Pack It Up Pack It In

Posted: August 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 7 Comments »

Yesterday was a full-scale assault on the GET LAMP backlog. A bunch went out by hand on Monday and Tuesday, mostly testing the electronic postage, packaging, and processes, but yesterday was the big guns.

I hired a couple of friends, Team Orcutt, a husband-and-wife set who live nearby, and we started out with a discussion on best practices, roles, and a safe and healthy workplace (the last solved with a fan blowing the air conditioner into the main part of the room).

GET LAMP Packing August 2010 GET LAMP Packing August 2010 GET LAMP Packing August 2010

We figured out roles, figured out some ways to save time, and generally got our act together regarding process and procedure. Within no time, we were accurately blowing out packages by the bin.

GET LAMP Packing August 2010 GET LAMP Packing August 2010 GET LAMP Packing August 2010 GET LAMP Packing August 2010 GET LAMP Packing August 2010 GET LAMP Packing August 2010

Over 400 domestic packages went out yesterday. We hope to get even more out today.


To the Esteemed Adventurers’ Club

Posted: August 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 9 Comments »

A solid greetings to the members of the GET LAMP Adventurer’s Club.

In December of 2006, you provided me with $100 apiece towards my next documentary, GET LAMP.  In return for your faithful investment of $100, you received a copy of the BBS Documentary and a promise of a name in credits, and three copies of whatever came out on the other end.

Here, it is July of 2010. You have not complained or questioned yourselves, and you have patiently waited, occasionally mailing in words of encouragement or suggestions. Some of you ended up being interviewed and are in the movie.

I am pushing out the pre-orders before you, mostly to make 100% sure the packages are going to the right place. I’ve verified most of you already, but there might be some stragglers. I will not be mailing out until contact is made.

Your appearance in the credits looks like this:

vlcsnap-2010-07-20-02h35m30s167

The interactive and non-interactive versions of GET LAMP, as well as the PAX Mix and any future versions, will have this screen.

I reserved coins 001-010 for myself and some family members ( Don Woods got 001, I get 002), and I gave Coin #042 to Steve Meretzky. With his exception, coins 011-162 will go to Adventure Club Members. I am going to stagger your coins, i.e. everyone will get a coin from 011-062, then a coin from 063-113, and so on.  This way, you get at least one sub-100 coin and at least one sub-200 coin.

I hope the wait was worth it, and the payoff worth it.

We’ll be in touch.  Thanks again for such patience and faith.


Accessibility of GET LAMP

Posted: August 3rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | No Comments »

GET LAMP: Subtitles

After shipping out, my next big priority is accessibility information, and, believe it or not, more editing.

As it currently stands, the GET LAMP DVD is very friendly for the hearing impaired, and problematic for the visually impaired.  Ironic, I know, but obviously a situation I am not going to let stand for very long.

On the side of hearing or issues with unbalanced sound, things are pretty good for an independent production: All the main features (GET LAMP, INFOCOM, BEDQUILT) have additional audio tracks for just the background music, or just the spoken words. You can hear lots of funky edits in both cases (since I mixed them to be together, not so nakedly obvious) but you’ll be able to enjoy the parts of the movie you want, and get around hearing issues in that way. Absolutely all features, be they episodes, music videos, or the shorts, all have subtitling. The full credits for all the transcribers is hidden on the disc. Good luck finding them!

The assets for the main GET LAMP movie are scattered throughout the disc – this wasn’t intentional or meant to be an anti-copying measure or anything. It’s a side effect of the movie being interactive, and even the “non-interactive” version utilizes these self-same scattered assets, albeit without providing a menu.  This has the potential to be problematic for blind or sight-impaired users. There are two solutions I am going to pursue.

The first is going to be a document on the GET LAMP site that will provide users who want it with a guide to negotiating the two discs. In regular DVD players, the second disc beeps on insert, making it easier to determine which you have (the discs are otherwise silent). I’ve also had some players not beep on placing the disc in there, but that’s a problem with the software. I will provide a list of what chapters do what. It’s a spoiler for people who want to discover the differences and situations, but in that case, don’t check out the document.

The second is that I’m going to work on a descriptive version of the three main episodes, and then describe others as the community requests. I might have a professional printing done of these resulting sound files, a small run, and as per the Upgrade Guarantee, will be offered at cost to users who buy the main product, or I might simply offer a free digital download.  One side effect of this project will be that you’d be able to listen to GET LAMP in a music player, or a car.

While I have to focus on getting the ordered packages out, these issues of accessibility will not be forgotten. I welcome commentary and suggestions to ensure that everyone has a chance to enjoy GET LAMP to the fullest of their potential experience.


