There is a distinction between these progress reports and the main updates I do through the Kickstarter site and the main RPG site here at DWHQ. The main updates will be a all singing, all dancing update with pots of info for backers and non-backers. Hopefully lots of multimedia will be involved in them too. They'll be done somewhere on the lines of once a month.
The updates here will be progress reports mainly. Not much in the way of all-singing all-dancing multimedia extravaganzas, but more a sort of quick post-it-note stuck to a notice board with bullet points on it and a quick smiley face. They will waffle a bit more than the official updates, since these are more like me "chatting" to you all about the things that are going on. I want to make sure that I don't spend more time writing updates than I do writing game content...
This update in particular is a kind of hodge-podge of news and views, really.
As the dust settled from the Kickstarter and my eye turned to the tasks ahead, I had this impression in my head that there would be news galore to report as progress was made. My problem was that I was basing my own expectations on the other Kickstarters that I'm following that involve GAME design - primarily Elite Dangerous itself and Limit Theory. Their multimedia awesomeness was kind of a benchmark for what I wanted to do for updates.
The only problem is that I'm writing a game that's based in a book. There's no fancy screenshots I can produce, or rolling demos of gameplay. There's no monthly video update to show off as the game rolls towards a prototype. No, there's just text and a few sketches featuring stick men. Limit Theory in particular has skewed my perceptions of progress as well. Josh pushes out a forum-based update every day. He makes significant headway with his code every day and in two months has redefined his own product! All credit to Josh, for he is doing a FANTASTIC job, and his talent is, in my opinion, second to none - his understanding of programming is a level to which I can only sit at my VB.NET developer-themed desk and wish I could aspire to (the VB.NET developer theme is a desk covered in LEGO).
The difference is that Josh is devoting his full time efforts to Limit Theory. Likewise, Frontier Developments are making their progress as their day jobs. I have one hour a day with 2 hours every two or three nights at home to work on this. My day job takes priority, as do the family issues and health issues, so my progress is obviously going to be slower.
I just need to continually remind myself of that.
There are three specific areas of the project I'm working on at the same time.
- Game system
- Sample adventures
- Game setting
I ordered the dice this week too, after strongly criticising my own design of the original Elite logo design I submitted. I redesigned it with a concept in mind (which always helps) rather than just adapting a drawing I made a couple of years ago. The new dice image is far better and represents (I hope) the transition from the original Elite to the new Elite Dangerous developments. And I managed to get the name of the game on there too. Hopefully it will be a meaningful homage to the games, their creators and the community that has supported and funded the new era. My hope is that I'll be able to dispatch the dice pretty soon, depending on how long the delivery time is.
As well as the project itself, the community gets some attention too. I'm trying to keep up with the fast and furious official Elite Dangerous forums. The DDF takes a monstrous amount of time to keep up with, and I've had to admit that I just don't have the time. I'm skimming most of it now (especially now that there are THREE discussions going on) and waiting for the end results. I've tried to have SOME involvement, especially on the game mechanics that will be relevant to the RPG, and have made sure to get copies of the final decisions on things like the shield mechanics and hyperspace travel.
I'm also sporadically working on and discussing some of the writer's bible stuff too. Which reminds me that I haven't submitted a third draft of my corporation concepts. Must get on that. We're also working on fleshing out some games-within-games that the writers (and RPG makers) can include in their works and that might hopefully get included in ED if possible. I'm trying to develop a dice-based one that can be included within the RPG and give all the KS pledgers something else to use their dice with between RPG sessions!!
I think I'm spending too much time on the Frontier forum, to be honest. I might have to take a step back from it and disable my topic notifications to get some peace to work on the book.
On that subject, my focus needs to be altered. I think I'm spending too much time worrying about the surrounding aspects of the project. The Frontier forums, the Daftworks/EliteRPG website and forum, playing with SpaceEngine to give people pretty things to look at, and so on. The difficulty is trying to balance the needs of the pledgers and followers with the actual work that needs to be done to get this book finished by next March. I want all the text parts of it nailed down by the midpoint (September), but I am aware that a lot of that depends on the progress Frontier make with their development.
The Alpha release of Elite Dangerous will be a busy time, as that's when the elements of the computer game and the RPG should finally start to coalesce. The ship behaviours and ship-to-ship combat model will come together at that point, as will some of the more specific graphical elements of the illustrations in the book (like ship diagrams and drawings).
At home, some things are working in favour of being able to focus on the work at hand. I live in a full house, where we have been sleeping in the living room and using the 6 foot square box room as a dressing room for about a year since my daughter had a baby. She recently left for her own flat and thus we can get our bedroom back and start using the box room as an office/study/spare bedroom. Which means I get my own space to use as the Daftworks HQ. No television or other myriad distractions!
Bliss! All I need to do is fumigate and decorate the main bedroom and the transfer of furniture can start. I still have my venerable computer desk and office chair in the shed, so they will be dusted off and used again. The computer desk is the same computer desk that my Amiga and portable tellybox sat on in the late 80s, and at which I became Elite on the Amiga version - legitimately - for the first time. (I was Elite on the Spectrum too, but I cheated. Poke codes were awesome.) So having that desk again for writing Elite Encounters will be like coming full circle...
Anyway, back to work.