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 It's Finally Over! 
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Unread post It's Finally Over!
To: Cpt********.1465.UNSC.THESEUS
From: somefriendlyidjit
Origin: The Internet
Received: When you read it
Sent: When I hit this button
Classifications: For everybody who participated, or who enjoyed reading.
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Subject: Thank you.

Wow. The majority of a month. I hope you all enjoyed my little love letter to the Halo Universe.

I'm sure you all have questions, comments, etc. Honestly, I'd rather do this in a chat than anything else, but I'll keep on checking this thread for a while. Before that, however, I want to have a moment to talk.

All this arguably started with Halo 3: ODST. For Firefight, my handle was F404. Not inventive, considering the band I was listening to. When Reach came out is where it really started. Not the game itself, but the journal. I love the game, but I love the journal that much more. Even if it had a few things in it that drove me insane.

“So, seriously, what is she a doctor of, anyway? Everything?” - A friend, upon reading the journal

There have always been things about the Halo universe that have driven me insane. I'm normally fairly willing to let stuff slide, but there's one thing that has always annoyed me: Dr. Catherine Halsey. There's times where it feels like she's the only technical person that's competent in the entire universe. It's not a question of what can she do, it's a question of what can't she do?

She doesn't need a staff, she can come up with designs of armor, biology, AI design, sociology, dimensional physics, archeology, cryptography... Seriously, show me a genius in that many fields who makes as many revolutionary advances in an era where advances should come at a grindingly slow pace as she apparently does, and I'll explode like a Grunt with a headshot. (Wait, you mean you can turn Grunty Birthday Party off? ...Why?)

Yet she makes some simple mistakes. I'm fairly sure that if you even spread out the augmentations that the Spartans got over the space of a month, more would have survived. But no, they made multiple drastic alterations to the body all at once.

But she wasn't the only thing. Aspects of Spartan training, aspects of the Covenant, certain decisions during the war, stylistic choices, blah blah blah. One of the most important? If they didn't wash out during the augmentations, then Spartans never seem to have any ill effects from those same procedures that cause such huge changes to their body.

I'd like to take a moment to say that these got under my skin simply because I love the universe that much. I want it to be perfect. I don't want to see glaring flaws. I don't want to admit that the Master Chief is a two dimensional character.

Some of you might think that I set out to fix that. I didn't. I set out to create a simple different way that it could have gone.

From the start, this was going to be an ARG about F404. I later changed his name for math purposes, but kept the F404 for a good bit of geek humor. (No, it wasn't me having a case of CYA, I honestly thought I'd fixed everything.) I designed it originally to be a multimedia experience, with pictures, audio files, puzzles, and even machinima. It would have two websites: One for the UNSC Theseus, and one for the UNSC Unchained Fate.

The Theseus would be built as the ship's systems, complete with daily reports, communications from HIGHCOM, and even a system for folks to communicate with Chair. Chair's emails would have various bits of hidden information which would lead to hidden pages, one of those being the website for the Unchained Fate. That would have snippets from the Theseus' crew.

The research that I did... I talked with people who work with physics, Navy personnel, a couple of guys who work with NASA, chemistry professors, several doctors and EMTs, a couple of writers, a drill sergeant, a gentleman who works with stem cells... Yes, I did a lot of research for this. Not enough, but a lot.

I wanted to create something that could feel real, tangible. Something that still kept everything in the Halo universe, but just a wildly different take on it. The few fans that I showed the Mod1 Mark 1 version to liked it, which gave me courage. The ones who weren't fans really dug it, which really excited me. I felt like I was onto something.

I did several more drafts before forging ahead. Chair's tone and how much she provided would be determined by the players; I had multiple branching points, and multiple variations for how it would go. The recorded dialogue would remain the same for the F484 stuff, but the stuff that happened on board the Theseus would change if the players mentioned anything, so I was only going to record audio on “universal” events or stuff that was most likely to happen. After a snag on the machinima scripts, I rewrote them, ready to try again.

So, naturally, everything went wrong.

“You actually expect me to say this?”

The sets were built in Forge and ready to go. Ugly as sin from the wrong angles, but for the shots that I had in mind, they were perfect. They even included the discovery of Halo by a group of Marines outfitted with prototype Kavacha armor. The fall of the power station, showing how the Orions defending it had set everything up, and what kind of a meat grinder it was for the Covenant to take it. I even recreated the long walk to the Library.

