Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Creatures Fanfiction Podcast?

So I'm not entirely dead. I just needed to take a break from the community for a while, as life was getting a bit overwhelming. Stuff happens. I wouldn't even go so far as to say I'm "back." Well, I'm not sure I ever technically "left." I just found myself with nothing to say, nor time to say it, for an extended period of time.

I've still been doing plenty for Creatures, but they're more or less personal projects not really meant for release, partly because some of it is derived from copyrighted content and I can't be bothered to go about getting the necessary permissions to release the stuff, and partly just because I'd like to sort of do something for myself once in a while, without the pressures of making something that the community will be happy with. Nothing against you guys, it's just sort of the difference between a pizza that I order for myself, tailored exactly the way I like it, with Roma tomatoes, onions, sausage, and mushrooms, versus the pizza I order to feed my whole family, which really can't deviate much from cheese and pepperoni without a little brother or cousin exclaiming, "ewww!"

But delicious analogies aside, I wanted to toss an idea out there that's been floating in my mind for a while: A Creatures fanfiction podcast.

In sorting through some school stuff in the attic from around ten years ago, I discovered countless print-outs of Creatures fanfiction (and admittedly, some terrible attempts at writing my own). These were the stories I was essentially grew up on in the Creatures world, and the more I read them, the more I really appreciate the effort and creativity many of these authors took to take the Creatures universe and use it to tell a story with meaning that extends far beyond the boundaries of the game.

But fanfiction is, as I see it, one of the most under-appreciated things to come out of the Creatures Community. Literature in general has seen a bit of a decline over the years as TV, movies, and music have become preferred choices for entertainment. It simply takes a lot more mental energy to read words on a page and imagine the story unfolding than it takes to watch a movie telling the same story, providing all the visuals and sounds for you.

My proposal is to do an audio podcast, in which community-submitted Creatures fanfiction is read aloud, in some attempt to make these stories available to a wider audience. Those that might never have time to sit down and read usually still have time to turn on their MP3 player while driving or walking to work/school, performing mindless tasks, and so on. You could even listen to the stories while playing Creatures or idly browsing forums. By making an audio format available, it will be easier for Creatures fans to enjoy the literary crafts the CC has generated, and hopefully inspire the writing of even more.

I'm not quite sure how I would do the format, but the plan in my head is to first open submissions, inviting anyone to submit their fanfiction to the podcast. No limit to the number of submissions, but probably not all of them would be read. Stories would be picked to fill the space of an hour, possibly longer if the project really took off. Particularly long stories would likely be handled two ways-- either they would be split into parts and one part would be read each episode, or the first part would be read alone as a sort of teaser, with a link provided to where one could read the rest of the story. I would also be open to the idea of doing special edition series or something.

If it took off, I think it might also be fun to set themes once in a while, like stories about ettins or Creatures 1, stories told from a shee's point of view, or even poetry. Themes might help inspire people to generate new content rather than just submitting old stuff, too.

I also would like to look into possibly getting in contact with some of the authors of "classic" creatures fanfiction to get permission to read their stories, but I'm not sure how possible that is.

How often episodes come out would depend purely on the number of submissions. At the time of brainstorming I am thinking, for the size and activity level of this small community, that once a month sounds reasonable-- though I would love to do it more often if it ended up drawing a lot of attention.

There are a few things I am concerned about-- the first being the readings themselves, which is more or less a bit of self-consciousness I may just to get over. I've done readings before-- not necessarily in podcasts, but I've gone to live fiction/poetry readings and for the most part have received positive feedback about my reading voice. That said, not everyone is going to like it, and I know from the many fiction podcasts that I listen to that an annoying voice isn't worth listening to no matter how engaging the story is. So whether or not my reading voice is decent enough will really be up to the community to decide.

Another concern is that I don't have any professional recording equipment or anything, so the readings wouldn't exact have the high sound quality you're probably used to if you listen to a lot of podcasts. I can say, however, that they will be audible and not monotone. I may have nothing to work with but a $20 desktop microphone, but I know enough about recording software that I -think- I can produce something decent enough that people can tune out the imperfections and enjoy the story. That will, of course, also be up to you guys to judge.

These two concerns are things that can fairly easily be answered with a pilot episode, and (assuming there is enough interest for me to pull this off) that's probably what I'll end up doing: just record a "trial" episode and see if people enjoy it, taking into account any criticism.

The other concern is dealing with rejected stories. Not to sound like some sort of literary snob, but I while I have read many amazing Creatures stories, I have also read several that honestly were not worth my time. I don't want to seem like I'm putting aspiring authors down, but if I'm going to take the time to record fanfiction for others to listen to, I really want to try to ensure that I am reading stories the majority of the audience will find enjoyable, and that means I have to be a bit picky and choosy about what I put on the podcast. Nevertheless, I'm sure somewhere along the lines someone will get offended or upset that their story is not read, and I'm really not sure how to be completely objective and fair about my selection, as it really is a matter of personal taste. Obviously proper spelling, grammar, and formatting are important, but there is also a world of difference between a Creatures story and a soap opera with norns. I'm really not sure of the best approach to take to this. I still have to think a lot about this; I'm more than open to suggestions.

But I am possibly getting way, way ahead of myself here, as I haven't even gauged community interest to know if this is a worthwhile venture. I guess that's just my way of thinking-- I have to fully plan something out before I decide if it's worth doing or not.

So let me open this up to you guys. Would a Creatures fanfiction podcast be something you would be interested in listening to? Something you would be interested in contributing to? Not sure? Why/why not?

Any and all feedback is always appreciated; thanks guys!


  1. I think this is a great idea because as you said people can browse forums and hear a creatures story at once, I often find that i have to choose between reading forums or fanfics which is annoying.

  2. I also think this is an excellent idea and something different that adds a new dimension to the community! It might add an extra incentive for those who are thinking about writing a story, too. I'm very interested to see how this idea evolves and pans out: Good luck!


    Probably a good place to start :3

  4. Thanks for the feedback guys :) I'm glad to see a few of you would like to see this happen at least.

    @Pirate-rob -- I'm the same way; I've had to cut out a lot of reading time because of just that, it takes time! Podcasts also let you listen to stories in times you can't normally read, like while driving or walking to class (well, you could try reading while walking but it might not end well).

    @Jessica -- Thanks :) That is what I am hoping for more than anything, that it will help to inspire people to write even more stories!

    @Vanilla-villa -- It certainly is! I also tend to root around in the art/fanfiction sections of forums. Sadly, I think the biggest hurdle in all this will probably be getting permission from the authors to read their stuff, especially since a lot of my favorite authors have long since left the community.

  5. Sounds like an interesting idea. I've read a small handful of really good creatures stories in the past (should still have a copy of one in particular that was fantastic) and would love to hear more if they're that kind of quality.

    I even started writing my own a few years back and always had intentions of finishing at least one of the 5 parts I had in mind. Some inspiration would be great.

    If you'd like any help with the idea throw me a line (email is on my website) and I'll see what I can do to help.

  6. @Arch -- Thanks for the offer, I'll keep it in mind. I do hope this (if it gets off the ground) helps to inspire you and other would-be writers.
    Would you mind sharing the name/author of the story in particular that you liked so much?

  7. @Amaikokonut

    Oh man I'd love to share but it's been a great deal of years since I read it. I'll take some time and see if I can find it again (currently reformatting my computer, so it's likely to turn up) and see if there's a link in there for you.