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Eurofurence 28 — "Cyberpunk"
Sep 18 – 21, 2024
CCH — Congress Center Hamburg


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Author Topic: Pawpetshow Critique :)  (Read 7189 times)


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Pawpetshow Critique :)
« on: 23.08.2016, 00:29:03 »

I'll try to make a 'short' critique about the Pawpetshow this year, first of all my biased one before I move on to trying to pull out seperate parts of it a bit.

All in all, I liked the show a lot. It wasn't s powerful as Keepers of the Light was, definitely not, but a great addition to the afterstory. I was curious how the world changed because of it, and this very realistic approach of it sucked me in right away. Thanks a lot for everyone making this, in my believe, you're the best puppetiers (or however you write this :p) I ever saw.
From all the Pawpetshows I saw (EF14-22) It is on place 5 for me, with Dreamcatchers (EF14) 1st, Keepers of the Light (EF20) 2nd, Year of the Rat (EF17) 3rd and Operation Desert Snow (EF15) on 4rd. So the lower half, but that doesn't say a lot since all of them are of exceptional quality in my eyes!

On the technical side:

I can only say: Awesome as every time. For a one time show, the amount of effort put into it, the emotions conveyed with those well done backgrounds, the props, as well as the puppets are just astounding, nothing else to say. The work is on pro level, and sometimes even beyond considering that a puppet show shown on TV can be redone and redone as often as needed, while at a live show, you only got a single chance. While not as impressive ideas were implemented as in some of the other shows (Flying sharks, the revolution at the dam and some others), the quality of it overall felt more then good.

On the acting side:

Everey character was fitting, there was nearly no stuttering and the lines sounded very well rehearsed. The only thing which went off was the sudden technical problem with the too early firing gun, as well as the sudden silence afterwards. It seemed like the whole crew was waiting for the normal timing afterwards instead of making it 'the show must go on', but something of this size is espected.

On the story side:

Especially con for me was this years approach on the backstory, taking into consideration that a revolution of this magnitude, basically effecting the whole world wouldn't come with some sort of backdraws, and those were played out well. While I personally would have liked to see how the actions of the main characters changed the world afterwards as well, it was a finished story and hasn't left a lot open, congratulations on that.

Character wise:

Potami seemed like a well thought out character with only a little flaw in it which made it slightly uncommon and a bit unwell for me. She behaved like more or less of a slut, which didn't suit her as the strongest character in the play very well. While she had to survive under harsh conditions which show clearly, some of the scenes with her (for instance the 'blowjob' scene) seemed a little forced. It went on for too long in my personal opinion, as well as being completely unnecessary. As far as I remember, none of the other shows ever had direct sex in it, only implied one which I found much more tasteful, as well as fitting for a play which wasn't taking itself all too serious. It simply deviated from the normal feeling of the steadily more professional show that was put up year after year.
Hearing the comments from some people about it afterwards, especially about the show being on EF-Prime and therefore being streamed to each room and the lobby (making it viewable from the lobby) this mature part felt completely off. Gladly it did nothing to destroy the story overall.

Raindancer in the meantime was overly passive and naive in some way while very well educated. A proper scholar which was very fitting for his personality. He was behaving in a fitting manner even thought his father was a hero, and he definitely isn't in any way. Playing it out a little bit stronger on this part would have been very well in my eyes, but it's understandable that pushing more background building into his characters was hard with the story of intrigue and a lot of twists taking up the time. All in all, he was a fitting character.

Lady Goldeneyes was a very well done character, spoiled from her position in some way while trying to be close to the people as well, but at the same time pressured as she was forced to do things she would rather never had done. Her role was very good, and I actually can't think of anything which had made her better for this scenario.

The same goes with Whisperwind, he was a classic evil guy fitting into the scenario, rich, powerful, thinking he can force everything on people by intriguing and making it his downfall after all.

