Second Edition is Coming in the Year 3000

General discussion of the Victory by Any Means campaign system
darbycmcd
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Re: Second Edition is Coming in the Year 3000

Postby darbycmcd » Wed Dec 03, 2014 8:43 pm

First of all, thanks for the update.

Now I will try to ask this as gently as possible. I had bought all the products of 1E, because I, like many of us who still stick around here, like the game but also like a bit more detail. From what I have seen of the new 2E, it is.... very simple. I think that is fine for a base that will be built up with additions, like the previous version. But by itself, I have to say I have little interest in switching to this edition. The question is, given the history of this company turning out products, what is a real, no crap estimation of when some expansions would come out? I don't mean to sound harsh, but if it is going to be 6 years until there is a system generation method other than what we have.... I think it is -1 sale for me. Now I really honestly do hope that things can hum along now that this is done, but.....

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Re: Second Edition is Coming in the Year 3000

Postby mwaschak » Wed Dec 03, 2014 9:03 pm

<snip>

The release model will be exactly that of 1e. As we said when we started this project, 1e will still be completely supported so don't feel obligated to switch. However the new books will support 2e.

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Re: Second Edition is Coming in the Year 3000

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Wed Dec 03, 2014 9:56 pm

That was a fast response, Darby!

I'd say in your case you'd probably be happier holding off and waiting for a couple of new books to come out. Then you can query the audience or take a look at the campaign reports that are coming out of 2E and deciding whether or not it's worth jumping to the new edition.

The core rules have been a pain because we have had to keep them simple so that it doesn't become a gnarly mess of rules exceptions and spot rules. The earlier versions of 2E that tended towards that route (including the 250+ page monstrosity that Shall Not be Named) became a quagmire not only to digest but to try and write rules for. There were simply too many moving parts, and it was a mess.

The advanced optional rules such as those for system generation have been bubbling and fermenting since 2E began, and that is more or less a "solved" issue. Once I put 2E to bed, it's just a case of dusting off the rules, making sure they fit the current iteration of the game, and running with it. There are some changes I'm going to be making to the advanced sysgen based on what I've learned from trying to hack away at the VBAM rules in 2E, but that's really not going to be hard to do.

I'm still confident that a second full supplement would be ready to release within 3 months of the Campaign Guide's release. I also have a smaller release that just needs to be updated to the current 2E rules and it will be ready for release, minus a bit of artwork that would probably take a weekend to put together.

The damnedest thing about this entire 2E process is that the content is all *there*, but it's just a case of slotting it together in a way that works and then presenting it in a format that's usable. One step forward and two step backs seems to be our company mantra at this point, but things are finally getting close to being ready to go.
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Re: Second Edition is Coming in the Year 3000

Postby darbycmcd » Thu Dec 04, 2014 2:51 am

Thats great to hear. I suspected that there was lots of material out there, it is just a matter of getting it kicked out the door. It would be great to also see a little life in the Boltian and Escalation universes.

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Re: Second Edition is Coming in the Year 3000

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Thu Dec 04, 2014 4:11 pm

Some days working on VBAM has felt like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, and it hasn't been much better for those of you that booked passage on this cruise liner, but the upshot is that we do have a lot of content that we've been waiting to publish once 2E was done.

Now that we're releasing the rules to playtesters again and getting some good feedback on things that we might want to add or change, I think we're getting much closer to the finish line. I have several sections of the rules blocked out with my strikethrough text that needs updated, but those sections are getting fewer and farther between.

There is still the possibility for a few shakeups as we do the last round of playtesting, but I don't foresee anything earthshaking as the shift in focus after Glorious Stars to now.
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Re: Second Edition is Coming in the Year 3000

Postby virtutis.umbra » Thu Dec 04, 2014 10:18 pm

For what it's worth, I'm extremely eager to see a lean, mean, minimalistic set of tabletop 4x space empire game rules. I'm very encouraged to hear that you're paring down to a hybrid core that's somewhere between the 1E and prior draft 2E rules; I'm hoping that means the optional modular extra bits will give me lots of different "dials" to turn to suit my needs.

