Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Rebuild of Elmer Studios, year six

Sadly, once again year six of the Rebuild of Elmer Studios was a slow one, with a mere twenty episodes completed (another one is in progress as I type this). A big part of this slowdown has again been real life and related matters; I admit we’ve been dragging on things, and that there’s a definite bottleneck that needs to be addressed. The good news is that, even after the next episode, we’ve got enough material for the next eight or nine episodes after that, and that’s before B-Teams.

Of course, even accounting for the slowdown, we achieved a lot in the last year. Fictive firsts, returns to old favourite authors, a prominent rebuild (now with greatly expanded content), the end of certain long-running fics and a dramatic expansion of a pet project.

The child outgrows its parent

Our biggest achievement on the numbers side of things came with episode 351, which appropriately enough was the rebuild of The ApocalypticBattle. This meant that we’d finally surpassed the original “main” Elmer Studios project in terms of fic numbers. Although we’re not sure when we’ll surpass the total including side projects as, well, we have no idea how many there were total. And it still took us less time then it did for the original Elmer Studios run to get there, although we’re definitely experiencing a similar stretching out.

The end of the Dyronverse

Probably our single most important MSTing for the year was the rebuild of Gates of Oblivion. When we’d started way back with rebuilding DELTA Invasion, redoing its sequel was an idea that we had bandied around but never gotten to. Along the way, we found the two fics that came between them, AYNGEL Project and TheApocalyptic Battle. After covering the pair of them, redoing Gates seemed to be inevitable.

The biggest difference this time around was having context for a lot of the content in Gates. This time around there were a lot of things that we noticed that we didn’t recognize at first. The presence of Hideoto as the protagonist is the most obvious; previously we simply thought that he was a replacement for Tom, but now it’s clear that he is something else. A few of the comments in the narration suggested that Tom was coming later, but that was never to be fulfilled. Otherwise, Hideoto is very much the same character that he was in AYNGEL and Apocalyptic Battle, with many of the same cues and traits.

Of course, all of this is for nothing since Gates was abandoned after a single chapter. It’s hard to tell where the fic was going or what it was going to be about, or just how far it would have deviated from its predecessors. In the end, it became a lot more interesting for having that context, but still not actually any good. Of course, that doesn’t preclude there being more unseen Dyron fics out there, waiting for rediscovery.

No Star, no spider

The other long-running legacy that was finally put into the ground was the B-Team epic, The Amazing Star Spider. Calling it long-running would be an understatement; the fic amounted to some fourty-nine chapters before it finally gave up the will to live. And, as allways, it did such without any sort of conclusion or closure, rather being simply abandoned by the author after it became clear they had no idea what they were doing with it. And while yes, the fic did seem dead several times, this time it has managed to stay there.

Not that Star Spider would let us go easy. It’s last few chapters managed to be its most vile and repulsive to date, and that is no mean feat in and of itself. It was one of those cases when it was a relief that the fic was over, and when something passed beyond ‘funny bad’ into ‘just plain awful’ territory. In many ways, however, there was a certain need to finish it if only out of completionism and a desire to not let the fanfic win.

Great news for all readers!

The other big advance in the field of B-Teams came from an unexpected discovery. While the project was ultimately shelved for reasons, Action Force fansite Blood For The Baron began a project aimed at scanning and archiving every issue of Storm Force. And even before the project was cancelled, it was a treasure trove for us. Up until then, we had a number of stories that were incomplete or only partial (for example, one where I had six of the nine parts, but in several different chunks). Now we were able to complete those and even add a couple more. Look for more Storm Force in the coming months, full of robots, zombies and mutant spider goons.

God damn transhumanists ruin everything

The other big find of the period was Knight Moves, a fic that had once been a fandom legend of sorts, albiet for all the wrong reasons. Essentially a pilot for the author’s own cyberpunk universe wrapped up in a Bubblegum Crisis fanfic, it’s almost a checklist of things not to do. It’s biggest problem was that the BGC universe and the author’s creations were just too different in tone and style to go together, but that didn’t seem to stop the author at all from burying the source material in all manner of concepts that didn’t fit with it at all.

On the narrative side, clumsy block exposition as a substitute for world-building was one of the fic’s flaws, but far from the only one. It’s most prominent had to be its cast of original characters, all of whom were played up as being genius master manipulators, corporate sharks, secret agents or whatever else. And all were actually written as being so painfully block stupid that they’d have a hard time running a lemonade stand, let alone a massive, world-spanning megacorp.

Knight Moves was one of those rare, wonderfully bad fics that was very entertaining, but not in the way the author intended. It’s that rare joy you get when you find a fic where everything is bad, but in a way that is amazing more then infuriating.

We’re doing a Rifts fanfic

I’ve alwayswanted this. More to the point, it’s a part of where we’re aiming to go for the next year. We want to move forwards onto new franchises and properties that we’ve never touched before, or maybe even only lightly grazed on. There’s a few of these coming up in the next several episodes, which we’re hoping will provide for some pleasant surprises. Of course, we’re allways on the lookout for more fics, and gladly accept donations.

Dubious awards

If I had to pick a highlight of the year, I’d say it would have to be Knight Moves. As said, the fic was just so amazingly incompetent on so many levels and failed at the very thing that it set out to do, being to build and sell the author’s original universe. Having a cast full of morons doesn’t help any, but when the lead’s name is Dick Chaser, and the author has no idea of just how that looks, you know you’re in for a treat.

While there were no real drags in amongst the fics of the year, Amazing Star Spider still stands out for its sheer awfulness. By the time we were done, the fic had long given up any of the elements that made it entertaining, even if inadvertently. Now it was just plain horrible on every level, a fact not helped by its aggressively unlikeable protagonist who was still being trumpeted as a paragon of humanity by the cast.

If anything, a special non-fic award should go to Rise of The Settlements, for simply failing to achieve anything. It had front-loaded exposition, characters who had no definition beyond their first names (and one of them being from The Pitt) and no real story to speak of. And then it stopped. What?

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