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Friday, December 12, 2008

Advice for The Creators (and lots of rambling)

by Renegade:

Dear Creators,

5 months ago, you or your writers retroactively destroyed the plot of the large majority of the original series (not even season...series) by making We're Screwed! - an episode so screwed up in its plot that it introduced dozens of plot holes for every minute it ran - many of which I listed back then here. Tellingly, to this day, you did not release the writing credits for that episode.

Now, believe me when I say I'm not suprised about plot holes anymore. Unfortunately, continuity is treated more like an obstacle than a part of the story in this franchise. However, today's 2:00 PM video is beyond that. 2:00 PM was insulting.

2:00 PM was We're Screwed! 2.0 in every possible sense of the meaning. The exact same "plot twist", the exact same utter disregard for continuity. Even down to almost exactly the same placement in the progress of the season. It would be hilarious if it wasn't so sad. I am not going to start listing the new plot holes this episodes created, this is not what I am here for. What I'm here for, is to leave a message for you:

Shit like this is the reason your franchise is dying.

I have been here for over two years. Almost from the beginning. I believe when I started watching, the actor of Daniel wasn't known yet. Back then, people had only just heard that lonelygirl15 was not real. And that is exactly my point. Your great claim to fame, the reason this originally worked, was the fact that it was so realistic, people still, to this day, ask, when they see the original episodes for the first time "is this real or not?" (honestly - I see it weekly in chat). These times are long gone. Today, this series is about as realistic as pink waffles from Pluto invading Zimbabwe. What began as a believable plot about a sheltered little girl can no longer even be described as a "plot". The universe of LG15 is more like a fishing net - hundreds of giant, gaping plot holes, separated only by fragile little bonds of story.

I have been here for over two years. And I have seen the community decline. People walked out after Bree's death. People walked out after the series end. Today, the community is only but a shadow of what it used to be. Today, people will walk out again. Yes, there are still many of the old people - but I know for a fact that many of them are only still around for the community itself, not for LG15. For the people they met while they still watched, not for watching itself.

You still have a chance. Before you write the new season (which undoubtedly will come) go back and watch every episode. Write down what happened, write down which information you gave. Then, retcon. For all the hundreds of times you gave conflicting or nonsensical information, choose one piece of information that is true, and set it in stone. And then, don't touch it again. History is history. The past is the past. Do not try to reinterpret things. Write the new season without violating two years of history. For every plot decision your writers make, check the bible/almanach/history book and see if it conflicts with anything you said or did in the past. If it does FIX IT. No matter what you may think, we do notice, and we do mind. Next, figure out what actually happened. Don't make up stuff as you go, come up with the entire history and future of all characters right now. Then divide that into seasons. That way, you know where you're going, can pre-place clues for the future, and all that fun stuff. You can create a coherent plot. Figure out the story of the LG15 universe before telling it. Not afterwards.

Undoubtedly there will be some who say "oh, it's just Renegade ranting again". But I think for anyone who looks at the numbers, for anyone who looks around, it's quite evident how much the community has declined. The number of people who left. The number of friends who left.
Today is the finale - we're having 32 users in chat right now.
Last year, 32 users was the average for an uneventful day. The finale brought hundreds of users.
Today, 32 users is barely double the average user count.
Forumers can easily compare this forum to the old one and see the giant difference in participation and user count.
And whoever has seen LGPedia a year ago and sees it now would be surprised how lifeless that thing is. It used to be that it basically had the information about an episode before you had it. These days, it sometimes takes days before it has any information at all.

You still have a chance. The solution is simple: Fix everything.
- Fix the plot. It's annoying and not easy to follow when each month contradicts everything before. Contrary to what you seem to think, people do notice.

- Fix the site. I haven't used the new site all that much, exactly because of the craptastic first impression it made, but I am 110% sure there are still dozens of issues that need attention. Contrary to what you seem to think, people do notice.

