Ok, so... some of you might have noticed that some things have changed in the group's front page and galleries.
Why was that for? Well, basically, I want to propose a new system for handling storytelling and membership that will solve a lot of issues and make everyone happier.
I call it... the plug-n-play system! Yes, just like those games! It was also inspired by Netflix.
The idea is to give other PMD-like stories a place and bring down any limitation to creativity. I want to foster a diverse market of ideas, characters and worlds... A group where imagination is free to roam! A place to easily discover and experience all PMD-like content!
Basically, I want to give artists more liberty to tell the stories they want to tell by featuring different Pokémon worlds. In this way, you can:
+ post your original stories, + participate in pre-built worlds and abide by their lore and mechanics, + or take inspiration from other worlds and use some those elements in your own tales.
This new approach allows you to:
+ use any Pokémon you want in any setting, + interpret Pokémon however your like, + incorporate species other than Pokémon to your tales, + and make stories that connect multiple universes.
The sky is the limit, really!
The only requirements are that the story needs at least a Pokémon protagonist and that they should be having an adventure of some sort. That's it!
This new system is perfect for the needs and goals of every artist. And it's intended to be convenient for the audience, artists and admins alike.
But why the change? What happened? To answer these questions I have to talk about how I've been doing things until now.
There's two group archetypes: the plot-driven groups and the generalist groups.
The Plot-driven Way
My group had a lot of features of plot-driven groups. Some were good things, like it was focused on community building and there were goals to chase after. I tried to follow and build upon this formula but this archetype still has disadvantages that should not be overlooked.
The main one being that it's bound to be restrictive. Groups have rules and their canon worlds and stories have spatial, temporal and conceptual "limitations". Just to name a few, there's almost always some kind of ban to legendaries, shinies, evolutions, gijinkas, moves, species, and so on. Or the fact that your characters have to be in certain places at certain times to complete the goals. Even though my group was more lax about this, like the fact that people could obtain legendaries, and rare or differently coloured Pokémon as prizes for their participation; people still had to adapt in some way or another. And that's not a bad thing.
But I know some aren't as happy about this and they find it hard to conform to predefined rules that they might not know by heart, even if they make sense. And that's fine, too. It's their own time and they should be able to choose what to do with it. I've also learned that stories are alive and one should not try to control them. The same way Nintendo or GameFreak don't control what stories we tell (for the most part).
In any case, we should impose limitations to ourselves. In this way, creativity is not hindered but channeled. And not to mention these limitations need to be enforced by the admins. Meaning, they have to review and control everything to make sure it complies with the rules. And also make corrections and give explanations, which can spark bad blood between members. It's unnecessarily troublesome and costly. That being said, nobody is forcing anyone to participate in a particular group. People choose to do so in their own accord and they should respect the rules.
In addition, there are times when group events are not as interesting and some might end up not participating with any story because in general you can't create your own mission and expect to be rewarded officially. This has been a recurrent issue when it comes to roleplay groups. It can also happen that stories get repetitive because they are set in the same world, with the same conflicts as everybody else. This is why I've given more freedom to the way members solved conflicts with different paths and all.
This inevitably leaves some new artists and stories outside the system. Recently I've found many stories on DeviantArt that weren't posted to groups be it because of ignorance, laziness, isolation or rejection. My goal is to revert this unfair situation and give each story as much exposure as possible. I should say that there's a lot of official or fan PMD-like content out there beyond what's on DeviantArt. And I want to promote it here in my home, even if it's not "purely" PMD (for instance, the Pikachu shorts, Pokémon Rumble, Pokémon TV, and so on.)
Another big one is the use of deadlines, which are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they can help you get motivated and push you to the limit. On the other hand, they can leave you stressed and burned out. Not to mention this causes a spam of works in progress that rarely ever get finished after the deadline has passed. This is why I've used soft and movable deadlines in my group.
Then there's the pressure on the admins to post regularly because we have to manage people's expectations and interest. This happens with a lot of YouTubers, too. Or any creator that uploads their art online, regardless of the number of followers. What's worrisome, is that this can trigger psychological problems like the impostor syndrome. And sacrificing quality for quantity can lead to unfulfilling results, which can potentially lead to the very cancellation of the project.
In the same vein, good admins are usually quite busy and they end up isolated from the rest of the PMD community. It often happens that they don't know what's happening with other fellow PMD groups, even! This brings another point. When stories go on for a long time, it's hard for members to catch up and they get alienated unless there's a summary. But that takes away some of the excitement of experiencing the story as it was originally posted.
The Generalist Way
That's about it for plot-driven groups. In contrast, generalist groups accept any kind of story and they are not tied to an official one. This is their main advantage but also their weakness as they don't have objectives, generally speaking. Also, as far as I've seen, stories are treated the same and get lost in the sea of content. That's why it's important to have some sort of feature system in place. In my case, I've featured content from members and non-members alike so the group has had a generalist flavour to it.
The New Wave
And last but not least, hybrid groups have characteristics of both archetypes. I want to have the best of both worlds: all the advantages at the same time I cancel all the disadvantages. The perfect union. So how do I plan to do that and how is this group different from before and compared to others?
In short, the plot-driven aspect will be contained inside a general structure. Thankfully, I've managed to feature entire groups without taking much physical space at all.
The group will keep working more or less the same. The big difference will be that my world won't be the main one anymore. What will determine which world you choose is its quality, storytelling, and pacing. And not because it's the only option available.
I'll still come up with missions for my story and we will still be able to participate in the same world and cameo each other's characters. We could even cameo characters from other worlds if we so desired! That's the great thing about this system!
If there's any mechanic or dynamic, like the EXP system in which you unlock stuff as you keep participating, they will be optional. You decide if you want to play by the house rules!
Another difference with other groups is that I'm creating a robust yet fast organization system that will allow me to archive and promote stories efficiently, and to bring the community closer together by making cross-platform events, for example. This couple of years I've learned a lot about management, databases, bots, and whatnot... It should be possible to integrate it with Discord, too, hopefully. I'm also aware of the dire necessity of reducing organization costs across the board so I can create better and/or more art. Even though PR can take a lot of time, for example, I believe in technology.
I had this idea of different worlds and canons since the beginning. It was something that I was going to end up doing anyways so I thought "why not start now?" This is also kinda justified by the differences in art styles and ways to tell stories when people share a world.
I want to change the mental frame from which people approach this group as well. It's not the same to say you're free if you find a workaround as saying you're free because that's your right, if that makes sense. I want to own a group that welcomes all PMD storytellers. I want to shake things up but let stories be told. I don't want to be an obstacle, I want to be a helping hand.
All said, this is not a group to rule them all. It's simply a place where we can all come together and see all the projects we have got into as a community in the format of a convenient virtual library like Netflix. This system is still a work in progress, though. I hope people continue giving me their support as they've been doing so far, so I can keep tuning things up.
Let this group be a home to everything Pokémon Mystery Dungeon!
PREVIOUS ANNOUNCEMENTS | See Update Archive in Sta.Sh.
This is a PMD group with a holistic approach to improvement and storytelling.
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