AC Digital Networked Narratives 2020

There's more than one way to tell a story.

Author: mediamaker77

Halo 5’s Problems with Multi-Media Story Telling

Published / by mediamaker77

Halo 1 art

Ever since Halo 1’s initial release in 2001, Bungie’s sci-fi first person shooter series has taken the gaming world by storm. Though a large majority of people who know of these games say this popularity stems from its strong gameplay and multiplayer, there is element to its narrative that draws in players. Halo has a massive universe with an extensive history and world building elements that have been only been expanding as time goes on. This including the history of the Spartan super soldiers, culture of the aliens in the enemy faction and the history of the races that preceded them all.   If one plays the story mode of the Halo games there are elements that tell of this larger narrative at play. NPC characters mention events not in the games, data logs found in the levels expand on backstory and cut scenes between the various factions in the game shed light their different cultures. However, Halo’s larger central narrative leaves out many of these aspects of its world building in favor a straightforward story that can draw in those who may not be interested in this extensive lore. halo comicThe Halo series incorporates a style that balances its narrative to allow those who enjoy the story to discover more lore if they desire while not cramming it down the throats of those who don’t. That is to say, Halo incorporates other forms of media to tell their stories, whether it be through books, comics, movies or even advertisements. The Halo franchise uses supplementary media to create stories that expand the Halo verse beyond the Master Chief, without intruding on the central narrative of the original games. halo fall of reachThis largely worked when Bungie was producing Halo as these stories were usually self-contained or gave backstory to characters and events that are not required to understand the story of the games. However, this type of storytelling, while allowing one to create an expansive narrative, can also create problems where the player has to read or watch this supplementary material if it becomes incorporated into the larger narrative. This was the case with the more recent Halo game created by the series new owners, 343 industries, Halo 5: Guardians. Halo 5 coverAfter Halo 4 established that years had passed between games and a new status quo had been established, 343 felt it best to expand and explore this new time that players are unfamiliar with. Prior to the launch of Halo 5, a series of novels were published that were designed to introduce new characters and plot elements that would become pivotal to the game’s narrative. Though this novel series did allow the new status quo to be expanded, it created the problem that to understand who the characters of Halo 5 were and its central plot, the player must have read all these novels. These novels that were not advertised to vital to the narrative when Halo 5 was announced. Characters such as Locke (one of the new main characters) was never explained in game, with only a few references his stories. Villains who were established as the new major threats in Halo 4 were either killed off screen in a comic series or killed in the first five minutes of Halo 5. If one had not read all of the stories that involved these villains in-between the games, the player would be lost as to why the new built up villains are dead the game after their introduction. This creates a problem for those who were not willing to put the time in to buy or look for these supplementary works to understand why elements in the story had unfolded this way. Which not only confuses players who have played the series prior to this release but those who are new to Halo. This and a few narrative elements within the game itself harmed the reception of Halo 5 and the company received backlash to their marketing as it forced people to purchase required supplementary material to make sense of their game’s plot. While the use of supplementary material for games has and still is used by various companies to expand on their lore, Halo 5 is an example of this process being used poorly and making it more difficult understand the narrative.

