Saturday, September 29, 2007

Kirok on Audio Dramas, Sep '07

And now for something completely different! I've been pondering the problem recently about Star Trek Role Playing Games.

I'll admit to a certain amount of ignorance on this subject, (Checkout this article from an expert) but it appears to me that Role Playing games (RPGs) represent a fast paced, original and easily accessible form of fan fiction. Getting a group of writers to collaborate on a story is like herding cats! Not impossible but a work of diplomacy to edit because of the individuality of the writers. RPGs turn writing into a game, complete with rules, that everyone contributes to readily. They can be very fast-paced as the writers bounce ideas off each other. They can be original in that often the storyline will take unexpected turns as one writer will write in a plot twist in reply to an idea contributed by someone else. Not only this but they can be accessible for people who are intimidated by the idea of creating a story of their own: they can embellish the work of others and get friendly feedback from the group. Since it is meant to be fun no one is pushing them to watch their spelling and grammar or any of the other technical standards that editors ask for in submissions that are for outside readers.

Perhaps that is the secret. They don't seem to be meant as a deep-and-meaningful fiction nor written with others in mind. They're just meant to be fun, to tell a story that you feel involved in.

So how is that a problem? Well, what do you do with them when they reach a conclusion?

To me they represent a vast untapped resource that could be the the genesis of characters and storylines that could be developed further. Some of the Star Trek fan films, ST: Intrepid and Tales of the Seventh Fleet for example, have gone through into production have drawn on their early experience in RPGs. They can be made into short stories or even scripts ... or even more ...

Star Trek: Excelsior is the latest audio drama to hit the internet and in their own words are "notable for being the first-ever Trek production of any sort to be based, rather tightly, on the adventures of a roleplaying game/simm run out of Bravo Fleet. It’s certainly an experiment, but we’re confident that, with some patience and an appreciation for long-form Star Trek storytelling."

This looks like an interesting experiment in translating an RPG into a more polished production although I might point out that both ST: Defiant and the recently deceased ST: The Section 31 Files have a common ancestry in a text-based story list which split from an earlier TrekChatter list in the fall of 1995 as recounted by Judah Frieze in the first "Behind the Scenes" podcast from Darker Projects.

I've listened to Excelsior (not to be confused with the Excelsior of ST: Hidden Frontier) and I think they have a pretty good thing going. The dialogue is realistic and unforced, the delivery is individual and the plot is ... well, still being set up but that is to be expected in a character driven plot.

I look forward to hearing more from this "not-the-usual-suspects" production!

In other news ...

  • Sep 21, the latest Twerpcast announced that the delayed act 1 of Episode 4 of ST: Eras, "Yours, Mines and Ours", should be out by the end of Oct.
  • Also from Twerpcast, news that ST: NX01, the fan-made audio series of Season 5 of ST: Enterprise that TWERP (the production group behind ST: Eras) are co-producing with GM Grantham Productions, are still on track for a December release. Announced on the TrekUnited 'EDay', their preliminary recordings have been finished and they will be going into editing after some pick-ups.
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  • Sep 21, ST: Archimedes launched their webpage on the new BrokenSea Audio productions website.
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  • Sep 12, Star Trek: The Continuing Mission went into production according to a post on their forum (they also have Podcasts and a Wiki of their own!). This group have been successful in getting news about their new series out into the media, both fan and professional! They recently announced that Lawrence Montaigne, best known to TOS fans as the Romulan Decius from The Balance of Terror and Spock's rival, Ston from Amok Time, "will be featuring in the pilot episode... Ghost ship".
  • Sep 6, Pendant Productions released Episode 16 of Star Trek: Defiant, "Enemies of Mine, part 3" (35mins 05secs) "The crew of the Defiant attends a funeral for one of their own, and Commander Ry forms a plan that leaves the rest of the crew none too happy. Otek is destined for prison, and the Defiant finally meets the Shin'Aqi and the reception is anything but friendly! Featuring a special guest appearance by Jonathan Frakes as Thomas Riker!" Defiant episode 17 is due out on OCT 11
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  • Sep 1, Darker Projects released Star Trek: Lost Frontier episode 3 "Prisoner" (37mins 30secs, 34.5 MB) "The Enterprise responds to distress signal and is surprised to discover it may have Romulan origins. Meanwhile an away team is sent to find a prisoner being held by the faction of the One True Federation."
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  • Aug 25, Krako of ST: Unity posted about how he is working steadily on not just episode one but episodes two and three. This might sound unnecessary, but it is usual to have at least a few episodes in hand before releasing the first so that you have leeway for delays in schedule. Act 1 is in post production, Act 2 is nearing completion of production and production of Act 3 is a third done with nearly all lines in. The official announcement about the release date is that there will be no official release date released until it has been completed, and the distribution network tested.
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  • Aug 24, Starfleet Renegades announced that they had done their first table reading and that rehearsals continue. Their Voice Actors should be recording dialogue now and estimated that they were still on schedule to release episode 1, "Court Martial", in late fall.
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    Thursday, September 27, 2007

    Kirok on Fan Films, Sep '07

    It has been an amazing month for Star trek fan films but I've seriously dropped the ball here and can only pass on the press releases.
    • Sep 24, the first episode of Star Trek: Odyssey, titled "Illiad", released.
    • Sep 15, Act 3 of Starship Exeter's second Episode, "The Tressaurian Intersection" released.
    • Aug 24, Star Trek New Voyages released "World and Time Enough", guest starring George Takei as Hikaru Sulu to critical acclaim.
    • Aug 24, Areakt Pictures, the makers of ST Hidden Frontier, and the Scottish fan film, ST Intrepid announced they would collaborate on a new fan film entitled “Orphans Of War”
    Next month, watch out for ...
    • Oct 13, Starship Farragut's second film, "For Want Of a Nail", now in the final stages of post production, will premiere with a special viewing for cast, crew and friends.

    Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    Monday, September 24, 2007

    Treknology in Paper, Sep '07

    Mike Haggard, that renaissance man of the internet, has struck again to give us a new addition to his Star Trek Away Team standard issue by releasing a 1:1 - yes, full sized! - Type 3 Phaser Rifle on his website. Just click on the Trek P.M. link at the top of the page, download the 19 page pdf then checkout the photos in his gallery before building it. There's sure to be some debate about accuracy by the canon police: is it a Type 3 phaser or a compression rifle? Mike says that he will be updating the files with alternative parts to construct all versions.

    So next time you have to beam down to a hazardous convention you'll have no reason for not having the essential equipment to defend your honour!

    Andrew Skupinski has had the Papermodel II Google group afire since mid August with his two major projects which he has had going at the same time - a card model of the Enterprise NCC 1701-D bridge, Picard's Enterprise of TNG, and its successor, the 1701-E bridge as seen in the movies from ST: Generations onwards.

    As of today...
    These are major works - big models on 25 pages! - magnificent technical and artistic achievements which will become the centrepieces of a model-maker's collection! Watch out - his fertile imagination is brewing up more to follow on from these!

    In other news ...
    • Skip has released a neat stand, again on the PMII Google group, that uses a magnet to hold the ship on so that you can de-mount it without any unsightly slots
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    • Panzer posted on the Zealot cardmodel forum that Skip's USS Ambasador and Phoenix models were now available on Jon Leslie's LHVPMG website.
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    • Bmanic & Panzer have posted simple yet effective card-made props of the TNG & Voyager style combadges on the Zealot cardmodel forum
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    • Dyna-Soar shares some pic's of how he lit his model of the USS Sagittarius
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    • Marko "D-WHALE" Haertel has made available a model of Space Station K-7 from the TOS episode "The Trouble With Tribbles" on the German Cardmodel forum For those who have trouble registering on the German forum, Panzer will arrange a file transfer for you if you PM him from the Zealots Cardmodel forum (registration required).
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    • Starship Builder has posted a modification of Alan West's Hypospray on the Zealots cardmodel forum
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    • Jim Lionmane posted a heads-up on the Papermodels Google Group to a Next Generation Tricorder that had been designed by Nothing (that's the designer's screenname) and released on the Zealots Cardmodel forum (registration required).
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    My thanks to the designers, posters and the paper modeling groups that form our extended family, especially the Papermodel II Google group and the the Zealot cardmodel forum.

    Sunday, September 23, 2007

    Adobe Acrobat hates me!

    Does Adobe have a voodoo doll hidden in their Executive offices labeled "Kirok's computa"?

    There are an increasing number of ways of ePublishing these days, but by far the most universal is pdf or Adobe Acrobat. Everybody has a copy of adobe acrobat reader on their computer, although you might not have all the language packs and updates, so putting your content online as a pdf file is by far the safest option of making your content available for the world wide web, especially if you use fancy fonts, formatting and graphics.

    My problem is hyperlinks.

    For me, the value of the internet is the absolutely vast repository of content that it holds for us, ranging from the pertinent to the arcane, from the kitsch to the kinky! When I write an article of non-fiction, even commentaries such as this, I like to pepper it with links to further reading, examples, references and the occasional in-joke. My problem has been that i have found it increasingly hard to find a pdf creator application that will reliably preserve those links in a pdf copy of my work.

    For a couple of years now, I've been using free pdf creation software ranging from the proprietary Adobe product, the commercial Jaws PDF Creator (a magazine freebie) to the freeware PDFCreator (be careful how you spell that, there are a lot of clones out there!). Don't get me wrong: fine software. However they only seem to preserve hyperlinks on a random basis.

    If you have the URL written in your text, like, not a problem, but try hyperlinking a word or phrase with a URL, such as this list of pdf software, and you are in trouble.

    ... or at least I am! Is it just me? Well, I have found a way out which has its good and bad points. OpenOffice!

    It's no secret that OpenOffice, the open source freeware office suite with word processor, spreadsheet, database, drawing and presentation modules, has had an export to pdf function for quite a while. What I didn't know until I tested it, was that it preserved the hyperlinks! OK then, thinks I, I'll use OO for the problem pages and then frankenstein them together with PDFCreator - you can make one pdf document from many individual ones with PDFCreator.

    To make my life easier, I got myself one of the now ridiculously cheap, one gig thumb drives and installed OO as an "Office-on-a-stick": slower but I can carry my fan work from home to office and back. Imagine my consternation when it wouldn't work! Same thing - lost the hyperlinks on words or phrases! But that's not right, Igor said to Penelope, it worked last month! And sure enough, when I checked on my home instalation (Vs 1.1 as against 2.1 on the stick), it worked.

    So, is it me? Or does the newer version of OO perform worse than the older version? I'll keep you posted.