Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hero Forge has launched!

Hero Forge has launched!

We are pleased to announce that our December 8th release day went off without a hitch, and we are now live on the web at https://www.heroforge.com! We are amazingly excited, and are so thrilled to have become the internet’s home for customizable, 3D printed miniatures!

This very first release marks an important step for us. We have been just thrilled and humbled by all the amazing support we have received from our fans and Kickstarter backers who have been following this project since its inception. And now, after ten months of hard work, we have launched and are just getting started. We can't wait to build and improve upon what you have helped us build, and we simply can't wait to see how far you take us!

--The Hero Forge team

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Hero Forge Launch Date Announced: December 8th!

Hero Forge Launch Date Announced: December 8th! 

We are so excited to report that we now have an official launch date for Hero Forge, and that date is fast approaching! December 8th will mark the full public release of our new character customizer and 3D printing app. We can’t wait to see what you’ll create!

Since we started out Kickstarter campaign earlier this year, it has been Hero Forge’s mission to use the latest in web and 3D printing technology to let you create easily personalized miniatures that capture your creativity and vision in a way that simply hasn't been available until now. The Kickstarter and tabletop gaming community showed massive support for that mission, helping us reach our initial crowdfunding goal at a whiplash-inducing speed. Since then our team has been working long and hard, around the clock, to make this service a reality. Now, after a 10 month-long rapid development cycle, the Hero Forge 3D printing app is finally launching, and we are so excited to see what you will design. We have organized a Facebook launch event where we will post more details as we near launch. We encourage you to join up!

We believe this launch will mark just the beginning of this adventure. We look forward to being your provider for custom, bespoke miniatures in the months and years to come!

Kickstarter Backer Pledge Fulfillment Codes:

We will be sending out Kickstarter backer fulfillment coupon codes straight to backers' inboxes over the coming two weeks so they can be ready to order your custom miniatures right at launch (and possibly before... stay tuned for details)!

It has been a long, fun road, and we're so excited to have you with us on this adventure!

 --The Hero Forge Team

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Hero Forge Forms Official Partnership with Shapeways, Inc.

We've hinted at it in the past, but we're thrilled to finally announce something that's been brewing for a while now: Hero Forge has partnered with Shapeways as the official provider of customized, 3D printed miniatures and statuettes for our Kickstarter backers!

For those of you that followed our campaign closely this partnership probably won't come as a big surprise—we've been singing the praises of their service for some time. In fact, every prototype or sample miniature we've shown off has come fresh out of a Shapeways 3D printing factory. The developer API they launched a little over a year ago is a truly important puzzle piece in our project. Without it, integrating a web-based character creator with a professional 3D printing service would have been a much bigger technical hurdle to overcome. Luckily, they've done the legwork to make sure folks like us can help folks like you make the customized products you want. We're truly excited to be taking advantage of that technology. This partnership means we will be able to work closely with their API and manufacturing teams to ensure we can take full advantage of the medium to produce the best miniatures we can.

We can't wait to see 3D printing become more and more mainstream, and we're thrilled to be able to officially announce that our favorite 3D printing provider will be powering the manufacturing side of our project. This official partnership is just another step in bringing a new, exciting option to tabletop gamers and miniature fans everywhere!

--Hero Forge Team

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Hero Forge goes to the Renaissance Faire!

Few things can get one excited about modeling fantastic sets of fantasy and medieval armor as watching jousting and sword-fighting! The Hero Forge team recently made our way to Irwindale for the Renaissance Pleasure Fair” where we enjoyed massive turkey legs, fine ales, jousting, sword fighting, and bawdy tunes. And believe me when I say that the number of creative and gorgeous costumes certainly served to inspire us as we craft, sculpt, and design costumes and armor sets for our character builder.
Joshua, Margaret, Beverly, and Teagan posing with the brave knight Don Vinchenzo.

