Insights from Fulfilling Scythe, Part 1

29 July 2016

This is part 1 of a 2-part post about fulfilling nearly 18,000 Scythe rewards. Part 2 will be rate each of the fulfillment companies; expect that post the week of August 8.

As I write this post, our fulfillment company in France should be sending the last few copies of Scythe, concluding a lengthy shipping process. It’s July 29, 2016, and our original estimated delivery month was August 2016. Not bad.

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Our general method for fulfilling Kickstarter rewards is detailed here, but here’s the rough idea: We freight ship games in bulk to 5 fulfillment centers around the world, and those fulfillment centers send out the rewards. We’ve used this method with various iterations since our first Kickstarter project, Viticulture.

I tried some new things this time and learned a lot, so I thought I’d share those experiences with you in this post. These are roughly in chronological order.

Retailer-Fulfillment Hybrid Partnerships

Several of the fulfillment companies with whom we work also happen to be retailers. Seeing an opportunity to do something cool for backers and help those retailers, I proposed the following:

The retailer would create a special code that Scythe backers could use while shipping on their website (for any product, most likely not related to Scythe at all). That code would give the backer free shipping because their order would be placed in the same package as their Scythe rewards (which they had already paid us to ship).

I told the retailers to still charge Stonemaier for the full shipping amount, even though the increased weight likely cost us a few dollars per order. It seemed like a small amount to pay to provide this service to our backers.

Funagain Games and Starlit Citadel were the two retailer-fulfillment companies who opted in to this idea, and between them I think they got about 150 orders. I liked how this worked out, and I’d do it again.

Vessel Tracking

A number of backers asked if we would provide the IDs for the ships carrying Scythe around the world so they could track them on sites like marinetraffic.com or vesselfinder.com. I did that, and many backers seemed to enjoy it.

There are, however, two problems with providing this information. The first problem is that the locations aren’t always accurate (sometimes by hundreds or thousands of miles).

The second problem is that the information can be a bit misleading to backers. They might see a boat about to arrive at port, and they think, “I’m going to get my game tomorrow!” In reality, the shipment has to be unloaded, processed through customs, trucked to the fulfillment center, processed, packaged, and shipped.

That said, I would provide this information again, noting those caveats up front (which I did this time too, though it didn’t always seem to matter).

Address Updates

When the games were on the boats, I was able to get a fairly accurate estimate as to when backers would receive their games. This is important information, particularly since we were delivering 1-2 months early, as I needed backers to give me an address where the game wouldn’t sit on their front porch for a week.

So I made a big deal out of it. I posted a project update with the word “Important” in the title. I used Kickstarter’s address update system, which sends an e-mail to every backer. I also contacted our pre-order customers via Mailchimp.

Overall, people responded well. We got about 1500 address updates, 750 of which turned out to be different than the address we already had on file (ideally we would only edit addresses that actually need updating).

However, a few weeks later, as soon as Scythe actually started to ship, we received hundreds of address updates. Backers, I gotta say, it really complicates things when I’ve already sent my final shipping spreadsheet to the fulfillment companies if we then have to edit individual addresses. It slows everything down and significantly increases the number of errors.

So please, please update your address the minute you get that address update request. If you use a different e-mail for Kickstarter than you do for daily life, either stop doing that or start checking that e-mail on a regular basis.

Winning and Losing with Macros

The last time I wrote a post about updating addresses, I mentioned that I did it manually. When people learned about this, several programmers contacted me to offer to create an address update macro for Excel. I wrote about that here.

I ran the macro, spot-checked it, and sent the final spreadsheets to our fulfillment centers. Then packages started to ship to Canada, and a backer contacted me to say that their game was going to an outdated address. I checked, and he was right.

After closer examination and a flurry of emails, I realized that the macro had a flaw. It only updated the first 100 addresses (the ones I had spot checked). So we fixed the macro, ran it again, and dealt with the consequences of a few shipments in Canada going to the wrong place.

I love the macro and would use it again, but next time I’ll spot check throughout the entire spreadsheet instead of just the beginning.

Postal Strike in Canada

One delightful surprise was the threat of a postal strike in Canada. When we learned about this, I had some great talks with Starlit about what it meant and what we could do to avoid the strike. For a number of shipments, we paid 2-3x the expected shipping fee just to get the packages to backers before the strike began.

Well, to my knowledge, the strike never happened, so we got all excited and worried about nothing. I do want to tip my cap to (a) all the patient backers who were very calm about maybe not getting their games for another month and (b) Startlit Citadel, who were absolutely awesome throughout the entire process.

Damaged Boxes

Each fulfillment center followed our instructions to “pack games really well at any cost” to varying degrees of success (or lack thereof–I’ll discuss this on Part 2). But I can say that across the board, no matter how well games were packed, couriers inevitably managed to damage some of them in transit.

For any backer who needed a replacement box (which was sometimes a judgment call on my part, depending on the level of damage), I tried something new this time, as there really is no such thing as a spare box. We don’t have empty boxes laying around. To obtain a box, you have to remove it from an unopened game, which turns an expensive game into nothing but replacement parts.

First, I asked the backer not to open the game. Second, I asked the fulfillment center to send them a replacement game, along with a packing slip to return the game to the fulfillment center (or to one of our replacement parts helpers). The fulfillment center paid for shipping if it was their fault; if it was the courier’s fault, Stonemaier paid for shipping (and yes, the courier should pay for shipping, but it takes a ton of time to get compensation from a courier for even a single package).

This system worked quite well, and I’d do it again.

Me First

When a fulfillment center is shipping 5,000-10,000 orders, it takes time. Not everyone is going to receive their rewards simultaneously. Fulfillment centers try to make the shipping process go as quickly as possible by shipping similar orders all at once (i.e., all orders containing exactly 1 edition of the game and 1 bonus pack), so even if your neighbor received their game, yours might still be a week or two away.

And that’s okay.

I saw so many comments and messages from backers saying, “I know someone who got their game. Why haven’t I received mine?” Or, even worse, “I live in X state/country, so my game should be shipped to me before someone in Y state/country–it’s not fair that their game was shipped first.”

Instead of asking those questions, please just look at recent project updates to see the estimated delivery range. If the delivery range is July 2-16 and it’s July 9, do you really need to ask that question?

***

Final Thoughts

I wish I could end on a high note, but I have to be honest: Shipping Scythe has been exhausting, draining, and discouraging. I could not be more eager for this process to be over.

Is it because there are so many copies of Scythe to send? Sure, that’s a big part of it. It didn’t seem any harder up front because sorting a spreadsheet with 18,000 entries isn’t all that different than sorting a spreadsheet with 1,000 entries. But on the back end, the sheer amount of customer service required to handle a fulfillment this big has eaten away almost 2 months of the year.

The most discouraging part is that we worked so hard to deliver Scythe early, and aside from a few nice comments, it hasn’t seemed to matter to backers. In fact, it has somehow made things worse in terms of backer expectations. Logically, backers should be more patient because they weren’t expecting to get the game until August. But the prospect of delivery early has not brought out the best in people.