Naturally, the crew I collected didn't show up. Nobody. Not a single person. I doublechecked the emails. Yup, they all had the right time, my gamertag, everything. But nobody showed up. I tried to get ahold of them, and was met with silence.

Great.

Being the rational, intelligent, patient man that I am, I scrapped the machinima, did some re-re-re-re-rewriting, and tried to put it behind me. (They STILL HAVE YET TO RESPOND TO MY EMAILS! ARRRGLE!)

Next came the voice actors. The initial bout of stuff that I received was... good. Not great, but good. Honestly, I had a terrific crew. Sadly, that fell apart, too. One by one, they lost interest, Real Life happened, they lost their computer, Myung's voice actress never sent in anything... You name it, it happened.

At this point, I was losing faith. But still I pushed ahead!

...until the web dude decided he didn't want to try to keep making templates, figuring out how to make the puzzles work, etc. Not that I blame him, it was a lot of work and I couldn't exactly pay him without risking getting in trouble and needing a lawyer. (I'm still not sure if I would have, but I'm most familiar with Games Workshop and how they handle their IP, so... yeah.)

That was the straw that broke the camel's back. I curled up into my creative hole and gave up on the entire thing. I knew I couldn't post it to the Halo fanon wiki due to their policy about stuff that shreds canon, so I was apparently without resource for sharing it.

But if you create something and worked really hard at it, you want to share it. I'd put a lot of effort into the shout outs to the Halo community, all of them. (People kept talking about Captain Sinclair. Poor Hamish never even got suggested!) I was reading through the crew stuff, and specifically the Raschad stuff.

The Lebanon. Enkidu.

Luis Wu.

I popped him an email because, holy BLAM! I'm not doing this without his permission. I mean, seriously. I've been a moderator multiple times before, and I know what goes into it. I wouldn't plop something like this down on his forums without checking first.

Wu, you're a cool guy. Don't let anybody tell you different. He said yes, and suddenly I had hope again. Fear, but also hope.

“You're always pretty pale, dude, but maybe you should take a day off to at least look at the big burning thing in the sky.”

The rest, as you can see, is history. You guys were awesome. There were fourteen times where I looked at the 83 different documents that I'd written up and realized that I had not planned for this AT ALL. (Carver, I'm looking at you. That speech you gave the crew made me wish I didn't have to go into work just so that I could beat my head against the wall until I came up with a way to salvage my scripts.)

Were there points where I wanted to smack the snot out of you guys? Yes, I'll admit it. I got pretty blunt with some hints about “DON'T ASK ABOUT SPARTAN STUFF PLZ!!!” My roomies became familiar with the sound of an echoing “blargle” coming from my room.

I'd also like to apologize to all of you. Some of you I ignored for various reasons, and I'm sorry about that. I'd also like to apologize for some of the writing being craptacular. During this run, I went through some family drama that I'll spare you from, sickness, food poisoning, a friend dying... Yeah, there were a lot of rough spots during this for me, which affected my writing.

I'm also trying for the open submissions with Black Library in May. It can be a little hard to go from writing about Warhammer 40,000 to Halo. (Though my opinions on how ONI should be and how Inquisitors should be are surprisingly similar.) Just a little bit though. Tiny, tiny bit. Only the size of one AU.

Halfway through, the voice actor that played Raschad got back in touch with me, which was awesome. We haven't re-recorded any of his dialogue, but some of the original stuff was exactly how I imagined Raschad sounding. Hats off to you, Pravi.

Believe it or not, you guys kept fairly close to the original in the Chair communications, but for the crew... There was no mutiny, nobody but the initial people died, Raschad didn't die... No, seriously. In almost every ending, Raschad was dead. Only one was he happy and fully functional, but that was supposed to be a fridge horror thing anyway.

I'd also like to say that the final version of this was supposed to run for 73 days. I decided that I wanted to cut it back and more than double up on my postings so that I didn't have to do this on my birthday. That and the other day I went to go play some Reach after work to get into the mindset for my morning post only to discover that F484 isn't an allowed service tag any more. OOP!

