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OK, but Seriously Though...Where's My Exalted?

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  • Originally posted by Lucy Darling View Post
    Because I'm not gonna draft in art layout software (been there, done that, it isn't a word processing software) and I'm not gonna buy it anyway because mama needs new shoes, not a piece of janky software she'll never use. And I am pretty well placed since I have access to several word processors without the pricetag due to my day job. None of those are art layout for books.

    Because the word file needs to be ported to whatever art layout software the designer uses and those things don't play nice together.

    Because you can't redline text in design software. Well you can, but you're up a creek if your writer doesn't have that software.

    Because the devs don't work in desktop publishing software to draft, and even if they did, it triples the work since the writers don't.
    So, briefly: I'm not going to pretend I can offer comprehensive remarks on you guys' design process, because goodness knows I can't; just for starters, I obviously have no idea what your design process is. Added to that, I definitely don't expect you to personally shell out for relevant software; we'd like you guys to at least theoretically gain instead of lose money for this.

    ... But.

    But you're describing problems - version control, joint editing access across multiple physically-distant users, etc. - that are known issues in a lot of disciplines; mine's one of them. And for a lot of these disciplines, free solutions exist! Even something like LaTeX-plus-version-control will handle most of the issues you're describing; it'll track pagerefs across multiple files, accounting for image placement and multiple citations, and so on. If for-reals not-free software like InDesign doesn't - which again, I stress that I don't have personal experience with, and I've heard people say conflicting things on this subject - that just moves my bafflement from "Why on earth isn't this part of their process?" to "Why on earth isn't this part of design software?"

    Like, this is a piece of the behind-the-curtain I'm really interested in, if you're willing to expound. The October draft had weirdly many words split by spaces at syllable breaks; what does that? What is it that makes this a problem you guys have to correct for?
    Last edited by Irked; 07-26-2016, 10:30 PM.


    Homebrew: Lunar Charms for 3e

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    • Irked, I suspect that, if software exists that would fix the issues Lucy described, one of the issues with getting it implemented is that everyone is a freelancer. Which means that, even if a program is free, ensuring that everyone just has a copy and the training to use it is a non-trivial issue, given that the people working on this live in different states/countries. Buying a copy of a program for everyone could be even worse.


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      • I feel a little frustrated and sad because of perceived lack of movement on the books and I would appreciate it if, I dunno, Holden or John could add a sentence for Rich to add to the update that said something like "Arms of the Chosen - Redlined chapter 3 last week. There are too many Daiklaves!" or "Little got done due to personal issues."

        Now, that said, I can easily see people taking any sort of comment like that and complaining about it endlessly. So, if the Devs think that's likely to happen, I'll just deal with the wait, because I don't want them to have fewer reasons to write.


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        • Originally posted by BrilliantRain View Post
          Irked, I suspect that, if software exists that would fix the issues Lucy described, one of the issues with getting it implemented is that everyone is a freelancer. Which means that, even if a program is free, ensuring that everyone just has a copy and the training to use it is a non-trivial issue, given that the people working on this live in different states/countries. Buying a copy of a program for everyone could be even worse.
          I could see that.

          So, here's the personal experience that shapes where I'm coming from: I do a lot of work on multi-hundred-page documents in LaTeX. Which is, as noted, free, which is nice because my budget is precisely $0. TeX will do things for me like "Whenever you write a Charm, add an index entry and pageref for it," or "Divide this one document into twenty different files, then stick 'em all together into one PDF while preserving pagerefs," or "People can freehand in a .TeX document, and it's basically as easy as writing in a .txt file." I could pretty easily let people with no LaTeX training work in a shared repository, and other than maybe teaching them the \section and \emph macros, they wouldn't need any background or special software to do it. (Someone's going to need more than that, because someone has to put the pieces together, but your non-developer/editor freelancers don't.) It'll also spell-check, insert and format images, and so on; briefly, then, it'll trivially do almost everything on Lucy's list. (Redlines might be a little messy, but then again, maybe not that bad.)

          I am unreasonably fond of this program, because it has saved me many hundreds of hours of work over the past few years. Design processes that sound like more work than this thing are thus weird to me. Again, maybe the weirdness stems, not from a design decision being made by people in the industry, but from the horrific badness of design software. But that's not any less weird - more, in a lot of ways, because these are obvious problems that are not all that complex to program solutions for.

          Does that make sense?
          Last edited by Irked; 07-26-2016, 10:29 PM.


          Homebrew: Lunar Charms for 3e

          Solar Charm Rewrite (Complete) (Now with Charm cards!)

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          • Originally posted by BrilliantRain View Post
            I feel a little frustrated and sad because of perceived lack of movement on the books and I would appreciate it if, I dunno, Holden or John could add a sentence for Rich to add to the update that said something like "Arms of the Chosen - Redlined chapter 3 last week. There are too many Daiklaves!" or "Little got done due to personal issues."

