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Subject: Robotech Delayed Update #116 rss

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Robert Kingery
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The update:



Project Update #116: Big Progress Update
Posted by Palladium Books ♥ Like
Hey everybody, sorry for not getting you more substantive details sooner, but we’ve been working to hammer out all the details and variables around the Robotech® RPG Tactics™ project, for you, our distributors, and ourselves.

First, not only is this Palladium Books’ very first Kickstarter, this is also our first venture into making a game like Robotech® RPG Tactics™. Our learning curve has been steep and this undertaking is massive, even with Ninja Division’s experience and handling of much of this.

Second, the scope of Robotech® RPG Tactics™ was expansive and demanding to begin with, and grew as the Kickstarter went on. The sheer number of different product SKUs, special figures, poses, components for the box game, the many expansion kits, and so on, has meant a tremendous amount of work and logistics. That’s okay, because we want this game line to be truly epic, but it has proven challenging for everyone involved.

Third, the consensus of everyone, Palladium Books to Ninja Division and Harmony Gold, has been that it is better to get this product right than to rush it.

Fourth, detail matters. As Palladium Books has stated before, we want the end product to be everything Robotech fans could want. And we have a pretty good idea of what that is, because a) we listen to you, and b) we are super-fans ourselves. This has actually added to Ninja Division’s work load, because we want these representations of the Robotech® mecha we all know and love to be as detailed and awesome as possible. When there were shortcuts Ninja Division could have taken or Palladium could have authorized, we agreed not to do so in order to give you a superior product.

For example, that has meant numerous additions and tweaks to sculpts, and additional cost and engineering considerations for mold-making and manufacturing. This has caused delays and doubled the cost of the molds, but Palladium is willing to make that sacrifice to give you the best product we can possibly make. No cutting corners if we can avoid it.

The ship date. At this point, we still do not have an exact release date, but it’s no longer possible for it to be in December, as we have not even gone into manufacturing yet. If I had to guess, I’d say February, 2014, though we’re working to try to make it sooner. Palladium Books and Ninja Division are looking to firm up details and dates, and we’ll provide them to you as we get them ourselves.

Is this delay disappointing? Of course, but this is worth doing right. Palladium has spent thousands of dollars on advertising stating the game is coming out in the Fall of 2013 and December 2013, so obviously, that was the plan. But as I said, when faced with sacrificing quality, we all agreed to take a step back and go with quality even if it meant delaying the release. Even our distributors, who are champing at the bit for this game just like you, agreed it is better to do Robotech® right than to rush it out for fast sales, or quick, personal gratification.

Here’s how things are unfolding:

1. Almost there. The design and layout work for the rule book, stat cards, packaging and accessories are all pretty much complete. They are the fast and easy part of manufacturing. It’s the final mold engineering and mold-making that has been taking some time to keep the details and features we know you’ll want. As we get close to finalizing that process, we approach the actual manufacturing. However, our earlier delays mean we face a glut of product in the pipeline for Christmas, and potentially further delays.

2. Manufacturing. How soon our job can get into manufacture (hopefully later this month) will determine how quickly we’ll get the finished product. Other factors include the Chinese New Year that closes down much of the manufacturing for a few weeks, and shipping to the USA port (another 4-6 weeks), then clearing Customs and then shipping to Palladium. The latter should go quickly (a week?).

3. USA: Once product is in Palladium’s hands, even with an efficient assembly line set up and additional help brought in, it will take some time to process, pick, pack and ship the 5,000+ Kickstarter orders and the many Kickstarter accessories and special items. Note: Kickstarter orders will ship before Palladium sends any product to distributors for retail distribution. We appreciate your support, and you will get the product before it goes to retail. And remember, MANY of the Kickstarter items will be in your hands months before the retail expansion packs are released in waves to retail. Enjoy.

