Although it's a week and a half late, the last major update to BIONICLE.com has gone live. After a few hours of bug-fixing, it seems to be working properly now. Sorry for the inconvenience of the Mata Nui Saga not loading.
Here are a few details about the site update, what's there, and what's coming.
Mata Nui Saga:
This was a tough one. When LEGO decided not to continue the BIONICLE product line, we were stuck in the middle of a planned story arc. The movie was already in production, and the cliffhanger ending wasn't going to be changed. But BIONICLE wouldn't have another movie, so how to solve this?
On the web, obviously. No pressure.
So, within my budget limits, we had to brainstorm how to end the story, as well as sell products. We had two major points to focus on: the Stars (specifically the Golden Armor), and the conflict between Mata Nui and Makuta Teridax. The story serials, story information on BIONICLE.com, product info, and upcoming book sufficiently tell the story on the ground, with explaining why Tahu looks the way he does, why Toa and Glatorian are elbow-to-elbow, etc. So how to address MN's spat with Makuta?
One of the options was to create high-quality 3D CGI animation, but I could only afford a handful of seconds of that. It's expensive. Plus, we'd be competing visually with the full movie just released. Another option was Flash-based animation, but that's kind of 2003, and would be going backwards stylistically. The other option I initially favored was using the technology of the Unity 3D "Glatorian Arena" games to create machinima episodes, a la "Red vs. Blue." We could've gotten a lot more for the money. But again, that type of animation would look cheesy compared to the nice animation done for the Legend Reborn, so reluctantly, we shelved that idea.
Time to think outside the box. What haven't we done that fans would like? Well, some way of tying into the movie is key, so we hired Michael Dorn, who voiced Mata Nui in the Legend Reborn, to reprise that role for the web. I wrote the story for the web, and he read it in chapters (see previous blog entry about meeting him). So now we've got cool audio... what about visuals? It turned out that one of the former set designers for BIONICLE is an excellent artist, who was already familiar with the BIONICLE graphical style, and so we contracted him to come up with all the different visuals.
Since we've announced we're wrapping up BIONICLE, obviously we need story closure or everyone will be left hanging. Even though one chapter closes, another remains open... and we decided it was most important to tell the entire story of Mata Nui, from 100,000 years ago to the present. So we'll see flashbacks (like the Core War image you've already seen) and then focus on what the story is now. The Mata Nui Saga will be updated twice weekly, Monday and Thursday, for the next four months or so.
That, essentially, is how the Mata Nui Saga came into being. It was actually quite a large project to coordinate.
The site's background was done by Advance, based on the information we had at the time. This was before the comic came out, with a different design for the older Bara Magna robot. I anticipate complaints about whey they look the same, but you'll just have to live with it. It's a very cool graphic and I'm using it for my wallpaper.
Agori Defender Game
The other major addition hasn't been done yet, the final BIONICLE web game. You've seen screenshots, and it looks and works really nicely. I'm very pleased with it, it's a "sticky" game... I keep coming back. The graphics are really well done, and I can't wait to get it out there for you all to play. I'm hoping for January, but it all depends on resources.
They haven't been updated online due to resource and budget constraints. Sorry, but they've been ignored for a while. I don't know when they'll be online.
Scale of the robots
Yeah yeah, I know. But you've got to take artistic license, right?
Do you see them? Are they Christmas trees? Rocks? Dementors? Or GBs? I'll leave that up to you to decide.
Local language sites will be updated in the next few weeks, and the Agori Defender game put online. You may also see some more story stuff on the site, but you'll have to look for it. After the MNS is done, that's pretty much it for BIONICLE.com. You'll continue to see story serials on BIONICLEstory.com, but for the most part, I'll be concentrating on the Next Big Thing which you all have seen now but I can't talk about because it isn't officially announced (nice timing).
I'm glad you all seem to like the site update, I'm pleased with how it turned out. Leah started it, I'm ending it. It's kind of a big deal, for a fan to slide into this position and end up writing the webisodes that helps close out the franchise. And it was a personal high point to see a Big Hollywood Star reading my script.
Now, on to the next big thing...