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 Post subject: Continuing the Story
PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 9:07 pm 
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Shorah,

Long-time lurker, first-time poster here :) Super excited about the announcement from Mysterium, mainly cause any news that Cyan hasn't forgotten about our little community feels real good. Uru's future might be getting brighter. It's made me start thinking about ways that the community could help grow Uru and make it more appealing to new players. Obviously, new Ages are important to keeping Uru alive. But that's only part of the appeal. The real-time story arc that used to be played out in the Cavern would keep players invested in between new Age releases. Without that, players might sign on, play the new content, and not touch the game again until the next content release.

So I wonder what it would take for the fans to create something similar. I'm not the first person who's thought of this, either. To quote cpt-jericho:

cpt-jericho wrote:
Carl U Palmner wrote:
Has Cyan said anything--either in Mysterium or otherwise--about continuing the ongoing live story that has been on hold since the Gametap days? New content was only half of the Uru coin--the other half was a constantly evolving realtime story.

I wouldn't place a bet on Cyan continuing the storyline. They have a major release (Obduction) to work on. MOULa is just pet project.
The only way to get the story going on would have to come inofficially from fans, I guess. The hard part would be that you can't show up as DRC memebers in the public. Maybe in the magic ages with a some grey hat magic. Wouldn't be the same, I know. But that's probably the best we can hope for, storywise.

However, would be nice if at least a few members of Cyan would show up when it happens and celebrate with their fans. Even if just for an hour or so.


I like that idea. Sure, it might not be the same as official Cyan stories, but if new content is now in the hands of the fans, why not story arcs? I'm sure it wouldn't be hard to pull together some kind of RP team, maybe even with Cyan's blessing.

Any thoughts / ideas / comments?

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 Post subject: Re: Continuing the Story
PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 9:25 pm 
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Fan-led storylines have happened in the past - sometimes spontaneously - but they haven't tended to catch the general imagination the way the Cyan stories did, and maybe seemed more like a "story club" supported by a limited group :? . But that was when there was no corresponding new content to tie the stories into, so it was just "a story" and having some new content to build on may well be much more successful.

The creators of fan ages will likely have their own ideas about any associated story line, so there may be a need to get some leads from them on what they see as fitting "their cannon".

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 Post subject: Re: Continuing the Story
PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 9:36 pm 
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Mac_Fife wrote:
Fan-led storylines have happened in the past - sometimes spontaneously - but they haven't tended to catch the general imagination the way the Cyan stories did, and maybe seemed more like a "story club" supported by a limited group :? . But that was when there was no corresponding new content to tie the stories into, so it was just "a story" and having some new content to build on may well be much more successful.

The creators of fan ages will likely have their own ideas about any associated story line, so there may be a need to get some leads from them on what they see as fitting "their cannon".


That is what made me start thinking that this might be feasible. Story and new content go hand-in-hand. With enough cooperation and a positive attitude, do you think that something like what was in my op is possible?

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 Post subject: Re: Continuing the Story
PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 10:51 pm 
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I think it's very doable, and have even been playing around with some potential ideas for storylines in my head. Here's my take on how this has worked in the past--and by past, I mean Gametap Uru Live, since that's my primary experience:

Most fan story attempts fall flat on their face. However, I believe that that is due to (1) poor design and execution of the story and (2) not building enough community support BEFORE the story begins. I remember a few fan stories that actually DID garner support, because they were run by very popular and respected folks in the community who built that popularity before they tried to do anything fancy. There were also a lot of would-be story creations by mostly unknown new players, and these were largely ignored.

That being said, I also think it would not be as easy for players as it was for Cyan. Cyan had the advantage that pretty much every Uru player was already a fan of their works, plus the prestige that comes with being experienced and reputable professional storytellers. Any fan story is going to be taken with a grain of salt, because people are going to instinctively think, "These are amateurs. They're not being paid for this and they don't have the background and resume to ensure for me that the story will be good. That doesn't mean it will suck, but it does mean it might suck. I don't want to spend time on something with that risk."

On the other hand, I'm sure I'm not the only player who is starving for more story and would love to jump on something--anything--that feels like involvement in the wonderful fantasy that is the Myst universe. But before starting anything, here are the things I would do:

1. Make lots of friends in the cavern, and build a reputation for being a friendly person.
2. Always, always, ALWAYS be IC when in-game. This is a tough one for a lot of people, especially the current generation, which doesn't have the example of the official characters to follow. But it makes a world of difference when you treat the cavern like a real place. It changes the atmosphere not just for you but for everyone around you, and it sets the foundation for doing a fan-run story, which by definition would have to be IC. I take this as far as questioning the sanity of anyone who implies that we're all playing a game (because that's exactly how I would react if someone IRL thought we were in a game). You can have fun with it, turn it into almost a joke, but never break IC unless you absolutely have to.
3. Enlist other people in creating the story, pool your ideas and take a lot of time to prepare and lay the groundwork. Honestly I think a ton of the failed fan-stories back during Gametap Uru failed because of lack of preparation. Get a group together. Find others interested in telling an alternate-reality style interactive story, because two heads are better than one and ten are better than two.

