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New General SOTF Discussion Thread; Yep
Topic Started: Nov 20 2013, 11:42 AM (21,116 Views)
MurderWeasel
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Ooh, tricky question time!

On the whole, I think it's an interesting version but one that's still struggling to define itself. It's very early to make sweeping judgements, but from what I've seen so far, I'm finding good stuff and bad stuff.

Good stuff:
-V5 is a lot less bloated, which makes it easier to follow and care about.
-V5 is pretty well paced/active.
-The overall mechanics of the site (that is, the basic grammar stuff) have drastically improved.
-I feel handlers are on the whole very involved with their characters/stories.

Bad stuff:
-There's a tendency towards writer silliness instead of character silliness. The degree to which this is true is perhaps smaller than in past versions, but V5 is a smaller version overall and it feels proportionally about the same.
-I feel like there's a lot of playing it safe going on. That is, I think a lot of people find comfortable niches and then stick to them, and while that's not awful it prevents real growth from occurring, which is a disappointment.
-V5 is, as mentioned above, still trying to find its character. I can point out standout characters, but to describe the version as a whole with any degree of specificity would be very difficult.

To further expand upon my issues, I think a good deal of this could just be stylistic divergence.That said, I tend to have issues with humor that springs either from characters being so overblown as to be impossible to imagine as real people or from humor that springs primarily from a detached narrative voice poking fun at the character from an omniscient standpoint. The latter is a lot more common in V5, likely because it's a super common style in humorous internet article and in popular books (think Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams). The problem is, it's a style pretty well suited to a self-contained work that treats all characters equally, but not to a platform encouraging interaction between writers. It tends to end up feeling like the universe itself hates certain characters, which exaggerates them and makes them feel less realistic than a bit of interiority might.

As to playing it safe, this is a hard one to really describe without delving into specifics, but I see a lot of handlers trying the same stuff they've done in V4/Mini. This is fine, but I always find it a lot more enjoyable to see people branching out, writing outside their comfort zones and taking risks. It doesn't have to be big stuff; maybe you always write boys so decide to try a girl, or maybe you tend towards athletes but instead try a bookish sort. This feels a bit like an overall nervousness about failure, which I totally get (nobody wants to do badly!), but I think it also keeps people from really reaching their full potential.

A little side category to this is people staying the course with characters that they think aren't working. I've heard this mentioned but quite a few handlers, and it's a place where I do have advice. That old saying, about not changing horses in the middle of the river? That doesn't apply to SOTF. If you're not feeling a character, it's probably because you've diverted the from their core concept/what makes them work. Far too often, I see handlers say "I've messed things up and now I can't fix them, so I'm just going to power ahead." It's better, far better, to try to put things right again. Look at my favorite example of everything (Lenny). Lenny's character and arc take a drastic change upon his reunion with Lulu, a mere two threads before Endgame. It was something that made sense with his character and was desperately needed. Basically, don't get locked into patterns just 'cause you've started on them. Don't be afraid to let characters go new ways, and enlist others for help if you have to!

This has gotten a bit long and sprawled into mid-version advice, but that's the basic gist of it.
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Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
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MurderWeasel
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All versions have their strengths and weaknesses. I could go on at length, but I'll try to keep this a bit concise.

V1 has the newness factor going for it. Everyone was getting used to the game and trying things out, so there was a ton of creativity and some real attempts to define what SOTF is. Characters became big deals simply for doing things that had not been done before. The community seems to have been pretty solid and fun in an informal way. That said, the goals of the game were drastically different from what the goals are now (it was BR fanfic--BR manga fanfic, at that--with all the gratuitous stuff and overblown/stereotyped characterization that implies). The newness also very easily became aimlessness. On a sheer writing level, it just wasn't very good; the best V1 writing wouldn't stand notably above the overall pack for V4 on (though the content was good, and the good writing certainly wasn't bad).

V2 was a middle ground. I think V2's strength lies in its core scenes and characters; it has some really, really good writing and most of the characters who lasted were part of that. It also has some ridiculously horrible stuff that gets quietly brushed under the rug. It was a lot shorter than V1, though, so the bad had less reach. V2 established SOTF as its own thing, and it's the only game thus far free of metaplot, which is a big deal. It's everything going as planned, which is cool to see.