4. EU & Overseas: We have made special arrangements to pull, pack and address your packages at the Palladium warehouse, and then ship them in bulk to an agent who will post them from within the EU. That should mean everyone in the EU will get shipped around the same time, but after packages are shipped in the USA.

We will update details and firmer dates as we learn them. Meanwhile, Palladium will continue to provide you with images of actual game pieces and the full production packages as we go along.

Our apologies for the longer than anticipated wait. The game pieces/models are gorgeous, the game is a fast, fun simulation of the Robotech® TV show, and this product will be worth it!

With Appreciation,
Kevin Siembieda, Publisher
November 1, 2013
 
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I really did not expect to get any minis in 2013. No surprises here, really. My guess is early fall 2014, so they can hit retail for Christmas.
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StevenE Smooth Sailing...
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Shocking I tell you... absolutely shocking.
Imagine that, an over funded and over produced game not making its projected deadline.

I don't think anyone should be surprised by this update.
Unfortunately it seems the norm for most any game on KS.
Let's just hope Palladium uses its time wisely to make real improvements to the core game, miniatures and the other components.

Nothing to do now but wait... I am not expecting this to be fully delivered until Q3 2014... gulp (This will probably be done like Zombicide, mailed out in parts)
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Steve Dubya
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StevenE wrote:
Let's just hope Palladium uses its time wisely...

That's not precisely Palladium's strong suit. There's a whole website devoted to them being late, and see the most recent book they managed to get out - an in-house crowdfunded effort - which only ended up being something like 18 months late.
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Kevin Riddle

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rather it be good than have it early ...

maybe they'll throw in some extra stuff
we were so close to funding more
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William Hoyt
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Rather done well & late.

Will
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Andrew Fargo
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I'd be truly surprised to see this released before June of 2014 (that was also my expected date at the end of the kickstarter). Getting anything out of China during the first quarter of the year is extremely difficult and there is still the issue of shipping (which also gets gummed up by the chinese new year).
 
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Kevin Keefe
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Honestly, I have to say I fully expected this letter to come eventually. It seems like pretty much par for the course any more.
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No company would want to miss the holiday bonanza, so it is clearly a difficult decision for them, especially after putting up the adverts.

In the current saturated market for boardgames, going for quality is definitely the right step.
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The whole "done late and good" thing doesn't quite sit right with me.

I'd rather that these experienced professionals (and while this is PB's first serious minis game, supposedly they were going to rely on ND's experience and expertise on this matter) present reasonable and realistic delivery targets, AND keep the community informed of snags as they happen, rather than keeping quiet until they essentially have to say something.

Updates of "Well, we had 45 of 50 sculpts approved, these last 4 are taking longer than expected, etc, etc" rather than "man, it's so great, book is in final layout, sculpts are 98% done, the office loves it, etc, etc, etc".

The communication has been lacking ever since the campaign ended in May, and while it has improved over the month and a half of silence post campaign and pre-Pledge Manager, it still leaves a lot to be desired.

Also, as many who have experience with miniature production runs (and PB themselves) have pointed out, due to the lull in production post Chinese New Year, even February is likely to slip, which seems to be a sign of a bit of an avalanche effect. They talked at the start about the factory work starting up 45 days after the campaign ended, and yet despite the PM not going live for 60 days post campaign, didn't start shuffling the target release date back until the end of September (it's drifted back 2 months in the last 5 weeks, and as noted, is likely to fall back further).

Would I rather they rush things out the door rather than take their time to do it right? No, but I think it's a false dichotomy. I would rather they honestly assess just how long this is going to take, rather than apparently erring on the side of trying to tell us what they think we want to hear.
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These are artists working in a niche hobby. I guess I'm lucky in that I am not worried about the shipping date, as long as it happens in 2014. My only concern is truly that these are collectible quality. That is what I bought,that is what I want. The rules must be fun, but the minis need to be awesome. Fulfill those two things and they can have another year from me.
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Heh, if this campaign doesn't deliver for 19 months, then everything they told us at the start was a lie.

