I have spent the last three days ruminating over my options, and have made my decisions, which I summarize by project:
Balance of the Planet
My objective here is simply to get it out the door so that it doesn’t go to waste. I’ve been studying the servlet technology and I find it tedious. I take no pleasure in mastering new technologies; for me, technology is a means to an end. If I can’t find somebody else to make it available to a browser, then I’ll just make it downloadable as a Mac-only product, which means that few people will ever benefit from it.
I’ll use the Commercial Lone Wolf strategy to this project. I will need help in the following areas:
This is the clearest shortcoming I face: I can’t draw. I’ll need somebody to create the faces of the seven characters. These are all alien species, so the artist has plenty of elbow room in which to work, but those faces must meet some stiff criteria for producing facial expressions.
Facial expression animation
This may be the toughest challenge. I need to be able to put emotional expressions onto the faces of each of the characters. In the simplest form of this feature, we used static facial drawings without any animation. The player sees a character’s face looking angry, and a moment later sees the same character’s face looking mollified. This could be done by simply drawing lots and lots of static images, but that strikes me as unnecessarily tedious given the wide availability of animation packages.
Full 3D animation of faces seems like the obvious way to go here. However, I am concerned that the facial expressions I have seen strike me as too realistically narrow. That is, in trying to be photorealistic, they lose emotional punch. Look at the facial comparisons in this essay of mine. The photorealistic images are cold and dead; the artists who were willing to actually do some ART in their work on faces produced much better results. That’s what I want for Siboot: emotionally powerful faces, not photorealistic faces.
Mind combat animation
This should be an opportunity to get really wild. I need an animation for mind combat, which takes place while the characters are dreaming. I organized my thoughts on this problem in three essay: first, second, third. I’m still thinking on the problem and I’m willing to consider any weird idea. But I really do like the idea of emphasizing eyes.
I’m trying to learn this stuff, and not making rapid progress. My time would be better spent on what I do well – design – and recruiting somebody who already knows how to do this. I expect that, before I start writing code, I’ll need to spend time consulting with whomever does this work on how to best organize my code for client-server work. I assume they’ll want me to use an MVC structure (See? I can talk techie!)
I’ll prepare a more detailed set of specifications based on these ideas, write it all up, and then issue a call for volunteers.