I want a system that I can use to tell all kinds of space-empire stories and run all kinds of space-empire games:
  • Roleplay-heavy and fiddly detailed exploration solo games at a rate of one turn per week.
  • Face-to-face eight-player one-turn-per-hour bare-metal campaign framework with Full Thrust tactical combat.
  • Plodding, play-by-post, one or two turns per month, GM-moderated diplomatic/economic/political/military statecraft simulator with scheduled events, random disasters, and "AI" NPEs running along side player factions.
  • A mostly-randomized "Backdrop" simulation for determining the grander sweep of affairs in a sci-fi setting for which a group of players are PCs in a smaller-scale traditional pen-and-paper RPG as the crew of a starship or what-have-you.

A tall order, I know, but in my humble opinion the key to having ONE game that can even have a hope of doing all those things reasonably well is to have a slim, coherent, focused, rock-solid core that's fast and fluent. So, I'm encouraged to hear the emphasis on a clear, consistent, no-frills initial rules set as a base for further modules.

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Re: Second Edition is Coming in the Year 3000

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Thu Dec 04, 2014 10:30 pm

virtutis.umbra wrote:For what it's worth, I'm extremely eager to see a lean, mean, minimalistic set of tabletop 4x space empire game rules. I'm very encouraged to hear that you're paring down to a hybrid core that's somewhere between the 1E and prior draft 2E rules; I'm hoping that means the optional modular extra bits will give me lots of different "dials" to turn to suit my needs.


It seems the tipping point with each previous iteration of the 2E rules has been when the rules got too big, too unwieldy, and starting creaking under the weight of all the extra chrome. One of the design goals with 2E has been to keep the core rules themselves at or around the length of 1E, which is about 60 pages. Less than that seems to strip out too much, and more than that muddies the waters too much. This has led to a lot of consolidation, culminating in the April edit that has been percolating since then.

My biggest design hangup is that there's a lot of rules that I consider integral to my own VBAM campaign experience. The hardest part of developing 2E has been coming to the realization that what I consider a primary focus really isn't what the rules can or should be about. The slow process of pushing certain aspects of the rules back to marginalia has made up a large part of this year's development.

I'm really excited to get started on the solo campaign ideas and put them into the next book to give guidance on that front, as that is the aspect of the game that I'm most familiar with and find most interesting. I have a lot of ideas -- old and new -- that I want to see realized, and I'm getting closer and closer to getting to the point I can start churning out new material. 2E just has to get out the door first.
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Re: Second Edition is Coming in the Year 3000

Postby OneMadOgre » Thu Dec 04, 2014 10:55 pm

I'm excited to give you a play aid to push out as well. :D

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Re: Second Edition is Coming in the Year 3000

Postby XSiberia » Sat Dec 06, 2014 5:56 pm

Because it shouldn't go without saying, you guys are awesome and you make an awesome product.

But now that that's said, to expand a little on Darby's comment, the perpetual '2E is right around the corner' has had me holding off on starting a campaign with my friends for... 6 years? I love what your doing and I definitely have a notion of the cost of quality when it comes to developing anything. I very much look forward to the high-quality product that will eventually come out of the chute. I just want to know whether 2E is really right around the corner or not of if I should proceed with a 1E campaign?

Thanks!

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Re: Second Edition is Coming in the Year 3000

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Mon Dec 08, 2014 5:16 am

The way things are looking right now, and again barring any major work disruptions on my end, I think we can safely assume that the core rules will be finished at the end of the month and ready for public release early in the new year. That being said, you can start the campaign in 1E and then convert after the book comes out. The way that the project has ended up there is going to be strong compatibility between the two editions. Ship stats especially will stay very close to each other, as will system stats. It's not a fundamental shift in the rules, but an evolutionary one which is intended to make the game run a bit faster.

