the DISSERPLINN

Expulsion is done. Unlike incursion, this is All New Material. Lots of firsts, the biggest of which is a clear glimpse at The Overplot. Unlike (most) of the other actors in this drama, Yang and Aeon are in possession of most of the facts. Unlike previous posts, I’m comfortable divulging this information.

Seven new pages worked over the past couple of weeks, uploaded in one swat. You’d think being laid off from my day job 12 days ago would have been a big kick in the ass, and it was – just not necessarily in the way I’d expected. I’m still just as Deeply Unmotivated as I have been for the past two years – the difference now is I’ve got plenty of paperwork and other stuff to keep me busy. I’m also FINALLY catching up on sleep. Eighteen months of five to six hours a night (eight, rarely) has left me Truly, Madly, Deeply burned out. Finally having a PC that can run games and do ATC renders in 1/10th the time of previous setups has turned out to mean hours of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. : Shadow of Chernobyl, finding out what the big deal with The Orange Box was,* and Team Fortress 2. So much Team Fortress 2. Production has suffered accordingly. As of the 13th, I’m out of excuses, and I’m out of real-world roadblocks – for a couple of weeks, anyway.

If I felt any less motivated – if I had any less energy – I’d be violating a few laws of physics. More than a few. That doesn’t change what needs doing, where things are, how much has been done, and the massive amount of uploading I’ll be doing over the next few days. Chapters Five and Six have been done for awhile – my next task will be Once Over-ing both of them while setting up renders for the two remaining pages of Chapter Seven.

Then seven and eight go up. Then it’s on to a wealth of other Things That Need Doing – some of it’s is ATC related, some of it’s Finding A Job related. There is some overlap. There is potentially a lot of overlap. The lack of energy is most likely a combination of seasonal and layoff factors, as well as all the fear and uncertainty that comes with the latter. Part of my slate has been cleared for me – I figure it’s on me to clear the rest of it as quickly as possible, making the beginning of 2010 the start of Life 2.0.

This is, perhaps, one of the most critical scenes in The Dualist. It’s also Yang’s first color appearance, the first appearance of Aeon’s “avatar” (given the present Definite Shape of the pre-Dualist outline), my first animal, the first bit of Non-Crazy Astral Space** in the book, the first instance of the ligature to appear inside the story… and the whole thing’s orange enough to counteract the overabundance of blue elsewhere.

Forty Orange.

Forty Orange and the first blatant statement of what this whole damned thing – what these years of effort – might actually be leading to. It’s… unnerving. Like you’re in the middle of a meeting and you suddenly realize your zipper might be down.

Motion in a couple of days – and hopefully some motivation to go with it. Inertia will carry this thing through – I’d prefer some ZIP! and some ZING! and preferably some 😀 and some ^_^ to go with it. If they show up for the party, awesome. If they don’t… well, so be it.

* Portal? Five hours of awesome. Half-Life 2 and episodes? There’s quite a bit of goodness there, but it’s ultimately A Shooter With An Interesting Story. Emphasis on A Shooter. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is the kind of FPS single-player I’ve always wanted to play, and as such my opinion of HL2 boils down to “It’s the best Doom since Doom 3.” One of these days FPS games that aren’t Halo will implement per-weapon melee attacks and – holy of holies – bayonets. Optional breakable bayonets if my trusty AKM/74 with optional scope and grenade launcher (and in Clear Sky, silencer and accuracy mod) in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. are anything to go by. Did Bungee patent pistol whipping? Is that why every FPS I’ve played since hasn’t implemented it?

Rounding out the “review,” TF2 is the most online fun I’ve had since Wolfenstein : Enemy Territory. It’s basically WET (or Counter Strike or Team Fortress or Quake 3 or, yanno… whatever) with a hell of a lot more fine-tuning, beautiful art direction, a great sense of humor, and the same problem every online multiplayer game has – finding a good server can be a real pain in the trigger finger. You get over that hurdle, and the fun… the fun rolls on for hours. If you’re wondering why this scene wasn’t up sooner, don’t blame my former employer and the last week of craziness – blame Valve. Or if I do an ATC-themed game model (like I’ve been not-very-seriously considering on occasion), thank them.

** Strictly speaking, this isn’t quite Astral. The Aeon’s AI has organic components – it’s technically a sentient life form and as such, it has an astral form. That said form happens to be a dog is in keeping with the ship’s present mental state – it’s been lost, sniffing around the galaxy for its masters for the past forever-and-a-half. While this is technically some kind of Super Holodeck, there’s no actual interface hardware – this entire scene occurs as a psychic communication between Aeon and Yang.

