Sunday, January 24, 2016

RM Update #2

I've kept a blogging promise exactly one time! Yay!

It was a productive week on the Red Markets front. I wrote a contract for freelance work (not exactly poetry, but necessary), and I gave notes on another piece of incoming art. I finished the gear list that I was working on in time for the start of the new playtest campaign. We stated up a nifty little enclave on Thursday night and made characters. The concepts are all a little "fraggle-rock" right now, but that's how every campaign starts out with the RPPR crew.

I didn't get a chance to revise the entire Materialism chapter like I'd hoped, but other parts of the book got done. I added the rules for enclave creation into the core book by adapting and expanding on the previous "Campaign Playtest Addendum" writing. I also finished the MBA Rules.

MBA Rules will probably be stretch goals, as they are not essential to the core gameplay of Red Markets. Basically, it's the advanced, optional stuff for players that really want to get into the nitty-gritty of the economics rules. Thus far, the chapter contains rules for running a small business, investing (basically playing the stock market in the zombie apocalypse), working a double (two jobs at once), pro bono (doing jobs for free) and loans.  I had rules for everything drafted up except loans. It was bothering me that the section was incomplete, so I finished off MBA instead of diving into the Materialism revisions. That's the haphazard method by which drafts get finished. At least for me.

For this week, Materialism revisions will likely have to wait a little longer. I need to get a chapter laid out and a template established before I can price how much the book will cost per page. I feel silly paying someone to do that with Lorem Ipsum when I could get post-Beta revisions entered into a chapter and have the graphic designer use that instead. The gear chapter is a bad choice for the job (too many stat blocks to be a representative sample, for readers or for my accounting needs). That means I'll have to fast-track another chapter for revision so I have something to give the graphic designers.

Right now, I'm thinking Combat. After the chapter detailing the Profit System, it's the one that's changed the least as a result of playtest feedback. The Profit System explanation is probably too short to constitute the 20-page sample chapter I want done before the KS, so it looks like Combat it is.

We'll see if I can get it done with school starting back up after a week of snow days. It'll be tight. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

New Strategy: Red Markets Progress Updates

My crappy history of blogging is a matter of public record. Let us not belabor the point any longer here.

EXCEPT... it is looking like Red Markets plans (established previously here) are still on pace for a late March/early June crowdfunding campaign. I find myself in the unenviable position of being caught up on work, while being desperately behind on digital presence to promote aforementioned work. I really don't want to get Red Markets polished only to launch the Kickstarter to silence because I appear online as a digital ghost with all the credibility of a Nigerian prince.

So, since nearly every ounce of my time is thrown at Red Markets, let's make the blog part something easy enough for me to keep up with: short updates on what I'm currently doing for Red Markets.

I figure this fits in well-enough with the our podcast's educational focus that some of you might be interested. And even if you aren't looking into game design yourself, Hebanon Games has always been about radical transparency: showing off my crappy first drafts is about as radical as it gets.

Weekly updates on what I'm furiously typing during my lunch break is what you can expect over the next few months. I'll try to get at least one out a week. But before then, we should probably have a brief recap on what has gone on in the last year since I last blogged.

  • We have 16, soon to be 17, completed pieces of art ready to show off in the Kickstarter.
  • I'm working on a contract for some talented graphic designers that want to do layout for the book. We should have 20 pages of complete text to show off what the final book will look like if we make the color stretch goal. I'll also be using this layout to plan for the printing costs.
  • RPPR has begun posting the playtest campaign we used to get the beta ready for release: The Brutalists. Listen to what the game kind of plays like, excluding those thousands of revisions I'm currently making.
  • After four months and over 200 downloads of the beta. I received over 50 playtest reports and about as many hours of recorded audio. Thanks so much for the feedback! Without the help of RPPR fans, I could never hope for so many playtesters for a game as "indie" as Red Markets.
  • The changelog I've compiled from the reports just exceeded twenty pages. It is now the itinerary that consumes my every waking moment.
  • We've started post-Beta revisions. I've run a couple of one-shots to test major rules changes, and Ross starts a campaign Thursday. I'll actually get to play my own game! We'll use this campaign to hash out some of the more long-term stuff, like advanced "MBA rules" and advancement economies.

What have you done to Red Markets today?

I always begin my iterations of Red Markets on the gear list. I know it seems counter-intuitive to start with items that are so dependent on core mechanics, but I find that a stat block serves as the most condensed rules reference I can make and keeps the focus on the game's theme of materialism. Here are my goals:
  • Edit out some old quality tags that snuck in from Alpha iterations
  • Add in new quality tags to reflect post-beta rules changes
  • Reorganize from alphabetical to alphabetical by type (weapons, armor, tools, etc) to assist in reference
  • Respec the stat block to reflect changes on the characters sheet and a vertical orientation for the A4 print layout
  • Add upgrades that add utility and depth to character creation and advancement
  • Alter prices to alleviate 
  • Add in some more near-future equipment to help build setting into the character.
  • Add short descriptions of the gear outside the stat block, especially for Red Markets specific equipment. These descriptions will be necessary for players that haven't listened to me ramble on about this shit for the last four years. The text will also be necessary if we can afford to put example art next to each entry (probably a pipe dream, but planning for the best is planning for the worst when it comes to Kickstarter.
Here's an example of what it looks like

This is by no means a complete list. There will probably be a couple of rounds of testing new gear in the current playtest campaign, but I'm trying to finalize a format. My hope is to finish this (currently 30+ pages long) list by Thursday so that we can incorporate the new stuff into the new campaign. I've already made my one-armed, one-legged negotiator, "Half-off," in preparation for the test.

What's Next?

Well, probably this...

That's the length of the beta draft. With the now completed GM chapter and MBA Rules (advanced economic stuff for heavy users), it's probably more like 125K right now. All of that text needs to be revised for the following issues...
  • Laura, my brilliant new copy editor, has made effort to curb my capitalization addiction. With a new style guide in hand, I have to reign in some of the inconsistencies that naturally result from writing something over the course of years.
  • Rules changes are like stones thrown in the pond. Some very fundamental rules changes resulted from the Beta, and even small alterations have ripple effects across 100K+ words of text. I've got to revise what I know needs to change now, and leave blanks for what I'm still testing.
  • Writing be hard y'all. Me words grammers ain't so good maybe times.
After the gear list is done, I'll start revising the Gear chapter (explaining rules related to equipment more in depth) while the changes are still fresh in my mind. From there, I'll start revisions on the core mechanics (Profit System in the beta) and move through the draft from there.

Alright! Update complete! Keep me honest out there, and thanks for your continued interest in Red Markets.