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sndwurks

Keeping the Story Team

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I can't speak for everyone, but for me and the people I know, it is ultimately the tournament community (Europe got the bestest people <3) that have people coming back, even when they have stopped reading the fictions (or even stopped playing the CCG too! Just look at the amazing turnout for Worlds in Sheffield last year). 

At some point all of us obsessed over the story, and at some point some fell of away from that. There was a huge drop in story-followers before Emperor. A short visit in on the story forum was a testament to that when fiction-discussion averaged around 2-3 pages, compared to the 10+ we used to have before that.

 

The people you meet at the tournaments is what seemed to keep people around, imho. 

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After reading 17 pages of opining over story team,  I am amazed at the negative comments by many of you who played this game because it was story active.  Players influenced the story more than some of the writer did.  All I hope is that FFG understands 'the story' is fully 35% of what kept us coming back and I don't even want to discuss the art which made huge jumps and bounds from the beginning.

 

You have me desperately curious to know why the number is 35%, in particular. Seriously.Why not 25%? Why not 50%?

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35% was the number because it was the discussion time devoted to the story when we after-partyed.  35% was what madness had been gotten up to at the previous kotei. And the last 30 % was what we were going to get up to next.  Admittedly, my greatest joy was the people, but many of you spent hours lobbying the story team.

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Hi everyone. For your information there is a new story of Robert Denton in the imperial assembly website. Hopefully this means the story team is back in some capacity.

Edited by FenixI

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I am ... of a mixed mind on the subject of the Story Team.  On the one hand, one of the hallmarks of the game was the presence of regularly written short story form fiction that depicted events related to the activities of the players.  It gave a deeply interactive feel to the L5R franchise that is not present in most other games.  As a result of this, there is a certain unique, rabid fanaticism among long-time fans of the series, one that is reminiscent of old sports team rivalries.  Having the Story Team gives players very close access to the build of the story, which helps maintain the brand's value to them as players.  Very few were the players who I knew that played solely for the skill of the game.  They existed, but they were uncommon in my experience.  So, on the one hand it's hard to imagine the game without some form of Story Team.

 

On the other, my negative concern has nothing to do with baggage and ... at the same time everything to do with it.  I did freelance writing for the game, so I used to get paid for my work.  Write for a product that gets sold, and you're generally going to get paid.  I strongly suspect that, with the exception of permanent staffers on the payroll of AEG that most of the Story Team's members were probably volunteer as AEG didn't see direct monetary gain for its fictions.  I don't think the fans quite realize that semi-professional writing at the pace of the Story Team is not just a labor of love, but it's actually somewhat shocking.  Given normal expectations in the industry, if they are indeed volunteers who take time out of their lives to write for the brand, all of the discussion of 'baggage' and the occasional negativity can make the type of work that they've done in good faith for a brand that they love extremely thankless, and they should be applauded for having taken that much of their time for it.

 

I think some iteration of the Story Team will probably re-surface, whether by FFG or fans, but if it was indeed a volunteer group as I suspect (We don't generally talk about our paychecks), I would sincerely hope that the players of the game in its reboot not take for granted the idea that there are people with semi to fully professional skill taking time that could be spent writing novels for their own work and devoting it to fiction for a game that they too love.  It doesn't negate the possibility of criticism, since we all want to improve as writers, but it's just some food for thought.

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For the Story Team, all I want is five (give or take) beta-readers for every writer. I just... want this to happen. Please.

You mean for spotting textual stuff like typos, logical inconsistencies, etc.? Or something else.

 

Yeah, for that. Checking stuff and warning the writer if they find logical/character/setting inconsistencies and spot bad story parts like Mary/Gary Sues and underdeveloped plot points. So doing what beta-readers do. 

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That "beta-reader" is what the senior editor should be for -- making sure the fictions don't have any setting or continuity errors, that the stories point in a coherent direction, etc.

 

Yeah, something like that, but beta-readers are non-professional and they are supposed to be quite numerous. For example, I don't really like to publish novels without having at least two or three beta-readers chewing through them. They really help a lot to weed out problematic parts from a story. 

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Oh, I'm well aware. It's just that the kind of complaints I'm seeing here are the sort of thing that, professionally speaking, ought to be the job of the editor when we're talking about a shared world. Beta-readers can be great for "the pacing fell down here" or "I didn't understand this character's reasoning" -- but you need a single hand steering the whole story, making the individual fictions fit together in a coherent manner. Otherwise you'll get beta readers saying things like "it would work so much better if these two characters formed an alliance against the third" when the needs of the larger context mean those two have to stay hostile to one another.

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Folks, there are three basic types of editing, and if you want people to take them seriously, you should pay them to do it--in descending order of difficulty/effort/expense:

 

Proofreading: This is the easiest type of editing. Proofreading is about getting rid of the cosmetic errors. It is usually the last step in the writing/editing process. It’s not meant to be comprehensive; when you are proofreading, you shouldn’t be re-working text, or re-arranging content. Proofreading is about doing a last run-through to catch surface problems.  

