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Notes & Updates

Posted by fishers64 , in Creative Projects and Updates, General Observations, About Me Jul 11 2014 · 96 views

notes updates HF:IFB Lego Friends
Updates:
Media Reviews:
2. The Lego Movie - [COMPLETED]
3. Hero Factory [COMPLETED: RELEASE DEFERRED] - I'm waiting to see what will happen with this series, whether it will continue or stop or what. It's inconvenient to do an incomplete review for a series this short.

Other:
3. Possible G&T game[ABANDONED]: After some thought, I have multiple ideas on this, but I'm not sure any are viable enough. At this point I'm downgrading it from an official project and throwing it into the ideas sector.

4. Rereading The Perfect Cage, and finishing the map of the Paracosmos thereof.[COMPLETED]
Decision: I've decided not to post my notes or the map at present, in order the retain what little theorizing advantage I may have. At some point I may decide to post the map, but I may wish to reread EB again (reaaallly...??!!!111!!??) before considering it final. (That TPC update has me wondering on some of the EB directions. Whatever. I'm not Hujo lol.) Also I want to do an analysis on Kuambu, but that may have to wait...

Categorical GregF Reference: Moving slowly. I've patched together a fix for a problem that came up and started work on preparing the second document (Greg Quotes) for work. I haven't finished the Greg Dialogue yet, but I'm hoping the smaller document will allow me to jump over some of my other problems, given that it's short, and not so cluttered.

Mostly I've been bogged down by real life. I'm hoping to get more time next week, and then hopefully I'll have time between the 25th and the 1st of August. Then after the 1st I'm going to be tied down, then I'll have ten days between the 8th and 18th. BZP itself hasn't exactly been helping :P - the forum turnover is seductive because of the summer rush - it's quite fast lol. *must resist*

Notes:

1) And then we get to the irony - I have an assignment on children's programming IRL on TV. I've already watched the most recent episode of Ninjago, so I'd thought I'd use that for easy street. Then I thought I'd also include the latest episode of Lego Friends in my analysis, for variety and stuff.

This turned out to be an interesting mistake. That show has waaaay too much sugar. And pink. I hate pink. Pink must die. The girls in that show are all the stereotypical airheaded ditzes who are soooo excited about the most mundane and ordinary things. "Isn't this sooo exciting?" My answer: "No! It is incredibly boring and no amount of your excitement will ever interest me!"

2) Then, to get all of that sugary Tastes Like Diabetes noxiousness out of my head, I went and finally played HF IFB. That one's a reflex burner that lends itself to lots of key spam. I finished the entire game in about two hours - the key is to spam the play again button about as much as all the other keys. :P

It's not as good as Breakout, and technically Von Nebula would rate higher if that gameplay model wasn't overused to the point of annoyance, but I digress. (I got tired of all the character transfer glitches on VN.) But it's not a bad game, and I enjoyed playing it.

3) I'm actually confident that all computer games boil down to these three categories: reflex burn, strategy, and adventure RPG. A lot of games combine two of these categories: For example MNOG II was an adventure RPG with lots of reflex burning minigames. I've ran into a lot of games where you can strategize and completely own everything, or you can just spam a bunch of keys and win anyway. The Chima RPG is like this: you can strategically open portals as you go to make your life easier, or you can just spam the mouse button.

4) I think I've already said this in some form or fashion already, but I started Bionicle in 2005, and I started by reading most of the Adventures books out of order. #7, #4, #8, #5, #6, #10...then I read Chronicles #1, then delayed reading the rest of the Chronicles because it was out of order chronologically, then Adventures #1-3, then the rest of the Chronicles and Mask of Light. I remember thinking that Mask of Light tied the story together well. Then it took me forever to get #9, but that was when I finally figured out why the Turaga were so worked up about the tales, so it was a satisfying mystery solution. :)

Then I watched all of the movies in order, and I got my parents to buy the Legends books, which I read in chronological order. But with the serials, etc, one thing Bionicle sticks out in my mind for is chronology screw. :P

