It may not seem there's much I'd need to get ready. I mean, I'm restarting the strip from the beginning, and I already had more than nine months of strips done, so I have a big enough buffer I don't have to start drawing new strips right away. And I'd said I had all the files locally still. So it should be a matter of just reuploading it all, right? Well... yes and no. I guess I could just reupload everything more or less as it was, with only some minor tweaks to the code to accommodate the different date for the first strip (which is hardcoded in, because I am stupid), but I really don't want to do that. There are some things I really want to change. The highest-priority changes being:
- New fonts! And this may take a while. I made my own fonts for Soup. They are the first fonts I ever made. And they are not good for comic strip fonts. They aren't bad fonts in general, but I didn't know enough to take into account factors that are important in comic text. Such as easy readability when reduced to very small size. At the very least, I need to make the strokes thicker, and the letters themselves proportionately broader than they are. Also, make the bold letters as big as the regular letters—originally, the bold letters somehow ended up being slightly smaller, so to compensate for this I had to manually resize all the bold letters each time I used bold text to give them a slightly larger font size than the non-bold letters. Instead of just making the letters larger in the font. See above note, re: I am stupid. Anyway, the fonts desperately need to be redone, because they are bad. The worst of the lot is the font I used for the dialogue of Drv'dxx, the demon bartender. It looks kind of nifty, angular and demonic. And it's downright illegible in the size it ends up in the comic. Heck, it's not too legible at any size. (Incidentally, I used a total of five different fonts in Soup, for the dialogue of various characters. One (mostly) for mortals, one for gods, and three... for certain characters who were neither. Drv'dxx is one of those three characters. Once the comic relaunches, I'll let you see if you can spot the others...)
- Some minor page redesigns. Minor, because I'm actually pretty happy with the design as it stands. But the main thing I want to change is the links on the right. Rather than have link buttons to the three specific strips I linked to before, I'd rather randomize those links. And maybe have some text links below them. Also, there's something else I'm considering adding, but more on that later.
- Not as big a deal, but there are a small handful of strips I want to make some minor tweaks to. Like the strip where I gave Drv'dxx eyelids. Drv'dxx will not have eyelids when that strip appears after the relaunch.
Other changes I'd like to make, but I'm not sure I'll have time:
- I'm going to try to redo the code to utilize cascading style sheets, if I can figure out how; they should dramatically cut down the size of the code, since so much space is taken up by repeated code to build certain tables that, if I understand style sheets correctly (which it is entirely possible I do not), can be drastically shortened by including all that mess once in a style and then just use that style everywhere I'd previous included all that lengthy HTML code.
- As the page currently stands—that is, as it stood before it was all deleted—the links for the next and previous strips showed pictures of Erlak, god of soup, and the links for the first strip, the current strip, and the calendar all included pictures of Nizini, goddess of sincerity. Now, the pictures of Erlak make sense, because, well, he's the main character of the strip. The pictures of Nizini, maybe less so. She's a major character, sure, but there are other characters who are just as important. Why did I pick Nizini and not Erlak's champion, or Nezhoni, or Drv'dxx? Well, uh, see, the original plan was to have those pictures randomized. Each link image would exist in different versions, for various characters, and each time the page was loaded it would choose a version randomly for each link. In fact, the code is already set up to do this—the only problem is that I never got around to making the other versions of the buttons, so the code is randomly choosing between one possible choice. I should make those other images. (And also maybe redo the pictures of Nizini, since they were done when I was just starting the strip and when my art was even worse than it is now.)
- For that matter, the background was also supposed to be randomized, to show different kinds of soup. I never got around to doing that, either.
- All the Sunday strips are actually composed so that they can be arranged in two, three, or four rows, much like most actual Sunday comic strips in newspapers. Since Soup is not, and never will be, an actual Sunday comic strip in a newspaper, there's not really any very good reason for me to be doing this. But since I am, I'd been meaning to change it so that the Sunday strips are split into six different images, which can be rearranged into two, three or four rows if the window is resized. (Well, probably not just two rows, unless you have a really wide monitor.) Maybe I will do this.
- I'd really like to have alternative archive systems with storyline names and with much-reduced preview images of the strips. This, however, it is extremely unlikely I will find time to do before the relaunch. Maybe someday.
- You know, looking now at an archived version of the page, I'm also thinking I really have to do something about that white box on the top. That's another thing I'd been thinking of changing, and I should... but that's not one of the highest priorities.
There are other things I'd kind of like to change, too, but I'm probably not going to have time for all of the above before the relaunch date. Still, at least the font I have to change before the relaunch; I really don't want to restart the strip with the old, hard-to-read fonts. This isn't going to be easy.
Incidentally, there's one more change I was thinking of making. I was always very much against having any form of advertising on the Soup page, though I knew there wasn't any good reason for that. I never made any attempt to put banner ads or Google adwords or anything like that on the page, and had no intention of ever doing so. But... that was before the advent of Project Wonderful, and for some reason the thought of including Project Wonderful ads on the site doesn't bother me nearly as much as other advertising. I haven't entirely decided yet whether or not I'm going to put Project Wonderful ads on the page, but at the moment I'm leaning toward it.
The thing is, though, I've been really craving making comics. I don't have time right now, but I want to do it. Not just Soup; I keep having ideas for other webcomics I really want to draw. Aargh. But I have enough else I have to do right now that I really have to restrain myself.
Well, it's not just comics I'm restraining myself from doing. I had an idea lately for a Flash CRPG system that I really want to make, but really can't spare the time for right now. And there are other (non-C)RPGs I want to work on, too. In fact, I've been craving getting a new RPG campaign going, maybe a GURPS Infinite Worlds game, but, again, I really don't have time right now.
Oh, yeah, and then there are some other things that I do want to get done. Like... well, a secret project that's going to launch in January 2010, though I'm not going to announce it here even when it does launch. It's just that secret. Or a not-so-secret project that I don't know if I'd mentioned before called Mr. Sunshine and the Conqueror of Worlds, which I hope will launch in September. And, um, of course, there's my physics dissertation. And my acting roles. And my music.
But, uh, webcomics are definitely among the things I'm restraining myself from doing. Seriously, I've got all these comics I want to draw that I just don't have time for, and I don't know if I'll ever have time for all of them.
But still, assuming I can get at least the font redesign done before then, I'm actually very much looking forward to having Soup up and running again. It'll be good to have a webcomic online again. A regularly updating webcomic—at least for nine months. (Though I hope long before my buffer runs out I'll be in a secure enough position to be able to spare the time to draw a strip a day so it'll stay regular... we'll see.)
Yeah. About three weeks away... I've really gotta get started on those font revisions.