The Shark Metaphor

30 03 2009

IE, frenzy, specifically of a feeding variety, albeit not really consuming and more along the lines of producing, which would probably be closer to massive shark regurgitation, at which point the entire thing breaks down and gets repulsive and it’d be best if we stopped now.

Point is, I have eight arcs finished in COH. I am addicted. I finish one, my brain starts pondering another. I sketch out the mission chain outline, I decide the NPCs, Build the framework, insert the goals and write text for them, create the customs, do a Stomp Box test of the customs, finally write the contact text, publish. The entire process takes a day to a day and a half at most thanks to the rapid development tool the devs gave us.

I’ve been waiting for the Shiny to wear off, so I can get on with other activities instead, but so far it hasn’t worn off. It’s just gotten shinier. Once things go live it’ll be a different ballgame; unless pohsyb continues to be mezzed by my work I’ll have to gradually allow arcs to be promoted and then replaced with new ones until the “backlog” is up, which means I have to decide the order in which to post these. If I post them in the wrong order, if I have three up that are too long or too boring and they gum up the works for too long getting votes, it could wreck things.

The candidates for posting are:

The Hydroponic Pyschotropic Freak Out!. Very little purchased asset needs, and it’s a very short one-mission stomp, so this goes up first — it’ll earn me the tickets I need to finish my unlocks.

The Do-It-Yourself Laser Moonbase Project. The veteran classic, with some enhancements made since the test server version; and important to get it up ASAP before everybody else and their dog gets the same idea of “contact as underling”.

After that it’s a bit less obvious what order to go in.

Behind the Smiling Spark of Madness has actually not been published yet. I was going for a more serious Lovecraftian angle, but it doesn’t sit that well with a story about a pop idol singing songs that drive fans to madness and vaguely Sailor Moon-esque Dark Generals behind it all. Makes sense for our SG but beyond that? No idea. I’d probably hold this one back ’till later.

She’s Got Issues is a short, fun romp I did this weekend, where a villainess had a breakthrough in therapy, realized it was all about her daddy issues, and needs your help stopping her former minions from carrying out her last orders. This one’s simple and short and probably good fodder, even if it’s very silly.

The Household Chores of the Damned is one I posted last night and it’s hands down my favorite arc to date. It takes the “villain goes grocery shopping” plot idea and just RUNS with it, including a jaw dropping finale. It’s pushing the silliness envelope nice and hard, but I don’t care, this one’s going up quick.

Grunty McFisterson’s Two Step Guide to Winning Respect is my shot at doing a lowbie-friendly arc. It’s short, it’s fun, but it’s not critically important to go up fast.

Me, Myself, and My Other Selves is my l’il darling, where I found a good mix of silly and serious, and told a character focused story. As a result I doubt it’ll be too popular compared to my more balls to the wall parody efforts, so maybe middle of the pack. I’d love to do a followup later if it gets relatively popular, though.

…I could swear I had an 8th one, but I forgot it. That’s how crazy things are.

When will I stop writing? I dunno. I have a fever, and the only cure is MOAR MA.

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15 responses

30 03 2009
cmdr_zoom

Comedy is definitely your forte, and yet…
I hope that MA, in general, doesn’t end up transforming CoX into a self-aware, meme-dropping ironic parody of itself. There’s still plenty of room for serious stories, and I hope that they don’t get lost in the shuffle. (And not just because, if you doubt that “Other Selves” will be too popular, where does that leave my arcs?)

30 03 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

I’ll agree there. My hesitance on Selves and Spark are because I don’t know if anyone’s ready for a “C’mon, you guys, let’s take things seriously now” kinda story when my hippie beatdowns and mad supervillanry are far more popular.
But I don’t WANT to be “the wacky guy” perpetually, dammit… a lot of the work I’m most proud of are those stories where it hits the fan and people have to buckle down and be serious! Just like the KopyKatt arc twists into.
I won’t change the KopyKatt arc — I’m happy with it as-is, and it’s a gradual tone shift — but for the Spark arc I may remove the Dark Cosmos itself from the mix. The sparkly bishie boss and the “Dark Magical Girl” minions are just too strange for non-DFBers. I’d make it a more generic Cthulhu cult, and maybe make the singer a rocker or something instead of a sugary pop idol. That should take care of things.
Hm. Looks like I’ve got a task tonight, then; split the arc into DFB and Public versions.

