New Panty Explosion

edited August 2007 in Story Games
Panty Explosion is a year old this month. We've sold over 1000 copies and gotten aton of nice reviews. We're pretty happy. But...

For the first time we're thinking about doing a large print run. Before we do that there are some things we want to change about the book. We're looking at doing a makeover in the next 6 months. Here's my list of changes, but I'm hoping that I can get some feedback from those of you who are familiar with the game.

And no, we're not changing the title.

1. The more I play the game the more I'm convinced that the role of the Superintendent is unnecessary. I want to rework the game text to reflect the way I currently enjoy playing the game. I still want to keep the Superintendent rules, but as a separate option.

2. I'm convinced the book can be more approachable. It can read easier and cleaner. Our target audience has always been anime and manga reader instead of gamers, and I want the game to be something that is easily playable. I think more play examples will go a long way toward making the game easier to understand.

3. Matt and I we're never happy with the books 9x6 size. We'll be switching to the standard manga size instead.

4. Art. I've never been happy with the books art. I plan to re-illustrate the book in a different style.

5. Editing. Panty Explosion will finally get a professional edit.

So these are the big things we plan to change, although I'll also be reviewing a years worth of feedback and advice from customers and fans. My hope is that, as outside observers, some of you might be able to point out some things that we're missing.



Jake

Comments

  • So, I've been playing in an ongoing (!!) PE game that's been running for some seven sessions now (although this is over IRC, so it would equate to at most half that in face-to-face-sessions), and thus naturally have some opinions.

    Art/layout/editing: Right on. Significant improvements in those fields and I'll promise to buy a second copy. :-)

    GM-less-ness: Again, right on. We were discussing recently (for a one-time thing) what modifications would be needed and how best to accomplish it, so if you can produce a solid setup for this mode out of the box, that's a good thing.

    There's primarily one thing I've been personally dissatisfied with in terms of the book, and that is agendas, or rather the presentation thereof. What I mean by that is that they could and should (and have!) work great as fodder for play, but a lot of the examples in the book are ... shall we say, not-so-dramatic stuff ("score well on the next English text" is not exciting to play out unless you really put some thought into how to present it). Now, in all fairness, when I just went back to look in the book, they weren't as bad as I remember it, but I still think some more explanation and suggestions on picking interesting agendas and their purpose would be a good thing (based on the initial choices of some of the people in our group).

    I pointed the others to this thread, though I suspect they may be too lazy to sign up for the forum. :-)

    --R
  • 7 sessions? Good job!

    "Art/layout/editing: Right on. Significant improvements in those fields and I'll promise to buy a second copy."

    Can you tell me what you'd like to see? Was there some specific stuff that turned you off abou the current books art/layout? I can guess about the editing easily enough.

    "GM-less-ness: Again, right on. We were discussing recently (for a one-time thing) what modifications would be needed and how best to accomplish it, so if you can produce a solid setup for this mode out of the box, that's a good thing."

    I play the game almost exclusivly GMless. It feels so much more natural and simple. I think we can remove the Superintendent rules to an "optional rules" section of the game and turn the game GMless pretty easily.

    "There's primarily one thing I've been personally dissatisfied with in terms of the book, and that is agendas, or rather the presentation thereof."

    Y'know, when we wrote the Agendas list we were trying to stay away from anything that seemed too specific. But now, I think I'd go the other way. These are meant to be examples after all. Agendas in recent games I've played have been stuff like "Must kill my mom and the demon that has corrupted her", "must kill myself before the psychic can taint my thoughts and devour my soul", "must convince Kenji that it's me he truely loves", "must not explode anyones head" and "must become the most popular girl in my class". Stuff like that. Agendas are what the game is all about, and I agree that they need to be punchier then what's currently in the book. I have had some good games based around those Agendas, but it's always more interesting to choose Agendas that are... more interesting.


    Thanks
  • Can you tell me what you'd like to see? Was there some specific stuff that turned you off abou the current books art/layout? I can guess about the editing easily enough.

