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As most of you know, I wear a lot of different hats at Catalyst. On any given day I could be writing announcements, coordinating with licensees, laying out sellsheets, working on schedules, general Catalyst communications following up on a host of different subjects, developing “short” projects (i.e. things like the HexPacks, record sheet books, Cosmic Patrol RPG and so on), production (i.e. reviewing white samples, soliciting price quotes, coordinating discussions with printers, and so on), website updates (i.e. adding products to the catalogs, blog posts (such as this one), and so on), work on Leviathans (as I’m the primary developer, art director and so on)…I think you get the picture.

As such, my work on Interstellar Operations has stalled for a long time. My fear to date has been that if I spend a few hours each day working on IO, then something is going to crash.

However, after taking a long, hard look at everything, Catalyst has decided that regardless of what plates might crash down, we’ve now reached a point that getting IO out is more important. As such, starting two weeks ago, I began dedicating 3 hours every day to the work. Obviously IO could take 10+ hours of my day for endless weeks…but we can’t afford for everything else to grind to a halt. But if we ever want this product to come out, 3 hours a day…

Without a doubt the second half of the book is the most terrifying…fleshing out the top 3 scale levels and figuring out how to shift between everything. A huge pile of ground work has been done on that front (I’ve blogged several times about that work), but there’s still some really heavy lifting that needs to happen ‘just’ to get to the point that I can unleash myself and a few other authors to generating those sections.

Since I needed a psychological boost to get back on track, before leaping into that insanity, I decided to tackle the Alternate Eras section of the project. This section is pretty fascinating and unlike the last half of the book, feels far more like most of Tactical Operations and Strategic Operations. By that I mean that the first part of working on the section is copying and pasting text out of numerous already published PDFs to bring the appropriate rules into a central location. (A lot of errata is folded into layout at the very end stage of any book’s publication, so the only way to ensure you have the most correct text is to cut and paste out of a PDF and then reformat it all…almost all of last week was doing that work to transpose everything I need into a single Word file.)

Then, once you’ve got it all there, it’s time to smooth all the corners, expand as appropriate, make sure they’re all current, they tie back through the previous five core rulebooks, and so on. Most players will agree that while yes, the rules from Maximum Tech appear in Tactical Operations, calling TO “simply” a re-do of MT does TO a huge disservice.

Some of these are more easier done than others.

For example, the SDS rules out of Historical: Liberation of Terra, Volume 1 is already incredibly thorough…not too much “smoothing out and updated” needed there. However, the Manei Domini rules from Jihad Hot Spots: 3072…yeah, we’ve learned a fair bit of what needs to be addressed there. And the original Alternate Era rules in Mercenaries Supplemental II? Oh yeah, while a solid framework, a huge pile of work is needed to update and flesh it out so it does everything we need it to.

And of course all of those “pre-existing rules” need BattleForce conversion rules (the WMD rules from Historical: Reunification War in particular need BF rules to make them at a scale they’re actually somewhat usable directly in a game for most players).

You’ve also got “almost” new rules, such as providing full write-ups and rules for the “Improved Weapons and Equipment (Early Clan)”…you know, those weapons that appeared in the very first printing of Technical Readout: 3050 and then promptly vanished from any publication.

Then, of course, we’ve brand new rules to insert. For example Primitive JumpShip rules have never been published. And of course the full LAM rules, including construction rules.

Ultimately, if you’re a player that has every publication, most of this section will be very familiar to you…but hopefully with all the nuances you need to really make these rules immerse players in an era…while throwing in a few new gems you’ll be dying to try out.

See ya next time.

Randall