V3 is the start of the realism movement, and hits some ridiculous highs. The standout characters are great, and while there are weaker characters they represent a smaller proportion of the game than before. The issues with V3 mostly center on metaplot, which got really bloated and forced (though was handled very well by those who inherited it). The activity also got bad in a way a lot more systemic than past versions. V3's very, very hit or miss depending on who you follow.

V4 continued the realism trend, and also made all characters be introduced at the start, which was huge. Unfortunately, site culture and mechanics had not fully evolved, turning it into the version of unrelenting filler. There's a lot less that's flat out bad than ever before, but almost every handler has at least one character who's just forgettable, and in a game as ludicrously huge as V4 was that's a big issue.

Can't say about V5 'til it's done.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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MurderWeasel
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I've seen a kid knocked flat by firing a fairly average shotgun. If you don't pay attention to the instructions, bad things happen.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
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MurderWeasel
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Don't be too bummed. You're doing a great job! :)

The crash has hit everyone hard. I think at least half the staff (myself included) has had periods of just being totally fed up with everything in light of lost work. It's how a post that was 800 words the first time around becomes 250 the second.

I think almost everyone's been slowed down and bummed out by all of this. My personal hope and suspicion, though, is that we'll get past this day and it'll be smoother sailing, as we stop retreading old ground and thus really do move past it.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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MurderWeasel
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Staff has basically stopped giving bows out because of how unrealistically they've been handled. I far prefer crossbows because they're just more practical to the average untrained user. Bows take specific skill and practice to use even semi-reliably at close range. Unfortunately, they're typically taken as a license to go all Hunger Games/Lord of the Rings.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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MurderWeasel
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That's cool! Renewing your love for the story is always good. I have to read an oldschool character I've not done before every so often to get that, but it really gets my inspiration going when I do.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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MurderWeasel
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This is part of why the exact starting time of versions is almost never announced. At the start of games, dibsing is common in chat because if you start writing and someone beats you to the punch with, say, a private thread, you may be out a lot of work. Better to minimize the rush of handlers online at the same time so as to avoid that.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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MurderWeasel
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Awesome stuff, Keaka!

On a less happy note, yesterday when I was moving profiles, I noticed a couple are missing. We have 150 in the roster now, out of 152 kids. I have no clue which are gone, where, or why, though.

EDIT: Actually, one is missing, one misplaced, maybe?

It shows us as having 90 profiles in Living (but states it as 90/89) and 61 in Deceased (but states it as 61/63).
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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MurderWeasel
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Yeah, "Game Summary" or something might be good.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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MurderWeasel
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While we're on this:

I hate that there's no space before the "Deceased" tag in the profile headers. Hate it. Would anyone be bummed if we added a space for V6?
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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MurderWeasel
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A wild Plastic Hammers thread appeared!
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
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MurderWeasel
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THG isn't canon in SOTF. Staff meant to edit that whenever it was first mentioned and somehow never got around to it. It's largely based on timing--THG was published well after V1 in the chronology (and OOC, but that's a whole other story), and there's just no way that sort of thing would get written, much less picked up by a company/published, in light of three years' worth of basically this exact thing happening.

That said, it's definitely an interesting thing to consider as a what-if sort of thing.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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MurderWeasel
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I think there are a few sides to it. People tend to become more invested the longer they write characters, as they better come to understand their kids' voices. There's also the feeling that winning/Endgame/whatever may be within sight. At the same time, every roll makes it more likely that your favorite kid is rolled next time, as there are fewer other characters forming a probability buffer.

Oh, and also the site just gets more attached/more likely to read as the numbers dwindle, just because things are more manageable.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
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MurderWeasel
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I sat on replying for a bit here so as to not preempt non-staff opinions, but I figure it's been long enough.

The V4 Rescue seemed largely (though certainly not universally) well-received at the time, though a lot of folks were very sad it landed when it did because a handful of fan favorite characters died right before it hit who would have otherwise been eligible (Dutchy, Annaliese, Melissa, I think one or two others).