I sure hope we don't get remotely close to 2015.

As I've mentioned elsewhere, I'd say August is the latest it'll possibly deliver. Delivering 8+ months late will curry some bad press, but no moreso than many campaigns have survived.

Missing Gencon 2014, however, would be a massive missed opportunity. They raved at length about how excited everyone was and how popular the demos were.

I can only imagine they'll move heaven, earth and hell alike to avoid missing that date.
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StevenE Smooth Sailing...
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I would hope we'd see the base game arrive by Aug/Sept... but expect we'll be getting wave 2 and wave 3 deliveries for all the bonus/add-on items.
 
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I think they'll wait for everything to be ready before shipping. Even with the smaller/lighter boxes, shipping 5,400'ish boxes out around the world is going to be expensive. 11,000-16,000, significantly moreso.

They've stated a few times that this is their intent, and while they brought in a big pile of cash with the campaign, we'd be talking potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses that would have to come out of pocket. I agree that it's not impossible for such an event to happen (say, if they determine that a handful of the models will take months to finish and produce, holding up the other 90%), but it'd be indicative of them coming to terms with some pretty massive problems in the background.

Man, I would love to hear the post-mortem on this campaign some day, from someone behind the scenes that's willing to lay it all out. Not just the dirt, but what they actually had planned, what went right, what went wrong, etc.
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Having experienced Palladium books from the rpg side of the hobby this was one KS I knew just not to back.

Palladium is notorious for epic delays in their products over the last ten to fifteen years... there are still a couple of rpg books for their Rifts product line that were announced nearly fifteen to twenty years ago that they have been taking preorders for that are still not released.

How Kevin of PB has treated freelancers in the rpg world is well known and it's still amazing to many rpg fans how this company is still in business and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if this Robotech game never comes out... or when it does it will be heavily, heavily delayed so for all of you who pledged I'd say you are looking at 2016 at the earliest for this game to get released.

I am a huge fan of Robotech, love the setting and the worlds and the cartoon and all the few movies they have done. I just wish a different company had gotten the license.

I also say all this openly as I am not a fan of PB anymore because of how Kevin runs it and his open disdain for a lot of rpg fans and how he has treated the freelancers who have worked for him... there are even a few who he never paid for their work.

I'd say get your money back if at all possible.
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Robert Kingery
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The nature of the Kickstarter beast is that they are almost always late. It is to be expected. From the last update it still sounds like they are aiming for a Gen Con 2014 release. It's not just Palliadium's name at stake but two other miniature companies as well as Ninja Division is SodaPop and Cipher so we can hope Ninja is pushing for the release.

Here is the update:
Can we get a projected schedule, broken down by dependencies, to allow for product to be shipped to backers before Gen Con?

Not yet, I’m afraid. I’m still trying to get some of that information. Between the conventions last week and this week, and the need for some of that info to come from China, I just haven’t been able to get all the info I need to give you all a detailed schedule. I am working on it.

How close is the project in regards to completion of the First Wave?

Here’s where things stand:

The Zentraedi Artillery Battlepods, Blast Template, Command Tokens, and bases have finished tooling (mold-making). Initial runs of the Arty Battlepods are en route to us for inspection and assembly. I’ll include some photos of those below.
The standard Regult Battlepods and the Glaug Command Pack are in tooling right now, and will be finished shortly.
The Defender/Tomahawk and Spartan/Phalanx Destroids are awaiting final approval of corrected renders we just received, and will begin tooling next.
The Valkyrie is having its sprue layout finalized. We were told over two weeks ago that prototype pieces were being made, and we received new, corrected renders of all three Valkyrie modes on Tuesday, so the prototypes should be showing up any day now. When they have been examined and approved, and sprue layouts are finished, they’ll go into tooling.
Print elements are all either finished or going through final adjustments and approvals. Specifically, I can tell you that for the rulebook I have 2-3 final corrections and adjustments to make, and I’m currently laying out the painting and decal placement guide in the back of the book.
When all of the above is finished, the game will immediately go into production. Factory time has already been reserved, and they’ll be ready and waiting to start when the last bit of tooling is finished and approved.

