At this point in time we’ve fleshed out the narrative quite a bit and have decided not to further alter and change the narrative because every time we try to implement an idea, we end up affecting everything else along the ways – journals and puzzles mostly. This applies to the same as the puzzles as well, when we keep adding ideas to the puzzles, we end up having to change the narrative.
Currently we’re at the stage where we’re refining the puzzles and recording the necessary video logs/audio logs for the game set up, as well as working on the journals and dead drops that give insight to the lore of the universe and provide crucial clues for the puzzles that need to be solved.
Our transmedia narrative had picked up ever since Farina and I gained an extra 3 members. Essentially we’re still sticking with initial universal setting of an alien species taking over earth – shortly after which a resistance forms in order to overthrow said aliens. We’ve gone much more into detail over the last few weeks – polishing up and discussing certain elements to our narrative such as what kind of platforms are we going to use as well as getting a more detailed narrative synopsis written up.
As a group we’ve also decided rather than delve too deep into the specifics of the narrative plot, since we’ve decided to implement puzzles as a platform, we believed it to be better if we left the narrative to be influenced and changed by the puzzles themselves, as opposed to creating puzzles around a set narrative. We’ve also created roles and schedules/deadlines to do across the duration of the project. Although it’s a group effort, the roles are just a means of designating certain members of the group to ‘supervise’ a particular aspect of the project, e.g. character development, puzzle creation, creative designs, etc.
From what we understand of the project is more or less straight forward. Our objective is simple, to create a transmedia narrative across multiple platforms of digital and analogue forms of media in order to enhance and create a unique story. While the premise of our narrative seems pretty cliched and simple, it’s how we design our universe across these platforms which makes it engaging. Our main transmedia platform for this narrative are puzzles.
We’ve selected puzzles as our main platform because we thought it’d be interesting if we allowed the audience that sense of agency and interactivity when experiencing our narrative. We’ve created 4 characters which are part of the resistance, each played by a member of our group. These characters will present to the audience different types of puzzles and will allow audiences to join together in order to help one of these four characters. Depending on how well the audience manages to solve these puzzles may determine the ending and shaping of our narrative – hence we’re not creating a set plot at the moment.
In terms of roles, I’m in charge of supervising the creation and development of these puzzles. Although there are many other roles we haven’t designated people to supervise simply because we’re not at that stage of development. Although I say supervising, it’s more just keeping things in check as well as providing feedback to the other members as they pursue their own designs/puzzles/narrative ideas etc.
At this stage we’re obviously still designing and keeping an open mind to suggestions and changes but we’ve managed to design and create a poster for our project which Farina created and we all collaborated on:
Audio Log Trailer Draft:
For the upcoming projects regarding transmedia storytelling, Farina and I have decided to try and merge our two rough ideas together to create one universe. My idea provided the project with a universe and setting in which to place it. Namely the narrative takes place in a world where aliens have conquered Earth after humanity surrenders and signs an alleged ‘peace treaty’, sparking a new age for humanity.
Farina provided the project with a story line and end goal in which we’ll incorporate into the project. Farina’s initial story for project 1 revolved around a detective paranoid by noises of ticking around him, thinking it’s a bomb that he must find only to find out that the ticking originated from a metronome.
We decided to combine these two aspects of universe/setting and plot together to create a narrative that will revolve around a group of resistance members fighting against the alien forces though covert ops as they find out the true nature of the signed ‘peace treaty.’ This peace treaty while announced to the public that would bring humanity and the alien forces closer together in harmony, was actually signed by the leaders of humanity in order to negotiate the price of peace, that price being black op genetic research conducted in various gene labs located around the world, hidden in plain sight. The main transmedia narrative takes place as the aliens begin to find out that the resistance is closing in on one of their secret gene labs, and have decided to plant an explosive device that’s set to go off in a certain amount of time, making it look like an accident. The resistance members get word of this and plan to stop it before it explodes.
As for how we planned for this to be created as a Transmedia narrative, we planned on using things such as:
- Journals/Diary Entries
- Social networking sites
- Audio/Video Logs
(These are just some of the platforms we’ve decided on, so they’re subject to change).
The journals/diary entries and audio/video logs will be used to help establish the characters (members of the resistance); as well as social networks, although we’re not sure at this stage.
Puzzles will be used as an interactive platform the audience an engage in, e.g. solving a encrypted message and posting it on a site/social network where the results of the message could affect the ending of the story.
Posters more just to establish the setting, to create something tangible that reflects the workings and setting of the universe.
That’s the initial idea, obviously this is all subject to change over time based on the complexity of how we want to create this narrative.
