The motto of "Fast, Good or Cheap but only two at a time" is a good rule of thumb to follow for any kind of project, especially those that require hiring other people. Sometimes you have to make do with just one, and sometimes you get to have all three, but most of the time you should be planning with two in mind. Last time I checked I wasn't in the shovelware business, and placing my budget somewhere between A and F nets you a G. That leaves time as the sacrificial scapegoat.
But hey patience is a virtue, good things come to those who wait, a delayed game is eventually good while a bad game is bad forever and so on and so forth. Where I'm going with this is that getting art for a two hundred page book has been going slowly. You need to give your eyes something juicy to taste in between all the rules, descriptions, guidelines and whatnot. Big names in the RPG trade know this and have least one piece of art every two or three pages, while the indie side tends to show a few illustrations every ten pages or so then repeat them in their bestiary or gallery of example NPCs at the end.
I'm going for a middle of the road approach, with something to let your eyes rest from all the words every five pages or so, though most of it would be bunched up in the end chapter. Without doing repeats that means that means forty unique pieces to cover two hundred pages. Anime is a popular thing, so if you spend some time looking and you'll find some pretty good artists who can do character design cheaply and without taking forever to finish.
|The very first BCG design piece that I received.|
Mecha art is a completely different issue though. Turns out mechanical design isn't so easy to come by! Our triad of Fast, Good or Cheap comes into the picture here, so it is going to take longer than expected to get everything finished. Do I have a tentative date? I currently have half of the art I'd like to have, so let's say around December/January.
On the positive side that means more time for me to make sure everything else is in order. It is plenty enough for proofreading to hell and back, tinkering with layout to find optimal arrangements, and adjusting the balance of things up and down as necessary. I think it is going to be for the better.
What Comes Next
I intend to use the next few months on the next step of the process: Expanding the game. That means rules and guidelines to better adapt the rules to sub-genres of Mecha like fantasy a la Dunbine or Escaflowne. It means including a Sanity system for games where PCs are neurotic and either suffer it like in Evangelion or revel in it like Getter Robo. It means more complex abilities like Downgrades that weaken your Mecha but grant you extra MP and Genre Powers that scale in usefulness if you spend Energy or Actions when using them. There is more, but let's not start building castles in the sky yet.
None of these will be coming out until BCG is finished, and they're barely more than drafts for the time being. But the plan is that you'll be able to take a look at them not too long after BCG is out. I think it'll be along the lines of a hundred more pages worth of content. Will a hundred pages really take a little over half a year? Well, yes. Probably.
I do most of my RPG writing on weekends and the occassional weekday night, this timeframe covers anything that goes into a manual, stress testing PCs/NPCS, and even this blog. I come up with new ideas during my one hour of train ride to and back from work, and that is also when I write proof of concept PC/NPCs using them as well as doing the general number crunching. A short aside: I have realized during the past few years that I have something of an addiction and that I can't even watch TV without a notepad next to me because I always come up with something while I least expect it. It is usually between ten and twenty hours per week, not counting actually playing and running games or the stuff I do while I'm away from home.
Good writers can do a thousand words of coherent writing that won't make an editor cry in an hour on a good day. I wrote most of the GM advice section during a single afternoon, at a rate of one 900-1000 word page per hour. Most of the time it would take me somewhere between one and two hours, and that is ignoring any time spent planning out how to write it, researching the subject matter or, God forbid, the time wasted when inspiration does not come easy.
Obviously this breaks down entirely when it comes to rules. Designing a single Weapon in a way that communicates clearly what it is and how to use it can take one minute or ten, for example. Then there is all the rewriting that inevitably happens during the development process. For a hobby it feels a lot like work. Funny thing, that.
|But then I look at this little guy and it is all so very worth it.|
That concludes our Status Report. I have considered that, since it is going to take time anyway, I could run a quick one month crowdfunding campaign to add more art and chop off some more months of waiting time. The big problem with that option is that my country is batshit tsundere about the US Dollar to the point that companies put bizarre barriers on their services offered here. It can be solved, but it is a hassle.
I said this before but it bears repeating, no matter what happens the rules will be available for free. Games exist to be played. It sounds obvious, but I think a lot of designers fail to realize this, and I'm not a fan of RPGs that are commercial products first and games second.