As a special mention I want to take in the birds as well. While they were definitely side characters, they lightened up the play by a lot, giving it the funny touch the pawpetshow is known for, and they were exceptionally well played. I still get a grin on my muzzle as soon as I think about them, so, in my opinion the best side characters possible.

To come to an end here, I want to thank the awesome crew of the Pawpetshow again for another great play, reviving the main show after a year of (well deserved!) breathing room. Keep on the good work, maybe keep out the direct sexual scenes for the future, but all in all, I can't think about a better crew to make these plays. You guys come up with such awesome and fresh ideas every year, build the whole setup in your free time without wanting anything in return, and all of that while being busy with the best of the best cons! Keep up the good work, you are as awesome as anyone can be!

In the highest if high regards and my 2 cents,


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Re: Pawpetshow Critique :)
« Reply #1 on: 25.08.2016, 13:13:36 »

As a disclaimer up front...
Apologies, but I don't really like this kind of backstory. Not only have I seen many backstories very similar to it before, but I object to two fundamental premises: That making furries and wiping out humanity are both easy, and something we can do 'five minutes into the future'. In practice they aren't. They are both extremely hard, especially if you want to do them in that order. If you have the technology base to make furries with a small group of people with very limited resources, then before the world ended, that same technology would have enabled humanity to a lot of things that are much easier. Like colonize mars, and nearby stars, and also defenses against most things that could wipe out humanity. And quite frankly probably also done the whole 'artificial life' multiple time before...

But that is an, um, an extremely technically focused way of looking at things, and thus not particularly helpful, since most people don't approach things that way. And stories should be judged upon their own merits, as I will try to do here.

Technical side:
Just to start with, I'm pretty sure those two curtains need greasing. ::) I'm afraid I have to echo the issues with the gun scene, and I think there was some audio SFX which didn't sync up elsewhere as well. However SFX work is a job that I've actually done myself on a (much) smaller production, so I know that's something that can just happen. Congrats on getting everything else right.

The performs seemed up to its usual high standards, with all of the characters coming off as themselves, rather than their actors, which is how things should be.

I'm afraid they didn't leave a very strong impression on me this year. Off hand the only name I could remember was Goldeneyes. Whisperwind (thank you Kulze) was very much the manipulative psychopath, but he didn't stand out that much. Goldeneyes herself was clearly an abuse victim, and still in mourning for her husband, and possibly suffering PTSD from killing Potami's mother. Having her stand up to Whisperwind was satisfying, but in no way left me confident that she could lead or even manage Ironforge. Raindancer was in many ways the most likable character, and I suspect he was designed to be.

And then there was Potami. An archetypal 'bad girl' (and I think 'girl' is suitable here) who enjoys life to the max because she only want to live long enough to avenge her mother's death. We see in this story the consequences of her recklessness catching up to her for the first time since the execution, and I fear she will face more in the near future. (As might Raindancer. By coincidence there were a lot of 'go see a doctor if it itches that bad' posters in Berlin this year. ::) ) I'm a little curious why she wasn't the main character? I was disappointing, though not surprised, when she lost her nerve and didn't try harder in the final confrontation ("Yes, you found one cache, not the others") though in fairness Whisperwind was always going to call her bluff. I would respect her a little more if she had pre-stuffed the gun with dried mud, but I'm not sure the scene intended that.

Though as a technicality 'making the gun explode' and 'stopping the bullet' are two very different things. She probably should have been a little bit injured, which would be in line with her apparent character arc that 'risks are actually dangerous'. Stuffing wet mud into the barrel while she was on the ground is unlikely to have done either. And on the subject of technicalities - I found it hard to credit that the 'best blacksmith in Ironforge' was anything of the sort. He didn't offer alternatives, or ask for better metal production knowledge, or better quality ore.

