Warcaster: Collision Course
Der neue Kickstarter zu Warcaster Neo-Mechanika wirft seine Schatten voraus.
Welcome to our final Warjack Wednesday update for the Warcaster: Neo-Mechanika Kickstarter campaign. We will continue to post important updates here regarding international delivery of rewards and upcoming events, but in an effort not to overload your inbox, we will cease the regular weekly updates here as we prepare to launch the Warcaster: Collision Course Kickstarter campaign next week. More on that below but first we have some very important information regarding fulfillment of the second wave as well as our After-Action report on this Kickstarter campaign.
WAVE 2 FULFILLMENT
Here is the status of the second shipping wave, by region:
The freight shipment going to the EU/UK has reportedly made port and the shipment is due to arrive to our fulfillment partner in Liverpool by the end of this week. They are prepped ready to start shipping, so we expect UK and EU shipments to start going out by the middle of next week.
THE AFTER-ACTION REPORT
We have run and fulfilled several Kickstarter campaigns but Warcaster: Neo-Mechanika was an entirely new type of experience for us in scope as well as with the increased challenges this past year has brought. While we managed to [mostly] stay on track, we know not everything went perfectly. So I wanted to take a moment to share with you what we learned through this Kickstarter campaign experience and how that has informed and influenced what we’ll do differently in the future. Our goal is to continually improve the experience for you as well as for us, so that things go as smoothly as possible for everyone.
The Warcaster: Neo-Mechanika Kickstarter campaign introduced a brand new game with three new factions and multiple offerings for each faction, including variations on some miniatures and of course multiple warjacks with multiple weapons. To say there are a lot of ‘moving parts’ is an understatement. This complexity was compounded with the stretch goal reward structure as well as the freedom to substitute models in preconfigured rewards and an abundance of choices to make in the post-campaign pledge manager. While most people soldiered through the process and while we hope that you feel your pledge resulted in an exceptional value, we feel there is plenty of room for reducing the complexity of the campaign’s design.
In our next Warcaster Kickstarter, while we can’t get away from servicing multiple factions, we can make understanding the rewards process easier as well as simplifying the post-campaign pledge manager experience. To that end, we’ve designed the campaign with two types of rewards: Upgrades that will add to everyone backing a qualifying pledge level and Quartermaster Rewards, which you’ll choose in the post-campaign pledge manager.
In our recent Riot Quest: Wintertime Wasteland Kickstarter, we introduced the Loot Vault. This was essentially a prize pool with a selection of rewards that could be purchased with points received during the campaign. Points were received every time we achieved a Pay Day stretch goal, based on the reward level backers pledged at (Bronze, Silver, or Gold). In the pledge manager, based on your reward level, the points were turned into a corresponding number of picks from the Loot Vault. For Warcaster: Collision Course, we’re essentially doing the same thing. As we progress through stretch goals, backers will receive ‘Supply Drops’ of Armory and Provisions credits that you’ll be able to spend with the Quartermaster at the end of the campaign. It’s nothing you need to keep track of unless you just want to follow along with the campaign. The amount of credits you receive is based on the reward level you pledge for (higher rewards mean more credits which equal more rewards from the Quartermaster) and your reward picks will be constrained to the faction you select in the pledge manager. This means you won’t be faced with such a mind-staggering number of choices, and yet, you’re still going to get the opportunity to get your hands on some great extras. More than anything, we hope that everything will appear much more straightforward and less confusing than what we ended up with at some of the larger pledge levels in the first campaign.
ONE SHIPPING WAVE
When we originally designed the Warcaster: Neo-Mechanika Kickstarter, we went into it thinking that we’d deliver the rewards in pretty much the same fashion that we’ve been delivering product every month for almost 20 years. The campaign was built to fund about four months worth of content for each faction, which ordinarily we’d pace out as monthly releases. This all looked good on paper until we suddenly found ourselves in the grip of a pandemic and were forced to reduce our workforce by 90% for three months. Determined to maintain the schedule we had promised, we revised our plans to ship in two waves and there was actually a point where this made sense for our production pipeline and our shipping capacity, but this is also where most of the friction came from in our fulfillment process.
Once we were too deep into it, we realized that the various systems that handle our fulfillment logistics, from our pledge manager to our shipping software, were not capable of tracking specific details across multiple shipments. Add to that the option to ship in one or multiple shipments for international backers, and it introduced a number of problems that resulted in everything from delayed shipments to backers receiving duplicate shipments. The issues were not widespread, but they were frequent enough to quickly realize that we would have to come up with a different solution in the future.
The most fundamental and simple change is just to ship everything in one wave so that orders don’t have to be tracked over multiple shipments. We also found new ways to build our pledge manager out that will mitigate many of the minutiae issues like packing mistakes. We’ll be able to prove whether or not we nailed it when we do our upcoming fulfillment for Riot Quest, but so far, everything we learned from Warcaster and implemented in the Riot Quest Kickstarter seems to be working out, so we expect fulfillment to be a much smoother experience with the next campaign.
Complexity and the multiple shipping waves had the most impact on our international shipments. On top of that, some last minute revising of plans before we started shipping the first wave compounded the problems by putting our international shipments at the end of the shipping wave. This wasn’t by design, but because the AC Scourge model had to undergo several rounds of engineering before it was able to go into production, and due to our reduced production staff, the AC starters were delayed in packing. In an effort to get things moving as soon as we could, we decided to start shipping any rewards we could that only consisted of Marcher Worlds and/or Iron Star Alliance. But this meant that all of our international freight orders, which of course included all three factions, had to wait until we were ready to start packing the Aeternus Continuum starters.
