(Topic ID: 46005)

Predator Updates


By The_Dude_Abides

5 years ago



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There are 61 posts in this topic. You are on page 2 of 2.
#51 3 years ago

Update provided via email to buyers from Skit-B on 12/16/14:

Good evening, fellow pinballers, I bet you thought I forgot about starting up this bi-weekly newsletter, huh? Lots going on over here, as usual, so let's get everyone caught up to speed, shall we?

While we've been slammin' away and getting games ready, nothing can be expected to go off without a surprise or two. Ok, I'll admit there have been a lot more than two, but we've been able to work through the majority of them without much trouble along the way. Currently we are only hung up on two relatively small things, but they are very integral to proper game operation. Firstly, we ran into a bit of a snag with the speaker panels we were going to use, so I've been working with the guys over at VirtuaPin to come up with a more modern and aesthetically appealing panel and it won't be slowing us down for long. This kind of thing is in their blood, and they've done an awesome job so far.

Second item is our custom ball trough. While it is something I'm pretty excited for (and trust me, I could write whole paragraphs about it, but I'll spare you all), it is a pretty complicated part that has a lot of dependencies that have to be absolutely perfect to be trusted for the lifetime of a pinball machine, and with all of the help and guidance from the folks at Pinball Life, I'm sure it will do all of that and much more. Trust me, I've been trying to break this thing for weeks and it just won't give! That being said, to keep things moving, we're going to move a handful of games with a more industry standard part that will be a drop-in replacement down the road. I've spoken with a few of the guys at the front of the line about this and all seems well to keep the momentum up, but if you're one of the first-ups and would like the part replaced with our custom trough after they start coming in, this will obviously be handled without any extra charges or anything. Then again, if you're a hardcore collector, I guess this is as close as we're going to come to an "LE," so it might be fun to hang on to it. Ya' never know!

It's a pretty hectic time for indie developers right now, but to be sure it must be a nearly nail-biting experience for the supporters and early adopters in the scene at this time. I'd like to think that we wouldn't need to take time in these newsletters to address rumors and such, but during these tense times I'm sure a little reassurance would go a long way, especially for those of you who hadn't caught up with us on the forums a few weeks ago. While there haven't been any direct fingers pointed, there are a lot of worries that the new indie movement in pinball is ripe with opportunities for unethical situations and is causing some general unrest in a part of the industry that we're most definitely included in, so it would be good for all involved for us to address a few things.

Licensing is obviously a big deal, and while these types of things have simply been accepted in the past, indie pinball (yes, I'm going to keep calling it that) is potentially a completely different beast altogether. Gathering copyright and likeness permissions is a huge, daunting process, but is very rewarding in the end. That being said, this is something you need to have reasonably taken care of before making any major announcements or commitments, and we've done a lot of work and spent countless hours making sure everyone involved is happy with how things turned out. I have many stories I could tell here, but I think I will wait until a time when there's a little less actual news to catch up on At any rate, I can see how one might wonder if a small indie startup would be able to handle this sort of task, but it is certainly not an issue over here. Don't expect any wild omissions or absences when you open up your first Skit-B new-in-box!

Some folks give me a particularly hard time for "plugging" other companies or products, and I'm likely not going to stop any time soon. P-ROC is awesome. Marco Specialties is awesome. Spooky is awesome. I say this kind of stuff all the time, but there's one company that deserves a huge "plug" that doesn't come up very often but is at the heart of everything we do and how it relates to you all, and that is PayPal. I know, I know, now I'm essentially giving a plug for the bank, but I promise it is relative (again, especially if you hadn't caught up with us on the forums a few weeks ago). While we're on the unfortunate subject of potentially unethical opportunities, I'd like to take a moment to remind everyone that your investments are safe. Through the conventions that we've worked through with PayPal, not only do you get the inherent internet benefit of buying pinball in your underwear (raise your hand if you've bought pinball in your underwear before the internet...anyone?), but it comes with monumental security benefits that guarantee that, no matter what happens, your investment is never at any kind of risk. They're taking a big risk on us that they never had to take, and for that they deserve some sincere appreciation.

