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Early & Unused Story Concepts in Bionicle

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#1 Offline The Shadow Imperator

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Posted Jun 23 2018 - 01:09 AM

This is a personal project I've been working on for the past month. I've complied a comprehensive document that gathers a lot of concepts and story bible ideas from the first few years of Bionicle that were either changed or never saw the light of day. Things I cover include:
 
-The original intention for the Mata Nui robot
-Makuta's 2001 backstory
-Papu and Rangi's role
-The Toa's initial characterization
-and more!
 
If you're a longtime fan then I imagine a lot of this stuff will be familiar to you, but there's also some brand new info courtesy of one of Bionicle's creators.
 
Hope you all enjoy!
 

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#2 Offline CommanderKumo

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Posted Jun 23 2018 - 02:38 AM

Cool work! I'll definately have a thorough read when I have more time! ;)


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#3 Offline Aanchir

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Posted Jun 23 2018 - 12:44 PM

Amazing compilation of info. It's neat to get a sense of how many changes the plans for Bionicle went through. Early on in 2014/2015 a lot of people were critical of how many things in Bionicle G2 were not immediately clear or definite (such as where the Toa came from, how villagers were created and how mechanical/organic they were, what role the Mask of Time was meant to play, etc), but it's definitely enlightening to reflect on how long it took us to get definite answers to many of these sorts of questions even in G1, and how much different many of those answers were from how they were originally envisioned.

 

As much as we admire Bionicle's creators, it's worth remembering that it was never some singular master plan followed to the letter… the creators changed details as they went along, sometimes quite rapidly (as evidenced by contradictions in the final confrontation with Makuta between different 2001 story media, for example). What we actually wound up seeing in the Bionicle story was just a glimmer of the amount of varied and sometimes contradictory ideas that went into creating it. The people who created it were not only leading the story, but also following it where it led them, and much of the learning of how best to tell a story like this came about through the very experience of telling it. That's part of what makes these kinds of behind-the-scenes glimpses so fascinating to me.


Edited by Aanchir, Jun 23 2018 - 12:47 PM.

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#4 Offline Infrared

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Posted Jun 23 2018 - 01:28 PM

Lots of good stuff in there. Thanks for putting it together!
 
One more quote you may find of interest is this exchange with Greg about Noble masks. It's a bit older than the one in the doc, so maybe Greg changed his mind after he wrote this (and maybe you saw this already), but it provides another explanation for why the Mata didn't use noble masks.
 

The Great Masks are much more powerful than the Noble Masks. And while the Toa did have to collect the Noble Masks, I still feel that the most important thing they did with them was provide them to the Turaga, so that they could use them to help defend the villages. While I certainly do not say MNOLG was wrong -- it wasn't -- its authors had different perspectives on some things than I do, and different goals in their storylines. You asked for my take on the issue, and that's what it is -- that while the Toa did use the Noble Masks (as evidenced in MNOLG), and did have to collect them, they were collecting them more with an eye toward supplying them to the Turaga.


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#5 Offline Planetperson

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Posted Jun 23 2018 - 10:06 PM

It's really great to see all of this information compiled into one document. Over the years we've seen glimpses through various keyholes of what went on behind the scenes, and it's nice to have it woven together into a consistent narrative. I think your interpretations of things are generally spot-on. And the extra research you did, plus talking with Swinnerton, are of course illuminating. Thank you!

 

I think it's worth pointing out in your document that Greg's version of the shadow Toa fight only existed in an internal style guide that was not even seen publicly until years after it was relevant. You could also mention that the Toa/Bohrok "evolution" graphic was present in the Project BUGS video, years before Faber put it up on his blog.

 

Also, I'd like to say that I'm really grateful that people are actually using my OGD archive. I appreciate the links to specific posts to back up information -- I made the site specifically in the hopes that it would encourage people to do that. It's good to know that people are getting some use out of it.


