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Thread: A new way of interacting on Buffy?

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    Default A new way of interacting on Buffy?

    There was a blog written recently on Tumblr (sorry I don't have the link) but it's listed under the tag "future of film" and there was a discussion about how to engage the audience more in stories being told.

    The backdrop to this article is a study showing how people with smartphones would like new ways of interacting with characters on shows and even movies. According to the study, people have more than one device besides watching TV. The thinking is these people wouldn't mind getting more involved with the decision making process of the characters themselves and influencing their choices. (Heh...hey Spuffies and Bangel fans, your ears should perk up listening to this one.)

    For example, besides seeing the actions of characters in movies, tv or books (comics?) people in the study wouldn't mind getting "updates" on character actions that aren't explained onscreen. Wouldn't that be something...writers finally acknowledging there are things *not* explained onscreen and being forced into telling what that character has been doing *offscreen*. There are so many instances on Buffy that fans have to fanwank away the inconsistencies where this is one avenue they're looking at to help keep interest in the characters and stories being told.

    A scenario using Buffy as the comic book would go like this:

    1. Comic book issue is released.
    2. Web blogs on character decision making during offscreen sent through SMS on cellphones to interested parties.
    3. Feedback from the audience on the decisions of characters is fed to the creators who tweak the story to make storylines more interesting and less "jump the shark" wtf moments.

    If this idea had been used for Season 8, we might not have been subjected to Buffy and Angel going through the Twangel sex. As for Season 9...imagine how Billy's story might have gone had they taken this route. I don't know if this suggestion will ever be tried but it's an interesting take on bringing the 21st century technology making characters and audience interact in ways we haven't seen before.

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    This is an interesting idea, I would give it a go for sure.

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    Did a quick google search, is THIS the article you're talking about? I think you'll find that the comments section in the article raise a lot of the concerns I would share and reasons why this idea, at least in the way you're suggesting it just wouldn't work.

    What you're suggesting seems to be akin to hanging a picture in an art gallery next to a bucket of paint and a brush so that somebody who walks past can "improve" the painting by adding their own alterations and ideas. Then the next person who walks past is welcome to do the same.

    Or a play, where anyone in the audience is welcome to climb up on stage and start interacting with the characters and influencing the story.

    Can you see how a painting or a play where audience participation like that is welcomed would quickly become a jumbled mess?

    The key to good storytelling and good art is to have a good storyteller or good artist. I don't think audience participation and interaction -for the most part, really improves a story much at all.

    I think the role of the audience should be passive. Stories have been that way since the dawn of mankind and I don't think we need to fix what isn't broken. The storyteller tells the story. The audience listens. It's a formula that has proven to work for thousands of years. Yes, there are bad stories out there. I think the solution for that is to analyse what made it a bad story so that it can be improved upon by the storyteller next time. I don't think the solution is for somebody in the audience to jump in midway and alter the story to suit their own tastes and preferences.

    I feel that the audience's role in the story is, and should remain, passive. We are not the storytellers. If we want to become the storytellers, that's what fanfiction is for. If the audience wants to try their hand at shaping the story or voicing the characters, write a fancic and become the storyteller. I don't think it's the audience's role to shape or affect the "official" story while still remaining in the comfort of the peanut gallery.

    There's also the issue of ownership. FOX owns the BtVS characters. Dark Horse paid for a license that lets them "borrow" the character from FOX and tell stories about them. Dark Horse hires individual writers that give shape to the story and voices to the characters. These writers are paid for their work, and are therefore accountable to their superiors at Dark Horse. Dark Horse is in turn accountable to the license they've agreed upon with FOX. There is a clear chain of command: FOX > Dark Horse > individual writers. Where do you suppose members of the audience should fit into this command structure? In your hypothetical here Dorothy, you're suggesting that the audience should be able to affect the story. Who is the audience held accountable to? Should the audience get paid for their work?

    Not to mention the fact that the vast majority of fanfic writers don't get paid for their stories because the quality of their writing simply isn't worth paying money for. People like to moan about how much the comics suck, but I would say that the overwhelming majority of people whining about how terrible the comics are wouldn't be able to write *better* stories for the characters if they were given the chance. It's one thing to *say* that you could write a better fanfic than the comics, it's another thing entirely to actually *do* it. There are exceptions, sure. There are some brilliant fanfic writers out there who probably could and should get a job where they are paid for their writing. These people are the exception. The majority of fanfic is not worth paying money for and the writers would not get a job with a publisher. Do we really want these people to be influencing the "official" story? Do you really think that the majority of the audience are good enough writers that they should get a say in what happens?

    I can think of very few stories or art-forms where audience participation is encouraged. I guess the obvious one would be video-games. Video-games are a pretty recent platform for storytelling when compared to other media such as television, film, comics or novels. Most games were designed right from the very get-go with the idea in mind that the audience is going to be controlling the main character. This level of audience participation works for games because generally the game is a test of the players skill. What works in a video-game -giving the player a level of control, often won't work in other forms of media. Also, not every game has open storytelling with choices affecting the outcome of the game. Many games have a very linear story, even though the player controls the character. And even the games that do rely on the player's choices are ultimately following a script that was written by the game designers. A good RPG game will give the player the *illusion* that their choices affect the outcome of the game. Really, the player is simply choosing one of several paths that were designed by the game developers. Even in the best RPG, the player isn't doing anything new or innovative with the characters that the game designer didn't already plan for. A good RPG will give the player the illusion of affecting the outcome of the game through their choices, but ultimately the player is staying within the parameters that the game allows.

    The only other forms of media I can think of where the audience can interact with the art or media are the choose-your-own adventure books... and heckling during comedy shows?

    Like video-games, choose-your-own adventure books are designed to give the illusion of choice, while still staying within the parameters that the author has dictated. And even then, they are never great literature. Choosing your own adventure is a gimmick designed to appeal to kids, I don't think there has ever been book like this published that was critically acclaimed.

