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  • [Gun Metal Games] So, a 3rd edition of Interface Zero...

    Hi everyone, long time no chat! I'm David Jarvis, the owner of Gun Metal Games.

    As some of you know, planning has begun for a third edition of Interface Zero. in this post, I'm going to discuss a few things, and open this up for discussion, because I really want to know a few things, like, what you did/didn't like about 2.0 in terms of BOTH RULES AND SETTING.

    Rules Issues
    It's been just a little over 4 years since 2.0 was published, and a great many people have expressed their love for the game. A great many people have also said the rules were too clunky, and decidedly NOT savage. I want any new edition I do to address these issues. I've talked with developers such as Sean Patrick Fannon about ways to streamline elements of the game and make them more Fast, Furious and Fun; things like totally revamping the hacking rules, addressing balance issues with cybernetics, and especially dealing with hacking.

    The philosophy behind hacking was to make it as simple as possible, base it on skill use, and essentially make it a 2 or 3 step real-time process. Setting elements of Interface Zero were designed so that characters who wanted to hack wouldn't get into situations where they were off in some remote locale, totally separate from the group. I didn't want to have hacking play like a mini-game, and I think for the most part, the setting elements supported that. In practice, though, there were issues.

    Most skills in Savage Worlds are based around a Target Number of 4, with raises increasing the effectiveness of what your character is attempting to do. This didn't work well with hacking, because in order to make certain things more (perhaps realistically, perhaps unrealistically) difficult, like hacking more secure systems and networks, I had to introduce penalties to skill rolls. The problem, is that it made things too hard because your skills can only rise to d12+3(?). Trying to hack into the most secure database or network had extreme penalties, and even having your skill maxxed out didn't make things easier, or even possible without acing rolls.

    Definitely not FFF!

    Hyper combat, while interesting as a concept, didn't work out well at all. In retrospect, I believe we were trying to do way too much at one time. There were other issues, like programs (called engrams), creating them, and keeping them balanced with everything else. I've had years to think about it, and I think there might be simpler ways to deal with this sort of thing mechanically, while keeping some of the setting elements.

    There were other issues, like equipment bloat. The gear chapter alone was over 100 pages. Too big, too scattered, not enough support material for the gear chapter, like weapon calibers, the cost of ammunition, and other details that were missed.

    Similarly, other elements, like Occupations, Skill specializations, Street Cred, and Drones need to either be cut, or revamped, again...I've had 4 years worth of feedback and discussions about this stuff. Some things—like occupations—were interesting in concept, but in play, they ended up bloating the game and added more levels of complexity to what really needs to be a very sleek game.

    Archetypes could have been better. The high price of gear made it very hard to properly equip a character, and for me that was frustrating, because the last thing I wanted to hear was a player talking about not being able to do the_thing_her character was built for because she didn’t have the credits to purchase basic tools to do the job!


    Setting Issues
    I’ve always liked Interface Zero’s setting…for the most part. The history was written over a decade ago for the True20 system, and it wasn’t nearly as detailed as it is now, but there’s a reason for that. I don’t want you to think I’m throwing them under the bus, but the original (True 20) writers kind of phoned the setting in, and it seems like everything I’ve written or have had others write has been like putting a patch on the original work.

    We’ve fleshed things out where needed, and obviously sourcebooks have been written by some really awesome, creative people, but the core setting elements (the destabilization and death of the United States, the war between China and Russia, the idea of limited nuclear conflict in a small geographic area of the world affecting the entire world for nearly a decade) were a bit cartoonish and adolescent. And if I’m being honest, the parts about The U.S. also felt too similar to Shadowrun.

    It’s not that I believe any of those things can’t happen, especially over a period of 70+ years; I do. It’s just that I think the setting can be better if some—or even none—of these things never happened. So, I’m thinking about rebooting the entire setting and writing it the way I feel it needs to be; More William Gibson, Richard K. Morgan and Neil Stephenson, less apocalyptic disaster soup. I’ll keep the tech advances and zeeks just because I like the idea of psionics in a cyberpunk setting. Not pure cyberpunk, but that’s ok.

    All of the source material will be addressed in either indexes or supplemental (free) pdfs, so the sourcebooks won’t be rendered worthless.

    Conclusion
    This is a pretty big job. I don’t anticipate it being completed until the late spring of 2019, but as work progresses, I’ll be posting updates.

    Thanks for your time.







  • #2
    Oh shiny! Can’t wait.

    I know you changed them to follow the official Savage World rules but I thought your original play test mech rules were much better than the ones Pinnacle did.