You may have sensed a more negative tone in my blog posts over the last month, and this is the source. It’s really weighed on me at a time when I should be elated–Scythe was #1 on the BGG hotness list for an entire month, many people who receive it seem very happy, and again, we delivered early! But I can’t wait for fulfillment to finally be over, and I don’t know if I’ll do it again due to the lack of control I have over fulfillment centers, the disheartening backer responses, and the impact on Stonemaier Games’ resources (time, money, etc). It has defeated me.

I’ll be back in a few weeks with a full evaluation of each of the fulfillment companies we used: Insights from Fulfilling Scythe, Part 2

123 Comments on “Insights from Fulfilling Scythe, Part 1

    1. I am sad to hear this has been disheartening for you. I’m one of the big silent majority who is really happy with how this campaign has been run and received an excellent product in the mail a few days ago. Will wait till my wife gets over her cold and then we’ll play a few games. Please know that many of us appreciate your hard work and that might get drowned out by the angry/complaining few.

  1. I appreciate the try to satisfy backers by fulfilling earlier, but on a note: The period of early delivery is during summer vacation. If for example Estimated delivery was May and it came on April, for me it would be better because I ‘d be home anyway. On July, on the other hand, I guess from those hundreds that wanted to change address post update, some were in their vacation places and wanted the product delivered there.

    PS I still haven’t received the 3 copies I ordered, but wait patiently :)

    1. Harry: Yes, I understand the impact of the time of year. But the point is that backers had plenty of time to update their addresses leading up to that period, but hundreds of people waited until after the deadline (some even after their game had shipped) to update their addresses. Aside from a few very small adjustments to the shipping schedule, backers knew the exact delivery range when they were asked to update their addresses–they could have just told me their vacation address then, right?

      1. By all means, I just made a lucky guess :) They read Risks and Challenges and FAQ sections, I think, so it was their responsibility to inform for address change, like you got them informed for it :)

        Scythe is a very promising game and I am very excited to test it with my gaming group!

  2. The internet tends to be a very discouraging place, as happy people rarely voice their happiness. They’re just… happy.

    However, for unhappy people, all their filters and reason are removed through virtual communication, so it ends up looking like a torrent of bitterness. When you add that to the tedium of fulfilling a Kickstarter with a bajillion backers, I can’t blame you for being frustrated!

    The good news is that you did an amazing job with the project, and I think most people recognize that and are very happy! Don’t let the negative folks get you down, and go take a vacation. :)

  3. You’ve done a fantastic job and many many many backers really appreciate all the hard work, communication, awesome game, and EARLY delivery!

    Thank you.

  4. Your Kickstarters have been a very positive influence on my life, I am terribly sorry that this one hasn’t felt the same for you!

  5. Jamey, you are THE number one when it comes to delivering great games , with great production values at a great price on time or early on kick starter. You should be extremely proud of yourself. Exhausted but proud. NO ONE on planet earth does a better job. You are a force to be reckoned with in the gaming industry. Things will seem better after a well earned rest :-)

  6. You must be exhausted, Jamey! I hope the fulfillment can be wholly and completely done in time for you to “relax” at GenCon. That’s a lot of work, too, but hopefully more enjoyable work. You’ll get to see all the happy people enjoy your fantastic products.
    I do have a question regarding your parting comment. You said, “But I can’t wait for fulfillment to finally be over, and I don’t know if I’ll do it again. It has defeated me.” Am I meant to understand this to mean that fulfilling Scythe was SO painful (and other methods are working out well enough) that you are considering never doing a Kickstarter campaign again? It’s awesome if your company is secure enough for that!

    1. Relax at Gen Con?! Ah, Chris, Chris, Chris. I don’t think Gen Con is relaxing for anyone. :) I am looking forward to the 40+ game pitches I’m going to hear there, though.

      I wouldn’t say never, but for the foreseeable future I don’t see us doing any kind of campaign that requires fulfillment. I still have to fulfill the Token Trilogy campaign and send Tuscany Essential to retailers, though.

      1. I’m just hoping it’s more “work is play” and less “work is work”.
        40+ game pitches should certainly tell you something – people like your games and how you run your company!
        Hopefully you can return to the joy of design soon. :)

  7. I share your sentiments almost exactly (last minute address updates, unfortunate shipping damages, why isn’t my package here yet – despite being months early), although our operations scale is much smaller than yours. I can’t imagine handling that kind of volume, so I tip my hat to you. Don’t get me wrong, I love our customers and the business we do, but I understand how draining it can be and my heart goes out to you.

    Despite the hard work of fulfillment and logistics (potentially going unnoticed), I hope you can at least take solace in the fact that you are doing a great service for your backers and setting an example for Kickstarters and the gaming community. Months from now, people will have forgotten the anticipation/frustration of receiving the game and their attention will just be on enjoying the game with friends and family. That is what it’s all about, right?

    1. Well said, Brett. I’m with you–I love our customers, but fulfillment can be quite draining!

      I sure hope you’re right. I think the end of things (like the end of a movie) sometimes has the biggest impact on someone, so that’s why I think fulfillment is so important.

  8. It saddens me to hear that this has taken such a toll on you Jamey. You have made an amazing job with this kickstarter through and through, and you should be very very proud of that!
    Anonymous/semi-anonymous communication over the Internet seems to bring out the worst in some people, and in my opinion you shouldn’t take any of the negative feedback to heart. The expectation management and level of communication of this project has been astounding – I’m one of the last 400 people to receive my copy from Ideaspatcher, but that doesn’t bother me a bit due to how you have handled the whole campaign. Well, I am of course very eager to get my copy and play the heck out of it =)
    I hope you haven’t lost heart completely and I’m eagerly looking forward to all of your future amazing games to come!

  9. Revisit – The “sense of entitlement” one has to endure to be a Kickstarter creator should be listed on the list of poisons you need to drink to do so. Everyone wants to be an exception, everyone believes they’re the only one. But it just can’t work that way. It can’t.

    I back a crapton of campaigns…
    Sometimes i’m the last one to get the package. That’s fine.
    Sometimes I miss the pledge manager deadline and there’s consequences. That’s fine to.

    I have an obligation as a backer to do my part; to, as you said, “check my frigging email every now and again” (loose paraphrase). If I don’t, I suffer the consequences.
    Somethings need to be streamlined to work. Someone needs to eat the loss when *I* jump out of the stream. It should be me. Usually it’s the company. I honestly don’t think that should be the way it is. Yes, you can offer the courtesy, but it’s MY fault. I should eat it.

    The moment I expect YOU (or any company) to eat suffering because of MY mistake… That’s just… wrong. Even if my mistake was “honest”.

    John

    1. Absolutely agree with you on the point of backers taking responsibility for their pledge, John. Take it on the chin, and accept your mistakes.

  10. Hi, Jamey. It may be that having set such a high standard for design and delivery, people have then place an added layer of expectation on it all. That is, they expect it to arrive earlier then stated, and expect all their issues to be treated as your number one priority. Perhaps you could have maintained a strict focus on the ks estimated release, and gone ‘slower’ on the pre-release issues of customers, thus saving your health and allowing you to enjoy it. For myself, I was and still am awed by your dedication to the campaign and especially all backers. Sorry to hear the experience was spoiled for you, because you should be proud of your effort.

