Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.

Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
I've mentioned this a few places, but we recently did an interview with All Night Laundry author jack_fractal

I bring it up here, because jack had some really great comments about making an adventure, how to update regularly, how to foster quality suggestions and discussion, how forum adventures relate to role playing games and more stuff like that.

Even if you haven't read all night laundry, there's a good 30 minutes of spoiler-free podcast to check out. I recommend it for anyone who makes or enjoys adventures (of course I am biased, having put it together)

We ended up referencing and commenting on several other adventures, Waterworks, Art of Domination, and Lucidstuck in particular. We even got to quote you solekii!

I'm interested to hear if folks agree with what was said, or if you have any comments otherwise. The podcast is about 90 minutes but there are some shownotes with key points and timestamps if you want to check out specific parts.

Thanks for listening!
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RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
Yeah as far as I know there's no other site that caters to this style. If you have a skype or discord and want me to help you mirror your adventure toss it my way via a pm and tomorrow or whenever works best with you I can talk with you as I set up and mirror most of your pages and give you a run down of how it works.


Also oh man I need to check out that podcast. It's been on my mental todo list but considering my memory I lost track of it. I'll try and listen to it today and give some comments on it later.

Edit: So I just realized that this podcast came out like yesterday. Turns out my memory thought it came out a month ago. I gotta love my memory.
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RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
I'm just going to write my thoughts as I listen to the podcast. Sorry if my thoughts are all jumbled I'm just stopping and writing whenever I feel I have a comment.

After typing this out edit: Whoops there was a lot to comment about.


So I got to listening to the podcast and I quite agree with a lot Jack had to say. I always felt that adventures were nothing like books or the normal comic book UNTIL they were finished. Until then they're more like a roleplaying game where everyone is controlling one more more characters jointly and (hopefully) cooperatively. That's why yes, it's true. It won't have the polishness of a book, but I don't think it can't be polished. (like a comment I saw earlier here say.)

I think a forum adventure can have a sense of polish and most forum adventure makers, as they learn about how they make their adventure and how to update most adventure makers will learn how to make their adventure as polished as possible before the update gets pushed. For example, right now I'm going through a redux rewrite (I wouldn't recommend rewriting/doing your adventure before you're finished but because I'm mirroring the whole thing to its own website its a case of "might as well") and one thing I noticed is that early on lots of the updates need total rewrites, they're too messy, or they give useless info that never comes up again, but the later updates don't because I learned over time "No I don't need to introduce random info I'll never use again" and "No I shouldn't slam a wacky joke right here and thus break up the narration and the user's immersion".

This is both a case of learning better writing and also learning how to forum adventure better. Such as, early on I stopped the updates at places where the only choice was "Open the door" or "The obvious answer" now I no longer do that because it doesn't really work and I know readers don't want to state the obvious. (Unless of course I'm trying to buy up time or cause tension.)

Triple time machines is now my favorite string of words. Also I agree. Do not put time travel in a story unless you're really ready to deal with it and the readers messing with it, or if you're going to bar the readers from suggesting anything relating to the timetravel and you have already mapped it all out.

I like that jack and me seem to have the sameish way of planning an update. Procrastinate. > Procrastinate again. > Yeah ok type it out, put notes, ect. > "Yeah that's good enough." (- a lot of the drawing stuff because of Fortuna's layout)

I love the idea of Jack doing short stories. I want that to happen. I'd love to see a few comics that don't have the adventure format too, but that might be because I'm a monthly reader of ANL and thus don't get to make many suggestions. I feel ANL reads a lot better when reading big chunks at once and as such I am more then willing to sacrifice the power to suggest to get a better picture of the story. Which is also why I wouldn't mind more "normal" comic / story.

I'm building my own site like jack is from the ground up. While I do recommend using wordpress like Jack said....well I tried to use wordpress and it made everything look like every other webcomic place. Which works! But only if you're looking for that feeling. I didn't want that feeling and honestly working on things from the ground up works better for what I'm doing, but like jack said, yes if you're making a webcomic site try wordpress first! If wordpress doesn't work for you and you're really willing to learn some coding, then well, do it! Heck, because I didn't go with wordpress I'm able to put the Cosmosdex (a fictional encyclopedia that pairs with Fortuna) on the site instead of some random google doc. Also I needed custom code for cookie giving so characters could remember your name of find out what time it is and tell you you need to turn off the game and sleep.

"If you have too many joke suggestions take them and make terrible things happen." I feel you. I love joke suggestions (But rarely use them) but I think it's nice to have a fun reminder time to time about how badly they can go.



Oh geez. I'm only 30 minutes in and there was already so much to say. Let me attempt to condense my thoughts for the next hour.



