Saturday, 3 September 2016

Interplanetary 2016 Staff Round Table

Okay, final seminar write-up from the Interplanetary. Honest!

This is actually the first seminar that took place over the weekend and was a discussion about the creative process for Infinity and also included a Q&A portion with the staff. There was a wide range of topics covered and it's clear that there were a lot of questions that the community was just dying to ask.

Among other things, the seminar covered art design, release schedules, the delays with the RPG and entirely too much information about Dog Soldiers.

Art Design

Each piece of art which is published for Infinity is carefully reviewed to ensure that it fits the setting and that the characters are accurately portrayed based on the background of the game. Sometimes this means that a particular piece of art goes through several revisions.

In the example above, Gutier wasn't keen on the Dog Warrior because it's acting too much like a regular trooper. It appears calm, relaxed and appears to be giving orders to other troops - which isn't true to its Impetuous and Irregular nature. It's simply acting too much like a regular human soldier.

The second version of the picture still wasn't quite right. The Dog Warrior is still acting as a 'sentinel' and very much seems to be guarding the train or is even in command to some extent. It's not ideal fluff-wise but looks cool.

The final version of the picture re-positions one of the troops a bit so the infantryman now looks like he's acting as a 'handler' for the Dog Warrior, keeping him in check. 

Another example given was for this picture of Atalanta where the original image had bullet casings flying out from the weapon, but this isn't correct for Aleph weapons so it had to be subtly re-done.

Unit Rules Design

All the unit profiles are kept in a 'living' Excel document which is constantly kept up to date with colour-coded changes and is shared with play-testers to do their games with.

This also lets the staff and play-testers make notes and write comments as necessary so everyone is fully informed as to how testing is going.

A player mentioned that he was concerned that Infinity was suffering from rules bloat and whether anything would be done about this.

CB replies that players always want new/unique things in order to better define their factions, especially for aliens. This often comes in the form of different or special rules.

It was also mentioned that Human Sphere, and the units within, are considered to be for 'advanced players' and that it is recommended that new players start with the N3 rules and then expand into Human Sphere - and later Paradiso/Acheron Falls - once they feel comfortable with the core game.

A question was also asked about unit bloat and whether vanilla armies would get too complex with the sheer amount of choice once more sectorials are released with their respective troops. In particular this would be an issue with too many similar troops doing basically the same thing - e.g. line infantry.

CB stated that they have a hard limit on their sectorial plans so vanilla factions seem unlikely to grow indefinitely. This is presumably several years off yet though. Again they reiterated that players should be introduced units gradually by initially starting with the N3 book and then moving onto the more advanced Human Sphere N3.

Background Design

Just like with the art, any game background also goes through a rigorous review process.

The RPG is at least in part being held up by this fact as all background material basically needs to be run by Gutier before being signed off as accurate. This is all about giving the highest possible product quality.

An example of a rejected concept was a famous holographic sculptor in a particular Ariadnan city - which is completely inappropriate for that faction as they lack the technology to do that kind of work. It's a cool idea though.

Unlike the RPG, the manga currently on time with no delays expected. It's being done by a smaller team who are far more local to CB and there are no language barriers which might slow down the process.


The second part of the seminar was a Q&A with the staff. I made notes on what I found to be interesting and I've tried to paraphrase both the questions and the answers.

Why do some Dogfaces start the game in Dog-Warrior form?
All Dog Soldier troops walk around in Dogface (human) form generally but transform before entering the battle in the case of Cameronians, Devil Dogs and Duroc. They just need to induce a stressful situation and this doesn't have to be battle or self-harm. An example given was jumping out of dropship in human form and landing in dog form.

So basically it's down to a matter of training with those that start in Dog-Warrior form being the 'professional' soldiers. There are definitely ones that have the capability to be more intelligent or rational than others - as one of the players pointed out they are only as impetuous as a normal Scotsman...

Incidentally, Devil Dogs don't have tails because they have had them docked! Only the USAriadna marines are crazy enough to go to such lengths.

Where do baby Dogfaces come from?
Duroc is the only Dogface specifically in a relationship and is considered to be quite handsome. Dogfaces in general seem to have trouble with forming permanent relationships with regular humans and many are considered to have, ahem, casual relationships.

Why are Thorakitai Religious?
It's just a rules thing basically. They aren't 'religious' in the conventional sense, but the rule makes sense for them at a mechanical level even if it isn't really appropriately named.

Are SymbioMates Overpowered?
The idea of a Symbiont Armoured specialist with a SymbioMate being able to all but ignore incoming AROs while dashing for an objective was raised. Was this considered to be too powerful?

Balancing unique abilities is hard, have to weigh up what factions have with what they don't. Tohaa don't have particularly good ITS results in general so they are not considered to be too powerful overall.

Players always want unique abilities, particularly for alien factions so CB feel the need to make each faction distinct and make aliens feel like aliens. This does make balancing more complicated as there are a lot of different factors to weigh up, not all of which are obvious.

Sometimes mistakes are made in rules though and there will eventually be a 4th edition which will correct things again.

What governs the order in which sectorials are released?
Sectorial release order has lots of variables, such as resculpt schedule. and which book the majority of their units were originally printed in.

Sectorials which require a lot of new models may be pushed back until a later release date whereas ones that just require much-needed resculpts may be done earlier, for example.

What is the line troop of Tunguska?
Securitate are the Tunguska line troops. All sectorials should have a different line trooper as the core of their army.

More advanced notice of resculpts?
There was concern that players were holding off on buying older sculpts for fear that there are resculpts in the pipeline that they don't know about and they don't want to buy the same models twice.

We were told that there is an internal joke that Infinity is a futuristic game because players only want to know what is happening in the future. 

Corvus Belli prefer to tell us about upcoming miniatures when they are certain about the release date, which is typically only a few months in advance. They don't want to commit to deadlines which may shift, causing annoyance among players. Announcing too far ahead would damage sales on old product anyway, which could be an issue if the resculpt is then delayed.

Silhouette Sizes?
I asked whether there was a growing disconnect between model and silhouette sizes and whether this was a deliberate thing and if they thought this might be an issue with confusion during the game for players. Specifically notes Kaauri Sentinuels, Umbra Samaritans and new style bikes (in general).

Kaauri were meant to have been smaller with oversized weapons but the sculptor couldn't make it work. Considered to be a mistake and Gutier seems a bit disappointed by the outcome.

The silhouette system gives artistic freedom to the designers to use the entire canvas of the model as they wish. This is why we are getting models such as the Umbra Samaritan now.

Concerns regarding silhouette size of a profile not being evident by the miniature were not addressed.

Can we have new Remotes?
Some players seem to believe that the Remotes for a number of factions (e.g. Nomads and Yu Jing) are dated and need to be bought into line with the new aesthetic of their factions.

Release schedule numbers are a problem for small stores and for SKU quantities as more releases make it harder for shops to buy in new stuff every month and to keep everything in stock.

CB consider the Remote sculpts to have aged well due to their non-human designs and didn't hint at any resulpts planned soon. There's nothing really to compare them to and because they don't belong to a single sectorial they don't need a particular 'style'. 

They also have to balance resculpts with new releases and miniatures are generally planned out about a year in advance

Sorry, your mic cut out and we don't speak English. Next question.

Killer Hacking Devices for the Combined Army?
It was noted that the Combined Army get a special Killer Hacking Device upgrade, but not access to the Killer Hacking device itself!

We were told that this was the case because it belongs on a new troop type and it will be a part of the next book.

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