Article: Canon is God, but I’m an Atheist.

Baron's Office

I shall open this post with a couple of quotes, from a post on the MOUL forums that lead to the crafting of this article.

Put canon on hold? Then it’s not Uru. It’s not Myst. Period. Uru IS canon. Myst IS canon. What you have if you remove those is not open source Myst Online. It is an open source of the engine that was used to construct Myst Online. If that’s what you want, more power to you. I could actually have a lot of fun with that, designing my own worlds, plots, and story-lines. But it’s not Uru, and don’t pretend it is.

Canon is god.

The joys of canon (or should that be Canon, like C for Cyan?), a concept current thrown around a lot lately with the dawn of player created content. But a concept that few seem to understand, some understand it, and as for those who really understand it? Well I could probably count them on one hand.

Canon has multiple layers, it’s actually more complex to grasp than most people think (or can be bothered to look), there is an art to writing things into the canon, definitely writing it into the canon well (i.e., so it sticks).

My goal with this is much akin to my IC vs OOC guide, I’m hoping to try and explain my take on how canon seems to work, and if you dear readers wish to add your two cents in the comments then I am happy to take them on board and try to apply them to a situation that benefits all.

Cyan Canon

We shall start with the big guy first. And I will simply state right now, that Cyan’s canon has become a bit of a train wreck, especially during MOUL, but that isn’t really the point here.

Cyan’s canon can be split up into 2 sub-levels, Cyan Finished Canon and Cyan Unfinished Canon.

Cyan Finished Canon, would be canon established, by the Myst games, novels and Uru games (the Myst comics don’t count as they were deemed not true to canon by Cyan). This would cover things like Gehn, Atrus and co, the completed aspects of Uru that we have knowledge about (Yeesha being the grower, Jalak being used for gaming etc).

Cyan Finished Canon has been set down (and retconned at times) by Cyan, this would be something Cyan only has control over, fan stuff couldn’t overwrite it.

Cyan Unfinished Canon, would cover the areas left open by Cyan, the unsolved mysteries as it were. These can be little things like naming the plants in the Ages that haven’t already been defined. But it can also address things like where the Bahro came from, or who Kadish’s wife was etc.

Unlike Cyan Finished Canon, the Unfinished Canon has levels of interaction with Fan additions. Items like plant names and what not can generally be addressed with fan views and studies, thus fan canon gets addressed and added, of course Cyan can at any time counter this with their own names for it and such, but so far they have yet to do so with most of the content named by fans.

The content regarding canon like Kadish’s wife and the origins of the Bahro would be content that fan’s shouldn’t address (as per RAWA’s guidelines). Fans can certainly try if they wished, but be prepared to be shot down in spectacular style.

Unfortunately there are some in the community who feel that Cyan’s canon should not be touched. A concept that goes against what Cyan wishes anyway, from the get-go they have encouraged players to take active roles in the story, this can be illustrated splendidly with the Great Tree stuff, with Brian Fioca, Douglas Sharper and all the others who joined in with it during Uru Prologue.

Uru has two sides of a coin, the story of Uru set by Cyan, and the story of Uru set by us, both of which can co-exist and co-mingle just fine if executed well, this of course leads me to the other side of things.

Fan Canon

Also known as fanon to some. Fan canon like Cyan canon falls into 2 sub-levels, and it is with these 2 sub-levels that we discover that we’re not so different to Cyan, in fact we’re pretty much exactly the same.

Fan Finished Canon: This is much like Cyan’s finished canon. Ages and characters created by fans are completely fleshed out. I’ll offer up James Rofen a character from my Third Path stuff as an example.

James is fleshed out character who has his history formed. Cyan and other Fan’s cannot add to it (they can try of course but be shot down), and they cannot counter it with other canon, because in this sense I get to put the RAWA hat on and say “no”.

Now, Cyan could very well turn around and say “James was never in the City Proper, so he could not have caused the death of David”. But at this point we discover that Cyan doesn’t have complete control over canon, due to the nature of IC.

IC asks how can Cyan say that? (semantics about Cyan not being IC aside), IC the barriers cannot hold people back, IC people can make their way into areas unreleased currently. Cyan says he didn’t go to the City Proper, how exactly? There is no possible way that James could be stopped, short of building a wall around him.
The key here is to think about really being in the cavern, what you would/could really do, and apply it to how Uru works, there are a lot of loop holes like that in which a crafter can work.

