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V5 Ninth Announcement
To clarify since it was vague, and give a tiny bit of extra wiggle room:

Contest deadline is midnight pacific time. That's in six hours and thirty-three minutes.

V5 Ninth Announcement
Another reminder: There is just a tiny bit over a day left on the extensions for deaths this cycle. Please be prompt.

V5 Ninth Announcement
Quick reminder that everyone's extensions are up in about three and a half days. We're watching pretty closely for deadlines re: contests this late in the game, so please make sure to get your deaths in on time.

BDA Voting Thread #9
It's time to pick your favorite quote for Deanna! Voting will run for three days.

Three sentences about your kid: Critique experiment.
Naft, you sexy beast, can you do Aaron Hughes?

MW's Tiny Critiques: Strength/Weakness
Bonus queue skip because I can't resist the siren song of a handler's best character.

Natali Greer (Naft)

Strength: I can honestly say that you never wrote a single word with Natali that I disliked.

Weakness: I didn't really see any development from her compared to her portrayal under Backslash.

MW's Tiny Critiques: Strength/Weakness
Valerie Fitzroy

Strength: Valerie hits on something so frequently forgotten or shoved to the background: getting chosen for SOTF is a ridiculously horrific and traumatic experience. All throughout her story, Valerie is dealing with the fallout from the horror, paralyzed by it, and that's refreshing to see. It's especially good because she's not a particularly long-lived character; while her story is fairly one note, it's one that SOTF needs from time to time and she doesn't stick around long enough to overstay her welcome.

Weakness: Valerie's story has really awkward bookends. Her opening shoves her into the role of side character for another of Condor's kids with all the usual issues inherent in that, and she never fully recovers from it, always feeling like she's at a bit of a distance or like we aren't fully getting into her the way we do with many of Condor's other characters. Combined with a blink-and-you'll-miss-it death that doesn't really resolve (and in fact only addresses for about a sentence) what outstanding plotlines she does have, this left Valerie feeling like a character desperately searching for something to ground her or give the audience more of an in but never really finding it.

MW's Tiny Critiques: Strength/Weakness
Jack McDonald

Strength: It's tough to be a quiet character amidst a field of a hundred and fifty and get noticed at all, but Jack was always a quiet bubbling-under kid I quite liked. Part of it's that his narrative is very aware of what he is and does a good job of painting him as endearingly awkward, rarely pushing that angle too far. He also fills a really important role in his group, serving as something of the moral/emotional core and the occasional straight man to their more frequent drama and weirdness. This, plus a surprisingly developed and neat little arc, make Jack a very competently-executed early/mid-game kid.

Weakness: Jack was with the same group of characters through his entire time in the game. That's not bad on its own, but Jack's narrative isn't really the sort to take over or carry a scene, and as such he lives and dies by how the group fares, often getting bogged down or just not adding much if the scene's not right. This can be frustrating, especially combined with a plot thread that comes up again and again (Yukiko's killing of Stacey). In fact, as I look it over again, Jack's biggest moment with regards to that plotline appears to have been lost to the purge, which is super frustrating. It just feels like the group, and Jack in particular, get hung up on one event and it dominates everything until his death. It doesn't feel like the right choice of focus to me.

MW's Tiny Critiques: Strength/Weakness
Tucker Hopkins

Strength: Tucker is a massive improvement on/development of Aloha's writing skills, and one that shows he learned a ton over the course of V5. What especially works for me with Tucker is that we really get into his head, and get to see how his friendship/partnership with Regina feels. In general, his posts have a lot more detail than Aloha's V5 work without feeling overstuffed, and Tucker is much more grounded and rounded of a character. He feels comparatively really fleshed out and like a much more considered character on the whole. It's great to see.

Weakness: Tucker has this way of drifting into the background/almost vanishing from whatever is going on in a given scene. Even when he is doing things or in danger, it's in a way that can be understated, and not in the good way. Combined with a rather sporadic posting schedule, this leaves Tucker feeling frustratingly absent from a lot of scenes and, in some ways, the game as a whole. I wanna see him start letting himself into the spotlight a little bit more, getting more solid scenes under his belt to go with his stronger character and voice.

MW's Tiny Critiques: Strength/Weakness
Davis Todd

Strength: Maybe it's because of the firm idea behind Davis' arc, or maybe it's just a result of being comfortable enough to take risks, but Davis is up there with R.J. as some of Un's best writing, just on a scene/voice level. There are a lot of places where the description is good, and he sells hits really well, making his maiming at the hands of Gabriel come off appropriately brutally. I'm also partial to the way Davis' first thread plays with voice, using simple, to-the-point statements. It's something that falls away, probably for the best, and I can't say it's 100% successful, but it shows a really good awareness of the use of language and sentence structure to convey characterization and it works more than it doesn't.

