February 11, 2015 by brennon
With the X-Terra Space Force Vs Daemonic Kingdoms Kickstarter in full swing we sat down with Titan-Forge’s Roman Łakomiak to discuss Titan-Forge and their rather up and down relationship with the fundraising platform and what they’ve learned from the process.
BoW: Tell us a bit more about Titan-Forge; where did it all start?
Everything started in Szczecin a few years ago, with the Monolith wargaming club. Me and Slawek, who is the creator of most of our models, started our adventure with miniatures there. We decided to try our luck in the resin model industry and that’s how Titan Forge started. The beginning was tough as even though the technology wasn’t overly complicated we had to reach numerous resolutions through trial and error. Through these few years we’ve developed rather significantly, but Titan-Forge is still a wargaming buddies company, from design to production.
Despite most of our models being fantasy based, we’ve been thinking about developing the X-Terra collection for a long time. Most of us at Titan-Forge play sci-fi games and it’s high time we made something in this genre. We also wanted to give the Guardians of X-Terra an adversary and we decided on daemons, because everyone loves daemons, right? We have a lot of ideas for both of those collections but we didn’t know how many of them we could actually make come true, so we decided to put the project on Kickstarter.
BoW: A lot of your projects have headed to Kickstarter. Why did you think this was a great platform and have you enjoyed the process?
The best thing that KS offers wargaming projects is that we can gauge the interest in particular models before they start selling. Planning new models always comes with a two way risk – either that the model won’t catch the customers’ eye, or it sells too well and the supply can’t meet the demand. Kickstarter lets you plan your casting process nearly to a single model and removes that risk. An additional perk is of course getting the funds up front – it makes our investment in the project minimal and eliminates the risk of having to wait a long time before we start to profit.
Last but definitely not least, there’s the contact with the wargaming community we enjoy so much. During the campaign we get a lot of ideas from the backers, comments and suggestions of new models and feedback about the existing ones. Many of those positively surprise us and fit the theme that we try to keep coherent between our models. Thanks to that interaction with the community many of the models look different than originally planned, but more than often it’s a good thing.
2014 was a tough period for us. Between the Metal Beards and Armymals campaigns we had some crew changes. Some things got overlooked and some were postponed, although they shouldn’t have been. We should’ve dealt with existing issues before moving forward but we didn’t, and the longer we waited the more difficult they became to fix, as nobody knew who was responsible for what. Many of the delays were a case of force majeure though, and left us helpless.
The delay in Metal Beards and the fact that some of the orders weren’t completed up to now had four causes. Firstly, it was the first project done completely in 3D and at the time we didn’t realise the amount of work needed to prepare such a number of models for printing was so big. Secondly, the amount of parts was overkill. A unit of 12 dwarves consisted of 108 parts, most of them small and easily broken and the amount of rejects was much more than we anticipated. The third cause was independent of us. A company that was supposed to print a big amount of the models for us wasn’t able to supply us with prints of adequate quality – we ended up having to look for another place to print them at. The last cause was changing the person responsible for shipment, which led to a mess up with the paperwork and in turn some orders got overlooked.
Armymals had two problems. The first one – no one person responsible for contacting the backers. This caused a lot of questions to stay unanswered for a long time, the tensions among backers rose and we completely understand this. Even though we learned our lesson during the Metal Beards campaign and the production process was completely airtight, something else failed in the Armymals campaign – shipping. Here the fault lies with our lack of experience and too much trust. When we were planning the Kickstarter we asked numerous shipping companies to calculate the cost of worldwide shipping. A German company proposed the best terms – not only were they the cheapest, they would also pack the sets for backers on their own. Thanks to that we wouldn’t have had to wait for all the orders from the pledge manager and we would just send the games and add-ons to Germany.
Unfortunately we were misinformed by that company and when the games and shipping addresses reached them we were presented with an invoice that showed completely different prices, up to 3 times larger than agreed upon. We were informed that there has been an error in the calculations and all they could offer was a 10% discount. We tried to reach an agreement, but we only lost out on time and were forced to use other, slower shipping methods. The additional costs and delays caused by this were massive.
BoW: There are also some products outstanding from the Metal Beards Kickstarter still not in stores, why is that?
As I have mentioned earlier some of the Metal Beard models have just too many parts and their productions is unprofitable. We had to find a solution that would allow us to improve the process of casting small dwarves and we think we did. You can expect the first units of Metal Beards to reach the store in the end of February, after we’ve made sure that KS backers have received their orders of course.
BoW: With a lot of delays and such along the road what are you doing to fulfill the Kickstarter orders and how fast should we be expecting to see miniatures and more?
We’ve hired an additional employee that deals exclusively with returns, lost packages, missing parts and backers from our previous campaigns. Finding all information like e-mails and such in the mess we’ve caused has taken some time however, especially when it comes to Metal Beards. In the end we’ve managed to straighten this out though and more orders are completed and shipped every day. I believe that we can ship all of the orders until the end of our current campaign. If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com and we’ll help you out.
BoW: When will Armymals itself be available for sale to the general public?
The last Armymals and add-ons batch will be sent to our backers in the last week of February. Packages are being prepared as we speak and we hope they will reach backers before the end of March. This means that officially the game will be available for purchase in the second half of April.
Kickstarter is a great tool for basically ever company, no matter how big they or how small their project is. It gives you immense possibilities, but requires adequate preparation and planning. Our campaigns have taught us many things. First – nothing ever goes as planned. Delays will happen, problems will arise where they are least expected and you have to be prepared for literally everything and be flexible in finding solutions. Second – the KS community is great if you are open and informing the backers about everything, but quickly becomes frustrated if misinformed. Third – you cannot depend on outside companies without having everything on paper. We will return to KS after our current project but for now we are focused on completing the previous ones.
Our next project will be the Lobotomy Board Game – some of you might already have seen it at the Essen games fair. We’ve been working on it for two years now and we believe it’s going to be a smash hit. We would like to add one last comment from us: We would like to apologies wholeheartedly once more for the delays and inconveniences that our backers had to deal with and thank for all the kind words, comments and your understanding. You are great!
BoW: Thanks Roman, best of luck with the future!
We hope this provided a clearer picture of what’s going on with Titan-Forge!
"We also wanted to give the Guardians of X-Terra an adversary and we decided on daemons, because everyone loves daemons, right?"
"Our next project will be the Lobotomy Board Game - some of you might already have seen it at the Essen games fair."