Geoff and his Two Dads

Last year, a friend’s cousin came to me with an adorable story about a dog who just happened to have special needs, and just happened to have 2 gay owners (which I hear is quite common for dogs these days). He needed a developer to turn the 2D illustrations into an interactive childrens’ book for iPad. What I loved about the story was that it wasn’t about either disability or sexuality, they were just facts that made up the background for the characters. It makes it real; to be a thing but not be defined by it.

Some of you may know I have a bit of a soft spot for gay rights. I’m not gay myself, but I’ve had gay friends all my life, and I was raised in a family where it was important that you stand up for your ideals. I think there should be no reason to treat anybody different, in behavior or in law, simply because of who they choose to love. When I see an opportunity to do a project which makes that ideal more prevalent in our world, I try to help out.

The project had no budget, but I liked the story enough to want to be a part of it. For the past nine months I’ve devoted a good chunk of my spare time to designing and writing a framework for producing interactive books on the iPad. I have chosen cocos2d as my graphics engine to bring the beautiful art to life, and I have created a data-driven book reader with synchronized narration and highlighted text.

The book is readable from front to back, but the pages are static and there are no interactive elements to touch and play with. Furthermore, they are all low-resolution first-draft images produced by the artist. The next step is to add life to each page, updating them with final art from Photoshop, and isolating layers which need to move or animate. After that, I will be making each page its own little world, with idle and character animations, moving trees, clouds, and animals, sound cues, interactive object behaviors, and more.

In addition to the animation and behavior programming I still have to do, like any software project, there will also be feature polish, debugging, performance optimization, usability, testing, and publishing phases which I will have to go through. Facing shortages of time, money, and hardware, it’s going to be difficult to finish this project in a timely fashion. Since it’s the kind of app I think there should be more of, I really do want to get it done, it’s just a non-trivial task.

So, with the help of the project producer Jeff Wannberg of Wompi Studios, I have made a Kickstarter campaign to help get this project finished. In addition to compensating me for the time I have spent, and will be spending to make this project a reality (being the coder, animator, and co-director), the money raised by this campaign will help to fund:

  • the new computers and iPads we really need to kick our development into high gear
  • software and tools which will make our jobs easier, so we can make apps faster
  • additional technical artists, animators, and developers to help bring this first app to market quicker
  • pre-production on sequels and other apps in a similar spirit

Although the Kickstarter campaign goal is set at $5,500, that is really a small amount compared to the costs of what we want to achieve. We could easily spend that much on hardware and software alone, and then still have only a single developer working in his spare time. Funding this project in a big way means that I will be able to devote my full attention to the project and also bring other people on board to help get it done faster (and hopefully better) than I could have done myself.

I will continue to post development updates here and on the Kickstarter campaign. If you are more technical or curious, you may prefer the updates here on my blog, as I plan to make them more detailed. What I am likely to post on the Kickstarter page as updates would be more related to the campaign or showing the completed version of something. Here, you are more likely to learn what it’s like to actually have to plan and develop a whole app from start to finish.

If you haven’t seen it yet, please watch the Kickstarter video and share it with your friends. If you are here from the campaign, then thank you so much for visiting, sharing, or donating!