Posts Tagged ‘Design’

State of the Wasteland

Posted: January 2, 2015 in News
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We’re kicking off the new year with a big post about all things tiny and building-shaped. First up:

Current Projects

The Kickstarter has been pretty well finished up and right now I’m gearing up to resume production for those who didn’t get their fill of resin during the campaign. Nearly all the molds are being redesigned to be smaller and more efficient, and I’m tweaking the designs of some of the pieces so they should have a lower miscast rate. A couple patterns need new 3D-printed master parts so they’ll take a little longer, but my goal is to have buildings available for sale by the end of this month. Plus, I’m working on a couple new designs and pieces – you can find some preview renders down by the bottom of this post.

Kickstarter Review

Time to take a look at the project and see how everything went. I could just blather on about it, but instead fancy infographics!

Right now you’re probably asking what I did with the thousands of dollars handed to me by strangers on the internet. Here’s a breakdown of where the money went and how I turned it into little buildings:

expenseschart2

The lion’s share went to equipment, casting materials and shipping – no surprises there. Fees ate up a bit more than I expected. This includes Kickstarter’s pound of flesh (5% right off the top), Kickstarter’s OTHER pound of flesh (payment processing fees) and a business license to avoid hassling by The Man. Filling my car with jugs of chemicals already feels a little sketchy and I have to assume they’ve watched Breaking Bad.

So what did I make with all that? Which little buildings won the war for love and affection?

patternpopularity

A pretty even split, at least for the Small and Tall buildings. Medium is more a mixed field, but that makes sense considering it had the greatest variety available. Industrial was the single most popular pattern, followed by Fortified (benefiting from being available in all three sizes). I guess it’s a good thing I added the Parapet Roof, too.

And now let’s get to the downside…

miscastchart

Actually, for what I was afraid it might be this isn’t that bad. The miscast rate exceeded my initial estimates, but those were really just a guess at something I’d never done before. This counts every piece that wasn’t good enough to send out to backers – there are tons of parts counted as “defective” which I can salvage quite easily for my own use. The problems are where I expected them to be (looking at you, Small Roof) and I was already planning on reworking how those parts are cast.

But I think this helps explain why the project took longer than it should, on top of the fact that I expected to make about 250 buildings and ended up with nearly 900 of the things. I made one key mistake when planning – I accounted for the cost of miscast pieces, but not the time it would take to replace them.

I had a plan to improve the success rate by thickening the wall pieces, but based on this data and some test molds I’ve made the math doesn’t actually work out. Making each piece just 1mm thicker increases its volume (and cost, and weight) by up to 80%. Even with the most fail-prone patterns, that’s just not worth it. It makes more sense (even counting the extra time this…time) to make thin, light pieces that turn out less often. Maybe I can grind the miscasts up and fill a beanbag chair or something.

Let’s wrap this up in neat bullet form…

THE GOOD

  • The process and product are sound. Feedback has been positive.
  • Completed on budget.
  • Production is set to continue and new designs can be added without much trouble.
  • 0% of budget spent on potato salad or moving to Portland.

THE BAD

  • LATE. I really wanted to deliver on time (as so many Kickstarters fail to do) but it didn’t work out.
  • Didn’t plan enough for success – I ran out of prepared stretch goals and graphics in the first day and had to wing it from there.
  • Some pieces cast poorly and wasted time and materials. They’ll need to be improved before production resumes.

THE UGLY

  • ┬áNot having things done on time meant a massively unpleasant time crunch when my other commitments hit in early September.
  • Coffee consumption continues to spiral out of control.

 

This last infographic is the coolest, at least for me:

countries

This project has been an amazing experience – people who I’ve never met all over the world believed in this project and in what I created. That’s a fantastic feeling and I’d like to say thank you to everyone who backed the project, helped me along, or even just came here to read about my little corner of insanity. Thank you!

New Stuff

Lastly, here’s some work-in-progress renders of new stuff I’ve been tinkering with, which hopefully you’ll be able to add to your games in the near future.

Have a great new year and as always, thanks for reading!

-Chris

fieldcommand

structures

supportbay

supportbay3

wall_tower1a

 

 

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Production Update #8

Posted: August 14, 2014 in News
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Tired of hearing about little resin buildings yet? >:D

Just wrapped up another count and it looks like the numbers are a bit better than I expected. The new small molds for the pieces I’ve been short on have definitely helped. Here’s the new production figures:

casting_aug13

I would have even more finished, but unfortunately I’ve been delayed by recent technical problems – one of my pressure pots began leaking. See if you can guess which one…my original El Cheapo hardware store one, or the shiny (and expensive) purpose-built one that I bought to last? Yeeeeaaaahh.

It started small, but it looks like the sealant around the air intake port had deteriorated. Over the last week it’s been out of commission while I’ve tried a few different fixes, without much luck. Finally yesterday I called the manufacturer and got their advice before I tried anything too drastic. I’ve replaced the entire fitting and slathered everything in thread sealant, and I think that should do the job. It should be back online as soon as the sealant has cured.

