Monday, August 12

California!

I spent most of last week in California for work, which it turns out is a very long way from Newcastle.

The good news is, as suspected, I coped poorly with the jet-lag and woke very early each morning (between 02:30 and 03:40) so I had some jet-lag hours to work on FlickFleet before work. My main focus was trying to flesh out the second Kickstarter page, but I also spent a little time on the website (which still needs more work!) and ran #CraftWednesday starting at 04:00!

Over the weekend I returned to FlickFleet crafting and we have just two weeks of crafting left to finish the Kickstarter rewards - we’re still on track for shipping them all in August.

After that I’ll be reaching out the the pre-orderers and seeing if they want immediate fulfilment at full price or to wait for the second Kickstarter and a discount.

We’ve also got the first of the second wave of Kickstarter reviews from Dan Thurot over at SPACE-BIFF! He was smitten!

Monday, August 5

Week Off!

I'm writing this blog post at 4:45am in an airport lounge while awaiting a flight to Amsterdam, and then a connecting flight to San Francisco. Which sounds pretty glamorous, but the reality is that on arrival in San Fran I'll be whisked to a hotel on a business park in Pleasanton where I'll spend the next two days probably awake from midnight to about 6pm and working (on the same business park) from 9 until 5. I'll not see much of California at all.

Being awake for most of the night with jet-lag does mean that I'll have the jet-lag hours of midnight until 7am to work on the next Kickstarter and other computer-based tasks, but obviously there'll be no crafting until I get back. Last week the crafting finished early too as I needed to find our camping stuff in the boxes in the garage on Thursday and then we were camping Friday and Saturday and I needed an early night on Sunday because of the 3am start this morning.

I've only got 37 more copies to make, so my current plan is to make seven one night next weekend, and then three nights of six the following week. That leaves just twelve to do the following week, which is another two nights' work - just as well as we're off camping again at the end of that week.

If everything goes to plan I'll have finished the crafting by the 22nd of August!

After that I'll have to knuckle down on the next Kickstarter and (at a slower pace!) make up the last of the Zombology stock and some FlickFleets for the pre-orderers who don't want to wait for the Kickstarter.

For now though, I've a plane to catch!

Monday, July 29

Help! Send Time!

I’m really struggling to find time for crafting at the moment. With the summer holidays started and the recent swathe of hot weather the girls have been going to bed pretty late. By the time we’ve got them asleep and I’ve cleaned and tidied up after a day of kids at home it’s often 9:30-10 before I’m free. That doesn’t sound that late, but our nights are still broken by The Toddler waking up and we need to be up early either for work or The Toddler getting up early, so I really need to go to bed at 10 or 10:30.

I can get the crafting done in three evenings a week if I spend 1.5 hours on it, but clearly, even in the best case scenario, there’s not an hour and a half between 9:30 and 10:30.

Last week, with a couple of late nights on the weekend I managed to finish the sixteen planned copies for the week and five of the eight copies that slipped from the week before. This week I’m travelling Monday and we’re camping with friends on Friday and Saturday. I also need a very early night on Sunday as I need to get up at 3am for my trip to the US :-(

Next week I’m away from 4am Monday until Friday lunchtime and I’ll be hideously jet-lagged on the following weekend. At least I'll have some time while I'm away (the jet-lag hours in the very early morning!) to do some more preparation for the second FlickFleet Kickstarter.

I think I can still finish the first Kickstarter rewards by the end of August, but it’s getting pretty tight...

Monday, July 22

A Bump in the Road

With delivery from Paul of everything I needed to finish the Kickstarter rewards just over a week ago and then another visit from Paul yesterday with enough cut box labels to finish the rewards, the time it takes me to finish a game has dropped from 25 mins to just under 14. 

I had intended to complete another weekly batch of 16 last week, but with three days in Manchester for work and then a very late bedtime for The Toddler on Sunday I only managed to get eight done (though I gave those to Paul and he's posting them today) so there’s now only 72 left to do - four and a half weeks’ work. I'm going to try to make up the eight I missed last week over the next couple of weeks, so hopefully I'll be back on track before my trip to California at the beginning of August (I get a week off crafting that week!).