People played a bit cagey with which characters were or were not going to get rescued. At best, this added some nice suspense and danger in a way rather unique to the situation; with characters now eligible to live, suddenly not taking that option (and thus being condemned to extremely probable death) was a bigger deal again. The flip side of this was that some handlers pushed it a bit further, trying to directly play into the will-they-or-won't-they drama, and ended up writing themselves into corners where it made no sense to not have their kids rescued and yet they didn't anyways. These sorts of scenes were not looked on very favorably even at the time, and in my opinion have aged exceptionally poorly, since even the dubious benefit of keeping the site guessing has since been lost.

I personally held my rescued kid until the very end of the last day, partially so I could be absolutely sure on my call, partially due to some post order/activity issues, and partially to dodge plot complications that would have potentially arisen due to other characters in one of the escape threads. I'd figured out what I was going to do, roughly speaking, a good bit in advance, but generally kept quiet or feigned ignorance because spoilers are no fun.

I can't speak too much to blacklist reaction. From a staff end, it was an interesting exercise in judgement calls. There was actually a fairly sizable list of edge case characters where I wasn't sure whether or not they were over the line--if in doubt, we tended to err in favor of leaving characters eligible. The cutoff ended up being characters who were multiple murderers without some strong mitigating factor (such as Samantha Ridley, who assisted three suicides [and, funnily enough, ended up the top surviving killer of V4]) or who had only one kill but were clearly playing, usually as a team or partnership of some kind (this is the provision that caught Ema, Nick, and Teo).

Actually, I still have the edge case kids in my notes. This is from whenever I pulled together the initial list.

The folks who were almost on Santa's naughty list

Interestingly, four of them ended up getting saved. I'm glad the blacklist drew some attention towards the characters on it. It was never intended as a punishment for handlers, but was rather a way to complicate the morality of STAR's actions in a way that logically followed from their aims. The blacklist included characters I loved, characters I really did not love, and characters who fell somewhere between the ends of the spectrum.

I think people took a wide range of approaches to determining which character to save, if any. For me, I picked my character who I was most interested at the time in exploring in an off-island situation and who had the least going on on-island (the bulk of her friends and allies having died horribly a few weeks before the rescue launched). It was very much a question of what stories I was interested in telling. This is, actually, where some stuff that eventually ended up in V4's epilogue originated, especially the bit about approaching Mr. McCreery (and I guess the whole concept of searching for that sort of closure). Kimberly was like way down on my list of prospective rescuees, though, like a notch above Aaron.

When the V3 escape was announced, I was like, "Yes! Vindicated!" Funnily, there are still logs from a chat way back in the good old days. I'm posting the whole thing because it's pretty funny, but the parts I'm proud of are from the start (I was still KV back then). This was apparently early April, 2009:

The Legend of the Really Big Snake

I was really glad to see some of the escapees turn up again in the epilogue and am still holding out hope that we'll someday maybe see the remaining handful capped off.

For V5... it'd depend on the nature of the exclusion list. If it was for the same rough goal, I can actually see a possible case for Paris getting excluded due to his murders by proxy. It'd have been a very tough call, but there was definitely some wiggle room and Paris was differentiated from V4's sneaky folks in that while he generally kept his bad stuff secret from the other kids on the island, he didn't hide it too much from the cameras/observers, so STAR could've figured out something fishy was going on.

Actually, an interesting artifact of the tape delay is that a rescue now would be a lot riskier for STAR/whoever, in that they'd be going in blind (barring some sort of mole situation again). This would probably preclude a similar blacklist from being enacted under most circumstances, which is a nice little side effect from the terrorists' point of view.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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MurderWeasel
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Seth Crimson
Dec 30 2014, 03:31 AM
MurderWeasel
 
Actually, an interesting artifact of the tape delay is that a rescue now would be a lot riskier for STAR/whoever, in that they'd be going in blind (barring some sort of mole situation again). This would probably preclude a similar blacklist from being enacted under most circumstances, which is a nice little side effect from the terrorists' point of view.


Couldn't they just get one of the kids to tell them who's been on the announcments a lot like Hansel, KK, Travis etc?
They could, but they'd have no real way of knowing if it was true or not and could easily get misled and/or lied to by all involved. Especially on a short timeline (the V4 rescue was only a few hours, iirc),it'd be a major complicating factor at the least, especially if, say, someone fingered the wrong Maxwell by mistake.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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