Author Topic: Thinking of the Serial Module  (Read 703 times)

Offline Ray

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Thinking of the Serial Module
« on: December 22, 2016, 09:53:48 AM »

Some of you old-timers probably remember that we once created a serial module.  This was over ten years ago, maybe closer to fifteen. 

I still think about it from time to time, and so it was the first thing that came to mind when I read this today.  Thought I might share.

We weren't the only folks to try something like this, and it turns out that no less than DC Comics published a twelve-part series created much the same way!

Check it out http://www.aintitcool.com/node/76938#6, if you're so inclined.

Offline hans

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Re: Thinking of the Serial Module
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2016, 01:54:45 PM »
Where has the time gone?  Seems like only yesterday...

I suppose anybody who wanted to could volunteer, at this point, to add another installment to the Serial Mod.

Offline ProphetSword

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Re: Thinking of the Serial Module
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2016, 04:08:34 PM »
If anyone is interested in starting a new serial mod, I would be up for working on a section of that.  Might be kind of fun.

I would suggest doing it differently, though. Might be easier to have whoever starts it create a location and a small adventure around that location that is a complete story.  The next author uses the same location, same NPCs or whatever, so that it's all interconnected, but each small game is complete.  That way, you don't end up with a game where each module builds more and more questions without answers, and is instead self-contained, almost like a mini-sequel rather than a chapter in a longer story.

It would still allow for some story development with NPCs here and there and returning villains.  Just seems it might be easier to handle.

Any thoughts on this?
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Offline marainein

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Re: Thinking of the Serial Module
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2016, 04:23:30 AM »
If anyone is interested in starting a new serial mod, I would be up for working on a section of that.  Might be kind of fun.

I would suggest doing it differently, though. Might be easier to have whoever starts it create a location and a small adventure around that location that is a complete story.  The next author uses the same location, same NPCs or whatever, so that it's all interconnected, but each small game is complete.  That way, you don't end up with a game where each module builds more and more questions without answers, and is instead self-contained, almost like a mini-sequel rather than a chapter in a longer story.

It would still allow for some story development with NPCs here and there and returning villains.  Just seems it might be easier to handle.

Any thoughts on this?

This makes me think of a city based adventure - there could be some common areas, like a marketplace, and each author could add a ward/district where particular plots would take place.

Offline Olivier Leroux

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Re: Thinking of the Serial Module
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2016, 07:38:54 AM »
When I saw this thread, and created by Ray no less, I was really hoping for something more than DC comics, but oh well.  ;D

I think what we did back then is a rather old game that's been done many times before, but it's lots of fun nevertheless. There was a project like that in the amateur point and click adventure genre as well, using the Adventure Game Studio engine (AGS), called Reality-On-The-Norm. And in Germany a somewhat less original but similar project called Maniac Mansion Mania, using the characters of Maniac Mansion for fanfic adventures. Both were more like the concept suggested by Ben: held together not by an ongoing plot with cliffhangers, but by the same locations and characters, which evolved into elaborate backstories, since people continued to add to them, but the episodes were self-contained.

Oh, and there's Tales of the Sundering for Neverwinter Nights, with a hub mod and episodes by varying authors, maybe a bit similar to your Realm project, Ray, just with more people involved.

Anyway, it's always nice to hear from you, Ray. I hope you and everyone else in this thread and on the forums have a Merry Christmas, or at the very least Happy Holidays!  ;)

Offline hans

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Re: Thinking of the Serial Module
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2016, 10:12:56 AM »
...Might be easier to have whoever starts it create a location and a small adventure around that location that is a complete story.  The next author uses the same location, same NPCs or whatever, so that it's all interconnected, but each small game is complete...
 

I suppose one of the strengths of that idea is that following authors could begin work on their own mod anytime after the first was released (or even just locale details established) with pretty good confidence. 

Major continuity errors might only come about if one author killed off (or otherwise radically changed) an NPC, or altered a city through some major calamity like fire, etc.

I expect rules could be drawn up to prevent that sort of problem. 

Along those lines, I would also think that the first author would need to establish a very large and well-detailed locale (probably well beyond what might be needed for their own story).  It might be quite a chore.

Offline Olivier Leroux

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Re: Thinking of the Serial Module
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2016, 10:34:03 AM »
Frankly, in the current state of the community, I'm not so sure we'd ever run into a situation like this, I mean several people working on the same UA project at the same time ...   ;)

IMO a possible key to success might be to keep the designs as short and simple as possible, so that noone would really work on their design long enough for others to drastically interfere with what they had in mind in the meantime. No working on one episode for months, for example, it should be more within the scope of a week or so. With shorter designs, I guess it would also be easier to adapt and make changes to them if worst came to worst and another design introduced unforeseen events in the gameworld.