BOO!

Just in time for Halloween – it’s a (mostly) dead guy and a ghost ship! Arr!

More pages to follow, probably in two to three weeks – I still have to create the ship’s Avatar and figure out the basic environment for the next several pages. I know what it ought to look like – it’s figuring out how to make it happen in a timely, reproducible fashion that has me puzzled at the moment. I’ll need it for approximately seventeen panels, so it can’t be an All Day Event.

After a long, long time in the abyss (seasons in the abyss, if you’re a Slayer fan), this thing is finally lurching back into visible production. The goal is to have expulsion completed in November, leaving December for final checks, Super Upload II Turbo and the remaining two pages.

Scary!

Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

Primary modeling of everything I need to finish TD2E is complete. There’s still some work to do – some serious work – but I’m finally in a position where I can create a new page for the first time in, like, months.

Bits are done.

One thing I still need is a section cover, a la incursion. I’m probably going to Placeholduhr it until I’m in post production and working on the real covers – the existing “incursion” piece, for example, is crap and will be replaced along with the other covers. Redoing again, for The Last Time No Really I Mean It.

Book first, finishing touches second. Everything else is ready or very nearly so – I’d hate to get trainwrecked by something as pedestrian as a glorified title card.

Order of operations:

1. Expulsion -1- (this weekend)
2. Everything I need for Explulsion -2- – -8-.
3. Expulsion -2- – -8-.
4. Placeholduhr cover for Expulsion.
5. THAT’S NOT A MOON THAT’S A SPACE STATION Super Mega Upload of TONS of pages etc.
6. The two pages I need for chapter 7.
7. All remaining pages.
8. Covers.
9. Website or TV1b.
10. TV1b or Website.

The floodgates will open in late November or early December. I may upload Expulsion before then, just to prime the pump and put something new out there before The Flood.

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.

It flies at 30,000 feet, carrying 27 tons of bombs.

Reformatting of the existing TD1E pages has long been complete. 15 minutes ago, the last of those pages was lettered.

There’s still the final once-over before upload, and there’s still the ten remaining New Pages. Pages that are now on deck.

Work begins the week of the 11th.

Further bulletins as events warrant.

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.
Read More →

141, 13, 10, 168… HUT!

141 : Completed second edition pages*.
17 : Pages that need to be rewritten.
10 : New pages (all scripted and thumbnailed)

168 : Total pages of The Dualist (second edition) that are not on the website.

The numbers have been stable for a few days – I’ve been taking an ATC breather and have instead been spending my time on other kinds of art, brushing up rusty skills and getting my artmeats ready for the new pages.

The rewrite could be finished this weekend.

PC brain in the next few days, CG texturing after that… new work in October, with any luck.

To reiterate, for those of you who haven’t read the previous blog posts : despite having a massive, massive wad of pages completed, the logjam is the eight new pages that kick off the last four chapters. I could retcon those in by editing timestamps, but I’m going another way.

* Barring a final cleanup pass, typo pass, etc.

More stuff you won’t see for awhile.

Chapters Five and Six are bagged.

When the current bottleneck clears, I’m sitting on a massive 70 page up{date|grade}. A stack that’ll get bigger tonight. And tomorrow night.

Dig it.

Seven is rewritten and I’ll be starting on the lettering tonight. I still need to create two new pages for the tweaked climax, so that could be where things Stop when updates start rolling again.

Eight is about 4/5 complete. One scene left to re-write, though the smoking crater that is my bank account means this won’t be worked on until… uh…

October. 😐

This weekend is lettering and (hopefully) commission work. Xeno’s in town from the 17th through the 20th or 21rst, during which time my finances will be further annihilated by the purchase of the PC brain and the usual round or three of bills. Also, food. Not entirely sure if my food supply will last until the 17th, which means a bigger than usual chunk of my paycheck will be going into restocking the pantry.*

With the PC up and running in time for the G-20 Shutdown Of Pittsburgh, I’ll have something to do at home and nowhere else to go. Work on the next 10 pages will start that week.

At present the breakdown looks like this:

September : Lettering of existing rewrite.

October : Texturing and environment for the new pages, setup for the new pages, finish rewrite and lettering of the old pages.

November : Production of new pages.