One 'character' that seemed very underdeveloped was the Opposition/Ironforge. As I've said above, I really don't know what they actually wanted, or why they hated/feared the Institute so much. Because they're too much like the Keepers, or because they're not the Keepers, and the Opposition are actually Loyalists? Or because they fear release of technology to a rival (deliberately or carelessly due to the Institutes apparently appalling security) could destroy them economically and leave their city starving. I also found the Institute's reasoning to be rather unconvincing. Existential threats exist whether you keep secrets or not, and surviving most require a certain minimal level of technology to see them coming and survive. By wanting to avoid the specific fate humanity suffered (according to the Keepers at least, who aren't known for their honesty) they are ironically making their culture more vulnerable to other ones. Which is an extremely silly thing to do and unfortunately made their wisdom appear a little hollow.

I have no particular issue with the brothel scene as such (which was definitely one of the funniest) since I feel it is broadly in line with her character and her 'no thought for the morrow' philosophy. (Though I was a little surprised that she went as far as she did.) I did have a lot more issue with her forgiveness of Goldeneyes, since this was the part that seemed forced to me. Personally I think that scene could have benifited from Potami acting a little bit more like Whisperwind - but that would have hurt the realism of Goldeneyes' heal face turn later on... So yeah. I'm afraid I'm also a little unconvinced as to the long term romantic potential between her and Raindancer.

Potami <...> behaved like more or less of a slut,
Point of order: The term 'slut' is largely based on humans being very fertile all year round, that raising children is hard work, and that having them carelessly makes you a net economic and social drain on the community. Multiple parts of this may not apply to her species, and it certainly does not apply in any society that has effective pregnancy prevention.

Story Theme:
I'm afraid that several days later I'm still confused about what the play was actually about. Yes, it contained a love story, but that seemed to be a sub-plot, along with forgiveness. So what was the theme? It did seem to want to talk about something, possibly several somethings, but I'm not sure what I was hearing.

At first the story looked like it might explore what else in history the keepers had lied/simplified/exaggerated about, but no. Then the story looked like it was going to examine the choice between freedom of information vs the need to keep dangerous information secret. But that was never actually discussed, and instead when it came up the Institute telling people how terrible for history to repeat itself. And one side simply telling the other they are wrong isn't talking about an issue. So what was the story about? Well...

A morality tale about how hand guns are dangerous, and they should be kept out of general circulation, and only in the hands of the government keepers Institute? A lesson that madman who want to start armament programmes and conquer the world, and have a habit of trying to steal technology from the west Institute are bad? Well the first is 100% corn-fed US politics, and we already know that Stalin was a jerk. Maybe this is one of those lost in translation things, or maybe there was no theme and it was purely intended as a fun adventure. In which case silly me for over thinking things :(

Story Everything Else:
The plot was generally fun and engaging, though overall it reminded me of an episode of MLP, good and bad. Visually appealing and great acting, with stories based upon adventure, drama, and comedy - but I find myself wanting something more when I watch. There were moments when I got it too, such as the two people examining the bodies, which was very atmospheric. Which again made me wonder if I was missing the same sophistication elsewhere, or if it was never intended to be there in the first place. But I belabor the point.  :-X

If I was to compare this to a film, then it is not an Avengers, but certainly not a Batman vs Superman either. I would say it was very much a Suicide Squad (which I enjoyed BTW.) A fun action story with one or two scenes that don't quite make sense but solid entertainment none the less.


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Re: Pawpetshow Critique :)
« Reply #2 on: 25.08.2016, 16:49:44 »

I found myself agreeing more with your critique then I was expecting when I started reading ANTIcarrot.
Kudo's, that's a good piece.

I really enjoyed this years show. Seeing a continuation of such a grand story is very welcoming.
This instance was not as big on bravado to the last one and I agree with ANTI, the overall story gets deluded by to much different things going on at the same time, while not driving home one singular message.
That in itself is not bad, but it portraits itself as a messenger, the story screams to me that is wants to convey a message. But eventually boils down to be careful who you trust and guns/killing is bad m'kay.

Visual and audio presentation are very good.
The whole thing was convincing, funny, heart warming at short intervals, exciting, adventures and full of wonder.
I sat through the whole thing without leaving my seat (I just love watching those intermission videos too).

