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fbruntz

Spartan Neil speaks about UCS

53 posts in this topic

16 hours ago, fracas said:

In the days before Halo or DW; how was SG making models if not one at a time pour?

Depends, assuming silicon moulds (since we're talking about resin) as many at once as you've manufactured moulds for from the master. That aside, the real benefit there is that your production isn't bottlenecked by printer availability- given the workspace to do so, you could pour one of everything in your product line at once, even if you only had a single mould per product.

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4 hours ago, Spartan Beth said:

@Frans We would have loved to continue making the models available Frans, but for the very small amount of people who were continuing to purchase them, us paying for the raw materials, production, labour, package and postage costs for these models simply was no longer viable, as we explained. We would almost certainly have lost money on the game, had we continued to make it.

We don't offer a print-on-demand service because given that this is not our primary method of production, we only have 2 3D printers in house, and they are occupied permanently printing resources for new releases and so on. For us to do this would also be incredibly uneconomical, as the price we'd have to charge to afford to offer this service, would make these models seem an awful lot less friendly! Unfortunately we're also unable to pass our designs onto other printers, due to copyright. I hope these answers, whilst a little negative, help you to understand where we're coming from.

 

 

Well, those raw materials are the same raw materials Spartan uses for all those other Spartan miniatures, and production/labour/package/postage costs are the same as for every other miniature Spartan sells individually.

The only real difference with miniatures that are more in demand, cost wise, is that slower turnover increases stock cost a bit on those huge UCS stocks Spartan don't have/need.

I have no trouble believing Spartan produces many miniatures that offer a better profit margin than UCS does, but Spartan didn't even ask if UCS players were willing to pay for the difference, and Spartan didn't consider that continued support could also be looked at as a service, and not something to make money on, either.

So that's where I come from…


And then you tell us copyright would be a reason why a third party couldn't produce UCS miniatures.

That copyright is Spartan's, so are you now telling us that even if a third party would be willing to produce those UCS miniatures Spartan isn't willing to produce any more, for the UCS community, that Spartan wouldn't allow for it?


I don't know if you realize this, but by killing of UCS Spartan created a precedent that won't go unnoticed in the wargaming community.

In my experience wargamers come in two main flavours; the kind with the short attention span, who buy a small fleet/army for the latest “hot” game, only to forget all about that game again when the next “hot” game hits the shelves, and the kind that's in it for the long haul.

I belong to the latter kind, so do most of the wargamers I know, and our kind don't like game companies that kill of games we have sunk lots of money in.

It makes us rather cautious where it comes to the products that company still does produce, and even more cautious regarding anything new they may produce in the future.

Once bitten, twice shy…

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@Frans I'm sorry Frans, but without explaining to you the minute ins and outs of our production process and how it's changed since the time of UCS, I cannot give you a more satisfactory answer. For one thing, our entire moulding process has changed and it would have been ludicrous to remake UCS moulds for the very, very small handful of people that might have purchased them. As a company who had such a dedicated following to this game, if there had been a viable way for us to continue supporting the game, we absolutely would have, and everything was done to explore this. It was an unbelievably hard decision that we had to make, and not one made lightly. After all, it makes no sense for us to stop producing a game that we ourselves were very proud of, had there been any way around this. As it is, unfortunately we are going around in circles with this discussion, and it is best left here.

Again, I'm sorry I cannot give you a more satisfactory answer. I ask only that you trust in our ability as a company to make financially viable decisions - there was nothing we could have done, and we are sorry for this.

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I have worked half my live in a production environment, and I'm pretty sure there always exists a way if you want for one to exist.

I'm also pretty sure there exist plenty of small miniatures producers who would have loved to continue with UCS where Spartan left off.

But that doesn't really matter any more at this point, Spartan has made its choice, and it's now all water under the bridge.

 

Trust is something you have to deserve, unfortunately Spartan's track record is far from spotless where it comes to finishing what they started.

And with miniatures wargaming being both a money and time hungry hobby that's a rather crucial issue.

I happen to have this large drawer full of incomplete UCS fleets, representing close to a thousand now useless Euro's, and every time I pull it open I'm pretty sure I'm much more sorry about UCS's demise than you are.

Like I said before, with Spartan having burned UCS behind itself the way it did I seriously doubt I'll be buying into a new Spartan Game any time soon, and I also won't be buying into expansions for FA any more either before they are completed.

Most important for you, though, is that I'm far from alone in feeling like this.

The number of wargamers and wargames distributors who feel “burned” by Spartan Games is growing, and sooner or later that's bound to come back and bite you in the behind.

Don't be surprised when it happens...

