Producing NISEI: March 2022 Update

Hello! Extrac from the Production team here with another production progress update!

It’s been an exciting month and a bit since our last update. We previewed and delivered the Midnight Sun Booster Pack, which we hope you’ve enjoyed tinkering with. I’m personally enjoying the knife-edge Built to Last matches where seven 3/2 agendas can turn the tide in a heartbeat if the Runner doesn’t keep up the aggression; my favourite type of running!

With the Booster Pack out and available we’ve set our sights on the next big release: Midnight Sun itself. We set aside a bit of time post-release to do a retrospective on what went well and what challenged us on the road to delivery to see where we could make improvements to our pipeline. There’s a lot of new faces in NISEI, recruited over the last few months, so there’s a lot of learning as we go under guidance of the more experienced members of teams.

Overall, we were happy with the release, but there were definitely a few adjustments we can make to the process. For example: we were less coordinated with Jinteki.net and NetrunnerDB this time around as we aim to be, and we also recognized that our process for transitioning from art brief to artist sourcing was a sticking point. We’re looking forward to utilising these findings in the next run.

Immediately following that we started planning in earnest for the Midnight Sun release. NISEI has previously adopted a “no deadlines” approach, which makes a certain amount of sense, given that this is a volunteer organisation with many people kindly donating their spare time to keeping this game alive. That being said, a “no deadlines” approach can easily waver into a “it’s done when it’s done” approach, which can be dangerous both for confidence in timely releases and for coordination between the teams, creating handover issues as a given card transitions through the stages to release.

With that in mind, we’ve opted to set some projections for the durations of the various stages on the way to release. I should state clearly here: these are not firm commitments/deadlines and they are not formal announcements of release dates (those will arrive in due course). What they are is our early estimated projections of the timespan for the stages needed to get this product released and where that leaves us in terms of predicted overall timescales, the dates discussed here can shift easily (in either direction) depending on a number of factors.  

With those caveats in place, let’s look at the main subject of our insight today: the Midnight Sun Trello board:

Screenshot of a Trello board. It has 9 columns: Art, Translation, Rules, Narrative, Community, WebDev/Jnet, Production, a redacted column, and MPC DTC POD.
Click to expand.

As you can see: this has gained a fair amount of content since it was last posted in February. We’ve attempted to capture all of the overarching tasks and milestones which need to be completed on the run to release. Once we had all these tasks stated we then layered a Gantt chart on top to provide an easy visual understanding of the work being undertaken. This puts our current projected public release date at around mid-July 2022 as an estimate. 

Gantt chart tracking production of Midnight Sun
Click to expand.

Art sourcing remains our most time-consuming aspect of the release, which is to be expected given it involves multiple parties, multiple stages and a more commercial aspect than the purely internal work that is undertaken for design/testing etc. With that as our “critical path” (the longest task we have which must be completed before shipping) we’ve attempted to layer the other parallel paths around it so that the moment our most time-demanding task is completed, everything else is in a ready state to template and ship the card. 

Trello board tracking the status of all the artwork for Midnight Sun
Click to expand.

As with the Booster Pack, given the complexity of managing art sourcing we’ve broken the granular detail out into its own Trello board to track. Given that there’s nearly ten times as many cards in Midnight Sun as in the Booster Pack it will be more critical than ever that we can quickly and easily view progress on an individual card level to ensure that the throughput pace can be maintained to ensure a timely public release. 

Trello board tracking progress on future sets. "Piggybank - Design Main" and "Belltower - Ideation - Mechanics" are in the "Doing" column. In the "To Do" column are several entries for "Piggybank", "SquidIsland", and "Ghost Dragon".

There’s also been some movement in our horizon sets with early planning starting on “Ghost-Dragon”. It’s easy to devote a lot of focus on the most immediate set but in order to maintain a consistent flow of cards and ideas, it’s key that due attention is paid to this horizon space. We’re looking forward to updating you further as more info becomes available. 

That’s all from us for this month, we’re looking forward to keeping you updated as we progress along this path towards release day! As always: if you have any questions about any of the data we’ve shared today please direct them to us at the production team. Always be running and see you next month!

Author

  • Extrac is a member of NISEI's Production Management team. He's a UK player that will one day install Harbinger with net damage when the Rules Team, the FAQ and reality itself stop disagreeing with him.