Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ignore Everything I Have Said

Okay, maybe not EVERYTHING everything. I don’t want you to ignore this post. And there’s probably plenty of other things I’ve said in here which you shouldn’t ignore. Okay maybe “everything’s” a bit broad a generalization-ARGH WHAT AM I SAYING FOCUS OMEGA.

This post is going to be about canon. And since it is also going to be about me shouting NO STOP THAT at the way a lot of people are doing things, I figure we should start with a silly picture regarding canon as a means of getting things off with a more cheerful tone.

Anyways, canon. Those of you who know my non-Slenderia writing are likely aware that the majority of my focus has shifted away from the Slender Man Mythos toward the Fear Mythos. I do still have active projects in the Slenderverse, but most of my writing time is being spent on my Fearblog and Fear creepypastas. And there are several reasons for this, but one of the biggest for me is how both universes treat their canon.

You see, two of the mottos for the Fear Mythos are “There is no canon” and “Everything is up to the writer.” While I have heard the claim that the Slender Man Mythos also has no canon, in practice this isn’t always the case. Throughout the history of the Mythos, I have seen several instances of people claiming that a blog is “doing it wrong” or “not really Slender Man” when they try to do something different than the norm. Contrast to the Fear Mythos, where the mentality is “whatevs man, we’re all afraid of different things. The Fears have different universes. Wanna make a new Fear? Das cool, brah.” (quote from Slendyslayer) The reason for this is, I believe, because the Slender Man Mythos is viewed as a setting, while the Fear Mythos is viewed as a writing tool. In the Slenderverse, there is the assumption that every story takes place in the same universe, where every story adds more to the overall canon, and with every inconsistency handwaved away by “dimensional bleeding” (this is primarily with blogs; while there have been vlog crossovers, there is much less of an effort to create a consistent setting in that medium.) In the Fear Mythos, on the other hand, it is assumed that, unless stated otherwise, all stories take place in their own universe, with the only connection being a shared pantheon of eldritch abominations. Even those abominations are not consistent: at the base you start with the “Vanilla Fears,” which are the most basic concepts of what the Fears are (ex. The Fear Mythos Series Bible currently describes the Wooden Girl as simply as “The Wooden Girl is a life-sized marionette of a girl. She uses her strings to control others. She is said to represent the fear of control.”) From that bare bones description a writer can go in any direction they want to.

In the early days of the Slenderverse, the shared setting was one of my favorite aspects. Seeing people come together and create an entire universe together out of nothing was fascinating. To document that phenomenon was one of the main reasons I made this blog in the first place, and my World of Slender Man post was almost a celebration of that creation, taking in the entire universe which we had made as a whole. Yet as time has passed and I’ve gained more perspective on the Mythos, I’ve begun to find that the shared setting often has stifled creativity rather than encouraged it.

In its more extreme instances, this has resulted in series being trolled out of existence because they did something different; two examples being Breaker and Frap and Friends (blog is dead, therefore no link). In its more common form, the stifling of creativity comes from writers seemingly following a canon checklist when creating their stories. “Alright, slenderproxies, check. Path of Black Leaves, check. Slender Man is silent, evil, and spends more time chilling in the background than actually doing anything, check. Protagonist either runs from Slender Man, fights proxies, is a proxy, or studies the Slender Man, check.” And so on. I don’t mean to insult Slenderblogs, as there are many good blogs which work creatively within the formula. But at the same time, they are still working within a formula. And as time passes, that formula has only grown, as more is added to the canon and more points are added to the checklist.
Then there’s the issues of continuity snarls and lockout. As each story continues to work within the same continuity, they add more to that continuity and build upon all previous stories. Within a small group of stories this works fine, but as the number of stories grows, such a system makes the overall continuity begin to become increasingly complicated and difficult to penetrate. Most major stories these days work under the assumption that their audience is familiar with several other aspects of the Mythos prior to coming to their series, which can turn many new readers off from a series. “You must read/watch series X,Y, and Z prior to reading this blog” is not the best marketing strategy. Just imagine what would go through the brain of some poor soul who happened to stumble upon the current Mythos and everyone is talking about Redlight v2; they wouldn’t have a clue what was going on.