Halo 5’s Problems with Multi-Media Story Telling

Published / by mediamaker77

Halo 1 art

Ever since Halo 1’s initial release in 2001, Bungie’s sci-fi first person shooter series has taken the gaming world by storm. Though a large majority of people who know of these games say this popularity stems from its strong gameplay and multiplayer, there is element to its narrative that draws in players. Halo has a massive universe with an extensive history and world building elements that have been only been expanding as time goes on. This including the history of the Spartan super soldiers, culture of the aliens in the enemy faction and the history of the races that preceded them all.   If one plays the story mode of the Halo games there are elements that tell of this larger narrative at play. NPC characters mention events not in the games, data logs found in the levels expand on backstory and cut scenes between the various factions in the game shed light their different cultures. However, Halo’s larger central narrative leaves out many of these aspects of its world building in favor a straightforward story that can draw in those who may not be interested in this extensive lore. halo comicThe Halo series incorporates a style that balances its narrative to allow those who enjoy the story to discover more lore if they desire while not cramming it down the throats of those who don’t. That is to say, Halo incorporates other forms of media to tell their stories, whether it be through books, comics, movies or even advertisements. The Halo franchise uses supplementary media to create stories that expand the Halo verse beyond the Master Chief, without intruding on the central narrative of the original games. halo fall of reachThis largely worked when Bungie was producing Halo as these stories were usually self-contained or gave backstory to characters and events that are not required to understand the story of the games. However, this type of storytelling, while allowing one to create an expansive narrative, can also create problems where the player has to read or watch this supplementary material if it becomes incorporated into the larger narrative. This was the case with the more recent Halo game created by the series new owners, 343 industries, Halo 5: Guardians. Halo 5 coverAfter Halo 4 established that years had passed between games and a new status quo had been established, 343 felt it best to expand and explore this new time that players are unfamiliar with. Prior to the launch of Halo 5, a series of novels were published that were designed to introduce new characters and plot elements that would become pivotal to the game’s narrative. Though this novel series did allow the new status quo to be expanded, it created the problem that to understand who the characters of Halo 5 were and its central plot, the player must have read all these novels. These novels that were not advertised to vital to the narrative when Halo 5 was announced. Characters such as Locke (one of the new main characters) was never explained in game, with only a few references his stories. Villains who were established as the new major threats in Halo 4 were either killed off screen in a comic series or killed in the first five minutes of Halo 5. If one had not read all of the stories that involved these villains in-between the games, the player would be lost as to why the new built up villains are dead the game after their introduction. This creates a problem for those who were not willing to put the time in to buy or look for these supplementary works to understand why elements in the story had unfolded this way. Which not only confuses players who have played the series prior to this release but those who are new to Halo. This and a few narrative elements within the game itself harmed the reception of Halo 5 and the company received backlash to their marketing as it forced people to purchase required supplementary material to make sense of their game’s plot. While the use of supplementary material for games has and still is used by various companies to expand on their lore, Halo 5 is an example of this process being used poorly and making it more difficult understand the narrative.

Maze Game Project Design

Published / by mediamaker77

Logline: This twine game’s story has the player explore a maze of horror-esque  locations but with a comedic tone that hides a darker secret beneath the surface. The player will use links to various blog posts scattered throughout the game to help solve puzzles and hopefully escape the maze. The point this project is to have players use material outside the game itself to not only progress but and depth to the narrative.

DNN Project visual guide

 

 

Apex Legends: Truth behind the façade

Published / by mediamaker77

giphy

Apex Legends is a battle royale game that has been going strong since its release last year. With the new year came a new character, Revenant. To announce their release, the creators of the game created a cinematic, which gives the viewer the backstory of the character.  This gif is toward the end of the trailer after Revenant receives an injury and learns they are not actually human like they thought they were.  The end flashes back to the trailer’s introduction but from a different angle, as if the viewer is entering Revenant’s room. Through this new angle both the character and audience come to realize around the same time that Revenant’s life, as depicted in the intro, was false and more then likely implanted in their mind. This gif captures the moment in the trailer when the audience should feel  surprised by the reveal and feel a sense of pity for Revenant, whose life has shattered before them. We can see this when Revenant pulls out the shard they quickly scans themselves then looks up to recall the intro as if they are connecting the dots just as we are.  Revenant’s human appearance is depicted to well kept and their shaving means that at least on some level they cared about their appearance, but  Revenant discovers their appearance is that of  a terrifying robot.  The gif explores how the trailer uses different viewpoints of the same scene to show audience separate perspectives between the real world and Revenant’s implanted world.  This gif also captures how the creators desire to give their new character a sense of  depth that would be only hinted at in gameplay.  Revenant’s backstory would, in turn, give players a desire to play as this character who is more than just a cool design.

How shows like Avatar and Dragon Prince challenge the typical form of children television.

Published / by mediamaker77

Spoilers for Dragon Prince and Avatar the Last Airbender:

