Everyone.... I need a moment of your time.
Years ago, in the interim between Bionicle Generations 1 and 2, when there was no G2 on the horizon, I and other fans kept Bionicle alive in our own ways. Mine was by picking up the original story thousands of years later, with a new generation of Matoran that had settled on another planet. Most of the characters were new faces, and the familiar few that did return were cast in a new light.
The structure was pretty simple, at first. For every six months, I'd whip up a "short" story with a "wave" of characters associated with it, trying to recreate the feeling of keeping up with the magazines in the 2000s and such. Typically three Matoran characters and a wave of Toa or villains.
The nostalgia factor of this came not from the scant returning elements, but that feeling of walking into an alien new world. I tried to recapture the magic of 2001 by building a great big sandbox and.... dumping viewers into it. The format was a hybrid of the comics and online serials, mostly text with an illustration here or there. And for a time? It was good. It was fun, it was special.
But sometimes later on, I..... fell out of it. I shifted focus to things like Planet Ripple, and worked on other projects between volumes. I just didn't have time for this. The whole idea of the format was I'd be able to tell more of the story in less space and time than, say, a comic, but even that eventually proved inefficient and I started making the illustrations and text separate to save time. Even that didn't help much, and I eventually gave up just as it was getting good.
And I kept telling myself I'd jump back into it eventually, but every few months I look back and attempt re-entry... and I burn up.
I'm just gonna say it. I don't like Nova Orbis anymore. Not as it was. I've changed a lot as a writer and an artist in the last several years, and there is so much I see here that just doesn't hold up. The writing, especially. The dialog is plodding and probably SOUNDED profound to me at the time, but that just means I liked to hear my characters talk. It's downright navel-gazy. The whole IDEA of going with this format was to condense a sprawling story to be digestible, but in no time at all it became as lore-heavy as the worst parts of G1. It's a monster of walls of text and bloated conversations that don't really.... SAY much. Like there's nuggets of gold in there, but they have to be dug out. Streamlined, simplified. And to top it all, the text is all but unreadable with DeviantArt's new, darker facelift, and more websites are going that way.
Here are some things I would change if I took a crack at Nova Orbis nowadays.
Make a better island. Miro Nui's just kind of ugly to me now. I could clean it up a good deal. Put a body of water inside the island like America's great lakes and have the Ga, Ce and Vo-Matoran live there, instead of away from the island.
Merge the tribes. I had thirteen Matoran tribes on this island, and grouped them together into about five "wahis." I'd lean into this aspect more, blending some of the tribes together into fewer "tribes" since they don't look all that different anyways, and I want to show these diverse people becoming more interwoven and getting along.
Fewer scenes where the Turaga are obtuse and vague just for artificial tension. This is by far the MOST ANNOYING part of reading Nova Orbis to me, now. To keep the story going and create a mystery, I basically made the Turaga Knuckles' stupid dad Locke from the Archie Sonic comics and his brotherhood of detached grandpas. I'd also include more scenes where the Toa grow frustrated with the Turaga and confront them.
MAKE CALOR INTERESTING. My word, what a wet blanket of a character. I tried to make him a subversion of the Toa of Fire shtick, less hot-tempered and headstrong, but..... he just came off like a really dull guy. You can make a "soft" fire character, like Vakama in 2004. You can make Toa of Fire who can't deal with the pressure of leading their own Toa teams, but the way I did it was tepid. These days, I'd make Calor... a mood. He'd be more cynical, not overbearingly, just.... disillusioned. Maybe he could even relate to Ahkmou, that'd be something.
And, probably the most paradoxical change of all.... I might have to make it a comic.
I know that sounds crazy, like "How would you find the time to adapt ALL THAT TEXT into comic form?" Simple. I wouldn't. If I were to attempt such a thing, I'd cut out a lot of lines and descriptions that just don't need to be there. Simplify the dialog, make each line impactful and poignant, and let the scenery and expressions speak for themselves. They'd ideally be fairly short comics, "issues" like the official ones. This isn't how I normally do things these days, but I tried something similar with my old Star Fox comics and it was a good exercise in restraint if nothing else.
The point is, Nova Orbis is a bloated beast that I just don't think can be saved. If I ever DO reattempt it, say... in 2021, Bionicle's 20th anniversary, I'd rebuild it from the ground up. If I ever caught up to where the original story left off and picked up from there, it'd continue more or less the same, but in a more digestible format, which was really the point of Nova Orbis all along. A fresh start.
Now, I understand the concern some may bring up here, that I'll just end up unsatisfied with my older work every few years and keep restarting it over and over, never finishing it, but I don't see that happening. I don't find myself redoing all of my older works. There's just something about Nova Orbis in particular that's.... less compatible by the day. It really doesn't hold up. But if I can salvage what's good about it, then I'd like to try. Maybe when "The Toa" is finished. Maybe I've been going about this all wrong from the beginning.
A widget for your thoughts?