Happy September! I thought you all might like to know what goes into a new avatar and its promotion! As you may or may not know, the money from Digo Market goes directly to pay for servers, payroll and business expenses. The Second Dreaming money is kept separate so it is important for us to keep the sales up and new avatars coming out.
The Jackalope is a great one to talk about! This bunny started its conception as a snow rabbit or hare. Easter was coming and the tiny Rabben needed a larger, more detailed version. Majas assigned the making of it to Darling. As the concept sketch was being made with the longer proportions, it reminded us of a jackrabbit. Darling asked if antlers could be put on it. Well then, we had to have a discussion! If we added the antlers it became a Jackalope, which is a Mythical being, one we had actually considered making before. It was just too cute with the antlers though, so our minds were made for us.Â
Most of the avatar, portraits and Butler were made early last Spring, but the main artists got busy with other things, so it got put on a back burner. Sync took the avatar over in late Spring to finish it all up. All Furcadia avatars are really a group project. Majas often does the concept sketch after she and I have talked about what we are looking for. Usually Lobsel Vith does the Butlers, but sometimesÂ Degu helps too, as was the case with this one. Often different artists do the portraits. In this case Darling started them and Sync did the backgrounds and polish work.
After being assigned, the main artist does a 'first standing' (SW facing) pose. This is the hardest frame of the avatar! Majas and I work closely with the artist to get the style as we envisioned and make sure the avatar is in correct isometric perspective. Back standing is probably more difficult though, because we have to break isometric perspective a bit to make it look appealing. The 'Lope hops, so its animation frames were especially challenging. Hopping avatars have a different frame order, stand-stretch-stand-bunch-stand, with the avatar always landing on standing. So after standing, sitting, hopping, back standing, sitting and hopping, there were four laying poses to do. Each frame has multiple checks by both Majas (sometimes Rat) and I to make sure it is on model and perspective. After all of that, it still needs its markings/clothing done and propagated to all the frames, as well as shadows. Often another artist will help with those, but Sync did all the 'Lope ones. Then there's final polish and tweaks, and then Gar does the final positioning. It takes a lot of patience and tenacity to be an avatar artist!
Mythicals always have some kind of magical power, although Mythical Ferians usually fly. Obviously a Jackalope wouldn't fly, so Team Dragon brainstormed for ideas. Gar thought of the 'Lope changing places, but several other ideas were considered too! Then I needed to ask the Coders, Ninja specifically, how hard the new 'magic power' would be and if it would require client or server code. We can add server code with a restart, but client code would need a forced client update. We had an issue though because Ninja had a lot of Second Dreaming work to do and didn't have time right away to program in the Magic effect.
In the mean time, Rei-Jin and I brainstormed about the promotion and release of the avatar. The Primes Heros vs Villains promotion was so popular this Summer that we thought it would be fun to bring in the community on the Jackalope too. Since we had several ideas for the magic effect, it just made sense to have those buying the avatar help decide which power it would have. After we talked it through, Rei wrote up a backstory for the 'Lope that included the Primes. Dark Prime Erigon was an obvious choice, being a sneaky rabbit character, but we didn't want it too dark, so we brought in some Light Primes to offset that. Pye did the color job for Erigon really fast for us. Then Muun worked her web magic and put the versus page together! A Coder put in the pre-sale Dragonsbreath Orbs and Rei puts in the new sales.
Now it is almost time for the release party for the Jackalope, or Kindling Party, as we call them these days. The new magic power is not yet set in stone, so you can still influence the outcome by getting a pre-sale Lope! Ninja is currently programming both effects into the server, so we can attach the winning on to the avatar, and they will go live during the restart later this week. Bugge Hunters will need to test the code to be sure it works right in test world. Gar just needs to do final positioning and then the avatar will be ready. Rei and I still need to decide what fun game we will do at the party, so people can win a trial version of the new avatar. And finally, after months of work and the whole Team in on it, this week the Jackalope will hop into its place in a long line Furcadia avatars!Â