Well, hi everyone!
A good bit of progress this month, but again epic fail on the update schedule. Maybe I just need to accept that I'm going to default to monthly for the rest of the year and stop worrying about it. As long as the work is getting done - which is, after all, the important bit.
Outside of the Work thing, the most important thing that's happened this month is LaveCon - the Lave Radio bods put on a FANTASTIC event on the 29th, and everyone who was there REALLY enjoyed it. I posted a decent general review on the Frontier forums, so feel free to run over and read that.
From an Elite Encounters point of view, the convention included a Writers' Q&A session which I was part of. I got to introduce the RPG to the crowd and answer a few questions about it. The questions and answers were (apologies, as the content may not be 100% accurate - it's not a transcript):
Grant Woolcott: Are you creating the game from scratch or basing it on something else?
Dave Hughes: I'm creating it from scratch. I could have based it on something like Open D6 or Open D20.
To expand on that, the system needs to be a custom one in my opinion, basically because the intent from the start was to tie as much of the system as possible into the Elite: Dangerous game. Things like the shield management or firing mechanisms might be included in the RPG as game mechanics, so the flexibility had to be there. Also, the plan is to make the game as accessible as possible for new players and veteran roleplayers alike.
Rufus Glyn: What makes this system different from Star Frontiers or Traveller?
Chris Forrester: It might be an idea to explain what those are for the non-roleplayers in the audience.
Rufus: Star Frontiers is a scifi RPG that has a more strategic element but is in a space opera setting. Traveller was the first sci fi RPG.
Dave Hughes: If I remember my rumours correctly, Traveller was one of the inspirations for some parts of the original Elite. [turns to Michael Brookes] Is that true?
Michael Brookes: Yes, Ian Bell referenced some of the Traveller mechanics.
Dave: One thing I've stopped myself from doing is reviewing other game systems whilst writing the system for this game. I don't want to let myself be influenced by what works and what doesn't work in other systems. I'm doing something very similar to what David Braben says, which is making a game that I want to play. I'm drawing on my experiences as a player and as a GM for the last 20 years, as well as the experiences from writing the original Elite Encounters at uni.
To expand on that, I want the game to be fun and I want it to be an "Elite-like" experience. My ultimate goal is that it should be story-based gaming where the players and GM work together to "act" out a story rather than for play to grind to a dice-rolling halt every time a combat or encounter happens. Recently I've said the word "immersion" a lot in reference to Elite Dangerous, and the same word should apply to an RPG. Enjoyable sessions for me were when the story trundled along at a good pace and the action flowed. Dice rolling is an inevitable and enjoyable part of an RPG, but there needs to be a balance between dice and roleplaying. It's called a "roleplaying game" not a "dice-rolling game". ;-)
That's all I can remember at the moment. Lave Radio are releasing the convention's recording as a podcast at some point in the next couple of weeks, so I'll let you know when that comes out and you can listen for yourself to the stuttering, erm-packed, panicked answers!
The lead up to the convention changed the focus of the month somewhat, and it was a golden opportunity to start putting together a set of rules for ship combat with the ultimate aim to have a playable demonstration of the miniatures system, including a test run on the most basic methods of designing and making counters for the game.
The effort was a success (just) and I did indeed take a sample to the convention, but there just wasn't any free time for us to give it a go! My thanks go out to Ian Phillips from the Frontier Forum for helping cut out the counters on Saturday evening, and my apologies for the fact that they didn't actually get used!
The process of developing the demo was useful, in that it allowed me to collate the output from the Elite Dangerous Design Decision Forum that related to the system. The shield and ship movement rules in particular are valuable for the RPG, as they will become part of the rules for both movement and combat in the full ruleset.
So - this month's major progress has been in developing space-based mechanics. I have started developing a matrix to use for converting the ship stats from the computer games into numeric stats for the RPG. The fact that I intend to provide enough resources for players and GMs to set games in any of the four main eras of Elite history means that stats and information have to be provided for ships in each era. Some ships that were in one game are not in others. Elite Dangerous in its initial release will have 25 playable ships as well as a few non-playable ones, and each of these need to be in the RPG alongside the ships from the previous games. Can the rulebook fit all this information in its ever-expanding covers? We'll need to wait and see - it depends on how much information is needed for each ship!
This month's plan is to revise and review the system rules one more time before launching the Alpha testing and Game Dev forums. I'll also be finalising the plot of the first sample adventure and submitting it to Frontier hopefully before the end of this week (Sunday) so that the testers will have something to test with! I will be organising a few alpha tests myself both live and online to see how well the system translates to both media. :)
If you've pledged at the right level for these, please keep an eye on your inbox and on the Daftworks forum for more information.
During the EE Kickstarter, I highlighted a computer game development called Spatial Flux - a sprite based sci-fi RPG/sim that blasted through its target and is currently in development. The same guy is currently in the last week of his next campaign to produce a graphic novel. You can check out his campaign and if it takes your interest then please donate!
This time I can promise that the next update will be sooner than normal, because I have a pretty exciting announcement and offer. I need to finalise the details then I'll let you know more. :-)
Thanks again for reading and for pledging and see you soon!