I'd advise against establishing a very large and well-detailed locale, as part of the fun is creating that locale in a shared effort, along the way, and too many restrictions on the settings might put off potential participants.

And I suspect a reason why we have so few UA designs these days, apart from the obvious lack in time and other interests of us community members, is perfectionism. So it might also make sense for everyone to lower their expectations and join such a project just for the fun of it and maybe using pseudonyms, without any worries about whether the quality of single episodes would be up to their usual standards.

Offline ProphetSword

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Re: Thinking of the Serial Module
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2016, 10:22:17 PM »
There are several ways you could approach it:

1) Build a small town.  Have something happen in or around that town.  Build a small adventure about it.  Future authors continue the exploits of things going on in or around the town.  Would likely have established rules about not killing NPCs, not turning them evil, not destroying the town, etc.

2) Another option is to start the PCs in a town.  Build an adventure in or around the town (as above).  At the end of the adventure, mention that the PCs are leaving the town and headed to another destination.  The next author picks up the story in or around that location.  So, if the previous author mentioned that the party was on the way to a mountain fortress, the challenge is that the next author must use that as the location to start the adventure.  In this way, the party continues to move to new locations all the time, so each author is free to create new NPCs and situations for each adventure.

3) As the previous serial module, the story could be a continuation on the previous module with cliffhangers.


There would likely be some rules about length.  Most modules would likely be short.  Maybe limit it to three maps, just to make sure it's doable in a short time.  Instead of shooting for perfection, it's a good way for mod authors to see how fast they can create something.  Perfection not required.  Each chapter would probably provide 1-3 hours of gameplay.

That's my initial thoughts, if anyone is interested.
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Offline marainein

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Re: Thinking of the Serial Module
« Reply #8 on: December 25, 2016, 02:09:08 AM »
1) Build a small town.  Have something happen in or around that town.  Build a small adventure about it.  Future authors continue the exploits of things going on in or around the town.  Would likely have established rules about not killing NPCs, not turning them evil, not destroying the town, etc.

2) Another option is to start the PCs in a town.  Build an adventure in or around the town (as above).  At the end of the adventure, mention that the PCs are leaving the town and headed to another destination.  The next author picks up the story in or around that location.  So, if the previous author mentioned that the party was on the way to a mountain fortress, the challenge is that the next author must use that as the location to start the adventure.  In this way, the party continues to move to new locations all the time, so each author is free to create new NPCs and situations for each adventure.
y initial thoughts, if anyone is interested.

Or sort of combine the two, and have it set in a big city.

A couple of years ago I came up with the idea of a city based adventure, taking place in vast trading port, with different districts and factions. The party would visit different districts, getting involved in plots there.

There'd be a merchants district, a noble's district, a slums district, docks, a wizard's district, sewers etc.

And there'd be a central marketplace, serving as a hub, with inns and various ways of starting the party on quests.

The problem was it's all too much for one person to really design in his spare time. But since ProphetSword suggested the idea of a serial module, I've thought of it again - and it might work with multiple designers doing it.

Each designer could take a district/faction. Since the districts are largely independent of each other, it wouldn't matter if some of the modules were delayed or never finished. It'd be playable as soon as a single module was done. Once multiple modules are complete, they could be merged together.

And I had an idea for how to kickstart the plot of all this.

Offline Milos Gulan

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Re: Thinking of the Serial Module
« Reply #9 on: December 25, 2016, 01:03:07 PM »
I don't think big city is a good idea. Small town might work better with focus on creating new areas for adventure like caves, hills around ect. It mostly needs few shops, inn, wizards tower and a temple, I guess something like Shadowdale or Village of Hommlet from Nol's DC module or even Keep on the Borderlands.

Personaly I would like to RP in big city but it might be lot more work, I guess idealy Greyhawk City but I doubt I would be interested in creating it because it might be too complicated but I would really like to have it for the base for adventures, alternatively something like Arabel or Waterdeep.

Now my thoughts about doing a serial module :) I might be interested in DC serial module and probably would like to play Greyhawk or FR, but I am a bit tired of it that is why I started my own setting in my Towers of Magic module. I have been working on it for some time and I really like how it is developing. Last few weeks I have got really nice 3d models (DAZ3D Christams Giveaway) like Medieval ship, werewolf, medieval buildings, lots of shaders ect. That means I would like to make something like that or just continue to make it in that Serial Module, and that is to shape up town I have started and then add few interesting locations around and then as PC level up to add some really challenging places on few continents and maybe nearby planets :) but...

Now my plan is to continue to work on my design and 3d art for DC but I will have less free time and I will probably need to study beside my work. Also I will try to make at least lite version of my RPG books and publish them (before or after summer) with hope that I will be able to somehow modify DC to work with my RPG system. What I really want to do is to make RPG system for historical adventures, that is without fantasy elements, though I guess that I would add them later too.