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#6 Online Cheesy Mac n Cheese

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Posted Jun 24 2018 - 01:51 AM

Back when I first joined BZPower, I remember Greg saying that running out of story arcs would never be a problem, because they had at least 20 years of story ideas planned out at the time. That was 2006, and the line got canceled four years later. Obviously, there's years worth of story that was either skipped to speed it up for the cancellation or simply never got told. I wish we could see that...


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#7 Offline Master Inika

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Posted Jun 25 2018 - 12:01 AM

This is a fascinating document. It kind of ties into this idea I've been trying to formulate, which I've taken to calling "proto-nostalgia." BIONICLE is the quintessential nostalgic experience of my childhood, so getting a look at the man behind the curtain gives me this kind of eerie feeling of forbidden knowledge. I get the same vibe from Slizer, since it's so similar to BIONICLE but I didn't learn about it until much later, and it lacked a lot of the emotional investment potential of BIONICLE. Can anyone else sympathize with this?


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#8 Offline Daler99

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Posted Jun 25 2018 - 02:19 PM

Wow, this is really awesome! :D  Thanks for compiling all of this.  I can't help but wonder how the story would've been different if they kept the original plans.


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#9 Offline Zarkan: Master of Storms

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Posted Jun 25 2018 - 02:50 PM

Back when I first joined BZPower, I remember Greg saying that running out of story arcs would never be a problem, because they had at least 20 years of story ideas planned out at the time. That was 2006, and the line got canceled four years later. Obviously, there's years worth of story that was either skipped to speed it up for the cancellation or simply never got told. I wish we could see that...

 

It wouldn't have been told even if Bionicle wasn't canceled. The direction of the story was permanently altered with the decision to attempt a soft-reboot with Bara Magna. The original idea for the story post 2008, which wasn't supposed to end with Makuta taking over the MU, would have been a direct continuation of the Toa Nuva's adventure, and focus on their quest to find the Great Beings. If Bara Manga had succeed, we would have gotten at least three years with Mata Nui and his gang of Glatorian, and when/if we did finally return to the MU, the story would have almost certain focused on the Toa Nuva trying to take back the MU from Makuta.


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#10 Online Cheesy Mac n Cheese

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Posted Jun 25 2018 - 03:21 PM


Back when I first joined BZPower, I remember Greg saying that running out of story arcs would never be a problem, because they had at least 20 years of story ideas planned out at the time. That was 2006, and the line got canceled four years later. Obviously, there's years worth of story that was either skipped to speed it up for the cancellation or simply never got told. I wish we could see that...


It wouldn't have been told even if Bionicle wasn't canceled. The direction of the story was permanently altered with the decision to attempt a soft-reboot with Bara Magna. The original idea for the story post 2008, which wasn't supposed to end with Makuta taking over the MU, would have been a direct continuation of the Toa Nuva's adventure, and focus on their quest to find the Great Beings. If Bara Manga had succeed, we would have gotten at least three years with Mata Nui and his gang of Glatorian, and when/if we did finally return to the MU, the story would have almost certain focused on the Toa Nuva trying to take back the MU from Makuta.
That’s what I meant by “skipped.”

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#11 Offline Zarkan: Master of Storms

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Posted Jun 25 2018 - 06:52 PM

 

 

Back when I first joined BZPower, I remember Greg saying that running out of story arcs would never be a problem, because they had at least 20 years of story ideas planned out at the time. That was 2006, and the line got canceled four years later. Obviously, there's years worth of story that was either skipped to speed it up for the cancellation or simply never got told. I wish we could see that...


It wouldn't have been told even if Bionicle wasn't canceled. The direction of the story was permanently altered with the decision to attempt a soft-reboot with Bara Magna. The original idea for the story post 2008, which wasn't supposed to end with Makuta taking over the MU, would have been a direct continuation of the Toa Nuva's adventure, and focus on their quest to find the Great Beings. If Bara Manga had succeed, we would have gotten at least three years with Mata Nui and his gang of Glatorian, and when/if we did finally return to the MU, the story would have almost certain focused on the Toa Nuva trying to take back the MU from Makuta.
That’s what I meant by “skipped.”

