Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Rebuild of Elmer Studios, year three

A year ago, I said I was surprised that we made it to two years of the rebuild. This year I’m surprised not that we made it through another year, but rather by looking at the numbers. We’ve now done ninety-two ‘episodes’ since we re-started. That’s something like sixty percent of the original Elmer Studios run, but in less then sixty percent of the time that it took. And when you realize that the average episode is much longer then in the original run, that makes it even more impressive.

Of course, there are a number of caveats to that which have had the effect of speeding up our production rate. While the micro-chunking process has been a fantastic success (our productivity has been boosted to an insane degree thanks to the process), it’s not the only reason why we’ve been so active this last year. Thirty MSTings is a good year for anyone, after all

The Year of the B-Team

This last year was very good for the B-Teams. In fact, half our output this year was B-Team episodes (more or less). That alone definitely helped boost the numbers. After all, since they’re a single author, a B-Team episode is inherently going to take less time to complete. While yes, one person does all the work, they’re also not waiting for the other guy to get off his bum and finish a chunk or write a host segment or the like.

However, it was more then just the sheer number of B-Team episodes that were notable. This year, Zogster’s B-Team episodes were dominated by the ongoing, seemingly never ending Girl On Fire saga, a fic that has managed to become dear to us in ways we didn’t think were possible. Really. In some ways, it could be the Delta Invasion of B-Team fics, only with less Charles and more stew. And, amazingly enough, it also seems to actually go somewhere rather then rambling and then being abandoned like so many other fics.

On Rick R’s side, the flavor of the year was old British comics of the eighties. This lead to the amazing badness that was Storm Force, which was like every action movie cliché you could think of stuffed into a sandwich. While sadly, that one story may never be completed, there is definitely more Storm Force on the way.

Year of Collaborating Dangerously

The other big and unexpected event of the year was our first collaborative MSTing of the rebuild period. Angels of Fury was a donation that triggered a bizarre series of events that eventually resulted in a guest riffer bringing in their guest cast and their distinctive style to attack a huge, stinking heap of bad RP profiles. The result could simply be described as a bucket load of crazy bad times fun.

Working with KayEmm was very enjoyable, and not only because they bought a very different style to the MSTing. The Micro-Chunking process massively sped up the whole riffing process, making it probably the smoothest collaborative MSTing we’ve ever done. It was also fun seeing KayEmm’s style develop as the fic progressed. There were places where they presented optional riffs to ours, and more often then not we went with their idea.

As an added bonus, at some point the Angels of Fury MSTings were re-posted to a Champions Online community. Whackiness ensued.

The Years of Donations and Finds

This year was a good one for ‘donor’ fics, as well as discoveries and rediscoveries. Both the Darth Hypnus saga and Angels of Fury were provided by donors, and resulted in a lot of good material. In addition, Zoids Chapter Two was one of several fics ‘donated’ to us, and was particularly welcome. It was a fic that I had found during the original Elmer Studios era and likely would have become one of our MSTings at the time (alongside Big Kev). And as a bonus, there’s a lot of material to come with it beyond that one fic – and even then, it’s a doozy.

Our sole rebuild of the year, Bubblegum Climax: Freefall was also rather beneficial in other ways. In trying to excavate a ‘raw’ copy of it, we found a lot of other potentially usable material. We’ll see more of that in the year to come. Likewise, finding a copy of Ravage: Three Bodies Evolution was a major coup.

The Year my Gundam Broke

This was also a very good year for new material. Both My Way to the Championship and Dead to the World were derived from series that were not only new for us, but also were recent. (In fact, the series My Way was based on was ongoing while the riffing was in progress). Likewise, we covered a lot of new ground with series that we either hadn’t touched before or had only lightly explored, or even had never heard of before discovering it in this last year. Storm Force is a perfect example of the latter, being obscure, to say the least.

Of these, May Way was probably the most interesting to work with. It was, after all, fanfic based on a show based on the fandom based on a long-running franchise. That’s about as metafictional it gets.

Year of the Year

The favourite episodes of the year were probably the Girl on Fire series as well as Angels of Fury and the return of old favourite, Bubblegum Climax: Freefall. The most painful was probably certain sections of Angels of Fury, which definitely posed a challenge for the riffers and wound up undergoing several re-writes from both authors. Similarly, My Way to the Championship managed to fly from ‘bad’ to ‘uncomfortable’ due to its jarring tonal shifts. A special award must go to Leena Frost-Wagner, Astonishing X-Men for both loopy incoherence and strange quoteability.

Who was the most fascinating character of the year? That’s a hard call, but the top contenders would probably be Admiral Red Twilight Captain and Kung-Fu Wizard, both of which were bizzarely fascinating despite not actually having names. Or, maybe, because of it.

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