But reading it the way I did, Bionicle never stuck out to me as a mystery series, or even that mystery was something to be wanted in Bionicle. If you had hit me over the head in like 2008 and asked me what made Bionicle so good, I probably would have said "characters" or even "Vakama". Bionicle was the characters with cool powers series. So I was disappointed with 2001-03's lack of characterization, and the powers weren't as cool as the Toa Metru's. I've known this for a lot of years: I pay a heck of a lot more attention to the characters when reading than to anything else. Good characters who use logic and make sense and even have cool powers? Sold. Poorly written characters who are complete ditzy cool dudes? I'm out of there. I didn't even know mystery was a thing until I joined BZPower lol.

Mystery, however, is a useful tool to add depth to characters. It establishes what the character knows and doesn't know by necessity. It provides reasons for their choices. It drives the plot along and gives us more time to get to know the person.

But that's NOT what happened in 2001. In 2001 we had a bunch of characters that were near-blank slates. They had lost their memory. The Turaga didn't have any characterization to be mysterious. Mystery took away from the characterization of the characters. It didn't add to them. And I found that to be annoying.

Then I come here on BZP and find all these people who like 2001...

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I've only watched the first episode of the LEGO Friends cartoon and I enjoyed it. Only real problems I had were that the animation was a bit awkward sometimes and the music was not all that impressive... certainly not tug-at-your-heartstrings stuff like some of the music in Ninjago or The LEGO Movie. Perhaps the reason the characterization didn't bother me is because I'm the sort of stereotypical, airheaded ditz who gets excited by the most mundane and ordinary things. My thoughts when going on a walk consist of things like, "Yay! A squirrel! I love squirrels!" or "Those are very nice clouds! Look at the way the sun is shining through those clouds!" Sometimes when I go for a walk on the canal path during the summer I count the turtles. One time I counted 42 turtles. To be honest I don't know what kinds of things happen in the latest LEGO Friends episode but I can't imagine they're much more mundane than that.

I'm not sure what you mean by a lack of characterization in 2001. The Mata Nui Online Game was a treasure trove of diverse and compelling characters. Same goes for the Bohrok and Bohrok-Kal Online Animations. Even in the comics, there was some pretty good characterization. The first comic from 2001 in particular gave you two polar opposites: the cold and standoffish Kopaka and the warm, outgoing Pohatu. And the way those two characters played off each other continued to be interesting for pretty much the entire theme. I don't think it's very fair to judge 2001 by the BIONICLE Chronicles books because first of all, those weren't actually from 2001, and second, I really don't like C.A. Hapka's writing for them anywhere near as much as Greg Farshtey's writing for the books and comics, or Templar's writing for the online games.

The Toa Metru definitely had better characterization and character development than the Toa Mata, though. They weren't nearly so archetypical to begin with, and it didn't feel so much like they had to learn the same lessons about teamwork over and over again. Generally one thing I like about Ninjago is its characterization, because again, the characters aren't always forgetting the incredibly simple lessons they learned in previous episodes. Whenever they do get in arguments, it's for a reason, not just because they think (contrary to every single experience they've had) that they work better alone.
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Oh gee. Don't get me started on the music. 

 

It probably didn't help that I didn't play MNOG until 2006 and didn't know that the comics even existed until 2010. I discovered the Bohrok Online animations about the same time. 

 

I spent 5 years as a Bionicle fan before I found BS01 lol. I thought Bionicle was a book series with web and movie-tie-ins from a toy company who sold the sets. I was used to book series with movies, so that's what I thought it was. 

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Oh gee. Don't get me started on the music. 
 
It probably didn't help that I didn't play MNOG until 2006 and didn't know that the comics even existed until 2010. I discovered the Bohrok Online animations about the same time. 
 
I spent 5 years as a Bionicle fan before I found BS01 lol. I thought Bionicle was a book series with web and movie-tie-ins from a toy company who sold the sets. I was used to book series with movies, so that's what I thought it was.