            Now, that said, I can easily see people taking any sort of comment like that and complaining about it endlessly. So, if the Devs think that's likely to happen, I'll just deal with the wait, because I don't want them to have fewer reasons to write.
            I'm fairly certain they tried that. Then people got mad that a lot of updates about little things were mostly meaningless and just ate up bandwidth. So, you know.

            You can't please everybody, but right now I think the current method of setting up milestones and using those to mark progress, while somewhat artificial and it doesn't take the vagaries of publication's weirdness into account, is still probably the best method.


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            • Originally posted by Irked View Post
              But you're describing problems - version control, joint editing access across multiple physically-distant users, etc. - that are known issues in a lot of disciplines; mine's one of them. And for a lot of these disciplines, free solutions exist! Even something like LaTeX-plus-version-control will handle most of the issues you're describing; it'll track pagerefs across multiple files, accounting for image placement and multiple citations, and so on. If for-reals not-free software like InDesign doesn't - which again, I stress that I don't have personal experience with, and I've heard people say conflicting things on this subject - that just moves my bafflement from "Why on earth isn't this part of their process?" to "Why on earth isn't this part of design software?"

              Like, this is a piece of the behind-the-curtain I'm really interested in, if you're willing to expound. The October draft had weirdly many words split by spaces at syllable breaks; what does that? What's the design process that produces that?
              *lucy falls on the ground rending her garments*

              (Humanities academic in my real life, LaTex as the solution to all woes is a common occurence no matter the software you're having problems with or why)

              LaTex is great, don't get me wrong. But it is a fairly non-intuitive piece of software to use and was not designed for writing long books with lots of art. Lots of equations and diagrams and scientific notation. Not full spread art, multiple kinds of backgrounds, and really really high quality enormous sized art files. And also requires a significant training lead in time (particularly if you're hacking it together to make it do something it wasn't truly designed to do).

              (the amount of time I've seen very well meaning people lead poor newbies up a path with 'write your thesis in LaTex it's great' I'd have used far fewer boxes of tissues with researchers battling software. Endnote is bad enough.)

              (not to mention, we're writers, not designers or art people or whatever, so it makes no sense for us to draft in the same software the art designer uses because it's either not going to have what we need, or not what they need, and we all have different creative processes as well)

              And add 'rando mid-word breaks' to the bafflement. Software does weird random shit to things, particularly copying and pasting through multiple different word processors. Particularly when you start working in really really big documents with really really intricate spacing and positioning issues. Currently there isn't a bit of software that's meant to take words on a page and turn them into the lush illustrated type of thing the corebook is, simply because no single person is meant to do that. The market for it would be tiny because the amount of texts that need that kind of attention and would be served by having a single person handling it is miniscule.

              Like, I've worked with picture book authors/illustrators before and that can take an age because of the artistic elements, and those are only 500 words long. And even so one of my fave authors has a story about the publishers working from the wrong draft and commissioning art, and so she's had to live with this enormously awkward rhyme in one of her most beloved books, because the art had already been done so the rhyme had to stay.

              As much as the 'Too many Daiklaves' is a lovely idea, it's not something in place for any other properties I don't think? So it'd be kind of awkward if suddenly everyone is required to account for their time, not to mention that yeah, arguments and fallout about it all is something that's just super super draining to deal with.

              But, I mean, as for sneak peeks at stuff we've done, I know Vance updates twitter with some of his stuff, John as well, and when I visited earlier in the year we went old school and did relationship maps using sticky notes all over a table at Starbucks to try and visualise the political ramifications of certain things that are spread across multiple chapters and writers (they did most of the visualising, I was kind of a shitty secretary who interjects with stuff and has terrible handwriting). John made me try a green tea frappucino thingy, it was nice.


              ". ... for me, the transformative power of art is you are not above the material." -= Guillermo del Toro

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              • I was there when they tried that. There was a lot of complaining and arguing, but it was much better than the rancid state of the forums during the long stretch with no content.

                Anyway, I think we're getting about as much project management competence as we can reasonably expect from two untrained twenty-somethings doing this as a second job for less than minimum wage. I'm inclined to blame these problems on Onyx Path spending its money on bad short fiction and comics and such instead of on hiring people properly.

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                • Originally posted by Sanctaphrax View Post
                  I was there when they tried that. There was a lot of complaining and arguing, but it was much better than the rancid state of the forums during the long stretch with no content.

                  Anyway, I think we're getting about as much project management competence as we can reasonably expect from two untrained twenty-somethings doing this as a second job for less than minimum wage. I'm inclined to blame these problems on Onyx Path spending its money on bad short fiction and comics and such instead of on hiring people properly.
                  Not getting your point here. Please explain your comment about short fiction and comics.

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                  • Originally posted by Lucy Darling View Post

                    *lucy falls on the ground rending her garments*

                    (Humanities academic in my real life, LaTex as the solution to all woes is a common occurence no matter the software you're having problems with or why)
                    Ah, cool. Computer science academic, so "BUT THE SOFTWARE" comes pretty naturally to me. (My thesis advisor pushing me in that direction legitimately did save me worlds of heartbreak.)