    Audience participation and heckling during comedy shows or plays is what I consider to be a dick move. Some comedians encourage and enjoy it, I'm of the old school of thought that the audience should shut up, laugh and clap when appropriate and not disrespect those around them by making loud, unfunny comments. Or for that matter, stealing the spotlight because a joke offended them, and involving the tumblr to turn the whole thing into a bullshit social justice exercise where the offended party feels entitled to something.

    Basically, what I'm trying to say is that there are very few forms of media where audience participation actually improves the story, and even those that do are set within the parameters dictated by the storyteller. Storytelling is as old as humanity itself and while technology and the format of storytelling will continuously improve, the basic formula of a story remains the same: the storyteller tells the story, the audience listens passively. I don't see any reason why that should change.

    The thinking is these people wouldn't mind getting more involved with the decision making process of the characters themselves and influencing their choices. (Heh...hey Spuffies and Bangel fans, your ears should perk up listening to this one.)
    Is this really what we want? Spuffies and Bangels being given the power to influence character choices? I can't imagine how this could possibly be a good thing. How would this work anyway, would it be a situation where the majority vote gets their way?

    For example, besides seeing the actions of characters in movies, tv or books (comics?) people in the study wouldn't mind getting "updates" on character actions that aren't explained onscreen.
    I imagine this type of thing would be like when Dark Horse set up a MySpace page for Harmony Kendall in the real world when she became a vampire celebrity in the story. Or the "official" police profiles on the Joker and Batman that were "leaked" on the internet for Nolan's Dark Knight movies. Yeah, maybe I'd be interested to follow Jessie Pinkman on Twitter as he evolves over the course of the show. But ultimately, this type of thing is gimmicky marketing, fun as it may be. I guess another example is the prequel Avengers comic for the movie or the prequel comic to Man of Steel. This type of stuff spread across multiple forms of media is fun, and can be a good way of promoting a story, but it's ultimately unnecessary. You don't *need* to read the prequel comic to enjoy the Avengers movie and nor should you. It might be fun to (hypothetically) follow Jesse Pinkman's Twitter or MySpace, but you shouldn't *have* to follow it in order to understand Breaking Bad.

    Again, this type of stuff is gimmicky marketing, it's not actually enhancing the story. Again, the storytelling formula is that the storyteller tells the story, and the audience listens. It's been that way since the caveman days. I don't think there was ever a tribal leader telling a verbal story who stopped halfway through the story and told his audience that the next instalment of the story would switch media platforms and be told through cave paintings. And the story after that next week could only be understood if you went on a quest and retrieved the hidden clues and easter eggs. Needlessly complicating a story over multiple media platforms is gimmicky and ultimately only serves to push the audience away because most people simply don't have the time for that type of stuff. A story should be self contained and easily accessible without giving your audience too much homework where they have to go on Twitter or research cave paintings to properly understand the story.

    Wouldn't that be something...writers finally acknowledging there are things *not* explained onscreen and being forced into telling what that character has been doing *offscreen*.
    Sometimes it can be better to leave things to the audiences imagination. Some scenes, like the "fade to black" between Buffy and Spike in Chosen were left deliberately vague so that the audience can make up their own minds as to what happened. It was left unexplained on purpose.

    Other times, things are deliberately left ambiguous so that the writers have a bit of flexibility to change their minds at some point in the future. This is not always a bad thing. Scott Allie once said that he published an official timeline for the Hellboy series and he said that it was a huge exercise in pointlessness, and if I recall correctly, he regrets doing it because now the dates of those events are canonically set in stone and any future writers now have their hands tied by these events and there is no flexibility.

    Sometimes, it's better for the story to have certain details unexplained or left ambiguous. Not everything has to be spoon-fed to the audience.

    There are so many instances on Buffy that fans have to fanwank away the inconsistencies where this is one avenue they're looking at to help keep interest in the characters and stories being told.
    Having to fanwanking away inconsistencies by the audience is often a sign of bad writing. For instance, Spike being tortured by the First Evil via drowning, or Spike incapacitating Drusilla with a choke-hold are examples where the writers simply dropped the ball. You can fanwank all you like, but it's still bad writing. I don't think this stuff can be fixed by any sort of audience participation like you're suggesting.

    Nor do I think we need a facebook status update by Buffy Summers to let us know that she found out Spike was alive when she was reading a magazine while taking a crap. She found out about Spike *somehow*. The precise details really don't need to be explored unless they become relevant to the story right now.

    A scenario using Buffy as the comic book would go like this:

    1. Comic book issue is released.
    2. Web blogs on character decision making during offscreen sent through SMS on cellphones to interested parties.
    3. Feedback from the audience on the decisions of characters is fed to the creators who tweak the story to make storylines more interesting and less "jump the shark" wtf moments.
    How does your idea work if the audience is texting Dark Horse their ideas after the comic is released? And sorry, I don't mean to sound to negative on your ideas, but I think the idea of the creators "tweaking" their story based upon the wishes of the audience is a terrible idea. You're never going to please everyone. If the audience had a say, I imagine that the storyline for instance where Spike tries to rape Buffy would never have happened, because a huge chunk of the audience at the time would insist that would be "out of character" for Spike, the mere idea of it would offend people. You'd get audience members who don't want Angel to lose his soul when he sleeps with Buffy because that gets in the way of their preferred 'ship. I don't think adjusting the story to please the audience has ever been a good idea. And there are plenty of "jump the shark" moments in fan-endorsed fanfic too.

    If this idea had been used for Season 8, we might not have been subjected to Buffy and Angel going through the Twangel sex.
    The spacefrak was stupid, yes. I don't think the answer to fixing the story is to let the audience decide what should happen though. Again, the audiences role in the story is passive. If you don't like the story, the best thing you can do is stop supporting it. I don't think the answer to "fixing" the story is to let a thousand fans with a thousand different ideas decide what should happen next. Ultimately, the story belongs to the creators, not us. If they wanna include spacefraks or introduce Jar Jar Binks, that's their right. We don't own the characters or the franchise. We don't get a say.

