Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tiara Burnyhands for the win!

In Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition, Tieflings, as any fule kno, are a race of beings descended from a mighty human empire whose regular interbreeding with demonic beings caused the downfall of their civilisation, and a range of crossbreed demihumans with big horns, pointy tails, and a certain whiff of brimstone.

In a similar story of bravery and foolhardiness, I recently had a go at providing some online content to an upcoming BBC drama series. I wish Tieflings had been around then, because they could have really helped me out.

Wizard of the Coast, the new(ish) owners of the Dungeons and Dragons IP, have just released a Facebook application that allows thee, oh gentle noob, to have a crack at the whole roleplaying game thing. Well, sort of. What it does is allow you to generate a character, then watch as they go on an adventure in (more or less) real time, chewing your nails each time they fall for a flamethrower trap, or are ambushed by drow, and cursing the system mechanics that allow you to spend your discovered gold pieces on potions of healing, but not actually use them until the end of the adventure.

The app is good. Go to it:

D&D Tiny Adventures Facebook App

But how could Tieflings have helped me out in the swampy morass that is BBC 360 degree commissioning?

Well, the big thing with drama series at the moment is for them to have an online element, so that in the wasted few seconds that viewers aren't watching television, or iPlayer, there can still be a way for them to do something that involved having the BBC logo hovering somewhere in their vision. And the online content has recently been very good. Some might say that the online content has been, of late, rather better than the shows they're supposedly supporting. I wouldn't say that though. Noooooo.

So, the thing I was working on was for a new BBC Drama series, which by the way looks as though it will kick ass, in a near-deserted, post-apocalyptic Britain sort of way.

Now for me, the draw of all those 28 Days Omega Legend Of The Dead type things is how I, personally, would survive. And I would, ho yuss. Well all right, I wouldn't, but it's fun to imagine how I might. I want to put myself in the setting, actually be there with my home-made crossbow, my carrier bag full of looted fizzy pop, and my ethanol-fueled hillbilly-armoured Hopper Bus. And I was trying to explain in the meeting that a sort of online-roleplaying element type thing would be OMG the perfect accompaniment to the series - you could either put yourself in it, or randomly generate a starting character with a random number of looted health packs, batteries and shotgun cartridges and go from there.

Except it was really difficult to explain, because it sounded like a wanted a World of Warcraft type thing, which needs a budget of kerjillions and a flying aircraft carrier base (Blizzard have three of these, they sound awesome), whereas in fact I wanted something closer to those old Fighting Fantasy books, which of course sounds much less nerdy.

So, having failed my Bluff roll, we eventually settled on a series of video diaries which would interlink with the main action in the series, as overseen by the series creator (an equally cool idea by the way). And then momentum at a higher level seemed to evaporate completely, and I never heard about it again.

Next time I get asked to come with ideas for online content to accompany a drama series though (and who knows, it might even be for my own show), I can point to the D&D Facebook online app and say 'Look! Like that! Only with ninjas/spacemen/architects/whatever'.

In the meantime, if anyone wants to send Tiara Burnyhands some potions of healing, they would be gratefully received, ta.

EDIT: actually, not sure you can do that yet. But if you click on 'Friends', you can send +1 healing points. Thanks Piers!

UPDATE: "Tiara Burnyhands easily dodged the bandit lord's attacks and quickly subdued him, humiliating him in front of his band of thieves. Tiara Burnyhands was hailed as a hero when she returned the village's meager treasures."

In your FACE, bandit lord!

Ooh, I have actually got work to do.


Piers said...

No can do, matey. Not while Tiara Bunnyhands is adventuring.

Have some buffs instead.

James Henry said...

Ooh thanks! Going to go and smash up some bandits now. This is ace.

Piers said...

Oh. Burnyhands.

Piers said...

Am off to murderise some drow.

They're probably just misunderstood.

James Henry said...

They're not, the buggers.

Sofluid said...

What's all this "online content to an upcoming BBC drama series" all about? Is it part of the BBC website - like an online interactive show?

"So, the thing I was working on was for a new BBC Drama series, which by the way looks as though it will kick ass, in a near-deserted, post-apocalyptic Britain sort of way." I love that sort of theme. Did you ever see "The Last Train"? Granted, it was broadcast on ITV, not the BBC, and I'm talking about 10 years ago...But it was a fantastic portrayal of a post-apocalyptic Britain and had me hooked for its duration (a six-parter, I think). I've been trying to track it down on dvd, with no luck. Also, no-one I ever mention it to has a clue what I'm on about!

James Henry said...


Ah yes, I remember The Last Train. A bit silly, but had some great visuals.

The online content would have been video diaries - mini-episodes really, that fleshed out the background of the series, but I don't know what they're going with now. It'll be interesting to see what they come up with.

Jayne said...

The link, it does not work. Or is it just me?

Jayne said...

Hang on, it was just me (I needed to be signed into Facebook first). Off to play!

Piers said...

The Last Train was script-edited by Diederick Santer (now Executive Producer of EastEnders) and written by Matthew Graham.

I wouldn't mind watching it all the way through myself - only saw the first episode when it was on originally.

patroclus said...

Ooh, I remember The Last Train, although I only watched the first twenty minutes. My fundamental problem with television, books, etc., is that I like things that have no action, plot or excitement whatsoever. Perhaps I should work on that.

James Henry said...

Surprised it hasn't come out on DVD, actually. Might be worth keeping an eye out for.

James Henry said...

Patroclus: a crueller man than I might suggest you should have stuck with it, it would have been right up your street.

Jayne: friend me and I can heal you from a distance, which is handy.

Sofluid said...

Wow, people who remember it! Yay!

Ok, so I was about 12 when I watched The Last Train, and at that age something of that genre really intruiged me - I was completely hooked! Thinking back, there were a few silly scenes reminiscent of Indiana Jones, but there were also some hauntingly good scenes, too. The suspense and tension would make me go mad waiting for the next one to air!

I'd love to see it again. I think the only way we will get to watch it is by downloading torrents - here's a link!

I don't know if it works, or if it's decent quality, or how the hell people managed to get it online in the first place (maybe someone video-recorded it and then uploaded it somehow in recent years)... But I can't wait to watch it at some point. Too scared to get it now or else my sister's internet connection will be as slow as hell from me going over the limit!

When is this BBC post-apocalyptic treat going to air?

Sofluid said...

Well, it seems a lot of people want The Last Train released on DVD. 861 in fact (including me!)

And that's only the people who managed to find this petition online!

Go sign it! Every little helps ;)

Anonymous said...

This new drama series isn't anything to do with 99.9% of the world's population being wiped out by a deadly virus 1970's series which is being resurrected? Jumps up and down excitedly - I would just need guns on the interactive online game, so I can defend my farmhouse, which will of course be on a bleak moor in the middle of nowhere, from the hoards of other survivors trying to get hold of my one potato plant and 4 packets of sugar.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, post-apocalyptic survival games... Have you played Urban Dead?

James Henry said...

Urban Dead freaks me out. I get killed and eaten very quickly indeed.

imo: that's the one. I've had sneaky peaks at most of the scripts, and it looks really very good. Don't know what they're going to do for the online element now though.

Anonymous said...

Yay!!!! I vaguely remember watching this in the late 70's when allowed to by the parents.

Stef the engineer said...

Argh. What an annoying Facebook thingy. All that time wasted, and I haven't completed a single adventure yet. Just one more go...

Boz said...

Just because it's all shiny and online, doesn't mean it has to be video. Post-apocalyptic eerie radio broadcasts could be quite cool.

"Architects"? Amazing.