As an update on the progress over the weekend: I have hammered out some more editing changes to text that was previously completed but needed another pass to integrate it fully into the current draft. The second chapter is almost completely finished, with just a few spots where I still need to add text or expand some content. I'm waiting for the playtesters to submit some feedback there. I also finished reorganizing the Turn Orders Phase text to reflect changes that were made about 2 weeks ago. I also think that the Politics Phase (Diplomacy + Intel) are now finished, barring anything major coming up.

I am going to work on the rules another hour and change tonight and see what kind of headway I can make on some additional revisions. I need to complete the edits to the Combat Phase, but I think there is less and less that needs filled in there. If Jay can get his playtest ships done tomorrow, I'll sit down tomorrow evening and run and write up a combat demo to post to here and the YahooGroup to provide an overview of how that works and see if there are any major problems that people can see with the new approach. The space combat scenarios are being ditched in favor of a system that has a battle continue until the opposition is destroyed or forced to disengage from the system. This has the advantage of speeding up combat resolution (no flow charts to determine what you're doing, for starters) and making it much simpler to fight multi-fleet battles all at once.

Orbital bombardment and ground combat are already finished, as is the rest of the elements of the Sequence of Play to the end of Chapter 3 (unless I'm forgetting something). After the above text is finalized, I just have to go through Optional Rules and Source Materials to push through recent changes. For optional rules, this means checking to make sure nothing major has changed and determining which rules to keep in the main book and which should be held over for another supplement. Source Materials needs the scenario rules updated to reconcile changes in Getting Started, and split the ship construction rules out from the conversion rules to make those more effective. I have a few special abilities that I still need to write descriptions for and insert rule references (where appropriate) to improve readability for when players are looking for the effects of a specific ability.

I have enlisted the help of a few people to build out the Force Lists for the sample empires that will be in the book. We're using the concepts developed earlier in 2E to give each empire its own unique style and focus. It's also looking like we'll have more than six sample empires in this book -- likely 10-12, depending on how things turn out. That is about the minimum number to showcase the new special abilities and give players a wide enough selection of pre-generated empires to work with in their games.

I'll keep everyone posted as I get to the end of development here!
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Re: Second Edition is Coming in the Year 3000

Postby Iron Sky » Mon Dec 08, 2014 6:45 am

I just read the rules book you emailed out to the playtesters and here are my impressions:

Good things:

I was nodding constantly. That's a good thing. I kept thinking "that makes sense" and "that's cool" back and forth. Off the top of my head, a few favorites are the Tech Year idea and associated 1 new ship class per year, the Advantage/Disadvantage rolls when making new ship class (favorite idea in the book, having your precious new design turn out to be garbage or even better than expected - awesome!), and the way trade works.

A few issues:
• Approximately 20% of it that seemed to still be in strikethrough. Presumably what you were working on today was helping with all of that.
• The large number of little specific rules that I'd have to be looking up constantly if I played seem like they would slow it down. Individually, all the rules made total sense, but I think it would probably take several dozen to hundred game turns to be able to remember them all without looking things up all the time.
• Stealth ships seem way too easy to counter. Just put a single ultralight scout fighter with each fleet and all enemy stealth units are null. If I missed somewhere you can't have scout fighters, replace with a scout corvette for only slightly more cost but a bit more ease of relocation.

Those are about my only issues and that's pretty good. I'm pretty critical of game systems and usually can spot gaps/easily gimmicked mechanics, etc pretty quick. I didn't see anything that immediately screamed "this is broken and I would exploit it" like I did in previous revisions. Only thing that clicked off warning sirens in my head would be a massive CR flagship with a dozen tiny squadrons and one Barrage squadron. Use squadron superiority to Formation-boost the Barrage squadron and reap benefits.

I'll read the combat and ship design parts over a bit more thoroughly when the playtest game is up and running. When there is a more complete version out to the playtesters, I'll probably run some edge-case tests with the infamous "hollow carrier", "mega ship", and "million little ship" areas where a lot of these sorts of games tend to break down.