Either way, the end of August that we're aiming for is a personal target - it's way ahead of the December target we set in the Kickstarter.  One of the benefits of hand-crafting the games is that everything is under our control so we're not at the mercy of a factory's production schedules or international cargo shipping.

Of course the downside is that we're spending a lot of time physically making the games, and hence we have a lot less time for testing other games or working on scenarios.

My hope is the next Kickstarter will be successful enough to support more manufacturing outside my kitchen and Paul's garage!

Monday, July 15

All Systems Go!

For the last six months Paul and I have been managing FlickFleet construction between two sites that are 100 miles apart.

I’ve got all the printed stuff (box labels, dashboards, Zombology bits) and to begin with had the greyboard for the boxes too. Paul has the laser cutter, acrylic and wooden bits (and for the last couple of months has had the FlickFleet box greyboard as well).

Paul, who works part-time, has been blasting through his half of the construction and we’ve been periodically meeting up so he can supply me with the bits I need to finish copies and ship them - either through family visits on the weekend or a quick pint in York (where Paul lives) station on my way home from frequent work trips to Manchester.

With my house move looming over us for the last several months I’ve been trying to minimise the stuff I’ve got in my house, so I managed to offload the greyboard onto Paul (and he cut all the box blanks from it!) and I've been trying to turn the stock around as quickly as possible to minimise finished stock in the house.

With the move now safely behind us, I need to reverse that trend. I'm aiming to make and ship 16 copies of FlickFleet a week now, and the last couple of times we've met up I've taken 20 or so copies from Paul (which due to the weight of the acrylic and wooden bits is pretty much all I can carry!). I go to Manchester every three to four weeks - that's clearly not a solution we can rely on, so this weekend we invited Paul and his family up to see the new house and bring everything I need to complete the Kickstarter rewards - that's around 100 games' worth of box blanks, acrylic and wooden bits and all the postage boxes he had.

Now I have everything I need to complete the fulfilment - Paul's done (more than!) his fair share. Though he did take eleven finished copies back with him to post while I'm in Manchester next week. He also took a bunch of labels - so he can cut them out - saving me a further three minutes per game (about five hours for the rest of the Kickstarter rewards).

All I need to finish Kickstarter fulfilment!

In related news, I'll be at Tabletop Manchester at The Wharf pub tonight for gaming and will have Zombology and FlickFleet with me if you're interested to try them out!

Monday, July 8

Back in the Saddle

This week I have resumed FlickFleet crafting in the new house!

We’re still in a chaotic state with boxes everywhere, but I’ve found the FlickFleet materials and started making games again. 

With my crafting table in pieces on a pile of boxes in the garage I’ve had to improvise, and I’ve been using the kitchen island instead.

Bon app├ętit!

The good news is that this is a better height for standing at (I stand up to cut out the labels and dashboards) but worse for sitting at (the bar stools are much less comfortable than my office chair!).

Last week I made 16 copies as planned and this week I have everything I need to make 10 of my 16 target, then I've run out again. So we’ve arranged for Paul and his family to come up and see our new house (and bring everything he’s made that I need to complete the Kickstarter rewards: 87 cut box blanks, 87 bags of sorted bits and all the postage boxes he’s got). 

That will remove one of the obstacles to hitting our deadlines: our need to meet up periodically and exchange things made at one or the other house!

Monday, July 1

Box Fort!

Last Tuesday we moved into the new house. It all went fairly smoothly on the day and now we are just sorting through all the stuff we still have in boxes trying to work out where it will all live.

My half of the Eurydice Games stuff ready for the move!

Long term the plan is that the smallest bedroom will end up as a crafting studio for me to make Eurydice Games, but in the short term The Toddler is in there while we sort out the other rooms.

On Friday I brought the bits I’d collected from Paul and left at work home with me and I intend to resume crafting this week. Progress will be slow for a few weeks while I sort out the rest of the house, but at this point I’m still right on track for completing the Kickstarter rewards in August.

Monday, June 24

All Change!