    1. Thanks David. It’s hard once you start to share information about exactly where the games are (like on the boats). I’m a little envious of companies like Cool Mini or Not, who (I’ve heard) often will ship with no notice at all. There are big downsides to doing that, but I can see how it’s a lot easier for CMoN to do it that way.

    2. @David – Thanks. I agree about expectations too. We just paid $5,000 to air ship 2 campaigns to fulfill a month early. I’m getting emails like Jamey has. It’s very spoiling. What we need to do is keep the chin up and focus on the 98% positive. Yes, 2% in Jamey’s case may be close to 100 emails, and I can’t imagine dealing with that much negativity, but 98% silent majority are happy. We should let him know.

      Jamey, we’re happy. : )

  11. Hi Jamey, thanks for this post. I really appreciate the time you take to document things from a KS creator point of view because often we are left in the dark. I received my copy of Scythe in pretty much mint condition and ahead of schedule to boot. I have nothing but praise for the way you ran the campaign and I can say without hesitation that it was the smoothest and most satisfying KS I’ve been apart of. I’ve backed 74 project so I think I can speak from experience. I can totally understand how frustrating the fulfillment process must have been especially with problems with both your fulfillment centers and backers.

  12. Jamey,

    I have had my copy of Scythe since the beginning of the month and I could not be happier, going so far as to devour all your YouTube videos and others’ playthroughs about it to try and glean the best strategies. ;)

    You continue to be an inspiration to hopeful Kickstarter creators like myself and a role model for self-starters, also like myself; coincidentally those circles would seem to overlap. Like so many have voiced before me, you have done an incredible amount of work with this project and I hope you can look back on it with absolute pride by the end of the year.

    I know I am only one voice but you have done better than anyone else I can think of in this industry to date, and you of all people deserve the joy that comes with that. People by nature always seem to demand more – or the ones who do are more vocal – but I believe the rest are more than happy with your exemplary service. Please know that.

    Best,
    Ben

  13. I can’t imagine the delay you had with Ideaspatcher can have helped the stress of fulfilling Scythe… (But even with those delays, most of the copies heading to Europe have already arrived – so most of your European backers have received their game early, and those that haven’t are likely to receive it within the month we were expecting it* when we backed, and hopefully I’ll figure out what the heck Fed Ex is doing with my copy tomorrow (My comment on Kickstarter a few hours ago wasn’t intended as criticism of the fulfillment process, more trying to figure out if this sort of thing is normal for Fed Ex, because I have no idea if I should be worried about this or not)

    *While you’re one of the few Kickstarter creators who’s capable of delivering a game early since you obviously believe in Under Promise, Over Deliver, I do not expect games from you early because you bake in delays that everyone should be baking in, rather than doing an ‘add a couple of months so I can show off’. – Basic project management stuff combined with basic expectation management stuff.

  14. Man, I feel bad for you Jamey – seems like you pour so much of yourself into this entire process – which has largely been amazingly successful, only to be brought down by trolls. The number of times that I’ve read a facebook or kickstarter comment where it is *blatantly* obvious that a person is complaining for the sake of it, is beyond belief. I’ve really had to fight my protective instinct and knee-jerk reactions where I wanted to just tell these people to stop being such whiny persons-of-questionable-parentage (I can’t count the amount of 14-page rants to these people that I’ve written into notepad and subsequently deleted….) Seems like your ethos of “do the right thing, whatever the cost”, while being fantastically admirable, has made you somewhat vulnerable to persons who just want to take advantage. Sadly, this is an aspect of humanity that we’ve yet to grow up from. I would hope that those who support you can help lift you up, even if it’s just a little. I hope that you can still stick to your ethos in the future. Maybe for the next kickstarter it might be beneficial if you put a layer between yourself and the community, like a customer-service representative who can more easily handle all the nonsense. I’m not suggesting that you remove yourself entirely, but it might help to ease the grief. If I were you, I’d take solace in the fact that you’ve made several thousand people *really* happy, and while not all of us can find the time to say it, we all really do seriously appreciate every effort you’ve gone to. Thanks and congratulations on a tough job well done. Hope you feel better soon!

  15. I’m really sorry to hear about your experience through fulfillment. It’s very disheartening to hear how some people treated you after not receiving the game when they expected even though it was still earlier then expected. All I can hope is a few bad eggs didn’t ruin it for the rest of us. You have a life long fan in me and many others I’m sure. I can safely say I will back any game you release in the future no matter what because you, more than anyone in the industry, deserve my respect and more importantly my money. I truly thank you for a wonderful experience and a wonderful game in Scythe.

  16. I’ve always viewed Kickstarter as a way to help someone bring something to market that either couldn’t be done otherwise, or to be part of a bigger community. Scythe was my first campaign that I tried to take an active role and be part of the community, and for me that has been the most rewarding experience I’ve had with Kickstarter.

    After that – every project is a ‘Christmas in July’ endeavor for me. I always get excited when I see that shipping notice – it means another gadget to play with or a new game to punch out and bag – and I treat it like a surprise. Because I know there are so many things that go on behind the scenes that I just won’t ever have insight to, it’s not worth getting upset about. If I did – I shouldn’t be investing in it.

    What this project HAS done more than any other, has been super amazing with communication, setting expectations, and exceeding everything I had hoped this would be. And I know that everyone in my gaming group was blown away with 1) how early we all got our games and 2) how amazing everything turned out. Played one of the many copies the first Saturday after he got it.

    One huge take away for me, as a backer, in all this – is to be mindful of all of my current and future backed projects. To take a minute and just send a thank you note, or post, or when things go right – or even if they didn’t go exactly as planned. The creator/s took a risk to try and get something out there for me to enjoy.

    On that note, a huge thank you from me and all the guys in my gaming group! They were super stoked to see their playtester names on the sides of the box. Folks couldn’t say enough praise about the campaign, your emails, and everything thereafter.

  17. Sounds like it hasn’t been enjoyable at all, Jamey. The customers, good and bad, have scaled up, but you haven’t and so you have to face the wave alone. So of the 18000 or so of us who kickstarted Scythe, roughly how many do you estimate have been giving you grief in some way, intentionally or not (address issues, snarky posts, dubious damage claims, entitlement or whatever)?

    1. James: It’s hard to say, because I think my skin has thinned (instead of thickened) throughout the process, to the point where every comment of someone saying, “I haven’t gotten my tracking number yet :(” stung a little. So at my most thin-skinned, I would say at least 500 backers have given me some kind of grief.

      1. I can see how that would grate (to extend the skin-thinning metaphor a bit). If one of your goals is to ensure people are happy, then contact with a lot of people is going to be exhausting no matter what, and irritating or upsetting when they are determined to be unhappy or to take a poke at you. You’ve surely built up a heck of a lot of goodwill with this project too, though, even among some of those who’ve done the grating. I think you’ve knocked it out of the park, personally.

      2. I was in the last 400 and will get my game next week. I can understand the grief seeing all those comments about tracking numbers and where is my game. I know I wrote some of the messages about concerns. The reason for my messages have been what can I as a backer do to help the process of fulfilment. I know my first message about getting it on my birthday was very optimistic. I Think you have done a very good job Jamey. And it is fantastic to hear that people got their game very early. I will look forward to new campaigns from you.

