Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Getting in Virtual Shape

This may not shock anybody, but building an entire virtual Moon colony is a really big job with many challenges. Trying to become more methodical and organized about it has led to a lull in visible output right now. It has also made the stack of tasks on my desktop look that much more daunting. For now. I hear that once a project is properly organized, things go much more smoothly. That would be really nice.

The website was registered a year ago this week. I had been playing with the idea for a few months before that, and was encouraged to actually try it by people i met at the International Space Development Conference in Toronto in May of 2015. My idea of how that would go was really different at the time. Maybe it is typical when someone has an idea they find really exciting that they expect other people to find it equally exciting and hop on board just because one tells them about it. Now i realize that the rich, complex landscape of Moonwards in my head is only visible to me, and although many people find it interesting, they need much better reasons to devote their time to it than my enthusiasm and a small website. Turns out i actually have to figure out how to do this myself, and create the basic framework of it mostly on my own. Then it will draw people in and the actual doing of it will be shared among a group.

Now, i have actually received a good deal of help considering how preliminary the whole thing is. It very much encourages me to plug on, and has often made me smile. The last few weeks though have been mostly about looking at the 3d models i have built over the last 6 months, and pondering how poorly made they are, and dealing with rebuilding them somewhat professionally.

Can you find the 17 model issues in this picture? Well, i was trying, okay?

Turns out that when people who know 3d modelling toy with volunteering on a project, finding a bunch of rickety problematic models quickly curbs their enthusiasm. Hm. And going to the project's GitHub page and finding it is is mostly unstructured and has lots of obsolete files doesn't help. And while the whiteboard is very helpful to me and a great creative tool, most people want neatly laid out documentation so they can see a roadmap and understand exactly what needs doing and how it all fits together. But in order to do that, i have to stop dead in making things, and spend weeks just on that. Which i have resisted doing because i am super-fidgety to get a rough draft done, and that still seems more important to me. It's like needing to have a prototype done before setting up a production line. I'd still really like more help on the prototype though. Just please excuse the mess...

The solar furnace shown on the website is now obsolete and will be deleted in favor of a Schubert dust roaster. I was able to briefly talk to Peter Schubert about it at a conference and he seemed happy to have it on the site and will hopefully give me some guidance on it. But i haven't even started that because volunteers came in to work on the models and i tried to get things in shape for them. This is how i know that looked at through their eyes this thing is sort of a mess. Now the dugout and hall habitat models have been greatly improved, and i have learned a lot that will make future work faster and smoother. But i am still doing all the modelling on my own... I think i will take a break from fixing to mock up the dust roaster. Doing stuff like that is so much more satisfying. The rest is a bunch of incomplete models and various important models are missing. As for the homepage, I'm just going to take down the entire set of mission outlines that start half-way down, as they no longer apply and and were just meant as a sketch anyhow.

This remains a very difficult thing to do and it has yet to reach its first important goal of being one complete first draft. I hope that plateau provides the sense of security and momentum i am anticipating it will. If the whole thing didn't still strike me as a really great and important thing, i might set it aside. But it is important. If it doesn't flower into a highly popular and inspirational domain, at least it will hopefully be useful to the people who come after and do it right. Because it has to be done.

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