Weakness: Because Davis' story is so short, the moments where things happen feel very pivotal, and one I wanted a little bit more from was the fight that left him one-eyed. The fight itself is well-written, but it's very sudden and not particularly developed and for so early in the game. With a nice bit of implied history behind it, I really just wanted to see Davis' narrative take a few minutes to get us up to speed. It's like getting dropped into the middle of a story, only since we've already got a good bit of story beforehand in TV2 and pregame and this rivalry hasn't really come up in any notable capacity, it doesn't quite feel right for probably the biggest moment of Davis' story.

MW's Tiny Critiques: Strength/Weakness
Brandon Baxter

Strength: Baxter is one of the best jerks SOTF has seen, because while he does some pretty nasty/despicable stuff he's also a lot more complicated than that. He does everything for a reason stemming from his own insecurities, and a lot of his actions aren't even so much the result of malice as of misreading the situation or simply not taking others' feelings into account. This works nicely with his air of bravado, and overall makes him into a really great and in-depth exploration of an archetype that has been incredibly troublesome in most of its appearances in SOTF's history.

Weakness: You know, it's a testament to how well Baxter worked out in the end that I forgot this and had to go fishing, but on a reread there were a few areas where the tone of specific sentences in Baxter's posts grated. Most of the time, his narrative is fresh and interesting, but that makes the occasional... I guess the best way to describe it is "internet writing cliche", stuff like "He was Brandon fucking Baxter." and "And if his eyes occasionally wandered to admire the curves of Miss Simms’ wonderful backside, well... He was only human." really stand out. There are a lot of these little moments, especially in Baxter's early game, where it feels like his narrative just wasn't quite confident enough to blossom fully, instead falling back on stock bits that are, in the long run, notably less effective.

Escape attempts are not inherently evil
Escape and Rescue are distinct words with distinct meanings, and sitting in one place waiting for someone else to arrive is the anti-thesis of escape, while matching the definition of rescue perfectly.

That's true, but not at all what's being proposed!

Miriam Webster says:

*to get free of/break away from <escape the jungle> <escape the solar system>
*to get or stay out of the way of/avoid <efforts to escape poverty>
*to fail to be noticed or recallable by <his name escapes me>

*to save (someone or something) from danger or harm

Now, by the dictionary definition, clearly both words are applicable and therefore not antithetical to each other. Examining it from a logical perspective, we're left looking at causes and contributions. You've conflated two extremely different V4 operations (easy enough to do, since they're launched in the same announcement). The assault on Danya and friends is an operation independent of the landing on the island, which could not have taken place without the actions of the students. Absent Ethan's escape plan, the terrorists would likely have used the lives of the kids as a bargaining chip and killed them all had they thought they would lose their whole infrastructure. STAR, for their part, would likely have accepted this as the cost of bringing down the game. It was only the actions of the students in the game that allowed that to not be the way things went down.

Similarly, in V3, the escape attempt is only possible due to a series of outside factors. The students are able to do things unobserved due to the Jack O'Connor virus (and I don't think there's any good-faith argument that that recurring in any way can represent an escape attempt delayed by two years), which is unleashed again by one of the terrorists. In the aftermath of this, two of the terrorists turn traitor, warn the kids with disabled collars, and shepherd them to the beaches, where they have already commandeered boars. There's certainly no way to characterize this as an escape without doing the same for V4.

Similarly, in TV, our poster child escape ends thusly:

The group made their way to the blockade. To their surprise, they found the producers, waiting with several vehicles. The escape plan had brought in a huge number of viewers, and the members of the group had become minor celebrities due to it. The producers officially sanctioned their escape, allowing them to live along with the eventual sole survivor of the students who did not escape.

Adding in that the collar flaws are deliberately left in, there's no way to turn this where it's not a rescue by the suggested definition--just with the oddity of the producers rescuing the kids from... the producers themselves!

Where I'm going with this is that it's very easy to say escapes are impossible if you impose a definition that precludes anything but an extremely narrow range of actions. Such a definition, however, has absolutely nothing to do with the plots that have been historically pitched on SOTF (heck, the entire final stage of the V5 escape attempt was to draw attention so as to enlist outside aid), or with anything handlers seem likely to try. As I such, and given its vagueness in light of the established definitions of the words in question, I find the worth of such a distinction dubious at best.