    Both in terms of art and layout, the book is just... not exciting for lack of a better word. Now, my own tastes run into the minimalist direction here, and it still feels maybe just a tad on the plain side.

    Stuff like that. Agendas are what the game is all about, and I agree that they need to be punchier then what's currently in the book. I have had some good games based around those Agendas, but it's always more interesting to choose Agendas that are... more interesting.

    Right. They worked out great once everyone was on the same page, but the book didn't quite bring us there.
  • Amusingly, I almost bought Panty Explosion recently, but as it was out of print ...

    A new run would be excellent. Including a PDF of the game with every purchase would be better. (It's often useful to have a coil-bound version printed large when teaching new folks.)

  • edited August 2007
    "Both in terms of art and layout, the book is just... not exciting for lack of a better word. Now, my own tastes run into the minimalist direction here, and it still feels maybe just a tad on the plain side."

    Okay. Thanks. I'll see what I can do.


    "Amusingly, I almost bought Panty Explosion recently, but as it was out of print ..."

    Out of print has been a problem. The book isn't really out of print, but we've had trouble getting it to IPR and some other outlets. It sells out too quick. Every time we print a run for IPR we end up selling them before we can put them in the mail. I don't think IPR has had any copies of the book since last December. This is pretty unfair to IPR, and Brennan and the guys have been pretty understanding. One of the reasons we want to do a larger print run is to make sure we can stock outlets like IPR and Key20. As it is we usually print 50-150 copies at a time, and those almost always go to fill orers from stores and customers through our own site, or get sold at conventions. Hell, more then one person has knocked on my door and asked to buy a copy.

    IPR went home from Gencon with about a dozen copies of the book, so even though the site currently says that it's sold out, they do have copies. I just recieved a small shippment of books as well, so I will happily fill orders through the Atarashi Games store. We'll likely be printing another 150 books early next month to get us through November.

    "Including a PDF of the game with every purchase would be better."

    This month we're offering free worldwide shipping on all orders placed through our online store. NEXT month we're offering free PDFs with the purhase of a physical book. You can find the store at www.atarashigames.com
  • IPR went home from Gencon with about a dozen copies of the book, so even though the site currently says that it's sold out, they do have copies.

    Well, that's excellent. Admittedly, I looked a week or so ago. The real problem for IPR is that they don't have the Print on Demand resources of a Lulu, which would remove all the problems with getting the right number of copies in the right place. There may be other logistical issues I'm unaware of, of course, but it would seem the logistics of moving 50 - 100 copies at a time around would make any kind of PoD solution look good.

    NEXT month we're offering free PDFs with the purhase of a physical book.

    An excellent reason to put off my purchase until after Dragon*Con. Whew, I was starting to get worried. :)

  • "The real problem for IPR is that they don't have the Print on Demand resources of a Lulu, which would remove all the problems with getting the right number of copies in the right place. There may be other logistical issues I'm unaware of, of course, but it would seem the logistics of moving 50 - 100 copies at a time around would make any kind of PoD solution look good."

    We do use Lulu to print books between print runs, but I like to avoid them if possible. Printing through Lulu almost triples the cost of our books, and that really eats into our profit. It's not so bad when we're just filling orders from our own store, but sending Lulu books to IPR or Key20 (who both take a fair cut) eats away at our profits even more. Of course, we've lately had some problems with our printer anyway.

    "An excellent reason to put off my purchase until after Dragon*Con. Whew, I was starting to get worried. :)"

    I'll save a copy for you.
  • "I pointed the others to this thread, though I suspect they may be too lazy to sign up for the forum. :-)"

    A lie. We are not lazy. We just converse our precious bodily fluids more than some.

    Well, it turns out Thark allready said what I wanted to say more or less, except that I'll buy it regardless. The GM-lessness is intruiging, because I feel it might detract from the "plot" that the GM would try and present and just become a freeforall. Maybe I just dont trust my fellow gamers.

