Games waiting at the docks, UKGE, our new game and more!
3 days ago
– Fri, Jul 30, 2021 at 02:29:10 PM
Hi everyone, I am very glad to say that the manufacturing of Magnate is now complete! Now there's just one obstacle to overcome: the global shipping situation. There's also lots of exciting news to share about UK Games Expo - including the unveiling of our new game: NG2.
According to all the samples we've seen, manufacturing issues were resolved to our satisfaction. The games have been assembled, packed-up and are either at the docks, ready to set sail or are nearly there! VFI's factory pick-up is also expected very soon.
In short: the actual game is finished. But we still have to get it to you, which is proving - as I warned last time - far more difficult than usual. As I said previously, its not only that its brutally expensive but that it's hard to even find space. For example, copies bound for the US are literally sitting in a warehouse by the docks for the first ship that can take them (Indeed they have been for two weeks now). But we've been told they still won't leave until the middle of August at the earliest. Its much the same situation for the UK/EU shipment. One bright spot: It seems likely that, given VFI's direct factory pick-up, backers in Asia could start getting their games a bit sooner.
So we at Naylor Games continue to persevere. As soon as there are games actually on their way, I shall share an update. Until then, thank you very much for your continued understanding. I really hope I can get this game to all of you soon. I am so proud of it and excited for you to play.
As you know, I said I wouldn't ask you for additional contributions for shipping. However, multiple backers have now asked me if they can voluntarily contribute to help us with the huge shipping cost increases.
You know my personal view: this is part of the rough and tumble risk of business and may job to try to solve - such as by increasing prices to new customers (which we have done). I am not comfortable asking backers to stump-up surprise extra cash. But I also don't believe in turning down such a kind offer from the absolutely wonderful community that's already developed around this game.
So I have created a Ko-fi where you can make a contribution if that's something you'd like to do:
I thought this would be useful anyway since my Producing Fun podcast also has editing costs and it would be nice to have somewhere people can support us in general; should they feel moved to that.
I want to be clear here: Shipping of your copy is no way conditional on this and there is no obligation or expectation for backers to donate. It won't affect how fast you will get your game. I'm going to do my best to eat the cost either way and make it happen. This game has been my dream for 10 years. It simply must happen and I am realistic enough to know that no dream is accomplished without some pain on the way!
UK Games Expo & our new game
We're at UKGE this weekend, and I'm already absolutely pumped for it! It will be wonderful to see people again. There's so much to report going on here:
1) We'll have production copies of Magnate to see and play demos with...but not to take away. These are two of a small number of final production copies specially shipped from China by air, with all final components for the purpose of supplying to select reviewers, checking manufacturing quality and running demos. If you're around and want to get a sneak peek, this is your chance. For total clarity, it will not be possible to take away copies of Magnate, only pre-order them. That wouldn't be fair on you... we don't even have enough!
2) We'll be unveiling our new game (codenamed "NG2" for now). If you've been following along on social media you will have seen some of the art from the game - art I am very proud of. This is a very different game to Magnate, but also high production value in a different way. We'll be running another Kickstarter for this project once Magnate is delivered. It will be possible to demo the game all weekend at the show. You can book a demo here. Here's a taster of the art:
3) We'll be running a special offer, just for the show. Anyone who pre-orders Magnate at the show in-person will be getting a free city hall to take away (we have a limited number we have shipped over from China by air). So if you know anyone going you've been suggesting should get it - please give them a nudge!
I don't share every episode with you here, but I thought you'd be really interested in this one. David Digby is a UK based game developer who specialises in solo modes. He's developed solo modes for some the games designed by the biggest names in games including Martin Wallace and Reiner Knizia. He also did consultancy work on Magnate, giving us some very helpful direction for our AI mode (which can work at any player count... even at 0 human players. Yes - two AIs can play each other!).
That's all for now!
All the best,
Progress report on manufacturing and shipping
about 1 month ago
– Thu, Jul 01, 2021 at 01:28:16 AM
I hope you are well. Thank you for bearing with us while we get this project over the final hurdle. It's all taken much longer than we had planned for - even with lots of buffer, having assets ready early and trying to follow best practice wherever we could. I am very pleased with the quality of what we should soon be delivering to you though. The most recent sample versions of the game look great, its highly accessible and conveniently designed (with our fast set-up/packdown insert and space for expansion) with a tutorial that I think is among the best in its class. This, on top of our critically acclaimed gameplay (which was refined to its current form before we even launched the KS) will mean - I hope - that you feel it is, in every way, worth the long wait.
