We’re switching gears big time:
The next project is not going to be an animation, not going to have Gildedguy, and not going to be easy.
I’m working on the pilot episode of a Falcomaster3000 visual novel series!
Read all about it in this post.
Title sequences (or openings) get us in the mood for the show’s atmosphere and style.
They remind us what show we’re watching, and what to expect.
I feel like animated shows take full advantage selling those few 60 seconds, whereas live-action series are more conservative, and tend to just feature clips from the show, or have neutral title cards with actors’ names. Which makes sense, since seeing actors doing abstract things outside of their show’s world looks pretty wacky. It would kill realism and immersion.
But the audience is much more forgiving with cartoons!
Look at this example with the 90s X-Men opening. Although it’s old, it would fit appropriately with animated shows today.
The X-MEN are literally flying around text blocks.
Really crazy stuff is happening. Like, stuff that wouldn’t happen in the actual show. Towards the end you got Magneto leading the bad mutants in a completely flat offensive line. Professor X is doing the same.
Of course, it’s a metaphor to represent good guys vs bad guys (with hapless humans stuck in between). But that’s the real strength of animated openings. They get away with stylish funky, abstract elements.
One of the cooler features of this are unique sequences that vaguely foreshadow the story. Series with epic story arcs will mix in elements specific to the current season. They’ll feature a new character, location, or plot detail that we’ll get to see. It’s a hallmark of many anime intros.
In order to mimic this for the original Falcomaster intro animation, a fake premise and story line had to be invented. So the idea for the series was already in place to serve my parody opening. It’s a great way to get people wanting more.
Alright what’s the ‘big idea’?
A masked player with all the best techniques is forced back in time and must compete with the pros to save Smash Bros from a meta-gaming apocalypse.
☆ STARRING ☆
Masked, mute, and stranded in the past, the mysterious Falcomaster must climb the ranks of competitive gaming in order to return to his home time.
A nagging thought in Falcomaster’s mind is Fox, who wishes to win at all costs. Whether it be cheap moves or underhanded tactics, the star fox constantly pushes Falcomaster to the absolute edges of the meta-game.
To accompany Fox in Falcomaster’s head-space is the space bird Falco himself! Falco advises his master in the actual skill of Smash Bros, helping to fill any gaps in Falcomaster’s play. Although they’re stuck together, Fox and Falco don’t get along.
Top players, crews, and community figures constitute Falcomaster’s opposition as he alters the landscape of E-sports. Breaking into the established “in-crowd” is no small task. There are thousands of scrubs gunning for the same ranks as the gods.
To be honest, even after working on this idea for over a year, it all still sounds silly to me. How are we supposed to be invested in such a wacky premise? Basing a series on a competitive Smash Bros meme is tricky. But working with this kind of material can yield juicy ideas and themes:
- What if you had the skills of top professionals and you randomly won super national tournaments?
- What if you had two lives, one for practice and one to get it right?
- Or, what if you were born again (went to the past) but retained all your current knowledge?
- Where do you draw the line between fun and competition?
- Can the challenge behind all games be reduced and solved to perfection?
- How much does talent affect skill? Practice? What about luck?
- Who do we root for? Rookies, champs, villains, or hometown?
- Why do players play the games they play?
- Would you rather be happy at the bottom or miserably lonely at the top?
How’s it going?
Writing a Screenplay <rant>
You guys know that I love coming up with a nice, tidy story. I do it all the time with my short-length animations.
I don’t even have to write. I’m a drawer, so most of the “drafts” can be revised and replayed in my head as I listen to a song. That’s how I plan. It’s like my imagination is the canvas, and I visualize cool scenes in my head.
It’s incredibly intuitive, freeing, and fun.
But, writing a screenplay?
Torture, torture, torture.
It’s absolute torture.
The agony! I can’t even fully describe the restlessness and anxiety I’ve experienced these past four months. It’s awful.
