Thank you for all your support! 2018 has been an incredible year for us, thanks to the combined effort of our community and our work. We made mistakes and had bad decisions, but we are learning from those mistakes, and we listen, so please let us know the things we could do better. We are incredibly proud of the first year’s progress despite the challenges we had to face and the fact that we are still in alpha, and we are incredibly proud of our active and growing community and the amount of work we were able to squeeze into 2018! Next year will mostly be about 0.3 software-wise, and towns and cities/dungeons deep – content-wise. We will visit as many Australian tabletop conventions as possible, in the US we will visit Gary-con and Pax Unplugged next year.
What a Year
The Master’s Toolkit turned 1 year old on Christmas Day, when we released our little “pre-alpha demo” to our Kickstarter backers, a proof of concept with a handful of assets. It seems so long ago because there were so many things happening in such a short amount of time, but here we are, on the last day of the year, and the first chapter of the Arkenforge saga is about to end.
We love stress before Christmas, and through the Holiday season, that’s a fact, as last year we boldly claimed that the alpha will be out on Christmas Day – as a few of you might remember (and it was! 11:59 pm is still Christmas Day technically :P), and this year we had our website struggles, as most of you might remember! As a young startup we faced many challenges for a project like ours, we started with a very tiny funding goal, but what we lacked financially and experience-wise, we made up for with sheer determination and passion. We are very thankful for all your support, your kind words and your feedback which gives us the fuel for our passion and guides us in the right direction.
A year ago we estimated the completion of the Toolkit by the end of 2018. Our initial plans included fewer features and far less pack assets than we ended up with, we estimated zero complications (how realistic) on the website side of things, and we did not even dream of such an active, supporting and guiding community behind us as we are proud to have today.
1.0 version of the Toolkit seems far away but the end of 0.3 is what we originally planned to be the finished version of the software. These plans have changed drastically based on the feedback and guidance we got from you, and unfortunately, we had new challenges we needed to solve before moving forward: resource intensiveness, progress losing bugs, server instability and threading issues with launcher – which added more delays.
We do apologize for our backers for this delay, and we thank you for your patience.
Things we could have done better
Where do I start!? We made a very ambitious plan, an insane work schedule, a tiny budget, and big promises with a date attached to them, with 4 people each of us having a whole department to take care of next to our daytime jobs. What could go wrong?
We should have upgraded our server the day we released our first demo.
We should have done more testing before pushing patches.
We should have started with a better error reporting system.
We should not have said exact dates for our first release schedule.
The software should be much better documented.
We should release way more tutorials.
And we should have spent more money/time on our website from the start.
We do make mistakes and bad decisions, and we a fairly sure that you could add a few more points to this list based on your frustrations you encountered with us during this year, as an independent garage project being in alpha, the road to success is rocky and full of potholes, but we can promise you one thing, and we kept ourselves to this principle since our foundation :
We do listen.
If it weren’t for the mistakes we made, we would have not received all those amazing supporting ideas/crucial feedback, and we did not get to know you – our community, the most important aspect of our business – half as much as we do now. It was not without sacrifice though, we understand and we are very sorry about frustrations/lost progress/accidentally revealed traps/delayed sessions. Please do tell us the things you are unhappy with, so we can do something about it, and we promise that we will do everything in our power to turn a negative experience into a positive one! We are constantly reworking bits of that rocky road and fill those potholes, and at the end we will all have a nice and smooth ride thanks to our combined efforts.
Things we are proud of
Our good egg policy
We will always try to be good eggs, creating something that is useful and fun, without having a corporate mentality, and make our product well worth its pricetag. No ripoffs.
Community driven project
We have taken ALL your feedback requests in a catalog, and we are building our work schedule based on it.
We have hundreds of patches this year, most bug reports (over 80%) have been solved overnight with a quick fix.
Ever expanding Essentials content library
We expanded the Essentials pack by 250% this year, this is truly an ever-expanding library, and many more assets are coming next year.
Our first themed content pack
We have released our first content pack: the Wild – which will also receive content updates with every milestone of the project. Many digital pen-strokes, field recordings, music composition, and endless mixing sessions – in and a half a year of hard work, and the journey of this pack is not over yet!
