Monday, April 15

What’s Next?

When I get back from a family holiday tomorrow I’ll be frantically crafting boxes and dashboards again, trying to keep up the momentum that currently has us on track to finish the FlickFleet Kickstarter fulfilment in August - four months earlier than we promised on the Kickstarter. Paul and I are going to meet up briefly on Wednesday for a clandestine one-way exchange in a pub near the station as I journey home from a work trip to Manchester. As I’ll be travelling for six hours and in a remote office that day I’ll not be able to take any finished boxes with me, but I’m hoping to take some flat-packed cut box lids for Paul to sign and to collect a bag of ~25 games’ worth of bits (which I hope Paul will surreptitiously slide under the table like a spy) for the last leg of my journey home. That will let me complete and ship the Reinforcements pledges over the next couple of weeks, well ahead of the end of June deadline.

I’m hoping that in addition to signing the box blanks we can spend an hour or so over a quiet pint discussing what we want to do next.

Come August I’m hoping to have completed the FlickFleet Kickstarter pledges, freebies and pre-orders which will leave us with ~130 games’ worth of FlickFleet pieces and a laser cutter cooling its heels in the corner of Paul’s garage. So what’s next? We have a number of ideas for more FlickFleet content (scenery, extra ship types, extra races) and a number of people have already said they would definitely want/back some of those things.

Is that what we should do next? Should we try to Kickstart a professionally manufactured standard print run instead/as well? Should we focus on other games? 

All of these are up for discussion - if you have a preference please let us know below!

Monday, April 8

On Holiday!

A brief blog post this week as I’m away on holiday with my family at the moment.

Last week I finished the 100th FlickFleet box (that’s 1/4 of the print run and over 40% of the Kickstarter rewards completed). I also tested and posted the first FlickFleet scenario on the web. We’re hoping to build up a large collection of additional scenarios, so if you’ve designed one, please send it to us and we’ll get it up too.

The first additional FlickFleet scenario

I’ll be taking this week off, with the possible exception of some more scenario design as I play it with my family.

When I get back I'll be making more Zombology copies as we have another stocking order from our single retail supplier.

Monday, April 1

Change of Gear

For the last several weeks our focus has been on making games - Paul has been flat out laser-cutting ships and bagging bits and I’ve been spending several evenings a week making games and then most of my lunch breaks taking the week’s batch of completed games to the Post Office.

Paul is now way ahead of (even our accelerated) schedule and I’ve used up and posted the last of the bits I got from Paul at the end of February, so I can’t post any more games until we meet up and exchange bits again. I’m still making boxes and cutting dashboards, but those are now stockpiling ready for our next exchange of bits.

This frees up my lunch breaks this week, so I’m planning to try out some new scenario ideas so I can get them up on the website - now that 75 people have the game I want to ensure there’s plenty of scenarios available to keep them entertained.

Next week I’ll be on holiday with my family (16 of us!), so I’ll not be making any games, but I’m betting we’ll play some FlickFleet as I’ll be hand delivering my brother’s and sister’s copies and I think my nephew and nieces in particular are very keen to play.

Until then, I'll be crafting another batch of boxes, etc. that will take us to over 100 completed games - that's a quarter of the run! I've also done a little Zombology this week too - I've still got 49 of those to make (20 of which are for Kickstarter backers).

Back to Zombology crafting as well this week

Monday, March 25

Regular Cadence

It’s the end of March and the end of the first quarter of the year this week. I have a number of tasks I do monthly and a few I do every quarter, so in addition to shipping the 13 copies of FlickFleet I finished on the weekend I’ll be doing a Kickstarter update (monthly), financial reporting to Paul (monthly and quarterly), sending out an email newsletter (quarterly) and a board report to our board of advisers (quarterly).

It’ll be a busy week, but we’ve had a great few months and I’m looking forward to sharing that with the various groups of people who receive those messages.

As with many startups we got off to a slow start, racking up costs associated with FlickFleet development and the Kickstarter without any sales to offset them. Now that we have started shipping (and are ahead of schedule :-) ) things are looking much more positive!

I've also run out of cut ships now, so after I've posted last week's games I'll just be building up boxes until Paul and I meet up, then I can give them to him so he can start shipping too.

Monday, March 18

Now With Added Colour!

I had a really busy week at work last week and The Toddler had a cold and hence slept even worse than usual, but I still managed to get 13 copies in the post (the last of the Uprising Heroes and a prize for the design a scenario competition I held last year). On the weekend I made another 12 copies (the first of the Reinforcements tier - due in June). That leaves me with another 12 games’ worth of bits that I got from Paul on our weekend away recently. Once I’ve finished those (hopefully this week) I’ll be building up boxes again for our next exchange of pieces.

