Chapter 2. Donna the Troodon… Cute but dangerous !
As you may know, we had some trouble with some of the designs for the dinos and reptiles in our new Gingko app. At first, Troodon didn’t give us any problems. Until about 8 months ago. It is a wonderful creature. Somehow we decided that it was bound to be a girl. We remembered that Troodon was a predator, but wanted to show her sweet side.
Here is what our illustrator has to say about the character: "One of the main tasks was to make Troodon cute and touching, and then she can suddenly become ravenous and even dangerous. That’s why the design combines pink, emerald green and blue. The anatomy of the body and of the face were made on the basis of reconstructions of the real dinosaur, but in a cartoony stylization. I would say it is a combination of realism and cartoon in a 20/80 proportion"
Donna’s name was not chosen by chance. The teeth of the first Troodon ever discovered were found in America, so we were looking for a popular American name which would sound similar to the scientific name of the dinosaur. Donna it was!
Donna showed up just a month before we were done working on the app. (Well… if our team members could hear that, they would burst out laughing: We all know that as long as our company exists, the work on the app will never be really over because we’ll keep on coming up with new characters and consulting with scientists!)
When it came to designing Donna, at first all went well. But one day, our paleontologist had a look at the new test video of the app and immediately wrote us a letter explaining that the tarsometatarsus of the Troodon was long, and therefore she could not have raised one of her fingers in the way she did in the illustration! To put it mildly, that was the first time I even heard that word. The tarsometatarsus is a bone that is only found in the lower leg of birds and certain non-avian dinosaurs. I immediately looked everywhere for references to give our illustrator and was horrified to discover that all of the paleoartists on the planet don’t know anything about this problem with the long tarsometatarsus either. In all reconstructions we could find, Troodon had her finger raised. I wanted to immediately tell the whole world the truth, write each artist separately. I couldn’t let them live in darkness ! Well, after much consideration I decided this was a problem for another day. I’m a busy woman.
I had to tell my team, though. But I imagined - in great detail - what they would feel if I announced them yet again a new revision. And I had vowed we wouldn’t make anymore changes before the first release ! Especially to my husband. I thought how that conversation would go down: I’d better go down to talk to him with a helmet on in case he’d start throwing at me the biology encyclopedia which lies on his table…!
Then I game another look to the agreements we have with our animators on what we could change and what we couldn’t before the first release. And at that point, changing anything would have been extremely difficult and time-consuming. So I looked at the drawing again… And decided that Donna could survive for some time with a finger in the air, and that it wouldn’t take any of her cuteness away :)