Episode Four: "Janus"

Started by Serris, March 29, 2015, 03:55:54 pm

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How would you rate "Janus?" Please leave feedback with your vote.

1 - Barely enjoyable. In dire need of improvement.
1 (14.3%)
2 - Somewhat good. Rough, but it showed promise.
1 (14.3%)
3 - Competent. The plot was vague, but it worked.
4 (57.1%)
4 - Coherent. Despite a few minor bouts of confusion, the plot was understandable.
1 (14.3%)
5 - Excellent. Little to no problems, very engaging.
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 7

Voting closed: April 12, 2015, 03:23:28 pm

Serris

March 29, 2015, 03:55:54 pm Last Edit: April 05, 2015, 03:58:13 pm by Serris
Sunday, April 5th, 2015 @ 1:00 PM EDT / 6:00 PM BST

Captain He knew she had a few loose ends to tie up before the ship arrived at the Janus system. She would need every able-bodied officer at their post in such a potentially dangerous situation. Thus, she had Ensign Ozuwara released from confinement, with the provision that he would need to report to medical for sobriety tests twice a day.

Upon dropping out of warp, the Phoenix encountered an unusual, funnel-shaped disturbance in space that deflected all scans. The captain ordered a probe launch to study it in further detail, but once the probe crossed the event horizon, it vanished without a trace. The only readings they were able to gather were duranium composite signatures in the event horizon. Meanwhile, the dilithium crystals in the warp core's reactor chamber began reverberating at a quantum level.

Many of the staff were thoroughly exhausted from their long trip from K-7, so the captain officially transferred duties to gamma shift, and most of the officers retired to their quarters. In the hours that followed, acting captain Tyvas and Lieutenant Cameron determined that the only way to gather any data on the anomaly would be to scan it from a closer distance. By getting closer, the ship was more susceptible to the anomaly's gravitational pull, eventually falling into the event horizon. The quantum disruption that occurred during the transition caused the dilithium crystals in the reactor to explode violently, completely disabling main power.

Miraculously, the ship was still intact. Had Ensign T'Lona not had the sense to erect a precautionary containment field, it's likely the entire ship would have been flooded with radiation. Without power to the sensors, the ship was effectively flying blind. Thinking quickly, Captain He had Lieutenant Cameron ping the probe from earlier and order it to relay its telemetry. What they found was astounding: hundreds of Excelsior and Constellation-class ships. A sea of Geronimos and Phoenixes, all sharing the same transponder codes. This was the confirmation Captain He needed to set aside her skepticism; the anomaly was most definitely trans-universal in nature.

One of the Geronimos managed to establish contact, but before the crews could form a plan of action, another Geronimo entered the anomaly on a collision course with the Phoenix. A last-ditch effort to blow out the shuttle bay to avert danger was unsuccessful, and there may not be time for a second attempt.

What will happen next week?


LCARS Database references for this episode:
     •     Anomaly: Janus Prime Vortex
     •     Landmark: Janus System

Serris

This is now a review topic. Post your thoughts here!

Serris

April 05, 2015, 04:40:30 pm #2 Last Edit: April 05, 2015, 04:43:50 pm by Serris
This is the first poll I voted in, and I rated myself a two. I feel like this could have been a lot better. The scope of the story was there, but it got lost in details and it stalled the pacing.

I wasn't planning on a shift change, which completely threw off the progression of the plot for various reasons. In fact, I'd say it helped expose a flaw in Lost Era's approach to storytelling. It doesn't have a single character with central authority driving events, which means the Captain can remove herself from the story and things can be expected to move along, in theory. In practice, it didn't quite work that way. By giving a typically passive character authority over where the story was going, we wound up with a lot of nothing for about ten or fifteen minutes until I prodded the story along with a tell. This is something I'm going to make note of for future outings.

I'm admittedly having trouble coming up with things for Johnathan Barnes and the medical staff to do. Additionally, T'Lona sort of took a backseat once the main power crisis was established. This is my failing as a writer and it's something I'm going to look to address in next week's episode.

In short, I feel like this episode's shortcomings have about a 60/40 share of blame between myself as the writer and the decisions of major characters for its worse elements. The freedom of choice offered by this SRP is a double-edged sword. Player-driven storytelling requires contingencies that I just didn't have ready for this kind of deviation.


Pros:
     •     Bug Chef. Bug Chef always commands the scene he's in.
     •     Character interactions were on point.
     •     As much as I didn't like the shift change, it was handled very well by the players.
     •     Continuity! Someone has suffered lasting consequences for actions taken the episode prior.
     •     Intuitive development! Captain He's idea to ping the probe made an early, minor story element relevant again later in the episode.

Cons:
     •     The duty shift change removing the Captain from the story severely stunted the intended development of events.
     •     Bonchune's journey through the jeffries tubes hindered the pace of the plot.
     •     The medical staff wasn't given much of anything to do and was entirely self-contained.
     •     Johnathan Barnes didn't have anything to do once Ryu Ozuwara was released from the brig.
     •     T'Lona wasn't given much to do after the dilithium chamber collapsed.

Mutatio Nomen

The point of most confusion for myself as a player was when the captain ordered the XO to get to the shuttlebay to decompress it, saying it had to be done manually. But Rick Peters did it all seemingly from the bridge. WTF?

I guess I kinda had a bad time of it in Engineering because I was the only player down there. I was making up NPCs to flesh out the department, lol.

Serris

Klaw actually ran down to the shuttlebay to do it as soon as Peters had mentioned the idea. That's why it seemed a bit weird.