We had heaps of fun, so wanted to give a shout-out to fair: there's still three weekends left this year so
definitely check it out if you get the chance!
Margaret demonstrating that she's as good with an axe as she is with a stylus!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

User Submitted Designs

It has been one month since the conclusion of our Kickstarter, and let me tell you: we are just as excited as the day we started, if not moreso. We're hustlin' and working hard on our end, but we wanted to make sure we continued to update you guys about what we're up to. We'll be trying to put out updates at least once a month, letting you know any and all exciting news and developments. For today, I'd like to take a minute to talk about a pledge tier reward that some of our most generous backers will be receiving: the opportunity to submit their own designs to our character builder.

There are so many parts of this project that are exciting for us. One of the things we are most thrilled about is that something we are building is going to be showing up on tabletops all across the world. It is like we've been invited to sit in on thousands of people's games, campaigns, and skirmishes. That is an amazing privilege, and we can't thank our backers enough for giving us that opportunity. Letting some of our backers share in that experience by submitting designs for their own part, weapons, armor, and poses seemed like a great way to say thank you.

We're still in the process of collecting these designs and descriptions, and we know several folks are hard at work on their submissions now. These pledge tiers include the Baron tier which lets the backer submit a custom pose, the Arch-duke tier which lets them submit a custom weapon or item, and the Emperor tier which lets them design an entire custom armor set from head to toe. We're looking forward to sharing these designs with backers, and then eventually with the world when we add them to our final character builder. We know user-submitted parts is something a lot of folks asked about during our campaigns, and we're thrilled that Kickstarter let us give that opportunity to select backers at launch.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Kickstarter Campaign Happy Ending

Well...

That was amazing.

After going radio-silent for a couple days, we've finally caught our breath from the massive conclusion of our Kickstarter campaign. I just couldn't wait any longer to jump online and write a little summary of our experience (and a love-letter to the generous backers who have gotten us this far). After a truly amazing thirty-six days, we've come out the other side of our campaign with over three times what we’d initially asked for and unlocked a staggering ten stretch goals including exciting features like a batch of new character races, additional genres like sci-fi, Wild West, modern, noir, cyberpunk, and even new features like spell effects and familiars. I've said it before, but unlike some crowdfunding campaigns, we couldn't have embarked on this journey without you guys. We can’t wait to give you the tools to build something YOU are passionate about, and we look forward to seeing what you will build with what we create.

Overall, our campaign went about as well as we possibly could have hoped. If you aren't familiar with Kicktraq, you should definitely check it out when you get a chance. It provides all kinds of data and breakdowns of Kickstarter campaigns, and it was an incredibly useful tool for us when it came to understanding our progress, visualizing how things were going, and making predictions about where we’d end up.


As you can see, it really gives you a sense of the roller-coaster of the whole project. Really, our campaign’s arc was pretty similar to most: we had a remarkably good start, calmed a bit in the middle, and picked up in the end. We owe a lot to the magnitude of that great start and the fantastic coverage we got from the gaming and tech communities. Being featured on KotakuThe EscapistTechnabobNerdistTopless Robot, and many more gave us a huge edge. It got the word out. And you guys, the backers and supporters who shared us and tweeted us, who posted about us in forums and mentioned us to your gaming groups, really did the rest. It was so exciting to get messages from tabletop gaming groups who went in together to collectively order tiers with multiple figures, for example. That kind of support and enthusiasm is something we will forever be grateful for.

Another thing that we were really surprised and pleased by was the amount of questions, comments, and suggestions we got. At the moment, out comment count is just a hair shy of one thousand. And that isn't even counting all the direct messages and e-mails we got. That is an amazing amount of engagement. Let me just say that we read every single comment, message, and e-mail. We got so many interesting and valuable suggestions from backers. We will keep all that in mind as we move forward. As an aside, in case anyone is curious, some of the biggest requests from backers are as follows:
  • Putting a system in place to allow customers to download the 3D model so they can print at home
  • Antro races (most requested were cat people and lizard people)
  • A way to accommodate user-submitted parts
  • a couple of genres we didn't get to (the most frequently requested genres that we didn't quite get to in stretch goals: Superheroes, football figures, and the Steampunk stretch goal we didn't quite get to)
We still aim to be your one stop shop for minis, regardless of what game you play and world you play in, so these are all things we will be looking into. In fact, some are already on our "to do" list. For now we're going to focus on building the absolute coolest character builder and digital armory available on the internet. But know that your requests are on our mind.