    Comment


    • #3
      I think occupations were really interesting. Have you considered doing something similar to what Savage Rifts and Freedom Squadron did with Iconic Frameworks/Occupational Frameworks where different characters types get a skill/gear package to start? That would help with issues of expense and show the core differences in archetypes.

      Comment


      • #4
        This sounds very good. I absolutely adore the Interface Zero setting, and I think it makes for a great Savage Worlds game, and I am looking forward to IZ 3.0. From my perspective, the hacking rules worked pretty well, although we had to create a 'cheat sheet' for quick referencing during play. For some reason, the Street Cred system never worked with us, so I'm on the fence if I like it or not.

        Overall, streamlining rules to make them more FFF is good, but I think there is a fine line between 'too clunky' and too stripped down. Hacking shouldn't be a single roll imo, and there needs to be several cool things you can do with hacking, which I think is covered pretty well. And top secred government networks should pose a tough challenge, even for hackers with a high skill die. I'd hate for it to become like the hacking in the TV show Arrow, where Felicity can hack anything in 3 seconds. My group haven't encountered many hyper combats, but it is an element which can turn into 'let's all wait while the hacker kills the AI sprite'.

        There seems to be some good changes coming to SW Black, and it would be good to incorporate these changes into IZ 3.0. I don't know what elements will make it to the new version of Savage Worlds, but things like vocation frameworks, gear points, plans and operations and refined skills seems interesting.

        I'm not sure about rewriting the world history. I think it works as it is now, and as a GM you can always put as much or as little emphasis on the larger setting as you want to. It will be a bit sad if my beautiful IZ hardcover book will be obsolete, setting history-wise.

        Good luck with the new version David! Can't wait

        Comment


        • Gunmetalgames
          Gunmetalgames commented
          Editing a comment
          I wanna keep hacking as simple and straightforward as possible, adding new uses for the skill rather than creating a ton of programs that can have a big impact on game balance. The concept of hyper reality and the TAP aren't changing. I just need to find a better way to do it. Keep in mind, IZ hackers should be able to hack the world around them. I'm definitely waiting on SWB to drop before I do any heavy development work, though.

        • Sgt_86Delta
          Sgt_86Delta commented
          Editing a comment
          Have you considered reskinning the powers from SWD and SPC2 as programs. Give the hacker Memory Units that would be the equivalent of Power Points and then the Programs/Powers would just follow the rules go Arcane Background. For the sake of customization, just have the hacker identify the trappings before hand.

        • Gunmetalgames
          Gunmetalgames commented
          Editing a comment
          SGT_86Delta: Sorry I missed your question. Yes I'm looking at that as an option.

      • #5
        Originally posted by Brickulos View Post
        I think occupations were really interesting. Have you considered doing something similar to what Savage Rifts and Freedom Squadron did with Iconic Frameworks/Occupational Frameworks where different characters types get a skill/gear package to start? That would help with issues of expense and show the core differences in archetypes.
        I think occupations were cool conceptually, yeah. I'm discussing frameworks and things like that with Sean Patrick Fannon, actually

        One thought I had was to write a "Profession" skill, which allows your characters to make credits doing things that fit within their archetype. So, the guy who has Computers as a skill can roll profession and gain X credits from selling programs and doing other things related to the Computer skill. A player who is more of a fighter type can roll profession and, because he has fighting, can say he gets those extra credits from unlicensed mixed martial arts, or taking body guard jobs. Things like that keep it simple, but allow much more flexibility rather than having to take occupations.

        Comment


        • Brickulos
          Brickulos commented
          Editing a comment
          Great! I've done a fair amount of hacking that particular feature for Savage Rifts, and I can say with confidence that they would make for an excellent new way to handle occupations.

        • Sgt_86Delta
          Sgt_86Delta commented
          Editing a comment
          If an occupation had a preset number of contacts. Roll on a table specific to the occupation. Contacts could be Gutter, Street, Hypercrome, or Elite.

          Then another table would have jobs based on the Contact Type/Power Level. Roll or pick one. Then select a difficulty.

          Power Level x Jobs Available x Difficulty of a potential side job payout.

      • #6
        One therm that we often hear about hacking in movies and such is "layers", especially when someone hack into the good guys computers, here really thinking about the Ghost in the Shell series, maybe could that be the answer.