  18. Really sorry to hear the fulfillment was so rough and drained you. You run some of the best campaigns I’ve seen and I’ve been extremely happy with the two I’ve been part of. It was amazing to be able to deliver it ahead of schedule and it’s too bad that added to the backer frustration somehow.

  19. I can only say that I’ve been 200% satisfied. You keep us informed, you educate us on the process and the pain, you detail issues and resolutions, and you deliver a fantastic product that is exactly what was promised.

    As a Canadian my attitude was that if a strike happened, such is life. My day-to-day existence does not depend upon the delivery of a board game. I backed to support you in achieving the goal of publishing the game. I always knew it would come, especially considering your past.

    Some seem to think you and other Kickstarters are offering some fancy pre-order system. They’re mistaken.

    Take some deserved time off once the cons are done. And I do hope this whole episode hasn’t soured you on producing more games. I, for one, would be seriously saddened.

    Take care of yourself.

  20. Hi Jamey,

    I definitely wanted to echo the sentiment here – you did an amazing job with this fulfillment and I’m very sorry to hear that it’s been such a negative experience for you (despite delivering so far ahead of expectations for so many backers!). It’s a shame that a few (although still several hundred it seems!) impatient and negligent backers made this such a toil for you. I hope that a few weeks and months makes the frustration fade.

    Moving forward, how do you think your approach to launching new Stonemaier products will differ, if you’re interested in moving away from fulfillment?

    1. Thanks, Kyle. Moving forward–at least experimentally–I think we may just make games and sell them to regular distribution/retail channels. Reducing the number of direct customers from thousands to just 1 (my distribution broker) seems quite appealing at this point, especially since that will give me more time to focus on the more community-driven interaction I can have with individual customers.

  21. Same here Henrik, just received my tracking number this night and to be honest: never been relieved like this before – OMG.

    As I noticed before in the comments on the KS page of Scythe: the one part that SMG couldn’t predict was fulfilment as that’s the most tricky part… in Belgium they have an expression in which they say: «Wat jezelf doet, doe je beter…» meaning: the things you do bare handedly have the best results.

    For me personally this was a campaign in legacy style… an experience with ups and some downs. But don’t you get me wrong: the (upcoming) ups, will make them downs melt like a popsicle on a hot sunny day =)

    In my humble opinion ideasPatcher has committed a systematic suicide by messing with the wrong company. And no one messes with SMG, believe you me! A good reputation which they had before, has costed them a lot of projects to obtain. But their bad reputation only needed one or two bad fulfillments… at first I was excited when Jamey announced to be fulfilling by ideasPatcher (having received Above and Below from them was a blast), but the way packaging has been handled this time – unforgiving.

    Again a huge thanks to Jamey and his team… this was one of the most ex-Scythe-ing rollercoaster rides, in a long time =) Looking forward to pre-order Scythe’s Expansion: Invaders from Afar #)

  22. Jamey,

    I kick myself for missing the Kickstarter for Scythe. So I’ve been waiting for the retail release and I’ve already got one on preorder. Meanwhile I’ve been following your posts on both the Scythe Kickstarter and your blog. You’ve maintained great professionalism through it all, even with all of the grating comments (cat pictures help). Some people just can’t be pleased. Ever.
    I look forward to your next project.

  23. Jamey, thank you as always for your insightful posts. I’m wrapping up shipment on a 2700-backer Kickstarter and it’s been a full-time job, so I can’t imagine what you’ve been facing.

    And anytime I come across a weird situation or edge case, I stop and think, “What would Jamey do here?” And I try to do exactly that. It’s served me very well so far.

    I hope to bump into you at Gen Con!

      1. Have got both Scythe and The Networks in the last couple of weeks. I paid my money, I waited patiently and I got two awesome games. I feel connected to both Gil and Jamey, I appreciate your excellent communication skills and the quality of your products. I really did want to say thanks but I have always felt that creators probably do not need a message from me as I felt sure the not so happy campers keep inboxes full. The Networks actually arrived on my birthday and I broke this rule and was amazed that Gil actually found time to acknowledge my message.

        Does a thank you email help when the world seems to be against you? Do you need to reply – is that added pressure?

  24. I was going to wait until I saw you at GenCon to say it in person, but I think you might need it earlier. You did an awesome job fulfilling Scythe, I got my copy near the end of the July period, but that it wasn’t 5-6 months LATE says a lot about Stonemaier as a company and you as a person. That is why I volunteer to help when I can – because you and your company are AWESOME and worth the time and energy. Haters are going to be haters, and you will not get that kind of garbage from me (even when I did have a problem it was fixed with speed and professionalism and I respect that). See you in a week!

  25. Got to say Scythe has been the best fulfillment of any kickstarter yet. As a super back with way too many kickstarters behind me, I can honestly say, you should teach the big guys how to do this. Keep your head up, job weel done for a fantastic game! Amazed still you were able to deliver early when 95% of games deliver late

  26. Jamey, consider how many people have actually fulfilled 18,000 orders worldwide with different SKUs of a game, plus add-ons like coins and tokens and art books, mainly because backers asked for them. That’s unheard of, and amazing. When you are a trailblazer in your field, it seems that you will always encounter surprises and disappointments, but I hope that grateful backers like me (and myriad others) and positive reviews are worth it all.

    Also, by sharing with others what you have learned, that generosity is forcing yourself to re-live the negatives you have experienced. No wonder you are exhausted. I have no doubt that you will figure the best way to place great games in the hands of gamers going forward. One thought about early fulfillment. I may be one of the few who backs a game and trusts that the game will arrive in the future (and forgets when). I don’t calendar it, I don’t inquire about it, I just trust it will get here. If the creator communicates as well as you do, I just don’t worry about it.

    I’m sorry about the “entitlement” that you have encountered. And I’m not sure there is any solution other than avoiding KS altogether (not that I am suggesting that…). I wish now that I had sent an email of thanks, but I didn’t because I figured you would have so many emails to deal with as it is. Instead I “tweeted” my joy, but it doesn’t really do justice to how awesome the game and art book are, and my overall experience with the campaign.

    1. Thanks, Scot! I’m similar to you–I back projects and hope they’ll show up at some point in the future, and I’m excited when they do. I have plenty of games to play in the meantime. :) As a creator, I like to keep backers in the loop and overachieve when possible–I think I was just struck this time that delivering early didn’t seem to have the positive impact I was hoping for. But that won’t discourage me from continuing to try to get games in the hands of people as soon as possible in the future. :)

  27. So you can’t run a company, design games, answer 500 emails a day, and handle fulfillment. Welcome to success. You are correct – use distributors and focus on the part of the work you really enjoy. Take an actual break if you need it, hire staff, and live the other part of your life. I have faith.

  28. You once wrote about the silent majority, don’t forget them now. Two friends and I all backed and received prefect games and have a dozen plays under our belt before the estimated due date. You did an amazing job and we can’t thank you enough.

  29. This is just me own thoughts. When people are waiting for something great they get afraid to loose it. And frightened people are sometimes angry. So I think some where just worried that they will never receive the special edition of the game and I don’t think the announcement of selling the last of the special edition stuff helped.

    1. Henrik: In certain cases I understand that people are afraid they’re never going to receive the game, but given the sheer amount of communication and transparency I offer backers, why would they think that? My top priority is and always been to get the games to backers.