All three of the above suggestions are time-consuming and involve considerable effort before a story has even begun. But from what I've seen in the past, I believe that a well-thought-out fan story CAN be successful if these three things are done.

Finally, if you DO decide to start something, let me know--because I'll probably want in :)

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 Post subject: Re: Continuing the Story
PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2014 12:14 am 
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I think Carl is right generally, but also think there is a bit more to it.

As said earlier, content and story go hand in hand. Story without content feels a lot like dancing by yourself. It is awkward. Content includes not just new areas but control over live events, such as the appearance of holograms or a strange noise that is not part of the typical background noise.

Without some environment control, or the perception of it*, fan story ends up being seen by others as pure roleplay, and I think that just naturally has limited public appeal. When someone says "did you hear that?" and everyone hears it, that is easier to respond to than getting everyone to go along with pretending.

* On perception: consider that with new arrivals to the cavern, there is a limited opportunity to impress and present the contrivance of control via prediction. If you know when a portal will appear or when the dock page will be present, it lends credibility and story can be built around that.

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 Post subject: Re: Continuing the Story
PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2014 12:33 am 
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I'm afraid that's not even the tip of the iceberg, Carl.
Getting some eager explorers together to start to continue the storyline and keep them together is the pleasant part (at least if you consider weasels climbing up your trousers as pleasant).

First you need information. Lots of it. And I'm not even talking about what the storyline has been so far. You need to know which ages are in the pipeline. You need to know the story of these ages. You need to know how they will be implemented (all together or bit by bit - do the books just appear or something). You need to know how Cyan thinks about the new ages. You need to know what the makers of the ages think. And you have to get all that before even starting to think about a story.

However, here are my two cents:
A storytelling group must be in some way backed by Cyan. Otherwise other groups will pop up like mushrooms in autumn and no one will know which story to follow. How this backing would look is on the other hand. Could range from use of DRC members to a special explorer status, but that up to Cyan. Whatever it would be, it would give instant credibility to the group.
Might be a wise choice to keep the group rather loose. Maybe having a core group doing mostly brainwork (to keep the story tight) and a more dynamic group mostly acting.

Anyway, right now there are so many ifs that I don't even dare asking about the hows.


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 Post subject: Re: Continuing the Story
PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2014 1:29 am 
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Thanks for the enthusiasm Carl! Glad to see there are other people so interested in continuing the story. Also, I agree with everything you said—especially the part about enlisting the help of as many players as possible. Many hands make for light work, two or more heads are better than one, etc. etc. And I'll keep you posted if I catch wind of some story going down ;)

Marten wrote:

Without some environment control, or the perception of it*, fan story ends up being seen by others as pure roleplay, and I think that just naturally has limited public appeal. When someone says "did you hear that?" and everyone hears it, that is easier to respond to than getting everyone to go along with pretending.

* On perception: consider that with new arrivals to the cavern, there is a limited opportunity to impress and present the contrivance of control via prediction. If you know when a portal will appear or when the dock page will be present, it lends credibility and story can be built around that.


Marten, that point about environment control is very valid, and part of why I like the idea of having the stories take place in a magic Age. Of course, then you run into the issue of those Ages being less accessible to new players. That would be one of those details that would need input from a bunch of people.

And I totally agree with the bit about story without content being like dancing by yourself. Uru feels epic, and the stories need substance to match.

I understand your point of view too, Cpt. There are definitely a LOT of details that would need ironed out. And your point about needing something official makes me wonder if Cyan would be willing to back any kind of venture into this project. No doubts though, it would be massive. Cyan had the advantage of handling everything internally—they made the Ages, they told the stories, and it was easy to keep everything consistent. But now we aren't operating with those luxuries.

So, it seems the thing everyone agrees is that we need to figure out is how much support there would be for this. Would day-to-day players be interested? Age developers? What do you all think?

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 Post subject: Re: Continuing the Story
PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2014 3:12 am 
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Nicho wrote:
And your point about needing something official makes me wonder if Cyan would be willing to back any kind of venture into this project.

First step in that direction would be to ask Cyan.

But I think the implementation for that could be difficult. I know it's possible to ban words for avvie creation for the normal client. That's to keep people from using names like ResEng, Yeesha2 etc. I think you will need a different client built to have access to using a unique title. And that client built must be maintained and probably recompiled for each update MOULa receives. People who know more about the code may correct me if I'm wrong.

