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Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 6:44 pm
by RotavatoR
At which points did you really have to improvise to get the story going? And which plots were flexible? At what point could they take different turns?

Re: Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 6:55 pm
by Dana
The story could pretty much turn at any given point, within a set of circumstances. You couldn't, for example, get Holmes to give up sleuthing. That's just not who he is or in the realm of possibility for his character.

We actually had quite a bit of improv, from twitter feeds to some of the puzzles to the incorporation of the Metaguard characters. We kind of rolled with what you guys gave us. Let's just say that Cthulhu was not planned from the beginning.

Re: Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 6:55 pm
by Tom
Good lord. The entire story. Let me see where I could even begin on this one.

I think I have to step back from this and take a deep breath before I begin. For starters, though, Adell could have died.

Re: Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 6:57 pm
by RotavatoR
What ending did you have in mind instead of Cthulhu? And why did you change it to the Cthulhu ending? Was it that good an idea :P

Re: Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 6:57 pm
by Dana
Tom wrote:For starters, though, Adell could have died.


Oh yeah, that too. Good thing you guys sent in as much stuff as you did. We were worried before the C!Fics started to pour in, haha.

Re: Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 6:59 pm
by Connor Fallon
I have a post actually about that I am drafting up for the Cabal section. Give me a bit.

Re: Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 6:59 pm
by Sicon112
Dana wrote:
Tom wrote:For starters, though, Adell could have died.


Oh yeah, that too. Good thing you guys sent in as much stuff as you did. We were worried before the C!Fics started to pour in, haha.


I'm still rather sad that I couldn't find the time to send mine in. I think I'll write it later anyhow and post it for people to see if they want.

Anyhow, I get the impression from Tom's comment that we sorta totally wrecked whatever they had planned. Oops. XD

Re: Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 7:03 pm
by Dana
Sicon112 wrote:Anyhow, I get the impression from Tom's comment that we sorta totally wrecked whatever they had planned. Oops. XD


Not wrecked, no. We had a few other plans, but we were on board with Cthulhu pretty early on, actually. We started talking about it in September, maybe early October. Whenever the Metaguard characters were first dreamed up. Connor's probably talking about the original ending in the Cabal thread, but basically...we didn't want you guys to tear yourselves apart at the seams for the ending we wanted to tell. That wasn't worth it to us.

Re: Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 7:05 pm
by Tom
We didn't plan Cthluhu from Day 1 cause we thought we wasn't public domain. Then, with about a month and a half to go, I found out he was. Rick did some more research and we decided we were in the clear. Cthulhu came together as a way of uniting the player base before the finale.

In a sense, the whole thing was improvised but it was also all planned. It's like a game of Dungeons and Dragons. You go in with a plan and a map and you throw it away when the players give you something cooler that you didn't expect. It's not a novel, it's a conversation.

Every writer did an outline and wrote all their posts before the game went live. We worked on the game for a year and a half, but we all expected to have to do rewrites once it was live.

IIRC, the first serious rewrites came from Raikes, who had to modify his story when you discovered things that forced the detectives to go on the run earlier than we planned. His stories didn't get re-railed until New York.

The ending was also largely put together based on who was still around. Since the order in which everyone went back was entirely up to you, we had to work around what we had. Finding resolutions for Moriarty, Long John, and Holmes in one fell swoop was exciting, and so was wrapping up the Witch and Poirot at the same time.

"Improvised", in this case, also sometimes means "planned a few weeks in advance", rather than "written off the cuff", because for things that required video or audio, we needed a substantial amount of warning to get those assets in place before going live.

A better way to do this would be to have you ask us about specific events, and we can tell you how far back they were planned. Otherwise this is simply too big a question to tackle.

Re: Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 7:10 pm
by JackAlsworth
How far in advance was the refictionalization strategy plan? (That is, when did you make up the idea of writing the characters back behind the wall?)

Re: Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 7:12 pm
by Connor Fallon
That plan was come up with pretty early on. Dana suggested it in one of our early meetings, and then I fleshed out the process -- the actual steps and lore behind it. It was one of the backbones pretty much from the beginning. We will probably be discussing this more in the leads thread.

When the Metaguard thing was selected (which was actually also something we incorporated on the spot), it was awesome, because we always intended for writing to be a key part of the game.

Re: Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 7:14 pm
by Val Reznitskaya
Tom wrote:Every writer did an outline and wrote all their posts before the game went live. We worked on the game for a year and a half, but we all expected to have to do rewrites once it was live.


I don't think there was a single story thread that we didn't end up modifying in some way based on what you guys did. Some of them ended up sticking to the original outlines more than others, but nothing was completely predetermined.

We planned to have to change a lot from the start, but we couldn't come close to taking everything into account. Responding to completely unexpected things was a big part of the fun.

Re: Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 7:18 pm
by Tom
Yeah, the metaguard thing was great.

Let me use Portal as an example. The game slowly trains you to think with portals, by easing you into the mechanics. You gave us a perfect excuse to slowly introduce you guys to the writing mechanic which wound up being so important. In portal, you think in portals; this let us train you to think in fics.