 

 

Except that, well, I'm convinced the Great Beings might have been far more important to the mythos than they ended up being, and the canon version of them being amoral buttholes that nevertheless factored very little into Bionicle's core conflicts is very different than what I feel they were originally aiming for. I'm convinced they might have been intended to be the true villain of Bob Thompsons "7 books." Once Makuta took over the MU, though, there wasn't really any room for a story with the Great Beings as the ultimate evil, which is why they proceeded to demystify them in 2009.

 

This is all admittedly speculation, but I feel it jives with how the Matoran's legends and religion turned out to be entirely bunk. Mata Nui was an artificial creation and failed his people, Makuta might not have been all bad (at least in early drafts), and the Great Beings might actually be the Great Evil.


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#12 Offline Ta-metru_defender

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Posted Jun 25 2018 - 08:20 PM

And now I finally know why I've always had it in my head that Tahu was the eldest and Lewa the youngest. I have that game somewhere.

Dude, this is a fantastic compilation. Thank you so much for this.


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#13 Offline Toa of Ice - 1987

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Posted Jul 08 2018 - 09:37 AM

The only thing remarkable to me was the project bugs for the Bohrok. I had never heard of it but it looks like something lego might use in those little televisions added with lego diorama displays in toy sections like toys'r'us usually used for lego star wars and city.


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#14 Offline I Exist

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Posted Jul 08 2018 - 11:37 AM

Thanks for compliling all these info. I had the Bionicle Quest for the Masks boardgame and I am myself a Bionicle geek, so I knew most of it, except for that new info you got from Mr. Swinnerton.

It was really an enjoyable read.

 

I honestly wish some parts of the original lore was kept intact. I can't help but wonder what would Bionicle have been if the Maori lawsuit never occured... (How I wish these people would have just let it go and accept it as a tribute to their cultures instead of taking their war horses). The original, mystical lore, which was kept mostly intact in 2001 through MNOG is really what got me into Bionicle in the first place, and even tough I still enjoyed the line when it became more Sci-Fi driven, I still wish there would have been a place for that part of Bionicle (which again was mostly toss out because of the lawsuit and the complain of thoses so called worried people that Bionicle might be pushing religious ideas on people).

 

 

Also, M. Sinnerton's idea of the Makuta is closer to how I actually imagine the entity in the first place. I think they should've kept that idea, but I'm still glad of the character we got in the end too.

 

I would love to hear someday about what were Thompson ''7 books'' of Bionicle, but that will remain a mystery I fear.

 

Well, thanks again for the great read!


Edited by I Exist, Jul 08 2018 - 11:39 AM.

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#15 Offline Master Inika

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Posted Jul 10 2018 - 07:49 PM

Thanks for compliling all these info. I had the Bionicle Quest for the Masks boardgame and I am myself a Bionicle geek, so I knew most of it, except for that new info you got from Mr. Swinnerton.

It was really an enjoyable read.

 

I honestly wish some parts of the original lore was kept intact. I can't help but wonder what would Bionicle have been if the Maori lawsuit never occured... (How I wish these people would have just let it go and accept it as a tribute to their cultures instead of taking their war horses). The original, mystical lore, which was kept mostly intact in 2001 through MNOG is really what got me into Bionicle in the first place, and even tough I still enjoyed the line when it became more Sci-Fi driven, I still wish there would have been a place for that part of Bionicle (which again was mostly toss out because of the lawsuit and the complain of thoses so called worried people that Bionicle might be pushing religious ideas on people).

 

 

Also, M. Sinnerton's idea of the Makuta is closer to how I actually imagine the entity in the first place. I think they should've kept that idea, but I'm still glad of the character we got in the end too.

 

I would love to hear someday about what were Thompson ''7 books'' of Bionicle, but that will remain a mystery I fear.

 

Well, thanks again for the great read!