So Thanks again to the Kickstarter and tabletop gaming communities! As we proceed, we look forward to keeping you updated in this blog, on our Facebook group, and if you backed us, through backer-exclusive e-mail updates!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Genre

We've talked about it before, but one of the things we're really excited about is mixing different genres in our parts system. Our stretch goals for genre expansions have only just begun, but we're already really thrilled about what they will mean for people who use our service. As anyone who plays, say, a space western or a sci-fi fantasy knows, finding miniatures for those rarer genre overlaps can be difficult. This is even more true for the world-builders out there who have developed original and creative setting with all kinds of exciting or outlandish elements pulled from various genres. Though we expect that just about everyone who buys minis will be excited about the prospect of customizing them, the audiences we think will most benefit will be the ones that simply didn't have many, if any, options before.

That said, we've already unlocked three stretch goals, including a genre expansion that we've been especially looking forward to: sci-fi. Two stretch goals away is the next genre expansion: western. Our awesome backers, and potential backers, have been really vocal about what genres they want us to include, and what order they'd like to see them added. Some people have asked why we've chosen the order we have thus far. Sci-fi is clearly the next biggest genre, but why western? 

It was a matter of synergy. Though there may indeed be a good number of folks out there who play in a straight-up, non-fantastical western world, we're more interested in enriching a user's choices when it comes to adding western-flavor of other genres. Western is a fantastic seasoning for fantasy (Elven revolvers, dwarven blunderbusses, desert towns run by orcish law-men) or sci-fi (space cowboys!). Basically, western includes all kinds of stylistic elements that we think people will want to see included in their worlds.

So what's next? You'll have to stay tuned to find out! Though I expect you won't have to wait too long...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Funded in under 72 hours...!

Wow. Just wow.

I knew the gaming community was one of the most active, vocal, and passionate groups out there, but this really drives it home. We've reached our base funding goal in under three days. And we barely had a chance to savor that before flying right through stretch goal #1 AND #2! One more time: wow.

The poll for the fifth race to be added to the stretch goal #1 was locked in after only one night of voting--certainly shows us that we shouldn't underestimate how eager people are to see this project succeed! We'll have to give the next one a little more time! For those of you who didn't vote, it was a close call between the elemental humanoids and the goblins, but elemental humanoids clenched it! I, for one, am especially excited about this, and even more excited to see these races come to life in the hands of our amazing artists.

The second stretch goal, mounted miniatures, was also met quite quickly! I knew people would be thrilled to get their mini both mounted and not--we're really happy to get to provide this option, especially since it is something that we're uniquely equipped to do better than other mini companies. We have a print of this fellow on the left on its way to us, and you can bet we'll include it in an update as soon as we get the opportunity. 

And stretch goal #3, the science fiction genre pack, looks like it will be met before too long as well! Again, I really can't help but be humbled and amazed by how supportive our backers have been. As I mentioned ages ago: this is a project that we simply couldn't have done without Kickstarter and without a passionate community behind it. I get the feeling that the magnitude of that community's support has only just started to be revealed, and on behalf of our team, I want to say just how eager we are to do you proud! Stay tuned for more updates!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Kickstarter Pledge Tiers!

UPDATE: Add-ons!
Interested in getting additional figures when we launch? Great news! With Add-ons, you can custom tailor your pledge to receive exactly the number of minis you want!