30 03 2009
sptrashcan

I think there’s room for serious arcs. I hope there’s room for serious arcs, because I have at least one planned.
I think the current trend toward lighthearted arcs is possibly due to the fact that many of the serious arcs in game are launch-day relics with plodding pacing and deadly boring generic contacts, while many of the memorable arcs in the game were created later and also happen to have a lighter touch. Even the RWZ arc, by any accounting a very serious story, also has such moments as ERROR IN SARCASM DATABASE. The fan writers can hardly be blamed for following the example of the canon writers.
It’s also hard to establish a credibly threatening mood when success is likely by design and failure has no consequences. It’s like watching an action movie: we know the good guys win, which allows us to laugh when they crack wise where, were the situation real, we’d be very worried about their flippant attitude. I’m currently mulling a few ideas for instilling some sense of threat or urgency when I can’t actually prescribe much in the way of in-game consequences, but the ironic detachment barrier is a hard wall to scale.

30 03 2009
chiave_trust

I’ve been trying to design a mission myself that’s more or less serious – though I’m still tinkering around with MA. I’m not an experienced writer, so there’s that too.
Though I’ve found myself pining for the ol’ days of NWN, just to play certain fanmade modules. x.x (I remember Hex Coda very fondly, as I was a tester.)

30 03 2009
cmdr_zoom

Agreed on your first point; twoof and I just had an IM conversation to that effect.
Good second point too. And yet, action movies manage to do it… perhaps more study is in order.

30 03 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Agreed! To the multiplex!
*hit the town montage goes here

30 03 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

NWN was a terrific tool, but I’m finding more joy in COH — it’s VERY limited, true, but there’s “enough” storytelling power for me to do my thing. I’m also far more interested in the combat mechanic (computerized D&D never did it for me), the costume designer lets me properly make my characters as I envision them, etc. If we had an actual NPC conversation tree on top of that, then I’d be in hog heaven.
For a more traditional RPG experience, Dragon Age is coming out later this year, I think, which is gonna be like a Baldur’s Gate / NWN mashup in terms of flying the standards of the genre and allowing user extensibility. I’m not sure if I’ll be doing mods for it yet — it’s fascinating, but it’s also likely to be NWN+ complicated and I have two jobs and limited free time now.

30 03 2009
chiave_trust

Yes; CoH is more limited (by far) but I do like the ability to custom create. I’ve been having a lot of time creating my ‘Pandora’s Net’ minions because I can set their costumes.
Now if I can figure out how to get a certain mechanic to work or if it’s even in place, my first mission’s set. x.x

30 03 2009
cmdr_zoom

“Wow! I never knew this place had so many colorful neon signs!”

30 03 2009
meagenimage

Writing serious stuff is hard. You have to get the player to actually *care* what happens next, not just keep playing to see the next joke. And it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of having one horrible thing after another happen, just to beat people over the head with “THIS IS SRS BZNS”. You’re walking a thin line between “not funny” and “not fun”.

30 03 2009
matrix_dragon

I’m hoping you keep the KopyKatt arc up… I want to run through it with a few friends that aren’t on Test. I really like RPing the more serious missions.

30 03 2009
sptrashcan

I completely forgot to note that your cornucopia of missions, when compared to my one half-completed effort and few nascent ideas, shows just how badly the devs have misestimated the distribution of arc creation. On the bright side, the large population of people who prefer playing to creating will hopefully be hungry enough for new content that all MA arcs of any worth will find an audience. I for one welcome the proliferation particularly of content for the higher levels, where I’ve stalled out on several characters due to the daunting prospect of hours spent without seeing anything new.

31 03 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

They’ll all go up eventually. I guess it depends on the speed at which my stuff gets DevChoiced or HoF’d, opening up room for publishing. After I make a name for myself with my two most highly ranged ones (Moonbase and Hippies) I can start doing, like, One Silly + One Serious at a time, or something.
I really love the KopyKatt arc and it’s going up one way or another.

31 03 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

It’s a lot easier to make upper tier content. Custom characters, unless you REALLY gimp them, are best suited for 25-40 players. (40+ can still fight them but you need to either give them cripplingly powerful sets or accept the fact that they’ll be paved over.)
And yeah, you pointed out last time I did a Rant About I14 that the distribution curve’s kinda off.

31 03 2009
jengagne

I wonder if part of the Shiny not wearing off is the bite-size nature of these projects. You’ve been needing that, as I keep saying for various previously-expounded-upon reasons.

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