Okay! A lot of people have been asking about this adventure lately (and by that I mean within the space of the last few days), so I decided to give it a looksee.
I’ve been made aware that this FA started very early on, so I’m going to avoid pointing out things that obviously go against canon, because it would be incredibly moot to do so now. Instead, I’m going to talk about more basic elements of the story- things that won’t be completely useless, and will not only be directed at the writers of TP, but also at anyone else who wants to write a fanadventure.
First off, I’m going to start by giving Team Paradox a definite recommendation for up-and-coming fanadventure-makers to read. It does some things wrong, but others really, really right, and I think it has a lot of prime examples of what to do as well as what not to do when it comes to making a fanadventure.
I’m going to start with praise: The art direction in this fanadventure is fantastic. I’m assuming there’s a few different artists working on it, but almost all of the pages (with only a few exceptions where it looks like Photoshop wigged out on them) look superb. The sprites are great, the animation is smooth- but my favorite has to be the Hero Mode illustrations. Truly, my hat is off to the art team.
The musical direction is also very good and the [S] Flashes are very nice- my hat off again to whomever put those together, be it one person or a collaborating music/animation team. I think my favorite example is [S] Apysur: Strife!, which is an excellently done piece on their part.
Now I’m going to go into my gripes- my biggest of which is the writing and pacing, which I’ll address separately.
I’m not sure if the adventure has one writer or several, but I have a few bones to pick with the writing. The trolls, unfortunately, do not strike me as very interesting (sans Najash, whom I’m rather fond of, and Tronno to an extent), and there’s numerous reasons for that. First has to do with the pacing, which I’ll talk about below, but second has to do with the fact that a lot of them bleed together for me. Many of them have bland quirks and are very close together on the hemospectrum (many of them being between green and purple with only one lowblood in the cast as far as I’ve seen). The conversations are, for the most part, pretty forgettable, I think. I think I might have dove into this adventure expecting more humor, but I only laughed a few times, and most of it was because whomever is writing Najash and Tronno’s dialogue is pretty funny. There were a few other moments that grazed my funny bone, but they were few and far inbetween. This is obviously completely based on my opinion of humor, and others may find it funny where I did not- but as a general statement to most fanadventure writers, keep in mind that you’re attempting to appeal to the same fanbase that finds Homestuck interesting. I feel that Team Paradox very much sacrifices humor for drama, which can be fine, but it does so far too quickly and does not allow the humor to sneak back in as often as I feel it should. There are a few instances where it does (like when Tronno proclaims his intent to devour a meteor- that was hysterical), but it doesn’t jive as naturally as it really should with the more dramatic moments.
I blame this, too, on the pacing, which I’ll address now. The pacing is what does this story in for the most part, I think. It moves way too fast. The story starts with the game starting up, and as a reader, I didn’t get much breathing room to get to know the characters. Aside from intro pages, there isn’t much time spent setting up the main cast (except arguably Tolero,) and I felt like I didn’t know any of them even when their lusii started to be killed off (even though it was only the first appearence of many of them!). Characters come and go without much time at all for the narrative to settle or even examine them closely. I think this is an issue that cropped up from the adventure being based off Hivebent, which also skipped around- but it did that because we were already comfortable with the Homestuck formula, and had 12 characters to meet. Team Paradox has a cast settling comfortably between the original kids and the trolls in number, and did not need to move as fast as it did to introduce them all. Some more time spent on them pre-game, getting to know them, would have benefitted this story a lot, I think.
To be fair, the pacing issues are not as obvious in Act 2 as they were in Act 1, but I still get a feeling that Team Paradox is a story that, as its core, has a ton of very talented people working on it who have way too many ideas for their own good. The story feels like it’s rushing to get to these interesting ideas and images, and is throwing way too much as its readers way too fast- sacrificing pacing and plot in order to get to these interesting set pieces quicker. Now, this may be a consequence of me coming into the story late and reading it up until its most recent point in one sitting rather than being there as it updates, but I still feel that even if I were there for the updates, I’d find that it moved rather fast.
And now, to throw all of that out the window, I’m going to say that Act 3 repairs nearly all of the gripes I had. Well, there isn’t much to be seen of Act 3, but what is there so far is funny, interesting, and slows the pace down a little, allowing me to get to know the characters a little better and enjoy their antics more than I could in Acts 1 and 2. And of course, the art is still gorgeous. I don’t know what caused the shift, or if it’s just coincidence that the beginning of Act 3 goes against formula, but I can definitely see a steady progression and improvement when it comes to production of Team Paradox.
So… yeah! Overall, I definitely recommend giving the story a read and forming your own opinion on it, because mine is certainly not perfect and is just what I noticed on first read-through. It appears to be on hiatus right now and I sincerely hope they come back and continue Act 3 in the way that they started to do, because it shows great potential and is one of the better fanadventures I’ve read thus far, pacing issues be damned. -M