Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
sndwurks

Keeping the Story Team

Recommended Posts

As far as I am concerned, I would be super happy if they keep Fred Wan and Robert Denton. As for the others, fine if they can be in too. But these two are the ones I would be keeping if I had to take the decision.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is going to make me unpopular. I've always said that I liked the current writing, but with the caveat that I have issues with the story direction. People in charge where the story is going are going to be crucial for FFG, and it pays to think twice how to organize that.

 

I daresay that FFG probably knew what they were buying and that they probably have a setting bible or will have one very soon.

The setting bible should be such that they can hand it to any talented, japanophile writer and get good results. They should have the opportunity to talk things through with story direction, too. It would pay if all levels had to think and rethink the setting instead of just soldiering on with the same people.

 

And as much as I like the current story team, I also believe they could - and should - look for fresh eyes to look at the setting. I'm not quite sure that AEG tried the same thing with the new story team additions; their priorities made that hard - they kept recruiting from the fanbase, because then people would be willing to work for cardboard. I think that resulted in myopia at times. By which I don't mean unwillingness to hurt their favorite parts of the setting (that has been amply demonstrated,) but the tendency to have perfect knowledge of all details but less success in broad strokes planning.

 

Basically, we need somebody to work on the story arc. At times, that job had been mostly done by the tournament organizer, it looks like.

Edited by GranSolo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As much as i liked the effort of some writers, the story was too disperse and not too effective. I´d rather prefer a new team taking care of the story, with maybe some writers taken off the old ST. After all, some were just simply volunteers.

 

But i´d rather prefer Shawn to step out, honestly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is going to sound like I'm a jerk (well, maybe I am), but volunteers need to go. Idea of making volunteers handle something like this is upsetting and I'm annoyed AEG was greedy enough to do so. Either pay them and make it their quality job, or don't pay them and don't take stuff from them. Work ethics, AND quality should follow.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is going to sound like I'm a jerk (well, maybe I am), but volunteers need to go. Idea of making volunteers handle something like this is upsetting and I'm annoyed AEG was greedy enough to do so. Either pay them and make it their quality job, or don't pay them and don't take stuff from them. Work ethics, AND quality should follow.

 

My battlecry.

 

Well, one of many. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

Basically, we need somebody to work on the story arc. At times, that job had been mostly done by the tournament organizer, it looks like.

 

I dare say that was hardly the writer.s fault. They weren't the ones who decided on the amount (or the story importance) of all those tournaments. They were teh ones who had to work a story around all of them. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do people actually want Fred and Shawn back?  How many long, boring story arcs do we need to go through with the same people in charge?  You can say they were handcuffed by brand, but that still leaves the past 8 years as proof that they were unable to work around those constraints.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Honestly, if they intend to keep the plotline going they absolutely make sure they have the parts of the team with long term experience; which seems to be the case based on their statement..If they do not and want to reboot it is far less important. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do people actually want Fred and Shawn back?  How many long, boring story arcs do we need to go through with the same people in charge?  You can say they were handcuffed by brand, but that still leaves the past 8 years as proof that they were unable to work around those constraints.  

 

Quite frankly, I don't buy that it was possible to work around those constraints to create an interesting storyline. The way the storyline tournament spam was going (and the way everything needed to be a fiction, and especially the way the winners needed to have more and more control over the story that resulted from their events), another Clan War or Gold was just never going to happen.

 

Clan War had *very few* story tournament - Day of Thunder was the TWELFTH player-controlled story decision in the entire history of the game, counting votes and tournaments (appropriately, given the 12th black scroll). And even Gold was low on story tournaments, with fewer tournaments in the entire arc than in the single year of 2011. Add in that many of the Gold Tournaments were twin tournaments that determined multiple elements of the same story point (Test of the Master Smith, King of the Trolls, Bond of Fate, Visions of the Future, Divine Guidance...).

 

But more, and worse, it's the way Story completely lost control over what the tournament wins *meant*. If Day of Thunder were held today, Story would be unable to build up the thunder, because Brand would have decreed that the winner of the Day of Thunder need to be able not only to determine which clan strike down Fu Leng, but which personality from his clan does so, and the other top of clans would pick the other Thunders. Back then, winning only meant your clan won, and story filled in the blank, using (or not using) whatever they wanted. 

