After Action report. How do you think it went?

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After Action report. How do you think it went?

Postby Wheels » Sun Nov 05, 2006 12:36 am

I was just wondering how everyone felt the whole thing went. What we can do to improve next year if anything. I saw one or two comics join in that were not expected. (I think that was a good thing).
To start Magical Misfits had record page hits during the Caper.(And no they were not all me checking to see how many page hits I have) I came away with a new Character and a long term link to another strip. I am looking forward to doing this again. It was more work than I thought it would be. I got lucky and it fit into my story arcs without denting them. Also a good thing.
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Postby feyd » Sun Nov 05, 2006 2:23 am

I think that things went fairly well, even though I (still) have 2 strips that I need to finish (the search for work so that I can pay the bills n' such has taken precedence for the moment, but I should get both of 'em done soon... after all, I've got to finish them before I can move on with my next plotline! *laughs*) A few suggestions for next year (some of which have been discussed by Darian and myself privately):

1) Work on a bit more continuity. While there were several continuity references (and there will be several more in the next D/b that will go up), there wasn't much of a way to pace the storylines. In most cases, each strip ran its own course and just referenced the others or used their characters instead of actually using bits and pieces of the others' storylines. "Impy and Avery" did wonderfully in that regard, as it clearly set itself up as taking place before the hanging of Steve.

2) More prep time in regards to the look of other people's characters. If possible, people should try drawing them beforehand and post them in the forum so that the character creators can correct any major problems with the look (such as with my character Alex, and his trenchcoat turning into a jacket in one strip, and disappearing in another. Or Fox showing up orange in one or two places.) Not really that big of a deal, I guess, but again it helps with continuity.

3) Get more done in advance. Maybe not the entire crossover (though that would be nice), but it would be nice if people could at least have some strips done beforehand so that others can see what they're doing, potential continuity problems can be fixed, and you won't have as much of a problem with things coming up at the last minute that completely derails a comic or two (as happened to me, and Darian as well I believe.) While this can be a lot of work, especially for people who do their comics just before they're posted, it can make for a stronger crossover setting in the end.

4) More long-term consequences. It's hard to say right now how the Caper this year will affect most of the comics involved... I know that some people have long-term plans with other Caper members, but for many comics in these types of crossovers the end result is that the readers get a sense of "Oh, wow. Lots of other characters around for Halloween. Ok, Halloween's over... now back to the real comic." even if the crossover takes place within regular comic continuity. The way that Magical Misfits pulled this off was wonderful... there's no way that the Shelterville events were "just a Halloween thing."

5) Party crashers. We had either 2 or 3 comics to crash the party this year, which was cool. All of them were one-shots, and didn't really affect the storyline that much except that folks posting after they went up incoporated them into other strips. I think that there should be a clause in next year's invitation that lets people know that crashing the party is ok, so long as they're tactful about it and don't try to mess with other people's characters or storylines. If they'd drop a line in the forums to let us know what they were planning, then that could help too... and get their characters in more strips.
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Postby KAMics » Sun Nov 05, 2006 12:02 pm

I think I mentioned somewhere that I had a number of ideas that got tossed.

Also the Third Valkyrie storyline ran about 2 months longer than I thought it would, so by the time it finished I missed out on most of the planning.

I ended up screwing up the one crossover I had planned by posting the cartoon the day after Wheels posted his. D'oh!

I think it's amazing that most of the strips worked well enough to seem like there was continuity between them.

Lessons learned for future events:

A week is not enough time for a storyline like that. Start earlier.

Avoid having too many boards for discussing the events. One co-ordinating board for listing the timeline & converging plots in general with only one board per plotline for in-depth discussion of that plotline.

Also helpful to pass along a WIP script to the authors of characters you use might be helpful in keeping dialogue & personalities straight, as well as avoiding contradictions.

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Postby Kennatsu » Mon Nov 06, 2006 2:14 am

Note to self: DON'T GET SICK! It throws you out of whack if you're doing more than one comic...
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Postby Tinkerbell » Mon Nov 06, 2006 1:27 pm

Yes, yes and (particularly to the illness thing) YES! various illnesses made October a bit of a nightmare for me.

I think it went pretty well, all told. I know that my readership has risen noticeably since Halloween (and, interestingly, was pretty high through October), so I've definitely benefitted. Also, finding a love interest for Brian was a big bonus, and is going to make writing the next year or so of my comic much easier. Who says my characters aren't deep? ^_--

Passing WIPscripts around would be handy, but I can also see it leading to the odd disagreement here and there (I know I can be pretty anal about my characters from time to time >.>). Maybe it's worth it, though.

