Saturday, April 2, 2016

March Retrospective

Upfront, I want to say something, so that if people skip the rest, they at least get this bit: I don't mind questions.  If I wanted my notes for myself, I wouldn't publish them.  I want you to read them and to use them and I know the best way to use them is to ask about them, push the boundaries, try to figure out how they work.  Kalzazz on SJGames is forever complaining about my characters and templates and telling me how he would do things totally different.  The result is that I know he's definitely inspired, and many of his complaints have solidified my designs.  I see some people apologizing for asking questions.  Don't!  Feel free to ask.  I enjoy it.

Alright.

Normally these retrospectives coincide with the end of an iteration, but such is not the case this time around.  Our technological iteration continues apace, so I have no "Summary of the Iteration" for you. You'll have to wait another month for that.

This has been an absolutely amazing month for views.  I broke all previous records twice, first on March 10th with the most views in a single day (219), and then again on the 31st, with a staggering 322 views.  This month also finally broke 3000 views for a total of nearly 3500 views!  I suspect that I'm getting more views because I'm posting more, but I had roughly as many posts in February and didn't get nearly this many views.  It may well be the subject matter: I assumed people would be more interested in seeing templates that would actually allow them to sit down and play, but instead people seem more interested in getting Ultra-Tech and Spaceships to work for their sci-fi campaign.  I also suspect that I'm slowly building a viewer-base, by keeping those who started checking me out in January and February, and adding new people.

SJGames remains the top source of traffic, of course, and Google remains secondary (especially Google+, where the GURPS community continues to be exceedingly supportive). Douglas Cole has ascended to spot 3: His weekly blog-roll has definitely helped funnel traffic my way.  Coming in at 4th is Facebook, where people either are less interested in my material, or it's simply less active there (given that I see more posts in general on the Google+ side of things, I think GURPS just has a stronger presence on Google+).  In fifth place is some site called "Feedly," where I evidently have 15 loyal followers.  Dungeon Fantastic has fallen to 6th place.  I don't believe it's because less people go through there so much as these other sites have grown.

My top five viewed posts were:

  1. FTL Travel
  2. Weapons and Armor
  3. The Gear List
  4. Robots
  5. Spaceships

The popularity of Weapons and Armor and the Gear List doesn't surprise me at all.  They represent the sort of thing I imagine most people most immediately want from a sci-fi campaign, especially in a section about technology "What gear can I get for my character?" Robots rather surprises me, as I saw a precipitous drop during my discussion about robots overall, but the generic discussion about robots seemed to please people more than my advice for modifying robots, or turning robots into grab-and-go templates, which did surprise me.  Similarly, FTL Travel and Spaceships were generic discussions about concepts, like Robots, and fared very well.  FTL is the most viewed post I've had since the Iteration 1 announcement post, to give you an idea of the scale of the popularity of that post.  I suppose it's a topic a lot of people wrestle with.

My top five most liked posts were:

  1. FTL Travel
  2. The Gear List
  3. Weapons and Armor
  4. Spaceships
  5. Simplied Space Combat 1.2
I try not to put too much stock into +1s as they're relatively random.  Someone might love the post, and then just not think to click +1.  On the other hand, not every view results in a happy person.  Perhaps people come back again and again to point and laugh, or to tremble in rage at how wrong I am, or whatever.  Thus, +1s are the closest I can come to seeing what people actually like or not.  Again, FTL travel tops the charts, and Gear and Weapon follow behind it, though they flip positions. This certainly suggests people generally like those elements.  Spaceships remains on the list, but Simplified Space Combat joins it.  Given how very new it is, that bodes well for its eventual view numbers (I suspect people might come back to reference it, or people will only discover it, say, today or tomorrow or what have you).  Robots had a +3, which suggests that its fate might be as "random" as the Gear List/Weapons Armor switch.  Also, I should note that a few people +1 my announcement posts, but never +1 the post itself.  So, again, it's somewhat random.

My top five most discussed posts were: 
  1. The Gear List
  2. FTL Travel
  3. Weapons and Armor
  4. Simplified Space Combat 1.2
  5. Rewriting Space Combat
Comments are, of course, a place where I tend to interfere, as I'll need to respond to comments, especially questions, so a high value might just mean I felt that I needed to talk more about a topic.  Also, why people make comments varies, but I can actually look at the comments to give you a feel for response.  They tend to vary between praise and questions, and most of the questions tend to be "Why did you do X?"  Rewriting Space Combat had some cautionary notes that were, of course, completely valid (hence the need for a Revising the Revision post), and FTL had some excited "Let me tell you about my own FTL!" which probably made me the happiest.  The real intent of the Psi Wars series is to help people turn their ideas of a sci-fi setting into a fully realized one.  Sometimes what I do is to offer material for that ("Here, use these rules to make your starfighters work right!"), sometimes it's to show people how to make that material themselves ("Have you considered using Action or Monster Hunters as a base for your sci-fi campaign?"), but often it's just to inspire ("If I can do it, you can do it too!")

Personally, this mini-iteration on spaceships is perhaps the most important version of this that I've done yet.  A lot of people find spaceships troubling, especially for a space opera campaign (I want to note that this is only one version I have. Heroes of the Galactic Frontier has a More Star-Trek/FTL-inspired version, and I have yet another version I'm working on for Echoes In The Dark), but what matters more to me is showing you how I did it.  The best approach I can offer for doing these things is to cycle through the three following steps:
  1. Research
  2. Write
  3. Test
Rinse and repeat.  Every writer will tell you to do the same.  First, dig up as much material as you can on the topic, then synthesize it, then write out your new version, then test it, and then rewrite it based on the results of your testing, over and over if necessary.  The fact that I have two versions of simplified spaceship combat is important, because for my other systems I often had far more than that.  You will too, if you do something like this, and that's okay, that's normal.  Of course, you don't need to write a complex journal about it, or create characters and give them a story.  I generally don't. But you should at least walk through a mental experiment, poke at the sides, and then revise again.

My one real "disappointment" this month, in regard to this blog, is that I've been so busy that I've lost some of the lead time I've built up (I've got less than a month of lead time now), though I'm happy to report that I've already begun compiling my notes on Iteration 4: Cool Powers.  The reason that I've lost lead time is that I got married, and I've been doing more important things than blogging, like eating cake, dancing, moving, and honeymooning (or, I will honeymoon shortly).  I have no regrets! And, in fact, this is one of the reason I worked so hard on building up a lead, I just a lot of ground when I condensed a lot of this material into extensive data dumps.

Next month, we'll round off the spaceship series with more gear, then I want to touch on scavengers, character-economics, stealth-in-space and how it relates to smugglers, then we'll do a giant test of Iteration 3 and see how well everything works.  See you then!
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