Ah, understandable. I was well aware of what BIONICLE was because I was already a die-hard LEGO fan when I first got into it way back in 2001, so my first exposure to it came from the LEGO Magazines (and the included BIONICLE features and comics) as well as leaflets included in other LEGO sets.

After that I kept up with BIONICLE via the LEGO website, so I experienced most of the story in order. But I was actually a little late getting into the books — I don't know if I read any of them other than "The Official Guide to BIONICLE" before 2005. 2005 is when I first became keenly aware of the online BIONICLE community as well, though I had come across BIONICLE fansites in earlier years when they were linked from the official BIONICLE site. I joined BZPower in 2006, I think maybe because I had questions for Greg (my twin brother Lyichir joined about a half a year earlier). Being involved in the online community definitely helped me keep up with the story more consistently.
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Yes, being involved here on BZP helped my immensely in getting all of my silly brain errors sorted out.
 
I guess this brings me to something else I wanted to ramble about in this blog entry but was too long - my previous experience with toy/book/web franchises was this thing called American Girl (AG). That was a toy franchise with books and story attached to it, and also a big web tie in as well, and they eventually got to movies. But they didn't have comics. :P So by the time I got to Bionicle it was old hat: toys, books, web, movies, all around the same brand. I think that was a common marketing strategy around the mid-2000s, or at least I was more likely to buy into it because I would spend so much time at the library. :P In my mind, books and the Internet were free - and after learning that American Girl dolls cost over $100, I was savvy enough to resist product placement. 
 
AG and Lego both have their own magazine, but AG's mag was never important to following its story, so I never thought Lego's would be important to following Bionicle. Maybe I was a little dense, but back then, if you want to tell a story you put it in a book. Books were my thing. If there were no Bionicle books, I would have never gotten into Bionicle...
 
*BZPower cheers!*
 
...anyway. The other reason I wanted to bring up AG was because Friends reminds me of it. AG is historical, and so the characters are not ditzes. For the most part, anyway. But aside from the building and the lower prices, AG and Friends have a similar marketing strategy - AG rolled out dolls and accessories in different environments each year, just like Friends is starting to do with the jungle theme. It's old and tired and I've seen it all. That's why I quit AG and moved on to Bionicle in the first place, and why there are very few AFOAGs. (Aside from the money...)

 

AG > Friends as Bionicle > HF. I'd like to see a girls' franchise that is creative as Bionicle was, without repeating that worn formula. I've seen so many books like that, but a franchise seems to be beyond reach. And now stuff like HF is starting to mean that they aren't going to market that to boys anymore even. 

 

And now I just got off topic. It's me blog, so I'll allow it, I guess. 

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I'm familiar with American Girl, actually! I think some of my cousins were into it.

I don't think that Hero Factory signals a decline in depth for LEGO themes in general. Nor do I feel like LEGO Friends indicates the LEGO Group is not interested in trying anything more daring for girls. The impression I get from LEGO Friends is that the LEGO Group was trying to create a girl-oriented theme that echoed their most successful in-house theme — LEGO City. Certainly Friends has a totally different design style, and its story is more in-depth than anything LEGO City offers, but its subject matter is similarly grounded in the real world. It was a safe first step for the LEGO Group to try launching LEGO sets for girls.

Now that LEGO Friends has been so wildly successful, I am hopeful that we might start to see the LEGO Group step out of their comfort zone and introduce a wider range of girl-oriented themes. I would LOVE a girl-oriented constraction theme, but sadly I think that's a long way off, since like Technic, the constraction category is fairly niche to begin with. But it'd also be great to see a girl-oriented fantasy franchise, since it would cover the sort of magical adventure subject matter that LEGO Friends really isn't able to.