November or early December : One hell of a MASSIVE update.

December : Covers and new version of website, integrating everything still missing from the previous version. Possible rewrite of TV.1 and/or DCR.1, assuming DCR.1 can be improved any further.

January : Rolling on TV.2 and DCR.1 CG. This’ll happen during November and December as well, though as a back seat to finishing the second edition of The Dualist.

February or March (possibly earlier) : New pages of Transitional Voices or new DCR strips.

* “What the bloody hell does that have to do with writing?!,” you ask? Plenty. I’m a big fan of per-project consistency, and while DCR and TV have been written all around town, The Dualist is strictly a Bar Project. Which means I need money for booze. A typical writing session costs about $30 and produces anywhere from Script Review to A Scene to (in the case of Chapter Six this weekend) a complete chapter rewrite. Cheap in the scheme of things, but painfully expensive at the moment. Of course, I nuked my bank account by going out and rewriting on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Combined with the sessions from early last week, I managed to rewrite about 15/16ths of The Back Four in about a week.

The problem is I was expecting lettering to take a lot longer than it has. 😛

CAN’T STOP THE CHUNGING

Bits You Won’t See For Quite Awhile continue to build up.

II has been swatted, and I’ve finished processing and inserting the ten new panels that augment the existing pages of what will eventually be Chapter Seven. I’ve started CG work on the bit of geometry I’ll need for two of the ten remaining pages, and I’ve been doing some here-and-there work on the Big CG that’s holding up the other eight.

Unless I catch a visual gaffe during future lettering, this thing is done for visual re-processing.

Down to the rewrite, new pages, and new material.

Logjams include but are not limited to:

1. Ten pages of new stuff. Eight to launch the Back Four, two to finish Chapter Seven.

2. 3d bits for said, which are also needed to progress Dead City Radio. DCR needs more than that, but it’s been needing the more than that and these bits since this time last year, so knocking the DCR CG to-do down to two (enormous) items will make the idea of progressing it a lot less… icky. Processing the panel inserts for the existing chapter seven pages was a cinch – the modeling was already done. This won’t be as easy…. but the required material is much more significant. We’re not talking a few pipes and a crank. We’re talking the story equivalent of System Level bits.

3. Writing. I’ve chewed on a lot of plot stuff over the past few weeks, but Chapter Five isn’t on that list. I have a feeling that given my work flow, my money flow, my life in general… this will probably be the last thing knocked off the immediate TDL. Writing’s the thing I do when computers are out of reach – and being cripplingly, criminally destitute means no going out… which means the keyboard remains closer than the pen. Which means photoshop etc. take priority over writing.

Fortunately, the back half is more cleanup and tweaking than it is Starting Over. It’s the same amount of work, mind you – but creatively, reading an old scene and rewording it for The Now is a lot easier than throwing out an old steamer and replacing it with something that fits. I’ve learned a thing or two about retroscripting with the first half…. though maybe not in the Stan Lee sense of the term- stylistically, I’ve no Claremontian Prose Obelisks to fall back on.

4. Covers. Progress on the back four has been so rapid that I’m now questioning the idea of chapter covers. I’ve been questioning them for awhile, really – I generated the backgrounds for the first four quickly enough… as planned, I still have seven (eight if you count TV) backgrounds to figure out, and – counting those – nine that need art. I could cheap out and cut that to one. The thought of it, it’s tempting. Reduction of workload, elimination of nonessential material, etc. No ideas for any of those seven (eight) given the pattern I’ve established for the first four. Not a good sign.

Well… ideas. But they all involve a style shift – one that implies either a rework of existing covers (see the previous blog post with the previews) or some clear indicator that Change Is Merited. II does that all by itself, really… so it’s a question of choice of II cover, and manufacture of 5-8 backs. And linework, etc.

The big icky is that in terms of where things are and how I’ll likely be able to work on them, I’d vastly prefer to bust this thing out, then do the covers. Which is a massive, massive departure from How Things Have Been Done.

You’d think the repeated cover drafts would have been a clear indicator, but it’s only now – when I’ve decided that drawing will be involved – that I start to rethink production priorities.

I needs me a drafting table.

Something er-go-nomic.

Shirt fixes uploaded.

After finishing (most of) my pre-formatting run through The Dualist, I figured I’d take out the next item on the photoshop To Do list – fixing Ornix’s shirt in the existing pages of Transitional Voices.

