Kiss goodbye to 2020, say hello to 2021
2020 has been a rough year for us all, when COVID-19 hit, our FLGS went into lockdown for a few months, we haven’t seen our gaming buddies for close to 10 months, and we spent most of the first few months printing face shields for local first responders (Thanks Josef Prusa). Work got super busy at my day job (a startup), most of which was in response to COVID (we ended up raising around $1.7m for charity) all of which meant I couldn’t dedicate anywhere near the time that was needed to manage and grow the site.
After much soul searching I felt that I was left with two options:
- Shut down the site
- Look for someone to take over the site
I know that many people rely on the site as their source of historical wargaming STLs, and really did not want to go down the route of shutting things down, but I also didn’t know of anyone who would be suitable to take over the site. So, I started looking around the various groups and forums to see what options were available.
Looking for a new partner
I spoke to a few of our most prolific vendors to get their thoughts and they all wanted the site to keep going too, but we didn’t have any idea who we wanted to work with yet. I thought about approaching some of the larger well known sites (I won’t name names, but you can all guess who they are) but was put off by their method of categorization, corporate nature, and high fees until I saw Jonathan from MiniHoarder posting in one of the 3D printing groups on facebook about some of the storage solutions he was working on. As I delved deeper into his project, it looked very similar to what we were doing at Wargaming3D.com but more focused on SciFi, Fantasy as well Kickstarter and Patreon fulfillment. I decided to reach out.
We chatted in late 2020, and it turned out that we both had a similar philosophy on how the site should be run. He’d actually checked out Wargaming3D when he was building MiniHoarder. I really liked some of the stuff he was doing in the backend, and we decided that he would take over Wargaming3D.com on January 1, 2021.
Who is MiniHoarder?
Here’s Jonathan talking about MiniHoarder in his own words:
So, my background is really in software engineering, though I’ve loved the art side of things as long as I can remember (and do my best to dabble as much as possible). I was in the game industry for a few years as a software engineer, and really loved working with the artists there. They were really my favorite group of folks to work with. They were, unfortunately, also the one of the first groups to get raked over the coals whenever layoffs happened (which we experienced a few times), not to mention that they’re a largely underpaid group to begin with. I ended up leaving the game industry but kept my interest in digital art, and when I discovered 3D printing, I started looking into printing miniatures and terrain for D&D and tabletop games.
As I became more familiar with the community and seeing what other artists had to offer, I noticed that a lot of the sites out there were taking just a ridiculous percentage of the artists sales, which made me really upset to see. I thought I could create a site that was really geared towards serving the artists and creators in the community. To do that, I removed any monthly fees associated with selling things, and made sure that we had lower payout rates than pretty much any other site.
Also, most of the sites that I found were just for 3D printing in general. I didn’t find many that were exclusively for the gaming community (though several obviously have a huge selection).
The other aspect of this hobby that I realized was an issue was file storage and organization. After buying and downloading a ton of models, I realized how vulnerable my collection was. Even if I loaded it onto something like Google drive, I still had a hard time finding specific models. To try and tackle both of these issues, I created an online storage service that also offers several organizational tools that can be used for searching/sorting prints.
This was a perfect fit, he’d worked out some of the technical solutions for issues we were facing here at Wargaming3D, had more technical knowledge than we did, and has a solid roadmap for future improvements.
What does this mean for vendors?
Nothing (much) is changing. We are in the process of changing over the paypal accounts from our old ones to MiniHoarder’s, and they have to go through some compliance approvals to use Paypal Masspay. In the short term it does mean that vendors will have to wait until the end of January/Early february for this to be approved by PayPal (boooo!) before we can restart payouts, then they will be business as usual.
But the really big news is that we’ll be able to start onboarding new vendors again. Due to my day job taking up too much time, and some technical mishaps we had to fix in 2020, we hadn’t onboarded any new vendors since March 2020, so have a massive backlog of new vendors waiting to come onto the site. This means that we’ll be able to onboard the historical wargaming vendors for Wargaming3D.com or send those that are more Fantasy/SciFi themed vendors to MiniHoarder.
The other great news is new support for Kickstarter and Patreons. We’ve both supported a bunch of Kickstarters and Patreons ourselves, and had to deal with the pain that is downloading files off Google Drive, Sync, Dropbox, etc. and having them disappear at the end of the month, downloads timeouts, etc.
MiniHoarder currently fixes this by allowing vendors to create products that are hidden from the general public, and only available to those with a specific link. Combined with expanded coupon functionality, it’s possible to provide access to Kickstarter and monthly Patreon rewards directly from the site. Vendors can then turn around and make those same hidden products publicly available without having to mess with third party storage providers, uploading files to a different service, or creating new products. All products on MiniHoarder are hosted by a robust cloud storage service that both protects the vendors’ files and ensures that they can be accessed and downloaded quickly without impacting the web server.
This same setup will eventually be migrated over to Wargaming3D, so that artists and creators will have the ability to serve their store front, Kickstarter backers, and patrons all from the same platform.
We will also aim to fix some of the issues that have plagued the site for a while, like timeout errors when the site is under high load, customers accidentally purchasing more than one copy of a STL etc.
What does this mean for customers?
First of all it means better customer support. Due to my day job I’ve often been slow to respond to emails, often having to wait until the weekend or even longer. With Jonathan and the MiniHoarder team handling customer service, you can expect prompt responses to your questions and better customer service.
You’ll also see a tonne of new products on both sites.
Will the Old Team still be around?
Yes, while we are no longer running the site, we will be actively engaged helping Jonathan and the MiniHoarder team find new creators to add, actively printing and reviewing products, writing a tonne of new articles, and doing the thing that we’ve missed out over the last few months, printing, painting and gaming with 3D printed wargaming miniatures. We’ll all still be helping moderate the Facebook Group, posting to the Facebook Page, and Instagram.
Wargaming3D.com actually started as a blog rather than a marketplace, with Mike and Deweycat writing articles around what they were learning while 3D Printing for games like Bolt Action, so I’ll be happy to return to my roots and focus more on the blogging side of the site. All our regular creators have a tonne of new products to add shortly too!
What does this mean for the future?
Both Wargaming3D and MiniHoarder are sites that really want to provide a valuable service for the gaming and tabletop communities, as well as the artists that create for them. While there are a lot of plans for changes down the road that we hope will make life easier for both the artists and the customers, our current focus will be on updating technical systems being used by the site, onboarding new vendors and helping them to get up and running, and migrating some of the more useful aspects of MiniHoarder over to Wargaming3D (hello cloud storage!).
So please join us all in welcoming our new alien overlord – Jonathan from MiniHoarder.