Friday, May 6, 2016

Iteration 3 Retrospective

As usual, when an Iteration completes, I compile all of my notes onto my website for everyone to see.  So, for those of you who didn't want to wade through piles of meta-discussion and just want the rules, here you go.

Personal Retrospective

I found this Iteration frustratingly long, and I suppose this is the sort of thing that starts to turn gamers off of GURPS.  If you want to sit down and play, Ultra-Tech will have you handled when it comes to gear and weapons (as you can see from that single week's worth of posts).  Robots take more work, but mostly in defining what you explicitly want.  The lack of some pre-designed "skill-sets" for robots is, in my opinion, an oversight.

It was Spaceships where everything really slowed to a crawl.  I don't blame this on Spaceships itself being "crap" or lacking support.  As you can see, I actually drew most of my rules from either the core of Spaceships or from optional rules from Spaceships, and most my Spaceships came from the Spaceships line... but what I did amounted to writing a new sub-game.  That's not something a newb just getting the books can do.

In particular, GURPS has a great focus on precision, and what you have to do is wade through piles of questions, switches and toggles and flip all of them, including a few hard-to-see ones, to "Space Opera!"  I can understand where veterans like me might find that doable, but I can also understand why people with less than a gig worth of GURPS pdfs might find that more than a little intimidating.  So, my solution was to write it for you, dear reader, but it exhausted me, especially the nitty gritty details.

The next part that really slowed me down was working all of these details back into the templates and the characters and especially that playtest.  I feel it provided useful feedback, but it also felt like homework.

That feeling of "work" kills creativity, which kills motivation.  Doing things like compiling all of my notes, doing my homework, making sure everything lines up is very important, as it separates the chaff from the wheat.  But I have to watch my motivations levels.  If they sap too low, I might lose my focus and get lost somewhere else.

Speaking of...

Community Perspective

I'm not nearly as involved with the GURPS Blog community as I would like to be, mostly due to a lack of time, and the fact that my particular working method keeps me very focused on a specific thing, and when a sudden element comes up in the middle of my week ("Hey, people are doing a thing on combat reflexes!") I'm usually in a different headspace and can't come up with something sweet in time to really jump in.

That said, I do try to keep my eye on things.  We had quite an influx of blogs when I started this one.  I was riding a wave of community enthusiasm, it seems... but since then, it has petered out.  If you look at Cole's GURPS Day summaries, then you can check week by week how many posts he's able to collect.  For a time there, it usually hovered around 60.  Lately, it's been hovering in the high 30s.  I know we've lost RPG-Jutsu, for example, which is a shame, as he had some pretty good stuff.

I don't expect this means that GURPS Bloggers are "dying," so much as we're winnowing out the weak.  Maintaining a blog is difficult.  You have to tip your hat to long-runners like Gaming Ballistic, Raven 'n' Pennies, Dungeon Fantastic and Games in the Brain for their sheer long-term doggedness.

Blog Stats

My views are through the roof.  I broke records in March (hitting nearly 4000) and then again in April (breaking 5000!) and it shows no signs of slowing.  I'm not sure how much of it is real though.  Some of it surely is.  You can see where these people are coming from, and I get more hits from Feedly or Reddit, and my SJGames advertisement thread has topped 10k views this month.  So people are definitely looking.  But I also get weird spikes of 100 views all at once with no associated pages or sources, which smells like bot to me.

I also get less comments than I used to.  I get the sense that people read more, say less, which is fine.  I think the people who want to be here, who are excited, are already here, and reading, and don't feel the need to note this fact every week. Every once in a while, a fresh face will say "Wow, this is neat" or "Cool advantage, bro!" and they're, perhaps a new face.  It seems to happen less, though.

Most Viewed Iteration 3 Posts:
  1. Weapons and Armor
  2. FTL Travel
  3. Gear
  4. Spaceships
  5. Robots
Over time, of course, older posts tend to accrue more views than newer posts, so it's not always a fair comparison to cut things off at an arbitrary point and say that's that. These are all basically the same posts as last time, only Spaceships and Robots swapped and Weapons and Armor and FTL travel swapped.

I think the reasons for their high value might not be entirely obvious.  The content of weapons and gear surely appeal, but FTL, Spaceships and Robots are mostly theory, while I have other theory posts that don't do so well.  Why these?  They have art.  I've checked some sources, and they're to google searches for, for example, the light saber you see in Weapons and Armor.  Not saying they're the only reasons they're up, but it contributes and skews the numbers some.

I think that revised spaceship playtest (the second one) did very admirably, and had quite a few comments, for example.  If I could edit out art-views or weigh views for time, then perhaps it might scale higher on the list.

The +1s didn't really change much.  They've largely dropped off on the blog-posts themselves.  I get most of my +1s on my posts that I make advertising them on Google+, which isn't as convenient to track.

Still, those are:
  1. FTL at 8
  2. Gear at 7
  3. Weapons at 6
And then a mess of posts at 4, including Starhawk v Typhoon, Simplified Space Combat 1.2, and Troopers 3.0 (of all things!).

Traffic Sources:
  1. SJGames
  2. Google (Search or Plus)
  3. Facebook (from various sources)
  4. Gaming Ballistic
  5. Dungeon Fantastic
My own blog is turning into quite a source for itself.  That implies people pop in, and then start clicking on links.  As I don't link much within my blog, it's most likely either the featured post, or the "popular" posts of the week.

Moving Forward

I'm rather excited about the next Iteration.  Powers!  The cool stuff, the desert after all of my homework.  I know a lot of people prefer to start with their metaphysics and their cool powers, but in my experience, it's better to lay down the common-man's experience, to understand how normal people tackle issues first, before you lather on powers, as a character with powers should generally feel like a normal person, only with powers, and even the really weird games, like Nobilis, benefit from this sort of layering.

I'm also doing something a little different: More posts with, ostensibly, less content.  In practice, I think it turned into more posts with more content, but you be the judge.

In any case, we'll finally look at the Force, and work on an analog for it in Psi-Wars.  Cautionary note: I have long said that Psi-Wars is not Star Wars, and I see most of you smiling and nodding when I say that, but no, I mean it.  It resembles Star Wars and is inspired by it, but it is inspired by more than Star Wars.  Metaphysics are very setting specific.  What will come out of Iteration 4 will not be the Force.  You'll recognize how the Force inspired it, but you'll also see that it's something different.

Each iteration has it own little departures from Star Wars, but Iteration 4 is one were we really start having to shake it off if we want to do our own thing, as the Force is so iconic for Star Wars.

After that dire omen, though, I hope you will join me.  See you then!
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