Speaking of risks, I've come to understand that a few guys on the forums have a running bet going on that involves us. I'm not 100% in-the-know here, but as I understand it, the wager goes a little something like this: Two parties have come up with an embarrassing garment to be worn by the other party to the Midwest Gaming Classic coming up in April. If we don't get a game out by the end of the year, one party has to wear the embarrassing garment, but if we do, the other party has to wear the embarrassing garment (ugh that's getting annoying typing out 'embarrassing garment' over and over). I don't want to share names--even though I only know one of the parties--but, as long as it's alright with the gentlemen involved, I will be throwing my name into that hat, as well. While we are going at absolute break-neck speed to make sure our first boxes say 2014 on them, we can't PROMISE anyone a game within the next few weeks. That being said, I CAN promise that if someone ends up losing a bet because of it, I can at least share in that misery a bit. Worst that can happen is I end up looking stupid, but if we don't get some games out soon I'm gonna end up looking kind of stupid anyways. Might as well own it, right?

No progress update would be complete without a few pictures, so let's start with the fun stuff: the toys! Matt over at Back Alley Creations has really outdone himself with the creation of such lifelike adornments that really drive the point home of what it means to be hunted.

This week's eye candy:
Predator Toys.jpg
Picture #01: Our army of bodies. They're enjoying their last time being upright, for once they are installed, they will forever swing from the trees upside down.
Predator Toys 2.jpg
Picture #02: Some assembly required for us with these skull/spine combos for the VUK, so sometimes you just gotta bring your work home.
Predator Toys 3.jpg
Picture #03: Hundreds of claws! They aren't made to balance on-end, so organizing them was getting to be pretty tedious. You can tell how many there are left by the large pile below the claw-o-saur, which is laid out like a dinosaur because I guess I tend to act like an eight-year-old some time after 2AM.

Until next time,
-Kevin Kulek, Skit-B Pinball

2 weeks later
#52 3 years ago

Bi-Weekly update from Skit-B on 1/5/14:
Greetings from the frozen wastelands of the Mid-Michigan pinball headquarters!

First things first, our old website has finally been put to rest, and has been replaced by something much more modern and accessible with a lot of room to grow. The new setup is much less article-heavy and is based more on a "blog" type of system that is being used as a public developer's journal so you can all keep up to date on all the little things that we've been up to without having to rely too heavily on these newsletters to cover everything. If every two weeks just isn't doing it for you, go ahead and check out our developer's journal over at www.skitbpinball.com and see what else we've cooked up over here. Deliberate communication overload? Sure!

In order to handle the new system, the website host and domain registrar had to be transferred and changed. It appeared to be pretty seamless on this end, but the email servers may have had a bit of downtime in there somewhere, so if you had tried to reach out to either me or the support team and haven't gotten a reply, please try again in case it just slipped in at the wrong time during transferring or something.

Smaller news here; we still haven't had any hiccups with the new ball trough, so that is looking very good. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to contact the supplier for permission to share photos or anything of it, but it's on the plate. If we get the ok soon enough, I'll be sure to share that stuff right away for sure.

There were a few things that have gone over a while ago that never really got the attention they deserved, so now would be a fine time to share them. I've been in contact with the Pinball Refinery over the past several months in order to come up with a lighting mod worthy of their name, which is no pedestrian task, I assure you. If you're not yet familiar with their work, do yourself a favor and check out www.pinballrefinery.com to see what they've accomplished. With the unique rails we use to house our ultraviolet lights, we were able to get quite a bit of effect with the Pinball Refinery's signature color-changing LED panels without crossing that fine line of becoming 'too much.' What we've ended up with is the ability to completely flood the entire playfield with a nice, downward, bright white light during normal play, along with the ability to change the color of the environment as a whole at any time. The final effect ends up feeling like a %100 brand new experience that is simply drenched with a level of immersion that has never before been seen in a pinball game before. More on this later, but the last thing I will say about it for now is that we will be offering this as a factory modification, so you won't have to meddle with the machine if that's not really your thing.

And last, but certainly not least, this installment's photos. This time around we will be showcasing our new, high-resolution plastics!

Picture #01: Quick shot of all the new and updated plastics in one place.
download.jpg

Picture #02: Close-up of the new slingshots and lane guide plastics. I have to admit that I didn't originally want to add lane guide plastics, but now I'm glad you all talked me into it. The detail on these is just stunning.
download2.jpg

Picture #03: No plastic set would be complete without a goodie-bag! An extra set of slingshots, an extra set of lane guides, an extra center plastic for above the center targets, and two nifty little Skit-B Pinball key chains. Truth be told, they're not that little at all. They're actually really darn big, but they're pretty sweet.
download3.jpg

Picture #04: A better, close-up shot of those key chains. The token is there simply to point out the size. Token courtesy of the lovely folks at The Arcade in Brighton, Michigan.
download4.jpg
See you all next time!

