As a number who follow me may know, I have been a veteran member of Sporewiki. I joined in mid 2011 and started getting involved in writing stories during the winter of that year but now...it doesn't feel the same there. Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of fond memories and overall I don't regret signing up there. The community's been great, the stories have been fun, but on reflection there's a side of it that I don't think I can sit and pretend doesn't exist any longer. When there is an elephant in the room the common courtesy is to not question it. But what happens when that elephant starts knocking over tables, blocking the view from windows and stepping on peoples toes? That's where I stand now.
The Sporewiki fiction universe is one of the most large scale yet in-depth settings I have known. You have five major galaxies (plus a couple of of more underrated ones) that I'd argue each have as much detail and diversity to them as what established franchises like Star Trek or Mass Effect manage in just one galaxy. And already we have a primary time period that has spanned a little over fifty years with expanded content that spans thousands. I love places like that, which have massive potential for storytelling and exploration. The problem I have is that for all this potential, a noticeable portion of the community doesn't take full advantage of this. Outside of the Andromeda, Bunsen, Milky Way, Mirus and the Quadrant galaxies things honestly feel a little same-y.
I'm writing this with a heavy heart because I've grown to know a lot of the community and I know how much they love what they've created. But time and again, wars appear to boil down to revolving around an ensemble team of half-a-dozen running around the galaxy to stop whatever inhuman dictator or warlord has recently come to prominence. And wars that come down to anything other than "stop this madman" outside of the Xonexi cluster (where the Milky Way, Andromeda and Bunsen reside) are rather rare. The resident empires outside of this cluster have come to rely on what amounts to the interstellar equivalent of barbarian hordes. Were that not concerning enough for me, there are a few characters in the setting that have been practically lifted from other franchises, given make-up and then dropped into the setting.
DeviantArt has a vibrant fan-work community and there is a massive amount of fan-work here where OCs have been portrayed within established franchises like Star Wars or Final Fantasy. But in the case of Sporewiki, sometimes the line can be blurred between "fan inspired" and "virtually transcribed from the source material". Which as an artist concerns me as it is practically plagiarism. Something that for over ten ten years I have been told told is a massive no-no even if the work is non-commercial and confined to a singular location such as a written essay for school.
Things might not have been so bad were it not for an event called the Great Xonexian Schism. It divided the community (not intentional, the 'schism' was supposed to refer to the declaration of war between what were once allied powers) and for me it brought a fresh breath of life into the occurrence of war in the setting that forever opened my eyes because the enemy was something other than an easily-definable horde of savages that just wanted the universe to burn or rest nestled within their ultra-diamondoid fist. It tested alliances, loyalties and the certainty of who would win out. In short, it is playing out on a social level like most wars in human history. I've come to join the ranks of people who understand that war hasn't exclusively been the tool of nasty or barbaric people who love killing. If anything the economic or political causes of war overshadow the moral arguments that cause such a thing ot happen.
Outside of the Xonexi cluster was where things broke down for me. It wasn't just opposition to the event, but the powers outside the Xonexi Cluster continued the same side-forming formula that many other wars did. Every war in effect had a similar over-arching summary to World War Two minus most of Europe being devastated and needing up to 20 years to recover. It's starting to become boring because I look at the stories and I'm getting the impression I can predict who would ultimately win and at what cost. I mention a heavy heart because the Sporewiki community has heard this from me before only to dismiss me, eventually becoming sick of my concerns and I don't blame them, I got pretty aggressive at times and there were definitely times where it looked like I was just moaning and whining. But I write this because it's becoming difficult to keep to myself.
Taking part in a war in the Sporewiki Fiction Universe (and come to think of it may have been for a long time) seems more than anything like an outlet for two users to interact while inviting anyone who is interested to join in. Which has one unfortunate side effect where most of the action is coordinated by primary actors, and those outside a core who do sign up to assist are secondaries who fill out the cast but don't actually drive the story. At best there might be a mini-arc where one of the ensemble writers can be prominent. But otherwise the main reason to join these stories is perhaps to hang out with the lead writers. There has been the odd occasions where despite the amount of firepower the Draconid Imperium has access to, their withdrawal (temporary or permanent) from a war does little to its magnitude or the outcome. It could be excused by the fact that many stories focus on particular characters with larger-scale skirmishes happening in the background but that doesn't change the fact that if someone collaborating in a sory doesn't feel like they're making an impact, what's going to encourage them to keep signing up besides working with the lead writers for future stories? Its great for solidifying the core but when new or peripheral writers join in they may end up feeling like their contribution is simply extra guns. Happening once or twice with the promise of later prominence is okay, but not everyone is happy if this 'extra syndrome' happens to them consistently.
And that's brought me to my current state. Last Friday I made a decision: I was stirring my reservations to the point I was developing nausea, cold flushes and stomach cramps - stress-induced illness basically. The only cure I could think of was find a way to just not worry about it. So I hung my hat, decided that Sporewiki was probably not for me and I haven't returned to the primary Freenode IRC channel since. I still have commitments, what I created has become an integral part of the Xonexi cluster and it would be not only rude but also irresponsible to just drop out like that. I still want to keep in contact. The Milky Way, Bunsen, the Quadrant Galaxies and Andromeda are still locations where there are still fresh, complex stories emerging with events that still have impact. But I have concern it is overshadowed by the influence of the hands behind that side of the universe that wants to recycle the same "a nasty emerges, free universe assemble!" idea over and over. I've expressed my reservations to the community but I see only two options: Either I accept that half of the universe wants to continue the 'good verses evil shame on you for hating the heroes' way of doing things and return or I find somewhere else to express myself.
But as I have said I have commitments on the site so my departure won't be instant.