The BJ scene did not convince me as much. To be clear, I liked the cat house, the idea that in this world there is room for such services felt real to me.
It is a darker part of society that tends to walk on a gray line between honest service and exploitation.

That the main villan would betray his wife and spoils all his endeavours during the act was both funny and well fitting.
But the main heroins choice of persuading even more from his lips was... a bit unbelievable and for me it was a bit to much.
Bottom line she didn't gain more then a confession of further acts of this guys deeds; not a recording and not a witness she could use.
So, that would have further justified her acts there.

Potami <...> behaved like more or less of a slut,
Point of order: The term 'slut' is largely based on humans being very fertile all year round, that raising children is hard work, and that having them carelessly makes you a net economic and social drain on the community. Multiple parts of this may not apply to her species, and it certainly does not apply in any society that has effective pregnancy prevention.

I agree with the ANTI's point here. A slut depiction is a social stigma we humans came up with because we find switching partners (especially in a sexual sense) is undesirable behaviour.
This does not however completely excuse the BJ scene.

I don't feel like hammering home that particular scene, but just so I understand:
She witnesses him confess while he is with the 2 dames of the cat house, that he is actually the one that got Potamis mother shot and is out to gain power.
He falls asleep which ends the services of the dames, they leave and excuse Potami.
Potami decides she needs more info so:
-- And here is the part that I don't get --
Beats up a hooker and steals her lingerie.
To give a bj to a guy that is blind folded and tied to a bed,
to get him to confess more of his crimes.

Why didn't Potami do some handy work in silence, with her clothes on instead?
And more importantly... Gain something more substantial from the whole act then a spoken confession.
I see she angered him so badly there, which should make him act rash and would make for a good start to trap the guy.
But I am wondering if she though so far ahead.

But to drop off of this part, something else entirely.
I would have loved to see more of Lady Golden Eyes.

Don't get me wrong I love the rest of the cast a lot, but it feels she has a lot of unused potential.
That picture with her standing in her red dress, gun in hand was just stunning for me.
Apart from her uncertainties, stress, sense of betrayal and grief.
I saw her fire burst up as soon as she was release from Whisperwinds grasp, which was exhilarating.
I would have loved to have seen more of that along the story. She was acting power, solemnly to the point she married and made Whisperwind a lord.
So unless Whisperwind was acting as a proxy or beyond his rights, I feel Golden Eyes should have left a far larger impression on her subjects while she was acting power.

Let me conclude that this years PPS was far worth my time and attention.
I want to thank everyone involved in the production for a job well done.


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Re: Pawpetshow Critique :)
« Reply #3 on: 26.08.2016, 19:21:26 »

First of all congratulations on this years PPS. Especially in terms of time management.
Anticarrot already pointed out most of the things i noted down during the pps.
Sadly i cant agree with everything he wrote. Im sorry if its a bit rambly. i made some notes but i have to recap it mostly from memory.
But lets start at the beginning, shall we?

Technical aspects
Besides the things already said. The backdrops were great (i loved the painting of goldeneyes in her room. me wanna buy), the character design of the puppets were superb (potami looked as puppet even better than her drawn counterpart) and the intro was amazingly done.
The scenes had a great length and the in between scenes also.
Many kudos to the stage team for starting the show almost on time (it was a great idea to put the closing ceremony upfront) and for the fast scene changing. Really well done.

But ther also were some small things i noticed that weren't as good.
The camera position for the side screens was not optimal. From the normal viewers perspective i only rarely saw a puppeteer. But the angle of the camera revealed more of them because of a different height and a different angle. Especially the scene in ironforge under the flower arc was very noticeable during the left cameras view.
The gunshot of course confused some people (me included).
And as great as the stage design was i think it cant really compare to previous pawpetshows. Remember the awesome bird i think 3 years ago? But its not a competition which was better. So thats just a small notion. And of course that curtain of doom.