All-in-all, I'm very impressed with this version as it is now; mechanics are simple and fairly intuitive, seems pretty well balanced and just enough gears and dials to tweak things. As I said before, the lack of any single unified mechanic (roll d10 and X or whatever) makes remembering all the little rules difficult, but that's about it.

Looking forward to seeing it in more finalized form.

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Re: Second Edition is Coming in the Year 3000

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Mon Dec 08, 2014 7:17 am

  • The Advantage/Disadvantage rolls were born out of the necessity of having a way to randomize classes so that everything wouldn't be a cookie cutter. It also takes some control out of the hands of the player when they are designing their own ships. I think this is going to get the most use later on in more advanced optional rules where players aren't working from preexisting Force Lists and are instead designing all of their own classes as they go. I backed away from that in the base rules just to keep things simpler, but I think a lot of players will want that extra control.
  • The edits tonight cleared up most of the strikethrough text. Prior to 3.5 > Combat. I've been using the strikethrough as a tool of convenience to let me import rules and text from other drafts and keep them separated so that I know it's stuff that still needs to be dealt with.
  • There's definitely a learning curve, and it will take awhile to know where all of the different rules are and how they interact. There are still a few interactions that I'm fuzzy on myself just because I've rewritten things so many times. The edge cases are the biggest problems, obviously, as you have rules that only apply in specific circumstances and need to be covered if they're obvious enough or could cause problems.
  • Stealth ships are going to have some of their weaknesses covered in the combat refresh. The goal was to get rid of the contested die rolls for detection that existed in the last rules because it was slowing things down. As it stands, if the Stealth ships can eliminate the enemy scout they'll be able to run away at the end of the turn. That makes using the one Scout corvette a great way to roadblock a Stealth opponent, but you're probably only going to get one round of combat before their ships destroy the scout and run away.

    Another thing worth noting is that, given the way that tech advancement works, that Scout corvette would be eating up a ship design slot that could have been used for something far more useful.
  • The Barrage squadron strategy would work, but you'd be putting all of your eggs into one basket, and the final version of the Scout Use in Combat rules should give you the option of using scout functions to exclude that squadron (includes obviously override excludes, so it's still correctable). It's also going to be easier for an opponent to whittle down those smaller squadrons and diminish the bonus.
  • I tried to unify the mechanics, I really did, but things didn't gel like I'd hoped and the end result wasn't something that seemed to work. I really wanted to make space and ground combat work along the same basic set of rules, but in the end a modified version of 1E ground combat ended up being a better overall fit.
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Re: Second Edition is Coming in the Year 3000

Postby darbycmcd » Wed Dec 10, 2014 3:12 am

Tyrel, I really think you should reconsider the ship design system you are putting in this release. In as much as it really isn't a system at all. Are you really sure that is what people want? I get you are going for simple, but I think this is way too far. The system now is just pick some numbers, it has no cost/benefit or really choice. So I can add all the traits I want to a ship and it costs.... ??? If the only method you have of differentiation is a random die roll, I would say definitely check with your customer base first.

And I get that you are using strike-through, it just isn't so helpful for others who you are having review your work.

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Re: Second Edition is Coming in the Year 3000

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Tue Dec 30, 2014 9:18 pm

20 days later, and here I am with another development update.

Campaign Guide: I have about finished the updates to the Combat Phase section of the rules. Supply and raiding rules are updated, and I just need to finish organizing the order of Space Combat and reconciling a few bits of text in the Boarding section and that should be done. This leaves the completion of the revised text for the Source Materials chapter, specifically unit construction and conversion, and then the book should be rules complete and ready for final review and playtesting before I start laying it out.

I've been going over prior versions of the rules one last time and have isolated a few gems that I'd missed, or found rules exceptions that still needed to be touched on in the current draft. There are fewer and fewer of these kinds of missed elements, however, which makes me more confident the rules as they stand today are pretty close to final form.