      1. Again this is just my personal ramblings.
        In a group of 18000 somebody is going to react differently than your would expect. Fx. your excellent amount of information about the games are is at. Some don’t care, some like me self like it a lot. But for some it is too much information. You can never make everybody happy.
        The nagging feeling I’m talking about is the irrational fear that something has gone wrong. “Did I order the game correctly, did I give the correct address, did my name get mixed up with someone else? So it is nothing you have done wrong, just peoples own private paranoia. People are most angry about there own mistakes.
        Hope I haven’t offended anyone with my comments. I only writing this because I known this feeling and perhaps someone experienced it in this case.
        If I’m right what could help? Not sure perhaps a big disclaimer stating “There is plenty of stock to ensure that everybody get the game they ordered even if your digital life was stolen by aliens”. Hmm, properly a good idea that I’m not writing the flavor text for your games.
        Or perhaps I’m just totally wrong on this one.

        1. I think you’re speaking truths about human nature, Henrik. Well said. :) I’ve found that no matter how much information I give in project updates, many people do not read them.

    2. I agree with Henrik. One other thing that may be happening with the not-so-silent-minority is pushing you to become better.

      I mean, after all those successful campaigns Scythe came on top, and the experience you gained from the past ones became fruitful! You always want customers to be happy, despite your own health/nerves/sleep. If with Scythe you wanted to eliminate problems to minimum and , let’s say aimed at 5-6 better things (packaging, shipping, timeline, production, miniatures, daily interaction etc) , SOME greedy people wanted a 7th. This is not your fault, it’s Murphy’s law.

      I bet, after the end of the fulfillment Jamey will level up like Gandalf in Moria and become even greater that he was:)

  30. You did an amazing job with Scythe, Jamey, and I thank you for it. The (over)excited backers just didn’t understand that their accumulated comments, questions and increasing anxiety taxed you so much. A lot of people (possibly including me) should send you fruit baskets or whatever people use to say “Sorry for being such an annoyance”.

    A thought for the future: I believe that your policy of total transparency backfired a little when you let people know that the games are ahead of schedule. After that point, each delay (such as the tardiness of Ideaspatcher) caused a lot of grief. If you’d just kept us in the dark until the first boat had hit the harbor, none of this would have happened. ;)

  31. Sorry fulfillment has taken its toll. Definitely sounds like you should bring on more help to delegate to given the rate of growth of Stonemaier Games. The scale escalates very quickly: with ~18,000 orders only 3% impatient / unreasonable customers still results in the overwhelming 500+ that have worn you out. Hang in there and remember the vast majority (including me) have been happy with the campaign.

    Side note: the frustrating “X receiving before Y isn’t fair” sentiments may have been a direct result of comments by Funagain, who did you no favors with the following statement, which doesn’t talk about different skus/similar orders shipping together and implies geographical delivery windows will be small:

    “It’s not possible really for us to get everybody everything on the same day but we’re trying to flatten it out. As awesome as I know Oregon is it’s not very fair to let all the local Oregon folks get the game 10 days before everybody else. So the far flung packages will try and go out the door followed by the quicker traveling packages. Again this is a general rule and somebody in San Francisco might get theirs a day before somebody in Des Moines because we can’t control everything but we’re doing what we can.”

    1. Xyon: I actually think that Funagain did the exact right thing. It makes perfect sense for them to ship the faraway packages first because they take longer to arrive, meaning that while those packages are in transit, they can ship to closer addresses, and they’ll all arrive at roughly the same time.

      1. Wasn’t my point at all. It absolutely is a great way to do things, but once they said they were doing so in a public statement, you have to expect people to question it if they don’t seem to. They didn’t qualify they were shipping different versions in waves and had the exact “it’s not fair that” wording you complained about receiving from customers, so the complaints/questions you started getting about areas getting shipments before others was a natural result.

        It just seems you might have been saved a lot of the frustration mentioned in this blog if they had simply processed the orders that way without talking about it, and/or been more specific/careful in their explanation.

        1. Well, at the time, they were specifically addressing people on the west coast who were saying, “We should get our games first,” so I think it was a reasonable response to such statements. They shouldn’t be expected to explain every aspect of their shipping process. As I noted, there’s really no reason that anyone should have been complaining at that point–it was like 3 days into the 3-week delivery range.

          In the future, I will try to do a better job of explaining how fulfillment companies ship thousands of games to maximize efficiency and reduce errors. It’s just that I’ve never had backers expect that type of explanation in the past.

          1. Gotcha. That post was copied to the Scythe group by someone without the “we should get our games first” context, so it seemed presented a general explanation. My apologies. All great points, I totally get it now. And yeah, given the whole window was only 3 weeks any impatience was rather unreasonable. Thanks again to both you and Funagain for all the effort getting such a large number of games delivered before the original timeline.

            Have played a couple 2 player games so far and am loving it. :) Will likely be posting a “first impressions” blog sometime this weekend.

  32. Jamey,

    You may not know it, but you are a superhero. Every superhero goes to the extreme and pushes past their limits to see that those people they are protecting and helping are safe, secure and enjoy their life. That push drains the hero to the point they question their sanity and why they keep doing it.

    Many whom they support go on with their lives oblivious to the support they received. Others complain that the rubble left behind due to the hero helping them is unacceptable. But there are a few who recognize that even though there is an aftermath and difficulty following the hero support that without that support it would have been disatorous. Those few offer praise and recognition. There is a another even smaller contingent that gets in there and helps tidy up showing their appreciation with action. Whether anyone recognizes it or not, you are still a superhero.

    The hero’s real powers are that when they recover, they get up and go out and for whatever reason they find more ways to continue to be the hero. It’s just what they do.

    Congratulations!

    Thank you for sharing the valuable and voluminous amount of information and insight with us. All fun aside, from my perspective that is a superhuman feat!

  33. Unfortunately Jamey, superheroes don’t get to choose their powers. They just spend time with the one they have and learn how to make it work even better. Sometimes they find exciting spinoff abilities of that power as they learn.

    There is always an airline ticket.

  34. As I read the comments and Jamey’s tireless efforts to inform and communicate, I am reminded that humans are not rational creatures. We try to pretend we are, and we use fallacious logic to support our emotional responses to the world, and we all try to convince ourselves that we’re as cold and logical as Spok or Data, but the fact of the matter is we are are irrational, especially when we’re excited.
    Don’t stop trying to be reasonable and rational – we just won’t respond quite as well as you want/expect. :)

  35. I think we should create a tier called “mint-never-to-be-played” condition, where the backers pay more but then they get the undamaged box swap. Otherwise, they live with it. Some of the pictures I saw on Facebook were a joke with people being upset and comparing it to buying a car with a ding. And I couldn’t help but think if a) they ever take game off the shelf and onto table or b) they stack a 100 games on top of it like you see in most “shelfies” – it’s going to have the same damage or more!

    After reading your blogs about the undamaged box, I thought about ordering some quantity of unfolded boxes that could be used as replacements (if I ever get to that stage). Maybe that’s not possible with the wrapping and gluing of the image to the box. Was that something you ever looked into?