ANL spoiler zone

SpoilerShow

TLDR: I have too much to say about adventure making and also this was a good episode I can't believe I didn't listen to it before. Also I love ANL.

"Adventures are weird." - Jack
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RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
(06-23-2016, 11:50 PM)Gimeurcookie Wrote: »This is both a case of learning better writing and also learning how to forum adventure better. Such as, early on I stopped the updates at places where the only choice was "Open the door" or "The obvious answer" now I no longer do that because it doesn't really work and I know readers don't want to state the obvious. (Unless of course I'm trying to buy up time or cause tension.)

The best place to stop an update is at a moment of conflict; with a clear problem that has to be solved, but has a lot of potential approaches. Another good option is, if you have a bunch of exposition to do, just ask the audience for questions; usually this isn't visually exciting, but it's a very open prompt.

Of course, doing that sort of thing isn't always possible, especially with the demands of a daily update schedule - there have been times in Swamped when I've had trouble thinking of a good prompt to end on. As a basic rule of thumb, I'd say you want to change the situation, and then give the readers an opportunity to respond to the way it's changed.

In the event that you do end up needing to do an "open the door" update, the best thing to do is ask "okay, is there anything you want to do before opening the door?" Here you acknowledge that the door is opening, most likely in the next update, but you give one last opportunity to play with the room.

Actually, that gives me a weird adventure idea, so I'm going to toss it into the ideas thread.
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RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
I say there's always an if to a situation. There's always a way to make a big "Don't do this" do able, workable, and successful. It's more of a cautionary tale. A "don't do this". (unless you actively plan and know what you're attempting to do when doing it.)

Such as, I'm sure many writers 10 years ago (and now) would have said don't do that, if you asked them if you should take suggestions for your story from a random group of people online. Maybe that it would be an interesting exercise but it'd likely not be a workable story.


Also yeah I agree. Open the door situations are best when you're trying to confirm they want to leave or hint to the readers there is more to see in this room.
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RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
(06-11-2016, 11:06 AM)Mayu_Zane Wrote: »Hi everyone. I ran a couple of adventures on the mspaforums before that forum went into a coma.

One was Art of Domination and the other was From the Sands.

I've decided I'm going to continue them here on Eagle-time. However, I am unsure as to how to go about making the first post on the forums here. The mspfanventures mirror doesn't have all of the pages of Art of Domination (last one on that site was in 2011, story kept going till 2016)

I do have both adventures backed up, but I'm not sure if anyone's going to like trudging through .rtf and .jpg files to get caught up.

What do you all think? Should I make a really long recap? Just dump the files into a dropbox? Make a version where every post is in image form, with the text and pics in a singular image file like a webcomic?

I started reading From the Sands before mspaf went down. I though it was a good read as an archive binge and was intending to catch up.
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RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
Wow I need to listen to this podcast when I have time, jeez. Useful stuff since I'm still just starting.

I think my biggest issue is when I get suggestions I get Very Excited and want to use ALL of them. Which I do love doing but because it doesn't seem like my schedule's gonna calm down I maaaay need to be a bit pickier. Also my updates are getting real long and it winds up being a lot of scrolling (thus the need for a mirror right away)

Speaking of mirroring: I've gotta move out tomorrow so I'll be busy but I'll send ya my skype and such and saturday might be cool. Thanks so much for the offer of help!
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RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
Thirding on the 'don't put time travel in your adventure'. I included it in my old adventure on a whim (and because I wanted to make a joke), and oh boy did it ever complicate things! It did lead into some interesting scenes, but overall in a story that isn't set in stone from the beginning to the end it causes more trouble than benefit to the author.

Also, everything Dragon Fogel has to say about where to end an update. Always give the readers a meaningful choice to make if you want their input.
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RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
in my experience if the obvious suggestion is opening a door, literally nobody will suggest opening the door

i know i wouldn't, and i know others wouldn't
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RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
Well I'm counting on that, I'll likely be having a lot of doors.

Also yeah, NO time-travel, it's way too messy. While I love time travel stories it's hard to make it new anyway without it being so confusing.
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RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
Eh, when it comes to time-travel, you just need to set down the ground rules as soon and as simply as possible when it comes up. It doesn't become a major problem (to me, at least) until the possibility of a paradox pops up. If your time travel circumvents that worry by just setting up rules that say paradoxes aren't a possible result for whatever reason, you should be good to go. Do that, and time travel can be messed around with pretty willy-nilly since you don't need to worry about affecting past events. Maybe you can only travel forward in time from your origin point, or maybe going back in time actually takes you to an alternate universe so the events of your original timeline are unaffected, or maybe you just say paradoxes are able to sustain themselves via magic, or whatever. Just put a rule(s) in place to prevent your version of time travel from spiraling out of control (unless you want that, of course).