That said, I'm not going to derail NAFT's thread further on this point, since we've strayed pretty far from the discussion he was trying to pitch as to whether attempts are evil or not (wherein he was using the term quite clearly to refer to attempts to effect a release from the island by any means, as seen in his utilization of both V3 and V4 as illustrative examples), and I always feel rude when I sidetrack so hard. This is really interesting, though, and I'd love to catch you in chat or PM to continue the discussion. :)

Escape attempts are not inherently evil
Staff classifies both as escape attempts under the rules. A rescue would be a purely external action. While a mixture of external/internal involvement is certainly the best way to work, I find that a renaming here is quite misleading. By that definition, V3 is a rescue as well (after all, there was involvement from Garnett and Grossi. Similarly, any "escape" in TV becomes a rescue, as the kids are beyond a certain point only allowed to live due to the intervention of external sources (the producers allowing them to go).

Escape attempts are not inherently evil
That's not what the game's about!

Here's the sticking point for me, and where the sticking point will always be on Main. Logistically, these kids should not be able to escape. AT has a level of resource and monitoring capability that far, far exceeds what anyone in our world is even close to capable of, and to have that undone by a group of teenagers through anything other than sheer dumb luck is, to be quite frank, silly as fuck.

I'm going to completely disagree, and try to do so without prodding too hard at staff-only stuff.

The issue here, I think, is that this presumption displays cognizance only of the most basic and rudimentary form of escape attempt. Is it really really hard to get your collar off and build a boat and escape capture? Yep. It's probably close t impossible. The thing is, both prior escape attempts generally had nothing to do with that (generally here referring to the V3 collar bit). This is actually usually the first mistake handlers make in their plans; they fixate on the collars and hinge all their thinking around seeing the specific kid/group of kids who come up with the plan make it out and do everything in this glorious single-handed fashion.

That will indeed most likely not work.

If you look at the V4 attempt, however, things look different. For those who haven't gone through it, the basic thrust is this:

Warning V4 Spoilers

At no point were collars involved in much of anything, and due to the style of the attempt, transportation off-island was also irrelevant. While the specific holes that allowed this particular event are closed, I can say with pretty good certainty there are others still out there.

There are two very different styles of game: ones with a built-in path to escape, and ones where escape is allowed to evolve naturally, with parameters on what won't work rather than what will. I don't think either one is superior, but it's a very different experience. The escape system on Main is designed to be really tough. Most escapes will fail. That does not mean it's impossible; it just takes some getting creative. It's about outsmarting, not brute forcing.

That being said, I'm all for attempts being made with the OOC assumption that they're going to fail. If it fits your arc to try and escape, go for it! But I think some of the biggest gripes about escape attempts come down to the fact that they're usually largely OOC motivated and it shines through hard in trying to read them. If the goal of an escape attempt, OOC, is to actually escape, I'm leery. If the goal is to escape and escaping adds nothing to the character's story other than "and then they lived," I start frowning. Conversely, if you go into an escape knowing you're going to die, and building an engaging arc around that, fantastic! But work within the parameters you're given. Understand the world your character exists in, and do things to serve both it and them, not OOC desires. It'll make for a much more interesting story, and a much smoother game.

I generally agree with this with a few expansions. A big thing is, under the current rules even escape attempts that are designed with the hopes of working should account for the possibility of failure. Just like you wouldn't write a kid whose story requires winning, or who needs kills to work, you shouldn't count on any result from an escape attempt. Also, let the character dictate the plotline, not the other way around; premade wannabe escapees tend to be just as problematic as premade players.

I don't think it's a bad idea to attempt an escape you think will succeed and try to actually escape. It's an option you have. I think it comes down to how well you think out your plan and conduct yourself. Obviously it should be difficult, but that's why it should considered a challenge for fun and a character's story instead of a game-fucker that ruins the integrity of the game and the credibility of the terrorists.

Just be smart about it.

Basically this.

Escape attempts are not inherently evil
A few thoughts of my own:

I think where escape attempts can draw focus from other things is in the court of public discussion, though I also feel that is a chicken/egg thing with the negativity; people talk about the controversial stuff and escape attempts are by their nature controversial.

As to it being what the game is/is not about... I've seen this argument a lot. I guess I always fall back to Battle Royale and V1, which are two sides of the source material of modern SOTF. Both featured escape attempts. They've always been part of the story's DNA.

As to tension... having been on staff, almost any situation is as tense as both sides make it, and escapes aren't worse than anything else. The vast majority of people actually involved in escape attempts, even ones that have been in some ways tense, have been joys to work with.

