Monday, February 18

Switcheroo!

I’ve little progress to report this week - I’ve been travelling in the US all week, first a couple of towns around Boston, MA and then just under 18 hours in Raleigh, NC. 

I had two opportunities to do something gaming-related while out there, but sadly achieved neither. I was hoping to go back to The Castle Board Game Cafe in Beverly after work on Tuesday and then get a late taxi down to Milford, but as it turned out that day a snow storm came through Massachusetts so we finished work early and tried to get out ahead of the storm. We didn’t succeed - the 57 mile journey took us three hours!

The second attempt was entirely unexpected and abortive. I was sat in the hotel in Raleigh eating breakfast and I mentioned it on Twitter. Rob of Coin Flip Games, one of our #CraftWednesday stalwarts, got in touch to see if we could meet up. Sadly I was only free for the next hour, and he couldn’t get over to my location in time. It would have been cool to meet up in person, but sadly not to be. I get down there once a year though, so I know better for next year! (Last year I met W. Eric Martin of BoardGameGeek news for a video segment and to show him FlickFleet).

Paul has had a better week though - the acrylic arrived on Tuesday - so he’s now started cutting and etching the deluxe edition ships in earnest.

Etching complete!

We’re meeting up this weekend for a long weekend with our families. We’ll hang out, play some games, hopefully test my new idea for the first time and swap FlickFleet components. I’ll give him boxes with dashboards and rules inside and in return I’ll get the bagged up ships and wooden pieces. When we get back we’ll both start combining what we make with the stock from the other half and simultaneously start shipping the first set of Kickstarter physical rewards. It’s getting exciting!

Monday, February 11

Off to Snowy Boston!

Last week was spent delivering Zombology copies to Travelling Man for another stocking order (they are our only retail stockist: a chain of four games stores in the north of England - but they have single-handedly sold a quarter of the print run!), starting to make a few more to replenish our stock pile which has just been cleaned out, and trying to get ahead of the game on FlickFleet stock.

Meanwhile Paul has been completely redoing the laser-cutting files I sent him to support the etching mode on our laser cutter  and then doing the test cut so we could go ahead and order the bulk acrylic.

A deluxe fleet

I’m in America all week this week for work (I’m posting this from an airport coffee shop on the way to Boston), so I wanted to get some stock stacked up to stay on track of fulfillment despite taking this week off crafting. Our accelerated plan had 26 finished last week and 35 this week, but I only managed to get 30 boxes and 12 games' worth of dashboards done before I left - I’ll be catching up slowly over forthcoming weeks. 

This week I was planning to go to The Castle Board Game cafe in Beverly, MA on Tuesday night to demo FlickFleet and Zombology, but the weather tomorrow is now looking like we’d be better heading to our next stop as early as possible as they are expecting heavy snow on Tuesday - we don’t want to get snowed in to the wrong city!

When I get back I’ll have just under a week to get some more FlickFleets made up before we go away for a long weekend with Paul and his family. The plan is to swap the boxes, dashboards and rulebooks that I’ve made with laser-cut ships and wooden pieces that he has bagged so we can both start shipping copies on our return!

After a few weeks of frantic crafting, my hands could do with a break this week!

Monday, February 4

Stocking Up

FlickFleet construction is continuing with boxes getting labelled and filled with ship dashboards and rules in Newcastle and the wooden pieces arriving and laser cutter experimentation happening in York. 
 
The first batch of finished boxes

I’m off to Massachusetts for work in a couple of weeks so I’m trying to get ahead of the game as that week I’ll not be able to do any construction (side note: if you’re near Beverly, MA on the evening of Tuesday 12th February, why not pop along to The Castle Board Game Cafe - I’ll be there with my FlickFleet prototype and Zombology).

My focus before that trip will be stacking up FlickFleets that are as finished as I can get them, but also some more Zombology stock. I’ve currently got 15 finished Zombology games at home. Five of those are for the first few batches of Kickstarter backers, so stock is 10. One of my goals for this year was to keep five Zombology in stock - I've had a couple of times recently when I’ve not had enough finished stock to fulfill orders.

I’m in that boat again :-( This week I got another stocking order from my local FLGS chain for ten more copies - I’m all out! I’ll have to fit some Zombology crafting in around the FlickFleet work. The chain have now taken over one quarter of the whole print run and account for over a third of all sales!

On the upside, Paul has now sorted the deluxe laser etching - we’re all systems go!

Testing the etching

Monday, January 28

Productive Week!

This week was all about getting started in earnest on the FlickFleet fulfilment. Unlike most Kickstarted games, FlickFleet is hand-crafted so rather than sending the artwork off to printers in China and then waiting months for stock to appear we’ve ordered all the bits for delivery to our houses and we’re going to be busy hand-crafting them for the next several months. The downside of this approach is that we have less time available for designing and playtesting new games and less free time in general, the upside is that we can start shipping games way earlier and do a much smaller print run which has less risk.