1 month later
#53 3 years ago

Update #3

A little off-schedule for this newsletter, but I assure you it was worth the wait!

We had to take a somewhat unexpected trip across the midwest last week to get our next wave of parts from the folks over at Spooky Pinball LLC. Always fun to visit, and we always come back with some pretty cool stuff. In this turn, we got our next batch of playfields all neatly packed into a cool custom box (that I've been informed we have to give back, but still cool, nonetheless).
Update 3a.jpg

We've had a lot of folks ask for extra toys and t-shirts and random stuff like that, so we're currently getting our web store set up to offer those things to those of you who've been asking. We were really hoping to have it ready in time for this next newsletter, but rushing it wasn't really helping anything. We'll definitely let you guys know when it's ready. While the most common thing we are asked for is playfields, those sadly won't be in the store (at least right away). They are such a commodity and take a ton of work to get done that we're doing everything we can to maintain just slightly more than we need here to keep us moving. That being said, there are a very small (and I mean VERY small - like less than five) amount of "extras" here that we could part with if you simply cannot wait to have one. If that's the case, get back with me right away as they are certainly on a first-come first-served basis.

The number one thing we are asked for these days is pictures of playfields that are assembled / being assembled, so this week we are going to bypass the "showcase" style of the newsletters' photos and break right into the nitty-gritty.
Update3b.jpg

On the table. With nothing but brand new parts on a brand new playfield, everything seems so much more real. In my circles, I'm not exactly known as the most careful and delicate person, but these things are so valuable and delicate that I've learned a lot in the ways of steadying hands and taking multiple precautions to make sure nothing even gets an unnecessary fingerprint on it.
Update 3c.jpg

Example bottom-side on the right. By having an example playfield hanging at all times, it's much easier for the assembly crew to reference without slowing the process down. The one on the left is coming together, but it was worth stopping and hanging it up for a quick photo-op. Note the fleece blanket hanging on the back to protect the artwork on the other side.
Update 3d.jpg


Closer look at the HUD. Without the wiring harness it doesn't appear to be nearly as monumental of an achievement, but it's good to reflect on how much work everyone has done to make sure this process moves along as smoothly as possible, especially at this point!

Thanks everybody, see you all in two more weeks!

1 month later
13
#54 3 years ago

Well some have requested I post the last two emails from Skit-B to pre-order customers. I didn't think they provided any solid information, however, I suppose they do shed some light on the current state of the project. So here they are:

February 28 2015

My dearest pinball fans,

While I am doing everything I can to keep moving forward at all times, no matter what the circumstances are, there have been many recent actions by certain parties that threaten the very existence of everything I've done to keep this project going for the past few years. While slow and steady wins many races, and I am a firm believer in actions speaking louder than words, this is simply not the time to stay quiet. There are some major issues that need to be spoken to immediately, and must be handled in exactly the right ways.

To the few of you who have asked for a refund, it is surely coming. While these things always take some time, they are taking longer than usual due to the above circumstances. In short, no matter what, nobody is going to get left out to dry on this one, I can promise you that.

To all of the supporters of what I have done and continue to do on a daily basis, I sincerely thank you for all of your support and faith in what you believe I am capable of achieving for you. I will continue to do everything I can to make sure that faith was not misplaced.

I will be sending out as much information as I can as we move through these challenges, so please keep an eye on your inboxes for any updates as they come in.

Thank you all for everything,
-Kevin

_________________________________________________________________________________
March 1st 2015

There has been some confusion over the reason for the message that was sent out last night, so please allow me the opportunity to clarify what seemed very cryptic that message.

I'm aware the message seemed cryptic and vague, but that was not the intent. The project is not "imploding" or dying. I've received a handful of messages from folks reading between the lines, but there simply are no lines to read between. In the past, radio silence in the face of a situation has caused unrest, so I decided to share the fact that there are parties that are trying to threaten the project and try to ease everyone's collective minds and remind you all that everything is moving along despite the situation.

