Ten days ago I finished my last big piece of writing for Planet Mercenary. Yesterday Sandra and I finished the last small piece. Today we reviewed the cover layout, and realized it’s ready to be sent to the printer.
This has taken much longer than I wanted it to, but the project looks much, much better than I believed it could. Part of the delay is due to repeated discoveries that we could be doing something better, and then deciding to do it better. And of course another part of the delay is us not knowing how to work as quickly as we originally thought we could.
If you backed the project, your book (and anything else that ships with it) will be shipped July. If you didn’t back the project you can still use Backerkit to place a pre-order, but that link will go away in a few weeks. Eventually we’ll have Planet Mercenary in the Schlock Mercenary Store, but that’s not going to happen before July.
I need to write a whole different post talking about how awesome Sandra and Alan are, and how grateful I am that they figured out how to work with, and around me. For now I’ll just say that in terms of actual work done, Sandra’s name is listed at least one position too far to the right.
Note: The cover art above is by Jeff Zugale, and was laid out (along with the rest of the pages in the book) by Mike Brodu under Sandra Tayler‘s direction. The fact that the logo I designed two years ago is still a part of all this is evidence more of the force of my personality than my skill at logo design.
I just posted an update to the Planet Mercenary Kickstarter page. Here’s most of it:
We plan to ship in September 2016, rather than in May as originally planned. May is now impossible, and even July would mean rushing the editing and final layout phases. We don’t want to “rush” anything. We want this book to amaze and delight you. And now we plan for that delighted amazement to land in Autumn rather than Spring.
Backers can change their shipping addresses using their Backerkit links (email firstname.lastname@example.org, if you’ve lost your link. We’ll re-send it to you.)
This schedule should let us have PDFs out to all backers in July.
If you will be at GenCon in August, we will have a few advance copies for people to handle, but not to take home.
(Details on the schedule slip are below. Please don’t be distracted by this picture of an Ursumari and a Human)
Back in December we began working with Patrick Kapera, who is serving as our editor, and as an RPG expert who does not know the Schlock Mercenary universe. When Patrick joined us he was pleased to see that we were much closer to a finished product than he expected us to be. We were not, however, as close to a finished product as we thought we were.
At that point we expected that we would be sending things to our printer in April rather than February. Shipping to the printer in April would have meant that we could ship books to backers in July, and then have books to sell at GenCon Indy in August. During the last week of February, however, we carefully evaluated the progress we’d made, and realized that April wasn’t realistic.
Sandra and I decided immediately that we would not try to have the books at GenCon¹. That would have been terribly unfair to you, our backers, who wouldn’t receive your Planet Mercenary goodies until after people who bought them at the convention.
With this decision made, we knew that the earliest we could ship books to our backers would be September of 2016. We are now driving toward sending books to the printer by mid-June, and shipping things to backers 90 days later (it takes 90 days for our printer to turn around an order of this size.)
So where are we, really, in terms of the book?
Editing is 100% done on the Mayhem Cards and Mayhem rules. This means the cards can go to print now.
Editing is 75% done on the rules text. These sections on character creation, basic rules, ship combat, charter rules, and equipment are by far the most time-consuming part of the editing, because there are words that must be used very precisely to avoid confusion.
Layout is running in parallel. As pages clear Patrick’s queue, they get final layout. Overall, the layout is only about 10% done, but every day more pages get finished.
Art is about half done. We took a long break when we realized that we needed much more layout finished before we could know what art to go get. During March, April, and May we’ll be grinding hard on the art.
The “fluff” text is about 75% done. Once Patrick reaches that stage, he and Howard will be blasting through it very quickly. Patrick’s job is to make sure that Howard tells players what they need to know while finishing the various worlds, cities, warrens, and Big-Dumb-Objects that will go into this book. In word-count terms, Howard probably has another 15,000 words to write. That’s about a week of work, once Howard knows which 15,000 words Patrick wants players to have.
It’s worth noting that one of the most popular elements of this project, the in-universe copy ofThe Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries, is coming along nicely. Howard has about 3,000 words to write here, but we already have book-blanks in hand that are telling us we’ve picked the right paper, and the right aspect ratio for the pages.
There is a remote possibility that the 70MoMEM books will go to the printer early—far enough ahead of the core RPG book that we will be able to ship Maxim books separately. We’ll post an update if the print schedule and the shipping budget can be aligned to make that happen.
We’re sorry to slip the schedule, but we believe that the extra three months are necessary for us to deliver an RPG that meets the high standards you’ve come to expect from us. Thank you for your patience, and again, thank you for your generous, enthusiastic support for this project.
—The Planet Mercenary Team
Howard, Sandra, Alan, and Patrick
1: Yes, this decision costs us about $10,000 in lost sales at GenCon Indy. We budgeted this project independently of selling things at GenCon, so we’re not actually losing any money by doing this. We’ll find other things to sell in Indianapolis this August.
Redshirts has a great game mechanic. The object is to kill off your own crew members. If they actually succeed in their missions and return healthy, you’ve clearly done something wrong. It’s fun, it’s funny, and it’s pretty easy to pick up. David Reddick’s art is perfect for it, and I’ve been led to understand that in this expansion I’m not the only creator of things to be garbed in ominous red and sent doomward repeatedly.