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For a little context, this story takes place in the same continuity as The Kanohi Force Comedy, Vanquished Alliance and Gilead by Irrie, as well as Fractured Light and Endless by Ghidora131. I wanted to give a grand overview of the continuity my comrades and I have set up, so I've prepared this series for you all. It takes place in the BZ-Nui pocket dimension, which is tacked on to our reality. You'll catch on as we dive deeper into the story. With that, let's get started! Chapter 1 "'Take a shortcut,' I said. 'It'll be faster,' I said. If I'd known it would get this bad up here, I wouldn't have come!" The Po-Matoran's words cut into the icy gale that hammered against him and the surrounding mountains. He was on his way to New Ga-Koro, and instead of taking the usual route far to the south, Sigilix had decided to cut course and travel through the mountains to the northeast of BZ-Metru and BZ-Koro. Few had traveled this way in decades, but there were still some old service routes that had still remained. The trick was finding one that would actually take him all the way through. And the storm made it even worse. He had been warned that the weather could become hazardous in these parts, but he'd never gotten the chance to see it for himself at this proximity. The biting wind and pounding sleet and rain made it hard to focus on the path. Sigilix pulled his scarf tighter up around his Pakari and hunched down as he trudged onwards. He was of average height, for a Matoran, standing only a little over four feet. His broad shoulders and stout frame were covered in bronze, yellow, and black armor, and light blue eyes shone from behind his mask, which was currently dripping with rainwater. Too often, he considered trying to find shelter, but as far as he could see, there was nothing but steep slopes, thick trees, and the road for miles. He had a small tent with him, but there didn't seem to be anywhere open to him. So he just kept going into the stormy twilight. "A Chronicler's job is never easy," he muttered to himself. He tried to distract himself from the discomfort by thinking about his present task, but the weather was completely unforgiving. A small landslide somewhere above him sent rocks tumbling down around him. He leaped towards the mountainside and pressed himself up against the rock and dirt, trying to avoid any larger rocks that might harm him. After a few moments, the falling rocks ceased, and the Po-Matoran stumbled on. "Someone should really take better care of these roads." Finally, the darkness came and swallowed up the road. Soaking wet through his armor and chilled to the bone, Sigilix found his hands too numb to hold a flashlight. Giving in, he pulled out a heavy travel cloak from his bag and searched for a spot among a nearby stand of trees growing in a narrow valley between two peaks. Finding a spot where the road seemed to branch out into the trees, Sigilix hunkered down and tried to dry himself out before he got some sleep. An hour passed, and finally, he closed his eyes and passed out. Had he remained awake, he would have noticed a dark figure weaving its way through the trees towards him. To be continued.... Review topic
I learned a new term a few months back- "Transmedia Storytelling". It refers to a story told through multiple media, which may include film, television, print, digital and interactive media, comics, and various products. The concept is arguably as old as storytelling itself- after all, Greek myths were told orally, recorded in print, performed as plays, and represented in art through paintings and sculpture, and the trend for novelisations, comic book adaptations and other supplementary material for popular films has been going on for decades. But when I first heard the term "Transmedia," the very first thing I thought of was Bionicle. So, this post is gonna be a bit of a look into how Bionicle has used transmedia strategies successfully over the years, some aspects that let it down towards the end, as well as how they could potentially be used in future to make Bionicle a massive global brand. Bionicle seems to have really been a pioneer in terms of transmedia storytelling, in that it wasn't told through any one "primary" medium,(like how Star Wars is a film series first and a book/comic/game/animated TV series second), nor did its various media break off into separate continuities ala Pokemon. All the different media contributed towards one unified story- but it was in pieces! Back in 2001-2003, you could read the Hapka novels and get what felt like a cohesive, complete narrative, or you could play MNOG and watch the online episodes and get an equally "complete" narrative. But if you only consumed the online content, you'd never know about the Shadow Toa. If you only read the books, you'd never know about the Toa's first encounter with Makuta himself. Just like with the sets themselves, the consumer had to put all the pieces together to get the full picture. The sheer depth of the online content was remarkable. You could spend hours and hours on Bionicle.com playing the games, learning about the island and going through the chronicles. The world it created was so incredibly detailed, the characters were quirky and endearing, and it made the island of Mata Nui feel like a place that you loved to visit. And it was available to anyone with an Internet connection, completely free. Brilliant. But starting around 2004, the online content was drastically stripped back. The storytelling focus shifted to the DVD movies, as well as to the books. Both required the consumer to spend money to get the content, and that's not always something that young children are prepared or able to do unless they already have some investment in the characters. Older fans from the beginning who were still engaged kept going with the story content, and the books remained excellent, but it was becoming harder and harder for new fans to get on board. 