To the heaps of supportive messages and kind responses I received last night, I sincerely thank you all. To everyone else, I hope this helps clear things up a bit. I'll be keeping you all posted on how everything is moving along!

Apologies for the confusion,
-Kevin

#55 3 years ago

Email received today by Pre-Order customers:

Good evening once again, fellow pinballers. The atmosphere around our Predator project has gotten pretty thick, so please allow me to clear the air on all of this stuff.

First and foremost, I need to thank you all for your support. That term has a tendency to feel cliche, but the world of pre-order pinball is in a dark place right now and I understand that it takes an absolute ton of commitment and faith on your part to stick around during these times. You have all invested incalculable amounts of support into something you saw to be great, with no way of knowing how it would turn out. With the amount of doubts out there, that can't be easy, and you all need to know that it certainly doesn't go unnoticed. Every step I take in this endeavor is with the clear goal in mind to make sure that when all is said and done, you all can rest assured that you made the right choice, and what felt like a risk was worth it.

About a year ago, we proudly declared that our mission was complete. The Predator machine was totally finished and we simply needed to button up some loose ends and get started building the machines. That simple process has turned out to be the most difficult challenge I have ever faced, and has been the most humbling experience I have known in my life. Throughout the creative process, we had immense amounts of involvement with the community, and collected ideas and feedback from a multitude of sources that made our game something of a collective effort. Excitement was infectious while everyone got to chime in with their ideas and criticism and watch the game change as a direct result, which all led up to a finished product that we all could feel proud of, and know we were all a part of. As we made the transition into manufacturing, the good news and excitement went to the wayside in favor of slowdowns and setbacks, which makes communication very difficult in direct comparison. I'm aware that sounds like a bit of a cop-out, and I make no attempt to cover that up. This situation is of my own doing. By allowing our reputation of constant and perpetual engagement turn into a reputation of inaccessibility, we broke a tight bond with all of you. In the beginning when all you guys wanted to know was what was happening to the game and what future plans were, it was easy to stay engaged and excited. Now that we're past all of that and into the next phase, the questions get much heavier and harder to deal with directly. With naive fears of letting folks down with updates of manufacturing hurdles and setbacks, we became almost completely distant and now when we need the excitement and confidence the most, we have become all but undeserving of it. Not being able to bring a good message is difficult, but I get it. You all need to see progress and measureable steps being made. While we have done what we could with what we had, that will no longer suffice, so that is what I bring you today: progress and measureable steps being made.

It's a difficult sentiment to realize, but I'm sure many of you will breathe a bit easier when I finally outwardly state that this project has become more than I can handle on my own. A few close friends have jokingly informed me that my earlier comment of "making pinball machines is hard" has kind of become a catch phrase attributed to me, and I'll own it again, as it clearly remains the case. Thankfully, the pinball community is built on a foundation of the most helpful and genuinely good people on the planet, and we have gotten help from the best of the best on all levels.

While manufacturing these games here is certainly possible, it is most definitely not optimal. I fear that with our modest setup, the fellow with game #250 would still be a year or more away from getting his game. With that in mind, we are contracting an experienced manufacturer to handle the assembly of the games to ensure that they are completed within a reasonable time frame and pass even the most scrutinizing quality tests. Our ability to see the manufacturing through to the end has been a constant public concern from day one, and while I thank you all again for believing we can do it, going this route will remove that concern and allow you all to rest a little easier by removing that major variable. What does this mean for you, the owners? Getting your game sooner with less chance of unforeseen issues upon delivery. It's a little too early to be sharing names at this point, as the finer details are still being worked out, so more on this soon. Rest assured that your investment is being taken care of by more capable hands than ever.

Let's talk for a second about licensing. We are very aware of the emails and PM's circulating around claiming we never had the licensing support to sell machines using the Predator IP. In our attempts to gather showable documents to prove this wrong, we learned that our licensing deal really wasn't what we thought it was. Thankfully, with the understanding folks who control said IP and the help of a lifelong family friend, these hurdles are quickly being overcome. Again, what does this mean for you, the owners? More fluent updates on progress, the addition of licensed images to our website and communications, the return of the gameplay videos(!), and much more. There is a lot of contextual information here that can't really be conveyed very well in this fashion, so we've been in talks with Martin from PinballNews.com, along with the most notable of podcasts to make sure this story gets told in the most complete and understandable way possible.