Anyway if there is a chance of some serial module I will try to add some adventure from my Towers of Magic module and probably it will be included in both modules. If You guys want to make something from official Ad&d settings my opinion is that it should be Greyhawk City and then link some most interesting adventures, eventualy to all that FR and DL settings should be linked and Mystara and others.

Also most of the official modules could be placed in different settings and I think I would like to see different versions of one module for example: Keep on the Borderland was originaly placed in Mystara but later it could be also placed in GH. I think this is a good starting place and would like to see FR version or maybe DL too :) Also place like this might be better starting point then big town for serial module that is surely harder to make.

My thoughts on the subject for now.

« Last Edit: December 25, 2016, 01:06:55 PM by Milos Gulan »

Offline Milos Gulan

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Re: Thinking of the Serial Module
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2016, 11:51:30 AM »
I have give a bit more thought to this and I actualy am interested in it, if it is DC Serial Module. Mainly because I would like to have some other chance to practice my DC skills and I would like to see my FR adventures converted to DC. It doesn't matter if it is a big town or small, I probably could do something. One thing that I was thinking about also is some form of introductory module, something like Rays FRUA map where You could go from adventure to adventure. But I would like to have some form of town where You could travel to adventures. That means some town or towns (like Greyhawk, Waterdeep ect, I have seen some nicely done in FRUA like Sigil, I am not sure of the name but there was awesome adventure in Tethyr with detailed town, ect) where You could have some adventures but main adventures would be FRUA or DC adventures where You would export your characters to other designs.

Anyway I am interested to see how this will develop, and I am willing to work on it as much as my free time allows me as I think I might learn something in the process and maybe improve some adventures I have already worked on :)
« Last Edit: December 27, 2016, 12:16:32 PM by Milos Gulan »

Offline ProphetSword

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Re: Thinking of the Serial Module
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2016, 07:43:01 AM »
I believe the discussion here is about a potential FRUA serial module.  If you want to discuss the possibilities of a DC serial module, you should probably bring it up in the Dungeon Craft section of the forums where you are likely to find other interested people to help you with it. 
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Offline Milos Gulan

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Re: Thinking of the Serial Module
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2016, 10:46:48 AM »
Ok, I will try :)

Offline hans

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Re: Thinking of the Serial Module
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2016, 12:49:57 PM »
...I'd advise against establishing a very large and well-detailed locale, as part of the fun is creating that locale in a shared effort, along the way, and too many restrictions on the settings might put off potential participants....
 

Naturally, a serial mod project could be tailored to any preferences a majority of potential participants might desire.  I was speaking to ProphetSword's central suggestion of a "same location" theme as opposed to the very loose restrictions of the previous serial. 

It seems to me that the less firmly established and detailed the location (leaving more for individual authors to construct themselves), the more it would share the same, or similar, potential pitfalls of the previous project. 

While the authors would not now be writing cliffhanger chapters, they would be building on each prior installments additions to the location.  Where the previous project produced an increasingly more convoluted plot, the new serial might produce an increasingly complex locale, thereby increasing the probability of continuity conundrums.  The more the complicated the location, the less storyline flexibility for following authors.   

For example, take as a locale that of a desert island, maybe like Gilligan's Island.  Very simple.  The castaway's huts are at a given location, there is a lagoon, a volcano, hot springs, caves, and such, plus the wreckage of "The Minnow" boat.  It has a wide variety story possibilities, enough to fill several seasons of TV episodes and more, with only the original set of restrictions maintained.  But what if one story, in the middle of a season, established that there was a large cannibal tribe that also lived on the island and called it home (not just temporary visitors)?  Future stories would have to take into account the presence of those native cannibals (eliminating or altering many story possibilities), additionally, in some already-aired stories retro-continuity errors would then be created (for having treated the island as previously uninhabited).  Imagine more such additions to the locale, overpopulating the desert island with other indigenous tribes.  Or another writer, later in season, decides that there are other, older shipwrecked boats in the lagoon, and other groups of pre-existing castaways.  Can you see how unbridled additions to a locale can be just as perplexing to continuity as runaway storylines?             

Many older television shows are excellent examples of how a firmly set central location (with a status quo returned to at the end of every episode), can host all sorts of interesting and exciting stories for continuing characters:  Gunsmoke's Dodge City, Dark Shadows' Collinwood, Hogan's Heroes' Stalag 13, even Star Trek's mobile Starship Enterprise...     

Offline steve_mcdee

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Re: Thinking of the Serial Module
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2016, 01:10:46 AM »
Enjoying the ideas here guys. I'd love to see a "Red Dwarf" FRUA serial mod if there were enough people who had seen enough of / enjoyed that TV series. It uses a lot of generic sci-fi tropes. Episodes could involve self-contained adventures on spaceships or on planets.

 

anything