Monday, September 15, 2014

Rebuilding Elmer Studios - The Voice

When we were rebuilding the cast in preparation for the Rebuild of Delta, there was one incredibly important matter that had to be considered - who would it be that was sending them the fic? Almost immediately the answer came as a "rebooted" version of the original Elmer Studios host, The Voice. However, that then raised a lot of other questions, many of which had been around since the original series.

The result was that while a very literal off-screen character, the Voice would need a lot of work.

You're the Voice, make it clear

The Voice had conceptually changed somewhat over the original Elmer Studios run. Originally, the Voice had a name and a somewhat more defined motive, both elements that vanished during the series' run for various reasons. They also started out with a somewhat brusque and businesslike personality early on, which again evolved over the course of the run.

Instead, the Voice became a somewhat deliberately ineffective villain, one whom was never intended to be a threat to the reviewers. Blandly polite and friendly, the Voice would be alternately mocked and ignored by everyone else. A lot of that came down to the fact that the Voice had little to do beyond simply introducing the fic, as well as no physical presence to interact with.

When it came to the rebuild, the decision was made to go with the later, longer-lasted version of the Voice. Dumping those early elements entirely (Aren't continuity reboots great?) meant that the Voice would have a consistent characterization and presence throughout the series without having to worry about something we said fifty episodes ago.

It's worth noting that we'd also snuck in a little bit of retcon work of our own during the original run. The Voice's name, once dropped, was never mentioned again. Similarly, the "lost pilot" episodes featured the then-current version of the Voice, rather then as they 'appeared' in the first episodes.

I don't have any evil plans

The other problem with the Voice, and a part of what had forced their evolution, was that initially they had a very direct connection to the fic being reviewed. That in turn was based on the Meta references that we did a lot of at the time, but also proved to be difficult in the long-run. Once that fic was over (finished!), the Voice lot that motivation.

In the rebuild, the decision was taken to in essence use that as a start point. The Voice doesn't seem to actually have a goal or plan beyond simply getting reviews of fanfics. This fits with their consistent personality; after all, it's hard to see someone as bland and easily pushed around as the Voice as having some evil agenda or the like, or to be deliberately malicious in their acts. Besides, how evil can someone be when their fics of choice are often so goofy?

Rebuild Voice's true career highlight probably was early on when Rick just up and walked out of the (unnamed) Zoids Genesis fic and the Voice couldn't stop him.

I never metaplot I didn't like

Early on in the Rebuild, we toyed with the idea that there was someone else watching the reviews, a shadowy unseen presence with their own goals for this little assemblage. At the time, the identity of this watcher was unclear to us; in truth, we'd put it in there as a potential set up, one that we could use in future if needs be without making it specific.

That opportunity came with the discovery of the Horrible Secret of Space. Here was a fi that was not only bad but was offensively such in so many ways, one that didnt fit at all with the Voice's usual modus operandi in terms of either tone or content. That it was by an author that we had a past with only made it that much worse. Thus the decision was made to have this piece delivered by someone other than our usual antagonist.

Other Voices

The creation of Voice 2.0 came out of a number of ideas that had been milling around but had, until the arrival of the HSoS, remained unused. The core of the plan was to have them be the Voice's polar opposite. Voice 2.0 knows that you're reading a bad fanfic, and enjoys it to boot. They're cruel, arrogant, obnoxious and want you to know it as well. And they just love how bad the fic is.

Making Voice 2.0 (apparently) female was done in order to further distinguish them from The Voice. Since there were no obvious visual cues, an entirely different, well, voice would have to do. It also means that there will be no questions as to which Voice is which; rather, when Voice 2.0 shows up, you know you're in trouble.

The New Voice was never intended to be a single arc villain. Rather, the idea is that they will reappear from time to time to present particularly bad fics to the reviewers. And they may yet also return for a new story arc, so be wary. Theres a lot still out there on the Internets, waiting to be rediscovered

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