In short, I've pretty much done everything wrong during this whole process and you guys are still here. I can't repay that kind of dedication by sticking with more of the same, so everything is becoming much more "real." Getting "real" manufacturers on board with "real" licensing support along "real" timelines with "real" communication from the creators of your "real" game. Expect to be hearing a lot more from us as things continue to move in this new and exciting direction, but if you need anything from me, please don't hesitate to send me a message right away.

To those of you who have requested a refund and have yet to hear back, please message me right away so we can get everything taken care of.

Thank you all again for your continued support,

-Kevin

#56 3 years ago

Pinball News article regarding what happened to cause the project to fail released today 3/22/15:

http://www.pinballnews.com/comment/predatorpinball.html

#57 3 years ago

To all that used a Credit Card via Pay Pal it would be wise to file a claim with the credit card company and ask for a charge back. ***I recommend using 12/31/14 as the estimated delivery date when asked by credit card company. There is now sufficient evidence that even if it is disputed by Skit-B the Credit Card company will side with its client.

Here is a thread keeping track of which credit card companies are working with customers to get the money back and which are not:

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/credit-card-companies-that-protect-their-customers

#58 3 years ago

Another email from Kevin today:

With all the chaos of the last few days I see it only fitting to remind everyone that I am still here and going through the necessary processes to get everyone what they've asked for. An official statement will be released as soon as possible, but you all need to know that I have not, as recent articles would have you believe, disappeared, nor do I plan to. My endless apologies for what you are all enduring, and you are all paramount in my mind while we expedite a solution to the issues you are all facing currently.

-Kevin

#59 3 years ago

Good information provided by blondetall:

Quoted from blondetall:

We paid the remainder of the balance last March via PayPal but backed with a credit card. It was actually over a year ago so we thought we were out of luck, but others were trying with some success so we called and talked to the dispute center at Chase. Since we paid in advance and weren't expecting the machine until Q4 (if it had started on time then and with our build # being halfway-ish) they put down 12/31/14 as the expected date and opened a chargeback dispute. I'd already paid off the card so there's no "temporary" funds showing or anything at all happening per the website, so I called them and they said it is in process and Kevin has 60 days/2 billing cycles to dispute before they can issue the money back.
So, despite it being over a year, as long as there's no dispute from him, I may get some of my money back. And if he tries to dispute it, there's going to be a big fight. So we paid through PayPal but everything is taking place with the credit card company instead. My advice to anyone in the same situation is to tell them something similar to the above, as we do have the emails showing where production was supposed to start in early/mid 2014 and funds were asked for at the time for sourcing parts. It was a prepayment with a calculatable timeline that will put expected dates more in the range of the chargeback time limits than the date that you actually paid.

#60 3 years ago

Latest email from Kevin on 03/23/15:

Before any of the animosity surrounding this project goes any further, a few things absolutely need to be cleared up.

First of all, while I'm sure many of you feel like you've been lied to and taken advantage of, I can assure you all that no part of this project has been created or carried out with any sort of intent to deceive or defraud anyone. I know right now these are only words and many of you require much more than that, which brings me to the next point.

At this point, the faith in what we've worked so hard to achieve has been absolutely shattered and I am left with no other option than to abandon everything and make good on our promises that your investments are safe and return all money associated with the project until anything else happens, if anything else should happen. The refund process is expected to be swift and completed very soon. You all will start to see those balances reflecting in your accounts in a few short days.

To the many of you who have continued to support us and prefer to receive your game, I'm sorry to say that this is the end of the road and you, too, will be receiving a refund instead of a machine. While it pains me deeply to have to say it while we are sitting at the finish line, asking or even allowing someone to stay involved at this point is simply too much to ask.

For those of you interested, there will be a follow-up article posted on Pinball News with the real story in a handful of days, so please keep your eyes open for that, as well.

Signing off,
-Kevin

2 months later
#61 3 years ago

On 6/4/2015, some Predator buyers started receiving refunds via Paypal.

For those that paid by check or other method, you should contact Kevin's Lawyer about your refund.

The following is Mr. Kulek’s attorney contact information:
The Law Firm PLLC
Jon T. Emaus, Managing Partner
8163 Grand River Rd.
Ste. 300
Brighton, MI 48114
810-227-1700

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