Time travel can definitely be tricky, but you needn't avoid it like the plague. It can add so much to a world that I think it'd be a shame if authors decided against it just because they didn't think it could be done easily. You just need to expect readers to try to game the system when you're building said system and add countermeasures. Or just be ready to deny commands on the basis of over-complication when you get them. Time travel can be done cleanly, it just trends towards messiness.
Rootborn AdventureShow
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RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
Well, I mean, it's not that it can't be done or should be avoided at all costs, it's just that when you plan on introducing mechanics that already require a lot of keeping track of and a word document full of notes and back up photoshop files for all your assets, time travel would only make matters more confusing.
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RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
I don't think that the main problem with time travel is paradoxes, but that the readers eventually arrive to the conclusion "Wait, can't we just let our more experienced more competent future self to handle this for us? They know the answers to these problems since they've already done it once!"

I bypassed this by making the future self a bad guy, a sort of Ghost of Christmas to come who wanted the main character to avoid his mistakes and re-do his past. I realized about two seconds after introducing him to the story that I needed him out, because there was no real reason why he just wouldn't make the main character follow his lead rendering the MC a passive observer - and if he couldn't affect the story then there was no real reason to put him in in the first place!

The bottom line is that the vast majority of stories don't need to include time travel in order to be told, and in a format where your ability to plan the story ahead is limited it just isn't worth the trouble and headache.
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RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
I think the issue with time travel is that 90% of the time I see it in a story it's thrown in because time travel is cool not because time travel is needed for this story. Time travel is also confusing. Such as, if you as the author realize you're having a hard time keeping up with your time travel situation / have 4 pages of notes to keep yourself informed on how time travel in your setting works then consider how lost some of the readers might be. I have very little idea how time travel works in ANL even after it was explained, in fact I was a little more confused.

Like everything time travel is useful in situations where it works with the story instead of it being tagged on as something neat and shiny.
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RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
Time travel became a thing in You Are About 10 Seconds Away From Execution by Firing Squad, but given the way that particular adventure works, it was mostly a way to get horribly killed.
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RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
I find it's also very difficult to come up with a time travel story that hasn't been done before. Paradox problems, butterfly effect, time loops, etc. There are no 'new' stories in anything, but it's very, very hard to stray away from typical time travel-y tropes once you include it.

EDIT:
Also, to anyone wondering my username is pronounced 'so-lek-ee'
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RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
Okay, I got the message: You all really really want me to update Jerks In Time. Thy will be done.

Obviously, I stand on the opposite side of the maxim not to use time travel. (Maybe it cuts differently for an adventure where time travel is so ingrained in the premise that it's in the name and the whole impetus for its being?) I really, really love time travel stories, unreasonably so! I've read almost all of this site, multiple times, despite it's no-fun-logic-only, one-right-answer attitude.

I think the mistake that makes a time travel story instantly confusing is having, from the perspective of the reader, the future influencing the present. Instead, what I'm doing is following the "leading edge" of the time travel, from absolutely square 1, so it's always the present folding back in on the past and we're never really lost on what anyone's motivations or experiences are, or EXACTLY how the ramifications of their actions play out. You might think this is a semantic point, since one man's past is another man's present in time travel, or maybe you think it ought to have, somehow, happened "all at once" under a fixed-time model or something. But I'm really just saying to keep the audience informed! Looking back on the past from the perspective of the present, everything's a known quantity, but looking into the future is inherently a mystery. In ANY writing situation, if you've underinformed the audience, you've confused them. An attentive audience can be dazzled by an intricate farce with more moving parts than any time travel story, it just relies on the author's ability to make facts, motivations, personalities, and goals clear. Conversely, the audience can lose the trail of even a rudimentary story if the author fails to emphasize (or worse, even include) the proper information at the proper time. That's almost certainly more important than outright logic. We'll see how this strategy holds up if I ever have to leap over much larger periods of time...

At the same time, I'm not going to sit there and explain to the readers how my implementation works, whether via narration or a character who's Really Smart or having the main characters just somehow KNOW what's going to fly and what's not by guessing and being at least 95% correct. I'm just going to show my simple rules at work and leave the characters stumbling around in the dark because they're idiots and it's funny.

But then, this is the critique thread, not the "ramble on about how ding-darn great your own method is" thread, so before I start talking more about my approach to writing this to the point of spoilers (and believe me, I did before I deleted it from this post,) I'll throw it to the thread: How do you like my adventure, Jerks In Time? Not just its approach to time travel (which really hasn't stretched its muscles yet with just the one jump,) but the whole thing.

edit 2: ok you guys are right
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RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
(07-04-2016, 07:29 PM)☆ C.H.W.O.K.A ☆ Wrote: »edit: too self-congratulatory

Jerks in Time is pretty snappy! You use double spaces liberally enough to keep the amount of text readable without becoming straining. The little narrative flourishes that don't necessarily contain plot pertinent info like this paragraph
SpoilerShow
really help flesh out the story, so I think including a few more of these here and there wouldn't go amiss. As for how you're doing time travel, I like it so far. It gives you enough room to play around in without over complicating things too badly. Thumbs up.