    So would the new size be a step in getting actualt stores to place the game next to Marmelade Boy and Mai the Psychic Girl, or just for novelty?
  • "Well, it turns out Thark allready said what I wanted to say more or less, except that I'll buy it regardless. The GM-lessness is intruiging, because I feel it might detract from the "plot" that the GM would try and present and just become a freeforall. Maybe I just dont trust my fellow gamers."

    I want to make Gm-less the games default setting, but I also want to keep the GM rules for people who are more comfortable with that. They aren't broken after all. I just enjoy playing the game differently now.

    "So would the new size be a step in getting actualt stores to place the game next to Marmelade Boy and Mai the Psychic Girl, or just for novelty?"

    Yes. Barnes & Noble contacted us about carrying the book, pending a size change and edit. But really, we wanted the smaller size from the get go. We went 9x6 because we wanted to be able to use Lulu if we had to.
  • A friend just emailed me to ask if the reason we want to "re-release" PE is because we think it might be broken. Just to be clear, Matt and I are pretty happy with the way Panty Explosion is now. I have no doubt that the game can be improved, and I'm really eager for more suggestions on improvement. We'll take them all to heart. The point of this new edition won't be to fix a broken game. Instead, because we'll be investing in a larger print run, we want to take the opportunity to make sure the game is as solid as possible. Also, because the way we enjoy the game has changed over the last year, we want to give players a chance to enjoy the game the way we do.

    Does that make sense?

    Of course, if you think the game is really messed up and broken, please let us know.

    Thanks for all the feedback so far.

    Jake
  • edited August 2007
    Posted By: jake richmond4. Art. I've never been happy with the books art. I plan to re-illustrate the book in a different style.
    Is this going to be a more anime-esque style? I hope not! I really like the more realistic art style in the book- it makes me think of Love and Pop, and Battle Royale, and Boogiepop Phantom, and all the manga that don't have the generic anime style and instead go for something a little less prettyshiny. That kind of art combined with the silly title really caught my eye and compelled me to pick the book up and read it, where a more shiny generic anime/Amerimanga style would have just gotten a quick glance at the back cover and a return to the shelf.
  • "Is this going to be a more anime-esque style? I hope not!"

    I haven't decided yet. I'm not really interested in a generic anime style, but I know that the books stark black and white style turned a lot of people off. Really, it's not so much style that I'm concerned with, but content. I was recovering from an illness during the run up to printing the book, and didn't have time to do all the illustrations I wanted. We ended up using a bunch of illustration that I had done as kind of tests for that black and white style. I want to go back and do a lot more content focused art for the book, similar to Classroom Deathmatch.
  • Having just bought the book, and starting to look through it, I love the stark black-and-white style. Just as a minority data point.
  • "Having just bought the book, and starting to look through it, I love the stark black-and-white style. Just as a minority data point."

    That's good to know, Alex. Thanks. Most of the negative feedback about the art fas come from people who idn't buy the book. Except for you guys, I haven't heard opinions from a lot of people tat did buy it.
  • I've personally always liked the design (light lines with doodles in the background) however as the production of other books has increased it does look a little forced and sloppy. While I know there are issues currently being discussed about the increased production values of indie games, if we are trying to click in with the manga and anime fans we do need to appeal to them. Beyond the size change a more professional looking layout that catches the eye either with an interesting design or with its stark cleanliness.

    The art has always sucked, but that's Jake's fault and totally not mine. I kid of course. I think stylizing the art more to one extreme and I have some ideas, might give a more distinctive look it really is up to Jake, because all I could attempt is stylized stick figures.

    The proof reading will begin shortly by someone who is far more learned in the English language then jake or I.
  • I'm not concerned with the art style (which is fine) so much as motive. Have some shit actually going on in those pictures. :-)
  • edited August 2007
    "I'm not concerned with the art style (which is fine) so much as motive. Have some shit actually going on in those pictures. :-) "

    Agreed. When we went back to press the first time I added 2 new illustrations to the book, the "tentacle girl" and the "psychic hair girl". These were closer to what I wanted all along, but still not quite there. Classroom Deathmatch was clsoer still, but I feel like I can do better.
  • ... the "tentacle girl" ...

    You know, anything that involves this phrase, before I even have the book in hand, earns my laudation.