This has led to a very repetitive setting, where experimentation is encouraged only so long as it remains within proper boundaries. Sure, you can say that anyone can write anything they want to, and technically that’s true. There’s nothing stopping someone from writing a completely unique story and posting it online. But if you want to play with the cool kids, you need to play by the rules. Most of the popular Slenderblogs are ones which follow the standard conventions of the Slenderverse. You do get some more unique stories amongst the popular blogs, such as Records of an Impossibility, but even that blog is tied to the general Slenderverse canon. Two very good blogs which I’ve recently read have been LakeReflections and Nowhere, No One,Nothing, both of which are very different from the normal Slenderstory. Yet while both often receive acclaim from those who read them, they tend to be overlooked in favor of the more conventional stories. (Seriously though, check them out. They’re good and completely different than most of what you’ve probably read in the ‘verse.)

Looking again at the Fear Mythos for comparison, where things tend to get a lot crazier. Slender Man’s one of the more popular Fears to use, but he is much less defined than in the Slender Man Mythos. In Fear, Slendy is a tall guy in a business suit who usually doesn’t have a face, and around whom people tend to disappear/die. That’s it. Everything else about him is completely dependent on what the writer wants. Most writers tend to borrow heavily from the canon of the Slenderverse, using ideas such as proxies or the Path of Black Leaves, but they’re also completely free to do something radically different. Someone could write a story where it is discovered that Slendy’s one weakness is kittens, and the blog ends with the protagonist throwing kittens at Slendy until he dies from cuteness. And this would be completely alright. Hell, my own blog has a time traveler attacking the Slender Man with a flaming sword in the middle of a hidden research facility being used by a secret CIA conspiracy to conquer the world (OF COURSE), and that was acceptable for the Fear Mythos. Just looking at the blogs I’ve read recently, there’s Chain Mail, which used the end of the friggin’ world halfway through as a plot point (something which could never happen in a shared setting,) and City of Sinopia which essentially goes “Hey everyone I’m creating a new Fear for the sake of this story and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.” And then of course I must mention OH GOD THE RAPTURE IS BURNING. Words cannot describe RAPTURE, except to say that it is completely unlike any Slender or Fear blog which you have ever read. There is no way it could work in the mainstream Slenderverse, because it spits in the face of every established canon concept of the Slender Man Mythos and how Slendy stories are supposed to go, and it does so without any shame.

What I’m trying to say here isn’t that everyone should drop ship and head over to the Fear Mythos although you totally should because we have cookies and the Wooden Girl always could use more pets. What I am saying is that writers need to be less afraid of breaking away from the “canon” of the Slender Man Mythos. All the things I discuss in this blog are wonderful tools to be used in a story, but one shouldn’t feel that they have to be a part of that story’s setting. Say you’re writing a story which doesn’t need proxies for the story to be told? Then there’s no reason to feel obligated to include proxies just because everyone else says Slendy uses proxies. Want to make a story where Slendy’s actually a benevolent figure? Go right ahead; even if every other story contradicts you, you’re writing your own story. Their canon shouldn’t matter to your canon. Don’t be constrained by the writing of others; be free like buffalo! But not hunted to near extinction like buffalo! Because that would be bad!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Slender Man Fan Games

Ah! After ten thousand years, I’M FREE! It’s time to CONQUER THE EARTH!

*Ahem* Anyways.

In the past month, we’ve had two Slender Man games posted to the Slender Man section of Unfiction. The games, titled Slenderman and Slender, are both independently developed games which can be freely downloaded online.

In Slenderman, you investigate a house and a forest, collecting tapes and items while fighting proxies and avoiding the Slender Man. The graphics are low-tech, but the game still creates an appropriately dark atmosphere, and has many shout outs to Marble Hornets.