2006 marked an interesting time in Bionicle's marketing. LEGO started producing a bunch of content designed to draw in new fans with a dark, urban, "street" feel to it, but had little or no relation to the actual storyline (Think the Piraka Rap, Bionicle Heroes, Save the Band, etc). The sets sold well, and so the brand was promoted successfully, but it didn't really help with the storytelling problem as far as the canon storyline was concerned. The fact that they'd stopped making the movies didn't help, either. Around 2007, we got the web serials (yay! Online content!), a sorta-canon mini-movie, and Cryoshell's music. I wish they'd done more with the musical side of Bionicle- it was a great idea having a band attached to it. More of a focus on canon here, which was nice, but by this time the canon was massive, sprawling, had dozens upon dozens of characters, and was quite difficult for a casual fan to get a grasp on. One series of books and a few serials, all written by one man, were struggling to cope with the enormity of this universe. Little changed over the next few years. By the time The Legend Reborn was released, LEGO already knew they wouldn't be continuing the line, and so little effort was put into the marketing. And so it ended with a whimper. Fast forward to Gen 2. New continuity, blank slate for new fans. I have to say, it's been a bit sparse. Certainly nothing compared with the amount of content back in '01. A series of animated shorts, good animation but only one voice actor- and the start of of a book series. I personally found the book a bit disappointing- the first half had a bit of fleshing out on the Toa's arrival, while the second half is just a transcription of the events in the webisodes. There's also games for mobile devices, which is a decent start, but still not a patch on the start of G1. We have a Netflix series coming (finally!), which might well bring the story to life properly, but at the moment, I'll confess that I'm not quite ready to get my hopes up. Sorry to be a bit negative, but I really do think that Bionicle has been wasting its massive potential recently. G1 had a universe that wanted to be enormous, but the limitations on the media used to tell stories really hurt it. Laziness and stinginess, basically. If LEGO was willing to spend a significant sum of money on it, I believe that Bionicle could have eventually become a truly massive multimedia franchise, widely adored by adults and children alike. Maybe in future generations, they'll be able to take it further. So, here's a hypothetical plan designed to mimic the story arcs of G1 (though I wouldn't want it to be a complete repeat, plot details should vary), incorporating multiple media. (spoilered for length) More 2001-2003 story: This is where the biggest risks happen. Start with online content, a MNOG-style game released in chapters, and some viral content giving glimpses of the setting. Make kids love the Matoran (or equivalents) like they love Minions- keep the Toa out of the way for now, but bring out the sets, definitely. Books, comics, games would be good additions. This is all leading up to the release of the first theatrical movie. Now, here's the tricky bit: In the event of the first movie's success, they need to be ready to get the sequel (Bohrok saga equivalent?) out, fast- two years at the longest. Requires extensive collusion between set designers, story team and everyone involved with the movie. And have a third one start early production during this time. The third movie would be basically a theatrical equivalent of Mask of Light. In the time between the release of the second and third films, an animated TV series would tell a story similar to the Borohk Kal one- something that's engaging and could make up a series-length arc, but doesn't actually have anything too important to the over-arching plot and so doesn't confuse those that only watch the films. And yeah, I know, they can't put out a feature film every year. I suggest it be done in trilogies. 2004-05's equivalent- a flashback involving a different set of characters, would be great material for a longer-running animated series. The sheer length of it makes it seem much more appropriate to TV than to movies. The sorts of online content that would be appropriate to Metru Nui would be fun to explore- perhaps some codebreaking, riddles, puzzle games etc could be incorporated, as well as serials, character blogs, etc. Next up is the Legends saga, with another film trilogy. Whether or not any TV series ran alongside it is up in the air, but having books and comics elaborate on the characters' adventures (particularly villain backstories) would be great. After that is where I'd really change it up. Two animated series. One taking place on Bara Magna, in the year before Mata Nui arrives. One taking place in the Matoran Universe, under Teridax's reign. The former would have a short run, and lead up into the next set of films, that have Mata Nui's arrival and the defeat of Makuta, while the MU series would run all the way through that storyline. After that? Who knows. There would still be stories to tell, I'm sure. I've focused mostly on the "big" media here since I was trying to wrap my head around how a film series could possibly work, though the online content is not to be underestimated. Telling the one story across multiple media to the extent Bionicle managed in the early years is something that can really be worked as a strength- just look at what Star Wars is doing right now, with the range of spin-off series and media available. Will Bionicle ever be on par with Star Wars? Maybe not, but I think it could certainly give Transformers, Lord of the Rings, maybe even various Marvel properties a run for their money. I really do hope the franchise is given its chance to shine. What do you think? What do you like/dislike about Bionicle's multi-modal storytelling? Where do you think it could go? Edit: Spoiler tag converted to "more" tag; please use spoiler tags for storyline spoilers only. -Wind-