Now this is the first part where my experience was a bit downed.
All characters were bland, forgetable and 2 dimensional.
The character motivations were in most parts very unclear but lets go by characters.
I had to look up most of the names because almost none of them stuck in my memory.

Comes into a new school, falls in love immediately with Raindancer, is driven by revenge for her mothers death. victim of racism.

Doesnt want to be a hero like his parents, no motivation to do anything at all. Just seems to be a simple plot device and love interest. loved the 4th wall breaking at the end

Lady Goldeneyes:
An interesting character which was waaay underused besides the fact that she was the name giver for this year. She had some good and interesting parts about her but she was a bit too trusting to the person who tried to kill her. i liked her ending ark.

throw away villain for the sake of being a villain. motivation unclear and also the backstory unclear.

So overall i can say that the characters really need to be more fleshed out. I couldnt connect to any of them and instead of  "real" and "living" beings living in this world they felt created just for this story.

Besides the fact that it was a sequel, the overall story was - im sorry if i say it so bluntly - boring. It was way too rushed and no sympathies could build up. For a play thats around 3 hours long (including set changes etc) this was a bit underwhelming.
i dont dven think it had a typical story arc structure. There was no buildup and the climax was quite frankly meh. i liked that goldy didnt kill him.
And besides the sequel fact, the world was very underdeveloped. of course one cant really compare a stageplay with a movie , but there are some movies who do story better in 1/3 of the time (of course also much worse).
And i would have wished for a more elaborate recap of keepers of the light. cause alot of people had forgotten most of it or werent even there.
Besides that i mostly agree to ANTIcarrot.

i dont think i need to comment the bgm. it was fantastic

All in all the team did a good job and they have mad respect. even if this rambling review was quite negative it was a good show. i had some fun. i would rate it a plushie out of 10.

My suggestions:
- invest more time in the story. from writing to world building
- make characters interesting by giving them backstories besides what is needed for the plot
- go away from cliche stories. yes stories can contain commentary to political situations. but i think the time frame in which the story has to be written is too short and lets not forget its all in the creators freetime.
- put a bit more love in the set building intermissions. atleast show some still imagery going along the story. if you want to go super fancy then add some animations to it. this fandom has so many great and talented artists i bet there will be some interested people to help
- tweak the camera positions a bit.
- use simpler names

If i find more things to say, i will add to this.


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Re: Pawpetshow Critique :)
« Reply #4 on: 26.08.2016, 20:34:09 »

First of all: Thanks to all who have already left their review here, be assured that we do read them all and discuss them internally, even if we're quiet here.

But now the reason I wanted to reply:

- put a bit more love in the set building intermissions. atleast show some still imagery going along the story. if you want to go super fancy then add some animations to it. this fandom has so many great and talented artists i bet there will be some interested people to help

Feel free to point out any and all that would help us out. We've been on the lookout for artists who'll join the team even for just one show for literally years, and again every year. Unfortunately, we don't have any budget to *pay* artists for their work, the Pawpetshow operates on even smaller of a budget (compared) than EF as a whole. Every one of us puts a couple hundred bucks a year into making the show as is to make ends meet. And most artists have neither the time nor motivation to work for free before EF, when most are busy preparing stuff for the Artshow and Dealers' Den.

If an artist reads this here and wants to participate: DO contact us! We're desparate for people to help us.

Thankfully we've had great artists agree to help us out for the most important intro and promotional pictures as well as the background and character designs every time in the past, like Tani, Eosfoxx, Pan and Alector. THe slight issue with that is that they raised the bar incredibly high, and I think a lot of artists are hesitant to join us even if they would, theoretically, because being compared to the likes of those I mentioned is hard.

But this is why we usually have visually relatively simple intermissions, etc. It's not that we don't want to have more cool stuff for you guys, it's just that it's hard to come by.