In the end, the changes to how we shipped that first wave didn’t result in anyone waiting any longer to receive anything, but because some backers received rewards many weeks before others, the perceived wait was understandably excruciating for backers excited to receive their rewards.
Reducing complexity and shipping in one wave will solve most of the problems around international fulfillment. But going forward, we won’t start shipping anything until our international freight orders are ready to ship. So, they’ll have a head start while we work through our domestic U.S. orders. Depending on what part of the world you live in, though, most likely our domestic U.S. shipments will start arriving before freight can even get to some of our fulfillment partners. But as you should be seeing with the second wave which we have just completed shipping, the gap between the beginning and the end of when rewards start showing up should be significantly reduced.
There isn’t a better way for us to manage this part of the process without storing orders and delaying their shipment until freight shipments make it to their overseas destinations. But with limited space available to stage things for shipping, even that isn’t possible without crushing our workspace under outbound packages. Shipping the second wave, which was smaller than the first wave, took our entire team a solid three weeks to pack and ship the nearly three-thousand individual parcels that had to go out, and we had to ship out whatever we could every day just to make room for the next day’s packages. No matter what, the process of fulfillment is going to be a weeks-long process. But by making sure we get international orders shipped first and through other measures we’re taking to make sure pack out goes faster, we hope to eventually reduce the overall amount of time this part of the process takes.
I will note that we are still struggling to find the best way to fulfill orders to Asia. It takes significantly longer for freight to reach our fulfillment partner there, and as we’ve experienced recently, different holidays and other events can cause even more unanticipated delays. We don’t have a perfect solution here other than to make sure our shipments to Asia are the first to go out, and to continue to coordinate as closely as possible with our partners there to ensure an expedient fulfillment once the shipment reaches them.
Each Kickstarter campaign is a learning experience for us and there are countless other things we learned through this process that we’ll be able to apply adjustments to in the future. We’re pleased to be able to say that even through this pandemic, and despite plenty of speed bumps, we still managed to get everything out in October, which was always the target for the last wave. We truly appreciate your patience and the support and encouragement we received from so many of you along the way. The pandemic has affected everyone in the world in different and dramatic ways, but we have all experienced it together, and we thank you for sticking with us through it.
All this is to say that the next Kickstarter for Warcaster: Collision Course, is going to be better, smoother, and even more fun than the first. Oh, and it launches Monday…
WARCASTER: COLLISION COURSE
Monday??? That’s right, we crawled out of the frying pan and right into the fire! Why Monday, you ask? Well, just like anything commercial, Kickstarter campaigns have to be planned around seasons, holidays and other events that compete for the attention of an audience. With the holidays bearing down on us the window to run a Kickstarter campaign is shrinking, which is why you’ll be seeing a lot of campaigns starting up now and in the coming days and weeks.
The timing of our next campaign is important for two reasons: first, we have a staff and a building and factory that don’t take time off between Kickstarter projects, so we have to be able to move from one right into another in order to maintain operations. Second, the longer we go before we launch the next Kickstarter, the longer it will be before new models like the Empyreans or the vehicles come out. This is because some of our components and packaging are sourced overseas and while we used to be able to count on a four month production and shipping cycle with our overseas vendors, changes over the past year have made us realize we need to set our expectations for delivery at five-to-six months from the time we’re placing orders with them. This means that while we hope we’ll be shipping much sooner, to be safe, we’ll be setting a delivery date of April 2021 for this next campaign, giving us about six months to make sure we can get everything produced that we need to without experiencing any delays. So in an effort to minimize the gap between your reward shipments and the general retail release of the Warcaster models, and the next releases and expansions for Warcaster, we need to get the campaign underway right away. Otherwise, we risk delays due to the annual Chinese New Year holidays where factories shut down for a couple weeks as well as delays we naturally experience here every year due to our own lengthy and eventful holiday season.
We’ve been getting ready for this campaign for months, and you’ve seen many previews of what is to come already, but we wanted to make sure we had shipped everything before we launched the next campaign. We know some of you will still be waiting for your rewards to arrive as this new campaign starts up, but we hope that the amount of overlap will be short and that you’ll join us in the exciting new chapter of Warcaster: Neo-Mechanika with the Collision Course expansion.
Collision Course is taking Warcaster in all kinds of new directions. In addition to the new Empyrean faction and vehicles for all factions, we’re introducing new faction-specific Cyphers as well as Race Mode, which is a whole new way to play the game focusing on vehicular combat. The rewards include variant models, warjack load out cards, mantlets, faction-branded objective markers, scatter terrain, vehicle Hero pilots, and much, much more.
You can join us on our Twitch live stream at 10 am PST, Monday, October 19th where we’ll be previewing the Collision Course campaign and everything it’s going to include right before we hit the ‘Launch’ button on the Kickstarter page and buckle in for another wild campaign. This time, though, we hope that there are no world-rocking events that occur in the middle of it. But if there are, we’ll be ready!
As I mentioned earlier, this will be the last Warjack Wednesday update for this Kickstarter. We’ll still do intermittent updates here to keep international backers informed on fulfillment progress with our partners as well as any other Warcaster-related announcements that you won’t want to miss. But with the launch of the new campaign next week, we’ll be moving our Warjack Wednesday updates to the new page. We hope we’ll see you there!
Until next time, be safe and well and thank you all for your incredible support.
Quelle: WARCASTER: Neo-Mechanika