The DreamCatcher Transmedia Project was ultimately unsuccessful. Although our team came up a DreamCatcher Narrative Universe as a background for the transmedia story, we failed present the story in the most effective way.
The first mistake I made was to leave the story idea too open, this caused us to spend too much time on exploring the possibilities, and made some of our team members get lost in the story. Which lead to us heading down the wrong direction in story development. In the beginning, we planned to develop a collection of stories, and use each individual story in different mediums to engage audiences. Eventually however, I found the individual stories to be very interesting, but still lacked a way to be connected as a whole.
They came from different background, different worldview, different story universes.
What was needed was not a simply a story collection, but a story universe which stories could stem from the same background and worldview. If we had this it would have been easier to develop the stories we needed. Furthermore, once we could present the story universe to our audience clearly it opens the possibility of engaging emergent stories from a potential community.
Even though we used posters, forum posts, wiki documents, comics, short videos, even fake installation photos to present a narrative. The result was that most of our contents was in conflict with others.
One reason of this conflicts was of course due the fact that the story kept changing during the development, at same time, we kept making content closely following what we had, and this caused the earlier content to conflict with the later contents. For example, at beginning of the story development, we wrote interviews about people’s dreams and updated them to our wiki website as a part of our wiki records, and then we brainstormed characters based on these records. After several sessions’ of development, the wiki records failed to match with the latest characters’ story. The same thing also happened in our forum post development, we needed to redesign the whole forum post discussion relating to our characters’ dreams, but due to some members’ being inactive, this didn’t happen.
Another reason for conflict contents was due to communication issues during the story development, resulting in some team members getting lost amongst the middle of the story. Everyone was creating content based on their own understanding of the story and the project, so if someone was off sync with the rest of the group, his/her work ended up difficult task to fit into the final story.
We also made a mistake on the user journey map design. During the development, I only had a big picture in my mind - I knew the transmedia structure, the mediums we should use and the overall strategies. However, I didn’t notice details until nearly end of the project, such as how we direct audience from one medium to another and how we should engage audience at very beginning.
This ultimately resulted in a disconnection between all the content we produced - which failed to really deliver on the most fundamental element of an effective transmedia project. Even with posters, comics, forum and a wiki, they all seemingly told a different part of the story.
FInally, we did not use social media effectively. Social media should be used as an efficient way to engage and interact with our audience, but as we did not possess an established audience during the project, the Facebook page simply became an outlet for content, without a specific release schedule or context for updates.
If I had a chance to redo this project, I will focus the idea tighter, and keep all team members together before work on story development is complete, in order to keep entire team on the same page. Furthermore, I will design a more specific plan for the user journey map, and aim for a smoother flow when directing audiences between different mediums. Lastly, I will try to explain the background story universe to all team members using different mediums and treat them as my audience and try to encourage them to generate emergent stories from the wider community so that we can test some strategies during the development and make sure the overall structure will be solid and strong.
The process should like the image below:
Follow this process, I should finish a prototype to proof my design before the team project begins. The first prototype could be some very simple contents like forum posts, wiki interview records and maybe audio podcast which I can make all by myself, the goal is represent a simple story based on these contents in a transmedia way.
At beginning of the team project, I can show the prototype to team member and ask for feedback. These contents not only can proof my research and design outcome but also can be used to explain my understanding of the transmedia concept. After this, we can reflect based on the feedbacks and investigate the shortages, this is also a very good learning process at beginning of the project. Then we can do brainstorming sessions using what we learnt to develop ideas and implement them into our new prototype.
In this way, we can using this loop to improve our prototype’s quality, also because of investigate and design will be focused on the shortages from last prototype, this will make the research more effective.