 

Factor in also this: Clan War and Gold were both arcs that benefited from circumstances no other arc to date has had. Clan War was the first arc, so Wick was free to focus on preparing its arcs well ahead of time and figuring out where he wanted to take things, because he didn't have to worry about ten other deadlines for flavortext and tournament fictions he had to write. When he didn't have the luxury...well, rumor has it that he largely plotted out Jade and that was a hot confused mess.

 

Likewise Gold - the game had been on hiatus for months and was basically getting a fresh start. On top of that, Rich came with large part of the arcs already plotted by the in-house team at Wizards of the Coast, which had resources L5R never again dreamed of until the FFG purchase. He very likely improved it (there's some pretty clear evidence Evil Courtier Naseru and Bloodspeaker Sezaru were originally meant to be the Evil Brothers against Heroic Princess Tsudao and Champion of the People ronin Kaneka, and it still shows in some of the early novels), but he still started with resources and tools that no one since had. His stab at his own story arc was...eminently forgettable, and I'm being charitable about the Return of Iuchiban here. 

Edited by Himoto

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's hard to sort out exactly who is responsible for exactly what over all of the years (there are certain things that can be identified; just not everything). I know I used to lay more on Shawn's lap than was really his responsibility (especially a lot of things related to the Spider). But, no, one can't absolve the ST of every little thing one doesn't like. The War of Dark Fire/Destroyer War, for example, had some significant issues that were outside of the control of the story team. The (already boring) story arc got stretched out another 6+ months because of a change in core set release timing. The destroyers were never depicted as cards. I can only presume that the God-Beast was created solely for the purpose of being killed as a GenCon prize, and that was basically a worthless as a plot point. What was supposed to be a big story moment, the eradication of the Horiuchi, was ruined because it was won by the Spider and the dictate at the time was for the Spider to have the same "normal" story prizes as everyone else (a long-term Brand decision that caused a lot of dumb story results in the era before the Spider became a Great Clan). An awful lot of words had to be dedicated to individual Kotei wins, with weekly fictions trying to resolved multiple different prizes. And this was all done in the context of a failed mega-game.

 

But there were still individual stories that didn't go that well in ways that were not really driven by these (for example, while the ST was required to have the fall of Shiro Mirumoto involve random characters from particular Clans because of the Kotei results, it was not required to write a story about three schmoes forming a bucket brigade, instead of something more epic for what at the time was thought to be a significant event). And, hey, maybe Shawn was all for not having the Destroyers on cards, or was all for the Spider getting 'normal' story prizes, even if those things were not ultimately his decision. But I wouldn't expect FFG to bring anyone on in any capacity without doing some interviews, so they will have an ability to get that sort of detail (if they want it) in a way that we do not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

52 stories a year, year in and year out, is going to end up with turds and clunkers. That's a given. Especially if those stories aren't part of a working broader arc. 

 

That was true of Rich, that was true of John Wick, that was true of Ree, that has been true of Shawn, and so on. What Rich and Wick had that was memorable that the others didn't is the epic story arcs and character arcs, and THAT comes down to changing situations for the game. 

 

I certainly wouldn't agree with the claim Shawn has never written a memorable story. Fred...well, he rarely got primary credits for individual stories (so it's easy to say he was "just the editor" for those stories, so it's hard to rate him as a writer, but stories with his name on them have certainly been excellent. 

 

Interviews would of course be a must any which way. 

Edited by Himoto

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Shawn, Hand, and Denton were all great people and writers that just like anyone else had hits and misses particularly when handcuffed by limited resources and unclear brand direction. Had they written in the halcyon days of the game that some people really loved and some grognards wistfully remember with nostalgia glasses of the rose-colored variety, like when Wick wrote,they would have been even better. I really don't like Wick's stuff and his current articles on gaming do little to change my opinion of the man's writing. What also matters to me is that Shawn was one of the most engaged members of the L5R team with the community. His blog which provided upcoming hints about coming RPG products and tiny teasers of the content, along with his forum engagement, were a wonderful thing.