As for Slender, in it you are trapped inside a heavily wooded area, where you try to collect 8 pages while simultaneously avoiding the Slender Man. In terms of graphics, it’s superior to Slenderman, though the gameplay is much more minimalistic. There’s no proxies, no items apart from the pages, just someone in a forest trying to stay alive as the Slender Man hunts them.

As both are free and only take a short time to play, I highly recommend checking each out. Links are provided at the end of the post. However, I also feel that by comparing the two, we can take lessons from the games which can inspire future games/stories.

To begin bluntly, I believe Slender to be the superior game to Slenderman. While Slenderman is not without merit, it fails to be a frightening experience. Slender, on the other hand, is something I’d put on par with Amnesia: The Dark Descent in terms of how much it frightened me (possibly even higher than Amnesia, as Amnesia ceased to be scary for me the moment I realized I could predict exactly where the next scare would be based guessing where I’d put the next scare were I making the game.) The question then is, why? Why does Slender manage to be more frightening than Slenderman?

The biggest reason is because in Slender, being caught by Slendy means an instant loss, whereas Slenderman is relatively consequence free: if Slendy catches you, all that happens is you get teleported back to the start. As soon as you learn this, Slendy stops being something to be frightened of, and turns into an annoyance. There was a point in my first playthrough where the I saw Slendy approaching me as I was trying to turn a gate crank. Had it been a game where being caught by Slendy carried any consequences, this would have been an extremely tense moment, as I tried to turn the crank while keeping an eye on Slendy so that he didn’t teleport forward and catch me. Instead, I just ignored him, and kept turning the crank until he caught me. Then I ran from the start point where I’d been taken back to the gate crank, finished turning it, and kept on playing. Compare this to Slender, where my reaction upon seeing Slender Man getting near me tends to be, and I quote, “OH FUCK FUCK FUCK JESUS CHRIST FUCK RUN FASTER RUN FUCKING FASTER FUCK WHERE’D HE GO WHERE THE FUCK OH FUCK HE'S RIGHT THERE FUCK FUCK.” (Yes, this game will turn you into Noah Maxwell.)

In addition, Slenderman’s inclusion of proxies doesn’t help the game much. If you’ve seen Marble Hornets, you probably won’t be surprised at any of the places where they jump out. And even when they do manage to catch you, as with being caught by Slendy, it’s no big deal. All you need do is mash the spacebar to wrestle them to the ground and kill them. They’re just another minor obstacle to easily overcome on your way to the next objective. The game has no risk, and therefore I couldn’t find any reason to worry about any of the things which were intended to frighten me.

And while I hope to avoid spoiling the games as much as I can, the ending of Slenderman was… odd. Out of all the possible ways they could end a horror game, they went with what might have been one of the least frightening.

Still, I don’t mean to discourage you from playing Slenderman. It does have its good moments, and of course, it’s free. But if I’m going to uphold a game as doing an excellent job of creating horror with only minimal gameplay, Slender is going to be my top pick.

Useful Links
Green Meteor Team: Slenderman:
Slender Unfiction Thread (With Download):

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Fear Mythos

Image by betterthanstrawberry

Holy schedule slip batman.

Hey. I’m still alive. And still posting. Hooray!

Now, I’m sure none of you know, but today is a very special day. No, not Valentine’s Day. I have no interest in humanity’s strange obsession with reproduction, except for the side effect it has of making every grocery store put their chocolate on sale. Today, you see, is the anniversary of the Fear Mythos.

“But Omega, I thought this blog was about the Slender Man Mythos, not this strange and different Fear Mythos!” Well, settle down. I’m getting to that.

