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Countdown to Launch Beta 1.0

The time for procrastination is over – the tasks over at SBG (largely) completed – and a date has been set, ready or not, this site will go live on the 20th of September!

While there are many, many things that I could do to improve the site – at a certain point it’s time to just put it out there. Yes, some of the sword designs we made did not work out quite as planned – others fell by the wayside – and none are really at the stage that I was expecting they would be at by this point..

But at the end of the day, after a year in development, it is time to bring this site out into the light of day..

It has been a steep learning curve, but I would like to think that quite a few lessons have been learning along the way – and that the knowledge gained the hard way will be used to avoid or minimize the pitfalls as we move forward.

I have the feeling this is going to be quite a long post.. 😉

So first things first:

THE SWORDS – STATUS OVERVIEW

Let’s take a moment to take stock and do a quick status report on all of the designs that we have commissioned from the beginning – where the prototypes are up to, how they turned out and where to from here on each one..

BRAND OF THE FALLEN – FLAME OF THE HOST

STATUS: On Hold

Dan Dacombe designed both this one and the Flame – and after remaking BOTH of them (at considerable expense I might add – it was partly our fault and partly the forges – but we ended up volunteering to pick up the tab) he finally received them and I had a chance to Skype with him and see what they looked like and get his feedback and impressions.

The Flame turned out to be nicely made and it looks awesome in person, but it feels too heavy and really needs to be trimmed down to be a functional blade. As such, a SECOND prototype has been ordered and BCI will be working on this over the coming weeks and months.

The Brand on the other hand worked out really well – it handles well, especially when half-swording (holding the leather above the ricasso) and is quite fearsome as we had hoped it would be. However, the paint used to coat it flakes off in a few areas – not big – but not acceptable – though the bluing of the blade, which was actually done at BCI in the USA, turned out well..

I talked at length with BCI about this because this black paint is also used on the Aleutian Gladius and the Castir and they said that they do not currently have access to bluing paste or a local powder coating company due to their remote rural location..

Temporarily, it is possible to do one or two like this with the bluing paste that BCI USA has. But that’s not a good solution in the long run.

So until this is solved, the Flame AND the Host are both on hold..

AELUTIAN GLADIUS

Status: On Hold

The feedback from the designer was that it is an excellent and well made piece. Somewhat heavy but not unwieldly – and capable of bisecting a water filled bottle with a THRUST of its wide splayed tip which is quite interesting. However, it has a lot of black paint – so it too is on hold until BCI can come up with a solution for this..

THE CASTIR

Status: Small Production Run Scheduled

Rayhan received the Castir a few weeks ago and was seemingly happy with how it turned out. Handling is a strong point- to quote Rayhan “It wants to swing and sing in the wind. It handles like a dream.” but I raised a concern with him about the black paint..

However, unlike the Brand and the Auelitian Gladius – the Castir does not need to be painted black – and as you can see in WIP pictures below, it doesn’t actually look to bad with raw steel..

Worst case scenario, if we cannot get a hold of a way to blacken it properly, then it will end up like this..

As such, we have agreed to a small production run that is likely to be available for purchase in January 2019. A final price has not yet been established but as shipping needs to go via air freight and there are a ton of extra shipping sub fees added – it is likely to be in the $700 range..

SWORD OF DANU

Status: A couple to be made with Castir

The Sword of Danu was one of the first swords to be received by its designer and while it is a bit of a heavy sword, the designer loves it and it is approved for production. Unfortunately, it is quite expensive to produce – almost as much as the longer swords, so while a small number will be made alongside the Castir, as shorter swords are generally not good sellers – especially if they are on the expensive side – we will only make 2 or 3 for the first run.

VORPAL SWORD

Status: Small production run to be made with Castir and Danu

The designer received the Vorpal Sword some time ago and is very happy with it – indeed in a post on the SBG forum he stated it was his new favorite. and privately, had the following to say about it:

“It is heavier and beefier than, say an Albion Alexandria (which shares a similar blade profile). That’s because the blade is pretty thick most of the way, and the distal taper, while there, isn’t very aggressive. As a result, it’s not a fast weapon by any means. I understand it’s fantasy though, but they need to flatten it out especially from around 6 inches from the guard onwards to the tip (the tip is fine, it’s a very nice reinforced tip). One thing about type XVIIIc blades is that they start out thinner than most medieval swords at the base of the blade because the profile taper is aggressive enough to take care of the balance.

Apart from that, everything is good to go for the sword. I haven’t posted a review because the rain hasn’t let up and I want to at least have a cutting video go along with the review. The sword feels like a heavy cutter and I’m quite interested to see how it fares against bamboo.”

With such good feedback, a production run similar in number to the Castir (around 10 pcs) will be produced alongside the Castir and Sword of Danu and hopefully be completed and available to buy in limited quantities in early January 2019…

SERAPH AEGIS

The Sereaph Ageis by Jeffrey Robinson prototype is still in production, but the most recent update shows that it is coming closer and closer to completion now and is shaping up to be a very nice blade..

The prototype will be sold off when it is ready, likely BEFORE the launch – with 4 runs of 5 swords each until the total of 20 is sold (actually will be 21 total if you include the prototype as sword # 1). Price has not yet fully been determined, but is likely to be the same as Jeffrey’s monosteel blade swords – around the $3,100 mark.

