First off, I just want to publicly thank the 103 attendees at our recent GMT Weekend at the Warehouse. This was our 33rd time running the event, so you'd think it would be "old hat" for me by now. But there's still something just very cool and fun about having so many old and new friends gathered in our warehouse hanging out, sharing meals, "swapping lies", and playing games.
I especially want to thank the designers and developers who attended, and played their published and upcoming games with all comers, sometimes very late into the night. You guys really help make this event something special. I get a lot of email after the weekend thanking us for hosting it, and they almost alway include something like "and I got to meet and play a game with <insert name of one of our many amazing designers/developers>!!!" So thanks for taking the time to come and hang out with some of the guys who play your games.
Please indulge me for a couple more "thank you's" before I move on with the update. First, to Mike Lam, who has been faithfully running the Down in Flames Aces events for virtually all of these warehouse weekends (as well as at Consimworld Expo). The amount of work Mike puts in to keep detailed records of pretty much every pilot from every player who's ever sat down at one of our DIF Aces tables is amazing. Seriously, fairly often we'll have a guy come in and say something like, "I haven't been to a Weekend since 2005", and Mike will check his notes and respond with some version of "Right. You have three American pilots, one German, and a Russian." And then proceed to list their names, victories, and any special skills, while the returnee stares in amazement (the rest of us are used to it by now!) And Mike is that perfect mix of veteran player who knows all the rules and tricks blended with a guy who's incredibly newbie-friendly. He's created a culture where veteran players can't wait to play Aces again, and new players get lots of help and encouragement as they jump in and learn the game. I couldn't possibly ask for a better ambassador of both Down in Flames and GMT than Mike Lam. Thanks Mike!
My final thank you is for Elizabeth, Letitia, Araceli, Deb, Cha, Tracy, and Stacie, for the long hours they put in and the amazing service they provided at the Weekend (and, truth be told, ALWAYS). As so many of you guys know, these ladies are very much the heartbeat of GMT, the ones who quietly behind-the-scenes keep our dual lifeblood of quality products and over-the-top customer service flowing. I'm proud to work with all of them, and greatly appreciate both the skills and the heart that they bring to our Weekends at the Warehouse and to our company on an everyday basis. Thanks ladies! The tri-tip today is on me!
Here are a few pics from this latest gathering.
We do now have the dates for our Fall 2017 Weekend. It will be Thursday-Sunday, October 5-8. Come and join us for a weekend of fun!
Physical and Digital Systems Update
As the guys who attended the Weekend at the Warehouse know, our digital updates hit a big snag this spring when it became clear that the custom programmers who were coding the P500 pieces of our new software were just not up to the task. The software delivery was way behind schedule, but the bigger problem was that it didn't work - at least not at a speed and with functionality that we needed and our customers would appreciate. So I fired them. To cut past the drama, we are now working with a company that we have ten years of experience with, making major upgrades to P500 software that we already know works.
So the bad news is it looks like it'll be late July or early August before our digital system transition is in place. In the meantime, the good news is that we're continuing to work on our physical systems (we have a Warehouse Efficiency Expert from UPS in-house all week this week to help us, and already we have identified numerous methods, organizational improvements, and equipment that will help us handle our growth more efficiently.) We'll be implementing an initial stage of upgrades from this evaluation/recommendation period right away, with periodic equipment and process improvements scheduled over the coming year or two. Our intent, as with the digital systems, is to optimize our operations so that we can more easily handle the continued growth of our product line and popularity of our games, and so big volume spikes (like really large P500 orders for a game or the yearly sale) don't overwhelm our ability to fulfill them.
As some of you have noted, we have intentionally been constraining our operations at various times during this systems improvement process, to reflect the fact that it is taking up a lot of our bandwidth, and also because we feel like we have to put the brakes on growth a bit until we have the systems in place that will allow us to handle it.
