Ye find yourself in yon GAME BLOG. Ye see a FLASK. Obvious exits are PART 1, PART 3, and PART THE ONE YOU ARE READING. What dost thou do?
>Get ye flask
>Ye can’t get ye flask.
>Go PART 1
>Ye cannot “Go PART 1”. Thou must navigate using the HELPFUL LINKS to exit this BLOG POST.
>Write BETTER BLOG POST
>I’m sorry, I don’t know how to do that with “BETTER BLOG POST”.
>Go PART THE ONE YOU ARE READING
Last time I gave an introduction to Homestuck, speculated why it was so popular, and offered some of my personal experiences on it. I said that I would talk about Homestuck-adjacent media and offer a conclusion this time, but that’s not quite accurate. See there’s this thing you’re supposed to do with articles, on the tip of my tongue, hmm oh yes: stop writing them. I didn’t do that, and so now I’m going to take a page out Hussie’s book and divide my subdivision. Today I’ll be discussing fan adventures, and soon we’ll cover music. Soon meaning a few days, because I said I’d post this Friday and I didn’t. But in a sense, is Saturday not the Friday of the soul? Is it not the ephemeral realm of freedom from the shackles of our daily lives, taking flight into the wondrous realms of joy amongst the clouds of recreation? Could it be that when we say Friday, in our deepest heart of hearts, Saturday is what we are truly understood to mean?
No, not really. I have some professional experience with past-me, that guy is full of shit.
Seamlessly transitioning right along: Fan adventures were an interesting bit of Homestuck-related media. On a section of the MSPA forums people could create their own adventures, much like Hussie had in his original work of Jailbreak. This led to a lot of really cool, creative stories whose user input drove them in strange and unconventional new directions. I’m an introvert and lurker by nature, as evidenced by the fact that it took over three and a half years for me to post anything on my blog elsewhere. As a result, I rarely hang around forums of any kind. But in this case, where unique stories were intermixed with fan interaction? I ate them up like an apt metaphor at a struggling blog writers’ convention. I consumed them by the dozens. Unfortunately, I can’t recall a single one with a satisfying conclusion.
You see, Hussie made a hard act to follow. By nature, these interactive stories mimic video games, with lots of divergences from the main plot and repetitive long-term goals. They tend to be very slow burning and long-form. Yet the nature of their creators suggests the opposite. Almost all of them started as quick fan works made by teenagers or young adults for fun. Even those with preparation beforehand faced the daunting task of advancing these massive plots while still acknowledging fan suggestions and keeping up with real life jobs and responsibilities. I once entertained the notion of starting one of these things. My sub-optimal art skills held me back at the time. I’m glad they did given the extremely high chance of it blowing up in my face. I even knew a friend who took the plunge and tried their hand at making one, but I think I’ll keep the specifics to myself. If they’re anything like me, they consider high school webcomics like baby pictures, if baby pictures could also be awkwardly written rip-offs of something worthwhile, covered in horrendous aliasing.
It seems like the MSPA forums have been down since the final update, possibly forever? But I nonetheless took a stroll through a prolific mirror site in search of stories I read years past. This is something like wading through a giant septic tank in search of the single flower that blooms every thousand feet. And then sometimes you pick up the flower and, upon daintily sniffing, recoil in horror as you realize it too is made of feces, just a particular bouquet of excrement that your younger self thought was fantastc.
Perhaps that’s being too judgmental. I haven’t read the vast majority of these adventures. So it would be more apt to say I’m walking through a garden and everything smells like garbage, but if I just picked up one of the waste-flowers and examined it more closely I’d find out it’s actually a wonderful flower with a lovely personality and we actually have a lot in common and then seven years down the line me and the flower that smells like rotting flesh get married and give birth to a beautiful Vileplume or something.
Okay, I admit the metaphor may have broken down just a tad. But you don’t pay me for fancy flower metaphors! Or at all, but don’t distract from my hastily thrown together justifications. You pay to see me subject myself to horrible or enjoyable media so you can laugh at my misfortune or ditch me for a better writer, respectively. At least, that’s how I’ve been interpreting this relationship. Maybe I’d get a better idea of what you want from me if we just sat down and talked like we used to!
The metaphor is breaking down again.