- Fix your marketing approach. I like Sarah cleavage as much any guy in the community. But seeing 30 seconds of boobs every third day, quite frankly, isn't reason enough for me to follow the series day after day after day. Contrary to what you seem to think, people do notice that more and more breasts are shown and less and less creativity is invested. Honestly, I understand it. You lost viewers, you know cleavage sells well on YouTube, it's a very simple decision. But it only leads to short bursts of activity. While you may get more viewers per video, these people don't watch for the video - they watch for the boobs. They are not interested in the series or the community. They will not join chat or the forums. You are replacing a dedicated community that supports your product for ad revenue from drooling teenagers. Short-term, that may sound like a great business decision - there's money to be made! But long-term, without the community, you don't have the necessary drag to get to where the drooling teenagers can see you. With the rise of dozens of other professional webseries, you have already been reduced to ordinary - continue this path, and one year from now, LG15 will be an obscure relict of the past at best.

- Fix your community attitude. Speaking of the community...while I have fiercely defended you on the topic of those copyright notices being sent out to fan video creators (given that I do know that did not come from you, and was not on purpose), that does not change that I can very much understand they're pissed off about getting them in the first place. If you solicit fan submissions and fan interaction, reprimanding them for obeying is utterly retarded. I know it was not intentional, but it doesn't seem like you've done anything to change it so far - even in the giant discussion on LG15 Today we had, after you said you're working on it, milo still got a notice. Shit like that shouldn't happen. What kind of message does that send? "We're working on it, but we're not doing anything to change it"? If you can't fix it, turn it off. You should understand public relations by now. The minor advantage you get by catching copyright violators is massively outweighed by the negative perception it created within the community. If you cannot fix the scanning system to skip fan videos, turn it off, and turn the advertisements on previously caught fan videos off. Punishing people for doing what you asked them to do, for helping promote your brand, is easily the most retarded thing you can do in public relations. You should have done this on the first day. You should have went to turn the system off, then gone on Inside, wrote a post that apologizes, and said for the time being, the system is off, we'll work with YouTube so it doesn't happen again. Had you done that, had you explained the process and what happened in the first place, ridiculously misinformed posts like the LG15 Today one could never have happened. People would have understood what happened, people would have understood it was a mistake, and all would have been well. Instead, there were rumors, anger and feelings of exploitation. All because you failed to react.
And that's just one example - what about the massive locking sweep on LGPedia? I understand the reasoning behind it, but has it ever crossed your mind that corporate censorship on a fan-run encyclopedia might just look bad? Only a little? Again, explanations might have balanced it. Interaction. Explanation. Soft words. Instead of just going in there, censoring half the articles and then making sure the community doesn't change them again. And do I even have to talk about the new site? Do I have to explain to you what a major fuckup the launch was? A 5 MILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS DOES NOT PRESENT AN EARLY BETA AS A PRODUCTION SITE. That simply doesn't happen. Or at least it shouldn't. You're an internet-based business. Do you honestly think it helps you when your user base hates your website? I get that the idea was to launch the site with the new series. But hell, at a certain point, you just have to be realistic and let go. Had you postponed the launch and presented it with the next season, our impression would have been "wow, look at that awesome, polished new site!" - instead, whenever I think of the site, I think of not working cookie issues and a forum that barely consists of more than a submit button. Way to make a first impression. And that's just the last few months. I'm sure I and others could come up with a lot more. Summed up, let's just say for a business that depends on a community, your way of treating it is simply unacceptable and basically suicidal, business-wise. Continue like this, and you'll be filing for bankruptcy in no time.

Fix everything. It's season break. You've got time, you've got the opportunity. Now is the perfect time to gain back what you lost. Some of the new approaches of The Resistance worked. Keep them. But you still have loads of old baggage you have to deal with, whether you like it or not. And every month you refuse to do that, you lose visitors. We get that you're a business. Hell, we're even sort of happy - more money means higher production value. But so far, we're not getting anything out of it. These days, your decisions seem to be all business and no community - catch copyright violators to maximize viewership. Add cheap plottwists to maximize viewership. Add tits and asses to maximize viewership. All of that is great for you, but ruins the series for us - the reason we're here in the first place. Stop focussing on short-term viewer increases and ad revenue, and start caring about us again. Start seeing the series as a tale again, not just a money machine.

Otherwise, your business is doomed.

