The Leviathan Chronicles: a new Audio Drama

SFFaudio Online Audio

Amy Park writes:

“I would love to have your feedback and review of my friends new sci-fi podcast.”

Here is some feedback Amy…

The Leviathan Chronicles - Audio DramaThe Leviathan Chronicles – Season One
By Christof Laputka; Performed by a full cast
25 Audio Files – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: LeviathanChronicles.com
Published: April 2008 –

The idea:

Christof Laputka’s The Leviathan Chronicles describes itself as “a stylish downloadable science fiction audio drama” in the “40’s Style.” The first five episodes are available as a podcast. Future episodes can be downloaded from the website for an as yet unnamed fee. With a cast of more than 40 voice actors, sound effects and an original musical score the idea is to “propel the listener into the dark and mysterious ‘soundscape’.”

The plot:

Macallan Orsel, a young genetic scientist in present-day New York City discovers that she is descended from powerful immortals living secretly among us. Across centuries and continents, they have battled for supremacy-and Macallan must suddenly grapple with a mysterious and lethal virus, a covert government organization aware of the immortals-and her own family’s connection to both. In order to save herself and the immortals, Macallan must learn to use a key hidden within her own DNA. But a deadly secret has been kept deep in the bottom of the ocean for over a thousand years that could threaten not just the immortals, but all of mankind.

My comments on the site and episode 1:

1. Flash is bad. LeviathanChronicles.com required install of Flash 9.0 on both Internet Explorer and Firefox. That said, the Flash animation is well done (making the show look slick). But, that is much less important than content. I imagine in future visits having to sit through all that animation again would piss me off.

2. The show sounds interesting. It is a hybrid of audio drama and narration. It might work. Some of the dialogue seems one pass away from complete – most though sounds pretty good. At least some of the sound effects are familiar, maybe a little too familiar for my tastes. Music seems good so far.

3. The plot is intriguing, I really do want to know where it is going. There might be too much techno-jargon.

4. No podcast feed on the podcast page is bad. I found the podcast via an iTunes search.

5. The links on the “latest news” page don’t work.

6. No price for future shows makes me hesitant about listening to more than the first episode. I want to know I can afford to get addicted.

7. The downloads are in MP3, but the podcast isn’t. The podcast show should have an MP3 option, not just M4A.

8. The site needs an RSS feed.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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10 thoughts to “The Leviathan Chronicles: a new Audio Drama”

  1. Several things wrong with this site as interesting as it sounds…so I’ll bypass it.

    1st…pay site so I skip those
    2nd…flashplayer..us dialups have to have it disabled to do anything online
    3rd…mp3 is the only way to go…forget the m4u and whatever

    Sad…could have been a good show.

    0 out of 5 stars on this one.

  2. Good lord, did they spend enough on the flash programming? It’s crazy. I’m not averse to paying for good audio drama, but I have to agree that site is a usability nightmare. It’s even worse considering I’m a UNIX user and flash is not generally agreeable with my platform. This will take some hacking just to listen too.

  3. Hi,
    I mostly agree with you, Jesse, as well as with the two people who’ve already commented.
    Flash is not necessarily bad. There are great ways to employ Flash, which even I as “usability guy” have to say. However, not in the way it is currently implemented on that site. For God’s sake, it can’t be that hard to have a “skip intro” button! (If there is one, it is well hidden, which is equally as bad)
    The thing that annoys *me* most is that there is a lack of transparency. From my personal and professional experience more and more people are quite willing to pay for quality stuff on the web as long as the price is perceived to be fair and there is sufficient transparency, i.e. “how much does it cost, how can I pay?” This reeks of Let’s try to get them “addicted” [as you have so aptly put it]and not put them off by the price.’
    That is, in my opinion exactly the wrong way. It’s what budget airlines used to do (and still do) but slowly get steer away from as customers get more and more aware – and wary – of this practise.
    Just my two (Euro-)cents,
    C.

