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Announcing: Novagen - Volume 1


CyranoJ

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Machine said:

 

Very harsh and uncalled for in my opinion.

I have received a few update emails about orders over the last several months. The last-chance sale was massive.

I can easily look up my orders on the store's order page too. Just log in and it shows if your order has shipped or is still pending.

This is a community, thanks to Albert and others.

I can log in and look at mine too, and the status hasn’t changed since the day I placed the order.

 

I have not received a single update email about my pre orders.

Edited by mdkdue
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9 hours ago, Sargon said:

I agree with much of what you are saying, but many of us have been ordering from AtariAge for years and they have never NOT delivered.  So while I do share the disappointment and agree that they need to do better with order fulfillment and communication, I think any suggestion of a potential scam is taking things too far.

Obviously I know my order will arrive eventually as I have ordered before, but what if I had just stumbled on the website, new nothing of AA and decided to just put in an order and then heard nothing for 6 months, can you not see that some people might start getting concerned if they didn’t know any better?

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5 hours ago, Iwantgames:) said:

It’s not just AtariAge, a lot of places have long lead times. I ordered Quake II PS5 from Limited Run and it took so long I actually forgot I ordered it when it just showed up 😂 

 

and it’s a lot more work making carts than cds I’d imagine and AtariAge is a smaller operation 

I’ve ordered 2 games from limited run before and waited a year for them, but I knew this when I placed the order, it told me it wouldn’t ship for a year. They are very clear about the release dates.

 

This is different, the new release pre orders stated, and still did last time I checked, that they would ship in two to three months.

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Albert said:

I'm sure some people are frustrated, but it has taken this long to ship pre-order games before. I'm not saying that's a great thing, mind you, but while it sometimes takes a long time to get orders out, everyone has always gotten what they paid for.  

I just looked through my emails, and I haven't seen a single email from you since you placed your order.  I also checked my PMs, and same thing there, I don't see any PMs from you regarding this.  It's possible you sent me something and I didn't see it, perhaps using another email address or via some other way.  I also searched for the order number and the only email I see referencing it is the original order email.  

If you think I am showing contempt for customers, you obviously do not know me very well.  I spend an incredible amount of my time building games for orders.  I'm currently doing virtually everything myself, which includes building games and shipping them out to customers.  And even when I am buried in orders, I won't take shortcuts to sacrifice quality in production of the games, nor will I take shortcuts in taking care to package games to make sure they arrive safely. Yes, I can do better in sending out more updates, and I definitely need to send one out regarding pre-orders, and I will do that this week.  And, yes, in the future I intend to hire someone to help with physical production and shipping (see below).

That's unlikely to change, however, I am working on making the following improvements to the store, so this time next year I should be able to get 95% of orders out within a week.

 

1. Move to Flash-based boards for most 2600, 7800, and Jaguar games.  The Lynx boards we have are already flash-based, so no need to do anything there.  Basically, these flash boards will arrive completely assembled, and all I have to do to use them is plug them into a fixture and program the game onto them. Versus what I typically have to do now:

  • Program EPROM
  • Program PLD (for a large percentage of 2600 and 7800 games)
  • Populate boards (with anywhere from 2-4 chips, one or more caps and resistors, and sometimes other parts)
  • Solder boards (which sometimes takes multiple steps, as some boards have parts on BOTH sides, and you can only work on one side at a time)
  • Assemble boards into shells

The goal is to have these boards already assembled into blank cartridge shells, so the above tasks will be replaced by this simple step:

  • Plug cartridge into fixture and program

That's it!  This alone will save an enormous amount of time. We are going to put our 2600 Aria board into mass production soon, which will suffice for most bankswitching schemes and cover 90% of the 2600 games sold in the store.  Most of the remaining 2600 games use our more advanced Melody board, which we will also manufacture in larger quantities than we do now.  We've developed several new 7800 flash boards that I'm actively testing, and I will soon have a Jaguar flash board to test.  Longer term we'll do flash boards for the 5200 and Atari 8-bit computers as well.

 

2. I'm having boxes, manuals, and labels printed for slower selling games, so I don't have to spend time printing these materials myself.  This is normally a time consuming step when working on large batches of orders.  Two weeks ago I submitted a large manual order for 18 different games, which includes several manuals I've never had professionally printed before.  These arrived on Friday.  I will continue doing this over time. 

 

3. We're currently working on moving the AtariAge Store to Shopify.  Once this is complete, I will have access to MUCH better reporting options, which will, again, save me significant time when I'm working on orders.  The current store is greatly lacking in this department.  When I begin work on a new batch of orders, I have to manually go through all the pending orders and put the games I need to build into a spreadsheet (including important details such as whether a game is NTSC or PAL, if an optional box is included, etc.)  With the new store, I'll be able to generate this detailed report trivially.  Additionally, I'll also be able to more easily see when a customer has several outstanding orders, so I can be sure to ship them together, which also saves time (rather than shipping, say, three orders separately).  

 

4. I will be moving soon, and one of the goals with this move will be to setup a more formal AtariAge production facility, either on-site or in commercial space nearby.  Once this is in place, I will be able to hire someone to assist with production and shipping, which will be a big step in making sure the vast majority of orders go out within days, instead of weeks or months.

 

5. I'm going to find and buy bubble wrap bags that perfectly fit boxed games.  Right now, I'm using 1' x 2' sections of bubble wrap that I then wrap around boxed games and assemble using scotch tape.  This may seem like a trivial thing, but it's very time consuming when you're shipping hundreds of boxed games at a time, so this will be a big time saver when shipping.
 