One of the ancillary results of this, and of our customers' continued support for our games and the P500 programs, is that we now have FIFTY games on our P500 list that have "Made the Cut." Now it's true that many of those games are not yet ready to publish (design teams are still finalizing development, etc), but the fact is, we're not systemically prepared to print, say, five of those a month for the next ten months! Our systems would implode. So, we've slowed production down a bit, and new orders are still growing steadily, so the Made the Cut games have ballooned in number. As a result, I didn't add any new P500 games to the list last month and I'm not adding any this month, either. I know of at least one game that I need to add in June, but in the main, we're going to add sparingly for the next few months until the digital systems are up and running. We feel like that's the prudent thing to do, and also have confidence (and hope!) that when we're ready to start adding more games to the P500 list again, you guys will still be with us, ready and willing to order them. Thanks again, everyone, for your support and understanding as we work to improve our digital systems and our order, fulfillment, and warehouse organization and throughput.
K, that's where we are on the Upgrades front. Let's move on to the rest of this month's news....
Thunder Alley Crew Chief Expansion Now in Stock
Yesterday we received new copies of the Thunder Alley Crew Chief (boxed) Expansion (designed by Richard Launius) from our friends at Nothing Now Games. These expand the possibilities and detail of your Thunder Alley experience, and include 236 new cards! The expansions are in the warehouse and ready for sale now. The price is $18 + shipping (2 lbs). Just click the link below for details on the Expansion and to order:
New Solitaire Rating for Ancient Civilizations of the Inner Sea
Solitaire players, rejoice! Co-designer Mark McLaughlin has recently added some cool new Solitaire systems to this game! We've updated ACotIS' P500 page with the following info:
Extensive Solitaire Rules allow any scenario, including the basic game, to be played by a single player against one or more Non-Player Civilizations (NPCs). The NPC component may be peaceful or hostile, or change their attitude depending on the actions of the player.
Historical War Game Scenarios
offer particularly aggressive
system-controlled opponents for those who want to fight to expand or defend their civilization.
For those of you who'd like more information on how what the solitaire game in
Ancient Civilizations of the Inner Sea
looks like, here are links to three recent InsideGMT articles that take you inside the experience:
Tank Duel Gets a Solitaire System!
At the recent Weekend at the Warehouse, I learned from T
ank Duel developer Jason Carr that he and Mike have developed a full fledged solitaire bot for the game! I love this, as I still play a ton of games solitaire, and was afraid I'd be unable to get this one to the table much (though I love the topic) due to not having a ready opponent.
I think this will serve, among other things, to drive the P500 numbers higher for
Tank Duel, as I've found that there are a lot of players out there like me, for whom the buying decision is definitely affected by whether a game includes a solitaire play option. So thanks, Jason and Mike, for the hard work you've put in to add this functionality to the game.
For more details, please see the Project Updates section below, where Jason gives us more information on the solitaire bot.
New Games from Ludifolie and Vae Victis
We've recently received game shipments from our friends at Ludifolie and Vae Victis. These games come packaged in ziplocks and include English language rules. They are now in our warehouse and available for sale. To get more information and/or place an order, just click the links below:
GMT Weekend at the Warehouse October 5-8, 2017
As I noted above, the Fall Weekend at the Warehouse dates are now official.
For those new to the event, this is mostly an open gaming event, although we do have tournaments from time to time. We expect about 100 gamers to attend, and space is limited, so please get your reservation in to the office ladies (call, chat, or email) as soon as possible.
There are several hotels within a few miles of our offices. The closest one, The Sequoia Inn, blocks rooms for our attendees at special rates. The hotels reservation # is 559-582-0339. Tell them you want the "GMT Group Block" rate. They have already blocked rooms for us for October, so feel free to go ahead and make reservations whenever you are ready.
Keep up with GMT Online
Virtually every day, we announce new information or show off upcoming products or give you a peek under the hood of our new designs in our various online sites and forums. For you guys looking to keep up with us online, here's where you can find us. Drop in and start a conversation!
That's it for the news bytes from me for this time.
Here's what you'll find in the rest of today's update:
- Charge and Shipping Update
- Production Outlook
- Project Updates and Sample Art
- P500 Reprint Update
- Website File Additions
Thanks, as always, for your support of GMT Games!
Enjoy the games!