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Organized Mess - by SimonBob

Organized Mess

It's getting close to September, which means we're nearing my one-year anniversary with the site. I was going to do a sort of "year in review" thingy except for three things:

1) I don't remember exactly when I joined the site, and I can remember some brief iffy moments when I visited before I had the Net at home.
2) There wasn't that much to say about the site over the past year, as near as I can remember.
3) Lots of other people do retrospectives, and better ones than I could do at that.

But while I was trying to think of what I would write about if I did do a review, one of the major things that caught my mind was the big server crash in November. This was big, earth-shattering stuff. I remember the moment I first knew it happened: sitting in networking class being bored. The IRC chan (#earthbound at that point) was going nuts when I got home. And there's all the stuff about the Mars-hack rumours, and the crazy picture-posting frenzy, and the interactive essay... too many memories.

And while all this was flying about, one small group of people were nervously waiting for the possible return of the forums; one forum in particular, the Interactive Fiction forum. This was back in the day, yo. I was still a demi-reg-newb type, posting with some people on Anthadd's "Union" fic. Right at the split, my character was dead and I was working with Clarence the wolf (a very popular character by most indications) who was teamed with the good guys. But the crash cut us off, and when I tried to repost later, I couldn't remember what I said. As it turned out, through a series of post, Clarence became a bad guy. (Read the story for more info, it's only a little complicated.) Which probably worked a lot better than the "good guy" idea.

Now flash-forward or backward to any other IF that ever got finished. EB.Net Seiges NOA, Tryst, Project: Spectrum.... as far as I know, all these fics were compiled in the usual "I'll post whatever I think of, then you do the same thing, and eventually we'll have a plot" manner. None of them ever got the chance to go back and think about things a different way, like we did with Union. Or the way you work with a real fanfic, either; take a look at Xander's "Twist of Fate" or James' "Ressurection E" series. Both of these fics clearly took a pile of time to line up the plot so it'd all come together nicely.

Of course, for every IF that finishes, there's 100 that don't. I'll give ya the straight goods, kids, although most of you know it already: fewer than 1% of all IFs get finished. Even those that do finish aren't always in great shape, and need heavy editing to be submitted. (Take "Duel" or possibly "Immutable" as examples.) And most people probably aren't in tune enough to have more than, say, three storylines going at once. Even three is probably pushing it.

And yet, I don't think we'll ever change that. You know why? Because we've tried the other side of the coin (chatrooms, email, careful storyline lineup, separation of forums, etc.) and it only worked marginally well, and ultimately led to a big ol' catastrophe. And nobody wants that! Especially not me! I almost always seem to get the short end of the stick in catastrophies.

So we seem to be stuck with the well-planned chaos that we have in IF; but hey, if you want to try to change the face of IF forever, go for it. I'll give you my blessing as the Fanfic Guy. What, were you expecting money? NO. Now get outta my house.

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