Music by Kate Mitchell and Adam McKay.
Kate: The Perfectly Generic Podcast contains spoilers, occasional adult language, and Vriska. You've been warned.
Kate: Hello, welcome to Episode One of the Perfectly Generic Podcast. I'm Kate Mitchell, your wonderful host. I'm here with @Sapharodon, and do you wanna introduce yourself Sam?
Sam: Uh, hi, I'm Sam, or Sapharodon, whatever's better with you, I just started reading Homestuck like, not even a month and a half ago, so...[laughs] Naturally the logical thing to do is immediately jump into a podcast about it.
Kate: Yeah, well, I wanted somebody newer to the situation, cause like – we'll talk about our individual stories approaching this work a little bit later, but y'know, I was a reader on day one, and you came to it in 2018 and read it as an archival piece, so there's an interesting difference there between our perspectives on it.
Kate: But first, let's get into what's going on this week in Homestuck and Hiveswap. Book Three is now released everywhere, it's got the Intermission in it, and Act 3 – I actually just got my copy today, it is –
Kate: (continuing) a beautifully printed, hard-bound book, and I am...extremely happy with how it turned out. The author notes are hilarious, anyone who's interested in like, having a definitive bookshelf collection of Homestuck should absolutely be looking into these books, Viz did a very good job with them.
Sam: Do you know, is there like a confirmed number of printed books that are going to come out that adapt that, um, [unintelligible]?
Kate: Well, let's see here, cause at the pace they're going...
Kate: [laughs] Lemme actually look into this. Right, so it's taken them three books to do 1357 pages...so...[mutters] one, three, five, seven...so that's about five hundred pages a book, so...
Kate: It should be around sixteen books or something like that, depending on how, y'know, how long or short it is and how they choose to adapt the games [laughs]
Sam: Oh wow
Kate: I imagine they'll just transcribe every conversation that you have in the games into the books?
Sam: Would they just like, include screenshots of the flash features as well, or would it just be just like raw [unintelligible] – you'd've had to have had to include the graphics from the games in some respect
Kate: Yeah I mean you don't wanna miss out on the beautiful sprite work done for those games, like, the talksprites for the Openbound walkaround games are some of my favourite art in Homestuck, they're really fantastic.
Sam: Imagine being without being able to see Kankri's long pants!
Kate: Yeah I know we got to see Kankri's pants! [laughs] And then have all of his dialogue take up an entire page in a book, as a joke!
Kate: The man can talk! We actually got some news just today actually, about the episode of Hiveswap Friendsim, that's gonna be Episode Eleven, coming up on Friday, and it is going to be featuring Mallek Adalov, and it's gonna be the first dude ceruleanblood we've seen, like, at all, in any media involving Homestuck. So that's really interesting! [laughs] He's, y'know, he's just like a dude with a mohawk and piercings, so he's, y'know, punk Vriska. He's Dude Punk Vriska! [laughs]
Sam: Is the world ready for this? [laughs]
Kate: Is the world ready for Punk Dude Vriska?
Sam: I'm not.
Kate: [laughs] So yeah, look forward to that one, and the music for that route is available on James Roach's Patreon if you wanna give that a listen early: it's a big Bop, and also James is doing awesome work with the music for friendsims on like, super quick turnaround, so go ahead and give him some support if you can. So let's talk about your experience with Homestuck. So you are, like me, you're like a big lifelong webcomic person, right?
Sam: Yeah, ever since I was like eleven or twelve or so I was latching onto, when I was younger it was your average two dudes sitting in a chair, y'know, playing video games and joking about video games kinda thing, but as I grew older I started kinda diversifying what kind of webcomics I read, I started reading more slice-of-life stuff like Questionable Content, another one of those super long legacy comics. I remember really liking Scandinavia and the World when I was a kid too, but somehow despite all of that, despite being in the perfect age range for someone who would, after a few forum clicks here and there, stumble into Homestuck, discover it and love it, I never read Homestuck at all as a teenager.
