Author Topic: Discuss: ”Original” vs. ”Fanworks”  (Read 4268 times)

Vatina

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Discuss: ”Original” vs. ”Fanworks”
« on: April 23, 2010, 10:02:07 am »
So, this is something that pops into my mind from time to time. I have a couple of favourite idea/subjects that I keep returning to, wishing I could make those things into reality – works based on other people’s properties, or “fan-works”. From the EVN scene, all I can think of at the moment that actually got finished was the 3-4 Sailor Moon dating games and Mikey’s game about marrying Misato. Maybe there were some 18+ games too, but I don't know much of what happens in that genre.

This is something that is very outspread in Japan through doujins though – books, games, cd’s…

But when considering the option of creating a fangame, it never really seems like a great idea in the long run. There is the looming danger of the small chance that the copyright holder might bear a grudge against your project. Or just simply the possibility that you will do an awful lot of work with little gain:
Imagine spending hours and hours on something that, in the end, you can’t really claim as ‘yours’ – unless you are lucky, all that time and energy will dissolve into anonymity of the internet, and you may never get anything back. Not even appreciation.

So often times I take those ideas and do what people often say you should: “If the idea is that good, then do something original with it instead. No one wants a lame fangame/story anyway.”
But after working a bit on adjusting the idea, it suddenly isn’t that interesting anymore, since the “spark” or basic concept that made it exciting before was so firmly rooted in the universe that inspired it. And as such the project dies once again, and maybe the author returns to his/her own personal projects.

So. What do you all think of this subject? Have you ever had the desire to make something based on a universe and a concept that isn’t yours? What did you do?
And what do you think of fangames in general, and the woes of making them?

I admit to being one of the people who, when seeing the mention of a new and grand fangame in the works, starts preaching about how that energy and creativity should be focused on ‘original’ projects instead, before later succumbing to the temptation of making a fan project myself.
This reaction is also based on the fact that many of these ideas come from a present obsession with a property that burns strongly at the moment, but which could also fade soon as the new awesome thing comes around, something that I believe is the reason that many of these projects don’t get far.

Conclusion = I am awfully divided on this subject, and in spite of my great interest in making fanworks myself, I am also very dedicated in using my limited free time on something that actually has a chance of “paying off” in the future. After all I like the thought of being able to make artbooks and the like, based on my finished projects <_< Possibilities of using fanworks for anything are obviously limited.

That also means that I will most likely never realise any of my fan ideas, but I am still very curious of what other people think of this subject.


(Sorry about the long, confusing post. That’s what happens when my brain is tired from collecting economic revisions at work all day…)
« Last Edit: April 23, 2010, 10:04:01 am by Vatina »

number473

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Re: Discuss: ”Original” vs. ”Fanworks”
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2010, 10:52:54 am »
As far as fan works go, I don't think they would ever earn you the respect or praise that an original work would. Possible reasons I could think of to do it anyway: That one was really immersed in the setting and not satisfied with the work as it was (possibly, or didn't want to leave the world just yet ^^) and felt you wanted to get your own chance to create further part of that world. If I was to write a fan work it would be for my on satisfaction only.

I find that the opposite happens, though. I.e. a really good story will get me interested in writing something of my own, and often will result in me creating a complete setting and story. In other words it reinvigorates my creative spirit in general, I would say.

There is another reason that I don't write fan works, and almost never play them: I'm a bit of a purist and don't really like works on a subject what are not 'official'. That may just be me, though.

lordcloudx

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Re: Discuss: ”Original” vs. ”Fanworks”
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2010, 02:04:32 pm »
Yes, I've made some rpg fanfics myself.
http://mediaminer.org/fanfic/src.php/u/80100
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2810413/1/The_Deepest_Wound

Honestly, I can say that I got just about the same feeling of satisfaction with writing/finishing these fanfics as I did with making visual novels with original stories. I didn't really feel that there was much of a difference since I treated both fanfiction writing and evn creation as creative endeavors.

The difference in the amount of recognition that I got with my visual novels in comparison to my fanfics is negligible IMHO.

As for VN fangames. I've made one using text from the 1st Legend of Heroes PSP game. Swordswoman Sapphie listed here http://games.renpy.org/game/sapphie.shtml
« Last Edit: April 23, 2010, 02:34:57 pm by lordcloudx »

Vatina

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Re: Discuss: ”Original” vs. ”Fanworks”
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2010, 04:13:33 pm »
Oh, Swordswoman Sapphie - I've yet to try that. Didn't know it was based on another game!

As for the motivation for making a fanwork, I also agree that it is often about seeing a potential in something that might not have been fulfilled the way you think it could have been. Something good, that has potential to be so much more.
If I see something awesome that works great on its own as a complete and closed experience, then I rarely feel the inspiration to do anything more with it.

I've written one finished fanfic based on a game too, it was FFIX. Although the game was great, the world created in the game was still so open and filled with unexplained possibilities.
When thinking of that story, I once again hope that I'll have the time to make something like it again some day... it was fun after all, and didn't feel wasted at all.

Quote
There is another reason that I don't write fan works, and almost never play them: I'm a bit of a purist and don't really like works on a subject what are not 'official'. That may just be me, though.

Ah yes, that is another point where I can be quite the hypocrite on this subject xD Fanworks have to be really good for me to want to try them.
There are some I have enjoyed though.

mikey

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Re: Discuss: ”Original” vs. ”Fanworks”
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2010, 06:25:50 pm »
I'm also very undecided on the subject - a few weeks ago I was looking at my comic books that I drew when I was in primary school. It was a mix between a few original works and various stories with Batman, Ninja Turtles and a Garfield-type strip series featuring a ghost.

