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Play Well ... And Play Nice.

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GregF

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One time, some while ago, there was a project in the works at one of my jobs that I was unhappy about. I just knew that creatively it was all wrong, it was going to miss our audience, and it was just in general a bad idea. And I made that pretty clear to the people around me (as I am wont to do). Then one day I got some very good advice from someone I respected -- she said, "If you're worried that it is going to be all wrong, volunteer to work on it ... and make it right." (I did, by the way, and it turned out pretty well.)

 

Why am I sharing this story? Well, there are three fan initiatives floating around online right now -- New World, BIONICLE: Next Generation, and the BIONICLE Story Squad. My awareness of them ranges from the very familiar to the passing acquaintance, and I cannot predict success or failure for any of them. The people working on them certainly seem dedictated and willing to put the time in on these projects. All of these projects are in their infancy and still have lots of questions attached to them.

 

What's interesting, though, is that they seem to be provoking a lot of hostility in some quarters here. If I offer to help out on one or the other, I get a hornet's nest of angry PMs. I see people being downright abusive in forums (people who should know better than to behave that way). I don't know if it's legitimate disapproval, jealousy, bitterness, or what -- one thing I have identified is that some people seem to feel strongly that fans should not be allowed to suggest things for canonization in story.

 

Let me address the last first. LEGO has the LEGO Ambassadors program, the Kids' Inner Circle, and even fans helping to design some of the models we put out. The first letter of my dept. name -- C -- stands for "community." BIONICLE has a passionate fanbase and a history of letting them contribute in small to medium ways to the storyline -- and with the demise of the sets, the company wants to broaden the involvement of fans in the creation of story. In some cases, as with BSS, it means creating something new -- in others, it means letting people have some leeway to try something new and see if it works. Just as I get to play in the BIONICLE universe, they get to do some of that too now, with the same restrictions that I have always operated under. And as always, nothing will become part of official story unless I okay it. You have a right to disagree with LEGO's thinking, but that is the policy I have been asked to implement.

 

Now, some people may think that if they kick up enough of a ruckus, these projects will fail/get cancelled and official story will be safe from dreaded fan input. Sorry, not so. See, my mandate is to get fans involved with story -- it says nothing about BZPers or BS01 folks or Kanohi Journal or any of that. So if were to turn out that working with this community just isn't going to happen, I can always turn to KIC or to younger fans who I have met at events or in focus groups and let them contribute their ideas. So the only thing that would be achieved would be putting this very creative, very passionate community of fans on the outside looking in, and I don't think anyone wants that to happen.

 

Do I KNOW BSS, NG, and NW will be stellar successes? Nope. Do I think there will be bumps in the road, creative dead ends, and who knows what else in the process of finding out how they will work out? Yes. But people have stepped forward, said they were willing to work, and I hope that their endeavors WILL be successful.

 

So my advice to the community is to play nice. Show some respect. If you are certain that one of these project is going down the complete wrong road, don't gripe about it in forums -- volunteer to help and steer it back onto the right road. If you see problems that maybe the people working on it don't see, bring them up in a helpful, constructive way. (If the project team refuses to listen to you, and the problems eat them alive, at least you tried.) If all you have to contribute is bile and hostility, I'd suggest you zip it, because the only thing you may achieve is the marginalizing of your community.

 

BIONICLE post-sets is a huge opportunity both for you and for me as far as new story goes. If you want to be a part of that, great. If you have a constructive suggestion to make things better, I would hope the people behind these projects would have the sense to be all ears. And if you don't want to be involved at all, don't knock the people who do. It only makes you look small.

 

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People do need to be kind, and at least respectful to those who put their time and effort into these projects. As an old saying, "If you got nothing kind to say, don't say anything at all" -- it applies in this sort of thing (Well, any sort of thing, really), especially when those involved are doing work, giving up free time and volunteering.

 

Doesn't mean you can't have a negative opinion about it, but it does mean that if such an opinion is held, then the individual who holds it should do what they can to come off as kind, especially on a children's website of all places.

 

 

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Thanks for that wise advice, Greg. Or, as I have said a few times recently; one of the themes of Bionicle is Unity. As Bionicle fans, we have... *sorry for the pun :P* a duty to live up to that good example, IMO, or we will have apparently gained no benefit from the Bionicle story. It's like we're kinda going through the Toa Mata 2001 situation, and have yet to find the Unity of 03 and onward, heh. I just pray that we will get there.

