One of the things we wanted to tackle while working on Status Report! was a more customizable fulfillment experience for our Kickstarter backers. With CBGtCG we have more than 800 games that need to be shipped, most of which will never cross through our hands before they arrive at peoples homes. Due to this we couldn’t offer a lot of unique things in our campaign for CBGtCG. Running only 100 copies of Status Report! allowed us us a lot more flexibility in what special things we offered. We let people name ai cards, crew members, and produced hand numbered copies of the game. We also got to try our hand at some home production with the 3-D printed captains badges.
I like it when science fiction stuff I watched as a kid becomes real. When tablets started to become a thing I remember freaking out because it was just like Stargate Atlantis. So having an at home replicator has always been on my wishlist. However, the $3,000 average price point of reliable 3-D printers has never struck me as what I would consider consumer friendly. It's not been until the last year I’ve finally seen sub $1,000 3-D printers that aren’t held together with zip ties. We picked up the $300 MOD-t and I was immediately chomping at the bit to get it involved in some game design. I wanted to know if we had fully broken into a world of home manufacturing and if I could start self producing games out of my tiny Brooklyn apartment.
The test of this finally arrived with Status Report! We planned to offer a single 3-D printed object in a variety of colors for backers. We went with a captain's badge pin which acts as a player marker in game. Sandra designed it based on her logo and drafted up the model to try printing. After some initial tests we realized we could print with 2 colors of plastic to really highlight the lettering and logo. In total we wound up needing to produce about 50 of them for the campaign.
-Cost. A spool of plastic goes a long way and this wound up being an excellent addition to our crowdfunding campaign.
-Reliability. The MOD-t produces really reliable work for how cheap it is. It really did justice by Sandra’s design and it's something we we're happy to offer as a reward in our Kickstarter. In total we only had about 4 failed prints over the course of the entire run many of which were likely caused by user error.
-Custom Control. Printing this at home meant we could do very small batches with a wide variety of color options. It worked great and added a personal touch to our campaign.
-Time. No beating around the bush on this one. 50 prints took us almost a month to print. This was mainly because of the 2 color print. While it looks great, it meant we had to manually swap each print at the 45 min mark, so we had to be home for every print and paying close attention. For comparison we printed up some solid color prints for PAX that we were able to set and forget. These we managed to print 20 of in a week.
Overall I’d call our test a success but only on a small scale. With 100 copies using a home 3-D printers is absolutley an option but when your looking at a run of 500 or more you'll need something better then $300 can buy if you don't want to spend a year printing. We plan to keep working on our home maker space and what can be done with home production. We’ve managed to pick up a laser cutter for under $1000 I've been playing with and hope to do a write up on after I've used it to produce something for our games beyond the wooden boxes for CBGtCG.