Also, I'd like to say one thing: One friend accused me of writing a “better and happier” ending because of how Earth didn't get attacked. I disagree. F484 isn't right in the head, and he has control of all Forerunner structures. His only companion for how long now is Myung, who's an insurrectionist. (Albeit the kind that he actually approves of, for the most part.) They are familiar with almost everything humanity does via Knowing. The UNSC isn't unified. The UEG is all but disbanded, and it's now a military state, effectively. The Covenant are still out there and really hate humanity... I'd say that's a lot worse than in the canon universe.

Also, have I mentioned how awesome EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU ARE? Everybody who posted something helped shape this story. Every question (answered or not), every comment, everything influenced it. If you ever find yourselves in SE Iowa, dinner's on me. No lunch, though, I work third shift.

Seriously, thank you all for being so terrific.

Sincerely,

Chair/Hive/Helen/that one guy who does the thing with the thing sometimes

Questions, comments, flames, slander, insults, offers of food, etc are all welcome for as long as I keep remembering to hit refresh.


Fri Apr 01, 2011 7:07 pm
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Unread post Re: It's Finally Over!
You got the point on Carver right there, sometimes I wonder if he is a hidden puppeteer helping to push the story!

Thank you for the entertainment you gave us, puzzles now and then, whether official or fanfic, always get loved by at least us in the Halo community. :)

So, how much of a writer have you been, seeing you come up with this whole mini-arg?

Can't say I'm not disappointed that this adventure has ended, but hey, since I'm currently overseas in China, I don't suppose I have much to complain about...


Last edited by the new one on Fri Apr 01, 2011 7:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Apr 01, 2011 7:48 pm
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Unread post Re: It's Finally Over!
Thank you! It's been a lot of fun (even if I was almost always just a passive participant)... I wish its end was an April Fools' joke.
What's up with Mulroon at the end?
Arithmomaniac

PS. Who the heck are you? You haven't posted on HBO with that name in 7 years...


Fri Apr 01, 2011 7:49 pm
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Unread post Re: It's Finally Over!
Mostly, all I have to say is: THANK YOU.

You kept my mind busy and running full-time this past month, when otherwise I would've been zombie-ing from lack of sleep.

I can honestly say there wasn't a day when I didn't think of this ARG since it's first weekend. I was thoroughly entertained for the whole of it. You, my good sir, are a fantastic creator.

Thank you.


Fri Apr 01, 2011 7:57 pm
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Unread post From one ARG builder to another...
That was spectacularly done!

True, it wound up being more Role-Play like than an ARG in the typical sense, but it was engaging, the plot was engrossing, and I had a lot of fun with it (and by god, I learned more about military regulations than I would have under typical circumstances).

From a multimedia perspective more images would have been nice, even screenshots or the rare voice clip. If you need a voice in the future, give me a call, I did, like, 40 of them for my thing, and it got people really excited and believing in it, hence why at the very beginning I was voicing words of doubt because when I see a wall of text, I think Role-Play, not ARG.

Out of curiosity, what were the specific things we said or did that especially caught you off-guard? You mentioned some stuff about the crew, and I'd be interested in your own reactions to our responses to the major story events.

Also, you pulled out the responses pretty quickly. Did you have most of this written up beforehand? I get the feeling of that with Chair, but not so much Hive and Helen. If not, do you have any speed-writing tips?

Finally, the end was a bit hectic and sudden. I was expecting some sort of confrontation and bargaining with F484 after all the Anomaly items (I was this close to bringing the ship up to combat-alert alpha), even after the communication with Raschad. Chair's message seemed to fit that in my head. So when everything just stopped and we found ourselves with Dr. Muldoon popping up as an ONI agent and Helen''s counter, I was shocked because it was so unrelated from the general story direction and because Muldoon just seemed like a grumpy Dr. McCoy sort, not an ONI agent. Whether this is a good or bad thing, I'll leave up to you to decide.

Thanks for an interesting show, it added a fun spark to my week.


Last edited by thereIwasn't on Fri Apr 01, 2011 8:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Apr 01, 2011 7:58 pm
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Unread post Re: It's Finally Over!
I missed Carver's speech. Is there a link?

Great job! Sorry about my share of the headaches. (Can never tell when the 'useless' trivia suddenly becomes important.)