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I certainly agree that just complaining won't help anything, but if someone sees the entire core idea of a project to be silly, (ie, the setting being a disjointed separate planet,) will it help at all to make suggestions about what happens on said planet?

 

I wish I could be more involved and help keep various projects from disolving into mindless drivel, but with finals week creeping up on a student double-majoring at a large universiy and preparing for 10 weeks of independent summer research, my plate's a bit full.

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Excellently said, Greg. I completely agree. To be honest, I've been removing myself a little more from BZP as a result, maybe when things get a little better, I will return.

 

As others have said, there have been a lot of members (probably myself included) who needed this wake-up. Thanks for being the one to step up on mention it.

 

-KoS

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Jimmybob -- Understood, but WHY is it silly? Star Trek has done it. Star Wars has done it. Marvel has done it (what did the Squadron Supreme world have to do with Earth-616? Next to nothing, yet it not only got mini-series but graphic novels written about it). DC has done it. Not every story they tell in their extended universes deals with the major characters or the major worlds we have heard of before. One of the best SW stories I ever read was Planet of Evil by Jim Bambra, which had virtually nothing to do with the main characters or Tatooine, Coruscant, Hoth, etc. It's a big story universe ... why is it silly to explore a part of it?

 

If you have legitimate issues, then yes, bring them up. Talk to the people running the project and tell them why you think it isn't going to work. Like I said, they may not listen to you, but you can at least make your opinions known. Just saying something is silly doesn't rate as constructive criticism, and I am sure you wouldn't say it without substantial reasoning to back it up.

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As always, brilliant entry Greg. Thanks a ton.

 

From now on, I suggest we post links to this entry at the top of the main posts of those three topics. :)

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One other point I would like to make - there are two major things in comics that I can think of that I either have no interest in (Marvel's Ultimate books) or that I think are poorly executed (Grant Morrison's Batman work). I choose not to spend money or time on either. But can either really be said to be bad ideas?

 

I would have to say no, because both have resulted in great sales and lots of buzz for their respective companies. The fact that I personally dislike or have no interest in something does not make it a bad idea -- just an idea that does not resonate with me.

 

Each of these fan initiatives has a goal. You measure success by how well they meet that goal. And none of the goals include "please every member of BZP," because that is not possible to do. So before you condemn any of these initiatives, I think you need to ask yourself -- is this actually an idea that will not achieve its objectives, or is it simply any idea you personally don't find interesting?

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One other point I would like to make - there are two major things in comics that I can think of that I either have no interest in (Marvel's Ultimate books) or that I think are poorly executed (Grant Morrison's Batman work). I choose not to spend money or time on either. But can either really be said to be bad ideas?

 

I would have to say no, because both have resulted in great sales and lots of buzz for their respective companies. The fact that I personally dislike or have no interest in something does not make it a bad idea -- just an idea that does not resonate with me.

 

Each of these fan initiatives has a goal. You measure success by how well they meet that goal. And none of the goals include "please every member of BZP," because that is not possible to do. So before you condemn any of these initiatives, I think you need to ask yourself -- is this actually an idea that will not achieve its objectives, or is it simply any idea you personally don't find interesting?

Well, I was gonna say about the same thing but then you went and said it better. XD

 

I will say this, just to put it in my own words (and not only @ you, jimmy):

 

Think of it like shoe sizes. (No, not styles. Sizes. :P)

 

You might need a particular shoe size, but do you walk around in the shoe store insulting the shoes that are different sizes? "That shoe is silly because it's too small for me"?

 

If you did, people would worry about your sanity... to put it gently. :P Well, labeling entertainment projects things like "silly" just because they don't appeal to your tastes looks the same, yanno? Because taste is very similar to different sizes of feet, heh.

 

I think that's where a lot of the "complaining about complainers" lately is coming from -- not that we think you shouldn't have the right to complain (which would be self-contradictory), but that the particular route some of you have chosen to go on while complaining makes no sense. Like insulting shoes that aren't your size.

 

On the other hand, perhaps the problem is actually that you haven't given it a fair chance to begin with?

 

Maybe if you -did- try to get involved, you might find out you actually DO like the basic concept. I have done that myself several times, and surprised myself with how much I was able to enjoy when I just gave it a fair chance instead of deciding I wouldn't like it before I even tried it. ("Maybe" is the key word, though.)

