It’s been a while since I’ve written a column. The time seems to be right, as there are several things that are going to be happening that I’d like to let everyone know about just before things start happening. Rather than preamble about vagaries, why don’t we just get to the meat of this column? There will be bolded topic headers this time, so you can skip past the parts you don’t care about reading about.
The Greatest Show
When Bob and I started the Greatest Show a little over three years ago, we just wanted to have fun conversations and talk about all kinds of neat stuff. We would get the occasional guest, plenty of viewership, and we would just have a grand old time.
I miss those days.
Once we got past the 50th Epiversary, things started to change. This is not a bad thing, but they changed nonetheless. We didn’t necessarily get together as often, or we started adding the next wave of hosts (Kevin Couick, “Metal Jesus” Kevin Lama, with appearances by Rachel, Saurabh, Miss Miniver, and Quinny from the Periodic Table of Awesome Podcast). Some shows were themed, some had an “anchor topic,” and other shows just sort of meandered about having no real direction.
We had some big hits (the lure topic, which does contain instructions, in The Greatest Show 89: How to Hide Porn on Your iPhone) and some accidents (The Greatest Show 84 Parts 1 & 2, which were filmed while I was watching UFC 200 and some folks thought I was illegally live streaming it).
As far as the latest news, there has been trouble determining how to get everyone together for one big show. I attempted to do it on episode 100 (where we had Bob, both Kevins, Tricia, and myself… though I was attempting to get on all past hosts like Saurabh, Carl, and Morgan) and also for other shows (like the Miss Miniver and Quinny appearances, where we had shorter casts than normal both times).
We still have issues. We are all adults living adult lives and doing regular living of life. Saurabh has a job where he can’t really make tons of plans to appear because of a pseudo-“on call” status. Bob has a job where he’s working tons of hours and the shifts aren’t always the best. Metal Jesus has RPGs that come up from time to time and he doesn’t want to miss them. Kevin Couick has his own rounds of gaming he does that interferes sometimes. Rachel has school and work, which for a student is a hectic schedule. Tricia and I would love a few weekends off, and since I’m the driving force behind the show, that doesn’t happen nearly often enough.
This Saturday, on June 17, we will be having The Greatest Show 135. There will then be following (sometime before the end of June) the very last “scheduled” Greatest Show Fight Series. After the GSFS, the Greatest Show will be going on hiatus until September 9, when the Rose City Comic Con is in Portland and we have a load of geek to talk about again.
I’m sad the show is taking another extended break but everyone needs some time. We talked about shifting the recording time but no one can agree on what is best, which gives me an idea to have at least two casts that rotate but we’ll see how that works out in the future. There are other guests I’d like to bring on, semi-permanent hosts I’ve been working to get into the act, and other neat stuff, too… but if I want to get done what I’d like to get done, I also need the break.
It is not dead, just resting.
I get a lot of traffic from YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram when I post or talk about the BuJoRPG. I knew people would like the concept but I’m shocked at how much traction it is already getting. This, of course, pushes me to develop a little harder than I was before, and I probably won’t be talking about it for entire shows (the Specter Show, for example) until the next release is ready.
There is a direction I definitely want to take the system in, I want to have a “collector” version (where you’re unlocking characters to collect), and I definitely want to figure out a way to have some sort of “encounter” within the confines of self improvement. I’ve been calling that last part combat up until recently.
With the next release I want to update the Wuxia template and release a brand new template, too. I’m hoping others will get in on the game and create some templates, and I’ll even link them here with full credits to the creators.
The Specter Show
When I started the Specter Show, I wasn’t super sure what I was going to talk about. Updates from the site, some discussion about what happened on the Greatest Show, and a single main topic has really developed out of the show that I didn’t really want to keep up with in that way.
The last episode, the Specter Show 020: Throw This Away, I spent most of the episode discussing a single topic. This is more than likely going to be the way I go from here, talking about a single geeky topic that I love and if there is some “news” that needs to be discussed in a semi-timely manner, I’ll include that, too.
My listenership has dipped a little, but I’m still getting enough downloads to make me happy and driven to want to continue. With Apple’s WWDC announcement about podcasts (this isn’t the announcement, but they do talk about podcasting a bit), I’m really interested to see what I can use the information for in order to develop my main show into something bigger. The gist of the announcement is that there is going to be heavy back end data that I’ll have access to in order to see what my listeners want to hear, what the skip, and I can develop new shows from that point to improve the site as a whole.
If you don’t understand why this topic header is here, go listen to the Specter Show released yesterday.
The latest craze sweeping the Internet is serial fiction. People are posting short “chapters” of fiction that may or may not be geared towards eventually making them into a novel. Some people are just posting them in one, long continuous story. The Starkiller Cycle, for instance, is just a side project for a couple of authors on the side, whereas places like SerialBox and SerialTeller are places for serial fiction authors (SerialBox is for professionals, SerialTeller is for the rest of us).
As you can imagine, or if you have a long enough memory, you will realize I’ve been trying to do something like this for over a decade and with the Greatest Show going on hiatus, this is the chance I have to start something up.
