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Tezcatlipoca

Dune Machinima

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Essentially this thread will encompass two objectives.

The first is to nail down a plot and storyline for our Dune Machinima movie. Once we have a plot that we are mostly happy with, and is doable in the medium we'll be working with (a FPS, Tribes, modified for Dune, see http://dune2k.com/forum/index.php?topic=7757.0 ), the second will be to write the actual script for the movie, or at least for the first part.

I'll go out on a limb here and assume we'll want to do the "movie" in pieces; probably 5 or 10 minute chuncks. That way the size is managable for rendering/download, and just about everything else is more managable for the time-allotment we'll have to work on it (we all of course have other projects in the mix, to say nothing of jobs/school).

So on to the plot.

My intial plot suggestion is that we focus on about five Harkonnen grunts, on their journey from Gedi-Prime to Arrakis, to take part in the attack at Arrakeen. We can continue it through the attack, and then after the attack, and maybe even all the way to Muad'Dib's overthrow of the emperor, again at Arrakeen. Throughout the "episodes" we'll slowly kill off each members, until at the end only one or two, or maybe none, of the cast survive. This will give us a wide enough platform from which to include interesting events; Prep on GP, riding over in the highliner, arriving and attacking Arrakeen, cleaning up the last of the Atreides, having to deal with conceited, moody and pushy Sardaukar, running into the Fremen, assisting the hunting down of fremen, dealing with Mercs and traders from various groups (Ix, smugglers, ect), defending spice production and getting their butts kicked while doing so, and eventually being crushed at Arrakeen.

Because it would be from a grunt's perspective, we'll have creative control over the dialog and action, and we could introduce cameos if we want of key people in the series. It would also allow us to make it humorous, which I think should be a main concern and objective since the media probably won't be interesting to viewers *unless* it's humorous. And of course, focusing on Harkonnen conscripts would add to that prospect.

We could even split them up at some point to make things more interesting; have one or two go off to the assault on Carthag and experience the fight there, while the rest participate in the attack at Arakeen.

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Harkonnen is good. My voice is a bit high for the "average" Hark grunt, so I'll play around a bit with Audacity, mmkay? I'll post some ideas up later, once I've gotten them together so that people can understand them. :P

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Still running with the previous plot line, we could focus on a squad of support/specialist personnel. Because they play a support roll in the military, it's more reasonable that they get moved around a lot, and they generally won't serve at the front lines. Possibly contain the following members:

1) A leader: smart, brash and a bit insulting, and has a major problem when dealing with Sardaukar. Trooper armor, Pistol, knidjal, knives, and of course a shield

2) Artillery specialist: the more demented of the group, who (obviously) likes to blow things up. Gets along with Sardaukar and frequently argues about the validity of their assistance with the leader of the group. Trooper armor, Rocket launcher, knifes, shield

3) Artillery support: lowest ranking of the group, who's primary roll is to assist #2 with lugging around equipment and other things. Looks up to #2 but disagrees with some of his methods. Solider armor, knives, *no* shield (ammo pack or something)

4) Axuillary specialist: A multi-task role. He's smaller, but one of the more dangerous of the group. He tries to "blend in" with the others, but occasionally lets a comment slip about mutilation and such. His primary role is to eliminate enemy specialists, or provide further attrition on the enemies not current in a fight (and with shields down; only one issued a rare assault rifle to accomplish the task). Perfers the use of poison, and less "brute force" tactics. Soldier armor, Assault rifle, slip-tip, knife, shield.

5) Standard Trooper: A fairly normal person who was conscripted and didn't want to be. His lack of interest led him to be trained in a basic hand to hand grunt fighting role, which most people are designated to anyway. Managed to luck out and get placed with a rear-situated specialist team. Not very interested in fighting, since he could get hurt, but is probably the better swordsman in the whole group. It's his task to keep the others alive in an ambush. Not a smart guy necessarilly, but is always offering the leader advise anyway. His propencity to avoid a fight unless absolutely necessary (i.e. waiting until the enemy is really close before deciding he'll have to protect someone), and his ability to act proficiently in a fight probably would make him survive the longest of the group. Trooper, kindjal, knifes, shield.