How to select add-ons:
  • Go to the Hero Forge Kickstarter page.
  • Press the "Manage Your Pledge" button.
  • You will be shown a list of the pledge tiers we offer. Without changing your pledge tier, simply increase your pledge amount by the total number of add-ons you'd like.
  • At the end of the campaign, you will be contacted to verify which add-ons you have opted to receive.

NOTE: Kickstarter does not allow a project to provide more then ten (10) of something as a reward, so steer clear of attempting to add more than a combined total of ten miniatures or statuettes (combined).


This is a more in-depth description of our pledge tiers, including commentary, tangents, and more in-depth descriptions! Note that all pledge tiers including shipping and handling, unless you live outside of the United states, in which case you’ll pay a bit extra for shipping.

$1
—SCOUT—
  • Be added to our mailing list and receive exciting e-mail updates of our progress and additions.
  • NOTES: This tier is for people who are excited about minis, interested in new applications of 3D printing, or simply want to show their support for our project.


$20
—PATRON—

  • Receive one customized 28mm-30mm character in lower detail material. Rougher texture means it's not optimal for painting, but it is especially durable and flexible which is ideal for heavy use. (Note: all other tiers do offer ultra-detail plastic as an option, which is very suitable for painting and display)!
  • NOTES: 'Strong plastic,' though less detailed than the ‘ultra-detail plastic’ that we consider our default material, is nevertheless a great choice for gamers who want a robust, durable, fully customized mini, but don’t necessarily need incredible detail. It has a rougher texture and is not ideal for painting. We want to offer solutions for all tabletop gamers, including the price-conscious ones! All other tiers, apart from statuettes and the "Novice Party," tier offer miniatures in your choice of launch materials.


$30
—ADVENTURER—
  • Receive one customized 28mm-30mm character (domestic shipping included)! Also, get beta access to our website and start designing your character before the general public has access!
  • NOTES: From this tier on up, you will have you choice of our base material offerings, which will include ultra-detail plastic, strong and flexible plastic, and potentially other new and exciting materials released between now and launch!
$30
—KNIGHT—
The first digital reward, a deck of
digital item cards, make great handouts
for players to keep track of basic
inventory. The deck features art from
artists Molly Maloney and Nicole Cardiff

  • Receive one customized 28mm-30mm character (domestic shipping included) with the option of the exclusive "Kickstarter Backer" figure base to commemorate your involvement in the project! Get beta access to our website and start designing your character before the general public has access! Also receive exclusive PDF item cards featuring concept art by Nicole Cardiff and Molly Maloney!
  • NOTES: The addition of item cards, featuring gorgeous concept art by our concept artists Nicole Cardiff and Molly Maloney, is a fantastic add-on for tabletop gamers who love player handout items!


$35 LIMITED
—ELITE KNIGHT—
  • Receive one customized 28mm-30mm character (domestic shipping included) with the option of the exclusive "Kickstarter Backer" figure base to commemorate your involvement in the project! Get ALPHA access to our website and start designing your character before the general public has access! Also receive exclusive PDF item cards featuring concept art by Nicole Cardiff and Molly Maloney!
  • NOTES: All the same offerings as the Knight tier, with the additional, limited, early-bird benefit of being included in the alpha release of the character builder! Get a sneak peak at our design as it evolves and approaches perfection for launch!

$60
—MAGE—
The digital art book will contain exciting,
high-resolution concept art from Molly Maloney
and Nicole Cardiff, two accomplished artists in the
videogame and tabletop art industties. Art book will
also contain design commentary from art
director Teagan Morrison.

  • Receive TWO customized 28mm-30mm character (domestic shipping included) with the option of the exclusive "Kickstarter Backer" figure base to commemorate your involvement in the project! Get beta access to our website and start designing your character before the general public has access! Also receive exclusive PDF item cards featuring concept art by Nicole Cardiff and Molly Maloney! AND receive an exclusive art book featuring art from all of our amazing artists!
  • NOTES: For the art fiends out there, get a wonderful keepsake of exclusive, high-resolution art with exclusive commentary and insights into our design process!


