the replacement batches, especially if you were late to pay or input your address.)
  • If you're not in the US and haven't received your reward, please be patient. 

There's gathering evidence that IMEX (my printer's overseas shipper) partners up with countless other services that delivers locally around the globe. I never knew that's how they worked, but it makes sense. What I don't understand is why some deliveries are taking longer than others to the same region, but there it is. 

This image has saved so many people from slicing their cover I'm posting it again!
This image has saved so many people from slicing their cover I'm posting it again!

Happy Travels and Playtesting

Yesterday I returned from my first vacation in 2 years. Over the weekend, I visited some friends in Orange County, including a few peeps I know from my Blizzard days. They playtested my dungeon game for 2 1/2 hours, and for the first time the basic gameplay really clicked. "Johnny boy, I think you've got a hit on your hands," was one of their parting comments. My favorite moment was when someone said, "This really feels like a boss fight!" It was a loud, exciting, collaborative experience, and a player (who showed up late) was able to pick up the dice and learn as we played without slowing things down. Intuitive game mechanics were one of my goals, so that was another positive takeaway. I told the playtesters repeatedly that I had enough feedback, and that we could play another game, but each time they preferred to test more of my prototype. It's far too early to claim that this board game is addictive (my friends were probably just being nice), but it's reassuring to know it is, at least, measuring up to the high-standard of "fun." 

Amazon

A lot of people are asking about Amazon sales. My Kickstarter backers aren't the only people waiting for worldwide deliveries. I've been holding back in putting my book on Amazon until all my backers get their rewards. It's only fair. People who've purchased presale copies are asking me when I'll be able to deliver post-Kickstarter books...and the answer is a familiar one: The Kickstarter rewards will arrive whenever they arrive. There's little I can do to speed up or predict delivery. It's just a matter of waiting.

EU Deliveries are finally Trickling in...

Posted by John Staats (Creator)
34 likes
My Own Delivery (The Amazon Edition) arrived today
My Own Delivery (The Amazon Edition) arrived today

I received a skid of Amazon editions of The WoW Diary this morning! After huffing and puffing the 2000 lb pallet up the driveway, the delivery driver and I finally eased it into my garage. Without the spot varnish, chances are it won't stink up my garage too much, but don't worry, I'm holding off all sales of the standard edition until overseas backers receive their rewards. 

On that note, we have received our first sightings for EU deliveries! Arrivals should include a combination of first edition and showcase rewards. US deliveries were spread over several weeks, so I imagine EU arrivals won't be grouped together any better, but we'll see. This is my first time shipping thousands of packages through gigantic shipping companies, so it's a learning experience for me too. There is no word on Aussie or other worldwide shipping, so just sit tight and scan the horizon. ;)

If you live in the EU, I'm guessing you'll see your own white, cardboard wraps sometime in January...maybe early February. That reminds me, I want to add one last bit about opening said packages. People are damaging the covers by plunging a knife (even a dull steak knife like I'm using below) into the package cover. I've already complained to my printer about this issue, but since these arrows are already in flight, I thought I'd touch on the subject one more time. I can replace books that are damaged, but overseas returns will cost us both a lot in postage. Please be careful! 

Here's how to open the packaging without damaging the cover.
Here's how to open the packaging without damaging the cover.

I think that does it for now. Enjoy your books, and have a great week.

The Gears Slowly Turn

Posted by John Staats (Creator)
38 likes

Just a short update, for anyone who hasn't gotten the word, Be careful using a knife to open packages! A few people have accidentally cut into their book opening the wrapped cardboard. Maybe try a pair of scissors.

I'm learning that fulfillment is like watching a huge ice block melt. It seems like nothing is happening, and you can't do anything to speed up the process. Eventually, it runs it's course. 

Our first Canadian backer has received their rewards this morning! American deliveries are still being made (weeks later, for whatever reason). That leaves us with overseas packages. Overseas shipments went out around Christmas for "about a 3-week delivery" but the holidays have *wrecked* that estimate, so I'm guessing the "3 weeks" starts after January 2nd... which means overseas packages will arrive the last week of January...but what do I know about shipping? Right? That's my best guess.  ;)

If you have any problems, email me at john@whenitsready.com. 

Cheers!

Happy New Year!

Posted by John Staats (Creator)
54 likes

Hi guys, 

I hope everyone is enjoying 2019 so far. Some local backers are getting their books early this week, so let's cover the arriving rewards: 

#1 Be careful opening up your packages! Some people are damaging their books tearing into the cardboard mailer. Just take a breath, and open them carefully. ;)
#2 If you have a damaged book, email john@whenitsready.com with a picture and I'll see about putting you on a replacement list. I cannot track individual Kickstarter messages, so definitely contact me via email. 

The majority of people are ecstatic with their books (actually, no negative reviews), but with such a big shipment, there's always going to be mail problems. Moving forward, my printer is going to do a follow-up distribution every couple weeks with replacements, as long as supplies last. There's only a dozen or so damaged copies, but it bums me out if even a couple people are distressed, so don't panic. We got this. :D

I spent the evening getting the press sheets packaged in my living room (no parties for me). Unfortunately the US Post Office's website isn't correctly processing my label orders, so I need to haul them into my neighborhood post office. With the line at the post office so long, I'm unsure if they'll welcome the task of labeling 20 packages individually. The line is supposed to shorter later in January...this is going to be a learn-as-you-go exercise. (What a great time to deliver packages!! LOL) 

Deliver Update: Even with the holiday delays, most US/Canadian books will reach backers by next week. Overseas shipping will arrive weeks later. 

