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HEY!

Welcome to MSPA!

If you'd like to jump right into reading something, I think Problem Sleuth is a good place to start, personally. But it's a pretty long read, so be sure to have the save game feature handy!

But before you jump into an adventure, a little background on the site would probably help. There are two key points to understand! They are:

1) MSPA stories exist in the format of "mock games", specifically text-based adventure games. You advance through the pages of the story by clicking links which sound like commands you would type in a text prompt to get a character to do something. Generally, the character will respond to that command on the following page.

2) MSPA stories are largely "reader-driven", in the sense that most of the text commands were supplied by readers through a suggestion box. I would select a command from the list, and then illustrate the result of the command.

When I say "largely reader driven", I mean this approach has undergone a lot of evolution from adventure to adventure, and continues to even now. I'll try to give a sense of what the process was for each adventure.

Jailbreak: This was the first adventure, one I started well before the MSPA site existed. I created it on a forum, where people would post suggestions in replies to the thread. My policy was to always take the first suggestion no matter what, which naturally lead to a very haphazard feel to the story's progression. I also experimented with "branching" the story at one point, splitting it into two paths. But then I quickly brought those two paths back together.

I left Jailbreak unfinished. And it's probably fine that way, as a sort of rambling, silly initial experiment with the storytelling format. I doubt I'll go back to finish it.

Bardquest: This was the first adventure I started after launching MSPA.com, back when I had the "choose your own adventure" format in mind for the site as the primary storying device, in addition to the reader-driven feature with a new on-site suggestion box. But the multiple paths turned out to be quite difficult for me to keep up with, and overall, probably pretty hard for readers to digest as well, especially with a longer story.

Mercifully, this one never made it that far. I chalk it up as an interesting failed experiment, and one that I surely won't go back to finish. After halting BQ, I left the site to gather dust for about six months, then started it up again with Problem Sleuth.

Problem Sleuth: By far the longest adventure (Homestuck is now much longer), and only complete one to date. When I started, I revised the approach, completely scrapping the multiple paths concept except in a few minor instances. I also started being more selective with the suggestions, not necessarily always picking the first one in the box. This made for a more controlled style of action, allowing elements of planning and puzzle solving, while still creating a pretty whimsical feel to the adventure.

But I feel MSPA evolved in many more ways than that over the daunting span of Problem Sleuth (exactly one year, in fact). The nature of the parody drifted away from text-adventures exclusively to playing off many other sorts of gaming genres, like RPGs, fighting games, etc. The visual style progressed as well, as I started incorporating more and more animated frames and over the top battle sequences. And the reader-driven element shifted very gradually as well, especially as the story took on more readers.

When a story begins to get thousands of suggestions, paradoxically, it becomes much harder to call it truly "reader-driven". This is simply because there is so much available, the author can cherry-pick from what's there to suit whatever he might have in mind, whether he's deliberately planning ahead or not. But as it happened, I was planning ahead much more as the story neared its end, and I would tend to A) pick commands that suited what I had in mind, or B) just call a spade a spade and outright MAKE UP a command for an idea I had, which I did most often for many of the later attacks (like the Sleuth Diplomacy variations, Comb Raves, etc).

Toward the end, the suggestion box was mostly used as a go-to for the frivolous, funny tangential stuff, and rarely anything story-changing. I've come to view this as the only realistic practice for a site with this format, with this many readers. This practice carried over to the next adventure, right from the start.

Homestuck: Edit: information below is somewhat out of date. Probably a better and more up to date primer on Homestuck would be the summary page linked from the Kickstarter.

The adventure I'm currently working on, with a pretty radically different approach from the way the previous adventures started, mostly in the sense that many elements are already preplanned. I don't know if I intended to make a big point of this as huge a paradigm shift for the site. It was more that I started getting ideas for the next adventure well before Problem Sleuth ended, and those ideas just kept cropping up. Much like with crafting the conclusion for Problem Sleuth, the planning just couldn't be helped!

So the use of user commands has been handled in a similar way, insofar as they contribute to a direction I want the story to go in, or to simply produce a humorous tangential effect (which can sometimes lead to story developments I don't anticipate anyway!) But the point is, the reader-driven aspect of MSPA is still in a state evolution, and truthfully is probably drifting away from being a very important factor in the way the story is structured.

It is manifesting in other interesting ways though. With HS I introduced the incorporation of music into the story, and the production of this music has been a collaborative effort among readers. Other ideas and resources like funny images, game mechanic concepts, etc, have made it into the story outside of the institutionalized structure of the suggestion box. I also picked the characters' names from reader input. There are lots of ways I will inject reader input into stories, and finding out how will be the fun part. But it will almost certainly never resemble the madcap charades of Jailbreak or early Problem Sleuth.

The bottom line is, the MSPA format always seems to be in a state of flux, and I will surely continue to bend my own rules in various ways. Honestly at this stage, I am less excited about the reader-driven aspect than I am about the format that has emerged and somewhat crystallized, which is: telling a story through the vehicle of a mock-game, complete with somewhat convincing and detailed mechanics, but without losing sight of it as a parody. That format has been augmented with the use of Flash animations and interactive pages, which is something I'm sure I'll keep exploring.