Look, I’ve flown so far off the rails my train of thought just collided with an airliner, so I’ll drop the pretense before I hurt myself. I am going to share some forum adventures I like. I will stick to the highest quality I know of, and warn you of what their status on updating is. Spoiler alert: none of the finished ones were good enough to make this list.
Despite one massive flaw, Prequel is definitely my number one recommendation. It started as a forum adventure about a Khajiit with low self-esteem entering the land of Oblivion. You may recognize Oblivion as that one thing I’ve written over 64,000(!) words on. Prequel takes place, fittingly, before the events of the main game. As such, it takes delight in referencing and foreshadowing the game wherever possible, eking a lot of jokes out of either this or exaggerating the personalities of existing characters. It helps that the writing is sharp as hell and consistently hilarious. It also helps that a ton of effort is put into the art. It has better visuals than many stand-alone webcomics, let alone hastily thrown together forum adventures. It features plenty of animated images and several interactive scenes. Did I mention the writing is awesome? It’s awesome.
“So sounds like it’s the best at everything forever” you proclaim, your boundless starry-eyed enthusiasm only matched by your horrifically stunted mental capacity. Gosh you are so dang stupid. But it’s okay reader. I understand your (moronic) plight. We can work through your idiocy together.
See that date at the top of the most recent update? October 31st, 2015. Now look down at the date in the corner of your computer screen, because we’re still doing that thing where I patronize you throughout the hypothetical. You will notice that these dates are far apart. This comic updates very rarely. Now is a particularly bad stretch, but even under normal operations months of no Prequel is the norm. Sometimes you’ll get a few weeks in succession, but more commonly there’s a space of months followed by some relatively large updates to compensate.
Shush would like this story.
If there’s a silver lining to this, it’s that it has been happening for years, yet the updates keep coming with respectable amounts of content. In other words, this doesn’t seem to be scraps from a burnt-out author or the decaying corpse of a comic. It just seems like someone having serious difficulty finding the time. Still concerning, but I hold out hope that the comic will continue for years to come. So if you think you can deal with the breaks, by all means, dive in! Prequel is an extremely charming and funny comic, especially if you’ve played Oblivion.
Out of the vast multitude of adventures that I read back in the ancient days of lore, only 3 are still updating. The first is Prequel, and this is the second. Waterworks is a story about a concerned citizen heading to a local factory to get her home running water again, only to become embroiled in the plot of some cutthroat (if silly) mercenaries and possibly more sinister forces. Waterworks follows the style of MSPA more closely than my other recommendations. It has a very basic art style but is heavily animated, there are a lot of goofy suggestions taken and it gradually increases in complexity and gravity as it goes on. It’s not as consistently witty and hilarious as Hussie’s work or even Prequel, but it’s still entertaining and interesting in its own right. Despite being one of the oldest fan adventures I know at well over 6 years running time, it continues to update regularly...except when it doesn’t at all.
See, forum adventures often go through what we call a hiatus. It’s long break in the proceedings which the author will theoretically come back from one day to continue business as usual. About half the time, what it actually meant was the adventure was dead. About a quarter of the time, it meant the adventure would come back after a break, pump out up to a dozen updates, then go back on hiatus and die. About an eighth of the time...you get the idea. If a hiatus didn’t outright kill an adventure, it was likely the start of a story’s torturously slow demise over months or years. Waterworks is unique in that it’s had multiple huge, half-year or longer hiatuses (hiatusii?), and yet it’s always gone back to regular updates afterwards.
Also, one of its animations features music from Jet Set Radio, which is pretty much guaranteed to instantly win my affection.
I was going to take a screenshot of that, and then remembered that you can’t post a flash animation as an image and also that I am a lunkheaded buffoon. So have this image instead.
But don’t bust out the confetti, turn on the rave music, and begin the celebratory dance of your people just yet. Trust me, it looks stupid anyway, and you do that awkward thing with your left leg and one time you hit Nancy with it and now she’ll never go out with you. So cease thine partying, because Waterworks has problems beyond hiatuses. That problem is what I like to call plot drift. It’s something these adventures often suffer due to mimicking the longer form style of video game plots.