The old shirt decal appeared in 24 pages total, of which Earth -8- was the stinker. The rest went quietly. Quietly enough to be done in one night.

With the exception of one remaining page* of the first edition of The Dualist, this means all of the graphics re-work is complete, and TV is now visually consistent with The Dualist. At present, only two major objectives remain – ten new pages of The Dualist (and one page to fix), and the second edition rewrite. That will be followed by a rewrite of TV.1, and, eventually, new pages.

* I’ve been putting that one off for awhile. I might knock it off my list tonight, just to have it over and done with… adapt the new pages to it, instead of the other way around.

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.

47: Not just a Trek number.

Also, the number of pages that still need to be pre-formatted.

That’s (still) the one page of chapter four, and all of chapter six.

The rest is in the bag and ready for dialogue.

All the remaining holdups (texturing, the eight pages of Expulsion, etc) that I’ve blogged about previously still need to be dealt with. But hey, 111 out of 158 pages pre-formatted.

That’s something to be happy about!

Progress (not the lack of it)

It’s time for numbers!

166 : number of pages remaining (not counting covers and supplemental material)
08 : number of pages that are Brand New For Sure.
158 : number of pages remaining in the First Edition.

That 158? That’s the important part. For this post, anyway.

73 : number of pages pre-formatted as of this post.
85 : number of pages that still need to be pre-formatted.

Pre-formatting in this case means that the page has been transferred from the first edition 3:4 aspect ratio to the second edition 6:9. So far this has largely been a matter of cropping and scaling, though there’s also been a good amount of “raising the roof” (that is, extending the sky or digging up the original 3d file and over-rendering the top of it to fill space), a few replacement renders, and some minor photoshop cleanup.

While I could go nuts and spend time scrubbing every page, I’ve kept the amount of photoshop editing as minimal as possible, restricting myself to Ornix’s shirt and the most egregious of otherwise-unrepairable panels. I did more cleanup work for any three pages of the first two chapters than I have for the last 73 pages I’ve crunched. Which is how I’ve managed to pre-format 73 pages in a fortnight.

I call it “pre-formatting” instead of “formatting” for one simple reason – I don’t know if these pages have been formatted or not, and I won’t know until I’ve started to lay down the dialogue. As no part of Expulsion (the last four chapters) has been re-written yet, any one of these pages could be a potential land mine – I may have to rework panels, pages, maybe even scenes. So I’m not formatting – I’m pre-formatting. Odds are most of these pages won’t need to be touched – but some of them probably will.

Those 73 pages? I ignored the first page of Chapter Four and have been going from there. Hunt and peck, bits and pieces, here and there. Working my way through some easy pages, some tough pages, some time consuming pages, then some easy pages again. With the one exception, all of Chapters Five and Six have been pre-formatted. Six is the short one (22 pages!), which is why the number is 73 and not, say… 79 – a number I hope to hit tonight or tomorrow. The halfway point on pre-formatting.

I’m probably tackling chapter Eight next. It’s straightforward and like chapter Seven will require a good amount of rendering correction and a good amount of Ornix Shirt Replacement. I’m heading for Eight instead of Seven in order to buy time for the PC components to arrive – Seven is going to be a problem chapter. While Eight will certainly have its hurdles, the story is solid and the corrections will be aesthetic. Roof raising, mostly.

Seven is a different animal. The first sub-scene (“insertion”) will be a straight-forward pre-format. The rest of the chapter… not so much. I’m going to be adding stuff. Right now I’m thinking a couple of pages and several panels to pages – the former to give the story the Crazy Visual Near-Climax that it completely lacks, and the latter to flesh out a narrative thread – a point b – that is implied to exist but that as yet does not. Those of you who read my IRC prattling know what I’m talking about – if this thing is new to you than I’m not going to spoil it for you.

So Eight is straight forward and the first third of Seven is as well. I’m going to bust those bits out as fast as I can. The goal here is to get as much of the second edition pre-formatted as possible, so that when pages start showing up again they’ll be doing so en masse. This is the boring part – final tweaks and laying down the type is much more enjoyable.

I’ve been working like this for awhile now – stripping pages, pre-formatting them, cleaning them up, then adding the dialogue. Until now I’ve been doing it a scene at a time, dragging my feet on each little bit, stumbling around, letting the rewrite hold me up. Things have changed a bit – the order of operations at this point in time is to get as much of what I can do done as fast as I can do it. Any mistakes made now can be fixed when the page comes ’round to dialogue.