Sorry about the equipment list.. it's kind of a habit from the game...

Anyway. If we had to split them up at some point, it would probably be most effective to send the artillary specialist and artillary support to another area, like Carthag or something.

To tell you the truth, these guys seem fairly bland but... we'll have to develop them if we want to use them.

Harkonnen is good. My voice is a bit high for the "average" Hark grunt, so I'll play around a bit with Audacity, mmkay? I'll post some ideas up later, once I've gotten them together so that people can understand them. :P

If we used the above, you could probably easily modify your voice for three out of the two at worst. I'd say 3,4 and 1 would have the highest voices. In order from highest to lowest voices I'd say we'd have 3, 4, 1, 5, 2.

Again, this is all pending we actually use these guys. Different ideas are encouraged.

For some reason I just had a thought about how some of them would most probably die... #1 will probably get himself killed by a Sardaukar, and #2 will probably blow himself up. Donno about the others.

If we kill some or all of them off, we'll probably want to have two or three more people in the group so we have more.. fodder to work with. Maybe more Standard Troopers for a more effective fighting unit. We'd have to find them some personalities.

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I'm up for being the Trooper. I wouldn't want to be the leader since I don't have that kind of attitude.

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Ok, what are we going to do as regards themes? It's one thing having five character who go around shooting things, but this is Dune - we need some literary substance.

Let's start from the most basic topos we have: War.

Now, there's the old, old, glory vs hardship thing, but really, if we're talking about Hark grunts, that's not going to happen. Next up is the 'tactical value on lives' debate. That's pretty situational, and inevitably case-by case, so I don't think we can plan for it. There's the 'what's the point of war' question, which I think Herbert never really addressed - he always just collated it with conquest, since Dune was entirely focused onthe Imperium's political elite. Given that war's often as much about domestic power as territorial control, perhaps we can round out the picture in that respect. The 'whose orders do you follow' might be a little interesting when it comes to Hark/Sard co-operation.

I'm highly conscious that I sound like a pretentious prat, so I'll stop.

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I'm up for being the Trooper. I wouldn't want to be the leader since I don't have that kind of attitude.

Well, remember you're supposed to be voice acting :)

Ok, what are we going to do as regards themes? It's one thing having five character who go around shooting things, but this is Dune - we need some literary substance.

Let's start from the most basic topos we have: War.

Now, there's the old, old, glory vs hardship thing, but really, if we're talking about Hark grunts, that's not going to happen. Next up is the 'tactical value on lives' debate. That's pretty situational, and inevitably case-by case, so I don't think we can plan for it. There's the 'what's the point of war' question, which I think Herbert never really addressed - he always just collated it with conquest, since Dune was entirely focused onthe Imperium's political elite. Given that war's often as much about domestic power as territorial control, perhaps we can round out the picture in that respect. The 'whose orders do you follow' might be a little interesting when it comes to Hark/Sard co-operation.

I'm highly conscious that I sound like a pretentious prat, so I'll stop.

Wow. I didn't even *think* about theme. Good catch.

Well, if we do humorous (which I think is a definate must), then the theme should fit the bill. I agree that glory vs hardship would definately not fit for most of these characters or really most of any of the Harkonnen grunts. For the second idea, we could encorporate some of that into it I think, especially if we start killing people off. It could also create some good friction between the characters as they decide who is more "valuable" and thus who should be excused from some of the dirty tasks. But I think that theme is going to be a more minor one for use in certain scenes. The "what's the point of war" theme is certainly one we can explore, but it's pretty close to the RedVsBlue theme of "why are we here?" which I'm trying to stay away from (RvB is great, and I like it a lot but there's no since in trying to recreate it, even in a separate setting; we just won't match up :)). I think trying to pick one of Herbert's themes will probably fail, since as you pointed out, they apply less to individual cogs, and more to the machine as a whole, and those large important parts in the machine. The last one you mentioned is a definate point of comic releaf that we'll want to exploit. It's one of the reasons I picked the Harks, because it will provide the ability of continued social interaction with the Sardaukar, and questions about cooperating with them, and why each individual would or wouldn't want to.

