about the universe forum commander Shop Now Commanders Circle
Product List FAQs home Links Contact Us

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Road to Shapeways: How Far Does It Go?

Steve Cole writes:

A recent email expressed interest in our 3788 ships on Shapeways, but also expressed concern for the fact that we had very few ships for some empires, none for others, and he didn't want to start collecting ships and have us not complete the selection for his chosen empire. (In his case, he wanted Federation ships, but the same answer applies to any empire and either scale.)

The simple answer is players are going to get a lot of ships for every empire in a steady flow. The Federation heavy cruiser is not a one-off now and won't ever be. Currently, we have well over one hundred metal 3788 ships including the Federation BB, BCH, DNG, DNL, CVS, CA, CC, GSC, CL, NCL, NCA, DD, SC, HDW, DW, FF, FFB, and POL (plus the tug in plastic). (I think I got them all but may have missed one.) We look at the line as a combined whole, including metal and Shapeways and the five original Zocchi plastic ships that started it all and created the 3788 scale. Shapeways began as simply a way to fill gaps in the metal line, but quickly became so much more.

As we have announced (but not everyone has seen), we plan to move the metal ships all onto Shapeways over the next three to five years (we cannot predict how long it will take), as well as duplicating most of them (including all of the Federation ships) in 3125. One can appreciate that there are a lot of ships to do and even with five sculptors working we cannot do them all in one month (even if we have released 106 units in only 51 days). Federation ships turn out to be trickier builds than most and every "new hull type" takes two or three months to do. Once you have it, we can spin out any variant in jig time. For example, we have the Fed heavy cruiser which allow us to spin off the galactic survey cruiser for 1 September and the strike carrier for 1 November and the drone cruiser, command cruiser, and heavy command cruiser in later months. Many Federation ships use common parts, and the Federation heavy cruiser will spin off the destroyer on 1 October and the Scout on 1 November and the heavy battlecruiser in the future. Building the new hulls (battleship, dreadnought, light dreadnought, light cruiser, new light cruiser, heavy war destroyer, war destroyer, frigate) takes time, but gets faster as we have more parts to clone.

Federation Galactic Survey Cruiser, work in progress

The plan is to add a Federation ship every month (two per month sometimes) as well as a Klingon ship (or two) every month in both scales as part of a steady flow of 36 or more new units per month. (We added 55 new units on 1 August, but that was a special effort to get the store to 100 and involved relatively few new hull builds.)

In converting the two entire lines, we have a lot of debate about priorities. Less than 1/4 of the 3788 ships from 1/2 of the empires were built in 3125 so the priority is to build the "missing" 3125s. Many empires were never built in any scale (25 empires in Omega, five in the Magellanic Cloud, 12 in the Simulators, two in the main area) and players want those, as well. Since the process to build a 3125 involves first building the 3788, you get two for one and that's how the metal ships get replaced, one at a time. Even so, the sculptors cannot do everything immediately and given how many empires want ships, one or two Federation ships a month is about all we can promise. If we had all of the sculptors do Federation ships until all of the Federation ships were done, there would be a riot by players of all of the other empires and you'd have five different styles of Federation ships that don't match very well.

So the good news is players will get all the Federation ships (most of them within a year-ish) but the bad news is you won't get them all next month.