  • "You know, anything that involves this phrase, before I even have the book in hand, earns my laudation."

    heh. I'm refering to this illustration: http://www.atarashigames.com/Pillar%20wallpaper%20copy.jpg
  • heh. I'm refering to this illustration: http://www.atarashigames.com/Pillar wallpaper copy.jpg

    If my background was not already set to the latest bit of concept art to come out of Guild Wars: Eye of the North, your piece would replace it. Though I admit my affection for tentacles is likely horribly unhealthy, still ... Well, we go with what we like, no?

    Relatedly: Putting together some widescreen and non wallpapers as promotional materials, especially of character archetypes, is good thinking. (This applies equally to Bliss Stage, though Ben has the meme quiz for the Pilot templates already.)

  • " Putting together some widescreen and non wallpapers as promotional materials, especially of character archetypes, is good thinking."

    Yeah. We have some PSP wallpapers and some other odds and ends stuff up as well. I always mean to do more, but I keep getting wrapped up in other stuff.

    This ones the most popular of the bunch: http://www.atarashigames.com/images/Panty%20ExplosionVS%20wallpaper.jpg
  • My two bits:

    1) the title would totally not be a problem if your cover were putting it in the right context. Right now the game can be misinterpreted as fanservice, and I know you've had a lot of problems and frustrations over that. I have some design thoughts I will noodle on some more, if you're interested.

    2) Some of the interior art is fanservice-ish too, or can be mistaken for it by the casual browser; you could solve this entirely by making sure all girls in all art are doing something. Simple as that.

    Okay, three things:

    3) The blood type section, and the other sections that are similar, can be tightened up a lot.
  • Yes, Blood Type, Junishi and Godai need better examples, defined more as well as examples of how they are used in play (the last part is mostly for Godai). Its currently hard in a demo to explain godai adequately, so you end up having player declare action and then you as demo-er say "Well that sounds like Fire or Air for 'X' reasons. Which do you want to use?"
  • edited August 2007
    They're all traits. Big, big menus (with high utility-overlap between them) of example freeform traits, grouped into various social traditions for color. I'm thinking that's the perspective to come from when refactoring them. I could be wrong insofar as how the game uses them - maybe they're not traits - but I wouldn't know, because I haven't actually owned the game long, and when I was reading it last I got bogged down in those huge, huge lists that all seemed the same.
  • "They're all traits. Big, big menus (with high utility-overlap between them) of example freeform traits, grouped into various social traditions for color. I'm thinking that's the perspective to come from when refactoring them. I could be wrong insofar as how the game uses them - maybe they're not traits - but I wouldn't know, because I haven't actually owned the game long, and when I was reading it last I got bogged down in those huge, huge lists that all seemed the same."

    Tightening up that entire section of the book is one of the things that I think will make the game more immediately accessible. I want to make sure character creation can be faster and more fluid, especially for the first time gamers that are a big part of our desired audience.I also want to include some pre-made characters (like we did in Classroom Deathmatch) for players who just want to jump in.
  • I hope you don't change the look too much, that's what attracted me in the first place. Had it been more overtly manga I'm not sure I would have bought it.

    You ought to talk to Leisure Games and Fan Boy Three, UK retailers which I understand is a big market for you.

    You'd possibly get more sales if you had a US version with a different title.
  • "You'd possibly get more sales if you had a US version with a different title."

    I'm not convinced that would be the case. I know we'd have les people that would bring that up as a reason they didn't buy the game, but it seems to me that in most cases these people wouldn't have bought the game anyway. But maybe I'm wrong. I don't care, really. Matt and I both dig the game, so that's all that really matters.

    "You ought to talk to Leisure Games and Fan Boy Three, UK retailers which I understand is a big market for you."

    Good idea. I've never heard of Fan Boy Three. Thanks for the tip!

    "I hope you don't change the look too much, that's what attracted me in the first place. Had it been more overtly manga I'm not sure I would have bought it."

    Thanks. I'm still not sure what kind of change the art will go through, I just know I want more pictures of Students doing stuff and less of them just standing around.