Sam: I discovered Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff, and I thought it was the funniest thing in the world. I would actually go onto that website every week, hoping that there was an update of some sort because I thought that it was just so hilarious, not realising that it had anything to do with Homestuck whatsoever. That was all just some sorta ironic, in-universe joke! [laughs]
Kate: So you were a devoted reader of Dave Strider's works, and it wasn't that you knew that Homestuck was a thing and you were like 'well this seems weird and complicated, I'm not gonna get into it', you actually just weren't aware?!
Sam: No, I was completely unaware [Kate laughs] that Homestuck...I did not know that Homestuck was a thing that existed until my Junior year in college, so that would've been a little over two years ago or so.
Kate (incredulous): Until 2016??
Kate: Wait, no, no!! Hang on a second, cause I have a question! How were you on the internet and not aware of Homestuck, because, I mean...
Sam: I don't know!
Kate: During that like, 2012 to 2016 period, Homestuck fans were a fucking menace upon the internet.
Sam: Somehow I just kinda Matrix-dodged every single troll-shaped bullet there was! I just never saw it! I saw the memes from it but I didn't know that it was from Homestuck, I read in-jokes about it like, y'know, Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff, but I had no idea it was Homestuck. I never thought to google mspaintadventures ever, because y'know, Super Observant Teenager, so yeah, somehow –
Kate: This is the most remarkable thing I've ever heard!
Sam: [laughs] Yeah...
Kate: You actually achieved this like, almost zen-like state of not being aware of Homestuck, and that is [laughs]
Sam: Yeah, I was probably the only person in 2016 who had no idea who Vriska was, let alone what Vriscourse is.
Kate: There are many that would envy you for this –
Kate: But I am not one of them.
Kate: So, you got into Homestuck then, so I guess you just really hadn't thought about it until I was like 'hey I'm obsessed with this thing.'
Sam: Yeah I know, by the time I was 21 or so I, [whispers] (oh god), like, it was something I would hear people talk about, but I had the relationship with it that one might have to y'know, My Little Pony or Voltron, or some other really really really big franchise with a bunch of fans, where you respect that it's there, but it feels so large and overwhelming that you're not sure if you wanna touch it.
Sam: It wasn't till I met you that I had a friend that close who was really into Homestuck that way, who was just super enthusiastic about it, knew a lot about the lore and was actually willing to convince me to go back and start reading this decade-old webcomic that's longer in text than the Bible!
Kate: You only have me to blame.
Sam: You did it, you convinced me! [laughs]
Kate: Yeah! You only have me to blame, it's all my fault! And now you care about trolls.
Sam: Now I care about trolls, oh [various sounds of exasperated embarrassment, laughter] oh god...I never thought I'd see the day where I'm unironically googling Deviantart trollsona generator, but here I am, living my best life.
Kate: You are, you [laughs] I am so fucking proud of you.
Kate: So let's actually talk about this because, now, knowing just how comprehensive, like...you really are like the purest archival reader, like you didn't even have the impression of the fandom really, to like, come in from it, so...As a lifelong reader of webcomics, what was your reaction to Homestuck, like what was your journey through it like?
Sam: D'you mean like, after I had finished reading it, or just my general feelings as I progressed through it?
Kate: As you progressed, like, how was it different from your expectations, how was it different from the webcomics that you've been reading for so many years?
Sam: Um, is second-person the right way to refer to –
Sam: (continuing) its literary style? Yeah, um, it was the first piece of media I'd ever that kept that kind of voice the whole way through. As for just differences from general webcomics, I mean, most of the western webcomics I've read have more or less stayed in the same general format where it would easily translate into a print comic, it's um...in a just, y'know, panel after panel, multiple characters referring to one another, no active narrative voice speaking directly to the reader, I mean like it's just a standard comic that just happens to be on the internet. And that would y'know, regardless of the genre of the webcomic, or the subject matter, they generally just read like a traditional comic, I'm not really sure how else to say, but with Homestuck not only was the voice of the story incredibly different, but the multimedia emphasis was something I completely didn't expect whatsoever. I didn't actually know going into it that there were so many Flash sequences in Homestuck, I didn't know that there was so much integrated music, I didn't know that there were literal minigames [laughs]
Kate: Yeah, there's about three or four hours of gameplay in Homestuck!
