December Shinobigami Update and Next Steps
almost 3 years ago
– Thu, Feb 02, 2017 at 04:34:46 PM
Dear Team Awesome:
Thank you so much for your support and patience on this project while we've been working on putting the last touches together.
First, I want to apologize: I didn't even notice until someone mentioned it in the comments section, that the last update we publicly made (with the pre-play materials) was back in August, four months ago! As crowdfunding goes, I tend to save up larger Updates with important information rather than send out easily skippable smaller updates. Further, in our world we've been constantly working on Shinobigami on our end, including prepping the text, discussing it, reading the supplemental and extra material, and responding to feedback after play on the Google Groups: I didn't realize until it was mentioned that - Oh yeah - We're way overdue for a core update with status to our core backer pool.
That won't happen again: I'll have further updates at a pace of about once every two months (or less, but no more) until the project - both the core book and supplement - are finished and in your hands.
Apologies: We've been so laser focused on finishing production of the game itself that we forgot to come up for air and tell everyone where we're at, and what's going on.
So I gave ourselves enough time to have the book ready and published by December 2017... or so I thought. There are a number of reasons for the slip in deadline, but here's the main one: In short, I realized that there were some contextual items missing from the translation that needed to be added. What I mean by that is this: The original Japanese text reads much like an instruction manual (the rules part, that is): Very methodological, not a lot of extra explanation, very concise, and no wasted space.
In the English version, we maintain that exact format, and translated the book exactly as-is, without adding additional examples or "fluffing up" the text; the only additions we're adding is an extra final appendix section on play advice, and a few cultural notes ("What is Domination", "What is Kotodama", etc) to explain the Very Japanese elements that make sense if you grew up here in Japan on Japanese TV and comics, but need a bit of background if you're coming from another culture (think the "explanation notes" that sometimes appear in fan subbed anime, but more concise).
We had everything on track, but ultimately a few people posted some REALLY interesting procedural questions on the G+ group or on Reddit: Simple questions with simple answers... But there was a troubling undercurrent to a few of the more simple ones. In short, the text is very procedural and concise without "doubling back" or re-explaining things, so in play (by people playing from the earlier provided rules set, without having been "prepped" by playing a session with me, Matt, or another GM) the GM would read a rule, but come up with a slightly different understanding or interpretation of it.
This didn't happen a lot, only in maybe 2-3 key places (where the rules themselves nor the replay example did not make the correct interpretation clear). And it was not that the Japanese original text was lacking, or that our translation was "off"; it was just one of those nuances in Latin vs Japanese grammar that was getting lost.
Imagine one of those "marble run/marble racetracks". You put 10 marbles at the top, and at the bottom, 10 marbles roll down the track and make it to the bottom. A metaphor for what I saw happen was this: I saw about 40-50 records of play experiences, all of them positive, but a few had some questions about some of the core rules of the game caused by a miscommunication somewhere between language, text and reader: 50 marbles (the play experiences) were loaded at the top of the racetrack, and let fly: At the bottom of the track... 47 marbles arrived at the end. 3 had popped off the track for various reasons. As linguists and engineers, we had to then go back over the track and find out where the marbles popped off the rails, and make adjustments (here, to the text) to make sure things wouldn't pop off again.
Ultimately, we found and fixed those places. We took this item very seriously, because we want to do as much as we can to ensure the success of those novice Shinobigami GMs without being there. In this internet age there's forums and electronic text updates, and later we could have even put together an errata to clarify points or fix the text afterwards... but we're going pretty strong on a print run that will be received around the world, and wanted to take that extra up-front time to ensure all is fixed beforehand. We are hoping for a release that will require no errata, no forums, no "revised" editions to fully make sense from cover to cover.
I think we arrived there, and internally all has been verified and set. The final text is being reviewed now internally, then will be turned over to you all for a final check as we continue pushing through layout.
Ultimately, though, this means that we missed our anticipated goals of a November electronic release, and a December book release.
Updated Release Schedule
After careful review, I believe we can meet a goal of final Shinobigami layout in March, and production (that is, the book being finished, but not shipped/delivered) by late April. I don't want to set a more aggressive goal at this point and slip on it, so instead I'm going to focus on making that happen.
That's for the first core book, including the limited edition book.
Originally, the second Shinobigami book was scheduled for a November 2017 PDF release with a December 2017 print release. After the experiences with the core book (which led to careful review of the second book), I believe we can move that production up a few months with no problem. I'll have a more accurate idea of a target when we finish layout of the first book, but I believe we can have the second book ready by late summer/early fall 2017.
So while we missed our target for the core book release, I'm going to make it up to the backers by stepping up production of the second book of the set a few months, to get it in your hands that much faster.
All the other supplemental scenarios, stretch goals and the like are currently in various stages of completion, and I see no additional delay for their delivery (they'll be released shortly after the core book, before the secondary book). Those elements are on schedule.
Thank you for your understanding and patience with us for this: The ultimate goal here is to get the most complete, perfect English Shinobigami that we can into your hands. We're not going to be paralyzed by a strive to perfection... but we did hit a speed bump there. Everything else is on track now, though.
"I'd like the (higher tier) version of Shinobigami, is that possible?"
Over the last few months, we've had a number of people contact us to ask if it's possible to get into a higher tier: They pledged at the PDF level and want a book; or pledged at the regular book level and want a limited edition, and so on.
We will absolutely make those options open and available. We'll give you plenty of warning, we'll give you plenty of instruction on how to do so when the time comes. You won't miss out, promise.
Likewise, the surveys for your address and the like won't go out until we're closer to the ship date, so no need to tell us now if you're moving. We'll get your addresses later.
Next Steps for Us and You
The next steps are: Sit tight. We'll have an updated text file for you in a few weeks, and shortly after that, a final laid-out version of the core book.
We'll also have samples of the limited edition cover/book when we're closer to print, to give you a taste of the different (cosmetic; the contents will all be the same) versions of the game.
Finally, we'll have a cadence of updates for you, every 1-2 months until both books (and all supplemental materials) deliver.
Thanks again Team Awesome. I mean that moniker, too: You guys have really been a source of inspiration to us, and because of your patience and support, we've been able to proceed on our tasks with uncompromising excellence and in excellent spirit. We promise to return your trust and patience with a completed product set, as well as some unexpected surprises (more on that in the next update!).
Thank you, and Yoi-Otoshi-Wo!