ODIN’S OAR

Behind schedule – still 7 swords finishing up and the artwork by Warren Louw from D.C. Comics fame nearly complete..

SERPENTS BANE

Has been cancelled for now. See the post about the making of it for more info..

THE PLATFORM – STATUS OVERVIEW

There is one extremely important bit of housekeeping that needs to be taken care of – and that is site security and backups. You see, this is my first serious WordPress site (SBG is not WordPress) and there are many things that need to be done to ensure it is secure and all the countless hours of work put into it are properly backed up.

At the moment, both are theoretically covered – we pay a premium for monthly protection and to be honest, I am not entirely sure what the reports actually mean..

For example..

I don’t really know what this means, as one week is is 0 and the next, like this – week in and week out…

But this message is perhaps the most worrying..

So before we can launch, these shortcomings need to be addressed – because essentially everything else is actually optional – and this is the ONLY real thing stopping me from just launching the site right now if I really needed to.

THE SCHEDULE

While it is in theory ‘optional’, it is extremely important to the functionality of the site as more people become contributors to set aside some time to understand exactly how the buddy press plugin works – I have a general idea and from the beginning I felt it is a good way to make this site user friendly and collaborative. But I have only the most superficial knowledge of the system – and need to get to the nuts and bolts of it so I can make it do what I need it to do.

I suppose that a fair amount of it will be learnt on the job – but I have purchased an ebook from the Kindle Store that I hope will allow me to hit the ground running, and will spend a weekend very soon reading and implementing it.

For the most part, at least in the beginning, membership to the site will be via invitation only – and contributors will be screened to make sure that there is a good fit.

Now in theory, there are other changes I wanted to make before the launch which – if the critical tasks listed above are finished early – I will list in another post. Changes such as implementing a new site template that I purchased for the site, formatting links with thumb nail pics in the Bestiary and for the swords, adding in contact forms and a newsletter subscription, etc.

But at the end of the day – while a lot of this stuff is nice to do and nice to have, it’s not really necessary and ultimately just adds in even more things to master. Which with a busy schedule from SBG isn’t really all that feasible.

So, with a launch deadline set in stone and to be announced publicly in the August edition of the Sword Buyers Digest, many of the ‘nice ideas’ for the site can be done later and will not hold back the launch – the focus is simply on getting the site 100% secure, online and get some people to give it a try!

So that’s where we are at. So here’s the basic plan to get us across the finish line..

1. Security: Have a long talk with the sitelock team to fully understand how the platform works. Do the same with Bluehost about backups. We do backups, but I have no idea how to restore and want to be familiar with the process in case something does get past all our security precautions and hacks the site.

2. Learn About Buddy Press: Spend a full weekend learning how Buddypress works. Invite some friends and previous contributors to the ideas and content that was brainstormed over on the SBG forums in the early days.

If we can get these two things done, then in theory we could launch any day after that. But there are a few more optional extras that if time permits will be added such as.

3. A few extra pages: – there were many that I wanted to have in there before launch before, but let’s strip it back to the basics. The only pages we really need are a contact us page, an acknowledgement page, a page about which swords are currently for sale and where to get them, and some pages related to Buddypress – explaining how to become a contributor, what’s involved, why, etc, etc.

4. Quick navigation overhaul: we did this once, but I am not entirely happy with it and it doesn’t seem to work on mobile or tablet..

5. An ongoing web-comic: The webcomic should start out with some fairly low level relatable characters and will be the ‘heart beat’ of the website, with a regular publishing schedule. As it will be quite expensive to commission, in order to be feasible the web-comic must have a commercial bias – i.e. the swords that are available to buy or that soon will be available to buy should be featured in it. I already have some ideas for this – such as timeline that switches back and forth between the time of the Catalysmic Wars and previous historical events and current events that somehow dovetail together.

While strictly speaking the webcomic is not necessary, I think that releasing one or two ahead of the launch will be a good strategy to generate curiosity about it – and so will post again on this soon.

6. That’s it – if we can achieve this before the launch, that’s excellent. If not, then as long as # 1 is taken care of (security and backups) we will release what is there regardless. And if we somehow finish early, I will accelerate the countdown..

MOST RECENT ADDITIONS AND CHANGES

Okay, nearly about time to wrap this post up before I need to call the people at the Guinness book to get it entered as world’s longest blog entry..

There have been a few updates here and there, mostly some new monsters added to the Bestiary – both mysterious, such as the Eldar

And mundane, including several Orc variants..

And finally, after much deliberation, classic fantasy Dwarves as well as the Aztecy ones.

Otherwise, we have been playing around with the basic template – changing colors, etc and adding the new header which officially brings us to Beta 0.7.

The 0.7 header, with a ghostly image of Runa Martyr of Stormwater, holding a partially real Odin’s Oar, the Vorpal Sword and Temple Nimbus floating in the right hand corner..

Beta 0.8 will occur once the security is taken care of and will mean that the site is physically study enough for launch. Beta 0.9 will include fully working buddypress system and everything up to the launch..

So even just by the version of the site we are up to now, we are nearly there.

Enough talking about it. Time to get to work.

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