Beyond your theories, I think a possible reason behind the more general dislike that you may have missed comes from the rules, and I also think I can perhaps right a few misconceptions here. Staff updated the escape rules not because we dislike escape attempts; different staffers have different personal feelings on them that run the gamut, but I drafted/proposed the initial rule and I'm actually generally a really big fan of escape attempts. I won't go too much into the stuff behind that/the rule to avoid thread hijacking, but it was crafted to make escape attempts better, not to get rid of them. But it does look, superficially, like it's discouraging attempts outright, which can tilt public opinion.

Another old escape complaint is that escapes cause serious issues vis a vis island morality. Basically, the argument is that if escape is an option, then it's unambiguously the right/moral thing to do. This then can result in prospective escapees coming off as holier-than-thou or one-dimensionally heroic, or it can force a bad choice on characters who encounter them, making them have to either a. join the escape attempt or b. reject the "moral" option, thus casting themselves in a bad light.

That said, I don't believe either of these things is exactly true. While escape attempts certainly can result in cardboard cutout do-gooders or improbable super-geniuses or whatever, the same exact complaint can be leveled at any other narrative role, most (and more) commonly players. It's a hallmark of bad writing, not something unique to escape attempts.

The thing about being forced into escape groups is, I feel, more of a roleplaying failure than a feature of the escape attempts. There are tons of valid reasons to not join an escape group, chief among them that the terrorists are known for blowing the collars of wannabe escapees. Even with that put aside, the odds against escape are massive, and many kids have other priorities; if they're off playing with an escape group, what will happen to their friends? Time is a resource in the game, and characters really should be cognizant of that. There's nothing morally impeccable about wandering around with a group you have nothing to contribute to while letting the rest of the world fall apart behind you.

It's 3:30 am, so I'm leaving it there. Might expand later or something. Apologies for typos or vagueness.

V5 Ninth Announcement
Everyone who asked can have a week, but we're not going to be rolling anything over to BDA beyond that.

V5 Ninth Announcement
One day, six hours, and thirty-seven minutes for deaths.

Ciel: Staff is granting a week, but wants to keep it to that for BDA purposes this close to the end.

MW's Tiny Critiques: Strength/Weakness
Vahka Basayev

Strength: Vahka is a very physical character, and this is well conveyed in many of his scenes. He's one of the few kids in TV2 who has made me wince, and when it works well, as in his initial encounter with Marcus Redder, it can really turn him into a force that demands attention. Even when it's not violent, his movements and actions are always very well described. This also makes it very easy for other handlers to key in on things and create cohesive scenes that play out around Vahka; to borrow a little bit of NAFT's terminology theory, his offers are very clearly telegraphed and when this is picked up on by someone interested in working with it this easily lends a cinematic quality to his interactions.

Weakness: This is a twofer. The first bit isn't a big thing, but I feel it needs stating in light of Vahka's noted strength and I hate tossing a caveat into the good-things section. It's basically that his narrative often feels like the man with the hammer seeing the entire world as nails. Probably two thirds of the time, Vahka's physical style works well for scenes and is exactly the right thing to convey what's needed, but it turns up the other third of the time anyways and can be very distracting in scenes where it doesn't bring anything to the table. The other gripe I have is that Vahka's in-game story/thematic developments sit incredibly awkwardly with his pregame; while the core of wanting to entertain/finding identity and comfort in putting on a show is certainly there, he also has a lot of to-me-more-interesting-and-unique material involving relationships with community and family, material that gets way more development and stage time in pregame but is pretty much summarily discarded at the start of TV2 proper, leaving Vahka's narrative direction feeling like a mulligan.

MW's Tiny Critiques: Strength/Weakness
Rebecca Long

Strength: Rebecca shows a really nice willingness to try new things and abandon directions that aren't working. Probably the most striking and iconic moment for her is when she's wounded and forced to reflect on what that means; as a character highly proud of and invested in her physical fitness, becoming crippled is devastating to her and that's a theme that resonates through the rest of her story. It's a huge chance to take, and one that improved Rebecca notably. It'd deserve applauding even if it didn't, though.

Weakness: On her way through different plots, Rebecca often doesn't really delve deeply into them, and as a result can come off as underdeveloped in some scenes. This is especially true at the start of the game, where she pretty much picks a fight for fun; it comes as a shock and also doesn't gel very well with her established martial arts experience, which should really let her understand just how serious that sort of thing can be. I was mostly just wanting to see a little bit more exploration of each of her states/situations, because a lot of the time change just arrives and is then the new status quo.

V5 Ninth Announcement
Three days, eighteen hours, and fifty minutes for deaths.