P.S. (3:00 PM): Since it just came up, a note on pop culture references: While I of course like Tarantino and recognized the nod to Pulp Fiction, let me say the following about that: The joy of a pop culture reference is that it's sort of an in-joke. Those who don't get the reference don't notice, and those who do get the reference are happy they did notice. Blatantatly pointing out "look, we just made it look like Pulp Fiction!" afterwards is just lame, and negates the purpose. I am pointing this out because it's just another example of either careless script writing, or careless directing. A simple setup would have been to show them stuff Alderman in the trunk and make Sarah go "Here...while we're driving, you can start confessing." and put the camera in the trunk. That way, it would have made perfect sense to have the shot as it was, and those "in the know" could have chuckled about the (to us) obvious reference. Instead, it was like you violently tried to squeeze the reference in there, to a point where you basically admitted in the script that it makes no sense at all (through Jonas), and is purely set up that way to reference Pulp Fiction (through Sarah). It's just bad. Would it really have hurt to invest a slight bit more creativity? Do you honestly think that, on the way to a hostage transfer with two hostile parties, Sarah has nothing better to do than make silly video jokes?
It's most certainly not the worst blunder you made in that department, but it stands out to me right now. It's a detail not important to the plot, but it's part of the video - and thus important period. It took me ten seconds to come up with an in-character explanation for that shot that actually sort of made sense. Shouldn't the people you pay to write scripts be better than that?

P.P.S. (4:00 PM): I see the theme of "OMG Sarah is evil!!" continues in 4:00 PM. Instead of just reiterating what I said both here and for We're Screwed! before, let me just point out one thing: If all of this was really only about handing over Jonas to the Order for the price of eternal Life, Sarah would have had MILLIONS of opportunities before. Simply example: Prom. Instead of the stupid assault they did, since Lucy was already in the house, Sarah could simply have gotten Jonas drunk and waved Lucy over when everyone was asleep. They would have scored Gina, Emma and Jonas alive! The superjackpot! Instead, they did that stupid, borderline-impossible sniping thing and lost everything.
Or, hell. She could have kept a Shadow ready in the background and just called him to come in when Jonas sits down to take a shit! Or slipped him a roofie in his morning coffee! (If his cup is filled for a change _)
It is absolutely, ridiculously illogical that she would just idle around for months and years, when she could simple have them all captured in their sleep while they were still trusting her, and instead waited for the very second they find out she's evil, and then struck, risking she fails for some stupid reason. What, for example, if Jonas had just kicked in the brakes? Or ran the car into a tree? Or simply refused to stop? What's he gonna do, shoot the guy who drives the car? The guy she's supposed to hand over?
The "Sarah is evil" "plot" is nothing but a long chain of WTFs and plot holes. And every episode that furthers it only makes it worse.

P.P.P.S. (5:00 PM) [this is turning into a finale review]: Overall a very nice video, happy to see Daniel again, but still two problems: First of all, isn't the credo of screenwriting "show, don't tell"? Simply having a third party re-tell Sarah's actions and motivations, kinda-sorta worked, because it was Daniel and he was a new element, but objectively viewed, it's a pretty frickin' cheap way to get out of it. Shiori jokingly said earlier she hoped Sarah would start monologuing. As funny as that was at the time, and as silly as it is as a plot device, ultimately, if you have to have someone simply retell all that happened, it would have made much more sense to have the actual villain do it than some dude who only just started following "a couple hours ago" and then magically not only discovers webcams all over town which, for some reason, the Hymn of None, master of observation, didn't know about, but which also unrealistically happen to archive and make public the terabytes of data recorded every day, for months. (Do I have to say "plot hole"?) And secondly, as much as disheartened and despaired Daniel is in-character, simply giving up and basically saying "sorry, can't help!" when he just saw Jonas fall into the hands of the Order is just completely and entirely out of character. After all that time of friendship, all the brotime, several times of rescuing each other's life, everything they've been through together, you want me to believe that Daniel would just sit there and let Jonas die? Sorry, I'm not buying it. Sure, Maggie sent Reed moving and I predict he will show up next video and drag Daniel out to help, but that doesn't change anything - Daniel should be out in the car driving to save Jonas while posting this. Not just accept his death as a minor emotional inconvenience ("Aw, shucks, Jonas is dead. A pity.").

