Playing God (Figuratively)-Bringing one of my characters (Virtually) to life.

by 11:32 PM 0 comments
Self publishing through an online e-book store like Amazons Kindle store or Barnes and Nobles' Pubit are perhaps the most powerful tools a new writer can employ to make their stories available to the masses.

Createspace.com is a great way to get your book in print as well, and all of these locations allow you to sell your work without laying out any cash (your payments for the service are deducted from your sales as a percentage of the sale price).

Of course, giving you a place to list your book for sale is exactly that, a place to list your book for sale, and nothing more. 

The Cover? Better fire up Photoshop or hire someone to make it for you.

Editing, you're again left to your own devices.

Promotions? Aside from the product page, author profile page, you're left to do the heavy lifting yourself.

So once I tested the waters of digital publishing with my short story "Where I can't Follow", and was satisfied with the process, I started thinking about how I might make a bigger splash with my full length novel "pre://d.o.mai.n/theSagaof/MilesTorvalds".

(At this point, I'm going to ask you to enter into am understanding with me, as these plans are a few months at best from being implemented)

I settled on the creation of an alternate reality game, using clues from within the book to seek out further clues from different online websites, perform a little simulated "hacking" and other tasks created by me and in the end accomplish a task (which is a major plot point which I can't give away just yet).

The result will of course be to obtain a prize that I will have for the first few people that finish the game. (No, it's not going to be a trip to Cabo, but it's not going to be a signed portrait of me either, lol)

Parts of the game will require me to recreate characters from the book, as I have no plans for this to be a text only experience. There will be websites, images, sound files, telephone numbers to call, videos to watch, etc. ,with clues embedded that will have to be scoured for hints as to where to look next for information.

The main character from the book, Miles Torvalds, is obviously my primary concern. 

I needed to take my descriptive notes, my character profile, and use it to synthesize a virtual person that will as far as the internet is concerned appear real enough to allow for an immersive experience.

I have been working on a proof-of-concept as to what Miles should look like, and am nearing the completion of that stage of the process. The first image is at the bottom of this post.

As this story is at it's heart a Hard Sci-Fi Thriller, the demographic is pretty set in stone. Mostly male, mostly 15-35. I know this, and began to write the story with this in mind.

Then I decided that I would try to do something a little bit different, to incorporate a new challenge. There was already a love story incorporated into the novel (guys, relax, I know what you are thinking, but trust me it's way more of a Mikael Blomkvist/Lisbeth Salander (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) situation than Edward Cullen/Bella Swan (Twilight). 

I decided to make an effort to present olive branches where possible to the  ladies out there that might be on the fence about considering a story like this.

So......I decided to try to make Miles more attractive to the fairer sex. I researched popular male actors and tried to incorporate features from a few of them into his DNA. My hope is that he will become greater than the sum of his parts, but time will tell ;-)

I know, I know what you are thinking. But honestly, can it be considered selling out if I don't really have much of an established fanbase yet?

Either way, I'm asking you to trust me. I'm not going to make it a sappy tale of two people sharing 400 pages of longing glances, and it's not going to be about undying devotion.

The basic mock up below will be "skinned" onto a 3d lattice, shape keys will be assigned and then I will be able to make any manner of facial expressions and layer the face onto other people. 

I've custom built my PC, but it doesn't have Pixar or Square Enix level processing power by any stretch. With that in mind I'm going to only render the face, which will make the whole project more manageable than animating and rendering a whole person in 3D repeatedly.

At this point, you may be asking me why I don't just find someone to act out the role?

Well, to be honest this project is on a shoestring budget, and I am kicking around the idea of writing a book with ideas for "promoting your own self-published book" in the same spirit as the self publishing movement(There would be an understanding that you as the author would be taking on alot of the creative responsibility in the name of fiscal responsibility and creative freedom.)

Actors can be difficult to schedule, and I really would rather have more control of the situation than have to wait to include a picture or clue in something that might be time sensitive.

This way, I get to make the character look axactly how I want, and there is one specific aspect of his appearance that is important to the story logistically but 1: Extremely rare in nature 2: Simulating the effect in CGI wouldn't require a great deal less effort than what I have planned.

So below is a picture of Miles as he is at the moment. Any opinions you have are greatly appreciated, and yes I know that the eyes under certain sizes look the tiniest bit cross-eyed. Don't worry, the eyes are going to be 3d spheres and I can make them point wherever I want at that point. I saved the different features in different layers so that I could make changes if I decided that I needed to.

The final 3d rendered result will undoubtedly look slightly different. No matter how good the 3d work is, it's damn near impossible to match the shape of the face and everything to make it look perfect.

I'm already creating an online presence for Miles a little bit at a time. He has an email address (discovering what that is will be part of the game), and he will have other points of reference as well.

So, at this time that is about all I can give away. As always I invite you to share your thoughts or questions about the plan and Miles' design below in the comments section.


Chris Godsoe

Developer

Christopher Godsoe is a science fiction author in Central Maine. A single father, he spends his time enjoying video games with his son, cooking, and is an unrepentant film buff.