Lastly, thanks for all the positive support! Its great to read that some of you have your rewards are loving the book. I'm crazy-busy this week, so expect delays in my responses to Kickstarter posts/messages...but I'm loving your good vibes about The WoW Diary. Not a bad way to ring in 2019. 

While everyone's been on vacation throughout the holidays (leaving my business emails unanswered), I'm moving forward on my board game. I got a 3D printer and will be prototyping as soon as I can. I spent Sunday morning designing combat encounters, and it reminded me of the encounter designers developing fights for Nax. I'm happy to say, each monster's rules look bite-sized (no long paragraphs of instructions), while the game play seems quite varied, more so than the standard "safety dance" or tank-and-spank encounters. I've already redesigned some combat basics, so we'll see how fun gameplay is after the overhaul. 

Scaling elements tells me how much real estate my text will have. I'm thinking the "jigsaw" connectors between my rooms need to be sturdier.
Scaling elements tells me how much real estate my text will have. I'm thinking the "jigsaw" connectors between my rooms need to be sturdier.

I sat on my couch, turned on some music (classical, if you can believe it) and began sketching on graph paper. It's been a while, but it feels good to be "home." With only one day of brainstorming, I've completed the initial pass of my first dungeon (roughly eight fights in a dungeon). Nothing's tested yet, but it looks good on graph paper (it always does, LOL). 

Amazon Gone

Posted by John Staats (Creator)
53 likes

First of all, thanks for the feedback! Out of hundreds of showcase editions sent throughout the US, only a few had damage, so the bumper is doing its job. Just be careful opening it with knives, you could damage the case (even though cases are easy enough to replace). If anyone has damaged cases (or books), I'll take care of them after the bulk shipments are sent. The shipping department doesn't have the bandwidth for replacements now, so email any problems to john@whenitsready.com, and I'll take notes and track them for later. 

The reason why the US showcase editions are shipping before everything else is because they were packaged immediately after I signed them. When I was at the plant, I  gave the staff specifics about how I wanted the books to be scrutinized for quality. Right now, the printer's QA department is going through the inventory before packaging. 

I hope no one thinks the hassles I'm talking about in these updates are getting me down. They don't. And they shouldn't get you down. Things are slowly chuggin' along. It's just that I appreciate and talk about the complexity of large projects...and that why I think The WoW Diary will resonate with so many people. I love all the ugly details. And when there are problems, you just deal with them, and work them out.

For instance, yesterday I learned Amazon can't give me shipping labels for packing cartons until I know exactly how many books will be in each carton. I won't know that until my printer designs a carton specifically for our books. It sucks, but its just another parameter that I wouldn't have known about before using Amazon's "shipment plan workflow." Fitting our packages into Amazon's inflexible process is going to delay shipments too much, so I'm switching to a more flexible courier. The timing kinda sucks because I just figured out all the ins and outs of their system, but using Amazon is just going to be too slow. 

I've also given up waiting to hear back from our other 3rd party couriers. I can understand that this is their busy time of the year, but I do not abide uncommunicative partners, so I told my printer today to use a more expensive delivery company called IMEX. My printer has used them before, so I'm expecting a smoother process. The switch to IMEX means my EU customers might have to pay for import fees. Through Spiral Galaxies, I was going to pay them (which was why we were putting up with SG's poor communication), but the new courier says "bound, printed matter" often doesn't qualify for import fees. It's been impossible to find anyone who can give me a definitive answer, so using the company whom I believe will give us the best option.   

Ugly details aside, the book is getting very positive responses, and that has me feeling upbeat. 

Another positive thing happened around at 2:00 AM in the morning: I figured out a roadblock to my tabletop dungeon game that I've been working on for a couple of years (on and off). A month ago my friends and I playtested an old prototype...and it wasn't fun enough. It was clever and innovative (which counts for nothing) but not exciting. They gave me positive feedback, but I suspect they were just being supportive. I know when something isn't fun. For a month I have been mentally tearing the game apart. I've been considering whether I should scrap everything and move on to either a new design or another project entirely. (That's the GREAT thing about self-publishing, it gives you the freedom to do that.) Anyway, lying awake at night, I realized an elegant, engaging solution that simplies gameplay while adding depth. I'm pretty pumped, so I'm moving forward with it (mentally at least, I won't be able to work on another prototype until 2019). 

Why am I mentioning this now? While I've been waiting for my printer to give me specs on a packaging carton...I took some time this afternoon to update my personal journal about developing my board game. While I'm not delusional enough to think it'll be another WoW Diary, the journal illustrates the work and thought that goes into design. It'll show how I'm building the game, from the ground up, and I'll probably use it as promotional material for the game's Kickstarter in the distant future.

Incrementally, by degrees, things move forward. Large endeavors don't always move as fast as we'd like, but maybe that's a good thing.