Edited by Suzume Suzaku

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Shawn, Hand, and Denton were all great people and writers that just like anyone else had hits and misses particularly when handcuffed by limited resources and unclear brand direction. Had they written in the halcyon days of the game that some people really loved and some grognards wistfully remember with nostalgia glasses of the rose-colored like Wick,they would have been even better. I really don't like Wick's stuff and his current articles on gaming do little to change my opinion of the man's writing. What also matters to me is that Shawn was one of the most engaged members of the L5R team with the community. His blog which provided upcoming hints about coming RPG products and tiny teasers of the content, along with his forum engagement was a wonderful thing.

 

Must... resist... urge... to go on Wick rant...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The problem with the Shawn/Fred regime wasn't the individual stories or even multi-part arcs, it was with the long-form arcs.  There were no interesting arc antagonists and the pacing was always ridiculously bad.  There was never a sense of the story building to anything.

 

An easy comparison is to comics.  There have been a lot of stifling editorial situations, but the best writers have been able to make it work.  Shawn and Fred never made it work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1)I think you grossly overestimate the amount of control Fred and Shawn had on these things. Comic book writers merely put up with stifling editorial situations (that's brand). Fred and Shawn had to put up with Brand pushing one way above and the player base using every level possible to push in twenty different ways possible below. A stiffling editorial situation that come from people with a vision of what they want is bad, but at least therE's the one vision and you can work around it. A stiffling editorial situation from fifty different editor each pulling

 

This especially impact pacing, over which they have little control.

 

2)I'd contest the "no compelling arc antagonist" argument - Chagatai comes to mind readily. 

Edited by Himoto

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chagatai was an interesting character, but he was not an "arc antagonist" in the style of Daigotsu, Iuchiban, Fu Leng, Kali-Ma, etc. Neither Lotus Edition (which was wrecked by Brand switching gears) or Samurai (which spent most of its time setting up Celestial when it had an overarching plot at all) really had arc antagonists.

 

That's actually one things that I think was a problem that could be on the Story Team - don't have an arc where the meta-plot is basically setting up for the next arc. Samurai spent a lot of time foreshadowing Celestial, but had little meta-plot of its own. Emperor spent a lot of time setting out the Colonies and setting up A Brother's Destiny. This left both of those time frames with little identity of their own. And it didn't help that there wasn't even much payoff, as the Destroy War went off the rails, and then A Brother's Destiny vanished in a puff of P'an Ku randomness and story team decimation. The decision to not really have a big arc threat/meta-plot is one I cannot look from outside and lay on Brand.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd argue Chagatai was an arc antagonist.

 

Not in the style fo the others, true, but isn't "More human Samurai vilains, less supernatural threats" the single most common demand made out of the story team? Chags gave us a human, samurai antagonist, whose vilainous role stretched over much of an arc, and played a determining role at the conclusion of that arc. And it actually worked out pretty well. Just not the kind of vilain we're used to. 

 

On the flip side, I wouldn't call Itchybun compelling. DaigotSue started out compelling, but by Diamond (long before Fred and Shawn were involved) he had clearly demonstrated his transition in full Mary Sue-dom. Even Fu Fu was no compelling villain ; he was just an archetypal Evil Overlord. He just had enough firepower to make it look good. 

 

Samurai arc was under a pretty obvious (and, in my opinion, quite likely from, Brand) mandate of "Human samurai drama race for the throne", so that may be why most of its supernatural elements feel like buildup for the Destroyers.

 

By the later stories, between everything that was going on, I'm not even sure which story arc began where. But my understanding was that most of the Pan Ku stuff was the culmination of the Emperor arc, with A Brother Destiny being what happened after Pan Ku was defeated. 

Edited by Himoto

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd argue Chagatai was an arc antagonist.