The seams in the figures that we've been shown appear significant. Is it possible to see versions of the figures that have not been assembled and then disassembled to see how the seams would appear coming off the sprue?

As tooling for various game pieces finishes, we’ll receive runs from the molds that we’ll be able to remove from the sprues and assemble. We’ll document the process and show you photos from every step of the way, up to and including the assembled pieces.

The piece-count on these figures seems high, while the options for alternate poses seem limited. Is there anything that can be done to rectify this situation, both to reduce piece-count and increase poseability?

First, allow me to disagree with the assertion about the poseability. Of course it’s limited to some extent, but some sets have multiple poses of extra arms to choose from, and many game pieces have round or ball-and-socket joints to increase the variation in poses.

As for piece count, we have tried to keep it as low as possible without losing detail. Some will say it’s not low enough, but there’s nothing we can do about that at this point. We've promised highly detailed game pieces molded in ABS plastic from the very beginning, and with the original designs we have to work with and re-create, there are limits to how low that piece count can feasibly go without changing to metal or resin, which we are not going to do.

Is it possible to miss the Gen Con release date, if necessary, to remake the figures with fewer pieces and less noticeable seam-lines?

We have no desire or intention of delaying things any further, and the piece count cannot feasibly be reduced without changing to resin or metal. Most of the seams are located right where they need to be, in order to avoid either losing an element of detail on that surface, or increasing the piece count even further. (In the much-discussed example of the Spartan, the seams running down the legs are necessary to preserve the ridges on the front and back of the legs and feet, as well as the inset half circles on the backs of the legs.)

As for the noticeability of the seam lines, we have been assured that the fit between pieces will be tight and the seams will be minimal, unlike some of the relatively large gaps that have been seen in our primered, glued, disassembled, and hastily reassembled prototype pieces. Those weren't show pieces, but prototypes not originally intended for public display. They were shown on here to keep you all informed and give you a look inside the process, but they were never expected to be pretty or polished pieces. The final production pieces will look much better, as we will show you when we have them.

What are the plans to support this game at launch? Will the Megaversal Ambassador system be used to help spread and advertise the game?

The folks at Soda Pop/Cipher Studios/Ninja Division will be lending their experience and helping us establish and improve our organized play program. The Megaversal Ambassadors will be the backbone of that program. They are a group of volunteers who run demos and regular games in their local stores, as well as conventions they attend. Most of them, and many new applicants, are eager to start running Robotech® RPG Tactics™ games and demos, and we will do all we can to support them and coordinate their efforts.

Are the other generations planned for a future release?

Definitely. We've had some internal discussions of how to deal with potential scale issues (a game that includes both the Mk.II Monster and Cyclones on the same field of play makes scaling of game pieces tricky), and the rules have been designed with future expansions and generations of Robotech® in mind. The Masters Saga™, The New Generation™, and The Shadow Chronicles® are all planned, but our focus for now is on getting the rewards for this Kickstarter done and in your hands.

Can more videos of actual game play be provided? We would like to see videos of games played by experienced testers and players who have only been given the rules with no guidance.

That sounds like a good idea. I’ll see what we can do.

Is it possible to have a community organizer interact with us on Kickstarter to provide regular feedback, and not just in the form of updates?

I’ll try to do a better job of that. Palladium Books is a small company with only six full-time employees. Manpower is severely limited, and none of us can spend significant amounts of time watching the comments sections of these Updates. Jeff reads all the direct messages that come in and answers those as best he can. The rest, I try to address in these Updates. Like I said, I’ll try to do better.

What plans are in place to rebuild credibility and goodwill within the backer community?