Sam: Yeah! I had no idea what I was getting into, I thought...I think the big thing that surprised me was that I wasn't simply reading a webcomic the way I was expecting to, it was just a huge multimedia experience, and because I didn't know what to expect, like, every single time that happened where there was like a new game to play or a new song to listen to, it was just a wonderful surprise!
Kate: Yeah, it subverts expectations, it actually delights in the subversion of expectations!
Sam: Yeah, and –
Kate: But I always felt that it's like, because of this, it's like the seminal internet work. It, instead of being bound by print traditions of work that came before, it was a truly web-based webcomic, y'know you navigate it like a website, it has infinite scroll, like, it doesn't constrain itself to any particular form, it uses all of the diverse types of media that the internet has.
Sam: Yeah the internet is its medium, rather than trying to convert, y'know, traditional press standards to a comic that just so happens to be on the internet if you get what I'm saying.
Sam: Yeah and I found that delightful as well, and it's especially appropriate given y'know the subject matter of Homestuck, where much of it is about either, y'know, directly or indirectly, internet culture, forum culture, and...[sighs] I guess group chat culture would be a bad way to refer to it but –
Kate: No!! That's totally right though! It's like forum culture, group chat culture, I mean it was originally a forum comic, like,
Kate: Based on reader input from forums, like all of Hussie's previous works on MSPA.
Sam: Yeah, that actually was one of those things that tripped me up a little bit when I was starting to read it? The fact that like, through the first I believe three acts it was, there was a lot of reader input from the forums.
Sam: That's something that, as a reader in 2018, fresh to the experience, I was completely detached from, and I wasn't immediately aware that there was literal like, fan contribution to the comic like that, I thought that the whole thing was strictly the author's own ideas, so I was a little confused going through where suddenly the story would go into this wild tangent or something, that just seemed a little bit non sequitur, just a little...outta the box, and then I'd have to go back and find the context like, Oh, this forum user suggested that John do this, or so on and so forth, and –
Kate: Yeah there's a lot of bullshit pages in the first few Acts [laughs]
Sam: [laughs] Yeah, that did admittedly make it a little difficult for me to go through, I think it wouldn't have felt that way if I'd been reading it in its time, like, when it was a newer comic, when the forums were still actively like, contributing to it? But because I was reading it all like, after the fact, it was just something I was only able to observe, and I'm a little envious of people who got to experience it live so to speak, because y'know I'm never going to be part of that.
Kate: Yeah, and that's fair, but you also have to understand that you avoided literally...like, MONTHS upon months of waiting, for at one point a whole year of waiting, [laughs] for the next entry.
Sam: Was there really a whole year's gap?!
Kate: There was a full year, there was the Omegapause, I think – there were so many pauses that they all have individual names, there's the Gigapause –
Sam: Oh wow!
Kate: The Megapause, the Omegapause...
Sam: Like...I haven't gone through a whole lot of internet media that has gone through that level of hiatus, I guess the closest thing is uh, waiting for Steven Universe episodes, so you're gonna have to describe the gap relative to those [laughs]
Kate: Uh-huh, I mean, y'know, it's like, it genuinely...I think it drove the fandom nuts! [laughs]
Sam: Oh...Like was it strictly between Acts? Or was it in like the middle of Acts, or some [unintelligible]
Kate: It was just in the middle of – sometimes it would just stop on a page, and there would be a news post that'd be like, ‘See you in six months!’ [laughs]
Sam (distraught): Ohhhh!!!! Oh nooooo.....
Kate: [laughs] Yeah, y'know, it's
Sam: [various sounds of disbelief]
Kate: It was tough! And during one of those breaks, I like, I got busy, I got a job, I got y'know all this stuff going on in my life: I stopped reading, and I had to go back and finish it last year! Like...[laughs]
Sam: That sounds difficult!
Sam: It sounds difficult to put down a work that large and then go back, do some recap work, and then get back into the swing of reading it.
Kate: Yeah exactly, I think it works so much better as an archival work that you read back to front.