 

Copy editing: Copy editing is about improving style, formatting, and accuracy. Copy editing is about making sure there aren’t inconsistencies, and that the style flows well — in addition to being grammatically correct. There are different levels of copy editing: light, medium, and heavy. Light copy editing might consist of double-checking accuracy and taking care of most grammatical issues. Medium copy editing includes heavier lifting, such as correcting flow and re-working some of the text. With heavy copy editing, the editor might re-structure some paragraphs, or heavily correct style, flow, and grammar. 

 

Content editing: When you are involved in content editing, the work is much more intensive. You might need to add things that were left out, or re-write sections of content. This takes copy editing to the next level, and can include some level of content creation along with making corrections.  

 

And yes, I get PAID by contract to do these sort of things, and I think the folks who advocate for unpaid beta-readers--for this or any other project--are taking advantage of people who have spent a long time developing a skill set.

 

I always thought part of the lack of consistency in deadlines that the ST experienced was due to the fact they relied too heavily on "volunteer/unpaid" writers and editors.  Folks who are under contract are far more likely to accomplish goals.

Edited by Azamiko

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I got paid to write for the RPG books -- not much, but I did get paid. What I did not get paid for was copy-editing, and I poured hours into that. I knew that it was not a very intelligent decision from a professional standpoint . . . but the alternative was to cringe at all the easily-fixed errors every time I opened a book, so I decided it was worth it to me. The game survived partly on that kind of goodwill.

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But in AEG land, the RPG books were not exactly the same thing as the Story Team.  There was some overlap, but . . . I have always been given to understand that the general "payment" most members of the ST got were cards.

 

Compare that to the fact that most freelance editors who make a living at it get $30-$100 an hour for 5-10 pages per hour. Getting some cards once in a while to unload on the secondary market is simply not comparable, and truthfully, relying on the "goodwill" of players was taking advantage of people that a really reputable company would have paid a decent wage/fees.

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That gets to a much deeper issue w/r/t the game business, though, doesn't it? It's a hobby field in more ways than one--the labor-of-love element is sort of impossible to reckon without, and quite a lot of products all around the field are produced in whole or part by people who do not and could not make their whole living out of it. If you're trying to pay a professional rate for both the writing and the editing--and still sell your products at prices the market will bear--can you even have an interactive-story game like L5R has been, including regular free short stories and all of that? Serious question, though I lean toward 'probably not.' That also does beg the question of whether this sort of dynamic w/r/t volunteer and semi-volunteer fan labor is something FFG is interested in getting its hands dirty with,* and if not, what it will come up with instead. 

 

*Even the hands-off moderation of this here forum rather suggests "not as much as AEG"...

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And yes, I get PAID by contract to do these sort of things, and I think the folks who advocate for unpaid beta-readers--for this or any other project--are taking advantage of people who have spent a long time developing a skill set.

 

Boy, I would pay to become an L5R beta-reader :lol: . 

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That gets to a much deeper issue w/r/t the game business, though, doesn't it? It's a hobby field in more ways than one--the labor-of-love element is sort of impossible to reckon without, and quite a lot of products all around the field are produced in whole or part by people who do not and could not make their whole living out of it. If you're trying to pay a professional rate for both the writing and the editing--and still sell your products at prices the market will bear--can you even have an interactive-story game like L5R has been, including regular free short stories and all of that? Serious question, though I lean toward 'probably not.' That also does beg the question of whether this sort of dynamic w/r/t volunteer and semi-volunteer fan labor is something FFG is interested in getting its hands dirty with,* and if not, what it will come up with instead. 

 

*Even the hands-off moderation of this here forum rather suggests "not as much as AEG"...

 

 

RPG books have already gone into a price range I can rarely bring myself to pay... I guess I'm old-school, but $50 for an RPG book is, to me, scandalous. 

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*Even the hands-off moderation of this here forum rather suggests "not as much as AEG"...

 

 

Not to mention that FFG's new Flight Crew program, which will events at stores and cons and such remotely as independent contractors, seem as if they're paid, professional positions. The work is probably not frequent, or particularly *well* paid, but it's not product. I would expect that any story position FFG creates for L5R will likewise be paid, and further require relocation to FFG HQ.

 

Although I really don't expect them to do anything for L5R in this area they haven't done for their other games. So, LCG story would likely be treated as part of the duties of the design team, the RPG would get a line developer and some freelancers working on it, they might contract out a novel, etc. I don't think it's coincidental that Horvath was reminiscing about how cool it was that L5R's story passed by word of mouth for a long time -- I think there's going to be much less in the way of actually written and published (on the web or otherwise) story.

 

The comparison between AEG and FFG in regards to volunteers seems particularly stark. AEG leans heavily on leveraging volunteers and fan contributions, and FFG seems to steer *faaaar* away from such things.

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RPG books have already gone into a price range I can rarely bring myself to pay... I guess I'm old-school, but $50 for an RPG book is, to me, scandalous. 

 

 

Yeah, scandalously low, given how bad the pay rates are for good, professional work across all the disciplines involved.

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RPG books have already gone into a price range I can rarely bring myself to pay... I guess I'm old-school, but $50 for an RPG book is, to me, scandalous. 

 

 

Yeah, scandalously low, given how bad the pay rates are for good, professional work across all the disciplines involved.

 

 

 

If they're charging me that much, they can afford to pay real rates for those services. 

 

It's like going into a place that charges $40 for a burger and fries, and finding out that the wait staff makes nothing but tips. 

Edited by MaxKilljoy

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