My plan is to be as open, honest, and communicative as I can, providing info and updates as often as possible. I think we still have credibility and goodwill with the vast majority of the backer community, but we have a number of very vocal, dissatisfied backers. I think the only way we’ll ever make them happy will be to deliver a high quality game and game pieces, as soon as possible. I know it can’t be soon enough, because it’s already several months late, but we’re doing everything we can.

Can we please have detailed pictures of each figure as it gets completed? Both a detailed, assembled 360 degree set of pictures and also shots on the sprue?

Absolutely. As soon as we have them to show you, we’ll be happy to do just that.

At the moment, the only such thing I have to show you are these photos of the first test runs of the Artillery Battlepod mold. Note: I’m told the white/light gray frames were run for the factory’s own test purposes, and the darker gray ones were the first test color they ran. The actual color the production game pieces will be is still being discussed.




 
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Darkson wrote:
The nature of the Kickstarter beast is that they are almost always late. It is to be expected. From the last update it still sounds like they are aiming for a Gen Con 2014 release. It's not just Palliadium's name at stake but two other miniature companies as well as Ninja Division is SodaPop and Cipher so we can hope Ninja is pushing for the release.


Delays do happen. Pushing an 8 month projects back to 20+ months is more than a mere 'oops'. This is a project with nearly the same backer numbers as Ogre and that took in roughly 50% more money. However, while Palladium has gotten better about providing updates (they got pretty sloppy/lax for a while there), there hasn't been much meat to them in ages. It took nearly 1600 comments in an update, most of them expressing concern if not outright ire to really get a hard hitting update with info and pictures.

They told us that they had 6 months or work already done when they launched. That they planned to go to production 45 days after the campaign ended, and that most (as in, all but 5 or 6, as I recall) of the sculpts were already approved. The rules were supposedly done. They talked a good game, and brought in the funding, but reading over updates and news releases from last year, either they proceeded to act incompetently for months at a time, or were lying. Maybe even to themselves, maybe they actually thought "hey, we just more than doubled the contents of the Battle Cry and tripled the number of figures in the product line, sure we can publicly state an early delivery may happen!"

Product management involves a lot of things, and one of them is managing expectations. At this, they have failed in a manner that should be used as a precautionary tale to others.

Backers should be patient and understanding, but the backer contribution is not a charitable contribution either. It's not unreasonable to look at a project with an 8 month time frame, see that it has expanded up to 20+ months and say "Hrm... um, guys?"

As I've noted in regards to other projects, there are those that deliver on time without much communication, or those that communicate regularly that are delayed, and both can go off with minimal hitches. This one is both late and has had generally bad communication with the backers, so yeah, more than a little ire and frustration have been garnered.
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Robert Kingery
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If you look at who is behind Ninja Division then you know that the project is going to be really late. Same guys did Relic Knights and that is a tad behind the guesstimated timeline.

This is not excusing the lateness of the project it is more of a "ya it's going to be way late" as their other projects have shown. It should not be a surprise.
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Sure, but there are still shades of grey on the spectrum.

1 year late for full delivery? What about 1.5? 2?

And communications. One somewhat solid update doesn't excuse the last year of pissing lies on the backers and calling it rain. The next few months are going to be interesting, as to whether or not they can finally level with us and provide honest information, or just slink back to their usual "omg everyone loves it, the office loves it, you're going to love it!" crap.

A big part of the issue has been that what they say has very rarely matched reality. Breaking that habit and just leveling with people wouldn't be a salve to that last year of bullshit, but it'd be a nice change of pace.

It's not just a minor project, if they really want to branch out into the other two series, plus their own Rifts line, plus whatever else, they really need to be learning from their mistakes and actively fixing them.

Which remains to be seen. Making good on what they've emphasized repeatedly about Wave One would help, finishing up the project while maintaining that communication and clarity would also be good.

They really need to embrace "Show, don't tell". Deeds, not just words.
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I'm usually on the "silent majority" in the KS comments but I think Forar hit the nail on the head here.