The Fear Mythos is an offshoot setting of the Slender Man Mythos: while the Slenderverse has the Slender Man as the Big Bad of the entire setting, the Fear Mythos portrays him as just one of a whole collection of eldritch abominations called Fears. As both settings feature Slendy, there’s been some crossover between the two, to the point where some theorize that they’re the same setting, and Slendy just happens to be the most active Fear (explaining why blogs about him outnumber blogs about every other Fear.) There are some inconsistencies, but we can blame all of that on dimensional bleeding and move on.

The two Mythoses (shut up it’s a word now) also have several differences beyond in-universe setting, chiefly stylistic ones. Unlike the Slender Man Mythos, the Fear Mythos was a planned setting: a group got together and organized what the setting would be, rather than several individuals all offering their own interpretation as happened in the Slenderverse. This meant less of the chaotic, rapid genre building which the original Slender Man Mythos had, but did give the Fearverse the advantage of not having quite as much early installment weirdness. In addition, stories in the Fear Mythos tend to be more self-contained; crossovers have happened on occasion, as well as brief nods towards other stories, but nothing to the degree that happens in the Slenderverse.

Probably the best way to describe what the Fear Mythos is would to just post a list of who all the Fears are, but TVTropes already has that covered. So in order for this post to have some real content, I went ahead and interviewed CuteWithoutThe (Of course he totally looks like that. He told me so himself, and why would he lie. Also, he would like all the ladies in the audience to know that yes, he is single.), the man who started the Fear Mythos.

Omega: Alrighty then. Let's start with an obvious question. What made you want to create the Fear Mythos?

Cute Without The E: Well, to be honest, it was a mixture of certain things. The most obvious factor was just a certain boredom of the average slender blog. I felt...just not content with how things were being done with the Slender man. Another thing was just the need for escapism in that point in my life. I wanted to create something that reflected how the world felt to me at that point in my life.

Omega: So you decided the best response to this was through adding several additional eldritch monsters to the setting?

Cute Without The E: It was more of the fact that The Slender Man didn't really reflect what I was afraid of. Yes, he's scary, but he didn't keep me up at night. I wanted to convey different feelings. At first, The Fear Mythos wasn't exactly about Fear, but all the feelings one would go through when confronted with eldritch beasts. Slender Man is great and all, but I wanted more reactions to basic things. If that makes any sense, ha.
So I added what I thought best reflected those feelings, at the time.

Omega: Makes sense to me. How did you actually get the project started? I know there was a TVtropes thread, and I've heard that others were working on similar projects which they decided to bring into the new setting, but I haven't heard a detailed account of the origin yet.

Cute Without The E: Well, it's a bit hazy for me right now, but it all started on my birthday exactly a year ago (2/14/11). That day, I was just realizing how much closer to death I was. With that, Death was on my mind almost every day. Adding to this, I was suffering through multiple other depressing subjects, such as abuse and basic social anxiety. I wanted to concquer those feelings, but couldn't in my real I started using the Slender Man mythos as something to escape to. I once thought to myself, "What if The Slender Man wasn't the only thing out there? What if he represented something?" With that, I started designing creatures. I tried to design my feelings, and the first design I came up with was The Dying Man; the Fear of Death. I decided that I'd call him an "Elemental", and I thought that perhaps Slender Man was an elemental too. With other designs, I decided to post them in TV Tropes and try to get a project of some kind started around them. The thread was called "A New Mythos" (at the time, it is now renamed The Fear Mythos). Other people were extremely interested, and from there, we ended up adding multiple creatures. Over time, it evolved into the current incarnation you see today.
The first Fears were The Cold Boy, The Archangel, The Dying Man, The Wooden Girl, The Convocation, and The Manufactured Newborn, I believe.
EAT came up soon after that

Omega: The Manufactured Newborn predates EAT? Did not know that.

Cute Without The E: Yerp. The second post in the thread was Alliterator complimenting on his name.

Omega: Hm. Well, the Mythos has evolved in a lot of ways since its original conception; which changes about it have surprised you the most?

Cute Without The E: Hmmm. Tough one! I believe I'd have to say how big it's gotten. I mean, I never expected to actually land an interview with Mr. Sir. Awesomega! Seriously, people just seem so perplexed by it, and many are saying that they prefer it over the Slender Man mythos.