I'd also love to see LEGO Friends cover some more adventurous sorts of subject matter. Already we're seeing a real sense of danger and adventure in the jungle series, which has features like rockslides, treasure hidden behind a waterfall (that set is great, it even has an elaborate gear function I never knew about until I saw a review), dirt bikes, zip lines, and a collapsing bridge. Beyond that, I can very easily picture the girls of LEGO Friends in some sort of spooky mystery-solving series somewhere between Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. The LEGO Group is new to the world of girl-oriented toys, but there is plenty of precedent for girl-oriented storytelling that extends beyond urban or suburban slice-of-life.
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Nor do I feel like LEGO Friends indicates the LEGO Group is not interested in trying anything more daring for girls. The impression I get from LEGO Friends is that the LEGO Group was trying to create a girl-oriented theme that echoed their most successful in-house theme — LEGO City.

Ah, yes. That would make sense, wouldn't it? :)
 

Certainly Friends has a totally different design style, and its story is more in-depth than anything LEGO City offers, but its subject matter is similarly grounded in the real world. It was a safe first step for the LEGO Group to try launching LEGO sets for girls.

Safe, yes, but done-to-death. However, trying the tried-and-true before going off to wackadoodle lands is generally advised, unless you're facing corporate bankruptcy. :P

I don't think constraction would be easy to do, mostly because girls are used to dolls with human faces. That's what Lego ran into in research for Friends - they wanted figures with doll-like looks as opposed to the boxy minifigs. If the figs are a turn-off, the even more fantastic looks of Bionicle or HF sets are likely to be a turn off. *what I liked about HF sets*
 

But it'd also be great to see a girl-oriented fantasy franchise, since it would cover the sort of magical adventure subject matter that LEGO Friends really isn't able to.

*pictures girl version of Ninjago* 

 

It wouldn't exactly be like Ninjago. They'd probably focus-group-test and insert more pixies. :P
 

I'd also love to see LEGO Friends cover some more adventurous sorts of subject matter. Already we're seeing a real sense of danger and adventure in the jungle series, which has features like rockslides, treasure hidden behind a waterfall (that set is great, it even has an elaborate gear function I never knew about until I saw a review), dirt bikes, zip lines, and a collapsing bridge. Beyond that, I can very easily picture the girls of LEGO Friends in some sort of spooky mystery-solving series somewhere between Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. The LEGO Group is new to the world of girl-oriented toys, but there is plenty of precedent for girl-oriented storytelling that extends beyond urban or suburban slice-of-life.

Indeed. Oh how I know lol. 

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I don't think constraction would be easy to do, mostly because girls are used to dolls with human faces. That's what Lego ran into in research for Friends - they wanted figures with doll-like looks as opposed to the boxy minifigs. If the figs are a turn-off, the even more fantastic looks of Bionicle or HF sets are likely to be a turn off. *what I liked about HF sets*


Well, to an extent. But having seen the presentation on LEGO Friends at Brickfair Virginia, I can tell you that the LEGO Friends mini-doll heads are actually more ordinary than some of the concepts that were tested, which had more molded facial features like the rather unsettling Belville dolls rather than just a nose and a chin. I feel they hit a happy medium between "cylinder with printing" and "shrunken-down doll head". I think it would be quite possible for a constraction theme to also manage that sort of semi-stylized look. The Super Heroes constraction sets had stylized molded action figure heads. Give a head like that some more curves and less of a chiseled, angular appearance and I think it could be more than acceptable.

With that said, I would hope constraction figures for girls would offer more customization than the Super Heroes or Galidor heads did. Interchangeable hair in the very least.
 

*pictures girl version of Ninjago* 
 
It wouldn't exactly be like Ninjago. They'd probably focus-group-test and insert more pixies. :P


Well, better to set any new girl-oriented theme apart from LEGO Ninjago from the start. After all, a lot of girls already like LEGO Ninjago (in an interview, the Hageman brothers estimated that the show's viewership is 30% female), so if the LEGO Group wanted to cater to girls with those kinds of interests the obvious solution would be to try to cater more to their interests within that theme, not to create a theme that tried to copy its formula exactly.