Over the course of this month, due to an inability to return to school and reunite with my friends, I have found myself with the ability to watch a new series on Netflix that I had heard about, The Dragon Prince. Needless to say after two nights of binging the series I am hooked. Afterwards, I have found myself like many others, attempting to draw in new viewers to the show by comparing it to a famous cartoon from my childhood: Avatar the Last Air Bender. Despite the age rating of both shows being around age 7 ,they can draw in viewers from any age range, whereas many other shows for kids at similar ages cannot. The reason for this is not only the memorable cast but the each show presents mature and complex narratives that don’t make kids feel like idiots. Avatar, is more episodic in the first few seasons, where some episodes deal with topics such as death, slavery and prejudice. This allows younger audiences to learn a new lesson without needing to watch previous episodes; however, a larger central narrative is present that rewards long time viewing. In later seasons the show became more serial as character arcs evolve to have moments that are complex even when compared to “adult shows”. The most obvious is Zuko shifts from villain, to complex ally, to friend over the course the series has his ideals challenged every step of the way as he tries to understand what he really wants.  Dragon Prince, though focused much more on a singular narrative much earlier tackles themes that are in same the vein as Avatar. The character of Rayla was part of a group of elven assassins who were sent to kill a King and prince but she eventually refuses. However the king is still killed by her team who are presumed dead. Beyond this, we learn that she has a magic bind that will not be removed unless she kills the youngest prince, who is only 10 years old. If she does not after a certain length of time then the bind will squeeze her arm until it rips it off. Beyond this personal dilemma, she also has the  difficult task of  admit to the princes that the King has been killed as well as the reason behind why the magic bind on her arm is hurting her.  Elements such as these occur constantly in the narrative of both of these shows, which are surprisingly dark in terms of subject matter. However, they are handled in a way that allows kids to understand more complex narrative without thrusting them into unnecessary violence. Other  kid shows such as Phineas and Ferb, SpongeBob and Sesame Street  will either seek to be entertaining for young audiences or occasionally teach them very basic morals. While Avatar and Dragon Prince will also entertain  audiences of any age  that challenges presented have more depth, such as in Season 2 episode 10 of Avatar where the cast  encounter an owl spirit in a  secret library who states the knowledge there is meant for peace but the group uses it to fight the fire nation. Once discovered, the owl claims they are  evil as they seek violence against others, even if they claim to have a just reason. This challenges the audience’s idea that violence against an evil force is good by stating its violence is wrong because everyone believes they are right in war. Similarly in Dragon Prince the introduction states that the humans were the cause for the war. However, both sides have committed villainous acts in the war, which makes the audience consider whether the elves and dragons are still the noble heroes the introduction claims them to be.  Both shows while designed to be enjoyed by children, present narratives that anyone can enjoy. Each discusses complex themes and issues that can stick with viewers while also presenting loveable casts that struggle and grow, which I find to be much more mature then what can be found in most shows targeted for adults.

 

 

Gundam Thunderbolt and the use of Weaponized Music in media

Published / by mediamaker77

gundam thunderbolt IO

Looking for Feedback:

I was inspired to create this blog post based of this YouTube video I watched a few years ago. One of my favorite long-running media has existed since the late 1970s and is called Mobile Suit Gundam. The original show revolves around a war in the future of humanity between a united Earth Federation and its Space colonies, called the Principality of Zeon. Neither side throughout the conflict is shown to be the good or evil faction in war, as each side shows shades of grey in their actions to properly give a depth to war. Whether the differing series are connected to the original show or follow their own unique universe, each has a central topic revolving around the subject of war and humanity. One of the newest shows, which not only is connected to the original show but also the most in-depth in terms of anti-war themes, is called Gundam Thunderbolt. One of the major aspects of the show is its relation of music to both the characters themselves and the action around them. The character known as Io Flemming ,who represents the Earth Federation, is shown to be wild, bold and aggressive in how he goes about fighting; his theme, in the style called free-form jazz, helps to demonstrate his quality. The other main character, Daryl Lorenz, represents Zeon and is a quadruple amputee who experiences heartache throughout the series, which makes his theme become more solemn. The use of music to inform the viewer about desired emotions has been done by countless shows before, like drama shows which play this type of music toward the end of the show when an important plot point occurs.Thunderbolt incorporates music into the show itself, with the explanation that the music we hear comes from both pilot’s music players and both are aware of the song playing.During the final confrontation of season 1 between these two characters, both themes play when they have an advantage over the other, as if the themes themselves are fighting one another. This technique further emphasizes the music as being part of the characters.

Stars Wars Ends a Classic Rivalry by Calling Backs to its Roots

Published / by mediamaker77

Juxtaposed gif link

The world of Star Wars is full of classic characters that have become iconic figures in media. One of the most famous is Obi Wan Kenobi, who we first saw as an old man mentoring Luke before his death. Then in the prequels, fans finally got to see a young Obi Wan.  In The Phantom Menace, Clone Wars cartoon and comics, Kenobi meets and repeatedly battles his long-time Sith rival, Darth Maul. The feud finally ends in Star Wars Rebels as the older Ben Kenobi and Darth Maul have one quick and decisive clash that ends in Maul’s death. This battle not only references other Star Wars media, but also ends with a call-back to Qui Gon’s death in The Phantom Menace. The purpose of this juxtaposed gif is to show the similarities between these two moments. Maul attempts to use the same move on Kenobi, but the old hermit has matured since his master’s death. The scene shows a tension and excitement through a quick moment that not only calls back to a famous moment in the Star Wars canon, but also to the Western style that has always been apart of the series. Like two cowboys, Maul and Kenobi have one final duel that ends with a quick and decisive conclusion. In this one moment, Star Wars Rebels was not only able to connect various different media together through callbacks and references to these two characters’ journey, but also to the style and form George Lucas has drawn from to create this expansive universe.