    Jake
  • I picked this game up at GenCon 2006, and I agree with most of the suggestions with respects to art (whatever style, the characters should be doing something other than posing), and tightening up some of the writing.

    As for the title, it was part of the reason I picked the game up off the shelf to flip through, although I bought it because I liked the game. The title has thus far prevented me from asking other people to play it, though. Also, I was mildly miffed that your Japanese version of Panty Explosion was written Panchii Bakuhatsu, and not Pantsu Bakuhatsu. Unless my Japanese has finally atrophied enough that I have simply forgotten, I have only ever heard "Pantsu."
  • "I was mildly miffed that your Japanese version of Panty Explosion was written Panchii Bakuhatsu, and not Pantsu Bakuhatsu. Unless my Japanese has finally atrophied enough that I have simply forgotten, I have only ever heard "Pantsu."

    Are you talking about the text on the cover, or the Japanese fan translation of PE? If it's the cover text, I actually thought it did read as "Pantsu". I don't read or speak the language at all, but that's what I was told.

    "title has thus far prevented me from asking other people to play it"

    I was terrified at first. I couldn't ask anyone to play test the game because I was too embarrassed. Eventually I got over it, and now I actually like the idea that the game may be mildly embarrassing for some people.

    but, if you are having trouble finding players because of the name, I bet inviting friends over to play "Mai the Psychic Girl" or "Azumanga Daioh" might be easier. Just don't tell them the name of the game. Or call it "Panchii Bakuhatsu". No one knows what the fuck that means anyway

    Jake
  • edited August 2007
    You can easily make a brown paper cover for your rulebook...

    Additional: regarding the early comment about "boring" ambitions (pass the english test). For me, it was a feature that this is game a where ordinary everyday terrors are just as important as the psychic monster in the boiler room. Of course, Jake knows that I'm an advocate of a very low key approach PE, as opposed to Scanners High.
  • I'm talking about the text on the cover. I don't have the book in front of me right now, but I'm 90% certain that, at least on the version I have, it is mispelled. Instead of using the Japanese word (an English loan word), Pantsu, it uses a transliteration of the word Panty -> Panchii, which I've never actually heard used by an actual Japanese person. I'm pretty sure English-speaking American foreigners have probably used it, so it may have crept into the language by now as a somewhat slangy/exotic/cool alternative.

    When I woke up this morning, I never imagined I'd be discussing the particulars of Japanese words for women's underwear. Go figure.
  • edited August 2007
    Posted By: Ben JohnsonI'm talking about the text on the cover. I don't have the book in front of me right now, but I'm 90% certain that, at least on the version I have, it is mispelled. Instead of using the Japanese word (an English loan word), Pantsu, it uses a transliteration of the word Panty -> Panchii, which I've never actually heard used by an actual Japanese person. I'm pretty sure English-speaking American foreigners have probably used it, so it may have crept into the language by now as a somewhat slangy/exotic/cool alternative.
    Huh. Panchii I ran past a Japanese friend of mine before putting it on the cover and she thought it worked. As well the game has sold over in Japan as well as been shown to every other Japanese person I've had over at my place and none of them have pointed out the title as being incorrect. On the other hand the first draft of the CDM cover was openly laughed at and was changed after several of our PE Japanese fans debated how best to write the title.

    I'll ask Keiji next time I see him (after I get back from vacation) about Panchii versus Pantsu.
    Posted By: rafialAdditional: regarding the early comment about "boring" ambitions (pass the english test). For me, it was a feature that this is game a where ordinary everyday terrors are just as important as the psychic monster in the boiler room.
    I personally also like having "boring" agendas in the game as well, but again its personal taste. With trying to gear the book towards the anime/manga crowd I can see a percieved need to change it to be more outlandish or adventurous.

    On the other hand the last full PE game I played had the girl who's agenda was to dye her hair... often. The first time she did so we forced her to roll and she failed. Needless to say hilarity ensued.
  • It says "Panti", not "panchii" or "pantsu". "Pantsu" is the standard way of saying panties, but I've seen manga and anime use a mix of English and Japanese words, so I don't see any real problem with the title as it is, especially if you've run it by a native speaker and gotten it okay-ed. But it does say "panti" (パンティ) not panchii (パンチイ).