I am toying with two release models, both of which I will use to see which one works best for my audience (and my own personal schedule). SerialTeller suggests chapters be between 600-1,250 words and be released at least twice a month. I personally believe that 600 words is way too small, but I am going to utilize this model to see how it works for my storytelling. I have a series that will be utilizing this format for at least the first “season,” then I will see if it continues in that format.
The other format I’m toying with is the one I call the HBO format. Using 1,000-2,000 word “episodes,” I’ll release a season at a time in 12 to 13 straight weeks. After the season, another story will be told using the same format. This can be done four times in a year because 52 weeks breaks down into four 13 week segments. Welcome to HBO’s model.
Am I looking to do four series a year, rotating in a new series now and then? Not right away, but there is certainly room for that… unless the SerialTeller model works better for me. I do like the idea of a non-continuous release schedule, though.
The Doctor Who Podcast(ing)
I mentioned on the Specter Show a ways back about reading episode synopses for Doctor Who and putting out the audio as a podcast. Well, with the hiatus of the Greatest Show, this is going to start happening. There will be time to record some episodes and as promised, I’m looking at releasing at least the first two stories before deciding whether or not I’ll continue.
There is another thing I toyed with and I thought I’d put it out here, just in case someone else is interested.
What if there were synopsis reads that had some added value? I’m actually talking about using the Doctor Who story with a little “rework,” something to make the whole of Doctor Who fit into a narrative (created by me, and others if they want to help). How about an example?
An Unearthly Child is a story (four episodes) about the Doctor, Susan, Ian, and Barbara going back to 100,000 BC and helping get a tribe back on the right track with fire building. Now, with my “narrative addition,” I’d add something like an observer in the background… or a whole additional episode dealing with something related to the cavemen but including a Silurian (just a thought)… or perhaps we learn something about the Doctor that we didn’t know before…
The idea is to “refresh” Doctor Who a bit, and allow me some creativity towards one of my favorite properties. I’ve also thought of slipping in a few of my own stories, like the one where William Hartnell’s Doctor and Colin Baker’s Doctor try to undo a failed time experiment. What about the one where all versions of the Master combine to finally make a run at the Doctor in a way they never have before (the as-yet-unseen multiple Master story)?
These are just thoughts. I’d love feedback.
Comic Book Universe
The hiatus is the launch of a few of my project options, notwithstanding, the one where I start creating my comic books. The Greatest Show isn’t a crutch on this one, nor is it on the serial fiction part, but I’m using the added free time to really get into the projects I wanted to actually complete.
I want to have a full script written for my initial graphic novel before December 31 2017. I want to have the first GN drawn before the end of 2018. I want to release the first GN as soon as possible after that, all the while I work on the next installment in the shared universe I’ve spent the better part of two decades working on.
Hopefully you are excited in reading what I’m offering, and hopefully the price point is more than sweet for you to actually pay to read it. I’m pretty sure I’ve got it nailed just right, but I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag, yet.
The last thing I want to cover is the Emerald Specter brand.
This isn’t about changing the theme on the website, or totally redesigning the direction I want to go in… or even about changing anything major about what I’m already doing.
I am talking about giving the site a definitive identity as far as branding goes, so if you see the Emerald Specter logo you can guarantee that logo means “x” rather than “what the hell is that?”
With the serial fiction, my series will all be given “banners” with “An Emerald Specter Original” on it. The podcasts will also be branded with the logo, some with “exclusive” and some with other terms, so that you can start seeing the logo as a meaning of a certain level of quality.
But DJ, the Greatest Show, while entertaining, has always had a fast and loose feeling… how will that change with “quality” control?
When I used to run my old website, LimeFlavored.com, I had an accompanying podcast with that where I was firmly using a show format to produce the episodes. I had a rundown, how long to talk about which topics, and all the prompts to keep me from “umming” and “ah-ing” my way through the audio. I haven’t really ever done that for the Greatest Show.
When the Greatest Show returns, there will be a format… new graphical elements (like cover art on both YouTube and this website when the audio version is put out), new video elements (like an original opening and closing sequence), we will have a firm rundown (a list of topics that we will stick to, or if we have what we had on episode 134 with Quinny, we’ll roll with the wonderful impromptu stuff because it turned out awesome), and we will have themes. Geeky, nerdy, pop culture, and generally entertaining themes.
The Specter Show will also be soon using a rundown on a weekly basis. I’ve been doing the show off the cuff and while I’m getting better at that, I want to be far more professional sounding than I currently am. There will be some audio changes in the future, too, as I establish my rundown creation I’ll also start ramping up the audio quality. While I don’t have a podcast studio at present, recording in sound quality environments will begin occurring as soon as humanly possible.
With both the Greatest Show and the Specter Show, editing will be happening more frequently and with more care. I still like the live aspect of the Greatest Show but consideration for removing the live element will be considered in favor of a higher quality product.
Any new podcast will BEGIN with this higher quality of audio production, which means that you won’t get a new podcast until you start noticing a wonderfully improved Specter Show. I am setting a deadline, including that in my bullet journal, and that way I’ll achieve that goal.
I don’t expect millions of people to this site, but I’d really like to be able to expect a couple thousand, even if only to check things out. The branding is about accomplishing that goal.
Lastly, if you were wondering what 2,000 words looks like for the serial fiction, this column is 2,411 words long. I just wanted to give you an idea at what you’d be looking at for reading.
Thank you, and think on it.