Recalling the world - (Journal entry)
Update on Ep2: the artwork is coming along well, but my writing time is still taken up with press-releases for the blog tour! I'm up to 27/31 though, so only four more and I'm good to get back to writing the actual episode.

So the sketches above are the first work that I've done on my new Wacom Cintiq tablet! It's really exciting to finally have been able to buy one, after wanting one since I was about twelve. To be honest, I was expecting some sort of epiphanic moment where some sort of magic occurred when I started drawing with the Cintiq (similar to how using Manga Studio was for the first time), but it was actually far subtler than that. Once I'd set it up, I started up Manga Studio and everything worked so well that I just drew as if it was paper. I suppose that's the best way for a piece of hardware to be though - it simulates an analogue process so well that you can just get on with it.

Anyway, I thought I'd upload these two sketches to show an interesting mistake I made in the early stages of this Osprey sketch. Eagle-eyed readers may recognise that the version on the left is the same as the Osprey from Episode 1's Blue Watch, with the bathysphere midway down the fuselage. It was only in drawing the two subs in the background that I suddenly realised that in my original concept sketches (from about fifteen years ago!), the bathysphere was at the very front of the fuselage.

It was always my intention to have a different design trait for each different sub manufacturer, and the fuselage/bathysphere configuration in the left-hand sketch was a configuration I'd planned for subs made by 'Redstart'. Somehow I'd forgotten that when I was drawing the cards for episode 1. However - whilst it is slightly annoying that the subs are different from ep1 to ep2, there is sort-of a viable in-world explanation. The ep1 Osprey is a 77F, which is a skirmish class; the ep2 sub is a 77G, which is the slightly beefier assault class. Whilst it doesn't really make sense for a manufacturer to so drastically change the design of a vehicle between models, it does help to alleviate the brain-itch of going back and reworking the ep1 card somewhat. Besides, I like the way I depicted the prow on the ep1 Osprey, and am happy with the way it turned out more or less.

It does indicate to me that I'll have to be a lot more aware of these sorts of things in the future though. I designed a great many of these subs when I was much younger, and a large portion of the work I've done in between has been numerical - in the planning and testing of the card game mechanics - and literary, in the planning and writing of the episodes (and musical in the couple of years I spent writing and recording for my band). I have definitely felt like I've fallen out of practice with my artwork though, and this seems to be true of the visual picture I had for the TideBreakers world as a whole. It's coming back though, with time and attention, which I'm really pleased about.

One final anecdote: in redrawing the Osprey, I was reminded of some work I did on the 1st generation game statistics several years ago. I had around twenty-thirty subs designed and had worked out and tested card values for every different sub so that each offered a unique set of play-options. It was working well, but something didn't sit right for me - there were subs from the same manufacturers which had vastly different characteristics. Though I knew at the outset that it would be a huge amount of work, I also knew that it would be worthwhile changing all of the statistics so that each manufacturer had recognisable traits across all of their subs. In this way, players could not only say that they liked individual subs, but they could have favored manufacturers as well.

I devised a way of classifying how well a company scored in each of the statistics sub cards have. For example, a company could score well in all of their subs' healthy scores, but very badly in all of their subs' damaged scores. These classifications could then be compared to a ranking list for each type of sub - so, for example, a 'good' score for an assault sub would be 6, and a 'good' score for the lighter skirmish subs would be 5. In that way, I was able to extrapolate what each of the sub scores would be by matching the manufacturer characteristic-charts to the sub-statistic charts. I could then tweak the numbers on each individual card so that it could be typical of its manufacturer in most ways apart from one or two.

It was about three or four month's work to rewrite all of the sub statistics, but it did offer a lot of benefits too. With 'characteristic' charts for each manufacturer and standard scoring charts for each sub-type, if I want to devise a new sub for any company, I can simply match up the charts and get a set of scores.

Anyway, that's enough rambling for today, I think. It's time to get back to finishing this Osprey and getting those press releases done and dusted!