So in today’s tute, we did a group activity called ‘Story Smash’ where we were meant to be able to create a universe based on the story ideas each group member had.
It was quite difficult in terms of trying to link each story together especially because they were all based in different time periods and settings. One was set in the 17th century which revolved around a serial killer – a crime and mystery story. Another was set in the modern world where an ex-girlfriend becomes crazy and begins to plan a murder of the wife her ex-boyfriend had married. And finally my story revolved around a war against an alien species who had invaded and conquered earth in an attempt to splice parts of their DNA together with human DNA in order to combat their rapid aging bodies and become a stronger species.
We thought of 2 plot ideas where a solider fighting in the resistance discovers that the DNA the aliens had spliced came from certain individuals in history – one from the serial killer and one from a psychopathic woman. The story unfolds as the solider, in between missions, delves deeper into their history and discovers why the aliens became interested in their DNA.
Another plot we had involves the aliens actually observing the planet’s inhabitants for centuries before finally invading. During the observation process they abducted people of interest as they observed their actions and character traits – a serial killer with a knack for aggression and deception and a woman who’s brain structure was fundamentally different from other humans which led to unpredictability and psychopathic tenancies. These people were found frozen in stasis on a ship by resistance soldiers who then freed them in hope that they would cooperate with them and utilize their skills to combat the alien forces.
Types of media we can incorporate:
- Journals/diaries from the past
- New technology – audio/video logs
- Social networks
In terms of how this has expanded my outlook and idea of how I can enhance and create my Transmedia story, I figured I could use hard copy journals and diaries from the soldiers fighting in the resistance army while also using new technological medias such as social networks and video/audio uploading and sharing networks.
‘How would you plan one of these stories?’
Firstly when planning an interactive narrative, taken from my experience playing Visual Novels, I’d think about what story I can create that can branch out. Essentially the base of the story i’d keep broad, focusing only on the setting. Then once I nail that down I would begin to become more specific about the characters, whether or not I’d like the audience to be the character or simply dictate and control his/her actions. Normally in Visual novels the longer you play the more you become the character so in the end I guess it doesn’t really matter. I’d then begin to think about how I can branch out the narrative, whether to create choices that alter the narrative.
‘Could you introduce an interactive element to one of your brainstorm ideas?’
I have already kind of implemented this concept of interactivity, I worked in the new documentary studio last year and worked heavily on this idea of interactivity, mainly using it to create a new form of documentary story telling. In one of my current Story Lab ideas however involves using the ‘X-Com’ game franchise to create an expanding narrative based on events that take place in the game. I’d implement this with interaction with the game itself and maybe even have audiences participate in the narrative by ‘assisting’ soldiers by creating mini-games that they have to complete in order to greatly benefit the character(s) being portrayed.
What I mainly took from Giovagnoli’s article on ‘Plan Transmedia’ was the fact that he categorized transmedia storytelling depending on their complexity and usage of different types of media.
There were 3 specific systems that he mentioned when he categorized the usage of transmedia, supportive, competitive and omnivorous.
From what I took from it:
- The supportive system is a consistent and stable method of using transmedia storytelling to enhance the current existing narrative. However, it’s weakness lies in that it can be difficult to maintain interest of the audiences if you’re going to be repeating the same information over and over; SSDD, ‘Same shit different day’. Although if done right it can be quite an effective means of bringing audiences more engaged with the narrative.
- The competitive system functions a bit differently in that they’re not limited by a single platform in which they use to expand/enhance the narrative. They tend to branch out into different platforms all competing with one another, e.g. social media, websites, etc. While this is a bit more of a risky and costly move it does draw in a wider range of audiences from all across different mediums. It also won’t be as easy to expand the narrative as other methods.
- Lastly the omnivorous system is noted as probably the most effective system of transmedia storytelling as while it expands it essentially draws everything from a central narrative/concept. E.g. The Marvel universe – while there are all these movies and comics, adaptations etc, ultimately it leads back to the narrative of which Marvel portrays.
Essentially this app is designed to be played by fans of the BBC hit mini-series, ‘Sherlock’. In terms of setting up the character of Sherlock, while it doesn’t shy too far away from the original set up the show has created, it doesn’t fully portray his strange and sociopath nature. It’s a bit difficult to establish his character through mostly just mini-games. It’s a bit difficult to say that I would watch the show after playing on this app because I’ve already seen all the episodes before going on the app so it’s I’m a bit indifferent on the matter.