 

As I understand it, the major reason the Maori took offense was the use of Tohunga--unlike in BIONICLE, where the Tohunga were common villagers, a tohunga in the Maori culture is an expert in a certain skill or art. It has a connotation more like that of "priest." A similar concept is the more well-known kahuna in Hawaii.

 

Does anyone know why Jala, Maku, and Huki were the only names of characters singled out to be changed? Koli as well.


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#16 Offline Sir Kohran

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Posted Jul 10 2018 - 08:46 PM

I would love to hear someday about what were Thompson ''7 books'' of Bionicle, but that will remain a mystery I fear.


I think the plan was that each 'book' covered two to three years of story, with the division between one and another being the story's place and time. The first book was the Mata Nui years, the second the Metru Nui flashback, and the third the Ignition story. It's tempting to say the Bara Magna story was the fourth, but what Zarkan wrote above makes me think that might not have been planned.

If you multiply three (the years in each book) by seven (the number of books) you get twenty one, which sits about right with what was said above about there being twenty years of story planned.

Does anyone know why Jala, Maku, and Huki were the only names of characters singled out to be changed? Koli as well.


And Puku to Pewkuu.

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#17 Offline Sir Keksalot

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Posted Jul 10 2018 - 11:05 PM

I personally woulda loved to see the Toa viewed in a godlike context by the Matoran. It sounds fun to have this dynamic where the Matoran keep trying to worship them and be all humble before them, but the Toa don't act at all like what they imagined and just want to have regular interactions. It'd be like Jesus showing up in the Western world today only to turn out to be a huge nerd who likes board games and would rather chill with the squad than get involved in ceremonies. Imagine what that'd do to religions around the world--Christianity would be turned on its head with this bizarre revelation about its mascot, and other religions would just have to watch this nonsense unfold where it turns out that not only did another faith have the one true god, but that god was basically a regular dude with superpowers.


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#18 Offline BIzzy

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Posted Jul 11 2018 - 11:24 PM

THIS. This is magic.

 

Let me try to briefly explain:

 

I haven’t experienced this phenomenon since Bionicle was ongoing. I’m feeling a joy and excitement like I did when something new was revealed in Bionicle’s golden run…

 

Think: the Bahrag queens nearing the end of the Bohrok saga…  or the search for the 7th Toa…  or “My island home, re-found…”  or Mata Nui rising...  Fans who experienced the original theme unfolding will undoubtedly know what I’m talking about.

 

I’ve read some posts where it’s lamented that “this or that” concept wasn’t fully incorporated into the Bionicle that we remember… as if these plans/concepts/knowledge is something separate.  I may be odd this way, but personally I view those concepts as really key and even integral to the mainstream lore of the theme, NOW THAT IT’S *finally* AVAILABLE.  I don't view it as "other" "outside" or "extraneous", but rather as an enhancement to an already rich LEGO theme. In fact, if I were to introduce someone to the Bionicle line, I would without question point toward the concept plans!

 

The recent revelations and unearthing of so much early Bionicle history has been truly awesome for us and has *literally* only ADDED to the legend.

 

This work is so deserving of ongoing recognition.  :tohu:


Edited by BIzzy, Jul 11 2018 - 11:48 PM.

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#19 Offline Toa Lahka

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Posted Jul 22 2018 - 01:47 AM

Thank you so much for putting all this together! It's fascinating!


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#20 Offline Darth Jaller

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Posted Aug 02 2018 - 03:00 PM

Oh wow, this is cool. I knew the bit about the originally-intended ages for the Toa, but most of this is new to me... and makes for a really cool read. If I ever continue work on the Bionicle AU fanfic I have up my sleeve, I'm definitely incorporating some of this stuff :o

I think what I like most out of all this is the original characterisation of Makuta. Kind of a shame they did away with that eventually, but... it is what it is. And it's absolutely fascinating to see this alternate take on what he 'might' have been.

Thanks ever so much for sharing it!

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