Edit: I thought your post was fine.
Rootborn AdventureShow
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RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
I saw your post Chwoka and I thought it was fine!

I really liked the part where you said, keep the explanation of the time travel as simple as possible. I know a lot of thought goes in to time travel but I feel for the reader's sake it's better to keep it short and sweet unless the comic is high sci-fi or something.

I've read a few comics where they would bring out charts and all these equations I didn't know to explain time travel and my first thought was "I didn't study for this test."
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RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
Art of Domination came back, and now I'm going to bring back another survivor from the old mspaforums: From the Sands. It was a mostly-text adventure chronicling the history of a race of former slaves who then discovered what are essentially Pokemon. I have all the previous entries backed up and going to put all the entries on googledocs, so now I'm thinking if I should write a recap for it as well, or if that would be redundant.
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RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
A recap would be good for giving people who didn't read it before a chance to jump right in. They can fill in their knowledge gaps by looking at the previous updates later.

Related, I've raised an idea here of doing voice recordings for text adventures so people can catch up on them more easily.

I plan to start recording Swamped tomorrow, we'll see how that goes.
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RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
All righty. I'll write up a recap and then upload all the previous entries to google drive before starting up the From The Sands thread.
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RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
S...so...um.... I always get too nervous to ask but I know it's good to know...

Am I doing okay? Y'know. On Wayward? I know I often take too many suggestions and my posts are super long but I'm working on picking and choosing a little more
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RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
Yo, I have a question: What's the stance on NSFW themes and up to what degree can I get away with things? I was going to run an forum adventure but I decided to test run it on 4chan's new /qst/ board. Obviously, weird things ensued but I decided to be a good sport and keep going. I got too attached at how it turned out (despite, or because of, the shenanigans) so I was thinking of just porting it over into MSPFA format once it concludes. There's no actual porn stuff (considering how bad I draw), it's mostly just lewd jokes, some dialogue and maybe a fade-to-black.

EDIT: How did I miss a word!?
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RE: Critique and Advice; the treadmill of adventuring.
(07-31-2016, 02:38 AM)Solekii Wrote: »S...so...um.... I always get too nervous to ask but I know it's good to know...

Am I doing okay? Y'know. On Wayward? I know I often take too many suggestions and my posts are super long but I'm working on picking and choosing a little more

Sorry for taking so long to respond.

First impressions (recorded while reading):
-The art style is very pretty. Not my style, but very well done all the same.
-I'm a bit unsure about the whole game thing. A lot of forum adventures start out with a video game theme, but a lot of them tend to either 1. immediately forget about it after the first update or 2. shoehorn it in places it doesn't belong. The only non-puzzle-based adventure I've seen do it well is Fortuna. Obviously it's a bit late to change and I'm writing this before I finish reading, but be careful with it.
-Nice use of simple animation. (Fade in/out, guy sleeping)
-"Object" is misspelled on page 18.
-This may be on purpose, in order to enhance the game feeling, but the text in the boxes isn't as enjoyable to read as the plain text. The game text just doesn't feel as... genuine.
-Ease up on the !. The more you use it, the less effective it becomes.
-That art is really cute. My initial instinct was that I would dislike this, for the same reason I dislike UT and SU, but that face on page 34 is too much for even me.
-Citrus is too friendly, it irks me
-Oh good, something horrible's happeni--and it immediately goes into thinking about his sister.
-Rock is mispelled 79, unsure if intentional
-This is way too fucking sappy
-She... is not really his sister, is she.

Okay, I have to stop there because I really need to sleep.

Review:

I don't think that having long updates is an issue, especially if you read on the mirror like I did. I think what is more important is to keep the plot moving. If you are doing long updates with lots of suggestions, you may have to even add plot in between the suggestions, or perhaps have fewer panels per command.

The art is very good. While I might not like it myself, it's very well done, easy to look at, and shows a real understanding of artistic... stuff. (I'm tired okay)

What I read so far is very good. It's not the sort of thing I would usually read, I am generally a lot less interested in these sorts of cutesy-type adventures. Even so, I enjoyed what I read. Make sure to keep the plot moving along, it stagnates a bit in spots (hugging stuffed animals, picking up junk, etc). Lastly, be careful with the game thing. Make sure to make it part of your plot, and not just a gimmick.

Good job so far though!

edit: looks like I stopped one page before something interesting happened. (94)
I might write some more later, in that case. right now I really need to sleep.
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