Tomorrow we move house. It's only a short move (about 1.5 miles), but it's the first time we've bought and sold a house on the same day and the first time we've moved with kids (now aged 6 and 2). It's been remarkably stressful, but hopefully by mid-afternoon tomorrow we should be in our new house surrounded by piles of boxes.

I've spent the last week trying to get as much stock finished as possible and then getting that in the post (or stored under my desk at work so that the movers can't damage it in transit). The un-assembled stock is still here though, but as flat sheets of card or greyboard in sturdy boxes I'm less worried about that!

I'm not expecting to get much crafting done over the next couple of weeks as we'll still be frantically unpacking/working out where things live/sorting out our stuff, but at this point we're still on track for finishing fulfilment by the end of August - four months ahead of schedule!

In time, we're hoping to make the smallest bedroom an office for Eurydice Games, but for the moment it'll be The Toddler's room until we sort out some of the other rooms. I'm really looking forward to having a dedicated crafting space :-)

Until then I have a lot of stuff to put in boxes, and then a lot of stuff to take out of boxes - wish me luck!

Monday, June 17

Hiatus II: Return of the Hiatus

After three months of living in limbo, it appears that we finally have a date for our house move: next Tuesday. So I have just over a week to sort our stuff out and get rid of as much finished stock as possible to avoid it getting damaged in the move. The good news is that I currently only have one finished copy of both FlickFleet and Zombology and three half-finished Zombology copies. I need to finish those by Thursday as I'll be restocking our only retailer, Travelling Man, in Manchester on my way home from a work trip.

I’m also going to meet Paul in York and pick up some more FlickFleet bits on my way through, though I’ll leave those under my desk at work until I get the move over with.

I’ve planned for a few weeks of no crafting as we settle into the new house and start sorting out all our stuff and yet still expect to get all the Kickstarter rewards in the Post by the end of August - several months ahead of schedule.

For now though my focus needs to be on sorting out our belongings for the move!

Monday, June 10

No Take Backsies!

The prevailing wisdom when fulfilling a Kickstarter (i.e. Jamey Stegmaier) is to expect about 1% fulfilment errors - games that fail to arrive at the backer.

With just over 300 backers we would therefore be expecting about three. This week we got our first two returns, one from the USA (insufficient address) and one from France (not collected). This is a first for me, despite eight years of selling games over the Internet.

I’ll be looking to get those both back in the post this week. Hopefully we’ll not have any more, but at least with a signature required and tracking for international parcels and the return address on the box we’ve got a decent chance of not losing the games themselves, just the postage.

I’ve got a very busy week at work this week, hosting visitors all week, but I’m hoping to get 6 of the last 9 Bomber pledges in the post today and then the last 3 early next week.

Our move is hopefully a week or two away now, so there will be a shipping hiatus while we pack everything up and then settle back in again.

Monday, June 3

Doubling Up

Until now our focus has been wholly on making copies of FlickFleet as fast as we can and then getting them in the post to complete the FlickFleet Kickstarter fulfilment.

We’re now on the Bomber pledges (a copy of FlickFleet and one of Zombology), so Zombology is also required now too. We had a few of the earlier pledge levels get an additional Zombology, but that was a total of  seven copies over the months of Jan to May, now we need 20 copies of Zombology in fairly short order.
A blast from the past!

Because Paul does most of the FlickFleet crafting they're only take me about 19 minutes now, but Zombology is still 42 mins per copy so doing 20 will take me 14 hours - that’s several weeks’ crafting with another 20 copies of FlickFleet on top. It’s going well at the moment - I’ve made 12 FlickFleets and 11 Zombologys (and eight of those rewards are in the post, with the rest going in the post tomorrow). Next up will be the remaining eight FlickFleets and then it’ll be nine more Zombologys and the Bombers are done.

The final reward tier is 98 FlickFleets which we’ll do in July and August I hope.

The other thing that is splitting my focus is the next project. We’re planning to do a second FlickFleet Kickstarter once the first one is completed (i.e. all pledges in the post). There’s a ton of stuff that needs doing ahead of time (the KS page, video, photos of finished games and working out exactly what the Scenario Pack expansion will contain), but thankfully most of it can be done during lunchtime on a PC (on the days I don’t go to the Post Office!).