Shipping Begins in Earnest

Posted: August 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 7 Comments »

EITHER A LOT OF GET LAMP OR A DRUG BUST

I’m now in the same room as over a thousand copies of GET LAMP, with another two thousand plus on the way via truck.  What was once a rather idyllic room is now quickly becoming a full shipping center.

I’ve got hundreds of printing labels, over a thousand shipping packages, over a thousand coins… it’s kind of fearful, really. All of this is leaving across this week.

I was able to print a few full postage labels, get the coins synced, get it all wrapped up.  So the machine is beginning to work.

This is going to be a very busy week.


GET LAMP is Real! …and the Vegas Batch

Posted: July 28th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Interactive Fiction, production | 42 Comments »

I got my hands on packages of the final, completed GET LAMP package, with the completed, mastered and duped DVDs. I’ve inspected the product, played through all the parts, the features, the hidden aspects, and the DVD-ROM section. It’s a go. It’s perfect, it’s what I wanted. So yes, GET LAMP is, by my standards, a real product.

GET LAMP IS REAL

I’ve gone ahead and switched the “pre-order” page and title to “order“. Orders made now will ship out next week. It’s a real thing. As I can I’ll add the other payment options and flesh out the website to include more information, but right now, it’s a product.

I’m currently in a hotel room in Las Vegas, the week of DEFCON and CG Expo, two big events that will have a large audience for this movie and DVD. As per plans and payments made weeks ago, I’m here with 260 copies of GET LAMP, shrinkwrapped and in boxes.  (This is how I know it’s a product.) At my home are another 1100 copies, representing the pre-orders. I paid a notable sum to ensure to have all the copies everywhere they needed to be.

The original plan had been to ship the pre-orders from the 1100 copies and then have sales here in Vegas. That’s not going to happen. The pre-orders have to start shipping on August 2nd, and from then on.

The biggest hitch I hit was that when it was announcing shipping would happen, people started contacting me in droves to get new shipping addresses for the products. If it had been a few, I could have had my friends who are ready to do fulfillment place those aside – but it ended up being dozens and dozens. They’re still coming in.  With thousands of dollars of postage required to do this shipping, it quickly outgrew the chance for me to drop this in the lap of my friends. I need to supervise this personally. (My friends said they’d come over to help to make sure it all happens fast.)

But this means that I will be selling items here at the event before pre-orders get shipped out.  While I hope I made clear this situation wasn’t intentional, I do know it says something different than I’ve said up to this point. I know some people will be annoyed.  But I hope people will understand what caused it to be this way. Obviously, the coins are numbered in order of people buying copies, so nobody here in Vegas is getting a sub-1100 number for their coins.

The weblog changes from this point – from speculation and explanation of ideas to news of fulfillments, reviews, and upcoming screenings, with and without me. This is the fun part – when people finally get a chance to see what I’ve spent the last four years working on.


GET LAMP Printed and Heading to my House

Posted: July 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 2 Comments »

I got the word from the printers/duplicators (they’re Bullseye Disc in Portland) that the boxes of DVDs have been shipped out and will be at my home across the next few days. The plan is to package everything and start shipping out late Monday (August 2nd) and as long as it takes. People have been sending me change of addresses by the dozens from when they ordered, and this means I kind of have to be there for the shipping, I can’t just have the Orcutt do the work themselves. But they’ll be there with me while I do the packaging, meaning it’s going to be lightning fast and we’re then going to drive the things to the post office and out to the world.

Tomorrow afternoon I will finally come in contact with the finished GET LAMP product (I had copies mailed to Las Vegas) and when I personally verify that the packaging, discs, and all the rest are up to my standards, I will change “pre-order” to “order” and begin expanding the payment options to Not Just Paypal, because I know that a lot of people hate Paypal, and frankly, I totally understand. Currently, my plans are to accept Kagi payments (a site which allows you to use Eurocard, Checks, Money Orders, even Cash!) and the Amazon Payments system, which allowed me to take pre-orders even during Yet Another Case of Paypal Flipping Out. If people have others they think I should look into, let me know.

Last time, there was an option to order directly through Amazon. That won’t be the case this time, for two reasons. First of all, the coin messes things up pretty well for that, because the package isn’t a one-piece. And second of all, for all the convenience Amazon brings, they charge 55% of the cover price. People still gasp when I mention that, but it’s quite true, and I just can’t afford those kinds of bites this time around. I have places/people who want to order bulk copies of the movie, and I’m open to that discussion, but having a place that constantly drains my reserves and drops the margins so low is just not what I can do with this film.

So yes, there are now 4000+ copies of GET LAMP extant in this world. Here’s hoping they all find some happy homes soon.