    As for Season 9...imagine how Billy's story might have gone had they taken this route.
    Billy's entire purpose in the story was pandering to the social justice crowd. Enough people complained that there should be a gay character in the story and the writers felt the need to pat themselves on the back for being progressive, so they introduced one. Billy was introduced to the story for the reasons you are advocating here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vampire in Rug View Post
    Did a quick google search, is THIS the article you're talking about?
    Wow, you're good. That's the one.

    I feel that the audience's role in the story is, and should remain, passive. We are not the storytellers. If we want to become the storytellers, that's what fanfiction is for.
    I mentioned Twilight. If King's intuition that Twilight was really Angel had been taken seriously in the beginning an interactive flow of connecting the dots by the audience to the creators might have put an end to the Twangel sex fiasco. Or at least the writers wouldn't have been so flippant about the consequences had they thought through it.

    I think the audience is rejecting the need to stay passive when it comes to storylines that involve time, effort and money to keep involved in the plots. After all time is money and I think people are getting tired of having their input ignored. Look at the reaction to Ben Affleck getting the Bruce Wayne/Batman role. That's just a simple example.

    I think one of the reasons why the sales figures are falling below expectations in almost everything the mass media produces is because the audience is still expected to sit back and let the creators tell us what they want. But this is the 21st century and with the advent of smartphones and tablets gives them power they never had before.

    I think the creators are making a serious mistake thinking they "know" what we want or still know how to entertain us. I can't tell you how many movies I've seen in the past got trashed because people are too cynical and jaded over the way these stories get told. They can figure out the endings far quicker than it takes sitting through one.
    Last edited by DorothyFan1; 02-09-13 at 07:38 PM.

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    The idea of the audience choosing character paths is, to me, only something applicably with value to helping kids learn the idea of story formation and the potential multiple directions any story could take. A story will potentially lack depth and cohesion (particularly if the paths are not preplanned) if it is effectively 'voted' for by the audience.

    I don't think you can get away from the fact however that writers are selling a product that has to appeal to people to buy. In a series of books I would expect that there is a certain degree of attention it is wise to pay to audience reaction simply because you want to keep your product selling. But I am really talking about things such as popular/unpopular characters or rough directions. I don't think it would always be appropriate to react to them but if you have developed a very popular character it makes sense *if it works within your overall plan* to beef up their role or change what you may have done. Realistically for the BtVS comics, audience responses during S9 may have played a part in them deciding between title options in S10, but I would suspect not much more than that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney View Post
    The idea of the audience choosing character paths is, to me, only something applicably with value to helping kids learn the idea of story formation and the potential multiple directions any story could take. A story will potentially lack depth and cohesion (particularly if the paths are not preplanned) if it is effectively 'voted' for by the audience.

    I don't think you can get away from the fact however that writers are selling a product that has to appeal to people to buy. In a series of books I would expect that there is a certain degree of attention it is wise to pay to audience reaction simply because you want to keep your product selling. But I am really talking about things such as popular/unpopular characters or rough directions. I don't think it would always be appropriate to react to them but if you have developed a very popular character it makes sense *if it works within your overall plan* to beef up their role or change what you may have done. Realistically for the BtVS comics, audience responses during S9 may have played a part in them deciding between title options in S10, but I would suspect not much more than that.
    I remember years ago the producers of the hit series Dawson's Creek tried something like this. They actually had a website that you could log on and choose which character you wanted to "follow". This was before Facebook! I tried it and thought this was pretty nifty and innovative at the time. I chose Joey Potter to follow.

    On that site I could download her "diary" and see her thoughts about Dawson and Pacey and see how they acted on the off days they weren't onscreen. You could choose a theme and see how Joey Potter's website would look. It was really fun. What wasn't made clear however was whether her thoughts in that "diary" was "canon" or not.

    Nowadays, interacting with the audience is going up a notch. The recent brouhaha over Ben Affleck getting the Batman role is a terrific example of just how much power people have to affect the direction of shows, and casting decisions.

    I don't think the sales figures of the various titles this season will affect the plot developments for Season 10. Willow, for instance just got back and it's highly doubtful she's just about to leap into the "fray" elsewhere. (I couldn't resist the pun.)

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    I'm pretty strongly against an American Idol version of narrative structure, which is what the idea of fan participation in the actual plot sounds like. I'm only slightly less opposed, but still pretty opposed, to the "characters" existing in the world for people to interact with. I frankly don't think there is any one person or group of people I trust to "be" the mind of any of these characters in real time, not even Joss. Too subject to the whim or mood, prejudiced by the moment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DorothyFan1 View Post
    I mentioned Twilight. If King's intuition that Twilight was really Angel had been taken seriously in the beginning an interactive flow of connecting the dots by the audience to the creators might have put an end to the Twangel sex fiasco. Or at least the writers wouldn't have been so flippant about the consequences had they thought through it.
    Twilight was the story that Joss and Dark Horse wanted to tell. With Angel, they basically wanted to have their cake and eat it too. They wanted the drama and excitement of having him as the mysterious masked big bad, but they also wanted to have Angel as a marketable hero character afterwards. What we got was a pretty shallow story where Angel was sort of influenced by something to an unknown degree, did some horrible stuff, then "learned" from this experience in the shallowest, most superficial way and then became a lead character again next season. Dark Horse wanted to have their cake and eat it too with Angel. Do I think it was a great story? No. Can I understand their reasons for handling the story this way? Of course. They sold plenty of issues by having Angel as the villain. They also sold plenty of issues by having him become a hero again. Dark Horse wanted to cash in on all the drama and angst of him betraying Buffy, but the also wanted to have him as a marketable character afterwards. I don't think it was a great story, but from a business perspective, I understand why they did things this way. People bought the issues and are continuing to buy them. Angel has not been the first character to evade justice because of his popularity. You could argue that this type of stuff hurts the integrity of the story, but ultimately the characters don't belong to you.

