Rollercoaster Tycoon meets Elite Dangerous

Hi everyone. This month has been a rollercoaster. Not the up and downy kind, but more the going round in circles and running sideways kind.

Forward progress on the actual book content has been kind of slow, especially in the last couple of weeks. Another thousand or so words of sample adventure has resulted in a rewrite of that adventure’s scope. The original intent was to have the three adventures all set in the Morten-Marte system with different scope – one in the system space, one on the station and one on the planet.

On review, though, I think that’s too restrictive and doesn’t really provide enough scope for a diverse sample of the Elite universe. I thus decided that the whole Morten-Marte scenario would be templated to be a single adventure and I’d write two other separate adventures with different premises and illustrate more of the universe.

The second concept for an adventure is a traditional “dungeon hack” style adventure, with our heroes delving deep into a rather old hollowed out asteroid base – what in the original Elite era would have been described as a “Rock Hermit”, but by the turn of the 34th century has evolved into something rather different…

The third idea was for something set in one the core systems of either the Federation or the Empire (or maybe the border of both), thus providing a triad of locations and styles – one with Frontier intrigue, one with Independent action and one with Core politics. Hopefully that sounds more diverse.

The rules system has been given short shrift this month due to the rewrites and all else, so not much progress on that, other than an idea for a reputation score. This would track the character’s reputation in a selected circle (or maybe a variety of circles all with separate reputations).

A large amount of effort this month has centred around the Frontier Forums, and in particular the DDF conversations. Two big things are being discussed, both of which have a relevant impact on the RPG and its structure. The first is the in-system travel model. Should in-system travel be short and non-boring, or long and boring? It’s such an involved concept that no less than 17 polls are involved in the discussion, each on a different aspect of the travel concepts.

How does it affect the RPG? Well, when the party wants to travel to a particular place in a system, how do they do it? Do they program the computer to travel to a set of co-ordinates? Does the computer scan the system and show everything it finds so the navigator can click on it? Does a pre-generated set of “points of interest” show up on screen to be selected? Once the destination has been set, then how does the ship get there? Does it automatically fly there with no chance of human interaction with the process? Does a pilot need to make course corrections and fly it manually? Will the characters have the chance to have conversations and/or walk around the ship, or will they be strapped to inertial dampening chairs unable to move?

All important questions, but there is a more specific issue – do these methods relate to any in-game mechanic that I need to think about for the rules? Is there any such thing as a “spaceship navigation” roll if the ship’s systems do it all themselves?

Two other discussions are around newsfeeds and communications. Those don’t have much of an impact on the book, thank the Lady, so I won’t be following that conversation as closely until the final results start to be worked out. 🙂

The most productive task this month has been the pursuit of Dice. I ordered the dice at the start of the month, and a fair few emails flew back and forward between here and Norfolk regarding the final specifications. Many things changed. First was the design of the logo – I thought the original design was nice, but not particularly special and not very clear. I redesigned it to have homages to the new ED logo and the original Elite logo as well as actually having the work ELITE on there too. The final design was head and shoulders above the original, and after some tweaking looks awesome on the sample dice image I was sent.

Then, the company told me that instead of being limited to only white ink for the logo and spots, I could have Silver. Yes please, I said, then they sent me a test print with Gold ink – with an apology. No apology was needed, because it looked AWESOME. So, some discussions later and the logo and spots became gold. Then they asked if I would prefer pearlescent dice. Shiny and far more special than plain black. So now rather than plain black dice with white spots and logo, we’re now getting pearlescent black dice with gold spots and a new logo.

I hope that’s OK.

The fruits of that work were realised on Friday when I came home from work to find this:

Yes, a box. What’s in the box, uncle Dave?

DICE, that’s what! I now have in my sticky hands the dice you have all been waiting for. Well, that most of you have been waiting for. A BIG bag of dice:

And some plastic boxes to put the 12-sets in. This piccy shows the logo and the box for the 12-sets. Apologies for the dog hair. I didn’t realise he’d been using my throw as a bed, the wacky mutt.

And the 12-dice set pledgers can see what they’re getting here:

So all I need to do now is get the packaging and postage sorted out. So an important message – anyone who has changed address since sending their details through will have to let me know now! (Apart from Mr Vallance who has already got in touch).

Sorry to those who aren’t on the Dice list – I am pretty excited to actually get some tangible REWARDS in my hands that I can start giving out, so I wanted to share it with you. 

I’ve started a new topic on the daftworks forum with status updates. My plan for this is to add short, focused updates on specific things that will hopefully take some of the length out of the main KS update. So far that hasn’t worked, since I’ve focused everything again into this update. Darn.

What’s the perfect level of productivity? Supporting the community and making sure I’m up to speed with the developments in the Elite universe are important, but I think I’m having a difficulty keeping up with the huge amounts of data that are coming in. Podcasts, audio adventures, DDF, PBF and Writer’s Forums whilst remaining productive. It’s a problem I didn’t expect – my available time to work on the project has to fit around my job and my family, which isn’t a problem, but add the time spent keeping up with developments in Elite and its community as well as things like website maintenance, updates, notifications and negotiations with third parties and suddenly things are a little more stretched. Obviously I have the balance wrong, so from this point I will be re-prioritising and focusing more on the project and not the surrounding miasma of Stuff.

On that note is an ironic message. My productivity this month has taken a significant hit from one source. Not family, who have been fantastic. Not work, which although it has been mad busy with deadlines and stuff. A far more nefarious, insidious and scary beast.

The Frontier Forum.

Yep, the source of all this fuss has been the single biggest impact on getting stuff done. Every time I get a five or ten minute break I think “I’ll just quickly check the forum then do something productive”. Then suddenly twenty minutes or half an hour has gone by! It has to stop. My focus has been compromised.

Anyway, that about wraps it up for this month’s BIG update. The plan from here on in is to have some small updates on the DW forum and hopefully that will mean concentrated update goodness (like GAME progress) in these Kickstarter updates.

All the best, everyone.