Busy, busy!

Tuesday, May 28

Hiatus Averted!

Last week was a particularly weird one as we didn't know until Wednesday whether or not we were moving house on the Friday! I was trying to hedge my games production so that I didn't have loads of half-made games kicking around the house that might get damaged during the move - my goal was to try to finish and ship as much as I could without starting more.

As it was, we found out on Wednesday afternoon that the move wasn't possible (it was a very last minute rush that had a fairly low chance of happening) so I was able to return to production over the weekend.

We've now made (and almost shipped!) all of the rewards except the Bombers (a copy of FlickFleet and a copy of Zombology) and the Fighters (a standard copy of FlickFleet). That sounds great, but there's nearly 100 Fighters to do, so there's still a chunk of work ahead of us.

With the Bombers at the top of the pile now I've gone back to making Zombology copies as we need to ship 20 of those over the next few weeks. I had four finished FlickFleet boxes left over from last week's crafting and five Zombology box blanks, so I've labelled them up and cut the cards so I could post those four rewards. On my way back from Manchester on Tuesday I met Paul again and gave him a couple of copies of FlickFleet for a friend of his and accepted from him the rest of the box blanks I needed for finishing the Bombers, plus the bagged bits for all twenty of the Bomber FlickFleets.

My plan was to dump all the stuff I got from Paul under my desk at work if we moved this week so it was safe from damage in transit during the move, but with that avoided, my new goal is to try and get as much of it in the post before the move (which is now up in the air again - hopefully some point in June!).

I'm really appreciating Paul taking on the box blank cutting, as that's saving me about five minutes per game, which doesn't sound like much but it's almost 25% of my construction time, so it makes a big difference! The other benefit is that all the box card is now at Paul's not stacked up under my spare bed, so that's one other thing I don't have to worry about the movers damaging!

Monday, May 20

Our Kickstarter Experience

If you've been reading this blog for years you'll know I was very wary/disparaging of Kickstarter in the past. Last November Paul and I ran a Kickstarter and we're now just over half-way through fulfilling 325 backers with lovingly hand-crafting board games.

So what changed? What was it like eating humble pie? Now that six months have passed how do I feel about it?

As I've said in the past there were a few things about Kickstarter that put me off:
  • It lowered the bar to publishing so low that games that possibly shouldn't have been made are being made,
  • As a publisher, you go into it not knowing what you're on the hook for until it closes, and
  • You owe people stuff for months (or maybe even years).

So how do those concerns tally with our experience?

I still maintain there are a lot of games being made that wouldn't have seen the light of day via a traditional publisher. Arguably FlickFleet is one of them. Some people will say that's a good thing, removing the gatekeepers and letting more projects see the light of day that would never have been picked up. Others will say that there are too many games being released and lots of those are weak. I don't really play enough new games to be able to make an informed decision on this, but probably lean towards the latter despite having benefited from the former!

My concerns about what you're getting into were mostly around stretch goals. You see loads of projects that have a vast range of rewards and various expansions or extra pieces or upgrades that become available as stretch goals. Had we run one of those campaigns (FlickFleet was a pretty vanilla campaign), I might have more opinion on this; but it's related to the biggest negative for me and Paul: will we/won't we. For all but the last 4 hours of a 720 hour campaign our project hadn't funded. Even for those last four hours we were still so close to the target that a couple of cancellations (of which we had loads including a couple after funding!) could have sunk us. The toll on our mental health was terrible. It was so stressful. I was checking the funding total on my phone at a very unhealthy frequency. We'd had to set quite a high target to fund the laser cutter and all the materials, plus leave enough in the pot after Kickstarter fees to cover shipping 275 games - it was a stretch, and one that we only just managed to reach.

All of that was very stressful. Even the green bit!