    If you don't like the way they handled Angel and Twilight, the best thing you can do as a consumer is to vote with your wallet and just not buy the issues or series that you don't think are up to scratch.

    What you don't get to do, is send Dark Horse a text and have the story changed and customized to suit your personal tastes.

    As dumb as I found the spacefrak, I'd prefer season 8 as it was, warts and all, above a season where the fans got to decide what happens. If *every* fan gets to have their way, we get a tangled mess of contradictory ideas and fanservice that nobody would want to pay money for. If Dark Horse just decided to go with what *most* fans want, you get a shallow popularity contest where the loudest fans get their way. No thanks. If you're going to go that far, why would Dark Horse even need to publish the season, why not just let fans write it themselves?

    Again, if we let the fans decide what happens Spike would never have tried to rape Buffy, Angel would have never lost his soul or even left the show, we would never have met Fred, let alone Illyria. Many of the more controversial or heartbreaking storylines from the show would have never been allowed to happen if the results were dictated by the fans.


    I think the audience is rejecting the need to stay passive when it comes to storylines that involve time, effort and money to keep involved in the plots. After all time is money and I think people are getting tired of having their input ignored. Look at the reaction to Ben Affleck getting the Bruce Wayne/Batman role. That's just a simple example.
    So if I make a painting, do you think the people at the gallery should get to add their ideas to my painting because they think they can improve it? What do you think the end result of my painting is going to be after a hundred or so people have altered and added to the painting so that it reflects what they think my painting should look like?

    If I wrote a play, should the people in the audience get to climb onstage and interact with the characters as part of the play? Or should they be allowed to scream stuff at the stage like "look out, he's behind you!" and have the characters react? Why not? They paid for a ticket, right? Time is money, why should the the writer and actors ignore the input from the audience?

    As for Ben Affleck as Batman, again -that's something that's up to Warner Brothers to decide, not you or I. If you are violently opposed to the idea: don't see the movie. If enough people don't watch the movie or critically pan Affleck as Batman, maybe WB will rethink their position. But as it stands, I'm not funding the movie, neither are you so we don't get to decide who to cast.

    The audience can whine about things all they like but when it comes to the actual decision making process and the way the story unfolds, we are passive and we don't get a say.

    The story teller tells the story. The audience listens. That's the way it's been for thousands of years because that's the way a story works.

    I think one of the reasons why the sales figures are falling below expectations in almost everything the mass media produces is because the audience is still expected to sit back and let the creators tell us what they want. But this is the 21st century and with the advent of smartphones and tablets gives them power they never had before.
    First off if I were going to argue this very strongly, I'd want to see some actual stats that prove that sales figures really are falling below expectations in all mass media.

    But if I take you at your word, and buy into your premise that media is selling at lower levels than before, I can think of plethora of reasons for this.

    For starters, technological advances and better internet means that piracy is becoming easier than ever. Surely that's got to be a blow to the movie and music industry. I think comic books as an industry are hit especially hard in this day and age because not only is it dead easy to pirate them, but their competition in the forms of movies, video games and TV are advancing at a pretty rapid rate due to technological advances.

    There are many, many forms of entertainment competing with each other compared to what there was decades ago. Video games for instance, are growing in popularity at a huge rate. Back in the 50's and 60's, comics were selling a lot more than they are today largely because they didn't have video-games as competition. These days, kids would rather play the XBox and be entertained for hours rather than read a comic book and be entertained for minutes. If you were a parent, or a kid with disposable income, would you rather spend your money on a comic that will entertain you/your child for a few minutes, or a game that will keep you/your child occupied for hours and they can use it as a social activity with their friends? I love comic books, but in today's market they just cannot compete with video games. That's why instead of being targeted towards children like the comics from the Silver Age were, comics today are often targeted at the 30+ market because that's the age bracket that's going to be most likely to buy them.

    You mention Smart Phones. They have made video-gaming easier than ever. My 55 year old mother who has never held a console controller in her life has become addicted to the Candy Crush game because it's on her phone. Smart Phones have opened up a whole world of possibilities when it comes to entertainment, especially gaming.

    Kids these days like to spend a lot of time on social media too, like Facebook and Twitter. Modern entertainment media like movies, comic books, television etc. now has to compete with facebook for people's time. They didn't have this kind of competition ten years ago. Facebook offers all sorts of juicy gossip and expression on a personal level that movies, TV and comics will never be able to compete with.

    Improving technology means that the production values of movies and television have improved compared to what they were decades ago, which again could be making people less interested in comic books. Movies and TV themselves still have to compete with video-games, comic books and social media plus there is always the constant threat of piracy.

    Even with their high production values, a lot of movies these days lack creativity in the story. That's because the studios want to play it safe and rather than experimenting with new ideas, they'd rather release endless sequels, prequels, adaptations, remakes and reboots of franchises that they know will sell. This can be good for the studios in the short term (investing something in a reboot is usually a pretty safe bet) but in the long term it could cause people to lose interest in movies if we're seeing the same crap over and over, hence the declining ticket sales.

    Times change. You don't hear of any radio dramas being produced any more because as technology changes, the general public becomes more invested in better technology. Why would I listen to a radio drama when I can watch a TV show or a movie?

    If you are correct about sales declining in media, I would guess that's because of new technologies replacing old ones, more competition in the form of piracy and social media and also general boredom with Hollywood pumping out the same stuff while raising ticket prices due to gimmicks like 3D and Imax. Not to mention that in today's economy, not everybody has a lot of disposable income to be spending on entertainment.