Omega: That leads into my next question: Were you expecting to get so many people from the Slender Man Mythos involved in this?

Cute Without The E: No, actually. I thought, at first, that people would just like to stick to the basics, you know? I thought that many would be resistant to change. I thought we'd be a bit separated, socially and creatively.

Omega: Aaand instead you got droves defecting over.

Cute Without The E: Hey, what can I say? We got cookies. And by cookies, I mean awesome.

Omega: Onto the Mythos itself, which Fear would you consider your favorite/the one which you're most frightened of?

Cute Without The E: I am extremely partial to The Dying Man...when I look at The Dying Man, I am reminded of earlier parts of my last year, where my biggest fear was my actual day to day life. Depression's nevera fun thing to go through, and The Dying Man is basically that, personified. I wouldn't say I'm exactly afraid of him though. Ever since the early days, I've been a bit numbed to fearing these eldritch beasts. I mean, I've been writing for them alot, so I guess it's a bit expected. The Dying Man is also my favorite because without him, there wouldn't even by a Fear Mythos. So I owe him so much.
My favorite Fear that I have not created would be The Cold Boy; I like creepy poems, and rain and snow and Winter...what can I say?

Omega: Alright. Next question: Why did you make the decision to have Slender Man be included in the Fear Mythos, rather than creating an entirely different setting?

Cute Without The E: Well, at first, I basically wanted to have the cake and eat it too. Or something...not sure if that saying applies here. I wanted to write for him, but not be limited to only having him, I guess I could say. And, in the early days of the Mythos, I liked contrasting him with The Dying Man...I've forgotten why I originally did that, I think it had something to do with the general mood that surrounds those characters. Also, I foresaw that many writers would probably like to have him in the Mythos too.

Omega: Do you have any predictions for what you think the future of the Fear Mythos might look like?

Cute Without The E: Millions of Fears, if people aren't strict about what they let in. >___> Ha, no seriously though, I believe that if we keep going at the rate we're going, we might overtake The Slender Man Mythos. It might seem a bit arrogant to say that, and might even seem a bit more arrogant of me to say that I actually WANT that to happen, but that's what I think will happen. The Slender Man Mythos is great, and many of the blogs are amazing, but I believe that there is so much more potential in The Fear Mythos. We have an amazing group of writers now, we have amazing fans, and I just think that it's going to get better from here on out.

Omega: One last question: Which Fearblog is your favorite?
(Hint: The answer is Mephi)

Cute Without The E: Darn. You just had to ask that question, didn't you? Uhhh. While Mephi is in my top five, I am sorry to say that it is not my favorite.
(still loveya)

Okay, ignoring Mephi, what is your favorite Fearblog?

Cute Without The E: It would have to be between three of Alliterator's blogs; Brighter than a Spoon, Snowball in Hell, or And When The Skies Opened.
He's an amazing writer, an amazing friend, and an amazing coworker, by the way.
(and you are too!)

Omega: Thank ye!
That should be enough for this post.

Cute Without The E: waiiiit
do I get like a
dedication post, like a shoutout post, haha?
(joking, haha)
I would like to thank all my fellow Fearbloggers though, (including you).
Thank you!

Omega: Yer welcome. And thank you for coming up with the Mythos!

Cute Without The E: All in a day's work, friend

Useful Links
Fear Mythos TVTropes Page:
Fear Mythos Forums:
Fear Mythos Wiki:

P.S. This has nothing to do with the interview, but my ego demands I post this.

Cute Without The E: Loved Smiting the Gods
Looooved it
Best blog ever

Omega: Damn straight it was.

Cute Without The E: if you had asked best Slenderblog instead of fearblog, I would have said that
was that a collab project?

Omega: Yes, it was a collab project.
Each character was written by a different author.
This is going into the interview by the way.

Cute Without The E: damn