I’ve got three more weeks of crafting and then I’m away for a week’s holiday with the whole of my family (16 of us) during which I imagine we’ll play some games of FlickFleet.

At the moment I’m focusing on trying to get as many made and shipped as possible before we move house in the next 2-3 months. 

Meanwhile over on the Kickstarter page a couple of people have asked if it's possible to colour the etching on the Deluxe ships so the names are more legible from a distance. Paul's been experimenting and come up with these results:

Colourful Dreadnought!

He drew in the line with a Sharpie pen and then quickly wiped off the excess with a WD-40 soaked paper towel!

Monday, March 11

Uprising Heroes Complete!

The first deluxe tier in our FlickFleet Kickstarter was set for delivery in March 2019. The Kickstarter completed on the 8th Dec and we didn’t get the funds until the 21st (by which time I was already on Christmas holiday!). We didn’t start ordering things until early January and the laser cutter wasn’t fully operational until early February, so it was always going to be tight, but I’m delighted to say that I finished the last of the 52 copies we needed to make last night (Paul is way ahead of me!) and I’ll be posting them all this week - with two weeks to spare before the end of the month I’m very hopeful that they’ll all arrive on time.

The last few copies of the first tier of rewards

We also been getting people sharing pictures of their received copies on twitter and Facebook and even some pictures of it in play at Airecon this weekend :-)

It feels great to be making and shipping copies on time and also to see it out the wild with people enjoying it.

I’ll be sending out the next Kickstarter survey this week and hope to start shipping the next tier of rewards (due in June) next week. I should be able to do about thirty of those before running out of laser cut bits at which point I’ll have to meet up with Paul again to get some more.

I’ve also been thinking about what's next after FlickFleet fulfilment completes. I’ve a couple of game ideas that meet the Eurydice criteria (fast, fun and unique) but they all require a decent chunk of work before they are ready (if ever).

Plenty to keep me busy!

Monday, March 4

FlickFleet in Flight!

As I mentioned last week, we’re now shipping FlickFleet. On Saturday Paul posted 28 of the 30 copies he’s done (he’s hand-delivering the last two to friends) and over the weekend I made another 11 copies of my bits and added the bits Paul gave me last weekend to them and I’ll be posting those during my lunch breaks this week.

Paul’s postage piles!

The first and last groups of games were always going to be the tightest - the first because we had to order everything and get the laser cutter set up and running properly; the last because there’s well over 100 of them. I’m delighted that we’re on track still - so many Kickstarters deliver late, to be making all the games by hand and still hitting our deadlines is a real achievement, and it’ll set us up nicely for future Kickstarters - we’ll have a reputation for trustworthiness in terms of delivery that can only be earned by coming through on your promises.

The next challenge will be that we’re moving house in the next few months which will obviously be disruptive - I want to get as many copies shipped before the move as possible to minimise the disruption. Back to the crafting board!



Monday, February 25

Shipping This Week!

This weekend Paul and I and our families met up for a joint long weekend. We ate and drank well, hung out and chatted, played with the kids and got some gaming in, but most relevant to this blog is the FlickFleet progress. Paul had spent last week frantically laser cutting deluxe sets and I was measuring and cutting box tops. Each FlickFleet deluxe edition is signed, numbered, enscribed with a message and optionally personalised.

I brought 30 finished boxes with the rules and dashboards in on holiday and Paul brought 45 deluxe games’ worth of ships, wooden bits and dice, plus two standard copies for the two backers at the Uprising Hero (first to ship) level who got a standard copy as well as a deluxe one.

During the weekend Paul and I numbered, enscribed and both signed those 30 finished boxes, plus we numbered and signed the 48 box tops I’d brought with me that were cut but not assembled yet.

That will allow me to ship the 45 games’ worth of bits as I make the boxes for them, and Paul to ship the 30 boxes as he cuts and bags more bits, we expect to ship all the Uprising Hero pledges before mid-March, so they should arrive by the end of March as promised on the Kickstarter.

I also made a jig for the box top blanks last week too, which I think will significantly speed up making them as I put the measurements on it once, rather than measuring every sheet. I’m going to make one for the box bottoms this week and time it to see how much time it saves - it felt like quite a lot, but I don’t have the data yet! I still have 345 games worth of box blanks to make, so a saving of a minute or two per game will save many hours of work in total.

It’s really exciting to be shipping the games this week - our baby will be in peoples’ hands shortly - I hope they enjoy it as much as we and the reviewers do!

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!