Of the remaining 85 pages, I can pre-format 51 of them now without having to worry about adding panels or pages. Adding pages mucks up the numbering something fierce.

So that’s what I’m going to do. That’s where my head is right now.

Later for everything else.

Progress (and the lack of it)

Sitrep:

1. Everything I’ve threatened previously. The new version of the website, mainly – no progress on that front. Yet. I figure I’ll get to it when Expulsion is closer to being actualized.

2. “Expulsion” has been re-scripted and laid out. At eight pages or so, it’s going to be lot of work.* Still gotta do texture mapping (a lot of work for three shots), environment development, etc. See 4. for why this isn’t going anywhere right now. Chapter covers have stalled out – that has nothing to do with 4 and more to do with the fact that 3 is a heck of a lot easier to work on at the moment.

3. Of the 48 pages of Chapter Five, 22 have been pre-prepped. Some new renders and cleanup work, the usual reformatting, all ready for dialogue. So whenever Expulsion is finished, there’ll be a BIG load of pages following.

4. The PC I’ve been using for 3d work kicked the bucket. It works intermittently – signs point to repeated processor overheating. I could fix it, but it’s a loaner and it’s a P4 2.4 with 2 gigs of ram. I’m presently doing rendering work in a VM on my primary machine. While it works fairly well, there are some major quirks that prevent it from being a viable texturing solution. I’ve already ordered the first few parts for the replacement PC, which will be a quad-core something or other with comparatively kick-ass specs. The holdup, as always, is finances. Barring a massive windfall or a sudden transformation into a life form that doesn’t need to eat, we’re looking at a good six to eight weeks before I have all the components.

So, there it is. Nothing hits the website until the PC problem is solved, though that hasn’t stopped work on reformatting. With any luck I’ll have all of four and a good chunk of five reformatted and ready for dialogue (and maybe actually dialogued) by the time the all of the parts are in.

It may not look like it, but work is being done. Expect another month or two of silence, followed by a massive, massive update.

* The basics are pretty basic on paper, but are going to be difficult to adequately actualize. Fortunately the scene will be very good practice for a variety of techniques I’ll need to master for Water and everything that follows. The more of TD2E 5-8 I can get bagged in the meantime, the smaller the gap between Expulsion and New Story Pages.

Incursion edits & Chapter cover previews

xeno has made his first editing pass, finding typos in the following pages:

signal -5-
convergence -9-
convergence -10-
zoo -5-
briefing -1-
recon -3-
recon -6-

19:27 <xeno> and done.
19:28 <xeno> well, up to suction -4- anyway, which appears to be all the further your rerererererererere-edit has made it

Convergence -9- is typo-free. The problem with it? It was NEVER UPLOADED. I didn’t notice, you didn’t notice (or if you did, you didn’t email me!). xeno noticed.

Unlike the first edition, in which any and all page changes were line-itemed into the metadata and the page was versioned, I made all changes to the original files and did a mass upload of all pages. The end result is that typos are magically Fixed, and I only have to muck with the CMS for this piece of paperwork. Efficient!

No offense to the man, but it’s possible there are still typos lurking around somewhere.* If you find one, contact me ASAP.

In other news, covers for Chapter One and Chapter Two are done; the cover characters for Chapter Three have gone back to the drawing board, while Chapter Four has a background and Incursion still needs to be produced.

These are wraparound covers, in the style of the first version of the first edition cover. I still need to work out the bleed space – whenever this thing gets to hardcopy, the first couple of issues (Chapters) might be a bit weird at the spine. Since it’s all textural instead of a flat color, the bleed/trim will be a bit more obvious. The cover for Incursion is going to need some thought, as 190-odd pages means a spine, not staples.
Here’s Chapter One – Captains Andreissen and Polaski on the back, Thad and Alias on the front:

t_100_preview_

And here’s Chapter Two – Tantek and Xand on the back, Raven and West on the front:

t_200_preview_

All linework has been digitally re-inked. It’s a technique I’ve used on bits and pieces of comic work for cleanup purposes – while was perfected on other projects, this is the first use of the technique for ATC. Given how much of a timesink it is, I’ll be using it for Covers Only.

Three more covers (9 more bits of linework), the web redesign (which could include a Mobile version, as ATC looks like poop on the iPhone), some CG work… and then things will get rolling again.