    I think those are the reasons why some media might be selling less these days. I don't think it's because people with Smart Phones and Tablets are getting all high and mighty thinking that they should get to control the characters in movies and comic books.

    I think the creators are making a serious mistake thinking they "know" what we want or still know how to entertain us. I can't tell you how many movies I've seen in the past got trashed because people are too cynical and jaded over the way these stories get told. They can figure out the endings far quicker than it takes sitting through one.
    Well, I'd say that would be a case of the studios needing to make better movies. I don't think the solution to people being bored with movies is to butcher the entire industry and turn movies into "choose-your-own-adventure" games where the audience decides how the characters act.

    Here a few of the comments that followed the article if anyone is interested:

    Oh please -- and what "people" did you interview to get these outrageous stats?? Gamers? Loners? This repugnant ad posing as a document featuring the earnest 'chat' by the tech guy, followed by "interviews" with "people" (all given a script by the way) saying they "want to interact with characters?"

    Talk about more forcing more of this interactive garbage onto us. What people want is a good story well told.

    Did you not hear what happened when a famous filmmaker invited the audience to participate in the finishing of his script? Garbage! he couldn't use it! It was awful! It's like inviting everyone into the kitchen to cook dinner that I'm paying $100 bucks for.

    Stop it already. The jig is up.
    Linear storytelling has existed since the dawn of humankind and has kept people engaged without any need for 'improvement' aside from better storytellers. Every attempt at creating a so-called 'interactive narrative' has so far fallen flat because they try to alter with a time-tested formula. There's nothing wrong with how it's been done traditionally.

    Latitude is trying to come up with ideas to pitch to advertisers. I don't believe they're as interested in the innovation of an art form that is fine as it is.

    There's nothing wrong with using technology to create new and interesting interactive experiences that contain certain narrative elements. But nothing else will ever come close to a good story written by a competent author with vision.
    Oh, of course. Storytelling is as old as humankind. The ways in which a story are told have evolved over time. But the intrinsic structure of the story itself has not changed. It remains the same then as it does now.

    A story is essentially curation. All the elements are carefully arranged and composed together as one cohesive narrative. And that applies to movies, books, radio plays, epic poetry or a conversation over a fire in 6000 BC.

    What's being proposed here is the opposite. Too many moving parts that may or may not coordinate or support a common theme or concept. It's like an orchestra where every instrument is playing a different melody or in a different key or tempo. A good story unites every distinct part into a harmonious whole.

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    Looks like I touched a nerve and stirred up the hornet's nest on this one. I think creator types like Joss are not going to be able to tell stories these days without getting instant feedback with the likes of Twitter, Instagram, and other social media tools that can really get the pulse of how people feel about storyline directions.

    This isn't the days of old when they could dream up anything and didn't need to worry about what people thought mostly because technology hadn't been as big a threat. But now, it's possible with the click of a mouse or a quick snap from the iPhone and everything Joss and the others come up with can be overturned instantly. A single quip on one of these sites and a whole year's worth of planning can go out the window. Remember the Angel reveal fiasco? Why were they so upset this got out before they were ready for the reveal? Did it really make that much of a difference in the way they told the Twilight storyline?

    That incident highlights the problems the creators are facing these days. But it's not just the issue of trying to keep storylines secret from Edward Snowden style leaks it's the realization that the instantaneousness of web interaction is having an affect already on the stories. I don't think I need to dredge up the issue of why people hate Kennedy to show how reaction to someone like this could affect storylines. So the butterfly effect is real and it's already influencing the way the stories are being told.

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    Oh, I have no doubt that the immediacy and the amount of feedback they get now can and probably does influence, but it will never nor should it ever be solicited to direct the story. But influence, sure. I'd say much of the sociopolitical checkboxing in Season 9 has come that way.

    Ironically, even though their audience for canonical Buffy is an Nth now of what it was when it was on TV, they probably have much more access to what their audience, such as it is, thinks and demands now than ever before. I don't think that's been to the good all things considered.

    Fan-participation storylines would be so horrible. Hell, it even made Marvel vs. DC a partially incoherent mess. Y'know what you get from fans deciding the story? You get Storm defeating Wonder Woman who is wielding Mjolnir. If you want to pick what happens, maybe they can make some "Buffy" choose your own adventure books

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    For what it's worth, while writing one of my multi-chapter fics, Thought You Should Know, I polled my audience on an upcoming plot point, asking them who they wanted to kill the villain, the Immortal.

    I didn't do this with the intent of writing my story to match the most popular desires, btw. Everyone wanted Spike to kill the Immortal. It made sense for the audience to want that, considering Spike's history with the Immortal and the fact that I'd just published a chapter where Spike was imprisoned and tortured by him. But as the author, I mostly wanted to know what they were thinking because my story was thematically about confounding expectations. And in terms of the plot, I'd build tension by being aware of audience expectations so I could zig when they thought the story would zag.

    And when the twist came in my story on who actually got to kill the Immortal, which made sense as the way it should've gone down (and it seems like the audience found it satisfying), that made it all the more rewarding to know that they wanted something else yet found this unexpected result to be just right.

    Instead of Spike, who my audience mostly seemed to want to kill the Immortal in a justified sort of revenge scenario, another character dealt the killing blow. And I also used that opportunity to humanize the Immortal in those final moments, making it the furthest thing from a revenge killing than I could imagine. They wanted the story to zig and so I zagged -- and that surprise as well as the drama of the moment made it far more compelling, imho.

    That's how I understand Joss' phrase: give them what they need, not what they want.

    So knowing audience expectations and desires is part of writing a story. Knowing your audience. It's another thing entirely to be kowtowing to the most popular whims of the audience, though. Does the author even need to show up?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emmie View Post
    For what it's worth, while writing one of my multi-chapter fics, Thought You Should Know, I polled my audience on an upcoming plot point, asking them who they wanted to kill the villain, the Immortal.