Back to the Dune novel themes though, we may benefit from trying to take those themes specifically and twisting them for humorous purposes, even if they don't fit for us in their original form. I have my own ideas of what Dune was about, so I'll grab wikipedia's "dune themes" as reference.

One I think we could use is the leadership theme. We mentioned interacting with the Sardaukar, who are more or less supposed to be giving orders, and thus create a separate chain of command within the Harkonnen chain of command; again that'll benefit us a lot. Along the same theme's lines though, wikipedia suggests "the human tendency for human beings to follow charismatic leaders slavishly." I don't see this as a problem of Harkonnen grunts myself.. but we could place a schizm in our little group, dividing them among contrasting lines of those that couldn't give a damned about leadership, and those who will "slavishly" follow their leader.

Another theme layed out by wikipedia is "the need for humans to think both systematically and long term." I think we can use this for our purposes by doing the complete opposite. Continuously placing our characters in unfavorable positions because they *didn't* think ahead. And perhaps supplimenting it with the "non-slavish" section of the group taking an "i told you so" position with the leader.

The wiki also suggests the use of mind-altering chemicals. I think we could definately use a character or two that are locked into the abusive habbits of using one or two of the Dune-oriented drugs.

Survival and evolution are probably his main themes though. We can use the first one best by having an overriding theme of "how do we survive." They'll be thrown into bloody close combat, then probably sent on missions deep into the dangerous deserts of Arrakis. They'll probably more than once be tempted to disobeying orders completely and directly because they think it could harm them. This could work out for us by having ironic situations crop up that eventually fullfill their orders, thus keeping them in the military structure, despite their efforts.

We could use Frank Herbert's Dune for some scenes...

Well, we probably want to stick with one medium, otherwise the conflicting quality or styles in the graphics will be distracting. The other option would be to do the opposite, and use such a large conglomerate of them that the constant change isn't noticable. I don't own FH's Dune however, so I don't know much about it, but the reason for using the game layed out in the intial post was that it is multiplayer, free (so anyone can participate), and I know how to manipulate it to such an extent that we can have a very nicely controlled environment for "filming" in. However, an ocasional aside into another game would probably be humorous, using that contrasting value for heightened effect. For instance, suddenly jumping into an EBFD overhead view of our "characters" for some specific reason (maybe because one of them ate a bit too much spice or some such, thus the change in perception). We'd want to limit this though, for the above reasons, and also because it'll be a pain in the ass (comparativly) to try and control the scene in EBFD (it'll have the cursor, and all sorts of other random things that don't belong). Again I don't kno how FH's Dune stacks up to these issues though since I don't own it and haven't played it.

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Heh, I've always been told I had the voice of Barry White's illegitament white child. So harkonnen is a good choice! Also, not an area that's been focused on much. As far as "why are we fighting" mixed with humor, let's try to separate this clearly from Red vs Blue (a machinema based off of Halo and Halo 2).

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Heh, I've always been told I had the voice of Barry White's illegitament white child. So harkonnen is a good choice! Also, not an area that's been focused on much. As far as "why are we fighting" mixed with humor, let's try to separate this clearly from Red vs Blue (a machinema based off of Halo and Halo 2).

Definately stay away from RvB. Our themes should be as different as possible, and hopefully our humor will be of a different style to some extent.

If you've got a nice deep voice, and you can make it menicing and/or gravelly, we could use also use that for Sardaukar extras. Although it could be worth a laugh to make a Sard with a puny voice.

Come on guys! More theme ideas, plot ideas and character ideas! Once we get some of those basics nailed down we can develop the plot and story line, then get on to the script!

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Perhaps make a theme that goes along the lines of the troops or just one of them being very good at it, but also realizing the propaganda and bureaucratic dead-ends of the army, along with not believing much of what the Army says in terms of when they can retire or get out. Also, this character can just do the job because of the money he's saving up with it (due to the low survival rate). I got this from a book called The Neverending War (set in the future).

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We'd want to limit this though, for the above reasons, and also because it'll be a pain in the ass (comparativly) to try and control the scene in EBFD (it'll have the cursor, and all sorts of other random things that don't belong).

Sidebar and other things can be removed.  How about a scene where it starts off with a man in Emperor with the camera high above him, and zooms right in to him, then changes to the other style.