As far as the whole not-crowding-it-all-into-a-week thing goes, next year I'm planning to take the whole of October to do a big crossover story (this following on from what will probably be a cameo-heavy September anyway - sorry Hogan!), which will end with a big party around Halloween. I'll be emailing a few people about the main story separately.

More coordination is also needed. For me the big thing is; I know there was a storyline somewhere about how the trunk was all to blame, but so far I haven't actually seen a single page of it. Whose comic(s) did it appear in? As I've said elsewhere, I don't mind doing the admin if people don't mind.

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Postby feyd » Mon Nov 06, 2006 2:15 pm

The thing about the trunk is supposed to have appeared in both Division/bell and Darian's Friends. Right now the remaining Shelterville strips in D/b are scheduled to go up in the early part of this week (the next one should be up Monday night or sometime Tuesday, if all goes according to plan.) I picked up a new writing job this weekend and have been busy getting things arranged for that, or I'd already have had the stuff posted... this is of course on top of being sick for the past week-and-a-half and having a minor emergency last weekend. My life definitely has not been boring lately... just kinda' sucky.

I think that at least coordinating what people will be doing with other people's characters would be extremely helpful... that way everyone will enjoy the comics, instead of potentially gritting their teeth because someone else has their characters acting in a way that they shouldn't. There will always be things that folks would want done differently, and a little bit of pre-screening could help to fix many potential problems.
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Postby Darian » Mon Nov 06, 2006 5:13 pm

I had originally planned on there being more than just DF and D/b involved in the cave/trunk plotline... But that didn't happen.

All of these suggestions are great. It's looking good for next year...

At this point, I'm deliberately holding back my last 2 shelterville strips so that feyd and I can release together, since they heavily cross over, but it looks like it's gonna be just those 3 characters in the cave (Alex, Gray, and Kori).

I would love to have been able to have the entire week's strips finished ahead of time, but in order for that to happen, we would have needed to have our entire plot sorted out in concrete a *lot* sooner than we did. People were still throwing around major ideas until well *after* some of the first strips were up. Don't get me wrong, I think shelterville caper went *awesomely,* and I'd do it again in a heartbeat, but I think that (as in all aspects of life) there is always room for improvement and I think we can do a much better job next year.

feyd, I'm about to PM you regarding us finishing things up.

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Afterthoughts and aftershocks

Postby Gabrial Fox » Mon Nov 06, 2006 10:24 pm

I thought this was a lot of fun, and I certainly saw a marked rise in readership throughout the month, and also agree that this was a lot more difficult than I had first envisioned. As I'm sure you all realize, Hey Fox sort of side stepped the whole plot idea. Most of the reason for this is that I just had too hard a time keeping track of what the plot was going to be doing!

I tried to post a general idea of where other peoples characters were going to be appearing in mine, but without a coherent base it was really just a side-bar. The best way that I can think of to remedy this for future iterations would be to create a central plot line and time line that than can be added onto and embellished by the individual comics as we go. By creating the whole thing on the fly like we did this time we ended up with (in my opinion) too many different divergent ideas, enough so that it was impossible to actually present all of the plots coherently.

On the other hand, we seemed to be alright with a minimal plot for a lot of the scripts, leaning rather on the cameo's. If we have any more people involved, I can't imagine that we could really get that many different characters involved with only a months worth of strips. I tried to get every comic a cameo even if not every character from each. Even doing that and posting twice a week, I had to have two cop-out strips, the first and second to last, where I just ran through four different comics in the costumes, and than had the big group scene.

How much do we want to tie things down to a plot and how much do we want to focus on showcasing other peoples strips?

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Postby Tinkerbell » Tue Nov 07, 2006 1:44 am

Well, I offer this as a solution:

As I've said, I'm organising a big plotty crossover doodad through October, hopefully with a few other webcomics in tow. This means that there is, already available, a plot to hold things together, which I'm planning to write and (hopefully) start drawing no later than June next year. I am going to carefully plan said plot to allow people during the later stages - ie, the last two weeks of October - to jump on board. The resolution of the plot will be a big event which conceivably could suck characters from across our corner of webcomicdom into one place - someone suggested a shopping mall in space - for a party.

MASSIVE SPOILARZ LOLZ:

The plot will be thus; after the trunk from the KAMics (did I mention I like running jokes?) interferes with the plot of Prismatic Vodka for approximately the 4th time (Caper '06, the KAMeo shortly after that, unspecified event sometime in the middle of next year, and a separate cameo-inducing event in approx. late July), the gang go in pursuit of it in the hopes of stopping it screwing their lives up again.