The final concern is something that is probably not a concern at all for most people, but I don't like owing people for things. On the day we funded we were suddenly indebted to 319 people to the tune of £11,891. I'm not comfortable with that. I've chosen to clearly spell out how much we owe in our bookkeeping so I can see what is hanging over me and watch it decrease by a few hundred pounds every week. This affects other decisions I make too - we've had numerous people ask to upgrade their pledges after the Kickstarter closed. We're not using a pledge manager, so I've just been making a note against their pledge. We could charge them at the point they requested it, but that would increase the debt, rather than reduce it - and I'm not fine with that. So instead I've been charging people at the point that I'm ready to ship their pledge. We'll probably lose a few upgrades that way, but I'd rather that than sit on people's cash for months and add to my mental burden about the debt.

So was there anything good about Kickstarter? There were definitely benefits! Kickstarter allowed us to make 400 copies of FlickFleet for a personal outlay of £480, rather than a £10,000 one. Which made it a possibility. In addition, about 35% of the backers found us through Kickstarter - we went into the Kickstarter with a mailing list of 136 people: way, way too small to be successful. Plus the Kickstarter timeline encouraged our supporters to help us raise the money in time, focusing their (and our) efforts to get us the backers we needed to be successful during the funding window.

In hindsight, it was an awful experience (due to the stress) and a lot of my fears were realised, but FlickFleet wouldn't exist without it, so on balance it's a good thing!

Monday, May 13

Take Two!

Paul and I are currently working on plans for our second Kickstarter later this year. We're working under a few constraints:
  • We have very limited time for playtesting whatever comes next due to FlickFleet construction,
  • We have very little cash due to FlickFleet shipping,
  • We don't want to run it until we've shipped all the 2018 Kickstarter rewards.
By the end of August (hopefully!) there should be about 300 people in the world who have a copy of FlickFleet. Which is a lot considering every single one of those will have been loving hand-crafted by Paul and me. But it's not many as a proportion of the 7.4 billion people who live on the planet (or even the gamers among them).

FlickFleet has been getting excellent feedback and Paul and I would love to see more people get the chance to enjoy it. Now there's a number of reasons why we only got 325 backers for our first Kickstarter (not least of which was that our advertising spend was less than £100). Lots of people will avoid Kickstarters from first time creators because they are wary of getting stung by people who don't know what their doing and have no track record. It's one of the reasons that we spent so much of our first Kickstarter page and video talking about our credentials and experience.

If we come back to Kickstarter in September then we can do things a bit differently. We will hopefully have a completed Kickstarter under our belts with fulfilment having been completed early, rather than late. We have a community of FlickFleet owners 300 strong, many of whom (assuming the same level of excitement among backers who have yet to receive their rewards as we've had from those backers who've already got their copies) really love the game. Some of those are already clamouring for extra FlickFleet content, others will hopefully help us by reaching out to their friends, games clubs, families and random strangers in the supermarket to espouse the game.

This time there's a few things we’re hoping to do differently, with this in mind:
  • Focus the video and the page more on the game than on us,
  • Be more upbeat (and less knackered!) in the video,
  • Use stretch goals more effectively,
  • Set a lower target because we don't need a(nother!) laser cutter,
  • Reduce the amount of crafting required for the standard edition.

I've started this process by scripting a new video on the train this week, focussed on playing the game. Which gave me an idea for a scenario - so once I've tested it I'll be adding that to the Scenarios page too!

Tuesday, May 7

Deluxe Pledges Complete!

Yesterday I finished off the last of the Rise Up deluxe pledges, which were due in September. I’ll be shipping them over the next couple of weeks. 

Last week was a good one with a chance to make it along to Tabletop Manchester where we played Zombology four times and a visit from Paul and his family on Sunday afternoon.

Seeing as Paul has more free time than me, he’s taken the greyboard for the box blanks and will be cutting those for me. He’s way ahead of schedule on the laser cutting, so I’m the weakest link at the moment - this will help out quite a lot (making a box blank takes me seven minutes and 39 seconds, so when Paul gives me the cut and scored blanks back all I’ll have to do is fold them and tape them - maybe two minutes' work. A five or six minute saving doesn’t sound like much until you realise we still have 270 boxes to make!

I’ve kept enough greyboard to make the boxes for the Commodore pledges which are up next. After those (two weeks’ work) it’s the Bomber pledges which also require me to make 20 copies of Zombology, so I’ll crack on with those afterwards.