It is in this Fan Finished Canon that the Fan becomes creator like Cyan. Whilst they run the risk of running up against what Cyan has created, the Fan has control over what he/she/it/squee has created it, and if you work it properly you can create fan canon that can’t be negated by Cyan.

Fan Unfinished Canon: Well this is much like the above Cyan Unfinished Canon. Fan’s have left things unresolved in their content, perhaps for future additions for other players to work on.

For example we have Fens, an Age by Whilyam. Upon release he had not named or provided details about the wildlife, instead he asks the visitors to provide their own studies. He then adds them to a journal within the Age, cementing our studies into the canon of the Age. Now there are 2 choices here of course, Whil can continue with the journal and treat the theories as what actually is, or he can come up with his own studies into the plantlife which would then be considered a Rawaism.

Other Ages like Fahets for example, have elements that are purposely left unclear for future storytelling. So players may not be invited to fill those gaps.

Fans can find themselves filling in the gaps, they will either be accepted or overruled.

But that’s not all, buy now and we’ll throw in another free!

Indeed that isn’t all, because much like the multiple layers to canon, there are multiple layers to understanding canon.

Professor Bad from Slacker University sums it up nicely with the following:

There are plenty of players who are canon junkies. People who have delved into the lore and found tid bits we all take for granted, but before then, were not even a thought. Those people are great.

The people we describe lack imagination. They take in the basic knowledge of the *canon* (usually by just playing the games and reading some forums) and they stop there. They don’t take the next step in the process, which is what people like Tweek do. That next step is analyzing and understanding. There are steps after that too, like searching for new information and clarification, but lets keep this short. 😉

It’s the difference between a regular church goer and a priest. A regular church member may or may not have read the entire bible, but they normally don’t read it like a priest does. They read the words and may derive their own meaning from them based on their lives and experiences. Like Uru, this is great.

A priest however dives further into the writing. He confers with other priests and religious experts. Priests often go on trips to distant places to learn from others perspectives on the words. They try to create a vision in their mind of who the person who wrote the scripture was and how their life lead them to this writing. They study and study and study. Analyzing the whole context, not just the words.

So people like Tweek are like priests, they analyze the contextual entirety of the Uru and Myst canon, not just the smattering of info we get in the games, and from a forum. These people deserve the title Canon nerds, not our friends who are scared of fan ages.

Blessed be thy waffle…anyway moving on from the fact that I reference someone from the oh-so-evil Slackers (please be careful we keep no spare underwear here).

There is not a great deal I can add to that, bad summed it up perfectly. There is an understanding canon at face value, taking what is presented to us and rolling with it.

But there is a second layer, it’s about taking what you know and diving deeper, learning how they interact, how they would progress without Cyan’s input. It is akin to knowing a character in a show or a book, you know how they’d react to a situation, know when something is out of character for them or not, the same applies to canon.

It’s not just about understanding it it’s knowing how all the gears work, and how to expand and work within the system, if you work properly you can forge something that will probably never be overruled by Cyan.

Now I understand that not everyone are canonists like myself. Some people just want bat-poop insane Ages to have fun. This goes up against a wall, it isn’t Uru. Personally I would be inclined to agree, it isn’t Uru, it is more of a free game using plasma (lets call it Plasmuru for poops and giggles).

These Ages (Levels as they’re not really Ages if they don’t adhere to the lore) are not anything less because they don’t follow the canon/lore. They have their place, much like UU did, whether one likes it or not, the simple fact is you can just not visit said places, problem solved.
I am quite sure if shards are set up that at least one would stick true to the canon for all the canonists and canon fodder out there.

Is canon God? Nope, is it important to Uru? Sure.
Is it important to Plasmuru? Nope, not really.

Open source will introduce branching, and Uru already branched, it began with UU and now with Open Source, it will come full circle, time to pony up and accept it, Uru stopped being about Cyan as soon as the doors opened.

Like Frodo handing on the book to Samwise, Cyan hands the story on to us, to forge new tales and worlds for people to enjoy.

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