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Game Design: Step by Step

Redux Sux: Crafting a Second Edition

by Gareth-Michael Skarka
Jun 07,2002

 

Game Design: Step by Step

Redux Sux: Crafting a Second Edition

Welcome back.

The last time we spoke, it was almost two years ago, and I had come to the end of my design process for UnderWorld (you can go back and read the old columns here). Well, the game was released in August of 2000, got some good reviews (check the archives here for a few, if you're interested). I was fairly pleased with it, although I was painfully aware of the game's problems, most of which were in the realms of editing.

Fast forward to now.

I left Synister Creative Systems in late 2001, to form my own venture, Adamant Entertainment, taking all of the rights to UnderWorld with me. Checking on the inventory levels with Wizards Attic, I was pleased to learn that we were near to selling out all of the remaining copies of the first printing (a goal that we have since achieved). At the time, I saw this as a signal that perhaps it was a good time to wrap things up, call it quits, and walk away. I'd been working in the industry for over a decade, and the thought of starting from scratch again, without the sales generated by an existing product, was daunting.

Then, in the space of one week, I received three separate inquiries about licensing the UnderWorld property. Discussions with the potential licensees revealed that it would be a much more advantageous situation if the property was an active one, rather than a defunct, out-of-print game. It was therefore a natural choice to plan for a reprint of the game, this time with Adamant's logos and stock numbers. That thought barely had time to gestate before the next natural step presented itself: why bother to just put out a redux?

There are problems in the first edition that I'm all too aware of... the aforementioned editing problems, some art choices that I personally disagreed with, minor things here and there. More importantly, a planned supplement, DownBelow, the UnderWorld Companion, had never been produced, despite having completed text and artwork ready to go. The plan began to form. Relaunch UnderWorld as an Adamant product, corrected, expanded to about twice the content, and with no compromise in the vision that the creators have for it.

We set a release date of Fall 2002 (Ed. Corrected from 2003; see comments below )...after GenCon. Too often, publishers rush to produce product in time for the big summer shows, and in my opinion, that's a mistake. It not only results in time-crunch production compromises, but also in a HUGE influx of new product which overwhelms retailers.

Think about it. You're a retailer with, for the sake of argument, a 2000-a-month budget for games. In a normal month, there are 20 new releases, 5 of which are from your top sellers. Hence, you're more likely to try out some of the other 15, including the brand new publishers coming out that month. Then August comes around, and there are 200 new releases, 50 of which are from your top-sellers. Guess where your money is going. You're going to stock the proven product, or the new product from proven publishers, and if you run out of money before reaching the new publishers, then they're just out of luck.

So, we're skipping the GenCon feeding-frenzy, in favor of releasing the second edition of UnderWorld in November, which puts it in stores in time for Christmas.

Between now and then, we're presenting this column, so you can see the decisions behind the design and production of a second edition: What gets cut, what gets added, new art, how things are marketed, production considerations, etc.

...and when I say we, I mean we. Normally, I'll be your guide through this process. However, from time to time, one of my partners will take a spot on center stage, giving you some idea of what they're working on, and we're also planning on letting a couple of artists show you their process from the ground up as well.

Of course, this being RPGnet, the column will have its interactive side as well. We here at Adamant will be reading and actively participating in the forums for this column, and as veterans of the original columns will attest, the discussions in the forums can have an affect on the direction of our decisions. I would say "be gentle", but honestly, where's the fun in that?

Alright, that's it for this week. I know it's a little bit lite, and I'm sure that a lot of you want me to get right to the meat. Sorry, but I had to give some background for the new folks...whaddaya want for an introduction?

Alright---I can give a little. Take a look at this piece of promotional artwork (by the amazing Jon Hodgson), featuring the new logo for UnderWorld (designed by me). Compare it to the old logo. Let me say, for the record, that I liked the old logo. A lot of people, however, griped about not being able to decipher tag script. So, we come up with a title logo that is a bit clearer... this doesn't mean that we're ditching the tags, only that we're not using them for the cover. The urban vibe of grafitti is a necessary part of the game, and will remain, but making the game a little clearer from across a crowded game store is in our best interests, so there ya go. Feel free to discuss.

See ya in 7,

Gareth-Michael Skarka TQo0~^DҒt< ek&Ǿ$\۵ZFȃuwݝIŃU QYir2HR2.u3MFoعq]4#A`pP5(b& )b)ⰾp7(i<[-2gL#5[f g?*rVGf8*)s'+20ϟ̑F}KB<7wSL\gbvm9WiRބYŜvd y0'p2I_Fc2>#o A )VL[Qk?3`)<У[(*W.JH ?tXCt谙 X:@ \0w ~LqĤE-rFkYœj4q 5AQ6[AxG [>w|?( fХθY䝛$c=_qNĦoǸ>O_|&/_Mi7"宥CЧk0dӷLh;TmuCGU-!Ul{ h<\bQX.~"O2*yPcz!ŠGg

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