First off, thank you to everyone who commented so far. I’m heartened by the interest. (There’s always that voice, isn’t there? The one that wonders “does anyone care?”)
Part II - Mission Statement
While I’m sorely tempted to dive right in, rip out the mechanical guts of UW, and start tinkering, I think it would be more useful to both me and the project to take a step back and define UW2’s mission statement (as corporate-buzzword-y as that is). What am I trying to accomplish. What experience am I trying to evoke. By defining a clear goal for the game, I can subsequently use it as a reminder or point of comparison. I need to consciously refer back, and see if it encourages the players to achieve the goal of the game, or if it runs counter to the spirit of the game.
UW’s goal was nebulous. It was more-or-less “Common Space Opera Tropes: The Game”. Early designs were all about that “do jobs to escape debt” kinda thing, but I never followed through on that goal. (I spent a long time flagellating myself about taking the middle-of-the-road coward’s way out and going as generic as possible, I won’t rehash it all here).
So this is UW2’s Goal going forward:
Find your independence out among the stars.
I’ve thought long and hard about what aspects of UW that I liked most. At the end of the day, I have to like what I’m making, or I’ll lose my passion for it. This goal sums up that preferred loop, that core element from which all others branch. Allow me to break it down:
FIND your independence out among the stars. Previous drafts of this goal had “Fight for” or “Claim”. But I realize that part of this has to be a journey of self-discovery. You have to discover just how you will achieve your goal. I don’t want to curtail that freedom to choose your own methods, from combat, to diplomacy, to discovery, to exploration, to commerce. It’s YOUR stellar path to independence.
Find your INDEPENDENCE out among the stars. The balancing act between civilization and freedom will be one of the core conflicts of UW2. The heroes may take on contracts or exchange favors with all kinds of factions, but only in order to ensure their continued independence from any of them. The threat of being locked in chains (metaphorically or physically) should always be at the back of the characters’ minds. The three most important loyalties are to your ship, your crew, and yourself.
Find your independence OUT AMONG THE STARS. There needs to be a focus on “moving on”, continually travelling from planet to planet, from adventure to adventure. Getting bogged down in the same place for too long changes the pace and tone of a game. Strong incentive towards “knocking the dirt off your boots” and see what the universe has to offer.
So yeah, that’s the current design goal. It doesn’t overly restrict the genre (I do want to keep the flexible sandbox-y nature of UW), but it does help shape the expected play. If nothing else, it’ll hopefully prevent me from designing dead-end or free-spinning systems.
I’m aware that “Find your independence out among the stars” is not exactly unique or distinctive compared to some sci-fi games where you swap minds with robots or travel through alternate timelines or what-have-you. That said, part of UW’s strength was that is was flexible, approachable, and unencumbered. I’m hoping this allows me to keep that aspect while still sharpening the focus somewhat. That said, I’m totally open to thoughts/opinions about it.
As a side note: @Deckard mentioned the Ironsworn Session-0 to establish the broad-strokes setting foundations, which is tech that I’ll most certainly be incorporating (with Shawn Tomkin’s blessing).