With the trunk being so prone to universe-hopping, this of course leads them through a bunch of other webcomics, picking up characters on the way. Finally, they track down the trunk at whatever location we decide on, and Mysterious Cloak Guy (being the most powerful magician present) defuses it, releases KAM and so on. The ensuing magical ripple then sucks characters from a million and one webcomics (well, ok, a lot of webcomics) to the location for a big-ass party.

I realise I haven't asked permission of KAM yet to keep using the trunk that long (can I? pwease?), sorry for getting ahead of myself!

...

This is why all webcomic artists need to be psychically connected...

Anyway, do people think this is a good idea?

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Postby KAMics » Tue Nov 07, 2006 7:31 am

I thought you had asked & I had already agreed?

Fine with me if you wanna keep using the trunk. (I'm amazed at its popularity.)
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Postby feyd » Tue Nov 07, 2006 8:18 am

Hmm... I'm not sure how well a trunk-related magical ripple would work in Division/bell, simply because of the way that the universe is set up there.

*** Massive, Multiuniverse-Spanning Spoilers Below (Highlight to Read) ***

Behold, the Division Bell. It sets there, at the top of a massive Aztec-style pyramid, in a dimension all its own. It has the unique property of being equidistant from all places, all times, and all dimensions... every point in every universe is within the reach of the Bell's vibrations.

Before time began, or more appropriately when time began, the bell rang. The energy from this ring was the energy of the big bang, and every universe that exists sprang into being at that instant. Because everything was created from this single event, all things are linked and still vibrate with the resonnance of the Bell. It's like the subatomic particles that are placed in sync and then separated, where if one changes directions then the other does simultaneously... that is how all things are linked by the Bell.

While it is possible for objects to influence travel between different dimensions (such as how the Trunk drew in Gray, Alex, and Steve when their transport was disrupted), it is because of the link that all things share through the Bell that dimensional travel is possible in the first place. If one were to ring the Bell, then whatever was on their mind at the time would transfer from their thoughts into the Bell's energy... and would then change everything accordingly. For something outside of the Bell to alter things across dimensions, however, would be impossible because whatever force it could exert would not be able to overcome the bond that all things share from the Bell.

Eventually, the Bell will be featured in Division/bell... after all, Gray's people know how to access the dimension that houses it, and they consider themselves the Bell's protectors. Until that time, of course, the very existence of the Bell is a closely guarded secret that most wouldn't believe anyway.


*** End Massive Spoiler ***

Because of this, I couldn't have anyone sucked in or carried away by the ripples caused by the trunk... even though the trunk is massively powerful and may in some ways be related to the magic of Gray's people (I'm still doing the "Gray sees a symbol on the back of the trunk" thing, without actually showing the symbol or explaining anything about it.) Any ripple that was caused would simply wash over the D/b characters, as the thing mentioned in the spoiler would simply reset things after the ripple passed.
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Postby Tinkerbell » Tue Nov 07, 2006 12:30 pm

Unless for some reason it got rung again? Just throwing out ideas, here, but what if something escaping the trunk hit the bell - doesn't have to be a proper ring, maybe just something bounces off it - would that have the desired effect?

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Postby feyd » Tue Nov 07, 2006 12:41 pm

Oh, it's possible to ring it again... the problem is getting there and setting things up so that it can happen. It's in a little pocket universe that doesn't get visited very often, and when it does the usual rules don't necessarily apply. Add to that the fact that I'm not entirely sure whether it will have been introduced by that part of the story (or if it had, that I wouldn't want to make it into a "gimmick" per se), and it makes it really unlikely that I'd opt for that... er, option.

(Though something bouncing off of it does count as a ring... as will eventually be demonstrated. *grins*)

I'm sure that I can work something out for it, regardless of where/when/how next year's Caper occurs... after all, I'm not even sure if certain members of the current cast are still going to be active in the comic come next October. *cue ominous foreshadowing*
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Postby Darian » Tue Nov 07, 2006 4:22 pm

I'm still hesitant to include alien characters and time travel in the core continuity of my comic strip. I play around with hallucinations, dreams, and fantasies, but I'm kind of pushing those plot devices a little far as it is already.

Someone showing up from the future and boy-napping one of my characters... it just couldn't happen.

One concept that I'm going to be working on in DF, however, is the idea that imaginary realities are still realities on some level, so what I was thinking is that it's possible to get in contact with other worlds that way, through drug experiences, meditation, traumatic head injury... haha... etc. But plain old time travel ruined Enterprise, my friends. I'm hesitant to inject it into DF (However, jokes about time travel are completely allowed).