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Sidebar and other things can be removed.  How about a scene where it starts off with a man in Emperor with the camera high above him, and zooms right in to him, then changes to the other style.

I think that would make for a pretty darned funny scene. We're going to have to get one of the characters adicted to semuta for it. Perhaps have him undergo an episode while on a desert mission at a fairly critical juncture, when the rest of the group realizes that he forgot to bring the antidote.

Perhaps make a theme that goes along the lines of the troops or just one of them being very good at it, but also realizing the propaganda and bureaucratic dead-ends of the army, along with not believing much of what the Army says in terms of when they can retire or get out. Also, this character can just do the job because of the money he's saving up with it (due to the low survival rate). I got this from a book called The Neverending War (set in the future).

If we split those ideas up and give one of those charactaristics to each of the characters, I think we could create some humorous conflicts along the way. Have one guy looking to climb the ranks and taking a "slavish" view on taking orders, while another, perhaps the most skilled of the group, just is constantly in disbelief of what the chain of command tells them and instead is constantly looking for a way out, while another is in it simply for the pay.

I always held onto the speculative possibility that most Harkonnen recruits were in it for the money instead of the loyalty. After all if they're in the military of one of (if not the) richest House in the Landsraad, they'll probably be getting paid a pretty penny, and will have some of the best equipment to boot. This of course wouldn't cut out those with loyalty, but it would probably seriously dilute it. If we look at Nefud as a "classic" example (a conclusion we can't really come to honestly, given the lack of data) then we have a skilled fellow but with a reserved, non-conflicting personality that seems to be not in it for the service he's doing for his people/leader, but instead because it gains him a garunteed source for his beloved semuta.

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I think we're almost ready to start working out a more detailed plot and storyline. Here's what we have so far:

Themes:

-"How Do we survive?"

-Everthing will work out in the end, even if you don't want it to.

-What is a life worth, and who's worth more.

-The chain of command, who follows orders and how well.

-Long term planning is necessary, and this is what happens when you don't do it.

-Mind altering chemicals and warfare can be a dangerous mix.

-People will lie to convince you to risk your life (assuming the "leadership/loyalty" thing doesn't work out)

-Killing people can earn you good money

-Not everyone is good at what they're being paid, or expected, to do.

Basic plot:

Our Harkonnen group is finished with their training, and their auxiliary squad is supplemented by more skilled veterans. They're immediately sent off to participate in an invasion on Arrakis, where they are subsequently kept on duty longer than their term of service specified, and issued dangerous missions deep into the desert. They are slowly killed off, until the Fremen attack on Arrakeen, where the story, and the last of them are finished.

Characters:

Any suggestions? They need to be developed a bit more, and a few more added I think before we can use them effectively. Almost forgot... we also need names for these poor souls. That's something I'm definately not qualified in doing.

I might have left something out. If I did, or if anyone has more suggestions to embellish the above, do add.

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Names I think should be Finnish.

Characters/development idea - have it revealed at some stage stage that one of the arty guys is incredibly squeamish. While they're quite happy to blow things up from afar, when it actually comes to killing a real, live person they fail. Perhaps this failure causes the death of a close comrade, and the guilt causes him to become a bit of a monster.

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Names I think should be Finnish.

Characters/development idea - have it revealed at some stage stage that one of the arty guys is incredibly squeamish. While they're quite happy to blow things up from afar, when it actually comes to killing a real, live person they fail. Perhaps this failure causes the death of a close comrade, and the guilt causes him to become a bit of a monster.

Heheh. A squimish artillary specialist. I like it. Although the guilt portion I think might be a bit dramtic. Perhaps it would be better just to make him a pretty awfull person to begin with, and have it come out that he's squeamish as a contrasting tone to his personality.

What should we be doing with the extra characters? Should we even have more than five? I get the feeling that if we only have five, that killing them off will become more of an "event" than just a regular theme.

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We should do it like they do in Star Trek...

...have the main characters live, and have all the minor characters around them die.

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"killing them off will become more of an "event" than just a regular theme."

Well, when I say 'theme', I don't mean recurring event, but something the script deals with as an issue.

I mean, it all depends how we're approaching it. Will the whole thing be tongue in cheek, recurring jokes and reference humour, or will it be a serious Dune-style effort?

