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Titanic Rants - by Titanic Ant

Titanic Rants

One of my favorite aspects of is the Interactive Fiction forum. It's one of the many unique sections; no matter where I go, I can never seem to find and IF forums on other fan sites. When I first came to by accident, I stayed for many reasons: it was a massive Earthbound fan site with tons of information, it had a massive message board with tons of friendly people, and the Interactive Fiction forum was new and exciting for me. The concept of collectively writing a fanfic for Earthbound much like people would tell stories around a campfire, each person picking up where the other left off. The first IF that I started, "Money Problems", was about Ness' family being in dept to the Minch's, as was mentioned in the game, and Ness having to raise enough money in a week so his house wouldn't get repossessed. I felt quite proud of myself for thinking up the plot, and even prouder when people replied to it. It was very exciting to take part in an IF. Each day when I was at school, I would wonder what new twists and turns my IF would take. Then I would get home and see that on average two to four people have replied. What great times.

Later as I became more and more active in the message forums, I noticed a now-famous topic titled: "Something I would prefer you follow when I appear in an IF". After reading that, I became familiar with the concept of Author Characters, a.k.a. AC. Soon after I started an IF that I had in my mind for a while, "If Giygus won...." (yes, I know I spelled Giygas wrong on the title, that was rather embarrassing). As the title suggests, the IF started when Giygas defeated the Chosen Four and trapped them in crystals. I was completely overwhelmed by the reaction! It got about ten replies a day. "If Giygus won....." was being posted on without stop and it grew to be about a dozen pages long before it died.

However, in that IF, I allowed AC. Because I allowed AC, that's what it became, and AC topic. By removing the heroes of Earthbound, but leaving the threat of Giygas, I opened the floodgates of a surge of spot-light grabbing AC. In that IF, I found out what AC truly were. In theory, when an author adds an AC, the AC develops along with the story and works along with the Earthbound characters in the story and becomes a way for the author to add something new and exciting to the story. In theory, that's how it works. In theory, Communism works. However, theories never quite work out.

What AC turn out to be is a way for the author to project themselves into the story and glorify themselves. There are many problems I saw with AC in "If Giygus won....."

The first problem is when the author uses his AC to "role play". That is, whenever that author replies, his/her add on always centers around his/her AC. Lets say in one IF, Ness and Jeff are fighting a bunch of Starmen while Paula and BobtheAC are trying to rescue Mr. Saturn from Master Belch. Joe, an author, might end his post with "...suddenly a starmen appeared behind Ness and Jeff. 'Oh-no, we're trapped,' said Ness. 'I got an idea!' said Jeff, 'all we have to do is....". Then another author, Bob, would begin his post with "Meanwhile, in Belch's factory, BobtheAC continued his search for Mr. Saturn...." See how Joe left the story open for the next person to continue with whatever brilliant idea Jeff would have to save them from the Starmen, but then Bob changes the focus of the story to BobtheAC. Unfortunately, this happens way too much.

Another problem I see is plot arcing. This was a very common occurrence in "If Giygus won....". Let's say all the heroes of the story are fighting off the advancing army of Giygas, then BobtheAC would go off to find some object of power. The problem is, Bob already has in mind a plot in which BobtheAC goes off on his own finds the rock of power or something of that sort, and then come back and use the rock to beat the crap out of Giygas. BobtheAC would go off to someplace to find the rock of power and then at the end of his post, he would say "I'll take BobtheAC through the rest of this. Continue the story with the rest of the group, but don't touch BobtheAC!" Now the rest of the authors are prohibited to do anything with BobtheAC because Bob wants to do is own little thing. Now every time Bob posts, it's to continue BobtheAC's plot arc. Now let's say Joe continues the story with the other characters. The other characters fight and kill off Starman DX. Unknown to Joe, Bob has been secretly plotting out a senerio in which Bob uses the stone of power to take control of Starman DX and make Starman DX a good guy. Now Bob is all mad because Joe accidentally ruined what Bob was planning to do.

The third problem relates to the first one. It's when one person's AC is forgotten and no one ever includes him/her in their posts. Bob might make a post when BobtheAC and most of the main characters go off to Deep Darkness, and EdtheAC has to stay in Fourside to protect it from attacking octobots. Since most of the main characters are in Deep Darkness, the story then fallow the hero's adventures in Deep Darkness while EdtheAC becomes forgotten and ignored. Eventually, Ed realizes his AC is no long in the picture, so then Ed is personally offended since everyone uses their AC as a projection of themselves and puts EdtheAC back into the story. The big problem with this is it encourages the first problem even more!

Of course, not all AC are like this. Guruzeth, PSI322 and Lil' Kyuri are some people that I remember being very careful and respectful with their AC and other people's AC. Some rules have also been put into effect to minimize people getting mad because of someone messing around with their AC. However, this is another problem that has come up because of AC.

AC topics have completely dominated Earthbound-only topics.

Yes, you heard me. Complete domination. I started with the innocent AC-only topic " Gathering". It was suppose to be a one time thing where everyone could come and act like the whole community had the time and resources to gather everyone together and have a party. Unfortunately, it got a lot of people hooked on their AC. From that came lot's of other AC-only topics, such as "AC mystery cruise" and other " Gathering" clones. Soon rules were placed that all IFs had to be Earthbound related and that only PSI322 could start any more " Gatherings". Very sound rules I must say. However, the authors developed a taste for AC and wanted more. This is what lead to the current state of the IF forum. It is completely over run with AC. As of this article, there are currently 15 "flaming" (over 30 posts) AC topics in the IF forum. How many flaming Earthbound only topics? None! Now Earthbound-only topics are lucky to get more than ten posts on them. The balance of AC topics to EB topics is way off. Now EB topics are dying left and right. AC topics control a monopoly in the IF forum.

The earthbound community has seemed to lost it's roots in the IF forum. Posters are more interesting in glorifying themselves then making a great IF on the game everyone holds so dear. Unless this changes, the IF forum is on the path to self-destruction. The only way to avoid this is if everyone start to post more on EB topics and give the AC topics a rest. Start more EB topics and, most importantly, post on more. Only by actively doing so can the EB topics thrive and the IF forum return to it's former glory.

-Titanic Ant
Promoter of AC genocide

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