Tonight I’m off to Bedford on the train for my friend Andrew’s funeral. I’ll be spending eight hours on the train over the next two days getting there and back again, so rather than spending that time dwelling on our fleeting time on this planet, I’ve taken my laptop so I can distract myself with some Eurydice Games work.

Monday, April 29

Monthly Goals

Every month I have a list of things I need to do. Some of those I have to do - if I don’t record depreciation on the laser cutter in our accounts that’s really bad. Others are things I’d really like to do - two of which I’m notoriously bad at: playing our games with strangers (a great way of raising awareness and getting face-to-face sales) and doing something in the media (another great way of raising awareness).

It’s been months since I’ve done either of those and getting on for a year since I did both in the same month.

Until now! Last week I was interviewed by Chris from TableFlip last week via email and that interview is now live and then this evening I’m off to Tabletop Manchester to hopefully play FlickFleet and Zombology with a few people. I go to Manchester fairly often for work, but it’s usually there and back in a day and I rarely stay over. Tomorrow morning I’ve an early meeting so I’m going down this afternoon and have the evening free - so I’m going along to Tabletop Manchester for only the third time in as many years.

I also returned to shipping FlickFleet copies last week, posting 12 copies and making 13. I’m posting another seven today. When I met Paul on the way back from Manchester just over a week ago I got everything I needed to make and send another 28, so I’ve still got another 9 to finish and post this week, when I get back from my trip.

Once those are done we will have shipped all of the second deluxe reward tier - these were due in June! It’s great to be nicely ahead of schedule and thinking about what to do next :-).

Tuesday, April 23

A Bad Week

I didn't make much progress last week due to not getting home from our holiday until late Monday and then my father-in-law arriving for a week on Tuesday, and then a trip to Manchester for work on Wednesday. With my father-in-law around to help out at home, I arranged to meet Paul near the station in York on Wednesday on my way back from Manchester. Paul lives a couple of miles from the station and I had to change trains there anyway. This gave us an opportunity to chat about what we do next and for me to collect some laser-cut ships and bagged wooden bits allowing me to carry on with the shipping of FlickFleet rewards (I've now got everything I need to complete the Reinforcements reward tier - due in June - in the next couple of weeks). Sadly I couldn't take any of the boxes I've finished down with me to give to Paul (I had six hours of travel before I met Paul), so we couldn't double up on shipping.

Wednesday was already a tough day (5am start after a long day the day before and a late return from our holiday the night before that), when I got an email from my friend Terry, whose Games Night I had attended weekly during my three years in and around Bedford, letting me know that our joint friend Andrew had passed away last Saturday after a battle with cancer. To my shame, I've not been great at keeping in touch with Terry, Andrew and Graham who I used to game with so I wasn't even aware that Andrew had cancer, let alone that he was very ill.

Terry, Andrew, Graham and I used to game at least once a week at a games night and often during the week playtesting some of the submissions I had received and was considering publishing in my Reiver Games days. We used to hang out sharing our love of gaming and laughing at Andrew's constant stream of innuendo. He brought an infectious sense of humour to the gaming that made it far more fun and funny. During those three years he was one of my closest friends - the kind who when you meet up after months or years it's like you last saw them a week ago - effortless.

When I attended Essen for the second time in 2009, Andrew was one of three friends who accompanied me and helped me run the stand - his humour and positivity kept us going through a busy, draining and ultimately disappointing convention. We shared a twin room too, so the jokes and laughs continued late into the evenings.

Since leaving the Bedford area eight years ago I've kept vaguely in touch with the three of them, sporadically chatting with Graham on Twitter, attending Beer and Pretzels with Terry a few (three?) times and I also bumped into Terry and Graham at the UK Games Expo last year too. I've also managed a couple of games days at Terry's during which I stayed with Andrew and his partners, but it's been two or three years since I last spoke to him and I deeply regret that now. He was a wonderful person, who I was lucky and proud to call a friend. And despite having spent very little time with him in the last eight years I'm going to miss him a lot. Rest in peace, Andrew. The world is a greyer place without you.

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!