Waterworks starts with a clear goal, and then obstacles start shifting that goal to another and next thing you know you’re waist-deep in the seventh circle of Hades to trade a series of items to your haberdasher so he’ll refit one of your buttons for a fancy office party. In layman’s terms, you get sidetracked. The most recent third of this adventure has been a flash back from a flash forward from a dream sequence we had on a quest not strictly related to what we came in for. There’s building a shaky foundation for your narrative and then there’s propping up a skyscraper with some toothpicks and half melted gummy bears. I’m invested enough to check back sporadically, but I could understand if you felt otherwise. Schedule misgivings aside, fun times.
Of the adventures here, Superego is definitely the least funny. There are certainly jokes here and there, as any good writer knows that being hyper-serious all the time is as bad for drama as it is comedy. Nonetheless, Superego is definitely more focused on drama. A group of people are trapped in a strange facility in a featureless void, where all of them start meeting and confronting strange anomalies that remind them of their character flaws. Does that seem like a vague summary? Well, Superego is a vague story! Mystery is a driving force of the plot, and I never read far enough to get a good picture of what was really going on.
Back when I last read a couple years ago, it was a compelling and well-written story with some clean, admirable art behind it. It also has the advantage of being far more stable than most adventures. It typically updates with several pages a couple times a week, and has kept this up for five years with never more than about a month’s gap. I’m so impressed by its consistency that I’ve resolved to catch up with it, but sadly can’t before this post. I mean this thing is 2000+ pages. Between it, all the other forum adventures, and Homestuck itself, some skimming is all I can spare lest we eat up another week of my time. So my opinion on it isn’t particularly detailed or insightful, but the true artiste does not let such petty things as standards get in the way of their noble work of delivering unsolicited opinions on niche internet comics.
Who here loves tragic disappointment? Eh? No one? Well too bad because it’s failure o’clock at the expectations factory, and we’re going on an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour. Legend of the Hunter was the lengthiest, highest production and most engaging adventure I ever saw crash and burn. Well, not crash and burn so much as slowly grind to a halt and then promptly disappear into the night. That’s right, this is one of those sad cases of infinite hiatus. It’s been over 3 years since the last update. This ship has sailed so far it discovered the Americas.
I had a strong internal debate on whether to even include any doomed adventures, because I know firsthand the disappointment they can bring. At least with Waterworks or Superego you have hope. Here there’s none of that, which is why I’m giving it such an ominous disclaimer. If you can accept that it’ll ultimately end in sadness, Legend of the Hunter is worth your time. It’s an adventure in the style of a fantasy RPG. There’s an admirable degree of wackiness, a dash of zaniness, and a sumptuous hint of tomfoolery. It made tons of game parody jokes, fourth wall jokes, and had generally snappy writing. But beneath all the fairly amusing update-to-update humor is an interesting narrative whose major flaw was, well, ending at what seemed less than halfway through. It’s not perfect, but it’s fun while it lasts.
It’s about five minutes before you’re attacked by a giant bartender who fights by throwing horses. If that doesn’t pique your interest, I don’t know what will.
It’s also pretty massive, pumping out over 1,300 updates in less than a year and a half. That is some crazy fast work for a hobbyist on a forum, but you know what makes it crazier? All of the updates were full color, had backgrounds, frequently featured light animation and used (relatively) realistically proportioned characters. I don’t know how many firstborn children the author had to sacrifice to dark forces to get this sort of output, but if I were presented with an exchange rate this high I might suddenly remember that babies are stupid and who cares about their well-being. Of course, there has to be some catch. The obvious one is the eventual halt of updates, which you’d expect after burning yourself out so long. The other is that the art is fairly sketchy at times, often featuring awkwardly proportioned bodies or angles. That being said, it’s a small price to pay for this rapid conveyor belt of colorful art and fun writing.
There’s certainly effort and quality abounds here. Just be prepared for the abrupt end.
With that, dear reader, our time together is at an end. Hopefully you can stomach the vast oceans of time you must endure until we meet again. And by vast oceans of time, I mean like a few days or something. With any luck, I’ve given you some enjoyable things to read in the meantime. These fan adventures are a fairly unique and interesting way of delivering a narrative, which is probably why past-me tanked so much time into bumbling through them. There were a lot of disappointments, some agonizingly long waits and a sea of sub-standard stories. But for all those flaws, if I could go back I don’t think I’d invest that time differently. I’ve squeezed a lot of enjoyment out of these tales in spite of all the wasted time, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.