        Right now do we have dramatic tasks which would work perfectly for super secure corp computers, so that does not really need anything new under the sun to work. But other secure computers could for example need multiple successes on hacking before you can reach the paydata. I know that some are properly getting flashbacks to Cyberpunk2020 and other system that made you hack from room to room, but I am just talking about something really simple, an example follows:

        Hacking into a CAN and PAN network would work as ordinary, but if you want to hack into a CAN network would your target number be 6 just as with PAN, but you need to get 2 successes/raises before you can get into it.

        I hope that my simple example made sense, Denmark is hit with with our first heatwave of the year and my brain is toast

        Comment


        • #7
          I certainly don't mean to be Debbie Downer because I like Interface Zero a lot but are things still on track to deliver the rest of the IZ 2.0 Kickstarter?

          Comment


          • Gunmetalgames
            Gunmetalgames commented
            Editing a comment
            I discussed this with those backers in July of 2016 in an update, and they understand that I had serious budgeting problems with it. The rest of the books will be delivered, yes. The malmart catalog is still being edited.

        • #8
          I've sometimes thought that hacking might best be handled by giving it mechanics more or less the same as those of an Arcane Background. So the Hacker edge has a skill (Hacking) used to activate programs (spells) such as Control (Puppet) to take over a camera, door or robot sentry. Bolt to fry a machine's electronics or maybe blast to cause something to explode. This keeps the Hacker involved in the round by round activities while the rest of the characters do their thing. a long range data theft becomes a quick dramatic task.

          Comment


          • #9
            Sounds really exciting Dave. I backed iz2.0 and ran a substantial campaign that really only scraped the surface of what was posdible in the setting. That said, a general fix of some of the stuff you've discovered did not work so well would be good. I think hyper reality hacking worked well, but i had to add a lot of house rules to system hacking to make that work. I dropped vr hacking entirely as a distraction and abstracted/narrated vr scenes. Only one day of effort to write an engram worth 10k, certainly not! That had to go. Why would hackers hack when Ingram writing was such an easy living? Engrams and sprites, generally a bit messy and confusing. I quite like the idea of spell equivalents for hr hacking, and dramatic scenes for system hacks.

            Comment


            • #10
              Originally posted by steelbrok View Post
              I've sometimes thought that hacking might best be handled by giving it mechanics more or less the same as those of an Arcane Background. So the Hacker edge has a skill (Hacking) used to activate programs (spells) such as Control (Puppet) to take over a camera, door or robot sentry. Bolt to fry a machine's electronics or maybe blast to cause something to explode. This keeps the Hacker involved in the round by round activities while the rest of the characters do their thing. a long range data theft becomes a quick dramatic task.
              I've thought that as well, to be honest. My main issue is the sheer amount of page count that would be devoted to writing translations for the relevant powers, and none of them could be printed verbatim due to license restrictions.

              Comment


              • Sgt_86Delta
                Sgt_86Delta commented
                Editing a comment
                It is a bit of work.

                Have you considered fan based assistance? I understand the reprinting concerns of Powers from SWD and SPC2.

                I would love to reprogram the powers for hacking.

              • Gunmetalgames
                Gunmetalgames commented
                Editing a comment
                I'm always willing to talk with people about working on it. Right now I'm in the early stages of planning, though.

            • #11
              Originally posted by Guy Sargeant View Post
              Sounds really exciting Dave. I backed iz2.0 and ran a substantial campaign that really only scraped the surface of what was posdible in the setting. That said, a general fix of some of the stuff you've discovered did not work so well would be good. I think hyper reality hacking worked well, but i had to add a lot of house rules to system hacking to make that work. I dropped vr hacking entirely as a distraction and abstracted/narrated vr scenes. Only one day of effort to write an engram worth 10k, certainly not! That had to go. Why would hackers hack when Ingram writing was such an easy living? Engrams and sprites, generally a bit messy and confusing. I quite like the idea of spell equivalents for hr hacking, and dramatic scenes for system hacks.
              Yeah, the idea behind programming vs adventuring was always problematic, as were the costs to actually code programs. I'm hoping to deal with economy for characters differently, with a profession skill that deals with selling programs and other things to avoid the whole problem.

              Hacking needs to be streamlined. There were too many issues with VR hacking, so it's going away. HR hacking, conceptually, is what I always wanted the focus of hacking to be...but as mentioned in the OP, it can get really difficult. System hacking...not sure about that yet.