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Anyway, if you really are a new reader, I guess that was a lot to digest! But even if you're not a new reader, I'm sure you gleaned some insight from that.

As always, thanks for reading!

-Andrew









RSS: Adventure Updates

Posted on 27 November 2017 by Andrew



Here's another huge deal announcement. A "bomb shell", you could say. The zodiac has officially been extended to include 288 signs, instead of the meager assortment of 12 you are familiar with. The resulting system is known as the Extended Zodiac. You may determine your True Sign by taking a test, if you wish.

I envisioned an expansion like this a couple years ago, when it became clear that due to the large volume of NPCs in Hiveswap, many new troll symbols would have to be created. So we made a large library of symbols to draw from when designing characters (A lot more symbols than characters. Don't worry, the game roster isn't THAT out of control.) But why stop at just a static library of new signs when you could take the opportunity to reinvent astrology itself?

The test uses a couple other personal classifiers from Homestuck lore to triangulate your True Sign designation from this dizzying barrage of iconography. What do you do with this information? I don't know. Make some cool new OCs? Discuss your new sign with friends? Cause great agitation and bewilderment among astrological purists? The sky's the limit. Also, those invested in what qualifies as "canon" when it comes to Homestuck lore may take interest in this test, which formally evaluates whether you are a Prospit or Derse Dreamer (involving a new term of art for the sake of this system, called Lunar Sway), as well as your Aspect. I am sure some will wonder whether this means a God Tier Class test will be available as well. Some day, yes, probably. For now, only Aspect is applicable to this system. But the precedent now exists for the expectation to be CANONICALLY classified by literally any absurd profiling system I have ever concocted, and you have just obtained a full license to not let anyone forget this.

Posted on 17 November 2017 by Andrew

Here's a very special new book made by me, dril, and KC Green, which you can preorder here. This seemed like a good way to do it since we had no idea how many of these books to print. A hundred? A million? ZERO??? You guys will decide. Plus there's a lot of other cool stuff there. If you have any interest in this book at all, it's probably a good idea for you to jump on it now. There's no telling how easy it will be to get your hands on after the first run has shipped to backers.



About the friends who helped out: my guess is you are probably familiar with dril's twitter brand? A couple years ago we talked about working on this, one thing led to another, and now here we are asking you to buy a book with a spoon concealed inside of it. The way I see it is, you don't just get any clown off the street to write for characters with the complexity and emotional depth that these ones have. You bring out the big guns. This is a man who knows his way around a huge ass. A man who knows all too well the plight of the gamer. A man who won't hesitate to engage with some of your favorite brands, and will not flinch at a longform narrative about a pissed off guy searching the world for his spoon.

KC Green has already done some good work with the SBaHJ franchise, you may remember. For the sake of authenticity I did a lot of coloring work over his pencils and put some serious attention on generally screwing everything up. Don't worry, we had some very important standards of quality that I took great care to ensure we catastrophically failed to meet. KC does a lot of other great stuff too. Did you know he did the dog who says this is fine even though the room is on fire? It's crazy how much people love that damn dog. Not everyone knows he did it though, and people should applaud him more for his stuff. Same with dril. Let's hear it for these boys and their priceless contributions to our society. I hope you like this book!

Posted on 11 November 2017 by Andrew



Hey check it out. Every week we'll be revealing some new troll characters from Hiveswap until Act 2 is out. Follow the Troll Call here, and meet the first two here. Expect a few more surprises like this to drop in coming weeks.

Posted on 14 September 2017 by Andrew

ANNOUNCEMENT ONE

Hiveswap has been released. You should go play it!



Huge thanks to the entire What Pumpkin Games team for all their hard work on this project. Everyone involved has much to be proud of. Personally, I think the game is VERY GOOD! Really, better than I imagined it would be when scribbling notes for it years ago. Credit is owed to the fans for their patience while the necessary time was taken to build a studio capable of making a game like this. And above all, credit is owed to the great team that brought it to life. If you happen to spot any contributors out in the wild, on social media or such, I hope you will extend your appreciation for what they have accomplished.

ANNOUNCEMENT TWO

What Pumpkin and Homestuck are partnering with Viz Media to work on a lot of cool stuff together in the future. This will include projects based on both the Homestuck and Hiveswap worlds. The possibilities are wide open, but here are a couple examples of things we know we're going to work on already...

Viz will begin releasing the Homestuck books again, starting next year. These will be nice new hardcover editions, and the plan is to just keep turning out volumes until the entire story is in print. Each volume will be full of my Secret Notes just like the previous ones were. Viz will also be involved in the release of the mysterious epilogue project I alluded to a while ago. Details on format, release date, etc, will remain undisclosed until further notice, but you can expect more information about that to surface next year too. I wanted to do something a little unusual for it, something existing outside the confines of the web story. Working with Viz struck me as good opportunity for this.

Aside from that, anything can happen. Take a look at the sorts of things Viz has already published or produced. These are all examples of things on the table for future consideration for either Homestuck or Hiveswap. I've got plenty of ideas, and so do they. Maybe you do too??








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