Development Update – (5/26/2021)

Production Update (Nathan):

We put out our first episode of Shattered Sleep! That involved our fabulous talent sending us their recordings, lots of editing and mixing, and mild panic about making sure everything got through distribution on time. Big shout out to Brianne for getting us the renders for our YouTube release! What’s even more awesome is the amazing response that we had to the first episode. A lot of people on our discord channel jumped right in and started discussing it! I was blown away by the caliber and the depth of the conversation, and I am so excited for them all to see what we’ve got coming soon. James helped us develop a system for responding to our community discord channel, which we just barely implemented. We didn’t account for what to do if people had questions in our initial design of how the podcast would work. I was just so focused on getting it made! But a few late-night phone calls later, we’ve got a pretty cool and manageable way to continue to build out this world in between episodes. (Hopefully his update contains details on that!) At the moment, I have between 8-10 meetings a week with all kinds of fabulous people. I am constantly surprised by the things that come up in our production meetings and while we’re out doing research. To share some vague highlights, (especially while I can’t talk about some of the projects in detail,) research this week involved looking into intelligence service protocols, and lots of medical ethics. (As in, the complicated ethical questions that you may run into in the medical field. The (out of context) quote of the week is: “Hold up, I’ve gotta go fight my astrophysicists.” Lastly, we’ve got a new bit of the Shattered Sleep Archives, our written companion series to the podcast, releasing this Saturday. Hopefully between that and our spiffy new way to interact with people on the Discord server, we’ll be able to keep people tided over until our next installment of Shattered Sleep!

Animation Update (Brianne):

This past week wasn’t quite as busy as the rest, since I was mostly letting my computer do the work for me in rendering out images and tests after brief setup. The day before release we had our audio ready to render visualizers and motion graphics for, and then my render farm software ran into an edge case with the animation nodes plugin I’ve been using to assist with making our motion graphics. So Friday night turned into a late night of manually setting up renders on each of the computers in my render farm. I’ve also been working on updating our thumbnails. One thing that I’ve found interesting about at least my section of our project is that I’ve been entirely able to contribute through using open-source tools running on Linux. Blender, Inkscape, Krita, and GIMP. Hearing the response from our community about what they enjoyed about everything I’ve contributed has been really validating, and I’ve enjoyed hearing comments about our animations and all of the other things I’ve contributed to. I’m excited for what’s next, and I hope all of you are as well!

Community Update (Christine):

This week has been a really exciting week leading up the release of the first episode of Shattered Sleep. There was a lot to make sure we had set up before the episode released. We also had a couple of unforeseen hiccups right as we were trying to distribute it, but after about 2 hours of panicking we managed to get it fixed. It was amazing to watch what happened after the launch. We all assumed that it would take a little while for people to feel comfortable with getting involved in the story. We were SO wrong! It was so fun to see just how many people were posting their opinions and debating the points of the story. Thank you ALL for the support! We are SO excited to see where you all take the next episode! Thanks for continuing to share the podcast and inviting people to participate!

Technology Update (James):

I actually have something exciting to share this time! As some of our audience has seen, we added some new “members” to our community Discord server! These are Discord bots that our writing team can control to speak as our characters. We had this idea just before the weekend and I worked quickly to get it working. It was lots of fun testing out bot impersonation before we rolled them out to our community server. I was very pleased with how quickly the development process was for this project. We had a turnaround of just 3 days from the time we had the idea! This will be a great way to help answer any questions, clarify any confusion, or just interact with our audience on a more personal level between podcast episodes.

Outside of the Discord bot fun, I have been working on that larger secret project that I’m not really allowed to reveal just yet. For any other software nerds out there, the thing I can share right now is that I am making great use of xUnit. I am a huge advocate for automated testing in pretty much any project. In my experience the time it takes to write automated tests is far smaller than the time it takes to troubleshoot and debug regressions introduced by adding additional features. It has been a huge help so far since our non-software part of the team can lay out requirements and I can ensure via automated tests that those requirements are met before I am even at the point of bringing them back in to QA. It’s awesome! Okay, I’ll stop rambling on about this now. Thanks for coming to my Ted talk.