It made a nice change a few days ago to log onto our beta test forums and find that one of the users had started a thread on "things I like about Moviestorm", instead of the usual bug reports, problems, and suggestions. One of the things they mentioned was "the men and women are different heights".
It's one of those design decisions that gave me sleepless nights for months. I mean, it's obvious that men and women should be different heights, because that's the way people are - isn't it? But there's a hidden cost to this. Different heights means different skeletons, and different skeletons means different animations. And having two skeletons hasn't just doubled the animation load, it's quadrupled it in places. (Take two-person animations like tapping someone on the shoulder - we need separate anims for M+M, M+F, F+M and F+F.) It also means all sorts of issues with the code - if we change a character from male to female, the engine has to fire up the same animations, but for a different gender. More headaches. And, of course, the animations have to match precisely, so that your timing doesn't get thrown out of whack. And with all the added complexity, that gives the QA team a hell of a lot of extra work.
It would have been easy to take the approach made by Another Well Known Machinima Tool, and make all the characters the same height, regardless of gender. That would have freed up a lot of budget for making more costumes, more sets, and more animations, and made the developers' lives a lot easier, but, to my eyes at least, the end result just wouldn't have been so satisfying. I like the composition you get from different eye heights - it just feels wrong otherwise.
So, thanks to whoever posted that small comment on our forums, thank you. I can sleep again now.