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As I said Frans, we made the decision we had to make. We are sorry you feel this way, and I hope you continue to enjoy gaming with other companies who have not "burned" you in the same way.

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On 20 September 2016 at 5:15 PM, Spartan Beth said:

As I said Frans, we made the decision we had to make. We are sorry you feel this way, and I hope you continue to enjoy gaming with other companies who have not "burned" you in the same way.

Dear Beth,

Sorry if I might sound patronizing, but this is not the answer you should give to customers. Spartan Games having discontinued UCS was the trigger for this whole discussion, but not the sole reason.

Frans is (please correct me if I am wrong) talking about the implications of this event on your customer base, but he is also talking about other events (Invasion, many promises that were made but not have been delivered upon, general radio silence) that make people FEEL SG is neglecting their customers, regardless of whether that might or might not be the case. Feel free to check any other subforum here for the same sentiments. And taking into account the (seemingly) easy decision to drop UCS completely has made people scared their favorite game will be next, just like Invasion, Armoured Clash, and seemingly Dystopian Legions.

One of the main causes is for SG having spread itself too thin. Once the news regarding the HALO franchise dropped, this was the first concern raised, as we all know you are not a big company. Time and time again we were assured that this would never happen, yet lo and behold!

The main problem here is lack of expectations management and communication. Promising lots of things without delivering on those promises degrades the customer's trust in the company. Ignoring customer's genuine concerns and keeping silent on certain issues erodes trust too. Trust that will be hard for Spartan Games to regain again, as many people, both online and offline, share these concerns. And these concerns don't even have to be justified, but every disaffected customer means less money in SG's pockets. Also, in this digital age, remember that bad news travels a lot faster than good news.

I feel that SG as a company is aware they have lost a lot of customer's trust, and it's up to them to try to regain it. Sadly, going on your explanation, it is too late for (this incarnation of) UCS, but please try to prevent other games from going down that same road, and customer demand is king here.

Bottom line: As a company, please try to address these perceived issues of neglect a bit faster, so your customers will feel appreciated and heard. Communicate in a timely fashion and, if you set dates and deadlines (or promise to deliver something soon(tm) ), then try to meet these deadlines. Or at least give your fans a valid reason on why you missed it.

The blogs from Neil are a good start, but regaining trust takes a long time and is hard work. It will be worth it in the end though!

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On September 20, 2016 at 10:15 AM, Spartan Beth said:

As I said Frans, we made the decision we had to make. We are sorry you feel this way, and I hope you continue to enjoy gaming with other companies who have not "burned" you in the same way.

In the customer relations business, for every one that voices a complaint as Frans has, 8-10 others feel the same way but have not bothered with a response to quietly moved on.

you haven't just dismiss Frans alone, who was giving you valuable information and feedback.

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a great irony here is back in beta the last version was going to flood the table with required smalls so i bought a bunch of blisters to test the fleets.....if i had only known or even suspected these things might be different..but it is what it is. lesson learned.

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Its more love and attention than certain other companies would give shelved games, lucky there are replies at all. 

Personnally the future needs looking at not the past, I would remove the ucs section from the forum until such time it makes a return:)

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2 hours ago, Presidente said:

Personnally the future needs looking at not the past, I would remove the ucs section from the forum until such time it makes a return:)

Spoken like a true politician Presidente…

But I'm afraid the inconvenient truth has already spread way beyond this forum.

And trying to bury it now is only going to add insult to injury.

 

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12 hours ago, alamo said:

a great irony here is back in beta the last version was going to flood the table with required smalls so i bought a bunch of blisters to test the fleets.....if i had only known or even suspected these things might be different..but it is what it is. lesson learned.

And those new rules we might or might not get someday are based on this last Beta version?

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@frans, that was over 2 years ago and I deleted the files already....so who knows and Im done with all this at least we have a solid answer and it was kind of Beth to put us on course.

look at the past............you betcha.........how else do we learn if we keep making the same errors and fail to apply to the future what we learn from the past.

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1 hour ago, alamo said:

@frans, that was over 2 years ago and I deleted the files already....so who knows and Im done with all this at least we have a solid answer and it was kind of Beth to put us on course.

I was just wondering if using those new rules we may or may not get someday would require additional miniatures we can't buy anymore...

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I bought pretty much everything there was to buy for Uncharted Seas when it was available and I'm keen to buy ANYTHING else that comes out in the future.

Love the game adore the models, and I know at my club there are other guys who have expressed not just a desire, but a genuine desire to dust off their models and and buy more new ones (if/when available) should that become a possibility.

Anything at all Uncharted Seas related would be genuinely appreciated for those of us who have been waiting quietly in the wings.

Bring us hope.

