Roads To Madnesss…

I wasn’t originally going to write about this for a while, but I think it might be cathartic…and since I’m hours from leaving for Gen Con I’d like to be back in a frame of mind of loving the experience and wanting to embrace the communities that’ll flood the booth…so I hope you’ll bear with me as I spill my guts a little here…

I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of the power of love…both for good…but also for evil. What love can make us do. In fact I wrote one of my favorite original science fiction short stories exactly about that concept (if you want to check it out, Many-Colored Slavery is here at Amazon).

Now I believe utterly in love…the love I have for my family and friends…for my children…for my wife…for the desire to help perfect strangers in need…I am (and the world in general, IMO) far better because of it…but as with anything that powerful it can cause…issues. And the intellectual in me (the distant and dark side that went “oohh…I wonder what did that” as blood shot across the Dr. and all the way onto the wall during the emergency c-section of our first child) devours the sociological aspects…(I think I do agree with one of my best friend’s wife that long ago said horror writers are simply serial killers that found an outlet).

The title of this blog, in addition to being a brilliant song, sums up the dark side of what happens when you care too much….

For those that don’t know me I may seem distant and stoic, but scratch under the surface and I’m all emotions (I think Heather said it best years ago that I’m like a burnt marshmellow). And more important, I’m ‘all in’…whether it comes to the passion I bring to my work, my friendships, my family…or to a game….

I’ve been working on Leviathans for over three years now. What’s more, it’s my first all original game design. I’m also the art director, I’ve overseen almost every aspect of the production, the development of the universe and so on. Then add in the two years of blogs (and tens of thousands of words on that blog by now) connecting with the community and that’s just a whole other level of melding. I’m not sure it would be possible for me to be more emotionally connected to this project.

Many of you know this, of course, from that very blogging, but the summation serves the purpose of showcasing that very “caring to much” I started the blog with…so when I start discussing how the manufacturing end of it has just been shiving us, you’ll see the connection.

Five weeks ago we pulled the trigger with the concept of having several dozen copies of the Core Box Set for sale at Gen Con. We knew we’d be flying them in (five weeks will get a product done, not onto a boat and over here fast enough), but the cost was worth it to make the splash we wanted in launching Leviathans. Even for a large product like this box game, five weeks is plenty of time.

Yet then began an endless series of issues. The latest of them bloomed just in the last seven days.

At the start of the week I was told by the manufacturer that if we didn’t change the color of Taiwan on our 1910 “alternate history” map (which was shaded to show it was under Japanese control at that time…just as it was in the real world from the latest 1800s until the mid 1900s) to match the color of China on our map that the game might not be allowed export. So after tweeting and laughing myself silly at the ludicrousness of it all, I simply said “what ever, change it”. Crisis averted.

Less than 24 hours later the manufacturer tells us that the company they outsourced the custom dice never even started even though they’d been paid up front for the mould costs…and the earliest they’d have any dice was end of August. So within 24 hours we’d created a solution where our great friends at IWM would step up and inside of 4 days create greens, mould and then cast the 2,000 custom dice we’d need. Again, crisis averted because we stepped up to make it happen.

Finally, two days ago, the manufacturer told us their die-cutting machine (this isn’t a dice you roll; that’s the name for the specific forms you’re punching out of your printed material: boxes, trays, maps and so on) wasn’t working and they wouldn’t be able to get us a single finished copy beyond a few hand-built copies….even though we’d been talking about 200 sets shipping today well over two weeks ago and they assured us “no problem”.

I don’t handle that type of thing very well…not very well at all. In fact, I’ve a towering rage in me that I’ve spent my life carefully leashing so it doesn’t spill onto anyone…but when the monster awakens because a manufacturer appears to be almost deliberately sabotaging a project we’ve worked so hard to launch…a project I care so much about…days of angry music, a lot of walks in the hot sun (which again, for those that know me know how exceedingly odd that is) and ultimately a shaved-bald head (will NOT touch that beard yet)…and I’ve found equilibrium again.

In the mean time it looks as though having anything for sell at Gen Con is a total bust. We’re still working very hard every second until the show opens to salvage the situation as best we can…for example we’re currently looking at the possibility of anyone that plays in a Leviathans game being able to walk away with a free miniature. Will that even happen? Just don’t know yet…the ball seems to be changing almost every hour as we desperately try and figure out what’s going on on the other side of the world and how we can move forward. But we’re hopeful that people who wanted to buy the box wills till have a great experience and walk away with something cool….

Now will Leviathans still publish in a few months? 1,000% yes! It just won’t have the awesome kick-off at Gen Con we wanted. So once I’m back from the convention and have taken a few days to curl into a fetal position to try and mend some more, we’ll have a much better understanding of where the manufacturer is at, and what that ultimately translates into as a launch date for when it’ll start showing up on store shelves…

…and thanks for bearing with me while I publicly rant…you guys rocks!

See ya next duty shift!

Randall

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