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Subject: A Question of Priorities rss

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Ed Carter
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I guess it’s a strange way to start an apology but before I begin I really need to say thank you to Rob Seater. From its first inception, Cambridge Games Factory was engineered with a huge, Rob-shaped hole in it (Game Development Director), which needed a very specific set of skills that Rob has filled superbly. If you’ve worked with Rob then you know exactly what I’m talking about; if not then I can only say “YES! We’d love to see your game idea”

To continue the weird apology theme, nothing here is supposed to be an ‘excuse’ for disappearing after promising I’d ship the advanced copies a couple of weeks ago. All I’m providing is an explanation of why I acted as I did and an update of where things stand as of today.

A big reason why I started Cambridge Games Factory was to teach myself how to build and run a business without a large corporate parent. I’ve always been willing to take risks, I’ve already built a couple of successful businesses for Staples, how hard could it be, right?

The stakes went up a lot at the start of 2005 when my day job at Staples switched from Full Time to Contracting – especially as most of our savings had gone into getting the business up and running—then back in April CGF taught me a bitter lesson in prioritization.

As some of you may know, Bryan Johnson was at the Gathering demoing the new edition of Glory To Rome, his game (Huang Di) and some of the others we were about to print. He’d left his previous job the week before and was about to join CGF as Marketing Manager – working full time on promoting the games we were about to print.

Unfortunately, the week of The Gathering also turned out to be when I discovered that the 3 to 6 month extension I thought I’d secured for my Staples contract was rapidly turning into 3 to 6 days – not good news since I’d been kind of relying on getting paid to cover both printing costs and paying Bryan until we’d grown the business enough to fund his salary. What’s more, I also discovered that if I wanted to stay married I should be slighly clearer about explaining the risks I’m planning to take to Aurelia (my wife) before staking our home on an ambitious business expansion plan.

After a few weeks fighting for my economic survival, I walked in for what I believed would probably be my last day in the office. It turned out, though, that someone on the team left suddenly and a gap opened up; and walked out with a 6+ month contract extension—enough to save my house, but not necessarily the games company, especially as the money I’d planned to use for printing went to helping Bryan get back into work.

As it happens, my current assignment is a perfect fit with my skill-set and so by June my contract status was back up to ‘long-term’, so I was able to use a passionate and eloquent “No, no, really – lots of people want to buy it! Promise!” argument to convince Aurelia to let me put another $9K into getting Glory To Rome reprinted; I got back in touch with my printer and they told me they’d be able to get the cards to the US by late August, although they’d just moved their factory and it would be two weeks before they were able to start the job (in the end factory set up delays meant it took 2 months)

The good news is that the rest of the cards are now finally, definitely, really in the country.

I took a sleep deprived EEG scan first thing Tuesday morning and I wasn’t given any specific directives about what to do / not do after staying awake through the previous night, but I have a suspicion that urgently setting up $1,500 worth of customs clearance / freight shipping to avoid having the Glory To Rome cards impounded would not have been high on the list of suggested activities.

It turns out that the cards had finally arrived on the dock on October 6th, a month and a half late, but because of a mistake on the shipping paperwork they couldn’t get through to me by phone and so I was notified by mail instead. What’s more I’d foolishly misinterpreted “Delivery by sea takes 30 days to NY City and another 5 days to MA[…]No additional charges whatsoever. No other hidden costs whatsoever” from the printers quote to mean that Port to Door shipping, etc. was included in their overall freight price so hadn’t engaged a customs broker. In fact, this is my first import and so yesterday morning I didn’t even know what a customs broker did – oh, the innocence of youth. Fortunately, I now have a superb one (Thea @ www.worldclassshipping.com). She not only rescued the cards from oblivion, but is also getting them put onto a truck so that we’ll be receiving them early next week.

What I don’t have yet is the updated rulebook. Unbelievable, crazy, stupid because this is the one thing I have most control over (I print it here with a Canon I9900) but there’s ~15 hours worth of graphic design that I still need to do, which never made it to top priority while I was chasing deadlines to get all the other moving pieces in place and got bumped in the last few weeks (when it was absolute top of the list) by extra hours I was putting in at Staples to finish up a project on a tight deadline where I underestimated the effort because I misinterpreted the original request.

The second piece of good news is that that project is now done and the next one well underway, so while I’m still in catch up mode I do get to start thinking about games again. I haven’t yet read the specific concerns that have been raised yet (here and via email) although I certainly will be doing so now that I’m able to spend time on CGF again. I will also be consolidating the list of preorders / exchange requests I’ve received into an email list and sending an update to both groups.

I’m truly sorry I haven’t been able to keep up for the past couple of weeks; I realize that the timing was terrible, and I recognize that CGF’s reputation has suffered because of it. I’d dearly love to say it will never happen again, but realistically at some point it probably will; you see, it’s a question of priorities. The lesson I learned back in April is that when the chips are down, CGF comes second to immediate threats to my marriage, home or health.