Right now the problem isn't that there is no cast, yet. It's also not because there isn't a script yet. Also the fact that there isn't even stage now. It's the fact that there is nothing know about how the stage will even look like.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to keep anyone from doing something I would certainly enjoy watching. But be aware that you want to walk a path that has sticks and stones, barb-wire and possibly some landmines in store for you.


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 Post subject: Re: Continuing the Story
PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2014 3:31 am 
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Continuing the story is one of the major draws to having your own Shard. With your own shard you have control over all the variables necessary to tell a good story. The problem of course lies in that your shard will have limited people on it compared to MOUla. Which is why I believe social networking is the key to any good shard with a story. You can draw on the MOULa crowd through various social networking sites, and have them visit your shard when they are bored with the others out there. As time goes on, so long as your story is good enough and engaging enough, you may get your die-hard shard fans to tell others about it.

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 Post subject: Re: Continuing the Story
PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2014 5:06 am 
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Ah, I should have been more clear. My post referred to fan-created story that is not connected to Cyan's story. I'm not talking about continuing the official story; I'm just talking about doing stuff that feels like part of the in-cavern story experience and doesn't contradict canon. I should have clarified this, since I think Nicho was referring to both fan side-story stuff and the possibility of fans continuing the official story, and I was only referring to the former. Fan side-stories really don't need Cyan backing, since they are technically not canon anyway, although as long as they don't contradict canon, players can of course treat them as part of the personal canon of their Uru experience. This was done many times in Gametap Uru--usually the stories just sort of fizzled and failed, but some of them were relatively successful. If you're creative, you also don't necessarily need the kind of control that was referred to here. Marker Missions, Jalak, Ahyoheek,and all of the other great interactive elements of the game can all be integrated into a well-thought-out story.

However, I agree that storytellers have much greater freedom when they control their own shards--can't wait to see the DIRT shard, Chloe--and playing those stories is much more satisfying, and will gather more support.

Regarding support from Cyan in general--I think it's good to pull in some kind of recognition from Cyan even in a fan-made side story, if possible. Back in the Gametap incarnation, there was a group called the Students of D'ni (I think that was the name), led by DocOlanA, which got the DRC to release bits of D'ni "translations" to them for study. Because they were able to obtain these translations and got the DRC to mention them now and then, they were seen as a kind of "pseudo-official" group--yes, they were entirely player-run, but they had recognition from the DRC and therefore Cyan, and as a result there was a lot more interest than there otherwise would have been. But it was still Doc and the other leaders who kept the thing going through their own friendliness and leadership skills.

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 Post subject: Re: Continuing the Story
PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2014 8:03 am 
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Adrael has a backstory about an association parallel to the DRC, the D’ni Research Association, to avoid using Cyan-made characters. Perhaps the authors could be interested in writing / staging an episode in MOULa, or agree to let others use the concept?

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 Post subject: Re: Continuing the Story
PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2014 9:43 am 
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I've been running RP/IC story on my site Beneath for the last 10 years or so. I've had elements of this story play out during Prologue (where Sharper and I frequently got into philosophical arguments) and GT Uru Live as well as D'mala during the interim. I also build my own Ages and (eventually) release them which tie into the greater storyline too.

As mentioned by others there have been a lot of fan stories that have popped up, some survived some fell flat for various reasons.
You don't necessarily need a group, a single person can have a decent impact (J.D. Barnes for example). But you want to make sure you're characters are decent, believable, with established back story and personality that you remain consistent to (of course personalities change with growth of the character).

Also, have an idea of your story arc, where it begins and where it is going and any key points you need to pass through on the way. Be prepared to be flexable, interacting with other players can and will throw a spanner in the works and you need to be able to move around it. I've seen groups be very rigid in this regard too and their reluctance to be flexible has done more damage than good to their story and its reception too.

Understand the D'niverse. This I feel is important, if you are going to be running a story within the D'niverse or more specifically Uru/D'ni then you need to understand the canon, D'ni history/lore. I've seen a lot of fan stories that pull these ridiculous ideas out of the sky claiming they happened when it goes against established lore. As a result it gets looked on as ridiculous and people stop paying attention.

Understanding the lore/canon gives you a glimpse at how to move around in it leaving a mark on it and not at the same time. If you're being IC that you are in D'ni. Understand that you are 'IN D'NI". That means you're not limited by the areas of D'ni found in Uru you are limited by only D'ni. If your character heads over to Katha Island...well yes that can happen. Even though it's not in the game...yet. The DRC have locked an Age away you want access to? Ok well if your character is a bit morally lax they can break in (depending on security) and access the Age (something Marein and I did with Noloben). Given the nature of Canon in Uru what you establish as your canon is pretty much instantly folded into the overall canon (until it is retconned by Cyan). I delved into the workings of canon a bit more heavily in an article I wrote the GoW dev blog: Canon is God, but I'm an atheist which may be of interest.