I (personally!) do disagree with the very harsh critique of the characters, though.
Especially Whisperwind is pretty 3-dimensional, he does want the best for Ironforge as well, he's just pretty ruthless about how to get there. Yes, he does like power and yes, he'll stop at nothing to further his own goals, but in the end, he wants to push society forward, he's (as is "the Opposition") keen on getting access to technology to protect and clean up Ironforge and to unlock knowledge. In his eyes, the Institute's slow release of information hinders society's way into the future.
Potami might have been very forward, but that's what she's learnt all her life. For one she had a spy as a mother, so she probably saw from a young age that you gotta do things other people find morally wrong to get what you want, plus as a hog she's had to fight for everything she has, and even then her mother was taken from her. She's angry, and she too will do a lot to get her will.
Raindancer is not passive for the sake of being passive; he's been sheltered by his mother and Uncle Brushie his whole life, after his father had *died* being the hero. Yes, it does take him some time to come forward and try to be one as well, but can you blame him? And yes, as a Nerd, he's just not very good at it. I mean, not everyone is born to be one. If anything, that makes him quite the unique lead character IMO.
"make characters interesting by giving them backstories besides what is needed for the plot"—AFAIK Cheetah and Eisfuchs have pretty extensive backstories for all of the main characters, and even some of the smaller ones.
But I'll stop there, these thoughts are getting longer than the original text I wanted to write. It's just that after having these characters on your mind for months, you do grow attached to them, and understand them better…  :P
« Last Edit: 26.08.2016, 22:21:51 by Runo »
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Re: Pawpetshow Critique :)
« Reply #5 on: 26.08.2016, 22:08:37 »

It's just that after having these characters on your mind for months, you do grow attached to them, and understand them better…  :P

That of course is very true and I completely understand that. But from my point of view, as a viewer who doesn't have any insight into it, felt that there was a lot to be desired. Maybe if you bring out an Artbook or a story book you could elaborate on them ;D

But of course, thats just my opinion and I respect any other opinion =)

Regarding the artist I'll give you a poke.

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Re: Pawpetshow Critique :)
« Reply #6 on: 26.08.2016, 23:31:16 »

I enjoyed the show, not much to say that hasnt been said (even if I disagree with some of the critics), but for one thing:

funny derp horses


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Re: Pawpetshow Critique :)
« Reply #7 on: 28.08.2016, 20:24:11 »

Hello dear critics!

Thanks for all the feedback. I'm not going to justify every little flaw. Yeah, of course there are flaws.

Of course it nags me a great bit if the most important cue fails (the gun exploding). But then, we only get to try this ONCE before the show, and sometimes things just fail. This is the thrill of a live performance :) I hope you guys got the message anyways.

About the story, and the characters: Yup, there are a lot of flaws if you look for them, and well, so potami is a little too sex-positive for some :) I find that quite amusing. Note that inside the story universe, Potami never gets shamed for it. The story never makes a moral comment about it, so all this assessment happens inside YOUR head :) It is up to you to make up your mind if that is one of her strengths, or one of her flaws. I enjoy creating characters that are ambiguous and non perfect, and that might even make you question your own values for a second.

In general, I am very happy and proud that we were able to make you think such deep thoughts about our characters, and that we are apparently good enough to even be criticised by these standards :)
« Last Edit: 28.08.2016, 20:25:49 by Cheetah »



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Re: Pawpetshow Critique :)
« Reply #8 on: 30.08.2016, 16:17:51 »

Hello Pawpet-Show-Crew,

First of all, Great work!

I really like to hear more Stories out of the "Keepers of the Light" World!!!
I like the Myth around it!!!

Because i was ill at the Con, i was watching the Show on Prime.
I just have one negativ point i need to say in German due to missing vocabulary:

Die Übertragung wirkte auf dem Fernsehr zu hell, ob dies an Kamera-Einstellungen, an den Lichtern an sich oder an den TV-Geräten liegt kann ich nicht sagen, hierbei fehlt mir das nötige Fachwissen.
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