    Ben, looking over my shoulder, says: "I like 'pantsu bakuhatsu' better because it rhymes."
  • "Additional: regarding the early comment about "boring" ambitions (pass the english test). For me, it was a feature that this is game a where ordinary everyday terrors are just as important as the psychic monster in the boiler room. Of course, Jake knows that I'm an advocate of a very low key approach PE, as opposed to Scanners High."

    I like boring Agendas as well, because I actually think that mundane objectives can create a lot of drama. But I do want to inject some more variety in there, especially because the Agenda list is a list of examples.
  • What Alexis said, with the caveat that panteli-/パンティ is actually becoming commonly used these days. (also, 3.5+ million websites can't be wrong)

    Pantsu can also be used for men's and women's underwear. The romanized "panti" refers to panties only.

    The wasei-eigo became sude-ni more wasei-eigo again. Desu.
    Posted By: Ben JohnsonI'm talking about the text on the cover. I don't have the book in front of me right now, but I'm 90% certain that, at least on the version I have, it is mispelled. Instead of using the Japanese word (an English loan word), Pantsu, it uses a transliteration of the word Panty -> Panchii
  • "The wasei-eigo became sude-ni more wasei-eigo again. Desu."

    What?
  • Hi. Thanks for all the feedback everyone. Both on and off board. Matt and I have a lot to think about over the coming months. We're in no rush to put out a new version of the book, but it seems likely that it will happen eventually. We're still happy to have more suggestions, ideas and comments, but I wanted to thank evryone for all the feedback so far.

    Good stuff. Thanks.

    jake
  • Posted By: jake richmond"The wasei-eigo became sude-ni more wasei-eigo again. Desu."

    What?
    aaaaaaaand Scene!
  • You should note that, once you've started to say there'll be a new version, fewer people will buy the old one. At least that's how I've seen it happen with other games that announced revisions. So while you have as much time as you want, there'll be people waiting for it. :)
  • You should note that, once you've started to say there'll be a new version, fewer people will buy the old one. At least that's how I've seen it happen with other games that announced revisions. So while you have as much time as you want, there'll be people waiting for it. :)
  • I know I have indeed seen "pantii" used, though I remember reading somewhere that it's since gone out of date, to the point where you can get people laughing out loud by using it (kind of like saying "bifuteki" for (beef) steak instead of
    "suteeki"). That Andy's saying "pantii" is coming back doesn't surprise me, but it's news to me all the same.
    Posted By: jake richmond"The wasei-eigo became sude-ni more wasei-eigo again. Desu."

    What?
    "Wasei eigo" is "English made in Japan." There are certain terms coined in English by Japanese people, like "salaryman" and "OL (office lady)." "sude ni" means "even more."
  • "You should note that, once you've started to say there'll be a new version, fewer people will buy the old one. At least that's how I've seen it happen with other games that announced revisions. So while you have as much time as you want, there'll be people waiting for it. :)"

    I know. But I figured it was better to ask for feedback publicly and make sure we're oing it right then do it in secret and miss some obvious stuff.

    ""Wasei eigo" is "English made in Japan." There are certain terms coined in English by Japanese people, like "salaryman" and "OL (office lady)." "sude ni" means "even more.""

    !
  • Yeah, my main art notes would be to make sure you get more "explosion" in there. You've got the "panty" side nailed, as it were -- a flip-through impression of the art in the book gave me all sorts of impressions on that end of things. But I don't recall ever walking away from the product thinking, "Man, yeah, explosion." Stuff just needs to be more dynamic, less posed. Show me some locker doors flying off hinges as an irate 13-year-old glowers at the end of the hall!
  • As usual, Fred's right on :)
  • I agree. there's a whole story that explains why the art ended up the way it did, but it involves props and dancing,a nd I usually charge to tell t. So yeah.
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