              Comment


              • Sgt_86Delta
                Sgt_86Delta commented
                Editing a comment
                Could streamline down to a Persona with attributes like a normal PC, derived from skills (AB Hacking, K/Computers, K/Electronics, and K/Engineering) edges, equipment, and a couple of attributes (Spirit and Smarts for sure)

              • Gunmetalgames
                Gunmetalgames commented
                Editing a comment
                Persona sounds too much like Shadowrun

            • #12
              I love the setting and am actually currently playing in an IZ 2.0 game. However, I am also one of those IZ 2.0 Kickstarter backers still waiting on stuff. While I am sympathetic to life issues that have resulted in the 5+ year delay in delivery of the stretch goals, with a new version possibly coming next year, I now have to ask how backwards compatible IZ 3.0 is intended to be. I'd hate to finally receive the remaining books only to have stuff very shortly invalidated by the new version. Also, although I'm as interested as the next guy in any improvements/streamlining IZ 3.0 might bring and you will have probably have a sale once the book is available (depending on the answer to the backwards compatibility question), I will not be backing it via Kickstarter or some other crowd sourcing funding site if used and will strongly discourage others from doing so as well.

              Comment


              • #13
                Originally posted by mac40k View Post
                I love the setting and am actually currently playing in an IZ 2.0 game. However, I am also one of those IZ 2.0 Kickstarter backers still waiting on stuff. While I am sympathetic to life issues that have resulted in the 5+ year delay in delivery of the stretch goals, with a new version possibly coming next year, I now have to ask how backwards compatible IZ 3.0 is intended to be. I'd hate to finally receive the remaining books only to have stuff very shortly invalidated by the new version. Also, although I'm as interested as the next guy in any improvements/streamlining IZ 3.0 might bring and you will have probably have a sale once the book is available (depending on the answer to the backwards compatibility question), I will not be backing it via Kickstarter or some other crowd sourcing funding site if used and will strongly discourage others from doing so as well.
                I haven't decided whether or not I'm kickstarting this project, and I haven't even begun to think about a sale after the book is released. All of those decisions are a long ways off. I've posted updates talking about a possible 3rd edition, and have stated that all of the original backers will get this pdf for free. If I did do a kickstarter, I'd offer a special pledge level of around 10 dollars for the original backers to get new printed books...maybe not even 10 dollars.. but again, all of that is a long ways off...at least a year, and the business side of things isn't even on my mind right now.

                As far as backwards compatibility is concerned, it really depends on what you are referring to: setting, or system. The new edition will address a great many issues with the system, and in terms of game mechanics, we want to improve on stuff. So the core book will be accompanied by separate pdfs which looks at the existing source material and updates the content in terms of game mechanics.

                If setting material is changed, I'll also discuss how those changes affect thew region.

                Comment


                • #14
                  Ok, so here is my .02


                  The balance issues can be controlled with "frameworks" to an extent. I'm sure you've already rationalized that with SPF.

                  hacking- My biggest issue with hacking, at least in SR, was that hacking took place with the hacker, and that was it. the rest of the party kind of sat around and watched her. Figuring out a way to actively integrate the rest of the party. Personally, I make it like voltron where the hacker is the black lion. The leader. But the whole party jacks in. Then I treat it like a ship, where the others are gunners, damage control, etc... Basing the strength of the voltron on a combined party score. If you've seen the matrix, that would be where i got the idea from. the ship was a combination of all of them, with Neo clearly driving the plot. However Morphious, Tank, Mouse, Ghost, etc... are all along for the ride and it's just as deadly to them. (Sorry for the pop culture references, but it seems the easiest way to explain what I do). Maybe it helps.

                  Comment


                  • Gunmetalgames
                    Gunmetalgames commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Thanks for your insights!

                • #15
                  Originally posted by Gunmetalgames View Post

                  I haven't decided whether or not I'm kickstarting this project, and I haven't even begun to think about a sale after the book is released. All of those decisions are a long ways off. I've posted updates talking about a possible 3rd edition, and have stated that all of the original backers will get this pdf for free. If I did do a kickstarter, I'd offer a special pledge level of around 10 dollars for the original backers to get new printed books...maybe not even 10 dollars.. but again, all of that is a long ways off...at least a year, and the business side of things isn't even on my mind right now.

                  As far as backwards compatibility is concerned, it really depends on what you are referring to: setting, or system. The new edition will address a great many issues with the system, and in terms of game mechanics, we want to improve on stuff. So the core book will be accompanied by separate pdfs which looks at the existing source material and updates the content in terms of game mechanics.

                  If setting material is changed, I'll also discuss how those changes affect thew region.
                  I just double checked Kickstarter and can't find an update that states 3rd edition would be free to backers. If you have posted these updates elsewhere, a link to them would be appreciated.

                  Comment

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