Fri Apr 01, 2011 8:08 pm
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Unread post Re: It's Finally Over!
Carver's Speech:
viewtopic.php?f=37&t=1575&p=21659#p21659


Fri Apr 01, 2011 8:12 pm
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Unread post Re: It's Finally Over!
Ah, right. I'd stopped reading after he redacted my 'lock 'em up' order. (Bad day at work, that day. Sorry)


Fri Apr 01, 2011 8:38 pm
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Unread post Re: It's Finally Over!
the new one wrote:
You got the point on Carver right there, sometimes I wonder if he is a hidden puppeteer helping to push the story!


I wish. YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH I WISH. No, this ended up being entirely me, myself, and the the cat that likes to lay on my arm or my poor netbook while I'm trying to type. Honestly, that was one of the many, many, many lessons I learned with this. Don't do it solo! Also, editing is your friend.

the new one wrote:
So, how much of a writer have you been, seeing you come up with this whole mini-arg?


I've been writing since I realized that this whole typing thing was easier than a pen and paper. I'm one of those annoying guys who gets more ideas than he has time or inclination to write about. I do NaNoWriMo every year, once every couple of years I do something huge for 40k peeps (more in line with the canon than this) with drabble in between, and generally whenever I'm not occupied with something else at the time.

the new one wrote:
Can't say I'm not disappointed that this adventure has ended, but hey, since I'm currently overseas in China, I don't suppose I have much to complain about...


I'm actually sad, too. I'm going to miss waking up and checking the board to see who I would curse out and cackle gleefully over. (Frequently the same person for the same post.)

Arithmomaniac wrote:
Thank you! It's been a lot of fun (even if I was almost always just a passive participant)... I wish its end was an April Fools' joke.


Hey, I saw your name. Being able to see who was checking the page did a lot for me. It told me that people were still interested. Over time, I came to recognize everybody. I can honestly say that now that it's done, I'm going to miss y'all... even if most of the time you were just a name that appears at the bottom of a screen.

Arithmomaniac wrote:
What's up with Mulroon at the end?


Tch. I was worried about that. ZachDark brought up this line that made me very happy: "Is it just me, or everyone we hear about had ONI offer them a job at least once?" The answer? Yes. This was always an ONI op, they just didn't let anybody know about it. That way they A) had plausible deniability, B) if F484 was angry with ONI he wouldn't be as likely to lash out, and C) ONI works best when you don't know they're ONI. Muldoon had, much like Raschad, crafted a persona to present to the ship that would keep people from becoming too close. Unlike Raschad, his reasons were so that he could continue to be the senior operative on the mission without forming personal attachments to people he might have to send to their death.

Oddly, Helen had a problem with him.

One of the things that always annoys me in ARGs is that everybody always tells the truth. In this, there's only one character who doesn't lie to you at some point -- Hive.

Arithmomaniac wrote:
PS. Who the heck are you? You haven't posted on HBO with that name in 7 years...


Oh, I've been around, off and on. See, I just don't post. I'm not good with this whole forum thing. IRC I can (mostly) handle, but unless if people talk to me, I don't usually say anything. I'm a quiet kind of guy, and that doesn't work well in a forum environment. But believe me, I've been around since Combat Evolved came out.

I think I've posted on the main forum... twice? Something like that.

ZackDark wrote:
Mostly, all I have to say is: THANK YOU.


No, THANK YOU! Seriously. I know exactly how often you checked the board. You have no idea how often I said to myself "Oh, hey! It's Zach! HI ZACH!" It's an odd little morale boost, but one that was greatly appreciated.

thereIwasn't wrote:
From a multimedia perspective more images would have been nice, even screenshots or the rare voice clip. If you need a voice in the future, give me a call, I did, like, 40 of them for my thing, and it got people really excited and beleiving in it, hence why at the very beginning I was voicing words of doubt because when I see a wall of text, I think Role-Play, not ARG.


Sadly, as the original project fell apart around me, I lost the will to keep on hunting down artists. I have negative artistic skill for a variety of reasons. My spelling is better, and spell-check is my BEST FRIEND EVER.

As for the voice clips, I haven't gotten in contact with any of the voice actors but one. He said that I could use any of his original recordings, and even offered to record new ones. Some were way too quiet, some were just how I wanted them. I don't feel comfortable sharing the ones from people I haven't talked to, but if I can find a place to throw his up onto, I'd be more than happy to let you all hear them.