                    LaTex is great, don't get me wrong. But it is a fairly non-intuitive piece of software to use and was not designed for writing long books with lots of art. Lots of equations and diagrams and scientific notation. Not full spread art, multiple kinds of backgrounds, and really really high quality enormous sized art files. And also requires a significant training lead in time (particularly if you're hacking it together to make it do something it wasn't truly designed to do).
                    Well, like I say, you wouldn't want everybody working in TeX - but, like, if Jim can write a .txt file, he can write something that can trivially dump into a .tex file, y'know? Surely at least prose writers could get by while ignoring it altogether; maybe crunch writers need, I'unno, a couple macros, but I've seen people pick that much up in about five minutes.

                    You need somebody who can really crunch on the thing, somewhere down the pipe, but that can be pretty well isolated from most of the actual writing.

                    I'm sure you're right that TeX is not the ideal software for this kind of project - I'm just using that as something I'm familiar with, that does the kind of stuff you're talking about (or at least appears to, from my sorta/kinda/maybe not entirely related vantage point.)

                    (not to mention, we're writers, not designers or art people or whatever, so it makes no sense for us to draft in the same software the art designer uses because it's either not going to have what we need, or not what they need, and we all have different creative processes as well)
                    I can follow that, I guess? Like, I wouldn't expect them to be editing your description of An-Teng, or what have you, with all of the images already stuck in. I guess my expectation would be that at whatever stage page references become a thing you care about at all, though, that it'd be pretty easy to do a hey-we-added-all-the-pageref-macros pass.

                    Does that confusion make any sense? I hear "I e-mailed her a list of changes to make," and I just recoil in abject horror, vampire-from-crucifix style. I appreciate your taking the time to sound this out, in any event.
                    Last edited by Irked; 07-26-2016, 11:09 PM.


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                    • By all accounts you don't have enough money to pay people living wages. The short fiction anthology, the comic, and the various other extras all cost money. That money could've been spent on paying writers better. Which really should be a higher priority than, say, a music suite.

                      Unless you think those things paid for themselves?

                      Because I really doubt that. Short fiction tends to be unprofitable even when it's good and you don't give it to the people most likely to pay for it for free.

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                      • So you're speaking specifically about the Stretch Goals from the EX3 Kickstarter? Those were included and set up to add more interest to the KS and to add projects to the EX3 line-up we could not afford to create without the KS extra funds. We also gave the creative team at least two pay bumps during the KS, precisely to help out and share the success with our writers. To address your "living wage" concern, it takes a lot of steady, constant, and fast, writing to bring in what most people would consider a living wage in the tabletop RPG business. The income and profit margins are incredibly slim.

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                        • Originally posted by Sanctaphrax View Post
                          I was there when they tried that. There was a lot of complaining and arguing, but it was much better than the rancid state of the forums during the long stretch with no content.

                          Anyway, I think we're getting about as much project management competence as we can reasonably expect from two untrained twenty-somethings doing this as a second job for less than minimum wage. I'm inclined to blame these problems on Onyx Path spending its money on bad short fiction and comics and such instead of on hiring people properly.

                          Man...I may not agree with plenty of things that happened to this game, but the bitterness drum you're beating is made from dead horse being processed into glue. Give the passive-aggression a rest.

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                          • You call this passive?

                            I'm certainly not trying to be passive.

                            And I don't think this horse is dead. In fact, people seem weirdly okay with Onyx Path paying peanuts.

                            Originally posted by RichT View Post
                            So you're speaking specifically about the Stretch Goals from the EX3 Kickstarter? Those were included and set up to add more interest to the KS and to add projects to the EX3 line-up we could not afford to create without the KS extra funds. We also gave the creative team at least two pay bumps during the KS, precisely to help out and share the success with our writers. To address your "living wage" concern, it takes a lot of steady, constant, and fast, writing to bring in what most people would consider a living wage in the tabletop RPG business. The income and profit margins are incredibly slim.
                            Yes, I'm talking about the stretch goals.

                            And when you're working with thin margins, in an industry where paying a living wage is very difficult, the last thing you should do is to divert money towards projects that you can't afford to create normally. That's wasteful, especially when the projects turn out to be as worthless as the short fiction anthology turned out to be.

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                            • Sorry you didn't like the fiction anthology. Did you read the final product or just the initial backer PDF?

                              As for other uses of the extra KS monies that we devoted to extra projects, one project, even one as successful as the EX3 KS, does not create a "living wage" scenario. But, by adding those projects, those projects provided additional freelance work for many more creators. In addition, those varied projects help us spread the word about the game line, and thus may help create a wider audience, better sales, and increased pay rates as a result.

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                              • For the record, I enjoyed both the comic and about half the stories in the fiction anthology.

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