Original Duel Video

Twine Game: Adventure Isle

Published / by mediamaker77

Video game island

In this game that will be made with Twine, the player will pick from a list of three classes and must explore the island, deciding what to do with your time. dnd mageThe game’s three classes will be a mage, fighter and thief, who will each be given a special ability that allows them to solve issues the others cannot. The mage will have magic abilities, the fighter will have extra strength and combat skill, and the thief will be able to sneak and persuade.dnd thief  Maybe you’ll save the island from a mysterious threat or rule the island with an iron fist. Or not. I don’t control what you do in this game; you can sit at the starting dock the entire time, or even possibly become a goat farmer. It’s a game about your choices on an island where there is no rush to save it and you can decide how the story develops. That doesn’t mean there isn’t danger, so it’s up to you to use your chosen skills to decide how the narrative plays out for your hero. If you decide to adventure on the island, you may discover a dragon that will awaken soon, and either save it or befriend it.dnd fighter If instead you decide to take the path of the goat farmer, you will learn the wonderful world of trade economics; you can either make it big in the market as a premiere goat herder or fall prey to the political game lying in wait. If you decide to stay at the docks, I guess you can count the fish you see in the waves. I’m sure the players won’t waste their time with this, but if they do, best not try to chase after the weird lights that appear under the water’s surface every night. Again, that choice is up to you. Regardless of what path you take, each one will let you make various choices that effect the story and the story will change based upon the class chosen.  This game is focused on playing with player choice, where each decision makes it feel like a new adventure that can either lead to your fame and fortune, losing it all, or even sitting around at the dock wondering why you didn’t go on a merry adventure. The island is yours for exploring. Or not.

dnd goat hero

 

Critical Role and Its Impact on DND

Published / by mediamaker77

In 1974 the first box set of Dungeons and Dragons, or DND, was released and began to shape the way many people understand fantasy as a whole. Despite this, the now-famous tabletop game originally was a subject of ridicule by many in the wider public as it was considered a hobby for those who were “social outcasts” to those outside the societal norm. This reputation largely  persisted until roughly March 12, 2015, a year after the fifth edition of the game was released, when a podcast dubbed Critical Role was published on the Twitch streaming service. The cast contained some of the worlds most famous English voice actors including Laura Bailey, Liam O’ Brien, Marisa Ray and Sam Reigel who helped bring life to their characters through expert voice work and off the cuff antics. The campaign led by their dungeon master and fellow voice actor Matt Mercer, who often speaks of his love for DND growing up.Critical Role

Each episode is roughly three to four hours and while it does allow one to watch the players and Dungeon Master  play through the campaign, due to their narrative style people can simply listen instead. The intended audience of the show is a wide range of viewers, from those with an endless knowledge of the game to those who have never even heard of it, shown through brief explanations of rules through both gameplay and the players’ questions.Critical Role Team  Through multiple online streaming services, including Twitch, YouTube and now their own site Geek and Sundry, it became simple for people to find the series and explore the world  with the cast; this led to an extremely successful series that lasted nearly 150 episodes and led to an ongoing second campaign close to reaching 100 episodes. As these platforms for streaming and video have only increased in popularity, the ability to share these episodes also became easier, since anyone can access them from these sites for no charge. To say that Critical Role was a success would be an understatement, as the world of Dungeon and Dragons was brought to the attention of many who now understand the game to be about adventuring with friends amid enthralling stories. This success even came to a point to where Matt Mercer’s campaign world for Critical Roll, Wildemount, was made official by the company who owns DND with the book’s release slated for March 17,2020. WildMount DNDAlong with this came several comics made by IDW publishing about the characters of the campaign set before the events of the story. Even during the creation of this post, the series’ increasing popularity continues; a kick-starter for an animated show of the campaign was recently announced. Even before this announcement, previous animated intros left fans wanting a show for years.  Critical Role Animated Intro. Through this use of well-known streaming services, Critical Role was able to capture an audience who can enjoy the series as either a guide to playing DND or merely a fun series of stories to listen to. This series grew with the help of a popular form of media, and their streams has further helped to spread the enjoyment of the hobby and make people realize that anyone can have fun with this game. Critical Role’s popularity may lead to a countless era of fans and interest in a hobby that is forty-six years old in 2020.