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RMU Impending or Imploding?

Well, the Director’s Briefing (pardon me a moment while I chuckle at the self aggrandizing pomposity of that title) for June came out with news that RMU Beta 2 would be released this month. After the jump, I will parse the actual announcement in a bit more detail because there are a few tiny tidbits in there that I find worrisome to say the least.

As I have previously said, I love Rolemaster and watching this revision process has been like watching a train wreck in super slow motion. You just cannot look away, no matter how painful it is!

Ok, just to highlight a little bit of information. The people currently in charge of ICE, have had actual control since December of 2010. This means that they have running things for 4 and half years. The RMU Beta 1 has been out since October of 2012, so for 2 and a half years (presuming that they actually release it this month).

When I wrote my RM revision, I put out 15 Playtest versions within a year. When I wrote Novus, I put out 9 Public Playtest versions in a single year. And this actually brings up some of my ire again the impending RMU Beta 2 announcement. Jump to the full article to see the text of the announcement and my comments on it.


RMU

Good news, bad news, and great news.

The good news is that Terry has been able to force InDesign to behave itself much better with regard to the RMU Beta 2 files. The other good news is that I have completed an editing sweep on the first three full chapters of RMU Treasure Law.

The bad news is that there would be a lot of effort to ensure that an InDesign created pdf was a clean conversion of the beta files. Terry and I are agreed that this is not a sensible use of time and effort for beta 2. (It made sense for Beta 1 to test the layouts but it does not for Beta 2 when we want your focus on the rules alone.)

The great news is that we can essentially top and tail the beta 2 files for RMU Arms & Character Law, RMU Spell Law, and RMU Creature Law and then export them as pdfs.

We will release all three (RMU Arms & Character Law, RMU Spell Law, and RMU Creature Law) this month.

“Yes, Virginia, there is an RMU Treasure Law!”

Or at least there are claims that it exists. Considering that it was supposed to be released just a few months after the Beta 1 was released (over 2 years ago), forgive me if I am skeptical until I actually see it.

Another thing that I find interesting is that Nick is supposedly editing RMU Treasure Law himself. Considering that he was pretty much totally hands-off on the mangled wreck that was the RMU Beta 1, does this reflect a change for the entire project, or is it just for that one book?

Or does it signal something else, such as the “team of professional volunteers” has massively dwindled? Considering the egos of some of the people involved (as well as the natural attrition of “volunteers”), I would hazard they lost most of their volunteers (who were overtaken by real life or what I find more likely, driven off by the passive-aggressive attitudes of certain persons over there.

force InDesign to behave itself??
So how was inDesign “misbehaving”? InDesign is actually not a hard program to use once you are used to it. I should know, I use it all the time for my Novus material, and I used it when I wrote my own RM Revision way back when. So, if inDesign is misbhaving, that means the person using it must be inexperienced in using it to say the least.

And considering the fact that they used to have somebody else doing the pagemaking and it is now being done by the primary author of the Shadow World products, that in itself speaks volumes to me.

Clean conversion?
InDesign does not “convert” anything. It imports the files. If your manuscript is a Word document, you simply import it and it also imports the styling and formatting used in the document. Once imported, it is usually a simple, but tediously long process of tightening up the text so that you do not end up with orphans (single words on the last line of a paragraph), adjusting where the text ends on a column and/or inserting images and adjusting layout of text around them. You also have to format the tables for InDesign, but each individual table should not take more than a few minutes at best, if you know what you are doing.

What I find disturbing is that a so-called “professional” company is deliberately not formatting products that they plan on releasing. Producing a nice looking product is never a waste of time or effort as that is the reputation of your company at stake. And dismissive manner in which it is referred to shows, in my humble opinion, nothing but contempt for the customer.

Considering that these books were actually written by multiple people, and that the first Beta suffered from a serious lack of a single editorial viewpoint which resulted in some jarring disconnects as writing styles varied from section to section, this statement kinda says to expect more of the same ugly disjointed text.

And considering that the only real authors on the project quit way back before the first Beta was released, I shudder to think what sort of Fantasy Heartbreaker crap has made it into this version, especially when the person in charge has an ego larger than Texas (this guy was the main reason why the real authors quit the project — both had come to me independently to complain about the passive-aggressive crap he pulled on them), and is in love with micro-managing the GM and of overly complicated methods of resolution, I do not hold out much hope at all.


And the 5 core books are down to 4…. And there are apparently plans to write a single book “Lite” version at some point, although everytime I have heard it mentioned, it was with barely concealed contempt for the idea.

In this economy, I still think that is the wrong way to go. Nobody but hardcore fans wanting to complete their collections are going to end up buying a system with multiple core books required for play, and with such incompatibility with previous versions of Rolemaster, this will not “Unite” the fan base, it will simply split it even further.

Unless you have major appeal, a multi-book core is stupid and will not work. You would want to go with a small, flexible core, one that could actually be expanded with secondary products, which could then adapt the core rules to suit the fan bases of the prior versions.

Considering how reluctant Terry, the Shadow World author is to move away from RM2 (as of 2010, he NEVER embraced or used RMSS/FRP for ANY Shadow World material), I don’t seeing him moving to such a radically different system as what this revision is shaping into.

And it is the incompatibility with the prior rules which is going to hurt this “revision” ( I call it “train-wreck”) in the long run. Just watch and see…..

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