As I am now rewriting a few lines for Episode 40, I look back at the last few months and cannot help myself but to issue a smile, complimented by a cheerfully raised eyebrow and a massive discharge of endorphins by my pituitary gland. We have arrived at our mid-season finale with style, if I may say so myself. The path wasn't always easy, one had to endure quite a bit of stress, invest massive amounts of time, handle not only respect and love, but also obsessive hate, ignorance and a plethora of quite colorful misunderstandings, stemming mostly from my willingness to honestly express my opinions, ignoring whether or not they fit into one of the well-defined thought molds available.
Our little endeavor has managed to overcome the loss of interest following BioWare's release of the Extended Cut, when a lot of people decided that "this will do" (which is a very cool thing when you think about it – I always emphasize my jealousness aimed towards such an approach). We lost viewers along the way – mostly during my switch to bi-weekly publications, which unfortunately allowed the interest of more "casual readers" to wither and die – but kept gaining significance, shook off stupid tags some were trying to pin to our chest, showcased that this is about much more than "whining" and "entitlement" (and not a "trolling attempt" at all), as more close-minded individuals suggested. And right now... We're doing gooood, son.
Looking back from this point of our project, I will allow myself a little bit of smugness. Because every little effort, every bit of work, every drop of sweat... Has paid off. As unreal as this declaration would sound back in March, or April, or even June, we are now treated as an actual storytelling experience, rarely just brushed off as a "fanfic, and thus unworthy of my time" – an association that seemed to be an extremely limiting mental collar for a lot of folks. We are now praised and promoted by people making a living from telling stories - from game developers to novelists and Star Trek scriptwriters, we are receiving a huge thumbs-up, showing that the initial limitations have been far surpassed.
Hell, a definite point of pride for myself is that one of my storytelling gurus, Obsidian's Chris Avellone of friggin' Planescape Torment fame (with whom you can check our hour-long interview here: fav.me/d5mgxdh ) has actually said that he was touched by some of my comics, following that thought with this statement: "when I see adaptations they aren't usually quite as touching and heartfelt." There I was, a lowly casual games designer, writer and - recently - secondary producer of games I don't really play myself, being praised by the guy who created narratives I was absolutely raving about for years now. I don't know how it looks from the outside, but for myself, it was a very special moment.
As we move on with the series – up until our finale, which will happen around Episode 80 – we now face a widely different set of challenges than we did in the first few months. We know there won't be any more official edits to the Mass Effect 3 ending – we accept that and lovingly craft our own alternative, which is finally showing its colors and potential. Your expectations and hopes will now be faced against the story I've crafted months ago – and as it crystallizes, expect some people to get their minds blown, and others to get dissatisfied, as plots will be resolved (hopefully without plotholes or lapses in logic – made a special amount of effort on that front, and I hope Smudboy will mind-punch me if I steer too far from my own standards), arcs will be wrapped up, mysteries answered and characters will either survive and prosper, or die.
This is how the cookie crumbles. As a writer, designer, person playing with creative crafts you have to be prepared for some people disliking your work, regardless of how much time, money, passion, devotion and energy you actually put into it. And this is my message to all of you: I'm expecting that. This will happen, as it happens to all works of culture, regardless of how successful they are in the end - and regardless of whether they are a fan production or not. There's no need to get ourselves riled up when someone has a different opinion about a piece of creative work, as long as they remain civil, respectful and fair. This is as simple as it gets: some of you will absolutely love where this is heading. Some of you won't. Until the first group is bigger and hell-bent on supporting this endeavor - we're in the clear. Because in the end I really believe that I am crafting an imperfect, but quite meaningful experience. For myself and for all of you that accept it as your own. And I'm really thankful you guys are here, with me, as I said a thousand times already.
So, when will Episode 40 be released?
As soon as its ready, but expect it to be around 2 weeks after the release of "The Debt, Part 1". So, I guess, either 11th or 12th of December. It's just a little bit longer than our last episode, but it carries a bit of original content with it that needs to be put together and refined before displaying it for your viewing pleasure.
What about the Omega DLC?
I allowed myself to wait a few days before playing it, mostly to wait out the usual post-release moment of excitement, when opinions tend to be polarized, with more people either absolutely loving it or thinking it's the worst thing ever (had a share of both in my twitter feed). I'll sit down to it over the next few days and try to provide a balanced, yet openly subjective review of the whole thing (I'm one of the guys who don't think too highly of disguising one's own opinions in the coat of objectivity).
From what I managed to learn from some of your comments... It will be 100% MScanon compatible, as it seems, unlike Leviathan. I was afraid that Aria's involvement in the Omega DLC would mess up our Aria/Bailey/Citadel Spectres storyline – but from what I heard, that isn't the case at all. I already had a backup plan in the works, explaining Aria's coming back to the Citadel to scrounge extra supplies to rebuild Omega, utilizing the fan-made theory about her close relationship with the asari ambassador... However, it now seems that none of this will be necessary at all.
Something to read up on
Hear, hear, that's not the end of this lengthy journal post yet! I have a few cool articles to show you, something you might want to read up on and spread around, if you feel like it. Consider these to be recommended reads for today or tomorrow.