The content Marketplace
6 Independent artist trusted our platform to sell their contents on. We are incredibly proud of Mike from Maphammer, Thomas from Dynamic Dungeons, Alec from the Adventurers Collection, Alexander from Living Dungeons and Maps, Chris from Loresmyth and Michael from Galefire – all your work is exceptional and incredibly high quality, thank you for offering or goods through us!
Meeting you in person
The very first step we took was a big one – showcasing our prototype on PAX Australia, it was an overwhelming experience, the last line of code being written in the parking lot prior to the show, and not having time to test anything right before the doors opened did not help our nervousness – but it turned out to be an incredible 3 days, and thanks to it we went through with our Kickstarter campaign. It was great to meet like-minded people and gather in-person feedback.
Thank you Melbourne people for Conquest, we had an amazing time, at this venue in March we released the software to the public!
It was great to be part of Supanova in Sydney, the first Pop-culture con we went to and met some great people!
Gamma con, our first con we were invited to! An absolute pleasure, and looking forward to the trip again next year!
And finishing our year with a blast – PAX Unplugged in Philadelphia! Initially, we were told that there was no more space left for us, and then 2 weeks before the con, a booth got freed up. Unfortunately, two of us had other duties, but Nathan and I (Dante) packed our bags, grabbed our passports to visit the US for the first time in our life! One item crossed on the bucket list, it was fantastic to meet some of you US folks in person! Special thanks to Ryan (aka Maergoth) to jump in and literally help us demo the software when our booth got overrun!
And the most important for last – The community
We had community made tips&tricks submitted by you :
Look at these amazing setups you folks submitted :
Thank you very much for the submissions (Top-Bottom, Left to Right) : William Seibert, Andrew Simone, Walt Atross, Barry Stewart, Christopher Jordan, Brad Renaud, Marty Spiller, Kevin Rudny, James Smith, Duncan Schultz, Gregg Alexander, Kelly Greene, Kim Piroska Horvath, Leigh Pierce,Tyler Adler, Matt Rimler!
We have some fantastic community ambassadors helping in the Facebook group and Discord channel, special thanks to Leigh Pierce on the Mac front going as far as writing custom scripts for our users, James Smith for handling all the support while we sleep!
Additionally thank you so much our rising stars and visual storytellers on the Facebook group :
Matt Rimler, Greg Gottgetru, Kim Piroska Horvath and Paul Robinson
I know it is cliche but it is still true and we mean it: Without you, we would not be able to step any more steps forward, and you were the power behind everything we achieved so far! Thank you, all of you!
Going forward – The much anticipated 0.3
New year, new resolutions! This year will mainly be about completing 0.3 and bringing the Toolkit into beta phase with all modules (Cartographer, Soundscapes, Encyclopedia, and Scenario) being feature ready. The most anticipated feature – the digital token support is our main priority at this point, as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, we did not get selected in Gen-con, but we will make it to Gary-con and Pax Unplugged in the US, and as many Australian tabletop cons as possible (Confirmed Arcanacon, Conquest and Gamma con)!
This year’s Arkenforge content packs will be:
Towns and Cities – modular city building with a huge number of assets and ready building placement, new animations: January – June, release: mid-June
Dungeons Deep – modular dungeon builder, catacombs, subterranean settlements, dwarven/drow cities, again with a huge number of assets and new animations: July-December, release: mid-December
Additionally to these packs, we will release seasonal, and limited availability free packs for :
Free RPG day
Discount days: In person on conventions, and Black Friday online.
We have our entire website reworked from the gound-up, and switched to a new dedicated server to ensure smooth sailing for next year. It has been a struggle since Black Friday, and it set us back quite a bit, but hopefully, from January onwards we will not experience any more downtime. We are working on a ticket system for support, and a FAQ section for troubleshooting and more info. Website-wise the new year will be about Marketplace expansion, and Software documentation.
Thank you for the few who made it this deep into this post! 2018 has been an incredibly busy and productive year, and the challenge is to make 2019 even more so! Thank you for all your support and contributions, and we are excited to enter beta together next year!