Hunt the Wicked Layout Nears Completion

I just sent the last bits of text from the backer submissions to Phillip for layout. The process for Hunt the Wicked is a little different than a lot of games out there, and I think that it is one of the reasons I’m able to produce polished content so quickly. Namely, the fact that I allow artwork and layout to be done simultaneously and in parallel, rather than waiting for one to finish before the other.

The primary benefit of this is, of course, less turnaround time to get the final product finished. The drawbacks (which I think can be largely mitigated with some careful planning and execution) are primarily two fold:

  1. Compromised layout “flow”
  2. Final aesthetic feels incomplete or disconnected

The flow of the text and artwork is important – and something that is pretty easy to screw up if you don’t know what you’re doing. Thankfully I have Phillip Gessert to help me out with that – and he definitely knows what he’s doing. The biggest issues you see with broken layout in RPGs is either too much (or not enough) white space, and art that doesn’t match with the content.

There’s no way around it – customizing your art to fit a specific space, and a specific piece of content is the best way to go. It is also extremely time consuming, and honestly I think there are diminishing returns if you do a few things. Namely, use somewhat uniform art sizes and aspect ratios that can be plugged in nearly anywhere, err on the side of “too much” white space (far fewer issues with too much than not enough), and encourage a lot of natural page breaks around headers and sections.

Once you get the first layout pass down, you’ll have a bunch of gaps where art can (and often should) fill. I trust Phillip enough to decide where these gaps should go, and he does it as he goes along paying special attention to the amount of words per page and section, where the next page break is going to go, and how the whole thing looks both in spread and single page view.

While that process is going on, I’m directing Winston and my other artists to create specific pieces – but with enough flexibility in their content so that they are largely relevant in an entire chapter or section. For example, the majority of the game’s artwork is focused on cool pictures of Bounty Hunters. Is this somewhat generic picture of an unrelated Hunter as perfectly fitting as a customized piece that relates to the content on the page? No. But, we can usually get pretty close and cut our development time in half (or less).

I figure out based on the budget how many pieces of art that will be (at least roughly), and give that number to Phillip so he can incorporate that many intentional gaps into his layout. Then, by the time the layout is finished, most of the art is finished, and I go through and assign each piece to a spot that I think fits both the content and the aesthetic / layout of the page. Phillip drops them in, and that’s pretty dang close to your final product.

As of right now (12/14/2015), Phillip is putting the finishing touches on the artless layout, and I’m waiting for a few more pieces from Winston. Once I receive the layout with the numbered gaps, I’ll start matching art as Winston finishes up. This process usually only takes a couple of days, but it really just depends on the art production speed and if any corrections to layout / art have to be made.

All of this is to say that we’re still on schedule for a February (or maybe even earlier) release. Thanks again!

Hunt the Wicked Round One Revisions

Josh sent me the first iteration of the revised manuscript over the weekend, which had some 500 comments and notes attached. After a couple of days of going through everything with a fine-toothed comb, I slung it back his way to continue the polishing process.

The hope is that we can finish the final draft by next week (sometime around 11/11) so that I can get it to Phillip – my highly talented layout artist – only a little bit late. He’s so dang quick however that I’m not too worried about any delays, and we’ve made excellent headway in terms of art completion.

All in all, Hunt the Wicked is right on schedule, and I don’t foresee any major problems that would delay it any further than spring of next year. I’ve been receiving some great reviews and feedback from folks playing the alpha draft, so I’m positive that the game will come out even better and more enjoyable in the coming months.

Hunt the Wicked is funded

Thank you!

Hunt the Wicked was successfully funded on Kickstarter – with 270 backers and a total of $4,373. We’ve begun development and are slightly ahead of schedule.

Joshua Yearsley’s first editing pass is slated to finish by 10/30, and it shouldn’t take me more than a week to turn around a rewritten manuscript. After that, Phillip Gessert will get the chapters for layout. We’re targeting an end of the year completion date for the pre-artwork draft, and the final document done and illustrated by February 2016.

Stay up to date on the Kickstarter page for the game’s progress!

Hunt the Wicked Character Portrait Example

For the Hunt the Wicked Kickstarter, we’re offering a pledge reward in which your face gets immortalized within the pages of the book. One of our artists – more than likely Winston Lew – will turn you (or your preferred character) into a full color character portrait. Here’s an example with me – Ben Dutter – made into a tough Bounty Hunter:

 

Nice work Winston! I’m looking forward to seeing what some of the folks who pledge will look like.

Streamlining Hunt the Wicked

So after extensive playtesting, I’ve cut the ten available Motivations down to five. The same thing occurred during the final stages of testing Vow of Honor – ten things is just too many to keep track of for the GM, and the players get analysis paralysis during character creation and at the conclusion of every scene.