Kate: Y'know, I think that is just a much stronger way to read the work, and I think a lot of people who aren't in your position, they have perceptions of Homestuck that are perhaps negatively impacted by the waiting that they had to do? And the gaps that they filled in during that time, y'know, expectations they had for the story, what they wanted from the rest of it, they had a lotta time to stew on that, and a lot of reason to be – a lot of time to be upset when the story didn't turn out exactly how they wanted it to.
Sam: But at the same time I'm a little envious of people who, again, if they were reading it while it was...It's so tempting to call it 'in development' –
Sam: Yeah, no I mean, as a webcomic it feels so much like a video game sometimes.
Sam: But...Yeah, I guess I envy people who got to have that sort of communal like, theorycrafting time, where they didn't know how it was going to end, they didn't know how the main characters were going to handle...Um, what is the spoiler policy on this podcast? [laughs]
Kate: Oh this is full spoilers, we're gonna talk –
Sam: Oh sweet
Kate: (continuing) about everything here. The warning at the front is that this podcast contains spoilers, occasional swear words, and Vriska.
Sam: Awesome, bringing in the Vriscourse. But yeah, I didn't get to be part of the fandom as everybody collectively didn't know what was going on, but had all that space to speculate as to what the future of the main story was going to be, who was going to turn on who, who ultimately the true villains are going to be, et cetera. I do envy being part of that experience, especially if so much of it was, as you say, forum-based, I guess I envy it even more now because...Like, it's just an experience that you'll never get back, like...a webcomic is only 'in progress' for so long, like yeah there's all these side works going on now, there's Hiveswap, there's Friendsim, and I'm really enjoying following those because I genuinely don't know what's going to come next, I get to be excited and think, Oh, which troll is going to be featured in the next Friendsim episode, What's going to happen next in Hiveswap, but I didn't get to have that same kind of excitement with Homestuck as the original comic, because I knew that whatever was written was writ, and whatever I read that's that. So I am a little envious.
Kate: That's fair, and that is totally a fair feeling to have. So, you talked about Hiveswap and I think that's what we're gonna get into now actually, because it's uh, pretty much the ultimate expression of Homestuck as a multimedia work, it's just a totally different thing! [laughs] It's a, y'know it's a point-and-click adventure game, and...so you've watched all of Hiveswap and you've watched the Friendsims –
Kate: What are your impressions of it versus Homestuck, like as a continuation?
Sam: Well... [pause] I'm personally currently more attached to Friendsim rather than more actively paying attention to the development and release of Friendsim episodes and Hiveswap, just because [audio cuts out] 's so...I just think trolls are really cool? Um, but, [laughs]
Sam: The way I feel about it, I've never really thought about comparing them to the original comic because the medium is just completely different, they're naturally going to present their own stories completely differently even if they have thematic similarities?
Sam: But...If anything, the reason I'm enjoying it so much is, like I mentioned earlier, the fact that it's an in-progress thing, and so just like everyone else, once an episode ends I legitimately don't know what's going to come next but I get to speculate. I get to text you things at two in the morning, just like ideas, Hey, what if all this is because of X character, y'know [laughs]
Kate: Oh yeah, for sure! And it's fun to be able to theorize, and it's fun to y'know put on your galaxy brain hat and like, try and piece things together.
Sam: Yeah exactly.
Kate: And I think the thing that I like the most about Hiveswap so far is the vibrant and interesting Alternian culture it presents. Again, we are – it is, you know, it is the unanimous opinion of the two of us that trolls are fucking great [laughs]
Sam: Trolls are fucking great I swear to god [laughs]
Kate: They are just a fantastic, like, just a fantastic idea just overall, they're just so well...they're just so compelling as an alien culture, they're just so fucking compelling.
Sam: I remember when I was reading through Homestuck originally, it really was in act four where my interest in the story just spiked immensely, and it really was because of the introduction of the trolls –
Sam: And not just the trolls as characters, y'know, not just Karkat and the gang, but the extremely detailed troll society that came along with it, all the lore that came with it, and the fact that that lore was so well defined, and incredible rich in detail?
