(Written by AldoHyde, May 17 2013)
StrangeTown Monty is living proof that a Sims Machinima Series does NOT need teenage pregnancies, sex scandals, lots of gore / violence, or even excessive amounts of custom content to be successful. What’s REALLY required is a compelling story, well-written script, and careful attention to production quality.
I’ve said from the outset that the show is a “scientific conspiracy” & “psychological drama”, and that I’ll be using some “unconventional storytelling styles”. Which means both the CONTENT & FORM will deviate from traditional expectations, and will work together to achieve my objectives.
Many of the episodes show Bianca Monty talking to someone. She may be sitting down with them, talking over the phone, or emailing them. The topics are presented in a “retrospect narrative” form, so the focus is on the subtleties (NOT “subtitles”) of the characters’ reactions, and the words they use to describe these events. These give you insight into the character’s personality & what they feel about the matter at hand. This is how I emphasize psychological depth. If you think hard enough, you may even be able to deduce things between the lines, or possibly what may happen next.
Example: In 1.06, Bianca’s phone call with Vidcund subtly reveals how Vidcund (& the rest of Strangetown) looks down on Nervous Subject. It’s better than having the Curious brothers chase him out for raiding their fridge.
Example: In 1.08, the phone conversation between Loner and Hyde also indirectly shows the dynamics of Bianca’s task. This sets up the stage for 1.10 & 1.11, where Bianca has succeeded at the task that Loner has failed.
Example: In 1.11, Bianca explains that she likes intelligent, well-educated men with the Knowledge aspiration. While it is clear that her first priority is Kent Capp, I realized that this description also fits Hyde to the letter – so I turned it into a touch of humor for this specific scene, as well as in Antonio’s house.
This is a natural consequence of a Watcher choosing to appear as a Sim, which causes other sims to see him as a sim. I intended this as lighthearted commentary on how other Sims players pair their sim-selves with premade characters.
I was also portraying an established fact of how some people are willing to accept a “second choice” in romance when their “first choice” is no longer available. This is further emphasized by the fact that Bianca forgets all about it the moment her “first choice” is available again. This scene also shows how direct Bianca can be if she wants something, as well as how Hyde will not allow distractions from his plan.
Note that the Veronaville Disaster strategy was explained over a chess game, while the Romance matter discussed in the hot tub. Examine carefully the choice of words in 1.10 and 1.11. These will be VERY significant in the later part of Season 2.
Truth is, after I’ve released enough STM episodes, I’ve seen so many other directors making their characters sit down to talk to each other, which means I have convinced them that this technique works.
All Flashbacks, Dreams & Mimes in STM are included to depict aspects of characterization. If you take time to think about WHY I focused on particular aspects, you get insight into the character’s mental state.
Example: In 1.07, when Antonio asks if Bianca is ok, she gets a rapid flashback of the traumatic events in 1.05. But immediately after that, she tells him she’s ok, and quickly changes the focus back to Antonio’s welfare. This shows you that Bianca doesn’t want others to worry about her, because she is emotionally independent, and would rather watch out for others.
Example: In 1.11, the last three minutes of the show are told almost completely without words (apart from the note to Bianca). This forces the audience to focus on the characters’ expressions and the background audio. The song at Antonio’s house is very deliberately chosen – pay attention to the lyrics.
At the graveyard, the music changes from sad to hopeful. Back in Strangetown, the music suggests a possible romance turned into a conundrum, as well as a grand unfolding of future plans. The “racing music” in 1.10 & 1.11 reflects the actual ambiance of the Hyde Dynamic personal living quarters.
The Watcher’s signature: I decided to put my own character into the show for two reasons. (1) To make my show utterly uncopyable by anyone else.
(2) To include another level of reality: Showing that the characters, to some extent, are being played — the idea that storytelling is a form of puppetry.
No show can possibly appeal to everyone. I know there are people who don’t like my show for very superficial reasons, and/or because they are jealous. Some other viewers who expect EVERY show they watch to contain lots of romance and direct action – are frustrated by the lack of these elements in STM, because those are *not* the things to look out for in a show like STM.
If we understand the need to have different EXPECTATIONS when watching different genres of shows, we can appreciate the artistry involved in creating these aspects. An open attitude will broaden your mind to consider possibilities, increasing your Creativity & Logic skills.
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