$85
—GIANT—
  • Receive one customized THREE INCH statuette character (domestic shipping included) with the option of the exclusive "Kickstarter Backer" figure base to commemorate your involvement in the project! Get beta access to our website and start designing your character before the general public has access! Also receive exclusive PDF item cards featuring concept art by Nicole Cardiff and Molly Maloney and an exclusive art book featuring art from our amazing artists!
  • NOTES: We wanted to offer people the opportunity to get one of the amazing statuettes we’ll be offering. Large statuettes are printed in strong and flexible plastic, except where otherwise noted (like the limited metal ones in higher tiers!)
$85
—CARTOGRAPHER—
The Cartographer tier includes the final
digital reward addition: a collection of
fantasy map packs from D20 Cartographer.
a 40$ value, you'll have the best mapped
campaign on the block!

  • Receive THREE customized 28mm-30mm miniatures, beta access to character builder, digital art book, digital item cards, PLUS a collection of digital map packs from D20 Cartographer!
  • NOTES: This tier includes three figures, and adds the last of our digital rewards: a collection of maps from Joshua Bennett’s line of digital map packs. At a $50 value, you’ll have the best-mapped campaign on the block!

$100
—CAVALRY— 
  • Receive two customized 28mm-30mm scale miniatures: one regular and one MOUNTED! Get beta access to our website and start designing your character before the general public has access! Also receive all digital rewards (PDF Art book, PDF item cards, digital map pack by D20 Cartographer)
  • We wanted to offer people a way to easily order a mini both mounted and on foot, so they could switch between them based on the situation in-game. We thought this might be a popular tier for people looking to just get minis for that one character they love and have been playing for years.


$100
—NOVICE PARTY—
  • Receive SIX customizable 28mm-30mm miniatures in "Strong & Flexible Plastic" material (a lower detail but cheaper and highly durable option. Note that most other tiers offer you your choice of launch material)! Get beta access to our website and start designing your character before the general public has access! Also receive exclusive PDF item cards featuring concept art by Nicole Cardiff and Molly Maloney and an exclusive art book featuring art from our amazing artists!
  • Much like the 'patron' tier, we wanted to offer a lower cost solution for someone who wanted a lot of minis to use as avatars, but might not care as much about sharp detail or paintability. The "Strong and Flexible Plastic" is a cheaper, durable, but lower detail option for our 3D printed custom miniatures. This material is for tabletop gamers who want several customized miniatures for a lower backing pledge than out "full party" tier.

$145
—FULL PARTY—
  • Receive SIX customized 28-30mm miniatures. Get beta access to our website and start designing your character before the general public has access! Also receive all digital rewards (PDF Art book, PDF item cards, Digital map pack by D20 Cartographer)
  • NOTES: For the mini-fiends out there, we wanted to offer the opportunity to get each member of your whole party a custom mini each! Go on with a few other folks to take advantage of the cheaper cost-per-mini, or keep them all for yourself!


$145 LIMITED
—ELITE PARTY—
  • Receive SIX customized 28-30mm miniatures. Get ALPHA access to our website and be the very first to start customizing your character! Also receive all digital rewards (PDF Art book, PDF item cards, Digital map pack by D20 Cartographer)
  • NOTES: Identical to the “Full Party” tier, but it includes first-look access to the alpha-build of our website. Once it is up and running, you’ll be the first to start customizing, output gorgeous high-rez images of character, and start planning what kind of minis you’re going to order!


$300 LIMITED
—BARON—
  • Receive all digital rewards (PDF Art book, PDF item cards, Digital map pack by D20 Cartographer), one customized 28-30mm miniature, PLUS - Send us a photo of a pose and we'll add it as an option to the character builder. Be credited on the character creator!
  • NOTES: You can take a photograph of yourself in a pose you’d like to see added to the character builder, send it in, and we’ll include it as an option with your name on it! Be a part of hundreds of people’s games all over the country!