Sam: It takes so much effort to, from the ground up, write a new alien race, and then build upon that its own culture, its own history, its own strengths and weaknesses, its own expectations. Just, like, the quadrant system alone was something I found fascinating because it was something I'd literally never read in any other media ever, like –
Kate: Yeah it's alien sociology!
Sam: Yeah, no it's like – the fact that Andrew Hussie was willing to not only create this entire alien race, but detail it down to the dynamics of romance and introduce three different forms of romance that are completely foreign to a human reader, and then have it make sense by the end of the webcomic? That was extremely admirable to me, and –
Kate: Yeah, except for auspitism [sic], which makes no sense to anybody. Aus-pis-sti-cism.
Sam: Okay yeah, no that's still a little bit weird, but [laughs]
Sam: At least I understand it, I don't get it, but I understand it in the abstract –
Sam: If you get what I mean.
Kate: One of my favourite lines from the Friendsims is when it's describing the quadrant systems, and it just skips over auspisticism, it's just like –
Kate: The one that you do not understand. [laughs]
Sam: Yeah I remember texting you specifically asking, How do I pronounce that? [laughs] It's like, let's skip past actually trying to understand it, how do I pronounce that?
Kate: Yeah. [laughs]
Sam: But yeah, no that's actually a part of why I like Hiveswap and Friendsim, especially Friendsim so much as well, because it delves face first into troll sociology, it's not just something you just kinda see in the background –
Sam: The way it was – like, not that troll lore was the background for Homestuck, like it obviously has its active role, but it's not the main focus of everything the way it is in Friendsim and the way it largely is in Hiveswap.
Kate: Right. And, in the end, y'know, for most of the time you're dealing with the trolls in Homestuck, Alternia is dead and gone, like –
Sam: Yeah, it's just, not in the picture any more. You still learn about their culture obviously, but you're not really seeing the motherland so to speak. And it's amazing getting to see it now, specifically in a video game where, like with Hiveswap you get to walk around and just explore, and see visually what their homeworld was like, and in Friendsim you get that too though obviously it's a bit more static by virtue of being a visual novel and all.
Sam: But it's still there, it's...just a really rich and wonderful addition to this part of Homestuck lore that I'm extremely fond of. Which is why I like these games so much.
Kate: Yeah, for sure, and the team that's putting these together – first off I think it's excellent proof that like this media property, to get all fuckin media culture analysis-y, but like this media property is...can be well-executed in the, y'know, by other people, like, by more than than just the original creator of the work, and that's often a really fraught transition for a lot of works that start out as one thing and then become something created by a group of people. A lot of works just don't survive that transition to being, from one person's vision to a group's vision, y'know?
Sam: Mhmm, yeah, like once you start throwing in a bunch of other ideas, like, not every IP is able to survive that, or at least recognizably, but...I mean, so far, these games have been nothing but, y'know, wonderful enriching additions to the existing...lore, I guess, existing universe that we've all come to love.
Kate: Mhmm. And uh, let's get into talking about Hiveswap. So first off, you're an artist, you –
Sam: I am!
Kate: What do you think of the Hiveswap art style, like the main game art style?
Sam: I don't wanna sound demeaning but it's so cute!
Kate: It is, it's so fucking cute!
Sam: But like, no, that's good, it carries over that same kinda youthful innocent look that I was really fond of in Homestuck.
Sam: I remember some people making jokes like, Oh Homestuck is proof that you don't have to be a good artist to have a successful webcomic –
Kate: Oh my god
Sam: I didn't like that, because I think that Homestuck's art was lovely, like, even if it's not traditional ink and paper, or traditional drawn digital art, if there even is a traditional digital [laughs]
Sam: Like, the way the individual planets were composed, the way...the art direction was handled, either in the animations or in the still images, or even in the Flash game segments of the webcomic, it was always clear, it always communicated what you were supposed to look at, and still felt rich and vibrant, and I feel like the best of those qualities have translated into games like Hiveswap.
Sam: But at the same time, obviously in a lot of detail that you weren't going to get from just a webcomic, by virtue of being a game that's a lot more interact-able, actively, there's even more detail to engage with. It's so good?