So that is leaving a mark. But as I mentioned it is possible to leave a mark and not leave a mark at the same time. I shall use the trip to Noloben with Marein and myself as an example.

So Marein and I unscrupulously break in to a DRC office and gain access to the Noloben Book during the Bahro civil war. We visit the Age, there is fighting and bahro corpses and general carnage. We document and take photos of this and thus we leave our mark.

However, our infringement on canon still follows the rules set down by Rawa it's not adding new lore to an exisiting Cyan location as it was documented by Cyan/DRC/Official characters that the Bahro were fighting in most of the Ages.

Now the end result could go two ways. Either Marein and I go back to Noloben and bury the dead Bahro, or the Bahro come and take the dead themselves. Either way at the end of it Noloben is empty of any influence again and you'd never know Marein and I had been there (unless you read out respective Uru blogs ;) ).

With a good understanding of the lore and an understanding of the canon and how you'd react to actually being there in D'ni for real (you'd probably explore all the things even if access was blocked) instead of being there in d'ni for real in a game. You find there are a lot of grey spaces to work in.

Another article of interest that may help people is the Uru Live IC/OOC Standards Article I wrote 8 years ago (oh geez that makes me feel old >.< ). Its a set of guidelines (not rules, I'm not telling you how to play) regarding IC verses OOC and the various levels in between.


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 Post subject: Re: Continuing the Story
PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2014 1:49 pm 
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A couple things I think should be stressed while arguing about Uru canon in writing:

First, under the principle of the Great Tree of Possibility, any Age that doesn’t openly contradict the laws of physics can exists. And even that is not always the case: a house with three gravity wells isn’t that much more inexplicable than a toroidal planet with perpetual water flow. It’s up to the writer to come up with a convincing explanation.

Second, the D’ni have been missing from their Ages for more than 200 years. While most of those might be located on uninhabited planets, some may not. And the natives might have already colonized the former D’ni settlements. And maybe set up a mining venture. Again, it’s up to the writer to come up with convincing circumstances.

Bottom line is, while a ‘good Uru story’ requires some in-depth knowledge of the lore and canon to not become ridiculous, writers don’t need to stick exclusively to D’ni places and people for backstory. They just need to be especially cautious if they do so.

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 Post subject: Re: Continuing the Story
PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2014 2:05 pm 
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That is great advice from Tweek, and having read much of his writing, I can say that it rings true; it's entirely believable. I truly believe that Tweek, Whilyam and others remained in the cavern after the DRC left in April 2008 and continued to work on writing their ages. They told me so when the rest of us found our way back to the cavern in 2010. And, they've consistently maintained IC journals that are believable.

So, there are already good stories out there; they're just not reaching the mainstream. It would make a world of difference to have just a wee bit of help from Cyan.

First, bring back the DRC site & forums and create a usergroup so we can post on it again.

Then, when new content from an explorer is added to MOULa, help to promote it by making a few simple posts by DRC characters. Nothing elaborate - just enough to lend an air of authenticity to it. For example, one character posts, "What's this I hear about an explorer restoring an area of the cavern?" and another replying, "Yes, it seems so. I've checked it out and it seems safe enough and the restoration was handled with respect (meaning to the canon). The explorer left a journal documenting the process." Then, the explorer can start a similarly titled thread in the Share Your Journey section to "answer" the DRC, tell more about the content, answer questions and provide a link to their journal and/or other works.

The content creator/explorer should make it as easy as possible on Cyan by providing the information and suggestions about what they would like to see posted regarding their content.

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 Post subject: Re: Continuing the Story
PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2014 5:41 pm 
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Sorry Carl, I probably should have been more specific in my OP. But, you read my mind! I was thinking along the same lines as you, fan stories to supplement what Cyan has already provided. And yes, some kind of Cyan recognition would be great. It might create enough “legitimacy” to draw more players into the stories.

korovev wrote:
Adrael has a backstory about an association parallel to the DRC, the D’ni Research Association, to avoid using Cyan-made characters. Perhaps the authors could be interested in writing / staging an episode in MOULa, or agree to let others use the concept?


Ah korovev, now we’re really talking! Cherry-picking some of the best concepts from previous fan-story attempts would make brainstorming new ideas a lot easier. And of course, the experience of people who have done this kind of thing before makes the undertaking seem a little less intimidating.

Thanks for all the great resources Tweek, and the principles you mentioned in the story you weaved would be a good model for a fan-story undertaking.

And Tai’lahr, those are some interesting ideas! I was thinking more along the lines of stories that are played out in the Cavern, but having “official DRC” support on the site and forums sweetens the deal.

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