Another update as we learn things about the game this first month and receive feedback and questions. Today I want to focus on the letter process, both the Player (PC) to player mail and the Non-player mail (NPC) that is written by the Game Masters.
One thing to remember about this game is that it is intended to be a slow game. It is built around breaking us out of the habit of instant gratification that we get in the digital age, and instead take us back to slowly building relationships and the anticipation of contact. It was built on the idea that you might only receive 2-4 correspondences per month, one newsletter, one NPC letter and then maybe a couple pieces of mail from other players. This of course will increase depending upon how social you are. Some players are far exceeding this number, while others have only received the newsletter so far this month, and I will go into the whys for that next.
20 years of game development and before that theatre, has taught me that no matter how well I plan, things go awry in production. There are a few things we did not account for, the number of people interested from the start, the number of letters that would immediately start flowing and the hours it would take to process them. This means that my plan to spend a good amount of my time writing NPC letters has not come to fruition. Luckily I brought in Elizabeth to help with the writing of those, but as she is also not full time on this project, there were weeks she did not have as many available hours as we had hoped, and thus we fell behind. However, we have now brought on Elizabeth's sister Julie, Riana and Alyssa all to get additional hours writing NPC letters and so we are quickly catching back up. We will pull on more writers as well as needed and I also have an intern working with me now on other back end improvements. We are starting with the players that have had no correspondence at all, and then moving along to those players who have been receiving letters from other players. We are down to 17 players who have not yet received a single letter and hope to have those cleared by the end of this weekend and to the post office. We still have faith that we can get all 100+ NPC letters out by the end of the month. Please remember that unlike a digital game or even other play-by-mail games/ services, each one of our letters is custom written for each player. We are not writing content that then gets copied and sent out to 5-10 or more of you at once. Everything is specific to you and the character you designed.
Next I want to talk about the timing of letter processing. Please note that in order to have GM scans of every letter, we are adding days to a postal route, that is on it's own, not always reliable. The process goes as follows. Letters get sent to our PO Box. I pick up letters every day except Sunday, when the post is closed. I then open every letter, scan it, read it and then re-seal it and stack it in a file to be combined with other letters for the same player if there are more in that set. We are receiving so many letters in a day that it is taking me ~2days to work through batches until I have them all bundled up and ready to go out. I'm doing drops 3 times per week. Todays drop contains packages for 54 different people, many of which have multiple letters inside. We are shipping at the base rate, to keep costs low, which means there is no tracking. Supposedly the USPS estimate is 1-3 days for domestic letter delivery, but we are seeing that is not always accurate. So please keep all of this time in mind when calculating whether something should have arrived for you yet. However, we have found that there have been typos in some addresses we had on file. If you are concerned that you have not received anything yet, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can verify the address for you and let you know the approximate date something may have been dropped in the mail for you. If mail gets lost, we are scanning all of it, so we can send you a digital copy.
We do understand that perhaps this wait is not fun for folks, and we get that. Not every game is for every person. We appreciate everyone that gave us a try, even if they found it was not for them. But if you still think this might be your cup of tea, we ask that you just have a little more patience as the mail flow gets going. It is spinning up a large water wheel machine, all the gears will start spinning and feeding each other soon, but folks further down the stream might not see the flow just yet. How long might that take? Well as said earlier, everyone subscribed in Feb and first part of March should have at least one letter by the end of this month, but for the full process to be ironed out? From my experience it takes about 3 months to get a new team and or process really synced up and flowing well. I'm really excited to see what Romancing Jan looks like come the summer and hope you enjoy taking this journey with us or join us later in the year!