One thing I like about D/b is that it has strong consistent rules that it sticks to. Therefore, even though it is wildly different in format than DF, I still see potential crossover there.
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Postby feyd » Tue Nov 07, 2006 5:13 pm

The core "reality" in Division/bell is this reality... all of the characters (with the exception of Gray) are based on people that I know, and everything that happens to them (aside from the occasional invasion) is somewhat grounded in reality. While there is an interdimensional portal at the cast's disposal, I think that it's going to be used a total of 5 times during the entire run of the comic... and that includes travel both ways through it. Even the giant chicken that appeared early in the comic is based on things around here... there used to be a giant chicken statue at a gas station 5 miles from Murray, and there was a free-range chicken that lived on the University President's lawn for like 2 years. Combine them together, and there's a giant chicken on campus.

Time travel can lead to some really good stories... but in most cases, it's overdone and ends up being horribly wrong. Even with all of the off-the-wall stuff that's eventually going to appear in D/b, the basis of it is still a small town in Kentucky. Some really weird stuff has happened in this small town in Kentucky, so weird stuff will happen in D/b... and while the occasional overly-unrealistic storyline can and will occur, it still has to follow the basic rules of this reality even when travelling to the old west, or to space, or shopping malls underwater.

I can justify things like the Cameo Caper and crossovers with groups like the Magical Misfits and the like because of a loophole in the rules... according to D/b continuity, even individuals from other times, dimensions, or universes are still bound by the rules of this reality. They were all created from the same thing at the same time, so they're all linked accordingly. It's still something that I'm not going to overuse or abuse, however (especially considering that one of the cast members is technically an alien, though future stories are going to do a lot to "humanize" him.)

I loved the Caper this year, and as soon as I can get caught up and finish my last Caper strips (one goes up today, likely this afternoon) then everyone will finally be able to see how everything played out in the end for both D/b and Darian's Friends (since both of our stories converge at the end.) I'm going to try and keep doing the Caper for as long as I'm doing D/b (or as long as the Caper's going on), and hope to do some non-Caper crossovers as well (possibly something with Darian's Friends, and maybe a few other things down the line as well.) It's just a matter of being able to work out the details, because in the end Division/bell is telling a story. A few years from now, when I finish the final (somewhat epic) storyline, then there will have been a lot of bad jokes, dramatic moments, joy, and tragedy that have passed through the panels of D/b. The story will be done, and things like the Caper won't be possible for the characters who go on from that point. That's why I'm going to try and do this stuff while I can, because D/b won't last forever... the end is already planned, and it's a very definite ending.

I think I lost the point I was trying to make somewhere in there, but it was something along the lines of "Most things are possible with D/b, but they have to play by the rules." *laughs*
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Postby Tinkerbell » Tue Nov 07, 2006 8:46 pm

Okies, Feyd, what are the rules of your universe that are causing problems? Let's see if we can't change the scenario a bit so as not to exclude D/b.

Darian, I see your problem, but given how many raving delusionals you seem to have collected in your comic (are they all based on real people? 'Cuz if so, I wanna meet 'em!), it shouldn't be too hard to have trippy crossover episodes in the future. Even if they are on other planets...

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Postby Kennatsu » Tue Nov 07, 2006 11:54 pm

Oh! And whoever did the comic where Steve is posting a "Pluto" sticker onto the Trunk, thanks! Now I can explain how the thing got into the "Lost Battle Fortress" comic... Buck Rogers style! hehehe...

(y'know, with the concentric circles showing the time periods that passed by while KAM and that cat were frozen, etc...)
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Postby KAM » Wed Nov 08, 2006 12:52 am

Why not just have the D/b characters in something that is affected? Or just have the D/b characters already at the site to where people are drawn?

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Postby Tinkerbell » Wed Nov 08, 2006 2:16 am

*pokes* that's *Mysterious* Cloak Guy ^_-- (his name isn't mysterious...)

Actually, I'm really glad I didn't bring MCG along on this year's caper. That woulda been confusing. Fortunately, by next year, for reasons I'm not gonna reveal, I will have a really easy way of telling them apart in-comic (for reasons previously stated somewhere around here, MCG has to be at next year's caper if the plot I've planned goes ahead).

This could actually be a bit of a problem if the caper gets much bigger; we're gonna have to make sure all characters have something distinctive about them so we can tell them apart (I'm thinking particularly cat furries and ordinary humans here, given the popularity of those character groups).

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Postby Kennatsu » Wed Nov 08, 2006 4:02 am

Rats.... But it looked like something Steve would do... ;)
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