As I write this we are two weeks into 2016 and already we are starting to see how the year is going to unwind for Dream Pod 9 and it's going to be good.
If you are a kickstarter backer or on our facebook page then you already have seen some of the sprues for the Caprice factions and know how close we are to being able to give the actual date for the start of kickstarter rewards fulfillment.
As part of this fulfillment there is going to be a new rule book and thanks to the assistance of many players around the world it has been road tested the way only dice hitting the table can.
In the words of the Creator in NASA's video titled 'Ambition'; "This will be a good one."
One of the really fun things I get to do as part of this job, apart from casting all these great little metal parts for models, is looking at the future. Sometimes this means the very short term, from one to twenty-four months and sometimes I get to look a lot further in terms of the possible future that becomes Heavy Gear Blitz. This requires a lot of research, often without a specific focus using as many sources as possible.
I'm always informed by the publications of the past, the best of which are the Storyline books and The Making of a Universe: Heavy Gear Design Works which is a go to guide of where Gears came from, and is the best book ever for reading on the tablet while commuting to work if you are a Gear head.
Part of looking forward is doing the planning for the fulfillment, my part has already been with packing upwards of 1300 sets of bases. My remaining sanity only has netflix to thank for that. It was a task that required at least three different series and took from October all the way to X-mas of steady work inter-spaced with some marathon sessions. Next up we both have to reconfigure part of the Dream Pod 9 production area to get ready to check and pack the 1300+ copies of each sprue that will be sent to us by our plastic manufacturer in the USA. This is all behind the scenes stuff that our players don't get to see a lot of and is mostly interesting only to us.
Post fulfillment is where things are going to start getting interesting again since now we're going to be looking towards our future plans. For me in the game design area that means new models and the expansion of factions. Part of the fun for the players is brainstorming on the forums which you can be a part of. One way that research for Heavy Gear is fun is watching classic and contemporary manga and science fiction, especially when there is Mecha involved. These cultural ideas and images are going to be a part of where Heavy Gear goes in the future as we add our own take on the ideas to the mix.
Heavy Gear already has a number of technologies that are still science fiction to us but steadily we seem to be catching up to where Heavy Gear is technologically. The important part of understanding how Gear tech exists in the storyline in understanding how the cycle of technologies works. The R&D phase of Heavy Gears was the pre-Hunter Gear period of Terra Nova history with several hundred years of development and refinement taking place within the age of isolation (See page 6 of the living rule book). Currently the tech of Gears has matured and developed to the point that it is almost ubiquitous in the setting. A similar thing has happened with computers in our modern day. The first Hunter Gear could be compared to the early Apple II, Tandy TRS-80 and the commodore PET. It was a technology that virtually guaranteed refinement and development and the eventual end products vary wildly from where it was first intended.
Already we're seen hover Gears become part of the standard game with first the CEF Frames and then NuCoal has put their own spin on fast and mobile warfare. Caprice has brought quad walkers to the table and Utopia has brought drones in ways that is eerily reminiscent of the current drone craze taking place in western militaries. A lot of the history of drones in warfare is being written right now though their use is largely still a test phase with Afghanistan and Iraq and now Syria being the first mainstream use of them. These are still more remotely operated vehicles, very similar to how recon, demo, and hunter-killer drones are used in Heavy Gear. True self aware artificial intelligence drones like those of Utopia may be taking us to some very odd places indeed as shown by the recent rise of articles discussing the morality of giving drones autonomy. A quick search on Google gives over 38,000 hits with self driving cars and flying military drones leading the discussion as examples.
The next step is looking beyond our current factions as the War for Terra Nova starts to break out . Questions like "Can Earth contain Terra Nova" (No) and "Will the Black Talons rally support on other planets for rebellions and other fronts against Earth" (um, yes) will have some very interesting ramifications in the next couple of years both here and in the fictional universe.
This year we get new plastic models, and a new starter set to introduce the gaming world to Terra Nova and Heavy Gears. A Good One for sure!