Monday, June 25, 2012

Rebuilding Elmer Studios – Dan

Much like Rick, Dan represented a challenge for us. However, in his case it was a different one. Whereas Rick had struggled with connection and relevance, Dan had, by comparison, had problems with definition and role.

Dan was the “youngest” of the cast at launch, his game having only just ended shortly before the first MSTings began.

What Worked?
At his core, Dan was a bit of a loudmouth, a bit of a jerk, a bit of an idiot and a lot of a horny letch. That much had worked well for us, giving him a strong personality profile and a good base to work from, albeit one that was not being properly used. Likewise, he had a strong background, maybe the strongest of the team, although again it was not being well utilized in our MSTings. His evil twin sister also provided us with some good material, and not just from doing one guest spot. All up, Dan had some great ideas and background.

The other one that had worked fantastically was his prior relationship with Rebecca and their shared mutual antagonism. The pair of them playing off each other, taking shots back and forth and trying to get whatever advantage they could had proven to be a goldmine that we used throughout the entire run. The intensity of this hatred waxed and waned – on a couple of occasions, Dan even tried being nice to her – but never let up.

What didn’t work?
As mentioned above, Dan had some good ideas and concepts. The problem was that he rarely lived up to them. His background, as a Rifts player character no less, should have been a goldmine of opportunities and material. Coming from a nonsensical mega-crossover world that looked like every metal album cover ever at the same time which featured dragons, psychics, wizards, cyborgs, giant robots and gords alone knows what else should have been fantastic material. Instead, it wasn’t, and often Dan was the most “normal” of them (We probably made more jokes about Rick’s comic then Rifts)

Likewise, Dan’s personality was being constantly edged out. Rebecca’s odd hijacking of the ‘perv’ role early on (no we have no idea how that happened and redressing that would be a constant struggle) hurt him a lot, and he struggled at times to make up lost ground. Generally, for the most part, Dan wound up being a butt monkey for Rebecca, whoever was guest starring that day or whoever happened to be convenient.

What’s changed?
Dan’s background had to be completely retooled to fit the new continuity. In doing such, we took elements of the Rifts setting that could be meshed in; the “wild frontier” approach, the post-apocalyptic setting and the giant robots. The result was that Dan was now a “giant robot cowboy” of sorts, which in turn gave us a lot of opportunity for new material. Likewise, we re-tooled his personality to use this; he’s now cocky, confident, swaggering and has a “funny story” foe every occasion.

His appearance got a makeover, just like everyone else, but his was probably the most minor. He looks the same, just with his outfit re-worked to fit his new “cowboy” persona. Yes, after over a decade, Dan has finally learned to wear a shirt. And it only took a complete continuity reset to do it.

What’s stayed the same?
Dan and Rebecca’s relationship is still there, although it’s been tweaked a bit to better fit Rebecca’s new personality and background (and more on that to come). He’s still cocky, full of himself and a letch, but this time we’ve given it focus; ironically, so far he hasn’t had much of a chance to use his spot as the ‘pervy’ rifer due to the material we’re covering.

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