This is a lot of greyboard

This week I’ve collected the greyboard from the printers and made 30 blank boxes. The printer found things took longer than they expected so I don’t have the artwork yet (I’m getting most of it on Tuesday), but I’ve already made 30/52 of the boxes I need by the end of March.

A stack of 10 boxes - 90 minutes' work!

The wooden pieces also arrived (to my house, not Paul’s :-( ) and Paul got the laser cutter installed, set up and received training on its use (he took 15 pages of notes!). He’s already got it working and has worked out the best settings for the standard copies and is now trying to find optimal settings for the deluxe ship etching.

Laser cutter works!

Once we’ve done a test of the etching on the final sheets we can order those (145 each of red and grey - 150kg / 1.3m3!). But I want to make sure everything works fine before we spend £2,000 on acrylic!

This week I’ll start wrapping those 30 boxes with their labels. Paul and I are meeting up for a weekend away in about four weeks, so when we do we’re going to swap boxes and bits so we can both start posting games on our return.

At this point everything is still on track! Yay!

Monday, January 21

Incoming!

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve spent my lunch breaks at work finalising things, double checking them and placing orders. Until now the only things to arrive have been the dice and some test acrylic for commissioning the laser cutter.

Enough acrylic for 5 games
(but actually for testing laser cutter)

This week things move up a gear as the greyboard for the boxes arrives (collecting tonight), the artwork arrives (I’ll be collecting it on Thursday I hope),  the laser cutter arrives (installation, commissioning and training Paul on Friday) and hopefully the baggies and all the wooden bits will arrive too.

Construction can begin!

Paul’s family and mine have a long weekend away booked at the end of February, so we’re intending to swap finished boxes (packed with rules and ship dashboards) and baggied bits and ships, that way we can both start shipping games on our respective returns home. 

We have 50 packages to ship by the end of March, and the first one won’t leave until the end of February, so it’ll be tight, but hopefully we’ll get it done.

The fact that the two halves of the games are being manufactured 100 miles apart complicates things a bit, but we don’t think it’ll cause us a problem for the Kickstarter fulfilment- we’ll just need to keep meeting up for weekends :-)

Now, time to start crafting some boxes!

Monday, January 14

Spend! Spend! Spend!

A week ago we had the Kickstarter funds in our account and we were ready to start paying for things.

 7 kgs of dice!

Half of it is now gone! We’ve ordered the dice and they’ve arrived; a proof of the artwork and that’s arrived, been assembled and proof-read - the rest of the printing will be ordered today. We’ve ordered the wooden pieces and baggies (delivery in a couple of weeks) and the laser cutter (about a week away). Things are fast underway! 

First assembled box with final art

To meet our Kickstarter commitments we need to craft 270 FlickFleets and 27 Zombologies by the end of December. I have a crazy plan in my head where we try to get them all shipped by the end of August instead - which simplifies the bookkeeping somewhat as that’s the end of our financial year. 

However that plan involves making 10 copies every week between now and the end of August. We can have 5 weeks off for work travel and holidays, but that's still quite a stretch!

I was hoping that it would take me about 20 minutes to do my part (making boxes and cutting out ship dashboards), but the first attempt took 32! That’s nearly six hours of crafting a week. That doesn’t sound like a lot until you realise the time I have available for crafting is usually 9-10pm - so that’s 6 out of 7 nights every week!

I’m hoping I can speed that up a bit - the boxes were made out of too thick board (the printers had run out of the right thickness) which took longer to cut and I’d run out of tape so for the proof (my copy!) so I just did the corners without tape - using the box labels to hold them together - which was a bit of a faff and definitely took longer. I’m also hoping there will be time benefits from doing a few copies at a time - less task switching should be more efficient.

At the moment things are all still up in the air though - it’ll be good once construction has begun in earnest and these things are all a bit better understood!





Monday, January 7

And So It Begins...

This week we are placing the orders for the wooden bits, the dice, the baggies, a proof of the printing and the laser cutter. FlickFleet is off to the races!

We've got to make 273 of these in the next 12 months!

We hit our deadline for the last pledge level (the Print and Play files by the end of December), now we need to make 50 deluxe copies of FlickFleet, 2 standard copies of FlickFleet and 3 copies of Zombology by the end of March. I’m hoping we can do more than that, as I’d like to get ahead of things and ideally deliver all the rewards before the deadlines (the December one is currently the most work, so the more we can do to get ahead of things early the better).

I’ve finished off the box art and I’m now re-jigging the laser cutting files again to fit everything on the laser bed (which is slightly smaller than I was expecting).

I’ll get a proof of printing before the end of the week and then, assuming that’s all ok, I can go ahead and order the rest of the printing.

In the meantime I finished two of the three Zombology copies we need by March last night and will be doing the third tonight. Then I'll build a few for stock in case of website orders or another stocking order from our retailer (singular!).

The next few months are going to be pretty busy!