Elements of the show have been made into mini-games, specifically Sherlock’s concept of a ‘mind palace’ has been implemented for us to use as well as searching for clues and traveling across London. The games themselves are quite engaging although tough at times but that adds to the whole engagement process put forth especially when trying to create a game based off a show like Sherlock.
Mainly what the developers attempt to do is seduce players with free cases and get them hooked on the whole gameplay aspect and lore of the show while providing them the option to purchase more cases to further explore the world of Sherlock. It’s also engaging in that it’s a much higher quality free game than most as it employs live action cut scenes and engagements with the characters themselves, even if it may be brief.
For my short story I attempted to create a short story based on game series ‘X-Com’. In short this game revolves around creating your own soldiers and commanding them against the threat of an alien invasion.
I mainly drew my story on the concept of ‘Agency’, even though I don’t really know if it worked or not. I took one of my soldiers in the game, Jones, and created a sort of audio log type story to go alongside her achievements as a soldier in-game. It’s a bit difficult to explain but essentially what I was trying to achieve was a sense of heavy user participation alongside the nature of short story as expressed by Matthews. This sense of agency I was hoping to achieve came from the idea that I could write in between missions that would be played in the game itself – sort of a soldier’s diary. Jones being a sniper in the actual game, gave me the idea to create an audio log highlighting the events she had endured in between X-Com: Enemy Unknown and X-Com 2 which has around a 20 year time gap in between. Although I’m not entirely sure how well I had managed to achieve that, but it was worth a try.
Jones in X-Com:Enemy Unknown
Jones in X-Com 2
Agency according to Janet H. Murray ‘is the satisfying power to take meaningful action and see the results of our action.’
Examples of agency as Murray states is when we double click a folder on our desktop and expect it to open. So essentially from what I understand is that agency is a feeling of subconscious satisfaction where we lie expectations in our actions to have them (most of the time) fulfilled.
I’m guessing that agency also applies to when we expect a great result with a doubtful mind as well and to have that result come to fruition – giving us a large sense of satisfaction.
Now as for applying this concept to narrative, it’s a bit difficult to do because we never really think about it I feel. When we read a novel or go through a game, most of the time we’re constantly under the effects of agency but rarely notice it. Especially in games, for example when you fire a gun at an enemy you automatically expect them to fall, die or get hurt in some sort of way, but we pay little to no attention to it because we’re accustomed to the nature of how these things should be – drawn from experienced in real life, other games and many other factors.
In narrative however as Murray states, agency isn’t really a notion we can really experience due to the limited nature of how narrative is structured and how we as the audience/reader participate in the narrative. We’ve got no power to really change things around the way we want because nearly everything is preset and given to us.
However although agency isn’t something that we can grant ourselves freely in narrative most of the time, I believe that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, it could just take a lot of time and creativity to try and grant the audience the same agency they feel as when they’re on a computer.
Drawing from the reading by Brander Matthews titled ‘The Philosophy of Short Story’, Matthews describes short stories as more than just a story in which the length is short. He emphasizes the importance of conciseness and expression when creating a short story.
There are many aspects that differentiate short stories from novels. A couple of which are pointed out in Matthew’s reading. The main reason why novels and short stories differ from each other quoted is ‘chiefly in its essential unity of impression.’ I assume what he means is the how different the first lines and paragraphs are set up, and even the whole novel/short story. Go be more specific, short stories need to be concise, it has to leave a large impression on the reader/viewer in a short amount of time. This can be be done through a number of factors – different structures, precise description and perhaps even an utter disregard for conventional narrative.
In most cases short stories normally deal with one setting, one time and a handful of characters according to Matthews. Which is understandable and reasonable considering the limitations short stories place upon an author. Whilst I believe that it’s much easier to create a short story like this, I also believe that there are no real limits to one’s imagination and creativity even when it comes to short stories.
While I believe Roald Dahl’s ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ short delivered in many ways while sticking to Matthew’s principals more or less, I believe short stories are something that shouldn’t be limited to for example, one setting, one time or one character. Although it may be harder to work with more aspects of story within such a limited space, it doesn’t meant it can’t be done – it just takes time.
Matthews goes on to state that novels tend to be created in episodes while short stories, drawing from Poe, work with this notion of ‘totality’. Which I can agree with to an extent. When I hear ‘totality’ I think of something complete, so in a sense I can’t totally agree with that statement put before me because I believe the ending of a short story can be ambiguous if the author so chooses. However if the notion of totality in this context means to include every aspect of a story and fit it into only a handful of pages then I understand.
Couple of things that stood out to me in the Matthews reading:
- “Short stories must have originality and ingenuity’
- “It neither can be conceived as part of a Novel nor can it be elaborated and expanded so as to form a Novel’