Following a somewhat short but intense session of testing on Saturday, I feel very confident about the development of my interactive mechanic for roleplaying ... and all the more confident since it has become evident among some who have been using the system for two months now that the overall structure is actually teaching them how to roleplay. This was a subject that was discussed at length Saturday, since the mixture included middle aged players who had been part of numerous kinds of campaigns and roleplaying formats for decades, and teenagers who had absolutely no experience with roleplaying whatsoever.
In a staged roleplaying head-to-head using the conflict system, the 17-year-old girl and the 16-year-old boy went against two men aged 44 and 38. Two groups attempted to convince each other to stay in town and rob the people there, or leave town and seek adventure elsewhere. Roleplaying was attempted, some of it better than worse. Much laughter occurred. Much shouting and throwing of cards down on tables also occurred. A short sword fight broke out in the middle of it, which was then belayed. In the end, after an unusually protracted tug-of-war, the young girl won. That was as good as it got.
One other important discussion came out of the evening. It was noted that for the most part, the players themselves did not really care very much about the pictures that had been selected for the backs of the cards. This was a mock-up set of the game, and the assumption has been all along that the cards would need images to give them a sense of value. But after watching the players for two months, and the way they used and managed the cards when they were not in use, it has become clear to me (having had it pointed out) that perhaps my initial assumption that each card does not in fact need a picture.
This is a phenomenal redirection of the business plan. For those who have generously made contributions already, I would like to reassure you before continuing that the production of the game will still require art, and that the money received will still go directly into the hands of artists. At the same time, I find that I must rescind my call for artists to produce images for the gaming cards. Instead, I will be contracting with local artists for fewer pictures, for which I will pay considerably higher fees (slashing my budget 75% in art yet allows as much).
I apologize to those online who were hoping to get in on this project. Unfortunately, my focus is fixated upon the business proposition. The gain benefit of having the art work attached to the cards does not match the projected return. This is one of the reasons why things are tested - to remove or eliminate misconceptions and to force a rethink of the product.
Overall, the change will seriously reduce the difficulties in production, the cost of production and the period of time between now and when I should be able to make the system available. I can't say just yet what the new schedule will be ... but certainly earlier than the previously given date of September 1st.
I should like to say that given that this interactive idea has now been in existence for less than three months, I'm moving rather fast here. I want to reassure some gentle readers that the testing is not 'done' ... I'm really only at the place where now I feel confident enough to start sketching out the rule book and recreating the language and presentation of the cards. Writing the rulebook is already proving to be a huge headache, having all the pleasure of writing out your resume.
The moving fast issue encourages me not to rush too fast into production. While September was four and a half months away (and we would have probably missed that release date), the fact that now I could foresee pushing the envelope and having this done in six weeks does not make it a good idea. A little more time could still reveal something that I and others involved with the project so far have failed to identify.
So, once again, an apology to artists whom I've now let down. My reassurance to contributors so far that their money is going into the hands of offline artists I'm communicating with. Great, encouraging things happening on the gameplay/roleplay aspect of the system. And overall, a drop in my overhead will mean a lower price overall.