$200 LIMITED
—MASTER OF COIN—
  • Receive an exclusive single-run 28mm-30mm figure in polished SILVER! Also receive all digital rewards (PDF Art book, PDF item cards, Digital map pack by D20 Cartographer)
  • NOTES: If you want to really commemorate your character, this tier offers you the chance to get an exclusive, limited run figure in polished silver! Note that, due to the manufacturing process, articulated parts will not be available in this material.

$230
—COMPANY— 

  • Receive TEN customized 28-30mm miniatures. Get beta access to our website and start designing your character before the general public has access! Also receive all digital rewards (PDF Art book, PDF item cards, Digital map pack by D20 Cartographer)
  • NOTES: Added by popular demand! If you're incredibly eager to support us and get your hands on a whole slew of minis, this tier is for you!


$230 LIMITED
—ELITE COMPANY— 
  • Receive TEN customized 28-30mm miniatures. Get ALPHA access to our website and start designing your character before the general public has access! Also receive all digital rewards (PDF Art book, PDF item cards, Digital map pack by D20 Cartographer)
  • NOTES: Added by popular demand! If you're incredibly eager to support us and get your hands on a whole slew of minis, this tier is for you! PLUS it comes with alpha access so you can be one of the first to start customizing using our UI!
$250
—TITAN—
  • Receive one customized SIX INCH statuette character (domestic shipping included) with the option of the exclusive "Kickstarter Backer" figure base to commemorate your involvement in the project! Get beta access to our website and start designing your character before the general public has access! Also receive digital art book, digital item cards, and a collection of digital map packs from D20 Cartographer!
  • NOTES: Get an amazing 6” tall statuette of your customized figure. What better keepsake for your favorite character, or of your participation in our campaign? I’m going to use two of them as bookends, myself. Large statuettes are printed in strong and flexible plastic, except where otherwise noted (like the limited metal ones in higher tiers!)

$330 
—POOR, LOST CIRCUS PERFORMERS—
  • Receive a 28-30mm figure, a 3" statuette, and a 6" statuette! Also receive all digital rewards (PDF Art book, PDF item cards, Digital map pack by D20 Cartographer)
  • NOTES: We wanted to include an option that includes each of the scales we’ll have at launch. If you want a whole range of figures in three varied sizes, this tier is for you.


$350 LIMITED
—DUKE—
  • Receive all digital rewards (PDF Art book, PDF item cards, Digital map pack by D20 Cartographer) and one customized 28-30mm miniature. We'll hand-paint your custom miniature in the color scheme of your choice.
  • NOTES: One thing we love almost as much as miniatures is painting miniatures. Though “Pimp my mini” may never be a hit television show, we’re excited deck out your mini in a color scheme of your choice, add gravel and plant life to the base, and generally make it as cool as humanly possible!


$400 LIMITED
—ARCH-DUKE—
  • Receive all digital rewards (PDF Art book, PDF item cards, Digital map pack by D20 Cartographer) and one customized 28-30mm miniature. PLUS - Our artists will work from your drawing or description to create one weapon or held item that fits into the character builder, e.g. an elven flute, ornate magical lantern, or flaming brand. Be credited on the character creator!
  • NOTES: Flex your own artistic muscles, if you’ve got ‘em! Or give us an in-depth description of your dream weapon, tool, instrument, or magical talisman. We’ll let our artist work their magic to digitally smith your dream into a beautiful 3D model. We’ll add it to the character builder and credit you in its description!


$600 LIMITED
—KING—
  • Receive an exclusive single-run large 3" version of a customized character in 'polished gold steel' material! Also receive one customized 28-30mm miniature and all digital rewards (PDF Art book, PDF item cards, Digital map pack by D20 Cartographer)
  • NOTES: Fashion an idol of your own making! Cast in heavy, golden-toned steel, this is the ultimate keepsake! Your durable metal statuette will last through the ages, a testament to your support of Hero Forge and passion for tabletop gaming! Note that articulated parts are unavailable in cast metal materials.


