Slow progress on the CRPG…
I had a fun but exhausting weekend at Rose City Comic Con in Portland, one of my cats got sick and I had to rush him to the ER on a Sunday (fortunately he’s okay!), work has been on a major upswing lately, classic World of Warcraft continues to draw me in, and I had a death in the family as well.
When I’m feeling stuck in a rut, I change direction onto some other portion of the project. Which in this case, is the manuals. I had always envisioned creating beautiful manuals for the game. The gold star in this area is, of course, the Ultima series.
A good example would be the Ultima IV manuals. There is the history and spell book, written in a flavored prose which still manages to convey the necessary information on the game’s structure. And then a reference card which has some of the more technical aspects like the key controls and specific elements for each computer platform.
However, I’ve never gotten very far with writing up a history book in the prose style I wanted. It just felt fake and weird… And I started to realize it just wasn’t my style. I like a good manual but a manual should be exactly what it is; instructions.
Maybe I just don’t have the writing skills to pull it off… But as I read the Ultima manuals over again, I started to realize it wasn’t what I wanted to do. They do add flavor and verisimilitude, but that’s mainly because the games those manuals are for has so little.
Another aspect of it was I realized a lot of the history and background information I wanted to convey, I could do so in the game itself. There are several places in game I can scatter books that share little bits of history and trivia that will be far more rewarding for the player to discover themselves, rather than read it in a manual outside the game.
In order to find a style of writing that worked for me, I also researched on the TI side of things. I read over the Tunnels of Doom and Legends manuals and was impressed with both of them; what they lack in production values they make up for in informative instructions. The TOD manual even provides the steps to using the TI computer to load the game, something I tried to emulate myself.
So there will just be one instruction manual, and maybe a reference card (I’ll see if there’s enough information to put ON a card to warrant it). My first draft is 40 pages, that may go up a bit as I add or remove things. I’ll definitely have to get them professionally printed; when you get too many pages you need a place that can print and align them straight and trim the edges off. I can do a nice cover of some kind as well.
One thing I did NOT want to omit, but wasn’t sure how to get, was artwork for the manual. I am not an artist myself, so I knew I’d have to get it elsewhere. Fortunately, I discovered that sites like DriveThruRPG actually sell stock art with an open license for use in RPG products! This is far better than commissioning artwork, which can get VERY expensive.
I will make a map for the game, but unless a very convenient and economic means presents itself, it will probably be on paper and not cloth. I have several map drawing programs I can use to create a good one. I may even hand-draw that one myself.
I had envisioned at the start that I could create a box for the game, but I’m not certain about the economics of that right now. I found an online source that crafts custom boxes with artwork for board games, RPG’s, and similar, but their per unit price would be extremely high for a low production count. And they also manufacture them overseas which means prices are likely to go up…
I may have to resort to getting blank boxes from somewhere and just pasting art onto them myself. A step up from a zip-loc bag at least.