20090801 – on additional “edit.” -I- has been peeled out of the first scene of Chapter One. It’s -I- again. This matches with the impending -II-, which doesn’t fit with the scene next to it at all.

* xeno is very good at what he does. What makes me suspicious is the idea that I could bust out over 180 pages without screwing up more. I don’t recall the first edition flowing out this easily.

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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Chapter Four is done.

Recon has four new pages and new CG. What used to be suction has been split into Light (a bit of new stuff) and Suction (minor new stuff).

Right, that took long enough.

Recon was the bottleneck – while all the formatting on everything was done awhile back, the new CG and the new illustrations just kind of sat there on the “to do” list for a good long time while I worked the kinks out of everything else. The new linework and new panels of recon -3- – the biggest whack of new art for the chapter – didn’t manifest until last weekend. This past week was spent working on a commission and doing the final once-over, with recon -9- finally succumbing late wednesday.

186 pages complete, with at least 158 remaining. I say “at least,” as that’s the number of first edition pages that still need to be reformatted. There’s still the introduction to the second half (“Expulsion”), which will be 6-10 pages, and I may yet decide to add a couple of pages to what’ll be chapter Seven (was six) to clear up some storytelling problems. So 158 + 6-14 == 164-172 pages remaining.

Either way, the second edition is over the hump for page count, but not for drama – not by a long shot. While grinding out the first half was a matter of “nose to the grindstone” with a move thrown in for flavor, the second half has some serious crazy lurking on the horizon. More on that when it breaks – things are a strained status quo at the moment, and I intend to make the most of it.

To that end, it’s on to covers, editing, assembley, a new version of the website, and population of that new version – then some CG work – before I get back to pages.

It’s quite a workload!

Bing Stomps Google.

bing_stomps_google

Not Shown : It took Dogpile to find the third page, though it remained clueless about the first two. Half a point to Yahoo.

Yeah, I could find all CMS entries made on the fourth of July without using an external search engine… but in a week I’ll need to do it in the new MT and the old. And until then, I’d get back everything posted in April of 2007. Google’s always had a pissy attitude towards ATC, and its decision a couple of months ago that “solios” is a plural of “solio” has added more keystrokes to all future non-Bing googlebating… and that’s hardly a step forward. Especially given that I have to throw in a -matrox and a -carbone and a -genga already. While that skeeved me, the Bing buzz made me curious… and lo and behold – Google gave me the finger and Bing gave me what I was looking for. Dogpile – through Yahoo – gave me one bit Bing didn’t pick up on, which is also a bit Google considers irrelevant. Neither Google nor Dogpile caught the bits that Bing caught.*

Try it yourself.

GMail kicks ass. While it’s not as ego-friendly as Webalizer, Google Analytics is a hell of a lot more featureful, and that’s handy. Search… well, Search isn’t anywhere near as omnipotent as the media would like us to believe. It just – by and large – sucks so much less than what has come before it.

Now there’s Bing, which – SO FAR – is vastly more “do what I mean” than Google Search has ever been.

Maybe one of these days one of these engines will hit a point where it’ll be able to tell me all about every single thing I’ve left on the internet. DWIM has one hell of a measurable impact on the user experience – I don’t care how much pride you take in your bad ass algorithms, your server farms, your IPO… if one search engine gives me What I Want more than another does, I’m not going to wallow in brand loyalty. It’s software. There’s no such thing as “good” software – only software that sucks less. The only reason to stick with software that sucks is file format (or file system) lock-in, which isn’t an issue when it comes to searching the intertub.

For at least one thing, Bing has pulverized Google.

Suck it, Stanford.

* This means that for serious rubbing-it-raw googlebating, you’re now using at least three different websites. Progress!

Briefing is up.

Eight pages of yammering. A couple of new renders, a little bit of cleanup, and some (hopefully funny) jokes. Jokes of DOOM.

Also backstory. More backstory than EVER BEFORE. Bits of the WGP, Dead City Radio, whatever Book One will be called… briefing is practically an outline of The Story To Date.

It makes my brain itch, but I’m happy it’s over and done with. i actually get to do a couple of drawings for the new pages of the next scene – hopefully my drawing skills haven’t atrophied to stick figure levels.

If it turns out they have, I can always do a comedy series…

Still Around 200 Pages Left. 185 plus the new intro for the second half – I still don’t know how many pages it’ll run yet.

So. ALMOST halfway. I hope I can cover the second half in less than seven months!

In unrelated news, a quarter pound of beef is TINY.