  4. Jesse…. you got comments spot on. I discovered this a while ago and thought… eh! Something not right here and your reviews points out what was not right!

  5. Hey everyone,

    My name is Christof Laputka and I’m the author and creator of The Leviathan Chronicles. First of all, I want to thank you all for the time you took to check out the website and listen to Chap. 1. I also want to thank you for the comments you posted. I think most of them are well reasoned and I want you to know that I’m listening and will implement changes in short order. But I think there may be a misunderstanding on a few issues that I’d like to clarify.

    1) I know that the site being in Flash is a mixed bag. My vision for Leviathan was to accomplish two things: One, to create the most compelling audio drama that reflected the genre of “modern” darker science fiction with the best available talent and special effects. Two, I wanted the website to be a fully immersive universe for the story line. I wanted some visual aspects to explain certain concepts as well as create an interactive venue for discussion between listeners and the Author. There are also gaming aspects (i.e. the hunt for Easter Eggs, like the one on the home page) that I want to promote and will develop further as time goes on. In other words, I wanted the site to be more then just a download page for mp3 files. I thought this would be a welcome addition to the world of science fiction and more than one traditionally sees with audio drama of this type. Flash was the best medium to accomplish this. That being said, I fully acknowledge the fact that requiring the latest version may be an impediment to some listeners. Frankly, if I could do it over, I would do it differently. But it’s my belief (too optimistic perhaps) that eventually technology will catch up and it will be more easily accessible by more viewers/listeners. But I recognize the limitations and I’m doing everything I can to make it more accessible to people.

    2. One comment was that all the Flash would be a distraction during subsequent visits. First of all, the intro video is only played once during a viewer’s first visit. After that, one goes directly to the home page. Additionally, one can always link directly to the podcast page (http://www.leviathanchronicles.com/#/the_podcast/) and bypass anything else. In addition, I purposely created the iTunes page if people don’t want to deal with the website at all. I’m open to any other suggestions as to how to make the site better and more usable.

    3. RSS feed. This is an important point and thank you guys for bringing it up. You guys are right and an RSS feed will be created by the end of the week. Obviously, you always can go to iTunes to actively subscribe but there should be something on the website. Good point.

    4. Audio format. Downloads for iTunes have to be in m4a format. I can’t do anything about it. But the Downloads from the site come in mp3 format. If someone is having a different experience, please let me know.

    5. The pricing issue. Once again, this is my fault. I appreciate your comments and you guys are right. Let me start by clarifying that all episodes in Season 1 (Eps 1-25) are and will be free. There may be an “audiobook” version in the future that one would purchase on iTunes or Audible, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. When the website was designed, I had an e-commerce function created as I was figuring out what direction to take the project. Originally, the idea was to charge $.99 per episode, but I quickly moved away from that idea after listening to some resistance in the podcasting/audio drama community. In my defense, nobody has been required to enter any financial information into the site to get any episodes. The payment area wasn’t intended to be used. That being said, I understand the criticism that some of those e-commerce functions were still “visible” thus leaving someone to question why they should commit their valuable time to an audio drama without knowing the cost. That is a totally valid point and I will change the website to make that more clear. I really apologize for the confusion and I will take immediate steps to make sure that people understand the first 25 eps are free.

    I also think this is a good time to explain the format and scope of the project. The Leviathan Chronicles is something that I have been writing and developing for the past two years and has required significant time and resources. I wanted to create as grand a scope as possible because I really love this medium of story telling. Leviathan will be 50 episodes in total. Season 1 is the first 25 episodes (which will be one complete story arc). We will then take a hiatus for a few months while we do the prep work for Season 2 (the last 25 eps). One new episode is dropped every 10 days which I’d like to believe is a pretty ambitious output for 45 min – 1 hour episodes of this scope and quality.