Telex Ferra

I'm going to be honest here Serris,

I don't really feel the SRP is delivering on the promise of increased player freedom and it's hurting the episodes. There seems to be a clear-cut plot that has to be followed, no matter what choices the characters make. Let me give you an example

The first two episodes involved the ship being pulled into an anomaly. I responded to this in the most recent episode by ordering the bridge crew to keep the ship at an extreme range from the epicenter of the explosion. When I walked away from the bridge, this order was ignored to develop the plot. Clearly, the ship needed to fly into the anomaly to get the conclusion you wanted Serris, but the choices that I made as the captain precluded this. Since I'm not privy to what you have planned, I am unable to use my character to steer the story int he direction you want and, as we saw on Sunday, sometimes we are working at cross purposes. It's totally okay for your SRP to have a clear-cut direction and plot, but you can't then claim that player decisions can affect the outcome of the SRP when even the captain's orders have to be overridden for the plot to work out.

I am also not thrilled with the stories we've seen so far. The first episode was definitely a blast, but the second and fourth episodes just seem to be repeats of that same idea. We travel somewhere to investigate an anomaly, the ship gets pulled in despite the best efforts of the crew, everyone panics, we learn something about parallel universes, and the ship winds up more-or-less okay. I would really like to see variety in the stories since there's a ton to work with in Star Trek's "Lost Era", but as of now 3/4 of the episodes have had nearly identical plots.

I hate to say it, but your chef character seems to be doing more harm to the SRP than good. I feel that you get carried away playing the chef, thereby distracting you from your job of pushing the plot forward. During "Janus," I felt like the situation with the ship was the B plot while a crewman raiding the mess hall for alcohol was the primary focus. I would recommend only having the chef character in plot-light episodes, and purely focusing on GMing in more important episodes.

The last issue I'm noticing is response time to your messages. With the exception of Central Plexus who has been consistently quick with reacting to signals from you, most players seem to take a very long time to relay the information you've sent them in PM. This results in very awkward action scenes where we're standing and waiting for someone to type a message or to return from AFK. There are two solutions to this as I see it: either you open player freedom to the point where people feel comfortable making up their own plot details, or you work on your PM timing to make the episodes smoother. It is entirely not your fault that people are slow typists or walk away without a word, but you can ameliorate this problem by sending people instructions ahead of time. ("When the CO does X, you do Y).

I see a lot of potential in the SRP Serris, but I don't know if I can keep up with it until the end of the season if things stay exactly the way they are. I don't mean for anything I've just said to be mean or hurtful; I really want TLE to be successful because it's a brilliant RP concept that maybe needs some more experimentation before the SRP can reach its stride.





Klaw

I had a deal of time to reflect on the SRP as a whole and this is my honest critique of the whole deal thus far

I believe the Lost Era has The potential to be the best SRP I've ever been a part of, and I'm reminded of Season 1 of TNG (Or  as I like to call it, Season 4 of TOS :P)

There is a GREAT Deal of growing left to do within our characters, within our setting and ultimately within the stories. TNG Became a better show after Season 2 because of stories that developed the individual. We caught glimpses of Klingon culture, learned about Riker's Daddy Issues and overall, the characters were given opportunities to expand and develop from the one-dimensional characters they were in the first season.

I understand that you have a story to tell, and as a result, I'm very lenient towards the slower pace of the telling, because of the things I mentioned above. But, after reading some comments above mine, I recommend moving through your story quickly - and getting to some smaller plots, to allow Characters to develop within a situation - and ultimately shape that situation.

Baron

I'll agree with most everyone that I find the premise to be... well quite remarkable actually. I love the idea of the Lost Era, though I'd echo the sentiment that things seem more than a bit repetitive. Additionally, during the last episode I kind of felt... unsure of what I was supposed to be doing exactly, especially when we did the duty change. It was indicated that Tyvas was basically supposed to order the Phoenix in closer for a scan, despite the standing order that we were to hold position until 0800 (I believe it was).

I was a bit surprised that this wasn't really acknowledged as Tyvas basically ignoring He, disobeying orders because he presumed there was some way to rescue the ships inside... I guess? I only mention this because while it moved the plot along logically, it didn't exactly seem clear that I was supposed to be doing any of this. :P

Gotta agree on Chef as well. Love the character, but he seems more distracting than beneficial most of the time. I understand the need to keep non-senior officer characters engaged but, I feel like there's gotta be a better way.

I'm gonna stick with TLE though, Serris, because I too believe it has the potential to be great. Don't get discouraged though! I'm sure things will smooth out soon enough.

Serris

April 07, 2015, 01:05:15 am #8 Last Edit: April 07, 2015, 01:28:25 am by Serris
If it's any consolation, this arc will be ending in the next couple of episodes. We'll be moving into a much more open story format once we're done with the Janus crisis.

This first story has been directed pretty closely because I feel like completely opening up the universe this early runs the risk of getting lost in the minutiae of day-to-day starship operations and it could become boring very quickly. However, with all the action going on, the arc has definitely fallen into some recurring tropes that need to be avoided in the future, or at least spaced out much better than they are now. That lack of creativity and variety seems to be having the same effect as having the crew doing absolutely nothing. It's definitely something I'm going to keep in mind going forward, and I'll strive for a better balance.

I'd like to thank all of you for taking the time to give feedback about what's working and what isn't. It's helpful in shaping the future of this series into something everyone can enjoy.

SFC3

Personally I feel that there does need to be some control over player actions if they get too out of hand, e.g. alcohol incident. After the last several episodes I'd be, IC and OOC, fine with patrolling the edge of a dead sector over flying into an anomaly :P