 

 

On the flip side, I wouldn't call Itchybun compelling. DaigotSue started out compelling, but by Diamond (long before Fred and Shawn were involved) he had clearly demonstrated his transition in full Mary Sue-dom. Even Fu Fu was no compelling villain ; he was just an archetypal Evil Overlord. He just had enough firepower to make it look good. 

 

 

Chags was good, but he was A. eight years ago B. only reached big bad status for a few months, rather than a whole arc and C. only really fought by one Clan.  His only combat against non-Lion was at the actual battle at Toshi Ranbo, and even then it was mostly Lions.  I don't really blame Shawn for Lotus, the brand shift in gears was particularly obvious.  Truest Test part 2 is a particularly stellar climax, it's a shame about part 3 spoiling it.

 

Shawn was co-writer in Gold and Diamond, so he shares credit and blame for Daigotsu and Iuchiban.  Daigotsu should have stayed dead from Gold.  His Mary Sue-dom reached its crescendo long after Rich left.  In general, Shawn catered to his favorites a little too much.  No one was allowed to get one over on Daigotsu or Naizen.

 

Iuchiban wasn't really a good character (the tidbits of his backstory were well done), but he was at least a very active villain throughout the Diamond Arc.  He also came with an actually interesting sidekick in Yajinden.

 

Samurai-forward all suffered from the lack of good villains and actual story momentum.  The common denominator there was Shawn and Fred.

 

A good example of bad storytelling that I don't think can be blamed on Brand is the use of Iuchi Yue during the Destroyer War.  This is a villain who was supposed to be a big deal.  She was a featured promotional/advertising card in one of the Imperial Gift sets, sort of a "watch out for this one" thing.  Then she had an entire RPG sourcebook featuring her origin story.  She would have been an excellent antagonist to front for Kali-ma for the first chunk of the Destroyer War story arc, especially since she was a previously established Rokugani.  Instead, I can't even recall a time she showed up until the multi-part story where she was captured.

 

They also completely neglected to follow up another very interesting villain setup in a cross-promotional product, Agasha Kyoso.  IIRC, how she was dealt with was supposed to be a World Champs result, and the story was done in a throw away part of a Scenes from the Empire.  

 

Despite having a dedicated continuity editor, there was a decided lack of using cool bits of continuity.  Doji Domotai was the grand-daughter of Isawa.  Cool things could have been done with that.  Nothing was.  Bayushi Nitoshi is the grandson of Toku.  Never comes up.  Shiba Tsukimi gets super powers?  Rarely shows up afterwards.  Those are wasted bits of character flavor that I don't think can be blamed on brand.

Edited by williamobrien

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I try not to post in this thread, as it feels... self-serving? Weird, at the very least.

 

I will say that William has the right of it in that can't lay the blame for everything on Brand. The nature of the relationship between Brand and Story is not something I feel comfortable discussing, but much as I appreciate those of you offering credit where credit is due, as long as I've been around, I've certainly earned my share of blame as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do find it interesting that there's a common and constant chorus of people who talk about samurai drama, human conflict multiple sides who are all "right" from their own point of view, and less melodrama...

 

...and at the same time, there are a lot of posts both in ye olde forums, and now here, talking about the lack of Great Villains. 

 

 

Is this a matter of two different groups of people who want two very different things, or am I not understanding something? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

 

On the flip side, I wouldn't call Itchybun compelling. 

 

Pre-Diamond, Iuchiban was the legendary boogeyman of L5R. When they previewed him at GenCon, the crowd erupted.

 

His story was garbage. It made us sad.

 

Daigotsu seems like a pet character with plot armor. I never felt like he earned anything. It all seemed like the plan from the start. He's like an MTV "sweet sixteen" kid.

 

Fu Leng was the best villian, IMO. I had basically stopped reading fiction by the Destroyer War, but the "Fu-gotsu" debacle shut that down completely.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do people actually want Fred and Shawn back?  How many long, boring story arcs do we need to go through with the same people in charge?  You can say they were handcuffed by brand, but that still leaves the past 8 years as proof that they were unable to work around those constraints.  

 

Not all of them are boring >.>

 

I wub Ree, want back, and most the writers of clan wars too. ^_^

 

Mya mya mya mya !!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...