 Nick Huge (South London Warlords)

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Nick...you know me...we've had chats on the South London Warlords forum about this. Like you I have boxes of this range both painted and unpainted and Neil knows how I feel about this game....I've been nudging him for years to bring it back. It is one of my all time fav games. the ships were fantastic models for their time and just got better as the range expanded. All Spartans games and miniatures are, in my option, top notch and I would love to see this range completed. I can also say, yes, there are club members very keen to start/get into this game. in todays market there are very few fantasy naval games around...and the problem with any game system today is if its not regularly supported...players move on. Not by any means Spartns fault here as Uncharted Seas brought us FSA, DW and Planetfall to name but a few (all excellent games), if I could think of any way of supporting Uncharted Seas, apart from buying more miniatures and pushing for folks to play again at the club, I would be all over it like a cheap suit as they say!

As Nick says the games a genuine classic.

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I'd be curious as to what the criteria would be to see a full-fledged return to UCS. It was something I looked at when I stared Firestorm and said "eventually..."

 

Obvs we've got Halo in two flavors, FSA and FSP getting attention through the Flashpoints, some sort of Dystopian campaign brewing, new figures for both Spartan in-house IPs. That's... A lot. So while the core rules might be writ and edited, you'd still need writers for the background, models being designed and made, faction rules being written, photagraphy... That's a lot of manpower. If the interest was there, and if it could be managed even with three other IPs with eight rulesets between them (though given the reputation Spartan has for spreading themselves too thin this is probably a bad question to ask....) how soon could a full-fledged UCS reboot happen? Summer 2017? Would that be more realistic for just a model range update? Is there a criteria that could be met that could show webstore support to be worthwhile?

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I certainly feel that the rules don't need to be rewritten at this point. They are a really nice, simple set of rules. What I would like to see would be some up dated models and some expansion to the existing races in terms of filling in missing gaps that were talked about before the game went 'dark'. I do appreciate Spartan have a lot on their plate at the moment with the other systems...it's just the Uncharted Seas is very close to my heart as my first experience with Spartan. Some new models may attached both new and old players back to the system.

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With no competition whatsoever UCS was a nice money maker to kickstart a small company, but once under way the real money is elsewhere.

Fantasy naval wargaming is a smaller market than most, so other ventures will always be more interesting, money wise, than UCS.

They haven't even bothered to keep the website up to date : http://www.spartangames.co.uk/products/uncharted-seas

So regarding the time table for a re-launch of UCS, “when hell freezes over” comes to mind...

 

Am I the only one who got this feeling of deja-vu reading the recently “The Dystopian World is changing” blog btw. ?

I'm really glad I don't play DW.., and I fear for the long term future of FA.

The world is rather full of popular Video Games representing vast customer groups begging to be relieved of their money after all...

 

 

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22 minutes ago, Frans said:

Am I the only one who got this feeling of deja-vu reading the recently “The Dystopian World is changing” blog btw. ?

 

Nope, in fact I'm kinda amused how spartan is doing basically the same thing that killed UcS and we still have people declaring the past doesn't matter.

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I too have my concerns. I can see where the supposed benefits might work out, but I'll have to see it to believe it.

 

...bit of a mixed signal, though, with a big campaign being rolled out but the changes happening to how the games are being sold. Part of me wonders, if this is such a good thing, why not for FSA and FSP as well?

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ya know you may be right that the past doesnt matter as long as you are not the one who has spent hundreds of $$ and vast time in painting, custom terrain and trying to get a group going.............yes Im still a little tender about this but I am getting better as long as I 'look to the future'

@corsair you are absolutely right and yes it is amusing.

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Actually I was not thinking of having Spartan 3D print the models. 

Why not sell the files to those who wish to purchase them - there are companies whose entire business is making the files then selling them to those with the printers for non commercial use - 3D printing is already making in roads into terrain. (Non commercial being the operative wording here)

i already have purchased heaps of files and I don't have a printer yet (Xmas I hope)

its something to consider maybe? Seems like it could be easy to do with no major outlay.

Anyway my 2 cents.

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A 3D printer capable of printing miniatures in the needed quality is still hideously expensive, and having a company that operates such a hideously expensive printer print them out for you instead is still hideously expensive too.

And then you would still have to find a solution for the cast metal sails as 3D printing metal is even more hideously expensive, and the cheaper materials aren't tough enough to survive gameplay.

The only real solution is for another company to cast these miniatures in resin and metal.

But that's something Spartan isn't willing to allow.

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Honestly, for sails, the next step would be hard plastic, injection moulded, given we've seen an intentional reduction of metal componants... I'm not convinced Spartan would be super willing to jump in on that, given how it sort of didn't stick for HFB.

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