When the time for refics came around, you knew how to submit them, what we were looking for, and what the reward would be for a successful one (canonization!)

Re: Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:26 pm
by Blurred_9L
About all the things which requiered our input, refics mostly but also the face off with Cthulhu, was there some sort of criteria for them?

For example, if all the refics sent weren't of enough quality to be made into canon, would the refic would have failed? Also, was there a goal of songs sent, also, I see that Adell dying was a possibility, but was there ever a goal of songs sent so that the app was powerful enough so that he wouldn't die or you just decided it would be too much of a player punch for us or was it all planned?

Re: Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:29 pm
by Dana
We did have a specific set of criteria, and you guys basically knocked it out of the park.

Re: Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:44 pm
by Tom
You had to hit "20 points", an arbitrary marker of how much work you'd done to save Adell. 20 or more and he lived, less, and he died.

-A Cabal member in the fight was worth 2.
-A fic was worth 1.
-A song was worth 1 or 2, I'd have to dig up our notes.
-A wall piece collected was worth 3.

If you weren't going to make it, we weren't going to tell you the point total, but we would have told you that you needed to do more.

It was never close. The end total was absurdly higher, at least 3 or 4 times our goal. You not only turned Cthulhu, you clobbered him senseless.

Re: Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:49 pm
by Connor Fallon
Of course one of the metaguards still had to die. And I think it would have been great to kill Adell.

*Sigh* Another day, perhaps.

Re: Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:51 pm
by Adell
Connor Fallon wrote:Of course one of the metaguards still had to die. And I think it would have been great to kill Adell.

*Sigh* Another day, perhaps.


Happy to disappoint you, Connor :roll:

Re: Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:52 pm
by Connor Fallon
Adell wrote:
Connor Fallon wrote:Of course one of the metaguards still had to die. And I think it would have been great to kill Adell.

*Sigh* Another day, perhaps.


Happy to disappoint you, Connor :roll:


ANOTHER DAY.

Re: Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:12 pm
by Blurred_9L
Connor Fallon wrote:Of course one of the metaguards still had to die. And I think it would have been great to kill Adell.

*Sigh* Another day, perhaps.


Pretty sure you're going to hear from Qara soon :P Better go hide somewhere xD

Re: Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:19 pm
by Connor Fallon
Replacing this post with something more interesting.

I mentioned in the "Character Whould Haves" that I wish we had been able to have one Science Fiction character. When Angel was written, some of us were tempted to have the writing go wrong and have HER fall through the wall, also winding up on this side.

We'd have to create comics for her, but I still think it would have been cool. But we felt you guys might feel betrayed. (I still feel the reaction would have been WOAH OUR CHARACTER IS NOW HERE)

Re: Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:31 pm
by Sicon112
Connor Fallon wrote:Replacing this post with something more interesting.

I mentioned in the "Character Whould Haves" that I wish we had been able to have one Science Fiction character. When Angel was written, some of us were tempted to have the writing go wrong and have HER fall through the wall, also winding up on this side.

We'd have to create comics for her, but I still think it would have been cool. But we felt you guys might feel betrayed. (I still feel the reaction would have been WOAH OUR CHARACTER IS NOW HERE)


I for one would have thought it was pure awesome, and I think there are plenty of people who would agree.

Re: Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:38 pm
by Blurred_9L
Sicon112 wrote:
Connor Fallon wrote:Replacing this post with something more interesting.

I mentioned in the "Character Whould Haves" that I wish we had been able to have one Science Fiction character. When Angel was written, some of us were tempted to have the writing go wrong and have HER fall through the wall, also winding up on this side.

We'd have to create comics for her, but I still think it would have been cool. But we felt you guys might feel betrayed. (I still feel the reaction would have been WOAH OUR CHARACTER IS NOW HERE)


I for one would have thought it was pure awesome, and I think there are plenty of people who would agree.


I agree, it would have been a nice surprise. :P

Re: Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 12:38 am
by Pixelmage
Connor Fallon wrote:Replacing this post with something more interesting.

I mentioned in the "Character Whould Haves" that I wish we had been able to have one Science Fiction character. When Angel was written, some of us were tempted to have the writing go wrong and have HER fall through the wall, also winding up on this side.

We'd have to create comics for her, but I still think it would have been cool. But we felt you guys might feel betrayed. (I still feel the reaction would have been WOAH OUR CHARACTER IS NOW HERE)

You have no idea how much I hate you now. :evil:
You could have had Angel here... and you choose a C!Fic where she dies! :evil:

The only reason I even tried to write a C!Fic was because everyone was talking about how Angel is the one who works best and heartwrenching and all that and I didn't want that to happen! (Ok I failed, but still, the motivation is there!)

(Not really mad, just pretending to be.)

I suppose it's clear who my favorite fictional Metaguard is by this point... :lol:

Re: Improvisation and flexibility

PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 12:43 am
by Tom
Lots of cool stuff got scrapped cause of implementation concerns. Additional crossers were usually foiled by the comic requirement.