    I’ve backed several projects on Kickstarter and today I finally caught up on some of my emails. The hardest thing was trying to remember if I had done the backer portal for each project. I wish Kickstarter had a better management system to avoid all these 3rd party portals (granted, most are done to collect more money without Kickstarter fees) – but it would be great to go to Kickstarter as a backer and have a dashboard that showed what state each project was in, and if there was any action I needed to take.

    With your success on Kickstarter, and before you leave that platform – have you been able to share how they could improve the platform for both creator and backer? Maybe they could do things to target unresponsive backers only? I was hoping with your success maybe they would listen to you.

    In the community I read about people hating on Kickstarter and that the platform has only hurt the industry (unfulfilled or late projects). But to me, you are the gold-star to how great this platform can be. If you had the idea for Scythe 10 years ago and had to shop it around, it would probably hit the shelves at 55-65, but be 1/2 the size and all card stock. Gameplay is most important, but executing your vision for an elevated gaming experience is huge! Even if you leave Kickstarter now, you are in control of your company and the product line. Before Kickstater, the amount of control and compromise you would have to give up would really have hurt the industry more.

    I wish you the best of luck and can’t wait to read about where the journey takes you to next.

    1. Lars: That’s actually quite a good idea! I mean, ideally we want every game box to arrive in perfect condition–especially for a special edition of the game–but I suspect for some (many?) people, it’s just a box to hold the good stuff inside.

      Yeah, the boxes are all pre-assembled at the factory. I couldn’t replicate their level of quality doing it by hand.

      I’m in touch with Kickstarter from time to time, and I occasionally write “how to improve Kickstarter” posts. I’m not sure if they read them. :) And really, I have nothing against Kickstarter or crowdfunding (in fact, I continue to be hugely passionate about it). It’s specifically the fulfillment process that I don’t relish the thought of doing again.

  36. Out of curiosity, did you really handle most of the Kickstarter by yourself? Most Kickstarters I have seen typically hire a helping hand (or ten) when the campaign grows out of proportions. Obviously it has some serious drawbacks unless you can find the right person for the job but it’s an option quite many Kickstarters go for. Communication within the team is crucial though and sometimes it shows when different people within the same campaign give different information to backers. It can be a bit of a mess, but ideally it might and should really help if someone for example was able to handle most of the customer (backer) e-mails especially around shipping time.

    And although I’m (still) waiting to hear from Ideaspatcher, and I have to admit I was a bit hyped for a July arrival especially seeing literally thousands of people playing (and giving glowing reviews) of the game, I would really hate to see you leave Kickstarter completely. Your recent pre-order campaigns are obviously a good choice for specific products but even with nearly a hundred retailers, that leaves much of the world at the mercy of high shipping costs and not great availability. When you launch your next such campaign, I’ll definitely fire up an e-mail to Finnish retailers asking if they would consider participating. On that note, I finally see Stonemaier games available at multiple retailers (online stores) here so that’s good I think :) In fact one of them is already out of stock on Viticulture Essential when it just arrived in stock the other day.

    1. Toni: Yes, I handled 99% of all direct communication by myself. The only time that was different was when I was at my family reunion the last week of July, though even then I spent a few hours on e-mail every day.

  37. Hey Jamey,

    Let me throw in my hat here – unfortunately, you probably only hear from the backers who have had a negative experience, but I was EXTREMELY satisfied with the Scythe campaign and the final product.

    We’ve played the game a ton of times already (some of those achievements are really difficult to get, what a fantastic idea!) and everyone who’s played has remarked how great the game & production quality is.

    After this and backing Viticulture, I would instantly pre-order any Stonemaier Games products! Lots of wonderful gaming moments already and we’re already waiting for the expansion to come out :)

  38. I think this was the best Kickstarter I have backed. I honest cannot think of anything I can really complain about. I can think of two real high points

    a) Fantastic updates. All the way through I felt I knew what was going on and what to expect.
    b) Fulfilled early! I was going to say that I wasn’t sure I’d backed a campaign that delivered at the estimate, let alone early, but then I remembered Between Two Cities was also early :D While I can see how that could “inconvenience” some people, I really don’t think that’s something you should complain about

    I guess the biggest issue with this now is it’s grown bigger than something that can easily be handled directly by one person.

    One thing I will say, though, is that I had never been more eager to receive a kickstarted game and it’s ended up as my favourite to play.

    P.S. I found tracking the ship fun. Given the timescales were clear up front, I am kinda annoyed that some people didn’t understand there was going to be a noticeable time gap between landing at the port and then being delivered.

  39. Jamey: That’s quite horrible what you went through this campaign! I’m sorry to hear that! Keep strong Jamey and don’t give up. I am so impressed how you’ve done everything!

    I can agree with you about going the traditional way of distributing Stonemaier Games. You will have much more control, time and joy! However, if you put different expectations on your Kickstarter page, it might help.

    All this grief you received from this 500 backers is horrible, and I don’t think there is the best way to avoid them. Some of my fellow traditional publishers don’t read any forum, comments at all to avoid the grief! They are doing very well. However, I understand the importance of interacting with customers and fans this way!

    I like to say: “Give someone your finger, and he will take your hand”.

    I think when someone is too good for the customers, informing them about everything, etc. they start expecting from the creator even more. Fewer promises, fewer expectations! And when an author surprises clients (with fewer expectations) with an excellent service and quality – it will have a bigger impact on them! I like the CmoN way of doing it. It has some downsides, however, much easier to fulfill.

  40. Jamey, Please don’t be disheartened by this. I just received my copy of Scythe in the UK today and I couldn’t be happier. From my perspective you have handled the fulfillment in a remarkably exemplary manner. Despite delivery being ahead of the estimated delivery date on the KS project you took it upon yourself to email not once but twice apologising for my copy shipping later than others (Final 2,800 and final 400 -I was kind of hoping I would be the final piece :)) This is above and beyond what is called for but fully appreciated. I think maybe you sometimes put yourself under too much pressure as you have such high standards for yourself and your company and as much as applaud these standards they shouldn’t be to the detriment of your well being. Please cut yourself some slack and don’t take people’s attitudes to heart so much (harder said than done i know), especially when the reality of a situation is you have achieved something amazing both in producing a high quality game and getting it into people’s hands in a more than timely manner.

  41. Hi Jamey,

    Love reading your blog posts, a lot of people just use blogs to build hype, but yours is a fascinating look into the practicalities of building a board game!

    The Internet is a great example of how you can have 99.9% of people happy but you’re only going to be exposed to the minority who want to shout loudly.

    Rather than repeat what’s been said about how great your frequent updates have been, the quality of the end product etc I’ll say this: on Saturday I sat around the table with three friends, most of whom neither know nor care what a mech is and spent all evening absorbed in the scenario, amazed by the art and plotting for victory. You can’t overemphasise how amazing that experience is, so thank you very much for giving it to us!

  42. You made a difference to this Kickstarter backer. I haven’t said much, but I am totally pleased with the game, the campaign, and the fulfillment.

  43. Jamey, you did a wonderful wob with this campaign, and I guess 99% of all backers, you never heared a word from, would agree. No matter how hard your work, there will always be some people who will find something to complain about. Sad but true.

    Guys like you make Kickstarter a nice place to be!