I REALLY wish I could get in contact with F484's VA to share with you. He nailed everything. Having him presented in a believable manner was VITAL to the original project, and he had the ability to hit every note perfectly. His first trial recording of the quotes from the final run with Myung were almost perfect, right down to him saying "completing the mission" in this strange, detached, pained yet almost childlike voice. We just needed to re-record the pacing of those lines and it would have been a wrap -- he had F484 speaking speedy all the time, like John Cussak.

Quote:
Out of curiosity, what were the specific things we said or did that especially caught you off-guard? You mentioned some stuff about the crew, and I'd be interested in your own reactions to our responses to the major story events.


The real-world military code threw me off something fierce. I figured, that kind of research deserved a reward, which threw me off my game a bit. The speech, too. That quite literally destroyed EVERYTHING I HAD WRITTEN IN ADVANCE. The way that Raschad and Wolfe were handled, very surprising. The way you focused on a throwaway detail that I included for realism's sake -- superconductors would alter an EM field, I figure. You guys focusing on that changed the game, in all honesty.

Most of it was little things, though. I'd have to go back through the individual threads. Sometimes, it came down to something so minor as how you'd worded something that invalidated my plans. Sure, I could rewrite them, but still, I was left staring and saying "WHAT THE MUFFINS DO I DO WITH THIS?"

Quote:
Also, you pulled out the responses pretty quickly. Did you have most of this written up beforehand? I get the feeling of that with Chair, but not so much Hive and Helen. If not, do you have any speed-writing tips?


Know your characters. Seriously. I've spent years with internet role-playing. Helen and Hive were only barely part of the original project. Just a few messages showing up in the inbox. You wouldn't believe how often I stood up and wandered around, rolling lines in my mouth before hopping back down to type.

Helen is very poised and dignified, even when she's begging forgiveness. Hive is like a little kid with an oddly professional side; he's a bundle of energy and positive attitude with a childlike quality, even when giving bad news.

Another interesting note: A lot of the interplay between them was never seen. I typed out a bunch, in case players decided they wanted to read what was going on between the two of them. Thank you, ilovebees, for giving me ideas as to how to handle AI code. (!Squelch)

Quote:
Finally, the end was a bit hectic and sudden. I was expecting some sort of confrontation and bargaining with F484 after all the Anomaly items (I was this close to bringing the ship up to combat-alert alpha), even after the communication with Raschad. Chair's message seemed to fit that in my head. So when everything just stopped and we found ourselves with Dr. Muldoon popping up as an ONI agent and Helen''s counter, I was shocked because it was so unrelated from the general story direction and because Muldoon just seemed like a grumpy Dr. McCoy sort, not an ONI agent. Whether this is a good or bad thing, I'll leave up to you to decide.


Muldoon is a very good liar, and an excellent actor. Somewhere around here I have his history and it mentions that he was an active participant in a theater group and won several local awards.

Honestly? Some of the family drama necessitated a schedule change if I was going to enjoy my birthday. I had a better follow-through planned, but I had to scrap it suddenly. I've been fumbling all day on how to lead up to the end, but... one can only do so much, and believe me, you all have been giving me sleep dep from day one. (Me? Suddenly engage in fact-checking and research WHILE POSTING? Never...)

If you ever run another ARG in the future and feel like I might be able to help, drop me a line. I'm not the best in the world, but I like trying new things. It's the only way I'll improve as an actor.

PsycoJoe wrote:
Great job! Sorry about my share of the headaches. (Can never tell when the 'useless' trivia suddenly becomes important.)


No apology needed! You were one of the few that was still about when I'd go into work. I was always pleasantly surprised when you'd pop up to say something. It made the boring nights go faster. (And yes, useless trivia is NEVER useless... it's just waiting for its moment to shine.)


Fri Apr 01, 2011 8:47 pm
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Unread post Re: It's Finally Over!
PsycoJoe wrote:
Ah, right. I'd stopped reading after he redacted my 'lock 'em up' order. (Bad day at work, that day. Sorry)


Actually, I was digging that order and had everything typed out for it... just to have his post pop up when I went to post it.

Which made me throw everything out and start from scratch again.

Tears were shed that day over the lack of Raschad's death #233. It was one of the few where he didn't end up irradiated, shot, stabbed, or spaced.


Fri Apr 01, 2011 8:50 pm
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