Sam: It's just so good! [laughs]
Kate: It is! It is! It's just, fucking good, it is really good. One of the things – when people are like, Oh Homestuck has a bad art style it's like, which one?? There's like, y'know, Homestuck does not keep a consistent art style, it uses art shifts –
Sam: The style changed all the time!
Kate: Yeah, it uses art shifts to like, communicate different emotional beats? And like, just further explore different sides of the characters. But that is something that I have been a little concerned about with Hiveswap moving forward, it's just that there aren't any art shifts in Hiveswap, and it is such a cute style, that like, if the stakes of Hiveswap end up being as high as the stakes in Homestuck are, like...I'm just picturing somebody dying in the Hiveswap art style, and it being extremely fucked up and dissonant because of that, y'know what I mean?
Sam: It didn't feel, like, inappropriate, like and the more casual end of the art style still didn't feel like a complete and utter joke unless it was, y'know, intentionally that way.
Sam: And the more graphic versions, it didn't seem like bizarrely serious, so to speak, it always struck that good medium, and I think you're right: it's partially because it was able to flex between different types of art styles, like different variations on its own style. But if there is no variation like that in Hiveswap, I wonder how they're going to address that kind of tonal shift moving forward.
Kate: Yeah exactly, cause it's just, y'know, it is also just possible that there won't be that kind of tonal shift, but like...Alternia's kind of a fucked up place! Like, as you see in the Friendsim –
Kate: Like, you and the characters you're with pretty much nearly die in almost every episode! [laughs]
Sam: Hives might just get blown up and lit on fire, just for some other troll's –
Kate: Just cause Trizza needed to take a selfie!
Kate: [laughs] And um –
Sam: [unintelligible] for royalty!
Kate: Yeah. And so let's talk a bit about the like, main characters of Hiveswap, so let's talk about – there's the two human kids that are at the center of it, and...Joey Claire, Extraordinaire. Joey Claire is such a strongly voiced character.
Kate: I just find myself – part of the reason why I like the Friendsims so much is that I'm so excited for these weirdos to meet Joey [laughs] Like, y'know she's very strong-willed, and like, semi-serious but still like has all this youthful sense of justice in her, and just watching her be thrown against this fucking weird-ass world of Alternia is a really entertaining...sort of dichotomy, sort of a conflict there?
Sam: Yeah, like the way I felt when I first saw her is that she's, protagonist without being overbearingly so.
Sam: Like she still has her own like, drive, her own personality and everything, she's not just a blank kinda slate for the reader to just project themselves on.
Kate: Yeah exactly.
Sam: And I'm kinda relieved about that, I like that Hiveswap has such a strong lead carrying the narrative forward.
Kate: Mhmm. And then you –
Sam: She's so adorable. [laughs]
Kate: And then you've read – yeah she's just adorable, she's so – I just wanna protect her, she's my daughter. [laughs]
Sam: Me too... [laughs]
Kate: And uh, and then y'know she has a foil, y'know she's so confident and brash, and as Xefros says, like an action hero, and then you have Xefros who's so much more reserved, and just a self-esteem disaster pile. It's like they looked at Karkat and were like, So this guy, he fuckin' hates himself, but let's dial that the FUCK up. [laughs]
Sam: Like, let's make it worse –
Sam: Let's make it way worse. [laughs]
Sam: I find Xefros really endearing though –
Kate: Oh, for sure
Sam: And I guess part of it is going to be because of his contrast with Dammek, I believe it's how it's pronounced?
Kate: Yeah. Yeah.
Sam: Yeah, and like, we don't really know Dammek very well yet, do we, so far we only really know –
Kate: No, he sure seems like a douche!
Sam: Yeah, we really only know Dammek, like, second-hand through what Xefros has said, but maybe part of why we like Xefros so much, why he's so endearing, is because his best traits are highlighted by how awful Dammek seems to be in comparison [laughs]
Kate: Mhmm [laughs]
Sam: I am interested to see if Dammek is going to continue being the kind of character that he's portrayed as in Xefros' description –
Sam: Or –
Kate: Or is that just how Xefros –
Kate: Yeah sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt you, is that just how Xefros sees him?