$2,000 LIMITED
—EMPEROR—
  • We'll work from your sketches or descriptions to create an entire outfit to be added to the character builder. You'll be credited on the character creator for the designs! Also receive one customized miniature in ANY scale offered at launch, and all digital rewards (PDF Art book, PDF item cards, digital map pack by D20 Cartographer)
  • NOTES: Have a design for an armor set in mind, but no mini company ever quite got it right? Design an entire outfit for our character builder! This includes gauntlets, shoulder pieces, chest piece, boots, legs, cape—the works! Our artists will work from your sketches or descriptions to fashion a suit of the most majestic armor you can imagine. You’ll be credited in the character builder!


$3,000 LIMITED
—IMMORTAL—
  • Our artists will work from a description or sketch to create a COMPLETELY personalized character, includes outfit, helmet, weapons, items, race, head, hair, which fits into our character builder. You'll be credited on the character creator for the designs! Also receive one customized figure in ANY scale offered at launch and all digital rewards (PDF Art book, PDF item cards, Digital map pack by D20 Cartographer)
  • NOTES: It doesn’t get much more personalized than this! Provide descriptions and sketches and our amazing artists will make your dream mini come true. You will be credited in the character builder, and legions of tabletop gamers will be inspired by your creativity for generations to come! And the parts will be there for you to order, in any pose you choose.

$5,000 LIMITED
—DEMIGOD—
  • Work with us to produce an item completely exclusive to you that no one else can access (optionally). A sword with your name on it, a chicken on your head, It's up to you! Also receive one customized figure, up to 3" in height, cast in precious metal (Silver or Bronze!), and all digital rewards (PDF Art book, PDF item cards, Digital map pack by D20 Cartographer)
  • NOTES: Whether your character is the sole bearer of a sword of terrible and legendary power, or he simply is known for parading around with a bucket on his head, you can have an absolutely, 100% unique mini, equipped with a part that will never again see print! Immortalize this epic accomplishment with a 3” statuette cast in silver or bronze! Note that articulated parts are unavailable in cast metal materials.


$8,000 LIMITED 
—SUPREME POWER—
  • We really want to thank you for your generous pledge in person. We'll fly you to L.A.! Come participate in a tabletop rpg session with dungeon master Teagan Morrison. After which we'd love to take you to dinner and hear all your suggestions for our character creator! Also receive one customized 28-30mm miniature and all digital rewards (PDF Art book, PDF item cards, Digital map pack by D20 Cartographer). Limited to United States only.
  • NOTES: Wow. We don’t know what to say! Luckily, we’ll have time to figure it out as we treat you to dinner, and play an epic one-off session with the most thrilling story dungeon master Teagan Morrison can pen! Your generosity and support will truly echo through the ages.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Cautionary Tales

While customization is not a new idea (people have been kit bashing for ages), no one has successfully launched a product or service that provides reasonably priced, easy to build custom minis. There are a number of folks who have tried and failed, and there is a lot to be learned from their attempts.
Here are a couple lessons we've gleaned from combing through message boards, comment threads, and general discussion with our mini-loving friends out there. These are things we've really taken to heart and believe we have successfully addressed in a way other projects haven't.

Minis must be ‘truly’ customizable.

One of the most important things people look for in their miniatures, beyond simply matching their equipment and character specs, is that they evoke a certain attitude and disposition. For example, some fighters are rabid for combat, while others are master tacticians. People want that difference communicated in their character’s stance, equipment, demeanor, and expression. When it comes to customization, people want something that they feel are truly a result of their creativity. If you can't capture that feeling that the customization was comprehensive and worth it, most people will simply buy a boilerplate standard mini from any number of online stores.

