As part of another required test protocol, we will stop enhancing the truth in 3 … 2…

Semi-weekly status “update” :

1. The TV.1 rewrite is plodding along and is presently at just over the half-way point. The rewrite is shaping up to be important from an exposition standpoint, though I may re-draft some of the chunkier bits before committing to it. Re-lettering will be done either after TD2E or while waiting on TD2E renders and in either case won’t be uploaded until after TD2E is complete, as the rewrite now Assumes You’ve Read The Dualist, rather than just toddling along where it left off.

2. TD2E script is still done.

3. Texturing of remaining CG is coming along very, very slowly. The to-do list consists of two objects, an environment, and two dummies. One of the objects is done, one of the dummies is almost done, and no work has been done on the second dummy or the environment. The second object has finally heaved itself off the launch pad and, after a couple of false starts, is finally starting to shape itself into something. While I’ve made substantial progress over the weekend, I still have no idea how long the thing is going to take. I’d like to have the base work done by the 25th and the “flavor” done by Halloween… but I don’t know how likely that is. The last vehicle I textured was the Hemera, almost a year ago… and it was considerably more forgiving.

Also, vastly less central to the story.

The single biggest hurdle of vehicle mapping – for me, anyway – has always been figuring out the final color palette. I’ll know generally what I want something to look like when I start out, but getting The Exact Colors is always a lengthy period of trial and error. That part of the ordeal is over with – now it’s down to refining the design and getting it Done.

Confessions of an Asian Foot Goddess

As there’s been no visible progress since my last status update a couple of weeks ago, and as it’s a new month (this year is whipping by even faster than the last five!), I figure it’s time for a general status update.

In no particular order:

1. The TD2E script is complete. The remaining original TD1E pages still need to be relettered – Getting the script done was a horribly expensive process and I’ve been doing freelance in order to eat for the past couple of weeks. It sucks, but there it is. These pages will be lettered as soon as my current list of commissions has been whittled down.

2. The TV.1 script is partially rewritten, thanks largely to writing inertia and having packed the remaining pages of TD1E in with the TV binder for portability. The TV.1 rewrite is plot-identical to the first edition, though several core bits of character personality, backstory and exposition have changed. The goal is to finish the rewrite within the next few weeks, and to start work on it as soon as The Dualist is re-completed.

3, I CAN HAS PC. Finally. No more limping along in VMWare without hardware 3d support. Still need to replace my “light table,” but that’s a trip to Lowes/Home Depot with the paycheck after this one. A sheet of plexi won’t be expensive, but a round trip to the waterfront is three to four hours of my life. And I need that time for other things at the moment.

4. There has been no work done towards the next edition of the website. I know what I’m going to change and how I’m going to do it, I just don’t see the point in stopping everything else to get it done. Webwork will hopefully happen in December or January – by then I should either know how to implement the “spoilers [on] [off]” and “devnotes [on] [off]” options I’d like to put into the new site, or I’ll have figured out how to live without them.

5. DCR.2 and TV.2 plot work is back on deck. As I’m quickly coming up on finishing with TD2E and TV.1b, my imagination is lurching forward with the story. With TV.2, I’m weighing story and CG, trying to think through what needs told and what needs shown and figuring out how to balance them in a fashion that will keep new CG to an absolute minimum. With DCR the concerns are similar, though it’s long been a question of “is it worth it to model the outside of ‘gheny?” I hope to have that answer before the year is out.

5.B. While I’d like to keep DCR as “the thing I do when ATC is rendering,” there’s a very real possibility I’ll be forced to Choose One in order to make meaningful progress through 2010. DCR is the likely candidate – while DCR and TV are roughly the same length, DCR has much lighter production requirements and almost all of its vehicle CG is complete.

6. Production-wise, the new pages I’ve mentioned previously (total : 10) are still being held up on the CG front. Fortunately at this point the geometry is effectively complete and it’s a matter of texturing. How long this process will take, I don’t know. Fortunately, the two objects I need to progress TD2E are also two important objects I need to progress DCR, so I’m in sort of a win-win situation here – sitting on my ass is now holding up both projects.