I’ll take the drudgery and monotony of line work over script writing any day. At least with a drawing, I can sketch a rough idea of what I want. I can eyeball the curves, adjust the color, an resize proportions to my liking.
Words are not as malleable. There’s so much — THINKING.
Getting that first draft out is like RAW CONSTIPATION. I need not illustrate that point.
But since I find fiction writing so excruciating, I will anyways:
The words come out in rough, awkward shapes. Revision feels like an attempt at polishing a turd. Reading my own dialogue hurts. Worst part is that it comes out so slowly. Getting stuck on a single line for over half an hour is painful. Hemingway wasn’t kidding — all you do is sit down at the keyboard and bleed (ouch).
I don’t even feel joy upon finishing a scene. I feel some relief, but mainly I’m just sore at that point.
All this for a decent draft. Perfection is nowhere in sight.
I thought I was open-minded when it came to creative stuff.
Writing long-form content? Nope. I really do not like it! I am smashing that dislike button!
Even though I know I’m a novice, I wasn’t expecting it to be this difficult.
I appreciate the craft itself, for my respect for writers has gone through the roof. But it has become very apparent that I have little affinity for screenwriting.
Going to use Unity3D to develop this game. I spent a great deal of time weighing the pros and cons of Flash vs Unity. I ended up prototyping the gameplay in Flash first, and now I’m developing the final product in Unity. And I’m happy with that decision, because, as a 2D artist my whole life, I feel like a lil’ kid in a candy shop. Playing around and discovering new things about 3D engines is super refreshing. The coolest thing for me is harnessing the power of dynamic lighting and shaders.
Shaders are bits of code that describe how a surface reacts to light. It’s basically the “material” the object is made of. One can use a metallic shader for shininess, or a diffuse shader for something more cloth-like. Although they’re clunkier than shading directly in 2D, they’re massive time-saver in the end.
Throw on top of that automatic bloom, depth of field (blur), and slick 60 fps performance, I’m finally producing something that looks semi-professional! I still have to brush up on my C# and explore the rest of it’s capabilities, but Unity is looking like a good game-dev replacement for Flash.
We’ve got PowerMeep back again doing original music for the project. For the main theme, we’re going for a somber and contemplative vibe, which will eventually build into an adventurous melody.
I think Ben is having fun playing with his new (and expensive) sound packs, full of orchestra and some sci-fi instruments.
The other week I setup a casting call for the lead, supporting, and minor roles for the pilot episode. VA’s have contacted me in person about their interest in providing their chords for my animations, but I’ve never actually formally recruited talent (save for my very-talented roommates, all of whom I am always impressed by).
So I was surprised by the big response the audition has received!
Right now there are over a hundred auditions, with many more submissions every week. I did a long multi-hour listening session with my brother sorting through the auditions. It is a fun position to be in, being behind the judging table searching for that perfect voice for your vision. Of course, there is no perfect voice for my characters, since they aren’t set in stone yet.
That’s where the auditions have been incredibly eye-opening, for the voice actors themselves are helping inform the final personality of Falcomaster, Fox, and the rest.
Release date when? Is it free?
Release date now! Mid-2018.
Expect it to come out for free in the summer or fall.
It’ll be released as a free download on my website, and I’ll upload a recorded play through on the YouTube channel.
Will it be good?
I definitely could’ve done another Gildedguy animation, as I’ve got plenty of “guaranteed hit” ideas.
That is, I’m sure you guys would enjoy them.
But this Falcoman Smash Bros meme thing? I have no clue if it’s going to turn out good. I know I say that for a lot of my projects, but I’m truly concerned the story will be dumb and cringy. Either that, or straight lame. Boring. I want it to be good so bad.
In terms of funding, I’ve got 18 more months in this 3-year Gildedguy career experiment. Since animations easily take 6 months each, I don’t got many “free” projects left.
So this is it.
A Smash Bros series now or never!