The Red Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword

Hello there everyone and welcome to another Elite Encounters update.

I’ve been quiet on the subject of EE for a couple of weeks for a few good reasons. The all-encompassing run towards the submission to Frontier meant that I had to neglect a lot of other real-life stuff in order to achieve that. I took the opportunity to move towards getting some of that stuff sorted out whilst waiting for word back from Frontier and trying to get the VCS rules finalised to submission too (thanks again to Michael for allowing that to happen).

The big thing that needs to be said at this stage is that the feedback from Frontier was received about two weeks ago. And the reasons why it has taken so long to put this on “paper” is that the feedback was not at all what I expected. There has been some back and forward communication between myself and Frontier but responses from FD have been very slow (probably due to the release of The Engineers update).

To cut a long story short, some fundamental content from the RPG needs to be culled. Despite clear note being made of certain concepts during the Kickstarter, Frontier have asked for cuts that compromise the original KS concept to a degree that I am not really happy with. I’m not going to say too much about it right now as I’m still waiting for a but more detail in the feedback from Frontier to determine exactly how deep the red pen will go and if there are any compromises that can be reached.

A summary of the changes will be forthcoming, but the most fundamental aspect of the feedback is that I have been asked to remove 100,000 words from the total word count of the book. This reduces the book from 250,000 words to 150,000 words. Frontier have asked me to seriously edit the background and lore section in particular. The trouble is that the entire lore and background section is onlyt about 90,000 words – so if I removed the entire lore and background section (which I can’t do in an RPG) then I would still be 5,000 words short of the requirement.

Obviously this is something that I feel will cripple the structure and integrity of the book. Even if I remove half of the background section, I have no idea where to find the other 47,000 words that need to be removed to meet that target, given that the rest of the book contains the rules, equipment, scenarios and other important content that needs to be there.

So as you may imagine, I’m really rather concerned about what is going to happen. I know that the editing process can be brutal and that much-loved content can be culled by the editor’s pen, but the depth of the cuts needed to meet the demand of removing two-fifths of the book were unexpected. I’ve asked for a little more detailed feedback on exactly what the expectations are and have suggested some compromises on content – I am still awaiting feedback from David Braben and the team on this at the moment.

Where does this leave the editing process and the release dates?

OK, the proofreading has been a positive experience. Many changes to be made and many suggestions, but on the whole the proofreaders have been positive in regards to the structure, flow and writing style. Game-related content again has been quite positively received with some suggestions there as well. My volunteer editor has made a start on the process and had just given my his first round of suggestions when the feedback from Frontier came in.

Obviously I’m reluctant to start implementing those changes and suggestions until I have some more clarity from Frontier, and at this stage I have no idea how long this will take. This is why I’ve waited so long to write this, as I was trying to hold off until I had some direction. I’ve obviously had some time now for things to sink in and for my ever-spinning brain to come up with some initial directions so I won’t be going from a standing start when that feedback hopefully comes in.

The issue is around the projected release date. I asked Frontier if I would be allowed to release the book in sections – since the rules and lists would be more-or-less edit free, my suggestion was to release the rules in July as planned then add in the background and tech sections in once those had been approved. However, once again Frontier have stated that they will not accept a partial release – it’s one book, and will be released as such. Sorry.

Frontier have extended the submission window to September 1st to allow time to get the edits in and go through re-approval. I intend to get this done long before then, and am confident that, if communications are maintained in a reasonable timescale, that the release will still happen before the end of the summer. 

Update Schedule and Other Secondary Matters

Since the editing and other remaining work are still going to be quite time consuming, I will not be doing regular updates through the Kickstarter or through the twitch channel. This is in order to maintain my RPG work ethic as being focused on the release rather than other matters. This also means that dice, dice rings and other postal stuff will also be put on the back burner until the book is done. I did attempt to set aside time during the last couple of weeks to do these things but real life kind of took over. I’m not going into exactly why because that’s my own business, but I hope you will understand.

Obviously during this I will still be adhering to the work-life balance I am struggling to maintain and will be continuing to attend to family matters and partaking in “downtime” to support my productivity. This means that yes, the Monday night twitch streams will remain a regular (possibly semi-regular) occurrence. Again I here state that this is being done in order to ensure that I can switch off the working part of my brain after a 70 hour working week (combining day job and RPG work). Sadly the days when working on this RPG were “fun” are long gone – it’s nothing more than a job now, but the drive towards quality is still foremost.

Signing Off

That’s about it for now. The RPG will be released and is another step closer at the time of this update than it was. The steps forwards have been difficult and there are more difficult decisions to be made ahead. I intend to defend the integrity of the RPG’s content to the best of my ability over the coming weeks, and I again ask for your patience whilst I work through the next (hopefully very short) phase.

If you have any questions or feedback, please let me know. I would again ask that any re-stating of points that have previously been hammered into the ground be avoided if you would be so kind.

All the best,