Fortunately, one of the two bits I need, while not necessarily complete, is at the Good Enough point and will be usable for production in TD2E. I’ve stuck it in the “Extended” section of the entry to keep it off the front page, as at this point it’s technically a spoiler.
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One, one, and…

One page of TD2E left to pre-format. A good-sized chunk now need new panels and there’s ten new pages to create, but hey- one page left to pre-format.

That’s the “II” I’ve mentioned previously.

Touched c1 of Transitional Voices for the first time in Awhile tonight – knocked the Ornix Shirt Fixes down to one. One. Page, that is. Several panels of one page.

One that’s been really strangely assembled, even by my standards.

So, one of each. Not counting the rewrite TV will need – as I’m all about getting the brute photoshop out of the way now, that bit can wait.

Will upload the new TV pages as soon as the last one is fixed.

Photoshop gruntwork is almost done; writing gruntwork is on deck. So much gruntwork.

As for the “three” implied in the title – huge whopping chunks of my internet have caught the lame tonight. Or this past week. Or… since Sunday. No idea how to debug and pretty sure the problem isn’t on my end.

Ornix’s shirt: the math.

Short form:

The shirt decal appears in 44 more pages of The Dualist, in approximately 70 panels. All pages require the same formatting work that the first half of the book has received.

Said decal also appears on 23 pages and in 40 panels of the first part of Transitional Voices. TV is already the correct aspect ratio and has already been extensively fixed. While it may still be subject to a rewrite, the decal swap can be done separately.

That’s a sum total of 67 pages and approximately 110 panels that need adjustment, in addition to the raft of other work that needs to be done to The Dualist (and possibly TV).

In terms of page count, this is by far the costliest © error of my entire body of work.

There’s a chance I may push through the TV corrections before I start on the second half of TD2E. After all, it’s “only” 23 pages… and when The Dualist is Done, I’ll hopefully be Current on projects, instead of having More TV Rework ahead of me.

I do regardless – there’ll be a final pass over the text after TD2E is complete, and the cover’s going to be changed to match the stuff I’m brewing for the TD2E cover replacements. Those are givens and – relatively speaking – aren’t much of a challenge.
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Order of Operations

While development has been a vicious hydra of timesuck – CG for future bits, CG for DCR, CG for stuff I may never use, new dummies, script for TV.2, revisions for DCR.2, overplot, script ideas for “inserts” between stories that would be totally viable if this thing ever becomes an Ongoing Series, cover musings, structural musings, CG I Need To Make musings, website musings, Comp CD musings, how do I get moar eyeballs plz musings and OH YEAH THE SECOND EDITION – I’ve managed to make some Meaningful Progress in a couple of key areas and now have a reasonably sane timetable for near-future events.

It goes something like this:

1. Chapter Four (Clarity). Formatting work is ongoing – as of this writing I’ve done one redraw and two pages of renders. This chapter has an expanded scene in it, so I’ll have to start preparing to tackle that in short order. Lots of CG and lineart.

2. Chapter Covers. The CG backdrops for 1-4 are already done. I’ve showed them to my channelmates on IRC, and the general consensus is that they’re Nifty. The new cover formatting is not the current cover formatting – it’s intended for hardcopy and unlike previous bouts of handwaving, hardcopy is where this thing is heading. Slowly.

Getting this covers ground out is filling me with a peculiar sense of Rightness regarding the future of the book. I may well have finally devised something that Actually Works.

I still need to generate the cover for Incursion – the formula’s going to be a bit different than it is for the individual chapters, so I’ll need to do more with the thinking before that pops out. The intent is to work on the Cover artwork while Chapter Four is in reproduction rendering. Usually when ATC is Rendering I busy myself with drawing porn – but I’m almost an adult*, dammit. Time to be making more… useful… uh… use of my time. Or something.