With the core rules nearly complete, I spent time last week going over the other supplements that are in the works and blocking out where optional rules are going to be slotted in for our future books. As I've noted before, we're going to focus on a larger number of smaller, more focused supplements in Second Edition and fewer monster releases like the 1E Companion.

A Distant Star: This book is going to be the spiritual successor of the 1E Companion, with rules for advanced star systems, non-player empires, and solo campaigns. I'm also strongly considering integrating the Atlas of Nearby Stars into this book, but that may still be spun off as a cheap mini supplement.

Those Who Serve: The elite officer (now outstanding leader) book, I've been moving the content over and reconciling differences between the various 2E iterations that were in a conceptual stage over the years. My current focus is to boil down the bonuses and penalties into a format that is easier for players to deal with.

First Contact: This follow up to the 1E Menagerie is going to have the new custom empire design rules in them. I worked on getting the basic rules updated and am now ready to start updating the various traits and adding all of the new ones that have come up since 2E started development. The government rules need a few tweaks to bring them in line with a new outlook on how those should function in the game, but that should be fine.

Beyond the Rim: Current working title for a book that is going to include a potpourri of optional rules with the theme of exploration and discovery. Mysterious encounters, alien artifacts, contagions, etc. This is going to be a smaller supplement with a tighter focus than the rest.

"Renegades": The 2E version of the underworld empire rules are currently planned to go into their own mini-supplement, although they might end up being added to another book later on. I worked on this a bit this weekend to update the Corruption rules, add the Black Market rules from 2E, and consolidate some of the piracy rules that were no longer needed in the core rules but needed to appear somewhere else.

"Flotilla": The nomadic empire book needs to be updated to reflect the death of the civilian fleets (second time they've been removed from 2E!), but that is going to be an easy conversion. These are another set of rules that could easily be included in another book if there is enough space, and I'm not worrying about updating them until the other primary rule books are closer to final form.


The current plan is going to be to finish up the remaining content in the Campaign Guide and do another round of testing to try and iron out any remaining wrinkles. Concurrent with that playtesting, I'm going to begin moving the rules back into InDesign to get it laid out and ready for publication. I am probably going to have produce a bit more incidental art for the book, but I won't know for sure until I get things back in there and see where I have "holes" in the layout that need filled with art.

Barring an outright disaster, the Campaign Guide will be released by the end of January 2015. I can see no reason why I can't make this date, as the rules are almost complete and layout should only take a weekend or two to complete. That gives the playtesters about 2 weeks to let us know if there are any obvious faults or errors in the layout.

The remaining books will be produced and completed as fast as we can. We do have a Mercenary Air Squadron book that needs finished and a few other delayed projects that need playtested and prepared for release, too, so it'll still be reasonably busy. I am less involved in MAS development, so once I get my work on that project completed I can hand it back off to Jay or Charlie so that they can finish up any other stuff they have to do for that book.

We have art already in place for Those Who Serve, First Contact, and A Distant Star. Any other books will likely get a simple rendered cover, but we'll cross that bridge when it comes to it. Artwork for the other books is minimal but more or less complete. What I'm trying to say is that I don't expect us to have to wait on artwork to be completed to get these books completed.

On a final note concerning converting rules over from 1E to 2E: there are going to be some rules from the previous edition that are going to be ported over fairly closely to what they were in 1E, but for the most part you're going to see significant quality of life upgrades to those rules. Quite a few of the rules are just going to be thrown out of the nearest airlock, though, because they just aren't worth keeping around because they are either too unruly or don't fit the spirit or direction of 2E. In my work so far on the follow up books I think I've jettisoned about half of the rules in each book because I've found easier ways to convey or handle the same concepts.

I should have another update in about 2 weeks to let you know where I am on finalizing the rules and getting the layout completed.
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Re: Second Edition is Coming in the Year 3000

Postby nimrodd » Wed Dec 31, 2014 3:28 am

Where do the advanced Ship Design rules fit into these expansions?
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