Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rebuilding Elmer Studios

So, why the rebuild?

There are a number of reasons, but the core of it came down to this: DELTA Invasion is my favourite bad fanfic, a fact that you’re probably aware of if you’ve been reading this Blog (Or have known me for the last decade or so). Our MSTings of DELTA Invasion were considered classics and some of our best material. Hell, the thing got its own damn TV Tropes page.

However, for all that, the MSTigns have not aged well. In general, it came down to three things – 1) References that, while contemporary and/or witty at the time now were meaningless or cringingly backwards. 2) Stuff that I thought was funny over a decade ago but now was cringe-inducingly bad and 3) References to other Fanfics and MSTings, both Elmer Studios ones and others that made no sense out of context. This last one was particularly difficult as it relied upon communities or individuals that were no longer in existence or had vanished from the face of the interweb.

This was the seed of the “Rebuild” of DELTA. To take the best of the old and rebuild it with new stuff that a) Hopefully wouldn’t age as badly b) wouldn’t be as crap and c) wouldn’t rely on assumed knowledge. However, to do this, one very big step had to be taken.

A full Continuity Reboot of the Elmer Studios “canon” (such as it was) was the necessary first step to this. This was decided for several reasons, the first and possibly most important was so that we could have the same characters re-read the same fic. As it stood, having Dan, Rebecca, Rick and Tsuneo merely re-read DELTA really wouldn’t achieve much, and would probably just be counter-intuitive to the whole “Avoiding referencing other crap” concept. Thus while it’d be the same characters reading the same fic, they’d be doing it for the very first time. Or something.

The second was to re-work the setting. To be fair, while the initial idea of “RPG Characters read bad fanfic” was fun, it also had long ago hit its limits. Having four characters who a) were aware that they were characters in someone’s tabletop RPG game and b) spent their spare time bitching about what we’d just watched on TV (ie, 90% of our host segments) just wasn’t that funny or interesting any more. Besides, the “meta awareness” that seemed so cute in the late 90s is old hat now. (Everyone does it these days)

This would have one other benefit: Bring the four of them together as Characters, rather then just as mouthpieces. Previously, while Rebecca and Dan had a history, it had nothing to do with Rick or Tsuneo, and even then it largely vanished after a while. The idea was to place them all in the same (fictional) universe so they would have common history, common points of reference and things that would bring them together that they could relate to.

The result was that while we not only kept the old “mutual grudge” relationship between Dan and Rebecca (as it was a dynamic too good to completely abandon), we also came up with the idea of Rick and Tsuneo being bros. And while that may seem illogical for those who know the characters, there were sound reasons which will be covered later.

There were other motivating factors too; the MSTing community we were once a part of had pretty much up and died (and we were no longer in contact with most of its members*), which gave us a lot more free reign to develop characters and setting but also meant we could no longer rely on external references and the like. Our own writing styles had changed, as had our senses of humour, likes and dislikes, what we thought was cool and what wasn’t and any number of other things. I wanted to write host segments in Prose because, well, script format is teh suck. And above all else, we wanted a stronger sense of continuity.

You’ll notice some things have stayed the same. The Voice is still called Voice, and Rebecca doesn’t give him an ounce of respect. The apartment’s the same, just modernised somewhat. And for all the changes, Dan, Rebecca, Rick and Tsuneo are still the same people.

More or less. I’ll explain more in my next post as this one is long and boring. On with the badfic!

*For a while, I played on the same World of Warcraft server as Wanderer from Mystery Octagon Theatre. Pure coincidence.

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