    With the above comments in mind, I sincerely hope that you’ll give Leviathan another chance. No matter what, I really appreciate your comments and the suggestions you’ve offered. I hope you’ll appreciate the effort that went into trying to create something very ambitious and forgive some initial mis-steps on my part. They will be corrected quickly.

    Thanks again everyone, take great care and I wish you all great listening.

    Christof

  6. Rick. You’re on dial-up! Jeez! Why don’t you use a telegraph. It’s 2008 why would you use dial-up? Park your Stutz Bearcat, relax on the barca-ounger and listen to Al Jolson on the Victrola phonograph. I saw an RSS feed for both the news and the episodes. Artwork and content is fantastic.

  7. @Jay, I don’t want to start a flame war here, so… well, I won’t. ;-)
    However, I think you’re forgetting something. One the one hand I agree with you and Christof insofar as you cannot always wait for the dissemination of a technology to be almost complete before you employ it. There would hardly be any progress then.
    On the other hand, you have to keep in mind that in the times of the internet your potential audience has become global. I am German. Only in the last couple of weeks I bought one audio drama and one audio book from US publishers online. And I download much more stuff that is available for free. My favorite info site for English language audio dramas and books is run by US americans and Canadians (hint, hint! But enough of the sliming ;-) )Maybe you aware of the fact that technologically (and otherwise I would like to think) Germany is be no means a “backwater” country. Still, the town I live in while I am in Germany and not in the UK did not have DSL until about 1 1/2 years ago. Simply because the responsible telcom provider was willing to make the necessary investments to allow 20,000 people to have fast internet access. I don’t want to speculate about the situation in countries that are (even only slightly) less developed. And let me not even start about the amount of people who have to use special means to access the internet at all, but can do so quite easily (let me tell you that from my professional experience) as long as the respective website is just a little accomodating in that respect.
    Don’t get me wrong, I am not even saying that only because of any “ethical” considerations. It makes perfect business sense. The internet offers perfect opportunities for content publishers to significantly widen the scope of their audience in ways that were never available to them before. Of course I do understand that publishers (especially if there is no big money backing them up) must consider the cost-benefit-ratio. I do not know whether Christof has the budget to, say, offer a text only site along with the main Flash site. But he asked for comments and suggestions and it turns out he could explain some misunderstandings and is willing to rectify some of the mentioned problems. So, mission accomplished. :-) I will give Leviathan a try.
    On a more lighthearted note: Regarding your suggestion for using a telegraph… well, that *is* possible. ;-) Check out the link, it’s awesome: http://steampunkworkshop.com/telegraph.shtml

    Sincerely,
    Carsten

  8. One more thing for Christof:
    You mentioned that the intro is only played on the first visit? I reckon this is done using a cookie? Some people will have cookies turned off, delete their cookies frequently or might access from different computers (like, err, from home and work… ;-) )That said, having a “skip intro” button is always a good idea.
    C.

  9. Personally, I cam to TLC thinking it might have something to dow/vampires and the like- having heard adverts for it on Dark Projects stuff. I’m up to chapter 7 and am enjoying it, but it doesn’t look like it’s vamp-related, which is a bummmer, but as a general sci-fi/fantasy fan and total waterbaby, it’s a minor “oh, poo.” But I still don’t know where it’s going, and I like that. This series is definitely not predictable. I like the narration, am familiar w/some of the voice actors from other projects, n’ I’m diggin’ so far. :)

    One thing though: Although I do think the flash stuff is AMAZINGLY slick, atmospheric, moody and quite beautiful (it really gives you a feel for the series and the objects which you’re asked to imagine within the series’ world), it would be great to have a place other than the main site where I could access the episodes. My machine is slooow, and the TLC site has crashed it more than once now. Perhaps offering a splash screen w/an option for a basic HTML screen or the perty Flash option might work, for those of us who just can’t afford the big shiny ‘pooters quite yet. ;)

    Many thanks for all the hard work the TLC crew obviously put into it, though. Nice work! Even if you’re not into flash or pay stuff, -it’s worth checking out.-

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