(In case you’re studying that screengrab, the reason there’s only 28 boxes shipping is because the shipment was split between air and ground shipping, to minimize transport costs.)


Screengrabs

Posted: July 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 9 Comments »

In anticipation of a slight redesign of the site (mostly so people can find the DVD and make decisions easier, and to add some good pointers to IF material out there), I took a bunch of screengrabs of the DVDs playing in VLC. Here’s what they look like:

vlcsnap-2010-07-20-02h21m44s99 vlcsnap-2010-07-20-02h36m15s111 vlcsnap-2010-07-20-02h36m56s12 GET LAMP: Subtitles vlcsnap-2010-07-20-02h25m35s106 vlcsnap-2010-07-20-02h32m43s39 vlcsnap-2010-07-20-02h23m45s39 vlcsnap-2010-07-20-02h27m05s246

Looking good!


Logistics and Mail

Posted: July 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | No Comments »

Lamperage

With the DVDs being created by the thousands over at the duplication plant, and the prospect of the final thousands of DVD Boxes arriving at my home, the project moves to a three-pronged situation: logistics, mailing, and outreach.  Outreach isn’t very interesting, just me mailing a bunch of press and writing folks about the fact that GET LAMP is about to come out, so we’ll skip over going into that in detail.

For the logistics, the big issue is that I won’t be in town when the DVD boxes arrive – I’ll be in San Diego for Comic-Con and then in Las Vegas for DEFCON and Classic Gaming Expo, where I am going to show GET LAMP as well as sell copies.  So I’ve brought in Team Orcutt to save me. Team Orcutt is a husband and wife team who will be taking incoming boxes and packaging them up and sending them out in the mails.  We’re old, old friends and I trust them to do it efficiently and masterfully, otherwise I’d be making everyone wait until I got back.

To assist Team Orcutt in doing as little unnecessary work as possible, I am creating the shipping boxes, with labels and coins, over the next couple of days.  With over 900 boxes to go, my day is busy, if a little reminiscent of my days as a temp, when I’d be told “go here and separate everything yellow out of this pile” or “add this column of numbers until we tell you to stop”.

There’s obviously a lot of chance for things to go weird with so many packages going out at such a fast rate. I’ll keep people appraised of when the full package sets go out and what’s left to go out, so if you find you didn’t get your package or it came differently configured than you expected, we can talk about it. I will make myself available, as usual, to work out any issues.

I send out packages via USPS, first-class or air mail depending on domestic or international orders.  Sometimes the shipping costs eat into the product costs in specific situations (a couple countries here and there) but on the whole, it works out well for everyone. Having two flat rates removes a lot of headaches.

The mailing will be used by printed postage, so don’t think we bought thousands of stamps.


Mastering and Dupe

Posted: July 17th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 13 Comments »

I dropped that photo and disappeared.  Let me drop another and disappear less.

These are two sets of the two discs of GET LAMP, just before they got fedexed to the mastering facility which will then hand them off to the duplication facility which will then go to the packaging facility, where 4000 boxes of GET LAMP have been patiently waiting the last few months to be assembled into the final package.

After these packages are shrink wrapped, they’ll be sent to two places – one, to my home, where roughly a thousand copies will be faster-shipped and the rest shipped slightly slower (read, less expensively) and then a couple hundred to a hotel in Las Vegas, where I will be selling copies of GET LAMP at DEFCON and the Classic Gaming Expo.

At my house, I have a team of people, who you’ll hear of shortly, who will be assembling and mailing out the ordered packages. Ideally, it’ll be every single pre-order in a couple days.

So, people looking for hard dates, here you go: DVDs out the door starting somewhere on the 28th-29th, all pre-orders out the door by August 3rd. Since this is such a huge undertaking (there’s roughly 1000 packages going out), there’s some room for trouble and headache, but that’s what we’re working on.

Every order gets a coin. Some people got the impression, I found out, that the coins are only for pre-orders or only up to a certain number. In fact, there’s a coin for every DVD package I’m intending to make for the run, which is 4000 copies. If the day comes I exhaust the current run of copies (again, 4000), we’ll see where things go, but for now, I promise, a coin per package.

If I sound like I’m hedging bets here and there, it’s because submitting a master is only the first step in a process which is mostly out of my hands. I won’t switch the ‘pre-order’ link on GETLAMP.COM to ‘order’ until copies are sitting in my house, waiting for the chance to be mailed out. Similarly, I won’t activate the alternative payment links (like Kagi and Amazon) until same.  So you’ll know when I have the stuff in my possession because all those links will activate and I’ll start selling orders in earnest in a lot more methods of payment.

Almost there, in other words!


The Greatest News Ever

Posted: July 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 12 Comments »