    I didn't do this with the intent of writing my story to match the most popular desires, btw. Everyone wanted Spike to kill the Immortal. It made sense for the audience to want that. But I mostly wanted to know what they were thinking because my story was thematically about confounding expectations.

    And when the twist came in my story, which made sense as the way it should've gone down (and it seems like the audience found it satisfying), that made it all the more rewarding to know that they wanted something else yet found this unexpected result to be just right.

    So knowing audience expectations and desires is part of writing a story. Knowing your audience. It's another thing entirely to be kowtowing to the most popular whims of the audience, though. Does the author even need to show up?
    The author had to create the characters and learn if people found those creations worth following through its trials and triumphs. What good is a story if nobody knows who the character is? It's put out in the public eye because the needs and wants of the character deserve public attention and criticism. They mirror our fears and wants. But when the character no longer "fits" our conception of the narrative...then they lose interest and its popularity wanes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DorothyFan1 View Post
    Looks like I touched a nerve and stirred up the hornet's nest on this one.
    Not too sure what you mean by this? The heated comments I posted at the end of my post were quotes from the comments section of the tumblr page that was promoting this idea. They weren't my own comments. I don't think you've stirred up a hornets nest, at least not with me. I just think that heavy audience participation in this kind of story is just not a very good idea, and I don't see it as the future for storytelling.

    As technology improves, the medium and format of storytelling can change. But the basic roles of the storyteller and the audience hasn't changed since the stone age. The storyteller tells the story. The audience shuts up and listens. Or they can walk away if the story bores them. Or they can write their own story. Generally, they don't get the interrupt and change the story that somebody else is telling.

    The reason most of us are audience members as opposed to being the ones telling the story is because most of us simply aren't good enough for our ideas to warrant the attention of the general public, or the publishers. I think the BtVS fandom in particular tends to think it's a lot smarter than it actually is. I've met several fans who don't seem to grasp the most basic concepts, and I would shudder at the thought of some of the people in the fandom actually having creative control over the story.

    Again, I ask do you think it would be a *good thing* for the story if, say, the Bangels and the Spuffies actually had the power to steer the story? How would that work anyhow, would Dark Horse endeavour to please *every single fan* thus creating a contradictory mess, or just the most vocal fans? Imagine a boat where every single person on board thinks that they are entitled to be the one behind the wheel.

    Dorothy, do you think the future of movies and plays is for people in the audience who want to scream "look out, he's behind you!" to be taken seriously and have their input taken on board by the characters? Or do you think the role of the audience in plays and cinema should remain the same as it's always been: to sit quietly? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this one. I'm not talking about posting negative reviews on the internet afterwards, I'm talking about actual audience participation mid-story like you're suggesting for the BtVS comics. If a thousand screaming fanboys can decide that Buffy hooks up with Faith in season 12, then why can't the screaming audience of a play demand that Christine hooks up with the Phantom instead of Rauol at the end of the play?

    I think creator types like Joss are not going to be able to tell stories these days without getting instant feedback with the likes of Twitter, Instagram, and other social media tools that can really get the pulse of how people feel about storyline directions.
    Well that's the same as it's always been, really. Ten years ago people were complaining on the internet because they hated Kennedy. Years before that, people were complaining that they hated Dawn and before that they were complaining that they hated Riley. Fortunately, Joss has enough integrity and self respect to tell the story he wants to tell, instead of writing Riley, Dawn and Kennedy out of the story simply because he didn't want to upset any fans. Really, in the last decade or so what's changed? Social media has become a bigger thing and technology has advanced but a lot of things have remained the same: fans who wanna complain will complain.

    Before the days of the internet comic books and newspapers had letter columns that fans could write in to to get their opinions shared. Movies have had critics publish their ideas before the days of the internet. Plays had critics sharing their opinions before electricity was invented.

    As technology advances, people can share their opinions and complaints faster and share them with more people. That doesn't mean that the story-teller should pander to the audience any more than they did in previous decades. There have always been platforms for audiences to share their opinions, whether it's the internet or letter columns or whatever they had in the days of Shakespeare. Just because these days technology is advanced enough that you can share your opinion with the world doesn't mean you're entitled to have creative input in the story. That type of thinking is how we end up with characters like Billy the Vampire Slayer.

    This isn't the days of old when they could dream up anything and didn't need to worry about what people thought mostly because technology hadn't been as big a threat.
    Technology is not the "threat" to bad stories, bad stories are the threat to bad stories. Before the internet or smart phones were around, bad shows got cancelled, bad comics got cancelled and bad movies lost money. I don't know why you think it was easier in the old days for a bad story to gain a following: it wasn't. If people don't like a story they won't follow it. This is the way it's always been. Do you think shows/movies/comics/plays just weren't subject to criticism in the days before the internet and were allowed to run on forever regardless of quality?

    But now, it's possible with the click of a mouse or a quick snap from the iPhone and everything Joss and the others come up with can be overturned instantly. A single quip on one of these sites and a whole year's worth of planning can go out the window. Remember the Angel reveal fiasco? Why were they so upset this got out before they were ready for the reveal? Did it really make that much of a difference in the way they told the Twilight storyline?
    Actually, yeah. It was a pretty big deal that the Angel reveal got leaked a few months before they were ready. It was a mystery that was drawn out over several years and due to a bit of bad luck and poor timing/planning, it got revealed to the audience before the publisher was ready. Unfortunately, that's the nature of the internet and that's the type of stuff that can happen when information can spread across the world instantly.

    There was no internet when the original Star Wars trilogy was released, but I imagine that George Lucas would have been pretty unhappy if Darth Vader's reveal about Luke's father had been somehow leaked across the world before he was ready to reveal it in the story.

    The internet means that the story-tellers now have to be more cautious and guard their plot twists and surprises more carefully. But keeping the surprises secret has always been an important part of story-telling. I don't see what any of that has to do with audience participation in the story?