Cheers,

Ed Carter
Managing Director
Cambridge Games Factory
www.cambridgegames.com

EMAIL: ed.carter@cambridgegames.com
AIM: edwlcarter

P.S. I was off yesterday (for the EEG test -- see above) and then left work early today to write this update so I have some hours to make up over the next couple of days and probably won’t be checking BGG properly until Friday night or Saturday, but I am now on my Cambridge Games email again and I’m also including my AIM address below if you need to contact me before then.
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Ian Wakeham
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Ed,

That's one hell of a detailed apology but I applaud you for letting everyone know. I understand that there will be times in life when you have to take time out, reassess priorities and work out the next steps. I don't envy you being in your economic position but I recognise that you're dedicated to CGF and will do almost anything to keep it going.

I've got a preorder through eBay at the moment for GtR. Personally, now I know what's happening, I'm happy to wait.

Good luck.

Ian
 
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Robert Aube
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Thanks for the update Ed. Getting a status was all that I was looking for, but it was also interesting to read through your learning process.

Good luck with the next steps (and Staples) and I'll be thrilled the day G2R gets to my door

Thanks again

 
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Will Hinds
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Thanks Ed, don't worry about it too much, I'd make the same decisions in your shoes. Some things come first. I'm happy to support an independent developer regardless of whatever delays come along the way. I appreciate your candor; it would have been difficult for me to communicate such turbulent times. Good luck in all your pursuits.
 
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Robert R
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Gamers like us are simple people. We understand that most companies that make games are not in it for the 'riches'. It's more of a Labor of Love specially for the smaller companies. All we need if we don't have an upcoming title in our hands by the set date, is the next best thing.... an update. This one more than satisfies the most demanding gamers, IMO.

Basically, I'm saying thanks for the update. Now I can wait patiently. Hope everything works out (health, business, AND family-wise)!

 
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Mike Silbey
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Thanks for the update.
 
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Ed Carter
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Thanks guys! Sorry again for the delay; I really appreciate your patience.

Cheers,

Ed
 
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Brian Bankler
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Ed, Glad to hear that things are better.

Here's a question -- If we got the edition that Bryan demo'ed (at the Gathering), does that mean I already have 2nd edition? [There were 6-12 copies available there]. I thought I had 1st edition, how do I tell?
 
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Ed Carter
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Bryan had a proto-type of the new edition that he used for demoing, but the actual sets he had were still first edition.,

The old edition cover looks like this:



The cover of the new edition looks like this:



Note the white 'Glory To Rome' on the right hand side; also it says 'I.V Edition' beneath the name on the left.

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Robert
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OK, so things are back on track -- how do we buy your game and send you money now? Will it appear at Boulder Games, or anywhere? Is buying direct better? The ebay auction on the BGG page is closed.

Hard to believe it's been over a year since I put off buying GtR because there was a minor-change new edition with nicer cards coming, and buying the 1E and exchanging it for the free 1.5E seemed like it would just be putting needless cost on a fledgling company... Might as well just wait a couple months or so, I thought... Minor changes....

Still looking forward to playing it (even if I do disagree with the branding-oriented rationale for the choice of art), but would really like to do so someday soon... This would actually be quite a good time if I could get it while waiting for the Essen games to trickle to stores so I can buy the ones I want in a batch

Good luck staying afloat. Definitely appreciate the update.
 
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Ed Carter
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Very Quick Update:

1) The cards arrived on Tuesday, as promised -- I checked a couple of cartons and everything looks fine

2) I'm about 2/3 of the way through the rulebook update. The cover, main text & appendix are all done; I just have to make the new example pictures. If you're interested I've posted JPG of the WIP version on www.cambridgegames.com; haven't proofed it yet so please email me if you spot any typos, etc.

3) I've now closed pre-orders on my EBAY store (thanks to everyone who's ordered!). This is because I really want to grow Glory To Rome's online / in store presence rather than sell direct. I need to get emails out to the stores who carried the 1st Edition to confirm that they'd like the new version and then I'll put up a "Where can I buy this game?" thread to let you know more details.

Thanks again for your patience -- sorry about the delay!
 
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Robert
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cambridgegames wrote:
This is because I really want to grow Glory To Rome's online / in store presence rather than sell direct. I need to get emails out to the stores who carried the 1st Edition to confirm that they'd like the new version and then I'll put up a "Where can I buy this game?" thread to let you know more details.
I'm pretty sure Boards and Bits and Fairplay Games would carry it -- both have been good to me as far as getting games that weren't readily available or already listed in their inventory. Would be great to be able to get it soon there...
 
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Ed Carter
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I just put up another rulebook update at www.cambridgegames.com. Just a couple more diagrams to go using a template I've already developed, so I'm confident I'll get finished tomorrow; so we'll start shipping either Monday or Tuesday next week.

Sorry again about the delay -- thanks again for your patience!

Cheers,

Ed
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Robert Aube
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Excellent news! Thanks for the update Ed.
 
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