  44. Thank you for your efforts and dedication, Jamey!

    As a first-time backer to your Kickstarter Projects, I was very excited and impressed by how professional, organized, meticulous, thoughtful, and passionate you are! Your Kickstarter projects and the way you communicate with others serve as an excellent how-to guide for every aspiring entrepreneur.

    When my copy of Scythe made it into Canada I was extremely thrilled; however, I would have gladly been patient to wait (if there was a postal strike) because you were so honest and transparent with every step of the Kickstarter Campaign. I knew I could trust in you and your word.

    I am happy to have become a new FAN of Stonemaier Games — I already purchased Viticulture: Essential Edition, and pre-ordered Tuscany: EE. I look forward to your next creations and to discovering your earlier gems!

    Cheers!

  45. Jamey,
    One thing you have to remember is that your customers are gamers and a lot of gamers I’ve noticed live their lives in competition with the rest of the world because, well, they’re trying to win. From what I’ve seen as I’ve followed you on this campaign since day 1, you seem to desire to work together with others to achieve the best product possible for all (a quality I share). Maybe you should try your hand at designing a cooperative game. I wonder if the experience with backers would be any different. I for one would be there on day 1 if for no other reason than to partner will someone that cares about what they do as much as you.

  46. Just wanted to say that I was entirely pleased with how the Kickstarter was run. I always looked forward to the next update and I appreciate the effort it took to get this game printed and shipped out early. I’ve managed to play it twice and it has been a big hit! Thanks for making a great game and I look forward to future Stonemaier games.

  47. So – First of all, my copy of Scythe arrived yesterday, and it is a stunning and beautiful piece of art even before its’ been played, and it arrived in perfect condition and well packed. *Radiates Happiness*

    Its’ a shame to hear that you won’t be doing any fulfillment style projects soon, but totally understandable – I’m incredibly impressed that you’ve scaled so far without hiring some additional people to handle a chunk of your customer-facing workload, and I certainly appreciate how much effort you put in and how draining that must be (And you’re certainly not the only creator I wish I could help out with hugs and good cheer!).

    I look forward to your future products, however they may be released =-)

    Oh, and I really like knowing who the fullfillment companies are for projects, as then I can direct any queries/shipping/etc to them (I’ve arranged things like local pickup this way before – I prefer not to message project creators about such things), so the free-shipping you arranged sounds like a great option for people =-).

  48. I received my collectors edition copy of Scythe last week. It’s beautiful and I can’t wait for the first play.
    Thank you Jamey for you time, passion and investment in making these games!

  49. Jamey, I’ve been happy with every experience of every project of yours I’ve backed. You ship better than on time, and there are several others that can’t say that with bigger names. Be pleased with the quality of what you’ve accomplished.

    Now, I think you need some helpers. I suggest first someone to handle email, unhappy voices are loudest. I know I contacted you, as I was concerned with Funagain, and was pleased my concerns were for nothing. I’m guessing most of us are ecstatic with our experience.. As long as we know what and when you get a game out, we’ll be there, and maybe you need to lessen a bit the direct interaction with the public.

    1. Byron: Unfortunately, no amount of help is going to change the unfortunate side of human nature I saw in many backers during Scythe’s fulfillment, nor will it prevent one or more fulfillment centers from completely dropping the ball on their commitment to quality, speed, and communication. My time and energy are just one part of the equation.

  50. I second Tyler’s comments above. Jamey your dedication to your backers and fans is amazing and unwavering. I’ve never seen such devotion to customer service, especially in the gaming world. Hopefully, my wife and I will get a chance to say hi at GENCON. Question: Will Charterstone be present at GENCON? And if so, is play-testing it an option? Thanks.

  51. Sad to hear it took a toll! I guess there’s such a thing as too much transparency. I can’t stress enough that I was in no way annoyed or frustrated by this campaign and very happy to get my game even a week ahead of the August date, but – yeah when they started going out and the message was “delivery now expected early July”, it is a tad disappointing when that becomes “ah sorry, issues, it’ll be late July now” – doesn’t matter that the original date was August, once you dangle the possibility of an earlier date, that then becomes what people hope for. Again, can’t stress enough how this is a total non-issue for me, but I did feel that little pang of disappointment, and can see how that could translate into whining on the internet for someone a bit less… y’know.

    Of course, had you took the CMON approach,l and not said a thing, and then they just start turning up early, with the only messaging being “they’ll all be delivered by August” then people would have no expectations.

    It’d be a shame to see you move away from Kickstarter, as the campaign updates are all part of the fun, and it’s not the same as just waiting for stuff to arrive in distribution. But equally if the next big thing is Charterstone I want to know as little about that as possible going in!

  52. […] And yet despite this, he has also received a battery of negative comments from (in my opinion) over-privileged backers. Not about the game, but about the process. The EU fulfilment company let Jamey down and he maintained his usual transparency. At worst, people are getting their games in the month in which they were told they would receive them, but as per usual the Internet mouths off and hands out a beating to a good man. Collectively, we all need to give Jamey a pat on the back, say well done, and offer to buy him a drink should we ever get the chance, because what should be a highlight for him as become a thankless task. […]

  53. Jamey – Take heart, you are one of the most respected publishers and designers in the industry. I work in public relations and can verify that 10% of your customers will occupy 90% of your time and make you feel unappreciated. Your campaigns have earned you thousands of customers for life, don’t let entitled whiners get to you.

    I’m buying you a beer next time I’m in St. Louis…

    – Jason
    aka MAJBrown22

  54. Hi Jame, I just wanted to say that you ahve done a fenomenal jobb with the kickstarter and every thing around it.

    I wanted to ask you did you ever consider not telling the backers that the game was getting delivered early. After reading the post I get the impreasson that the good news of delivering early was nnot realy met with the expected woho! but rather the expectation/demand of more and more. So I thought that it might have been better to not say anything but instead let it be a nice suprice and do a post after all games have been shiped. Just a thought.

    I can hardly thin would complain over that, that being said it would not stop people from doing it.=)

    It sounds like you need a second vecation after all Scyth things are done.

    1. I thought about that, but sometimes people are available in different locations at different times. I wanted to communicate that delivery window as accurately as possible to reduce errant deliveries.

    2. Exactly! Greed. People just want more and more, like kids. If you spoil them with more and more, they want even more. Jamey is a good parent in this case, he wants to meet everyone’s expectations.

      Maybe on a next project, with a more strict policy, complains would reduce…?

  55. Very happy with Scythe which I pre-ordered and purchased through one of your retail backers.

    Jamey, you have certainly been fair and transparent in your overall dealings. You’ve learned your business end-to-end and refined some practices and policies through the dialogue. Now comes the hardest part of expanding a successful business: delegating.

    Whether or not you continue with Kickstarter, you deserve to hire and train people alleviate the burden. Delegating is not just taking care of business, it’s taking care you and your family so that all three can continue to prosper.

    Look forward to your future game ventures.

  56. I receive Scythe a bit later than the first expectation, but it didn’t matter. A few more weeks is nothing.
    I have to say you have been really fast to send the game for a kickstarter.
    I played the game 2 times yesterday, I really liked it !
    I will most certainly buy the expension.

    Great job !!!

  57. Thanks for the kind words Jamey and I can completely understand how stressful it was handling this. We dealt with only a tiny part of this project and it was pretty stressful for us too!