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We should do it like they do in Star Trek...

...have the main characters live, and have all the minor characters around them die.

We could do that of course. But even minor characters should have some personality outlined for them.

"killing them off will become more of an "event" than just a regular theme."

Well, when I say 'theme', I don't mean recurring event, but something the script deals with as an issue.

I mean, it all depends how we're approaching it. Will the whole thing be tongue in cheek, recurring jokes and reference humour, or will it be a serious Dune-style effort?

Right. I understand what you ment when you referred to theme. In that instance I didn't mean a literary theme; it was more along the lines of a plot recurance.

I think we want to have a mix of those approaches. I believe the humor and tongue in cheek is necessary given the medium, otherwise it will just look patheticially silly, as opposed to hillariously silly. But I think we should and have enough Dune experience on the boards that we can completely saturated it with Dune references and essentially "plug it in" to the original Dune storyline seemlessly.

Good questions of course, but there hasn't been a lot of development for the characters or anything. Should we put that to rest and try to move on to developing a more detailed plot line? Perhaps the characters will become more developed by default as we move through the plot and script writing.

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"Should we put that to rest and try to move on to developing a more detailed plot line?"

Yeah, I think we could do with that. Another idea might be to give each person who's available to write a major character in the team, and get them to go away and write a few sentences about how each of them feels and reacts towards their specific job, towards the war in general, towards the other characters, the sardaukar, the Atreides, the natives, and the Fremen.

First we need an intro scene. We need exposition, so perhaps two high-ish ranking recurring characters discussing the situation (or the Emperor/Baron/Piter and an advisor), the cutting to a troop carryer in a highliner, in which our heroes interact, and give the on-the-ground view - sort of 'so why are we doing this again?' or an overconfident 'why do we need all this secrecy when we have the Emperor's blessing'.

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by "each person who's available" do you mean the people who are acting?

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Well, I said "give each person who's available to write" - that doesn't have to be the same as the actors, though it could be.

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Another idea might be to give each person who's available to write a major character in the team, and get them to go away and write a few sentences about how each of them feels and reacts towards their specific job, towards the war in general, towards the other characters, the sardaukar, the Atreides, the natives, and the Fremen.

Ya I think that might work out. I happened to have the thought that we should make one of the characters a devout Orange Catholic. I figured with a team of Harkonnen, which to me seem like they probably wouldn't have much use for religion, sticking someone heavilly religious in the group would be fun.

As for the intro scene, I've written a little possible example that seems pretty good. It needs to be cleaned up, and the characters I've exposed so far still need more definition (like a name) but here it is:

Outside view of a barracks somewhere near Harko city, two of our main characters are discussing their future and current events. They talk about it being their last day in training and how now they'll have to go out and find real jobs, if they don't get an assignment.

One guy mentions how he's glad there's no wars going on, and how lucky they are that the Harkonnen's Arrakis contract was taken away. Otherwise they'd end up on that backwater planet. The other guy mentions how he isn't so pleased. Sure at least they don't have to worry about serving on that dust ball, but couldn't they just start a small war with someone? He didn't join the military to increase his civilian sector skills after all. What about the Atreides? No one likes them; they should start something with them!

The first guy reprimands the second for being so shortsighted. Don't you read the current events? Haven

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Impressive, and I like the "Yes/Damnit" bit a lot. I think some of the description is unnecessary,

For paragraph 2 "One guy mentions...", here would be the time to decide if the jingo's into Hark 'nationalism'. That is, does he want war purely for the effort, or does he view conquest as something that's beneficial to HH, and therefore considers himself to be fighting for his homeland.

Para. 3: "The first guy reprimands the second for being so shortsighted..." - I'm pretty sure the link would have been common knowledge. This, and particularly Para. 5 could do with some pruning (else we'll have a 3-hour film on our hands before long). Unless you're intending to include Duncan as a major character, the whole Ginaz business is either unnecessarily confusing or redundant (depending on if the viewer is familiar with the plot).

Bear in mind also that the press they'll be reading will be mostly pure Harkonnen propaganda. While I *really* like the idea of thousands of grunts across Giedi Prime saying "I think

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