Before moving forward, we had to do some math and some reflection. When we crunched numbers, we soberly asked ourselves if we would be secure and happy even if we never sold a single game. The answer was yes, and in such a situation, we felt that the incredible educational and life experiences we were sure to gain would be worth it. Worst cases aside, however, we were confident in our ability to at least break even financially, and of course, we obviously thought (still do) the game has the potential to be a big success.
So with the spreadsheets made and the soul searching done, we decided to go ahead in early January. We formally told the factory that we wanted to manufacture 1000 copies of “Snake Oil” with them for the quoted price. It was an exciting moment for us, and we knew we were in for a ride no matter what happened.
As we expected and encountered throughout the process, however, this one decision opened up a lot of other questions. One of the most critical was timeline. Usually the Civa Printall factory (like all the others we encountered) requires that customers print within 30 days of signing a contract because the cost of labor and commodities can change quickly within that time, especially given inflation in China.
Consequently, we asked Beau if they could make an exception and commit to this price for us for a longer period of time. We felt it was a reasonable request because we had a low quantity (labor and materials fluctuations should have a minimal impact), this was our first time, and from a practical standpoint, we hadn’t even begun the design process yet. In another gesture of accommodation to us newbies, Beau talked to his factory and they agreed. We decided to work on an oral agreement rather than sign the paperwork then.
Admittedly I was a little nervous at this point because Tian and I have had bad experiences with oral agreements (even written agreements) in China before, but given our constraints we had little other choice. If we wanted to do the game, we had to be comfortable with this ambiguity. In the back of my mind, I just prepared mentally for the possibility of being in a position to renegotiate later and, if worse came to worst, walk away to find a new factory.
But there were also some positive signs that things would work out just fine. First, the factory definitely had gone out of their way with us already, which made us feel more confident in this arrangement. Second, we had developed a strong working relationship with Beau.
Additionally, the risks were present but not unmanageable. We were not putting any money down at this point and technically could still walk away. My biggest fear was that we (especially Pat) would spend a lot of time on the design only to find ourselves without a manufacturer. But even then we were committed to just redoubling our efforts at finding one, and given that we are living in the workshop of the world, we felt confident we could do so if necessary.
Given all of the unknowns, the decision to move forward for real was a leap of faith. But you only live life once, right? In choosing to leap, we both felt alive.