Incidentally, I sort of think the LEGO Group is trying to cater more to girls (and to fans of the show in general) with this year's sets and story. The Ninja have been given masks that better display their bishounen good looks, and a second female character has been added to the sets (still pitiful gender ratios, but it's a start). The current season of the show, meanwhile, has had a surprisingly heavy emphasis on romance, something that I strongly doubt was done strictly to cater to the interests of boys ages six to twelve.

I'm wondering if we might be on the road to seeing something that I know a lot of female fans have been clamoring for: a female ninja. Normally I'd be worried about introducing new ninja when there's already a team of five, plus several supporting characters. But despite trying my best to avoid spoilers, I've heard some rumors that this year's season finale (which has already aired in Australia) may be a bit of a game-changer.
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I think it would be quite possible for a constraction theme to also manage that sort of semi-stylized look. The Super Heroes constraction sets had stylized molded action figure heads. Give a head like that some more curves and less of a chiseled, angular appearance and I think it could be more than acceptable.

With that said, I would hope constraction figures for girls would offer more customization than the Super Heroes or Galidor heads did. Interchangeable hair in the very least.

I know about the heads - those aren't quite the problem as much as the boxy HF armor pieces, which I think would have to be slimmed down, and possibly smaller limb sizes as a result. Otherwise they would look like female astronauts.

Also smaller-ish torso sizes, but that would be easy - we've already seen that (XT4).

One of the things I like is that Bionicle parts are compatible with HF parts currently - I can put an HF ball in a Bionicle socket. If they slim the limbs down too much, this new theme would no longer fit. Maybe they could do something with Mixels joints? :shrugs:
 

Well, better to set any new girl-oriented theme apart from LEGO Ninjago from the start. After all, a lot of girls already like LEGO Ninjago (in an interview, the Hageman brothers estimated that the show's viewership is 30% female), so if the LEGO Group wanted to cater to girls with those kinds of interests the obvious solution would be to try to cater more to their interests within that theme, not to create a theme that tried to copy its formula exactly.

Incidentally, I sort of think the LEGO Group is trying to cater more to girls (and to fans of the show in general) with this year's sets and story. The Ninja have been given masks that better display their bishounen good looks, and a second female character has been added to the sets (still pitiful gender ratios, but it's a start). The current season of the show, meanwhile, has had a surprisingly heavy emphasis on romance, something that I strongly doubt was done strictly to cater to the interests of boys ages six to twelve.

I'm wondering if we might be on the road to seeing something that I know a lot of female fans have been clamoring for: a female ninja. Normally I'd be worried about introducing new ninja when there's already a team of five, plus several supporting characters. But despite trying my best to avoid spoilers, I've heard some rumors that this year's season finale (which has already aired in Australia) may be a bit of a game-changer.

True that. It's possible that the stage is set for Ninjago to appeal to both genders already, without making too many changes. Although I read on TVTropes (not the most reliable source, mind) that the periphery demographic was made of older women like *raise hand* rather than little girls.

Ah, yes, the shippers. That's not why I like the show. I would much prefer that Nya remain unattached to any of the boys - she's the Samurai in her own right. I think the romance thing has to do with the market phenomenon of age compression rather then Lego suddenly deciding to appeal to people outside of its target audience. They generally refused to do that with Bionicle, so I don't see why they would do that with Ninjago. (Also aren't boys in that age range still part of the shipping club? *sigh* Kids these days...)

It feels kind of weird to be in a recognized periphery demographic for reasons unrelated to that group's existence.

I would welcome a female ninja, I suppose. One of the things I like about Ninjago, however, is that unlike Bionicle which added characters left and right, Ninjago has been somewhat conservative in adding characters. This gives the characters on the screen more development. Also I'm not sure how they would handle that, but we'll see. The purple ninja lol? The pink ninja was already used as a joke, so I would hate for that to be ruined.

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