Emerging From Dark Years

by Andreas Walters on January 25, 2024

Hey all, Andreas here.
The past few years have been quite the journey, and quite frankly I've been quiet (on the project updates front) for a long time now, too long depending on the project you're watching/waiting for.

There isn't really one thing that caused this rather, the culmination a multitude of factors. From, doing MWG in my spare time (I still have a 9-5 job to pay the bills, and do MWG work when the baby and wife are asleep), project expenses being significantly greater than we expected, having $85k of project funds be 'stolen' which left me to take legal action to recover, a project lead who ghosted us and left nothing behind to recover, a recent IRS audit, helping our existing publishing agreements get printed and fulfilled, expanding out retail availability, while still trying to work on and finish outstanding project promises.

Its a lot and its a mess, some of which I'm hoping to resolve in the next month (\IRS and lawsuit), but altogether leaving me with not much time or money to get things done, I even had loan MWG money and had some months where i had to pay the bill (cc or warehouse) in the next month, just because I lacked the funds to immediately pay it.

At this point, I think the worst is behind us, but im still picking up all of the pieces that have fallen over the past few years to make everything right.

But in an effort of full transparency heres whats going on.

Owlbear Plush

TLDR: There are a handful of backers who have been waiting for mini/lorebook, as well as childrens book (ABC and Travis' design), Mini we will be using our in-house owlbear mini, ABC is ready to print, Travis' is awaiting editing since its got some poetry in it, and might need some additional art. Lorebook needs layout.

Success is a weird thing, and although the Owlbear Plush was a 'successful' crowdfunding campaign raising more than 300k with over 7k backers. But, this sort of success comes at a great danger, the dangers of scale. For instance, if you have a $5 mistake for 500 backers it only costs you $2,500 but that same mistake for 7,000 backers, that will cost you $35,000. This is one of the reasons we build in contingency to our projects right? Totally! but this wasn't the only thing we were hit by.Honestly, the two things that caught me by surprise was:

  • The cost of freight (which happened during the the freight madness fallout at the tail end of the COVID pandemic, which ended costing us +$61k more than we were originally estimated). 
  • The increased cost of warehousing (for instance, in the US we went from 13 pallets to 76 (+584%)). What this ended up doing was increasting our monthly warehousing costs in all three of our locations, especially early on, which we didnt have sales yet to cover the burn rate. 

    We had originally planned for a $60k buffer for the project, but that was swiftly descimated by the cost of freight right out of the gate.  ooking at the numbers, it seems like the project went about $90k over budget (though a few items still remain)Other things is that this was the first project that we did backerkit marketing with (which cost us a total of 70k, and we did our normal trend of ordering ~2x inventory for post sales, this was a lot, as in total we ordered a grand total of 25k owlbears (where backers was about 11k owlbears).

    Fortunatly these extra owlbears are what really kept MWG afloat over the years, because we don't have that kind of money lying around. After the major fulfillment, sales of the owlbear started to trickle in, i had one of my helpers begin to focus on retail sales (now technically im getting 50% less on a sale, but at the end of the day inventory moving is a good thing).

    Nevertheless, we're not done yet with the Owlbear Plush project, despite the silence, and there are still a few final missing bits: As of right now there are 3 missing physical bits, (1) the Owlbear Lorebook, (2) ABC Book, (3) Travis Childrens Book.

    1. Lorebook is in layout, and still getting some new pieces of art, but text is all done
    2. ABC book, ready to print (holding for lorebook)
    3. Travis Childrens Book, draft manuscript is done and editing and refinement has begun this week, interior art is all done, though we still need a cover.  

    Libations 

    The project manager has functionally ghosted us, which has left me to take control of things and pick up all of the pieces. Right now, ive been working to collect all of the art (since i was invoiced for them) and working on getting the writing from the other writers on the project. Things seem to be moving in a direction, but im worried that ill have to functionally re-write the project, but we'll see.

    Incantations 

    Led by the same project manager above who ghosted us. Fortunatly, the core part of this project is complete only thing still outstanding on this is the two adventures. I've tracked down the person who was hired to design that was hired to get an update at whats going on.

    Hyper Light Drifter

    Drifter and Libations were the two project most impacted by everything going on, and it wasnt an easy to have this project fall by the wayside in light of everything else going on. Granted I've had my own mistakes managing the development of Drifter, and going back doing the Basic Rules, and then coming back to the corebook  is time consuming, i think it will still yield a better game at the end. 

    Right now, ive brought in Matt Click (a finisher and development editor) to come an help me synthesize the basic rules with the content already written. Things are moving again and the art looks amazing. I really cant wait to get this out to everyone when its done. 

    Large Foam Dice (d20)

    A small project, which i hope to do more of in the future, these large scope projects, although they deliver amazing things, the extra scope makes their fulfillment so much more difficult. This is just foam dice, and Inventory is arriving mid Feb, working on opening Backerkit to facilitate shipping.

    2024 Calendar

    Every year its always amazing to deliver another calendar to backers. A few errors have been caught and we'll need to put out a PSA for that. What currently remains on the project is the fulfillmment of the art prints, which are in progress of being fulfilled.

    Publisher Projects

    We are fortunate enough to help other creators get printed and published using our existing infrastructure. 

    • Gunbat Banwa - unaffected in-progress, moving forward at creator's schedule.
    • Tales From Myriad - Unaffected in-progress, moving forward at creator's cadence, layout and eventual printing should be happening in the next few months.
    • Animon Story - Fulfilled (mentioning it as its a recent project)

    Did I mention im doing all of this in my spare time? Running a business is hard...Anyways, Thank you for understanding, I still have a financial report to do but given all the madenss going on and the fact we have multi-year projects, its added a bit of complexity to the whole thing. 

    Thanks for listening and thanks for your support

    Andreas

    Owlbear Wrangler

    Cover art illustrated by Koit Paales (for the Hyper Light Drifter ttrpg)

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