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Jimmybob -- Understood, but WHY is it silly? Star Trek has done it. Star Wars has done it. Marvel has done it (what did the Squadron Supreme world have to do with Earth-616? Next to nothing, yet it not only got mini-series but graphic novels written about it). DC has done it. Not every story they tell in their extended universes deals with the major characters or the major worlds we have heard of before. One of the best SW stories I ever read was Planet of Evil by Jim Bambra, which had virtually nothing to do with the main characters or Tatooine, Coruscant, Hoth, etc. It's a big story universe ... why is it silly to explore a part of it?

 

If you have legitimate issues, then yes, bring them up. Talk to the people running the project and tell them why you think it isn't going to work. Like I said, they may not listen to you, but you can at least make your opinions known. Just saying something is silly doesn't rate as constructive criticism, and I am sure you wouldn't say it without substantial reasoning to back it up.

 

Do you mean Domain of Evil, the roleplaying book? A search for "Jim Bambra" & "Planet of Evil" turns up nothing for me.

 

I can't comment on Star Trek or superhero comics since I don't care for either, but I do consider myself a huge fan of Star Wars; I don't get into the role-playing adventures, however.

 

The problem I have with NW being set on this other planet is that it has zero connection to Bionicle as we know it, and I can't even come close when trying to think of an analog in Star Wars. In the popoular series of Rogue Squadron books, which had very little to do with the "core" cast of characters or Jedi, etc, the fact is they still had Imperials, x-wings, aliens, etc. While not containing Luke, Han, Hoth, Tatooine, etc, if you pick up one of the books it's still 100% obvious that it's a Star Wars book.

 

This simply isn't the case with this new "Bionicle" project. It has no connection to Mata Nui, the Great Beings, Toa, Matoran... It would be like having a Star Wars story that had zero to do with Jedi, Sith, the Force, any galactic government or space travel. I can't think of a Star Wars story like that. If there WAS a story like that, would it have any business calling itself "Star Wars"?

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The problem I have with NW being set on this other planet is that it has zero connection to Bionicle as we know it

The stated connection I read right in the intro to it, so I don't see how this could be true. We know Mata Nui visited other worlds, and learned things from them. What were some of those worlds, what could he have learned from them, and why? That has huge plot relevance. :)

 

Also, what other worlds might Makuta have conquered if Mata Nui had been unable to stop him?

 

This is the sort of hyperbole and "zeroizing" that makes these kinds of complaints dubious, IMO. Again, it sounds like what it really means is you simply don't like the style of the project, so you have not bothered to play Devil's Advocate and think of the connections it has? Especially since the one was stated right in the intro...

 

It would be like having a Star Wars story that had zero to do with Jedi, Sith, the Force, any galactic government or space travel.

If you applied the metaphor accurately, though, it would be a planet that had little knowledge of the galactic government, but that the galactic government had spied on and encountered, etc. Which is essentially the Star Trek Prime Directive. Some of the coolest episodes in the original series were when they were dealing with primitive cultures that their rules said "you can't tell them about space travel and all that".

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It would be like having a Star Wars story that had zero to do with Jedi, Sith, the Force, any galactic government or space travel.

 

Ever read the Marvel Star Wars comic books? One of my favorite ones, The Hunter, had pretty much NOTHING to do with any of Star Wars stuff but they published it anyways. And don't bother to say that the Marvel Star Wars books were a complete waste of time - where do you think Lumiya came from?

 

How about the short story anthologies featuring the people who were briefly seen in Jabba's Palace and the Mos Eisly Cantina?

 

-LK

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I saw this on the ONGS (Official Next Generation Site), and I just wanted to say how awesome this post is, and very accurate. I won't mention any names, but some people slam NG, and... Well, bonesiii's right.

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Thanks for that wise advice, Greg. Or, as I have said a few times recently; one of the themes of Bionicle is Unity. As Bionicle fans, we have... *sorry for the pun :P* a duty to live up to that good example, IMO, or we will have apparently gained no benefit from the Bionicle story. It's like we're kinda going through the Toa Mata 2001 situation, and have yet to find the Unity of 03 and onward, heh. I just pray that we will get there.

 

So we can achieve our Destiny of awakening Hapori Tohu!

 

...Sorry.

 

 

Well put, Greg.

 

Why do people hate fan input into the story? The Toa Mangai were the coolest idea I'd ever heard.

 

 

Which is essentially the Star Trek Prime Directive. Some of the coolest episodes in the original series were when they were dealing with primitive cultures that their rules said "you can't tell them about space travel and all that".

 

I never got that...

 

 

-TLhikan

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