  58. I was just happy to get my game. You could have sent me my copy a month or two late and I would have been just as happy. I wish the shippers/couriers had been more gentle, as my collector’s box was slightly damaged but heck, I’ll probably damage it sooner or later so it’s already broken in. :-)

    I wish my local game store carried your games.

    Thanks for all of your efforts. Sorry it kind of sucked for you. That’s really not fun.

  59. I was impressed that it delivered early, we had a some slight damage and it was 100% fixable by me. We played it at a Convention the same week it was delivered EVERY DAY with new people. I appreciated all your efforts, and am amazed by them.
    In retrospect, I was one of the first people I know to get a copy. It might have been different if I saw lots and lots of people on line get their copies and I have not seen mine. This is going to be unavoidable I think.
    This is happening with another game that is a few months over due (I didn’t care too much about that), but I have seen others posting pictures of copies for almost a week now, and I have not seen mine. I know it is unavoidable, but makes me a bit jelly.

  60. Jamey, thank you very, much for the early delivery. Mine was one of the last Ideaspatcher-shipments but I am still happy for I expected the game late August at best. I am very sad to hear that so many backers have been unfair to you and I really understand your frustration, but I wanted to let you know that there are also backers/preorderers that are more than thankful for your work and your unique way of dealing with us! :)

  61. This may seem strange, coming from a person who opted not to back Scythe, but I wanted to comment on the responses I’m seeing here. Jamey, its a sad part of human nature that people rarely say thanks when you’ve done right by them (I work as a paramedic and you’d be surprised-or maybe you wouldn’t be-at how rarely people seem to appreciate what you’ve done). I won’t accuse people of being selfish or entitled-I just believe that people forget that a simple thank you goes a long way! Having read all the positive feedback people are offering I truly regret not backing Scythe and will have to find it in fetal. I think part of the problem you’ve had is not having someone filter out all the trash comments so you can concentrate on those issues that truly needed your attention. I’d say you cared too much but that’s not fair-this is your baby and you SHOULD care more than anyone else; it’s probably why you fulfilled (and by all accounts, exceeded) expectations! So, without having backed your game, I wanted to say thank you for the transparency, and for reminding us all that hearing nice things is as important as hearing the negative stuff!

  62. Silent majority here again. I’ve read some of the comments both in this post and in part 2 as well as keeping tabs on things in the Kickstarter comments over the last month or so. I have to say that I think this campaign was run extremely well. A small number of people seemed to disagree, which I found difficult to understand. I think people got very excited when shipping started being reported and then forgot that sometimes things go wrong (wrong being shipping happening when originally advertised!). This is a simplification of course and you’ve clearly identified some things that could have been done better, which bodes well for future campaigns, but even taking those problems into account this was a pretty smooth process.

    In terms of this being disheartening, I would turn this around and say that actually it’s a very good sign! What I mean by that is that you were serving so many more people this time so that even if 1% were unhappy (a very low percentage) that still leaves almost 200 people to complain. Compare this to the Viticulture Kickstarter where there would be less than 50 with the same “conversion rate” of 1%. It’s always the way that the unhappy shout the loudest and their comments are the ones that are always remembered more, so the higher number of happy customers may well end up being drowned out. You’re merely reaping the “rewards” of success: more people buying your products, higher turnover… more complaints.

    I wouldn’t give up on Kickstarter just yet. I backed Scythe specifically because it was a Stonemaier campaign (as well as thinking that Scythe was something that I would like, of course!). I doubt I’m alone in this. As a UK backer I absolutely appreciate the effort you obviously put in to make your projects viable for non-US residents. There are many campaigns that I look at and have to pass on because the project creator has not put as much effort in as you do to make their offerings more financial viable for the rest of the world. I know others feel the same, because I often see comments in campaigns referencing you, by name, as an example of how to do shipping well for non-North Americans. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks Jon! I’m actually not aware of anyone who wasn’t happy with the Scythe campaign (I’m sure they exist, but I haven’t heard from them). There are people who aren’t happy with some of the fulfillment center’s packaging, speed, and communication, but I don’t think they’ve let that reflect on their impressions of Stonemaier (I hope not).

      Rather, the disheartening aspects were some of the uglier sides of human nature I saw during the fulfillment period despite the game being delivered earlier than expected. I’d estimate I saw this type of behavior in some form from between 500 and 1000 backers. That’s a lot of people. And I’m not talking about times when it was justified (like a backer getting a damaged box).

      As for Stonemaier’s future, I hope you’ll be just as interested in following and buying the products we create (at least, the ones that interest you) even though we won’t be using Kickstarter. We don’t need Kickstarter or pre-order campaigns to engage with people, create cool stuff, and make it easily accessible worldwide. :)

      1. You’re right. Most of the comments that I saw were about someone getting something before someone else and Ideaspatcher certainly bore the brunt of most of the anger; I doubt your reputation took much of a hit (I reckon your responses and communication probably gained you some new fans, if anything!). It is a sad fact that this probably is human nature. I definitely found myself being a little jealous that I was one of the last to get the game and others were playing while I was waiting However, I did see this as me being completely unreasonable and kept my feelings to myself. I guess the process of Kickstarter makes people feel more able to complain than more traditional buying/preorder platforms. I am genuinely shocked that you had problems with so many backers, though!

        Fear not, I’m already invested in a non-Kickstarter Stonemaier product. I’m signed up for Tuscany Essential edition to go with my Viticulture Essential Edition (which I got via a preorder from your website). I’m sure you will do fine without Kickstarter if that’s the direction you want to go in. :)

  63. Well, I have to say that it was your early shipping AND being over summer vacation that I even heard about Scythe. While we were on vacation, camping in the wilds of Maine, my husband and I decided to visit the local gaming store. There sitting on the counter were the only two copies (and spoken for) of Scythe they could get! I was instantly hooked and now can’t wait to ordering my own copy. I look forward til the end of September for it to arrive and it will be like early Christmas. Cheers!

  64. Jamie, I haven’t read the massive list of comments and your responses above, but please know that the process of developing Scythe and shipping it was a huge success and you should be proud. Often after a big effort in life there is the depressing denouement. This is normal after such an effort, but recognize it as such and with a bit of time, now take pride in it. Personally, I really enjoyed watching the insights of the development process with the printer; then the boat tracker was really fun for my son and I to watch; then the game came early which was such a bonus – we were so stoked to play and have had many a great game. So, I hope with a bit of well deserved r&r I hope you can reflect on this time positively and with pride.

  65. Hi, sorry for my late post., but as a professional in the industry mny of you can probably imagine that the time between Gen Con and Essen Fair is a bit tight – what gets dropped first is thinks like reading a blog.

    Anyway, I read that only few backers ever responded positively. Although I did, I want to express again how well run, communicative and thoroughly enjoyable the campaogn was. I received my game two days before I left for Gen Con which was July 29th, which was perfect.

    Well done. We all know people find it easier to complaine than to praise for some reason, and I don’t wnt to be one of them, especially knowing what it takes to get this project done. On the same note: Panda did a very good job here, And it pains me a little to say that… ;-)

  66. Consider me another of the majority who were quite quite happy with how everything turned out. So keep up the good work and don’t get discouraged, you really rocked the whole process.

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