Wednesday, January 10, 2024

A Path Has Been Made Clear To Me

Here's my Zero-G Illustration of a "Nice" Colseran That Will Star In The Fiction I'm Writing

It's been a pretty rough year all around, with huge layoffs in film Animation/FX and games both before and after the recent strikes in Hollywood. I'm getting by, as almost every 3D guy I know is, with a mix of freelance and retail work. 

The good news though, is that in completing a Product Management certificate last fall, I've gotten plugged into the investment community. Where there's actual interest in WarStrike as a disruptor for an industry that's still stuck in a business model that Games Workshop created in the 1980's.

But while there is interest, there is also a lot of things that need to be done prior to hunting down some investors. I will say this for the investment community, they are very kind with their time and guidance. After talking to a few about the history and current state of the project, I've determined what our milestones need to be to win that first round of funding.

The Investor To-Do List

The basic rules for WarStrike have been all but done (barring some mission-specific stuff) for a while now. I've given early copies to a few people. But I'm currently going through it in detail to fix the book's remaining issues. All of which are more or less happening simultaneously.

1. Reformatting The Book

I was using iBooks Author for authoring the book up until recently, but that app is being End of Life'd  by Apple. Their go-to replacement is Pages, their word processing App on the Mac. Which isn't bad, and has the advantage of handling memory access much better. 

Gone are the pics of contemporary people. Now we have real grimdark characters. 

But the pages are taller, so adjustments have had to be made everywhere after the import. There's also been font issues to deal with. Pages doesn't handle titles and captions for images very well either. So I've had to do time-consuming workarounds.

2. Finish Some Fiction 

Yeah sure, the rules are very very good. But as we all know the failure of Rick Priestly's "Gates of Antares", the fluff cannot be ignored. 

So I've finished the opening 13-page creation mythos of the Republic. That mythos will be the story against which every faction's attitudes will be measured. Because they all (even parts of the Republic) have their own take on it. Suffice it to say that there will be no shortage of unreliable narrators in WarStrike's fiction.

I'm also about half-way through a complete re-write of the Republic's history (as they know it) and will be doing shorter, but still fairly detailed descriptions of at least the Colserans, Fallen, and Gruin.

There will be some test units defined, but design notes will have to suffice for most of the factions.

I've also got a more complex faction-crossing story with real characters interacting with this world planned. Been thinking that story through for years, and a big part of what failed with Antares was its lack of character-centric stories at launch. So we'll follow a Prophet of the Republic on his pilgrimage to Colseran space and back. The characters he meets along the way will also have their own interconnected stories to tell.

3. Update The Art

When we started this project, I did every illustration through either straight stock art, or photoshopped mashups made from stock art. While that worked at the time, the revolution in AI assisted art has made a makeover necessary. Even for most of the AI-assisted images that I was creating for the game just 6 months ago. The tools just keep getting exponentially better every month or two, giving me more and more control over what gets rendered.

So every image in this post was made by me using a combination of Photoshop & Stable Diffusion directed with the ComfyUI wireframe system. The results speak for themselves.

The picture on the left was just a rough composite of some buildings and much less impressive explosion. But run it through the AI as a guide, and I've got a new take on it every few seconds. I then keep what I like, re-composite in Photoshop, and run it through the AI again until I get something that really pops.

The pic on the right was just a stock photo of somebody in a very flimsy cardboard power armor that could have come straight out of Peter Davidson's run as Dr. Who. The setting was a dirty, cluttered basement. The AI made him not only infinitely cooler looking, but put in a damn good background as well.  

This is my favorite before and after makeover. Yes, the anatomy on the right-hand skellies is bonkers. But that feel... It perfectly captures the proper mood for this section!

3. Shoot Some Explanatory Videos

The investors that I end up talking to will need some way of understanding what a tabletop wargame is. As they're likely only familiar with board games and perhaps a bit of D&D. This one's harder, not because I don't have cameras and such, but because I need someone else to present the game to. Someone who's going to ask the right questions about how to do what.

The first two-hour attempt was a bust due to various issues that have been addressed. I just need to coax another non-gamer friend into being my everyman. 

4. Put Together a Demo App

I haven't talked too much to-date about the app I have planned. Since it's going to be how we monetize this project. But I need something that looks good, and does something unique in order to woo investors.

So I figure about 3 months to get all of this done to a standard that will be compelling, even if not fully complete.

5. Updating The Blog Regularly

This one is not so much for the investors, as for me. If I'm going to keep up the momentum on this project, I need immediate and continuous feedback on what I'm doing. It's what I thrive on.

So if you're reading this, speak up in the comments. Did you like the pictures? Do you disagree with something I said? Well let me know what you think!


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