It was slowing down gameplay, and adding unnecessary crunch that didn’t benefit the game in any way. So, the ten motivations have become five, but there are still two Maneuvers for each motivation to choose from (the real meat of what makes the Motivations fun in play, in my opinion).

Also, reconfiguring the motivations specifically into these broader categories make more sense from the standpoint of “why is my character a Bounty Hunter?” So far it has sped up character creation, gameplay, and made tracking Motivation interactions much easier for the players and the GM. A solid win, I’d say.

Original Motivations:

  • Acceptance: the desire to belong
  • Curiosity: the desire to learn
  • Esteem: the desire to be respected
  • Family: the love of your family or close friends
  • Independence: freedom, liberty, and self actualization
  • Honor: justice, compassion, and valor
  • Order: the desire to have and maintain stability
  • Power: the desire to exert your impact on the galaxy
  • Socialization: the interaction and affection of others
  • Vengeance: to deliver revenge upon your enemies

New Motivations:

  • Community: the desire to belong
  • Esteem: the desire to be respected
  • Justice: the desire to right the Territories’ wrongs
  • Liberty: the desire for personal and societal freedom
  • Power: the desire to maintain and exert control

First Completed Hunt the Wicked Art

Duel
by Marius Janusonis

I reached out to Marius Janusonis as I’d seen some of his landscape work on various sites and was very impressed. Since Hunt the Wicked is all about how intricate and vast the Territories are, I really want all of its artwork to depict great scenes like this one.

Here we see two combatants (are they human, are they yantiram, who knows?) that are poised in a battle beneath the watchful glare of the Archon. I love the colors, I love the movement, I love the reflections off of the God Machine – everything turned out splendid.

I will definitely be leveraging Marius more frequently in the months to come leading up to the Hunt the Wicked Kickstarter. Go check out his blog and show him support!

 

 

Hunt the Wicked production begins

Today, I started the initial production steps for Hunt the Wicked RPG. I’m happy with the manuscript as it stands (with only some reference tables and adventure seeds waiting to be written in the back), and have been combing through all of my contacts and sources to build the team.

Joshua Yearsley has agreed to come back as editor, and Winston Lew has agreed to be the principal character artist for the book. I’m firming up the details with Phillip Gessert, but it is likely that he’ll be returning from VoH to be doing Hunt the Wicked’s layout and graphic design, as well.

I’ve also spoken with a number of other artists, looking to keep the artistic direction of the book somewhat more uniform than in VoH. This is difficult for small press, as a great determining factor is the artist’s availability and price per piece. Since I generally am dealing with very small art budgets (several hundred to maybe the low thousands) I can’t always afford every artist that I want.

However, I’m getting better at art direction, and conveying the style and images that I want to be represented in the book. Having done the art direction for OMEN, Forge of Valor, and Vow of Honor – I feel that I’ve gotten progressively better at honing in on what makes a setting unique and interesting, and how to properly display that through illustration.

I’m stupendously excited for all of the progress on HtW, and glad that things are coming together so quickly and smoothly. Once Vow of Honor is completely delivered, I’ll actually get people paid and art will start rolling in. I’ll be sure to keep things updated here and show off plenty of previews of the game, so stay tuned.

Site changes, pre-orders, and playtesting

So I updated my theme yesterday, and just on a whim checked to make sure everything was looking good and functioning properly – blank. I refreshed my page – blank. Went to a different page, and yeah, blank.

Not sure exactly what happened other than some kind of compatibility glitch between the updated version of Flat (my theme at the time) and the new iteration of WP. In quick, emergency-solution mode I just installed and reuploaded my site with the default Twenty Fifteen theme.

Honestly, after tinkering around with it, I like it. A lot. I’m probably just going to keep it like this, since I know that it will always be compatible with WP (its their proprietary theme after all), and it is incredibly user friendly. I’m not particularly into really flashy or aesthetically unique sites anyway, so the straight forward, kind of minimalist approach seems to gel fine.

Pre-orders

I’ve had a number of emails and comments and messages pop up from folks who are interested in pre-ordering Vow of Honor. I currently don’t have a way to do this yet, but I’m working on a solution. I just got some business stuff squared away today, as well as downloaded a bunch of site plugins to make my checkout and order process pretty slick. Hopefully that can be completed ASAP.

Keep an eye out here and on the KS page, as I’ll let everybody know once that is functional.

Playtesting

Some of you may know that I compulsively work on and write RPGs. It is actually pretty bad, I’ve written six games in as many months (yeah, really) and most of them I don’t even share publicly because they’re so rough or I’m dissatisfied with them for the moment.

However, there are two games (other than Vow of Honor) that I am satisfied with – Hunt the Wicked and Cornerstone. If you’re interested, check out the beta drafts linked on those pages, and then email me your thoughts and playtest feedback to playtest@bendutter.com.

I’d like to have a structured, more effective playtest system figured out for both of those games, but I simply don’t at the moment. If I think of a better implementation, I’ll let everyone know.