The good news is that I finished a full first draft. The design document – which details narrative, dialog, and workings of interactive elements – weighs in at just over 23K words. Being a numbers person, I tracked both hours and words, and discovered that I’ve produced a remarkably consistent 270 draft-words per hour (see image). While this draft is rather lumpy – hanging narrative threads, some excessive wordiness, etc – I’m really proud of all the concepts.
The bad news is that rough estimates put the production cost of this design at 5x the current production budget. Yes. Five times. 500%. We’re not in the ballpark. We’re somewhere out in the Arctic Circle. Best case is that we’ll have to cut over half the interactive content. This means losing all the playful/narrative interactions, and perhaps losing some of the science-focused interactions as well.
This bad news really knocked me on my keister. For all that the draft is flawed, I am truly proud of the concepts. It has bad puns, cow jokes, interactive thought experiments, and a culminating life-and-death mini-game where you have to use your knowledge of science to save your home.
Having had a couple weeks to reorient my expectations, I’m back upright, though still sad. I’ve made a rough prioritization of the various book features. When the official page-by-page cost estimates come in, I’m ready to do what needs to be done, cut what needs cutting, and make this the best it can be – within real world constraints.
The book will be much less than I’d hoped, but it will be solid, and better than average. We will not allow the ideal best to compromise the good that can come from a solid job.
This month, I’ve been particularly grateful for the support of friends, family and patrons. Hugs and positive words make a big difference when this sort of news hits.