For me, it's not the delay, that was somewhat expected once the size of it blossomed. It's the delay coupled with inconsistent and sometimes contradictory updates that bothers me.

I've been in other late KS's but a least they kept us informed of exactly what/who was causing the delays and where they were at with moving forward.

I'm not sure why this one doesn't. Could be company policy, could be fear of antagonizing business partners, could be NDA's, could be fear of the reaction of the "vocal minority" to exposing their throat (figuratively), etc...

Whatever it is, at this point, they need to start sharing to keep the loud (and somewhat silly) refund demanders and parts counters from gaining more voices.

I have no doubt that they originally thought this would be done by now. There is no reason for them to have promoted it with minis at Gencon and spent money on ads in GTM without anticipation of it being available. Also now the acknowledgement that they need to split the shipments - no business would plan that.

But something went wrong... And without them communicating to allay fears, the worst is being assumed and many of the potential goodwill ambassadors that would spread love of this game are losing their goodwill.

I will say, getting Mike involved with the playtest was a good move, finally showing sprues was reassuring, and the last few of these updates have been steps in the right direction for the most part. Now we just need it to continue consistently.

Edit - in the interest of disclosure, I am a backer at Showdown (plus many extras)
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Steve Dubya
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Forar wrote:
The whole "done late and good" thing doesn't quite sit right with me.

Well, particularly when it seems to be, "We're taking the time to do it right...providing that we will have units available for retail sale for GenCon 2014."
 
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Like I said in my first post... if you knew Palladium Books from their roleplaying side than this kind of delay in their product development is to be absolutely expected by them and it's one of the reason why a lot of gamers (not all of course) actively avoid purchasing anything from them.

But if I didn't know about them and I suddenly saw that there was this really cool Robotech miniatures game coming out I'd probably have jumped on it as well.

So, all these delays, their lack of communication, and so on... this is typical Palladium... and not because this is just another Kickstarter.
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And again, that viewpoint ignores all of the statements leading up to the KS and during the campaign indicating that Ninja Division was running with a large portion of the figures. Ninja Division isn't Palladium, and thus, Palladium being bad at timelines shouldn't be 100% applicable.

Now, being slow at approving sculpts/renders/changes? Quite possibly. It can be a complicated matter with 'blame' or responsibility spread across a variety of sources.

But "Palladium has always been slow" doesn't absolve them of the responsibility to their statements and commitments.

If they get to August and still don't have anything to show, do you really think the Gencon organizers are just going to shake their heads and say "Oh, Palladium gonna Palladium"?

They're getting a lot more specific these days, and they can't just hand wave... or jazz hands, their way out of that. They've already been bitten for 4 figures spent on advertising something that wasn't remotely close to existing last year. While a mere drop in the bucket of cash they had put in their laps, while they're admitting to the costs of the molds doubling and their shipping costs practically doubling, one can't just say "oh well, they suck at things, whatcha gonna do?" Especially when the average backer is on the hook for $270+, with many in the $1,000-1,5000+ range. A book being held back, even at a $25 pre-order isn't even within an order of magnitude of what people trusted them with.

And saying "oh, well you should've known better" is coming across as thinly veiled victim blaming. "Your wallet shouldn't have been walking in that dark alley wearing that skirt..."
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I think the real issue is that the general vibe I've gotten from Palladium over the last probably five years or so is that of malicious incompetence - where they might not know the right answer about something, but they'll be damned if anyone else might possibly be able to chime in with any sort of criticism about the matter in question.

Them not knowing all the ins and outs of minis production and thus some time slippage? That's probably acceptable. When folks who do work with that sort of thing then get told by Palladium folks who have previously acknowledged they aren't exactly familiar with it that those in the know are "basically wrong and here's why"? Yeah, that's just wallowing in ignorance.

I mean, just look at their book production "schedule." They've been doing that sort of thing for the last 30 years, and they still don't have any idea how long it will actually take to release a given title.
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