I am glad to say that it looks like the small manufacturing issues we noticed previously have been resolved to our satisfaction. Final assembly of the games should be complete by the end of this week. If that all goes to plan the next step is shipping to fulfilment centres around the world.
Shipping to Fulfilment
As you may be aware from the news and many other companies' Kickstarter updates the world is facing an unprecedented shipping crisis which has only got worse in the last two months. At its core - the problem is fairly simple: Covid lockdowns in countries around the world reduced capacity at ports (both sending and receiving goods) and prevented containers being returned to China (which disproportionately makes these goods). At the same time, these lockdowns massively increased demand for consumer goods as people who could work from home or were in some way financially supported by their governments as part of stimulus/job protection measures stayed at home and spent money on physical stuff rather than services (restaurants, gyms, entertainment, hairdressers etc). Because global logistics are largely built around a "just-in-time" model where spare physical capacity to absorb sudden increases in things being shipped is kept low to save money, there was no give in the whole system to absorb these vast imbalances in supply and demand for container space. When supply is constrained and demand goes-up for something, one thing typically results: a massive increase in price. In this case, as freight companies realised they could pretty much charge what they like. Given the supply is so very constrained, its become difficult to source freight capacity even at an eye-watering price, resulting in shipping also taking longer. The trade press currently expects this to last into 2023, meaning these issues will likely remain for some time yet.
What does this mean for Magnate? I am not about to wait for 18 more months for prices to subside to get you the game. So I am going to do everything in my power to - by hell or high water - find freight capacity, eat whatever monstrous price increases that Naylor Games can absorb and get it to you as soon as possible. Any hope of a profit in this print run will be well and truly gone - but not of a game I am immeasurably proud of being delivered into your hands by your local courier! What this does mean is that - as of right now - its very hard for me to predict exactly when games will get to you. We could be loading onto a boat within the next two weeks. It might also take a fair bit longer. It's also likely to be quite inconsistent across territories. Some backers in Asia may get their games quite early for instance. Others could be getting their games quite a bit later.
I am sure that's not a very satisfying answer, but I am going to have to ask you to continue to bear with me. As always, I'd much rather be transparent with you - which sometimes telling you the uncomfortable truth: I can't, with any honesty, be much more specific right now.
To clear something-up in advance as I've detected this as a concern across Kickstarter: I am not going to ask you for extra money for shipping. This is the risk of doing business and making things. But if you decide you'd like to help me in some way, you absolutely can: by sharing this project with your friends, on social media and anywhere else once you get your game (or before if you are motivated to do so!). That is literally pure gold dust as far as I'm concerned and something I am incredibly grateful to you for. More than anything else, it's you communicating your passion and interest that will drive Magnate onto future success.
As soon as I know more I will do another update: hopefully well before the next monthly scheduled one!
That's all for now. Thank you very much again.
All the best,
More progress... but not quite there yet
2 months ago
– Sat, May 29, 2021 at 06:00:51 PM
This month's news is a mixture of good and slightly frustrating. I had hoped to be shipping the game to fulfilment right now, but we ran into some final teething problems on the production.
As planned, I received the first ever batch of mass produced sample games from China this month. We opened up 12 copies (along with all the campaign add-ons) and got a real look at the components to check the quality. I am very pleased overall. There are plenty of items where I simply could not have asked for better finish and production. But there were a few elements that weren't quite right yet including some small issues with the buildings and rulebook. As I've always said, we have to prioritise quality over speed, so much as it pains me (I really, really want to get this to you!) we've had the factory review these items.
As I recently mentioned to a commenter, it will be almost 10 years since I had the original idea for this game. There's no way I am going to let it be any less than the best I can make it at this stage.
I don't want to spoil the surprise of opening-up a finished copy too much, so here's just a few taster shots of some finished components, including those add-ons (some still available!):
In other news
I don't like to promote my podcast too much here. I am sure some backers will find it really interesting, but its deliberately more industry rather than hobby focused. But I think you'll really enjoy our most recent episode: an interview with Nick Smith, owner of award winning boardgame cafe, the Ludoquist. I am very fortunate to live a mere 10 mins walk from the Ludoquist. Last year it won best overall retail store globally at GAMA and its the centre of a small but growing game development community here in Croydon. When you hear Nick's smart, visionary approach, its clear why its been so successful. Its not surprising that this is our best performing episode to date as well!
That's all for now.