    I don't think I need to dredge up the issue of why people hate Kennedy to show how reaction to someone like this could affect storylines. So the butterfly effect is real and it's already influencing the way the stories are being told.
    Not sure what you're saying here in regards to Kennedy? She's still part of the story two seasons and ten years after the initial backlash to the character's introduction.

    Audience reaction was largely responsible for the existence of Billy the Vampire Slayer. Do you think this is a good thing?

    As KingofCretins points out, modern technology has made it easier of fans to get their opinions across and to a degree this does have an influence on the story. But do you really think that fans are entitled to make decisions on where the story should go? Do you really want to read stories where fans are participating in the story-telling as opposed to merely influencing it from the side-lines?

    I remember years ago the producers of the hit series Dawson's Creek tried something like this. They actually had a website that you could log on and choose which character you wanted to "follow". This was before Facebook! I tried it and thought this was pretty nifty and innovative at the time. I chose Joey Potter to follow.

    On that site I could download her "diary" and see her thoughts about Dawson and Pacey and see how they acted on the off days they weren't onscreen. You could choose a theme and see how Joey Potter's website would look. It was really fun.
    That type of stuff is fun. But it's ultimately a marketing gimmick. Man of Steel had a website where you could find out what your Kryptonian House symbol was, the Dark Knight had "leaked" police profiles on Batman and the Joker. Harry Potter has Pottermore where all kinds of backstory in information gets shared. BtVS season 8 had Harmony's MySpace page. This type of stuff is fun but it's not essential to participate in this "offscreen" stuff in order to enjoy the story. The story should be able to stand on it's own even if the audience doesn't participate in this kind of stuff.

    Quote Originally Posted by KingofCretins
    Fan-participation storylines would be so horrible. Hell, it even made Marvel vs. DC a partially incoherent mess. Y'know what you get from fans deciding the story? You get Storm defeating Wonder Woman who is wielding Mjolnir.
    I was going to mention Marvel vs DC at some point, I'm glad you brought it up. Storm defeating Wonder Woman under most circumstances is bullcrap, let alone a Wonder Woman who is wielding Mjolnir. I'd forgotten about that. That book also had Spider-Man defeating Superboy and Wolverine defeating Lobo. The Marvel heroes really got away with some bullshit in that story which is what happens when you turn the book into a popularity contest. And that's what audience participation turns into most of the time: a popularity contest. I don't know why anyone would want the future of BtVS to turn into a popularity contest where the fans decide what happens based on their own wish fulfilment rather than Joss simply writing a good story that sometimes has stress and tears.

    If you want to pick what happens, maybe they can make some "Buffy" choose your own adventure books
    Might be fun for fans who are interested in that type of thing. Choose-your-own-adventure books have never been great literature though, I don't know why anyone would want stories like these to be the future of the franchise just so that the audience can feel more involved in the decision making process. I'd rather read a good story passively than have creative input into a subpar story. I'd rather watch a great movie than play a sub-par video-game. I'd rather read the BtVS comics at their current quality than read a choose-your-own-adventure book.

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    Ten years ago people were complaining on the internet because they hated Kennedy. Years before that, people were complaining that they hated Dawn and before that they were complaining that they hated Riley. Fortunately, Joss has enough integrity and self respect to tell the story he wants to tell, instead of writing Riley, Dawn and Kennedy out of the story simply because he didn't want to upset any fans. Really, in the last decade or so what's changed? Social media has become a bigger thing and technology has advanced but a lot of things have remained the same: fans who wanna complain will complain.
    Vampire In Rug, it's amazing you could seriously believe Joss wasn't affected by the reactions to Riley, Kennedy and Dawn. Because from my vantage point it's very clear he was affected by the criticism. I think it's pretty clear since we hardly even bother remembering to mention them at all let alone know they're still around. The intense reaction to Kennedy hadn't been forgotten when after all those years in between, when the comics finally came around Kennedy was promptly dropped as Willow's girlfriend. So I don't think it was a coincidence.

    As for whether I wouldn't mind audience participation in the story...well I think it does depend on the strength of the arguments for changing the direction. Emmie gave an example about wanting to see audience reaction to a decision on a storyline plot twist. She used that criticism to come up with her own solution to that situation which in the end worked out for her. I think the same synergy could apply to stories like Buffy where it's the strength of the argument, not the strength of sheer numbers swaying directional changes on the story.
    Last edited by DorothyFan1; 03-09-13 at 03:58 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DorothyFan1 View Post
    Vampire In Rug, it's amazing you could seriously believe Joss wasn't affected by the reactions to Riley, Kennedy and Dawn. Because from my vantage point it's very clear he was affected by the criticism.
    Joss was well aware of the criticism of Riley, Dawn and Kennedy. He didn't pander to the critics and let them decide where his stories should go. Riley had backlash from the audience almost immediately, and yet that didn't deter Joss from giving him a decent story and exploring his relationship with Buffy over the course of seasons 4 and 5. Dawn has been a major part of the story ever since she was introduced in spite of the initial backlash against her. Kennedy could have easily been dropped from the story after season 7, Joss could have broken up Kennedy and Willow offscreen between seasons 7 and 8 but he chose to keep her.

    I think it's pretty clear since we hardly even bother remembering to mention them at all let alone know they're still around.
    You don't remember that Dawn is still around?? She's a pretty major part of the story, she's the *entire reason* the scoobies are in the Deeper Well right now. Riley is no longer a major character, but he hasn't been forgotten. He still gets to pop up every now and then like he did in seasons 6, 8 and 9. He even got his own oneshot. Kennedy still gets a decent enough role in the story. She may even get a bigger role in season 10 if she's going to team up with Faith. Maybe *you* have forgotten that Dawn, Riley and Kennedy exist, but your memory is hardly reflective of the fanbase in general. And I think it's a pretty big fallacy to suggest that these characters get written out of the story purely based on the demands of the audience.