6. We're also working on brand new 2600/7800 shells, and I received the first CAD drawings recently, we've made some changes, and I'll have prototypes soon.  These shells will not have the problematic moving dust cover pieces or spring, and they will firmly hold the circuit boards in place so there's no play or wobble with them (which can cause issues where a game isn't always easy to insert into a system).  Right now, the 7800 shells I'm using are not the greatest, so I'm very much looking forward to having our own shells that don't have the compromises I often see with third-party shells.  The new shells will also not have those big holes in the corner that 7800 shells often have.  These are the shells I will be able to use with the flash boards mentioned above so I can have hundreds (if not thousands) of carts ready at any given time that I can simply flash program, test, label, and ship games as orders arrive.
 

7. Finally, we're looking into making plastic inserts for boxes, rather than the cardboard ones I'm using now.  These will better hold the game cartridge in place, and will also better protect the box from deformation.  And, in terms of efficiency, these are much faster to use, as I won't have to fold eight flaps for every boxed game that I assemble.

You've made two previous large orders and received those fine.  I've shipped many thousands of orders over the years.  Why would I start scamming people now?  If that's what I wanted to do, I'm sure there's much easier ways to about it.

 

What has greatly slowed me down with the pre-order games is that I am still working on getting Last Chance games built and shipped.  I am making good progress on that front, but it's very time consuming as I sold more games in that sale in a month than I normally sell in a year.  And I thought I would be done with those by the end of 2023, but obviously that didn't happen.  I'm also working on shipping regular orders as well.  Having said that, I will start shipping pre-order games in a week (not this upcoming week, but after that).  So, your order (and others' orders) will ship soon.

 

 ..Al

I sent an email at 12:34 on 26th April to the sales@ address.

 

I’m not disputing the quality of your orders, or the time you put in. I was very clear to say that I am sure everyone is fine with waiting, as I am, as long we know what’s happening. It was the total lack of communication about these orders in particular that was the most frustrating.

 

Obviously I know it’s not a scam, and I know you would never scam people, but what about someone who didn’t know how things are at AtariAge and what the wait times can be?. If they just stumbled across the site with no prior knowledge, placed an order and then heard nothing for six months, do you not think they could potentially start to get quite concerned?

 

That is why communication is key.
 

This has been the crux of the frustration many have, having no clue what is happening or when anything is likely to ship.

Edited by mdkdue
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12 hours ago, mdkdue said:

Obviously I know my order will arrive eventually as I have ordered before, but what if I had just stumbled on the website, new nothing of AA and decided to just put in an order and then heard nothing for 6 months, can you not see that some people might start getting concerned if they didn’t know any better?

12 hours ago, mdkdue said:

Obviously I know it’s not a scam, and I know you would never scam people, but what about someone who didn’t know how things are at AtariAge and what the wait times can be?. If they just stumbled across the site with no prior knowledge, placed an order and then heard nothing for six months, do you not think they could potentially start to get quite concerned?

This is where you lose me, you're upset on behalf of a hypothetical person in a hypothetical situation that hasn't happened. :|

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28 minutes ago, Biff Burgertime said:

This is where you lose me, you're upset on behalf of a hypothetical person in a hypothetical situation that hasn't happened. :|

 

And in his original post he talks about "how this is even legal to be honest" and "All I can say is, how can you can make payment for something (and we are not talking pennies here, this is HUNDREDS of pounds), hear nothing for six months, and not think you have been completely scammed??"  and  "For those who are sick of waiting, it’s not like it’s possible to cancel either, believe me I’ve tried, but that was met with silence"

 

Al has sent at least 2-3 updates via email(at least). I have gotten them. You may have not gotten them, but still no need for your post.

Instead of tossing accusations, just PM the person or ask "NICELY" for an update in the thread.

 

 

 

 

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I'd like to also point out that, regardless of anything else in this thread, Al's post on the previous page was appreciated & eye-opening.

 

I started selling electronics on eBay and similar sites a few years back, and I've experienced firsthand the Amazon-ification of the internet. All these sites have gradually pushed updates to try and be more competitive with Amazon, and they forced these responsibilities onto the shoulders of their merchants of course. For example: I've always preferred to be plainly honest about shipping costs, listing them separately in lieu of "free shipping" for everything. But due to Amazon Prime shifting buyers expectations, Etsy announced they would start displaying "free shipping" listings first in search results. So that left sellers with no choice really. Every 6 months there'd be another update like this.

 

Amazon Prime's 2-day shipping is perhaps the single biggest factor when it comes to customer expectations. Originally I remember getting messages from customers who were quick to question anything that took over a week to show up, with a generally irritable & impatient tone. Later on I started including a business card in each package which basically said "thanks" and explained I'm just 1 dude trying to run a business out of a bedroom, so their support/feedback really makes a difference. After that, customer interactions shifted dramatically. I even had people who were impatient during shipping reach back out to thank me once their item showed up, or go out of their way to leave really kind feedback.

 

Despite all this, I never considered how insane of an operation it must be trying to run all things AtariAge. I couldn't do it. So I always appreciate a peek behind the curtain to better understand the human side of these websites we interact with.

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Some points:

  • 100% not a scam.  I'm sure the comment was taken "out of context" as in the example stated it could be seen that way. It isn't. We all know it isnt, including mdkdue.
  • AA quality is exceptional and the titles will be delivered.
  • If you are not willing/able to wait for a store order then get it when it appears on the AtariAge ebay store.
  • While additional communication on these would have been nice, Albert has stated he will do that more in future, and is working to improve shipping times.

Lets move on, have fun with the hobby and get this thread back to talking about the games people will hopefully be playing soon!   I really don't want to see more bickering and fingerpointing in here between fellow enthusists.

 

 

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