All the best,
A short update: early production copies on their way to Naylor Games & more podcasts
3 months ago
– Thu, Apr 29, 2021 at 03:19:15 AM
If all goes to plan, Magnate will be shipping to fulfilment centres shortly. But before it does there's some final checks we need to do. There should be more news ahead of the next usual time for an update, so in the interests of staying in monthly contact but also protecting your inbox from excess fluff, I'm going to keep this one brief.
While things have not moved quite as quickly as I expected in the last update, I am glad to say that all Magnate's components have now been manufactured and are awaiting final packing.
Even more exciting, the first early production copies are on their way to me as I write this:
Given we have final games, why are we not shipping just yet?
That's because I don't want the games to leave the factory until I've seen a final version of the game (not just a pre-production sample). Magnate is a physically complex product with miniatures and specialised components (like the wallets) that need special attention. It's been crucial all the way along to make sure the quality of everything is high; if we really need to have a particular part re-manufactured at this point, we will. So I want to see a final mass produced version before we sign it off.
In addition, as I mentioned previously, the pandemic has made container shipping not only painfully expensive but more time consuming to arrange than usual; both hunting around for deals and collection times on product. So please bear with us while we get these crucial things sorted.
I recently interviewed Paul Grogan - the editor of Magnate's rulebook - on Producing Fun. If you're interested in getting your teeth into the subtitles of rulebook writing and the kind of problems we encountered in the process of editing Magnate's rulebook, this episode is absolutely worth a listen.
Since the last update, I also appeared on the Needy Cat Games Finding Games podcast. Sophie asks me lots of excellent questions - and if you want to know a little bit more about Magnate and why I set about publishing it, I think you'll find it interesting.
That's all for now!
All the best,
Updated timeline, finalised insert & more!
4 months ago
– Thu, Mar 25, 2021 at 09:46:16 PM
It's update time again and we finally have some good news on our timeline!
Given the Chinese New Year shutdown, production has taken much longer than it normally would over the last few months. But I am now very happy to say that manufacturing is now expected to complete in mid-April! We had a few issues with getting all the add-on components together and the insert also delayed things. But I think you will be very pleased with the insert's third and final iteration: It should make an enormous difference to convenience.
All of this means games could begin their journey to fulfilment centres next month. I say could, because containers are still very expensive so we may need to make a slight strategic delay to ship the goods affordably: although there is a degree of personal financial hit I can and will take to just finally get this game into your hands. If there is a delay, I am hopeful that would be short. But, as always, I believe it's best to be very transparent on these issues.
All of this means I hope to be actually shipping to the vast majority of backers in the middle of this year. Some backers in Asia will may get their games fairly soon after the game leaves the factory in China. A few advance copies will also travel by air to myself and some select reviewers to prepare for what is shaping-up to be a very solid retail release for the core game (non-tycoon content). This has been very exciting to see come to fruition. I feel tremendously grateful to you for making this happen: without you there's no way this would be getting near the retail shelves!
Final insert design
This has taken a long while - I should have budgeted more time to get this part right given my inexperience with inserts. But I am glad to say we are now there, and I am very pleased with the results:
As you will see the insert is now transparent. This material is stronger than the previous black plastic and I think is aesthetically superior too; Magnate is a colourful game and it'll be lovely to see all that colour hit you as you open it up.
The two building trays are much the same as before. But the insert now features two trays designed for very easy storage by the board: a small removable tray for all the tokens (other than the player's company markers) that will make setup and packdown a breeze (prototype tenant and advertising tokens featured here):
And a compact money tray:
It's not as nice as our deluxe money tray of course, but it's a practical and compact solution that keeps the money organised for players without those.
We've also retained that expansion slot:
Between it and the spare space in the box, you'll be able to pack all of the Tycoon and forthcoming promo content (more details on that in another update...) into your main box easily. All the trays are secured by nice firm lids that hold everything in place.
I think this is a practical insert that will hopefully get Magnate to the table far more easily and keep the focus on what it should be: playing Magnate not baggy management simulator as it can for some big games.
Deluxe leather wallet set
I have finally seen the samples for these and... to those who have added them-on, I think you will be very impressed. All of the company logos are discreetly embossed on the bottom right of the wallet, using special versions of the logo art designed for this purpose. I can only think of a single word: Classy.
That's all for now. In the next update, I should have a better idea of timelines. The factory may even have started shipping those games!
Podcasts galore: Interview with me about Magnate!
I was interviewed about Magnate for the Who?What?Why? Cast - a podcast about game design. Mike was a great interviewer who asked a lot of smart questions about the game. I hope you find it interesting.
My podcast - Producing Fun - has now properly launched as well, with two episodes already up. You can check it out here and on our new Youtube channel!
That's all for now.
All the best,