Even with that, progress seems solid. I’ve begun ironing out the last few details for packaging, so I’ll have another update soon with a peek at what will actually be landing in backer’s mailboxes.

Cheers,

-Chris

The wheel keeps on turning. It took me a while to tally up all the production from the last couple weeks, but I’m happy to announce that I’m now past the halfway point in casting!

The new molds are already helping to speed things up, and now that the count of finished pieces is done I know just where to focus my efforts. I’ve broken down what’s done building by building, which you can see on this convenient infographical device below:

casting_july22

Some quick notes about the chart, and what it means…

– After the problems I had with the master parts for Tall High Gothic, I finally have some cast and I’m now putting the production molds together. This bar should be growing quickly.

– For some buildings (like the Small Fortified and Tall Corporate Tek) I’m only being held back by a shortage of one part, usually the doors. I’m making up some smaller molds with just the pieces I’m short on so I can finish the nearly-complete buildings.

– The Tenements and Tenements Upper Level use the same mold, so I’ve been counting all those pieces as part of the regular Tenements buildings so far – hence no bar for the Upper Level yet.

– I now have two full sets of molds just for Small and Medium Roofs, and they’re already making up the numbers for those pieces.

– I just finished the first production mold for Parapet Roofs on Monday. It casts seven roof pieces at a time, so I’ll be able to make some rapid progress here.

So, still lots of work ahead but I’m proud of how far we’ve come. I’ll be pushing hard to complete casting as soon as possible, and I’ll keep you updated as the bars grow further towards me getting to take a break :D

Thanks!

-Chris

Production Update #6

Posted: July 6, 2014 in News
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Production keeps trundling along. Since the last update, I’ve done a more thorough count of the completed pieces, and fortunately the number of buildings completed at that point was actually closer to 30%, rather than 20-25% (even that number is now a little out of date, because I’ve since cast more parts). The downside is, it looks like the roof pieces turn out less frequently than most of the others – since they’re the largest and thinnest pieces, any bubble on the bottom of the roof piece has a higher chance of damaging the finished surface on the other side of the mold.

The plan to offset the deficit of roof pieces is pretty straightforward – I’m laying out a couple new molds that will be just roofs. I can add these to the mold stack in each pressure pot, so I’ll be able to produce more roof pieces at the same time.

Thanks to everyone for your suggestions for cutting the corner columns – I’ve upgraded my band saw setup and found a finer blade that makes much cleaner cuts. The first batch of columns looks promising so I’m moving ahead on full-scale cutting.

Lastly, I figured I should give you a look at some of the newer building designs, which up to this point have only been shown as renders. Since they’re all real-life objects now, I stuck together a few mock-ups out of the piles of finished pieces. Take a look and tell me what you think!

production6-1

Gothic Tenements, with Upper Floor add-on

production6-2

Medium Fortified Building

production6-3

Small Industrial, plus the Smokestack Add-on

production6-4

Tall Fortified, featuring the Parapet Roof

production6-5

And Tall Corporate Tek, this time with Dome Roof

Thanks for reading!

-Chris

Production Update #5

Posted: June 21, 2014 in News
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Everything…everything is resin…

Just a quick update to let you know how things are going – I estimate that I’m now between 20-25% done casting (yay!)

I say “estimate” because I still have lots of buildings that I’ve cast, but haven’t cleaned up or counted yet. Keeping up with myself can be a bit tricky – I’m pouring nearly two gallons of resin per casting day.

So casting continues on schedule, although I’m working on a bit of a snag regarding the corner pillars. As you saw a couple updates ago, I’m now sitting on a great big pile of stock for the corners that all needs to be cut to length. Unfortunately, none of the techniques I’ve tried for cutting the pillars quickly have been satisfactory so far. My first plan was to use a tool called The Chopper (a little guillotine-like thing for slicing through plasticard) but it wasn’t able to cut cleanly through the thickness of the tubing. Then I figured I’d go with the nuclear option, and try a bandsaw. While that works, only one side of the cut comes out cleanly – and since the top of one cut is the bottom of another piece, that won’t do.

So what are the options moving forward? First, one of my sources has this sort of tiny tube-cutting tablesaw which I may be able to pay him to use (same guy who owns the vacuum chamber I was using, actually – he’s presumably got all that love and happiness and stuff out of his system and returned from his honeymoon)

Second, I’m looking at my options with the bandsaw – a different blade or type of saw may solve the problems with the rough cuts.

Third, my last resort is to trim the tubes by hand using a miter box, the same way I did for the pieces that went into the finished buildings you saw during the campaign. This will get the job done (and should still not prevent me from delivering in a timely fashion) but is something I’m hoping to avoid for obvious reasons. I may be able to bring on a gullible chump/valued helper to assist me if it comes to that.

As always, thanks for reading and I’d love to hear any of your comments or questions (especially if you know of some kind of badass tube-cutting robot or something)

Cheers,

-Chris