    The intense reaction to Kennedy hadn't been forgotten when after all those years in between, when the comics finally came around Kennedy was promptly dropped as Willow's girlfriend. So I don't think it was a coincidence.
    Comments like this make me wonder if you've even read the story at all.

    Kennedy was not "promptly" dropped as Willow's girlfriend. Kennedy was in a relationship with Willow for much of season 7, the year or so between seasons 7 and 8 and the entirety of season 8, only being "dropped" at the very end when Willow became insecure after losing her superpowers. There were 40 issues of season 8, Kennedy was in a relationship with Willow for 39 out of 40 issues. She was not "promptly" dropped when the comics came out, I don't know why you'd think that. And that's not including the oneshots where Kennedy and Willow were still in a relationship. Serious question: have you actually read season 8?

    There are 25 issues of season 9. The 25th issue is yet to be released but for the sake of the argument, let's assume that Kennedy and Willow don't get back together. If we only include the numbered issues, there are 39 issues where Kennedy and Willow are in a relationship, and 26 issues where they aren't. Willow and Kennedy have been dating for the majority of the comics that have been released. I don't know why anyone would try to claim that Kennedy was "promptly" dropped as Willow's girlfriend for the comics.

    If Joss wanted to get rid of Kennedy because of the negative audience reaction during season 7, he could have easily had Willow and Kennedy break up offscreen during the time gap between season. He was under no obligation to bring her back into the story, but he did because he wanted to. After Willow and Kennedy broke up in the last issue of season 8, Joss could have used that excuse to put Kennedy on a bus if he'd wanted to write her out of the story. Instead, he chose to bring her back for season 9 and presumably will bring her back for season 10 if there is a storyline with Faith joining her organization.

    I really don't know what point you're trying to make here Dorothy. Joss didn't get rid of Kennedy. He had every opportunity to quietly write her out of the story, and yet he chose to keep her. He certainly didn't get rid of her because he felt obliged to give the audience members who don't like her creative control over the story.

    As for whether I wouldn't mind audience participation in the story...well I think it does depend on the strength of the arguments for changing the direction.
    And who gets to decide which arguments have strength? Cheryl could make a case that Angel's actions as Twilight were heroic and he deserves to end up with Buffy. In her eyes that would be the definitive argument that's supported by the text. MikeB could argue that Angel is the most evil character to exist in the history of fiction and should therefore be killed off immediately. In his eyes, his own argument is the strongest possible one. Opinions about characters like this are entirely subjective. Clearly Cheryl and MikeB can't both have their way, so who do you think should get to be the judge of which argument (if either) is the stronger one? Who should get ultimate say?

    Emmie gave an example about wanting to see audience reaction to a decision on a storyline plot twist. She used that criticism to come up with her own solution to that situation which in the end worked out for her.
    The example Emmie gave was that she wanted to know what the expectations of the audience were. She wanted to the story to subvert what was expected. Emmie's post isn't backing up your argument in the way you think it is. She said herself that she was never going to adjust the story to meet the most popular whims of her audience.

    You seemed to be saying in a previous post that in the 21st century, in the age of smart phones and tablets, that the audience should now have the power to interact with the story to the degree that character choices are determined by the audience instead of the author. Emmie was never going to do that. Giving the audience the option to vote in a poll to gauge their reaction really isn't much different from letting them write in to a letter column which comics have been doing for close to a century now. The internet makes it easier for the audience to voice their opinion on a story, but the ultimate role of the audience as the passive listeners to a story is the same as it's always been. The audience doesn't get to write the story. Or at least it shouldn't if the story is going to have any integrity.

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    Honestly, I don't even like the idea that some writers on some TV shows are influenced by things like Twitter.

    For the comics, enough feedback is given via the Q&As and such things.

    If backstory is needed, it should be in the comics. It can even be in one-shoots or miniseries or whatever.

    One of the biggest problems with the comics is we don't know backstory that's important NOW.

    In the TV shows, we didn't even know about the Fanged Four until BtVS 5.07. We didn't see Spike's mother until BtVS 7.17. We didn't see or know about the first time Angel had sex with Dru after she had sired William until AtS 5.08. We still don't even know if William was a member of the peerage.


    What is important to know is when and how Buffy found out Spike is alive. It's what exactly from IDW is canon. And that could be explained in a mere few panels.

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    I'm not sure about this, on one hand it's nice to try to improve the plot and respond to feedback, on the other hand this also compromises freedom of storytelling in favor of fan servicing and it just makes it manufactured. I think they should be open to the fan community, but not let them run the story, just write the best stories they can and be true to the characters and world they inhabit in, that's all i really ask.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeB View Post
    We still don't even know if William was a member of the peerage.
    Other than your penchant for projecting your fantasies about being a dominating Alpha Male onto Spike, I'm pretty confident that not only is this utterly irrelevant to Spike's character or story, but that you are the only carbon-based lifeform on the planet who remotely cares about this. As for the IDW characters, Dark Horse isn't interested in them, Joss Whedon isn't interested in them, and from what I understand, most of Spike's fans aren't interested in them. They're not appearing again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skippcomet View Post
    As for the IDW characters, Dark Horse isn't interested in them, Joss Whedon isn't interested in them, and from what I understand, most of Spike's fans aren't interested in them. They're not appearing again.
    Count me in as one of the uninterested. The Asylum characters were fun in the Asylum story, but I've no desire to see them again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skippcomet View Post
    most of Spike's fans aren't interested in them.
    I don't know if that's true. I've seen some fans who have shown disappointment at the fact that Dark Horse isn't using the characters that IDW created to be supporting characters to Spike.

    Personally I myself think that they are more interesting then the bugs that Dark Horse created.

    But it's not really surprising that Dark Horse aren't using characters that first appeared in a comic published by a rival comic book company.
    Last edited by Lostsoul666; 18-11-13 at 12:03 AM.

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