Apologies in advance about the big ol' Wall of Text. I just had to get this off my chest, and maybe allay a few fears (for the two of you who may still be hoping Roger Steel appears before the next millenium). I will try to check back somehwat regularly and resume the Sneak Peeks, but, er, no promises.
Anyways TL;DR: Roger Steel is still in production and doubled in size; projected finished script, this year; projected publication, next year. Its humble scribe has taken on board some of the feedback received some mumblemumble years ago, and looks forward to any and all feedback...
Now, where were we?
So... I just turned in the latest instalment of Roger Steel to Jack and the manuscript sits at 150,000 words, so I thought it was about time I gave you patient people an update on the game as it stands now. I’m sorry it’s been a while.
The game as Jack and I are designing it is pretty much as I described in the earlier Sneak Peeks, but in light of comments and various other factors, we’ve made various tweaks.
Firstly, let’s recap what the game is:
Roger Steel is a VN RPG in the mode of Loren rather than SotW. This was going to be so even before the response to SotW’s combat-heavy design. Roger Steel was always going to be about the story and the relationships between the characters through the story.
In my naivety, I originally contracted for 90,000 words and delivery in a few months. Obviously I blew both those targets to smithereens, and then ran over them with a tank a few times just to be sure they couldn’t be resurrected; although they do continue to haunt me...
Although I haven’t done the calculations yet based on work completed and number of Episodes left to do, I am expecting the final word count to be around 200,000 words, and as for the deadline... let’s just say 2016 currently looks achievable and move quickly on...
One of the reasons for the above is the fact we have 12 romances plus friendship tracks to plot and script (6 each for Ann and Arthur). Another reason is that there are hundreds of choices, many mutually exclusive on any one playthrough, and for each choice most have at least a hundred or so – and sometimes thousands of – words of unique dialogue with attendant consequences.
Let’s be clear – the plot of Roger Steel is relatively precise and linear – rescue your sibling – and so is the route you take to get there; however, navigating the relationships you need to effectively complete the game is anything but...
Essentially, the game revolves around relationships. Your character’s relationships with the party members affect everything in role-playing terms, not only the nature and strength of the skills you learn, but also the strength of your primary stats – Health, Courage (offence) and Endurance (defence). This goes for your companions’ stats too. How you relate to them dictates how effectively they fight and perform as a team, whether the player chooses to engage in combat or autoplay the battles.
That’s right - anyone who wishes to play the game in VN mode and concentrate on the story can build stats simply through strategic conversation options and non-combat activities.
Anyway, enough on that for the time being. What has changed in the last 21 months (yikes!) since I wrote here last?
I’m going to rewrite some of the details of Ann and Arthur’s background to make it clear that however the player chooses to role-play in the game is reflected in their history before the game starts. For example, for those pursuing non-heterosexual relationships in-game, Ann and Arthur’s back-story will reflect that choice. Although Ann’s affair will continue to be the impetus for the characters meeting Roger Steel, whether that affair is heterosexual or homosexual (or actually a momentous misunderstanding) will depend on player choice.
Similarly, in initiating their romantic relationships with Christina and Neville, the player character’s gender will determine the sexual orientation of their chosen partner. For example, if Arthur confesses his love for Neville, then the Neville of that play-through will be homosexual (and will have a back-story to match). To be clear – there will be no question of converting their would-be lover to teh gay! I hope this allays some of the concerns posters such as ChaosMorning expressed about perpetuating homosexual stereotypes.
Finally, (for this post at least), being set in the alternate 1930s, Roger Steel is obviously not strictly steampunk, but more dieselpunk in both aesthetics and technology. There will still be airships and steam technology, especially in the remote areas being traversed by Ann, Arthur and co., but the more overt accoutrements of steampunk genre will be somewhat muted. I hope this doesn’t upset too many people who are into bustles, corsets, and frock coats but I think this subtle change in genre-setting will make for a more unique and interesting experience.
As always, comments are welcome and I really look forward to hearing any ideas you may have about making Roger Steel a better game.