I'd like to take a brief moment to argue that at the moment the informational void of Matt's notes is creating a problematic situation on these forums in terms of wasted effort. I say this because a lot of people are putting very impressive effort into working on different factions, be it conceptual design (equipment, clothing, culture, daily life) to visual designs. This is all vital effort since it's these details that can really hook a player and get him or her committed to the game. I say this effort is wasted because outside of what we know from the posts in Matt's notes I think we are all working in a pretty huge void.
Why is this a problem? Well, when you put a group of committed and creative minds together in an echo chamber what you get first is the incomprehensible rooba-rooba of voices talking over each other. Everyone sees the empty space and their imaginations (and mine, but I'm including me in them at the moment) spring to fill it based on what little we do know. Then comes the conflict as people look at each others' ideas and think they don't belong since, ultimately, the individual vision of how to fill empty pace is as personal an expression as it's possible to get. When you see someone putting something into an empty space that "clearly" doesn't belong there the natural reaction is to correct that person. You are on the same side, after all, and committed to the successful filling-in of space, so surely that is a necessary step?
Except constructive criticism is something of a lost art and the internet strips the vocal cues and body language from speech to boot. It's pretty easy to just step on people's ideas rather than engage them in a discussion about those ideas as a result. Then, when everyone is talking at the same time, that jabber starts to look like a threat. The end result? Heat death of a forum as people are playing whack-a-mole with each other.
What makes this pretty unfortunate is that I think we've shown we can get a whole heck of a lot done in a short time - there's a lot of talent floating around here, in the art department in particular. I think it is a crying shame to see that go to waste in the bedlam of nothing when all it would take to get things running a bit more smoothly is to have a few more framework available for people to hang ideas off of. I think the three biggest problem areas here are the Animals, the Bandits, and the Salvagers, which seems obvious enough given that X'lanthos/Corp/Reclaimers are practically ready to roll out the door by comparison. However, I don't think it has to be this way. I don't think Matt needs to change focus, just add a few more notes so that we know a bit more about each of those three groups. Honestly, a quick "here's the hook for the animal faction, the bandits should look like [x] and not like [y], and the salvagers' are motivated by [z] on a 'army' level." would do the trick, I think.
The reason I say this is that I think we can do for those factions what the dark matter threads produced (very useful, very productive, I think) by discussing what sort of animals would work out for design purposes and so on. What concerns me is that I've seen a number of different ideas get tossed around with a lot of work put into them and those ideas don't seem to match up with what little we do know of the DP system and setting. Those posters are told "this doesn't really fit" but honestly, we can't any of us give a really good answer why half the time. We're all working with scraps at best. The design of the artwork and miniatures of any wargame is the single most important factor, I think, in getting people on side since ultimately that's what people are putting their money down to get. Therefore, I think we could be significantly more productive if we had just a bit more framework to work from. In that situation we would be able to talk to each other, not past each other. Let us be a think tank, not fishmongers in the market, each trying to get our own ideas bought - the end result will be vastly more productive.
I actually just went and removed all of the current Matthew's Notes as they are pretty much all out of date.
The only problem with trying to keep them updated is that I am not the only one working on them, and there are tons of revisions. Just updating the notes can take a lot of time and effort.
We will hopefully very soon have some good notes to post, including full PDFs of the story and the faction overviews. That will give some good direction for discussion.
In the meantime, although ideas are all over the place, they do help more than you think. As for the bandit and animal factions, I'm just not ready to put a lot of effort into developing them yet as we are so busy with the other factions that we are currently creating.
I am, of course, sorry to see those notes go but at the same time I think that might have been for the best. I am excited to hear that new notes are coming soon and I look forward to adding that in. I'm a systems junkie when it comes to background and so learning how the factions work will be very interesting for me.
I have a suggestion, however. Both the bandits and the Animals are getting and seem to get a pretty respectable amount of attention. In part that's no doubt because they're the biggest empty spaces but I also think that they have a certain charm and attraction because right now you have the opportunity to do something different from the cookie-cutter ideas of post-apocalyptic nonsense ('nid/zerg clones, Mad Max/Tank Girl/Cherry 2k biker gang clones) that so many other games have done. My suggestion is why not throw out another dark-matter style thread for either of those factions where you lay down a few key points and ask "does this work, how can this work?"