The first one – "Mass Effect 3: Fanning the Fiction" on WhatCulture is an emotional review, slash love letter to our little series, one that takes time to analyze what ties have appeared over time between all of us, between me and you, and – as the article shows – between us and the author of this cool analysis as well. You can get the full article here, I highly recommend it, as vane as that might be: whatculture.com/gaming/mass-ef…
Second article about MS – "Mass Effect 3: The Marauder Shields' Comic – Remember His Sacrifice" by Tom Hoover - has been published on NerdLikeYou, though this one is aimed at the newcomers and people who didn't yet hear about our little project, so I'm unsure whether it will be of any use to you guys, so hardcore at marauder-shielding that you're actually reading what basically is my online diary. Here it is, nonetheless, and be sure to spread it around if you have Mass Effect minded people around you: www.nerdlikeyou.com/mass-effec…
As a sidenote, be sure to check out the comments sections under both these articles for a little treat (thanks to our own Umvero for the heads up) – it is there that you will experience the exciting copypasta of lilyWhite/Dissonance, one of the obsessive haters mentioned earlier, which we already know around here as LilyheartsLiara/LilyheartLightning, author of the very special "review" of MS, who removed all my replies from her blog for the impudence of deconstructing her absolute lack of understanding of MScanon and proving her lack of effort to actually get to know it (my favorite part is calling out on "plotholes" that have been actually properly explained months before the review came online, in episodes that she just didn't read). For some reason she seems to believe that she's actually challenging me by appearing anywhere where my name pops up, so I'd like to welcome her as our second own trolling-related meme. Whether she's actually googling my name every five minutes or obsessively watching all my profiles and feeds (while supposedly ignoring everything I do), she is slowly becoming (allow me to use a comparison she will understand) the Edward to my Bella, watching me sleep with a hard-on.
Anyhoo, back from the world of troll bashing, my third reading suggestion comes from the ever-insightful Jim Sterling, one of my favorite game journalists, a guy with opinions and a backbone to uphold them in a world where being a character in a video game and giving out opinions about said video game is not considered a conflict of interest, nor idiocy. Sterling's "Fanboys: Enablers of Game Industry Abuse" touches upon a subject I myself have been pondering about for years, perfectly identifies a big problem of today's gaming industry and offers a simple solution to fix it. If you have a few minutes to read through, I highly recommend that, as I already did on twitter and via some of my comments: www.gamefront.com/fanboys-enab…
Last, but not least, comes another interview with yours truly, this one published in the Hiddlestoned: Fandom Magazine. You can get the whole interview (including an awesome drawing of myself sipping a cup of tea with my interviewers and a slightly phased Nihlus) either by reading up the magazine online on Issuu, here: issuu.com/hiddlestoned_magazin… or by accessing it directly from their Tumblr, here: www.tumblr.com/tagged/intervie… - either way, be sure to check it out.
How you can help
I repeat this a lot, but I really can't tell you enough how important it is for us when trying to aim even higher than we do right now - spread the word. Each retweet, tweet, facebook post, blog post, article, mention, forum bump, comment... matters. Even if our viewership dwindles, this story will continue. But if it keeps pumping up, as it does right now, we will be able to deliver you more and better content as a team, we will be able to get the voice talent we still need, we will be able to get more endorsements that will add up to our relevance, as sizeable as it already is. If you love this series as much as I do - consider yourselves our ambassadors and tell people about what we're doing here...
Remember: the more buzz, the better. Everything helps.
What's ahead of us
Some things are finally moving with the speed of light. Expect the koobismo.com website to finally be up and running in the next two-three weeks (more or less). More announcements on that topic will follow, but just so you know... We'll finally have an awesome forum to discuss things on, and a proper platform to share our thoughts in a bit more organized manner than DeviantArt allows us (as good as it is for a single author, it becomes troublesome when you want to work as a part of a bigger team). Of course, this doesn't mean that this profile, our special DA hub, will be abandoned (it won't, expect business as usual) – it just means that MS... will only get bigger. And you'll get more from all of us.
Thanks for reading this spacious amount of text and see you all in the comments!
P.S. In case you wanted to take a peek at how a grown man handles the fact that he is no longer capable of playing through "Ecco: Tides of Time", one of his favorite Mega Drive games back from when he was a kid... Check out my twitter and look for the #PlayingEcco hashtag (unfortunately, not all my Ecco posts were tagged with that, darnit). twitter.com/search/realtime?q=… I may need to turn that into a series one day, as suggested by Phil. Backflips, yo.
Oh, and here are the two posts dedicated to Mass Effect: twitter.com/koobismo/status/27… and twitter.com/koobismo/status/27…
Stuff to check out if you haven't already:
In the Workshop with Chris Avellone: fav.me/d5mgxdh
"Koobismo on the artistic life" - an interview by Emily Breder: abstract1106.deviantart.com/jo…
GameFront on MS Episode 39: www.gamefront.com/marauder-shi…
My Leviathan DLC Review: fav.me/d5d7f66
My Scraps gallery (general randomness): koobismo.deviantart.com/galler…