You don’t get that sense of agency from choosing between one-of-three options for your plate mail; the way we've decided to give real control is by offering a more in-depth part system than anyone else has offered. At the moment, we're planning on each mini having approximately fifteen 'slots' (not including race, gender, facial expression, or pose, which will all also be customizable). Having control over something as simple as the style of cape, asymmetry of armor, and the overall profile of a character has a real effect on how involved you feel in the design process. With our amazing artists (no, seriously, go check out their cred in the meet the team posts--they're amazing) I am especially confident that we can produce some really amazing, inspiring, and versatile parts which, in the end, will be your toolbox.

Why have we not seen something that in-depth yet? Well, it is remarkably hard to create. I can’t stress enough how vital our team’s experience in the video game industry has been to making this possible. This expertise really enables us to provide the kind of agency that people want to have.

Customization must be easy but deep.

People love to make things, but the fact of the matter is that 3D modeling is hard and not everyone has the artistic skill they’d like. A lot of folks can’t, or won’t, want to learn a rigging system, or manually rotate and position object. This is something we've learned from video games as well: people want flexibility, but they want it to be presented in a clean, easy to use manner. Look at something like the character creator in a game like Skyrim—one of the most in-depth character creators I've used.  Yet I don’t know a single person who threw down their controller in frustration when trying to get their elf's face right.

By building a character from the ground up, you get to feel more connected to it. A procedural menu where you can tweak the details that are important to you is key. But making that accessible is just as important. If someone were a master 3D modeler or rigger, they could simply sculpt something themselves. We are bringing customization to everyone, artist and non-artist alike. So customization needs to be easy.

There is a lot more to gathered from picking the bones of failed Kickstarters, but the thing I wanted to touch on was this: We are building this service with the user in mind, because we want to BE users of this service. We launched this project because we went looking for a service just like this, and it didn't exist. We can't wait for it to be a reality! 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Test Prints and Materials

Given how far we've come, and that the beginning of the Kickstarter drawing nigh, I thought I’d share some images of the very first test prints we ever received from Shapeways. This was the first iteration of our baseline male human model in a regular ol’ T-pose. Think of him as our vitruvian man. We got him in a range of different materials in order to test things like detail, durability, and paintability. We still have tons of these guys. I've got them all over my desk. It looks like a little golem army to me…



Some of the materials were clearly superior to others, which helped inform us about the material choices we wanted to offer. It also provided insight into how exaggerated different features and proportions should be to capture the look of a ‘traditional’ mini. This first round resulted in several tweaks and revisions.

Incidentally, while it wasn't the most detailed or practical, one of my favorite materials was bronze:



He looks like the tiniest little statue you've ever seen. And he’s heavy, too. I wonder if he’ll eventually turn a golden color from me constantly rubbing his tiny bald head. One of the added benefits of us having a ton of these guys is that they make great “generic humanoid enemy” pawns for combat.

While making choices about material options, we've settled on the same kind of ethos that we've embraced through this whole project: we want to offer people choices. We've winnowed down our options to the best offerings and settled on a couple main contenders, each of which are great and offer particular advantages. Metal ones are a fine example: though they are incredibly durable and would be amazing for people who want a rugged and impressive mini, perhaps for a character they intend to continue using for years, the metal options didn't quite capture the level of detail we wanted (for 28-30mm scale, that is.) for our baseline. Options like bronze were also quite expensive (though surprisingly not prohibitively so).

As I've mentioned elsewhere, one of the amazing things about using the Shapeways API is that we CAN offer these choices to people. And as new and improved materials come out, like metal options with even finer detail, we can easily offer them too. Just because we weren't quite satisfied with the current metal options for everyday use, we do anticipate that some people will want a tiny steel mini, or a steel statuette of their customized hero. Using the Shapeways API gives us the luxury of letting people decide for themselves. And maybe even more important: we can easily upgrade and grow our offerings with no additional investment but a few lines of code. Given the rate at which 3D printing is improving, that's an important thing.