At that time there was literally no internet, so I had no idea I was making a fan work - I just drew what I liked. I have to admit though that at that time the pre-created environments of Batman or Garfield were more intriguing to me and my own creations seemed bland in comparison.

I think this was because I was just beginning and fan works were much more about "celebrating" my affections towards the said universes, than they were about making a statement or telling a story. They were often downright copies of things I liked, and I don't recall having any ambitions other than share it with friends - I also didn't have any thoughts about the fact that what I was doing was not original - even if you told me that derivative is "bad" and that I should try original, I would not really have understood why you'd force me to stop drawing Batman. Originality was not the point.

It was only later on that I started to focus on what I had to say and what I wanted to express. After the initial inspiration of the existing works, my own works became the more important the more I began to see them as means of self-expression. It kind of follows the expression patterns - it's perfectly legitimate to define yourself by what you like (music, films, superheroes, cultural streams) especially in social situations, but for creative people it's equally important to define themselves by their original work - defining themselves from the inside, if you will.

That's not to say I wouldn't ever make a fan work in my favorite medium of expression (i.e. VNs) again - if I would however, I would do it as a challenge/tribute of sorts, rather than self-expression. A good example is the remake of Garden Society Kykuit. I loved working on it, but I loved being the director and looking at it from my perspective. I had no ambition to express with it anything else than Rio, because it is her creation.

However, if it was a craft I don't know and don't use for self-expression, I could see myself starting with imitation again - if I suddenly became interested in painting for example, I'd probably first try to paint "like Monet" or styles I already know, because I'd like their styles and I'd want to make something like that as well. And afterwards, when I'd get skilled enough and I would see painting as a form of expression that I would like to use for myself, of course it would be natural that I would try to paint in a style that I can say is "mine", to feel that it is indeed my self-expression.

I don't necessarily mean to say you only make fanworks when you start up (though this is typically the majority of cases), I'm saying you make fanworks to honor and appreciate, while you (should) use your own creations for self-expression. There are of course (and this is probably the key issue) cases when people undertake large projects of fan works and sometimes really put their heart and soul into them. I respect the effort, always, but this is nevertheless often where it stops making sense for me as a creator, and I see those projects more as signs that the creators don't want to leave the safety or popularity of an established universe. It's a fine line, I admit - but while it's ok to write very long and excellent fanfictions, there comes a time when people will rightfully ask - didn't you ever think about writing something original? And I'd say there are only very few really good justifications for a "no".

Quote from: Vatina
... Mikey’s game about marrying Misato.
I actually don't consider M3 a fan work, because it is not set in the Eva universe and it does not use any of the established story and does not make the charatcer act in any way - you could take any attractive female character from anime or western cartoon and the story would be the same.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2010, 06:27:39 pm by mikey »

DarkSpartan

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Re: Discuss: ”Original” vs. ”Fanworks”
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2011, 01:25:46 am »
For myself, I don't have a lot of patience for fan-work. I do see the benefit of imitation when learning a new style, there's a fine line between fanworks and imitation.

That said, the line is super-easy to cross if you're not paying attention. Especially for those properties that are super-popular and have large continuities. If you want to write a story similar to Sailor Moon, you're going to have a lot harder time keeping the influences out (or blatantly obvious) than you are for say, Asimov's Foundation series.

Having tried both of these things, I can speak from experience. The Magical Girl Team story was flattened when I noticed four chapters that so closely resembled two episodes from the first series that I might as well have not changed the names. That one was actually pretty entertaining, actually, as I had not seen those two episodes when I wrote the text.

As for the Foundation series imitation, I did a reasonably good job of it, although the original author could see what I was up to and politely asked me to stop. He also included an encouragement to keep writing, or suffer eternal haunting. Just to write something else. Included was a packet on world-building and what to avoid.

This he did in the days before t3h 1nt3rwebs. Blame my then-current girlfriend. I didn't understand it at the time, but I most certainly did twenty years later... When someone decided to fanfic one of my unreleased works. Unlike what I was trying to do with my imitations, this individual turned a completely chaste character (as in a major part of her personality was a complete aversion to sex), and turned her into Megaslut , hopping from bed to bed with every character I had so much as mentioned in the original work, plus his own supercharacter, which at the end performed several extreme anatomical impossibilities with this character (character 5'7, taking a 6'6 stuffing sort of impossibilities).

After all that, as shocking as that was, he credited me by name for characters, situations and etc. Everything but the actual words on the page. This reflects on me as a person, not just as a writer. It also canned a planned publication of the book in question. The publisher saw the *fanfic* and decided I was someone to be absolutely avoided. I ordered it taken down, but if you look hard enough I might still be able to find it. I'd rather not.

What bugs authors most about fanstories is that the writers of these fanworks are in fact second-guessing us, and insisting that they know our characters, universes and stories better than the people that wrote them. In a number of cases, major writers have insisted on rights of first refusal to the creation of any work of this sort, on threat of nasty lawsuit. Others skip the first refusal thing, and just go straight to nasty lawsuit. If the work has promise, still others will send advice on how to do your own work rather than theirs.

Still others (Joss Whedon), openly encourage such things, and absolutely delight in doing weird left-handed things with the fanworks. Sometimes, a really good idea will wind up canonized. I don't have a problem with this either.

Mostly, though, fanworks are a waste of time and creative energy. Rarely does the writer of a fanwork make anything at all out of it, and it's really that easy to do something different. In a lot of cases, they need to pray that they don't get caught doing it, lest the content creator being imitated get seriously offended (as I was). If you have an idea that just won't work except in the setting that you're imitating, then you might want to reconsider the idea anyway. It might already be in the source material, or potentially in the thoughts of the person who's setting it is.

Death of the Author is oft-quoted, and is generally bovine feces. If you ask, we might let you write to your little heart's content, and even help you along.

In those cases, do as you will.