I think I'm gonna post this now, since if I don't already, I will exceed the maximum post size limit by the time the finale is over xD

To the community, even though everyone replying will ignore it anyway: If I didn't enjoy following, I wouldn't still watch, and I wouldn't care enough to spend the time writing this post. I just think the series has a lot more potential than this silliness right now, and I am of the opinion that, if no one says something, nothing will change. If you disagree with me, fine, say so. I'm sure the Creators will appreciate hearing that you love the way it is, and that I'm just a single grumpy lunatic. If you agree with me, say so. Support me. Do you think anything will change if they think that's just my opinion, and everyone else loves the way it is right now?

Post your opinion: http://www.lg15.com/bbsposts/list/1/20/666/1

12 comments:

  1. wow that was three hours of pointless rambling. seriously calm the heck down renegade

    ReplyDelete
  2. Renegade voices his concerns which is great.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You make a few good points, but on the whole, my opinion is this:

    TR was a HUGE step in the right direction for the LG15 franchise. They tried a LOT of new things and fixed 90% of the problems with LG15. I applaud the Creators for learning from their mistakes, trying new things, and ultimately creating an entertaining series.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Renegade, you bring up a lot of good points. I don't know how many people will make it through the entire post though.

    It's been a while since I've posted anything at the forums - hopefully you guys still remember me. For those who don't, I'm a long time friend, fan and supporter of the LG15 series and universe. I was moderator manager over at the old forum and enjoyed every moment and every contributor... even some of the more cantankerous ones. :)

    I'm not gonna delve into the storyline, I'd rather use this post to discuss the site. We may never be able to recapture the original magic of the series but we CAN do something about keeping the community together.

    We are a few months into this new site and I see:

    - View numbers that have fallen off a cliff.
    - A forum/website that is not user friendly and can even be intimidating to some users.
    - Comments and forum merged so discussions are rapidly lost and cannot be maintained.
    - Bugs that have gone unresolved for months on end.
    - None of the promised features being rolled out.
    - The UGC community has vacated the premises.

    I don't know that the C's will read this but if you do, I hope you will seriously consider a move back to the original format, the old forums, and a termination of this experiment. From reading through the remarks and my conversations with the friends I've made, I know I'm not alone in this request. The old site is still there, in all of it's original 'glory' - so Miles, Greg, Amanda if we can't have Bree... please heed the calls from the community and take us back home.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Good point trainer (and yes, I do remember you). The new site just took away a lot of fun. I used to love the old forums. This new one is totally not user friendly. And i miss a lot of oldies on the forums too. So many has gone away, because of the storyline but also because of the new site.

    Why not take the first step and go back to the old forums again? The rest of the site can be taken care of later, but the forums really need te be changed.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The first rule of business is that you listen to your customers. In this case the customers have been yelling about many of these points for months if not years. Will the creators just say once again that they listen or will they show that they listen by taking the steps that their "customers" have been so vocal about. The time for lip service is over. If Eqal wants to flourish as a business they need to not only say they listen they need to demonstrate with clear actions that they understand their "customers" which clearly they do not.

    ReplyDelete
  7. As someone who admittedly doesn't comment much on the LG15 site, I have to say that I really like the layout as is. It makes it easy to catch up on the week's videos and blogs, and it's extremely organized for casual viewers.

    (Doesn't affect me too much - I'm more of a YouTube viewer anyway.)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ren wrote about a lot of other issues than plotholes. He talks about censorship on LGPedia which we all know now is happening. Clearly it was never just about privacy but rather an orchestrated effort by Eqal Inc. to limit the linking of projects not created by Eqal Inc.

    It is their property as is so often pointed out so they can do what they want. However they took something that was build brick by brick by fans and then locked us out of our own home. Shame on you Miles, and Amanda. As for Greg I am totally shocked that he would go along with such censorship..... it just never has been his position to support such actions and I do not know why he let us down here.

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  9. Good post, Renegade.

    suze

    ReplyDelete
  10. and THIS is why there'll never be a LG15 convention...cause if the Creator's ever showed up, they know they'd be royally crucified.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Didn't this guy complain a couple weeks ago about this blog? And then he uses it to post his own little heartfelt message. Pathetic.

    ReplyDelete
  12. What's pathetic are dyslexic cowards like you.

    If you actually read the post, you would see that I not only reference that incident, but that I actually posted this on the official forums.

    Then again, it's not like you care, is it? You're just another anonymous troll trying to generate trouble.

    ReplyDelete




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