3. After Clarity is done, Incursion (the first half) will be complete, which means it’ll be time for Proofing of the first half. Xeno gets to do his thing, I get to implement fixes. And then implement the first half for print, covers and everything. I’ll probably sit on it until the second half is Done, just in case I wind up needing to make some last minute changes or revisions or whatever, but better to have it Pretty Much Finished by the time I’m done with the second edition than to finish the web version and then have to do the entire hardcopy thing all at once. I did that with the first edition and it sucked.

4. While Xeno’s Xenoing, I’ll be working on a new version of the website. I’ve muttered about this previously – When I start rolling on Expulsion (the second half of the story), I’ll be rolling out a tweaked site. More on that when it gets closer to happening.

You’ll notice there’s no CG modeling work anywhere on that list. Fact is, much as I enjoy banging out spaceships in Silo (and as much as I hate texturing them), everything I need for this chapter already exists… and working on anything I don’t need for this chapter is only going to slow me down.

The first bit of Expulsion is entirely new CG, however – so after all of the above is done, I’ll need to do some modeling and texturing work. The model in question is damned near complete – it just needs some detailing and maps. It’s a plot-critical DCR object to boot, so having it Done (when I Need It, no less) will clear out a sizable roadblock on that project.

Long-term, my current plan is to finish the reformat of The Dualist, do the correction work on TV.1**, finish DCR.2, then move on to TV.2. There’s still FAR TOO MUCH work in front of me, but for the time being there’s at least a semblance of order to it.

Some sense of priority.

* I’ll be 30 in one month. Oh noes!

** I refer specifically to Ornix’s shirt, which needs to be fixed in both The Dualist and TV. I’ll probably revise the hell out of the dialogue while I’m at it.

!New horizons

Chapter three of TD2E is almost done. The art is there – if it were a silent scene I’d be trumpeting three down, five (and a half*) left. The writing is jamming me up a bit – fitting it in, and making it not suck horribly.

I’ve muttered about hardcopy in the past – mild threats that have never materialized. Funds, dissatisfaction, and a single-digit readership are all contributing factors. Hardcopy is expensive, time consuming, and just ain’t worth it yet. Which doesn’t mean I’m not going to continue to prepare for it, mind you. It just means it’s been knocked out of the production pipeline for the foreseeable future.

After the current chapter is out the door, I’ll goad xeno into catching up on proofing. That’ll lock things in, make the first three chapters ready for hardcopy, and give me a really good reason not to go back and screw with them for the third, fourth, fifth, tenth time. I’ll probably compile everything for hardcopy and sit on it until a later date, like I’ve been doing with the first issue of DCR.

On deck, then, would be: Concluding chapter three, editing of chapters one through three, hardcopy prep of same, the new chapter covers I’ve threatened previously… and probably another version of the website.

Again, the website. The main reason for wanting a change is the wiki section. The wiki hasn’t happened and probably won’t – from my current vantage point it seems a lot more efficient to simply create a few more blog categories and start throwing stuff in there… or create another blog (“universe” or whatever) that’ll contain the cast, lexicon, planets, vehicles, technology, etceteras. Stuff that would be bound for a wiki, if I had the time to put into one.

Also, aesthetics. I keep thinking of the site as being grayscale with yellow/orange links or hotspots – not the murky sepia that it has been for the past few revisions.

If I’m SMRAT about this, I’ll do the covers for 1-4, then either edit 1-3 and then do 4, or do 4 and then edit 1-4, then redo the website in preparation for the home stretch.

Ultimately, the order things get done in depends on how badly I’m blocking on rewrites.**

* The first four chapters (aka “Incursion”) had a short eponymous intro scene. The last four (“expulsion”) has one as well, plus there’s that few pages of aftermath. So while there are five chapters left, there are a total of seven sections remaining. Fortunately two of those are really, really short. And chapter six is also short. So plowing through four really will put this thing on the home stretch.

** You’ll be happy to know that the second half needs more rephrasing and continuity correction than it does a burn-it-down-and-do-it-over rewrite. With any luck, production of the second half should go faster than the first half has, if for no other reason than I’m getting deeply impatient and really want to be making new pages instead of gaping in horror at old ones.