Sam: Yeah, like, who knows, maybe there's like a, y'know, there's a middle ground somewhere where maybe he's not quite that overbearing, maybe Xefros is projecting kinda his insecurities on how he depicts Dammek, or alternatively, maybe he is just a jerk, who knows –
Sam: I mean we can't know yet [laughs]
Kate: Right, we can't, and we're probably not gonna know for a while, cause the story's not gonna get back to Earth for quite a while.
Kate: [laughs] And it's – but it's just like, picturing him interacting with Jude is just about, like, the funniest shit imaginable, because they are going to cause a fucking, like, disaster. They're like, both of them have this natural conspiratorial tendency, and it's, y'know, they are going to cause some fucking trouble.
Sam: They're both probably just a little bit too smart for their own good, but I can't wait to see what they do with those smarts [laughs]
Sam: Ohh [laughs]
Kate: Who was their babysitter.
Sam: And I was super excited at that revelation –
Sam: I didn't realise that we were going to be seeing that side of...even one of the parents, but I guess it makes sense given the time, so like the setting of Hiveswap.
Kate: It is –
Sam: I am excited to see w– Oh I'm sorry can you –
Kate: No go on.
Sam: No no no you go first.
Kate (laughing): No no no no you go!
Sam: I forgot my thought [laughs]
Kate: Oh FUCK, alright, well then let's just move forward then, we got a listener question on Hiveswap: Autumn wanted to talk about how Toby Fox and James Roach's soundtrack for the game set the mood, and I dunno how you feel about it, but personally I think that it is one of the best game soundtracks in a long time, like, it is, y'know, obviously people will say, people love Toby Fox's music, it was a big reason why Undertale was so successful, but both Toby and James provided, like, so many memorable tunes, and it really like, it gave you this whimsy and isolation of Joey and Jude's house, and then contrasted it with the like, more brutal feeling of the Alternian music?
Sam: Yeah, no I think you basically summed up my thoughts on the music too, that....optimism despite the really awful circumstances that kinda contrast, that's always been a thing thematically throughout all of Homestuck, not just Hiveswap, but it's wonderful that they were able to translate that into the musical score as well. That's difficult! But it fits with Hiveswap thematically so well –
Sam: I really love it.
Kate: And I actually asked James Roach a question on his server, I asked him because I've found like, I spent a lot of time in the main areas in Hiveswap, and y'know I was just talking with my stream at the time, and I never got annoyed by the songs?
Kate: So I asked James Roach, one of the composers of the game, Do you specifically do anything to avoid music designed to be looped repeatedly in an area from becoming annoying or repetitive? And his answer was he 'follows pretty standard song form, AABAABC etcetera', and he tries 'to make the C section the best part of the song, so when it comes on before the loop, people are excited about it.'
Sam: Oh wow! That's clever!
Kate: Uh-huh, and I think if you listen to the soundtrack from that perspective you really do, you're like, waiting for that Big Beat to come.
Sam: Mhmm. If you're trying to break up the monotony the best way to do it is to make the music something to look forward to.
Kate: Yeah exactly, and I, y'know, I thought it was just very well thought out, and personally my favourite part is – my favourite music in like, all of Homestuck, is maybe the very ending of Hiveswap, where there's that like, y'know the ominous pan up to the –
Kate: To Trizza's ship, and the shot of her taking the selfie, and the music is just so diabolical and it transitions to this like, credits groove, and it's just such a big like, it made me wanna kick her ass, I just wanna kick her fuckin' ASS.
Kate: So that was really, yeah, so that was like, it was a really strong soundtrack, and thank you Autumn for asking the question, and I look forward to talking more about Homestuck's music with you and with your question. So let's talk about the thing that's tiding us – that was originally meant to tide us over between Hiveswap's Act One and Two. And –
Kate: And it's the Friendsim, which is having its eleventh chapter come out on Friday. And it has turned into...something close to my favourite shit! [laughs] Like –
Kate: The, y'know, the character writing by the entire team that's doing it has been so fuckin' strong that I am genuinely super invested in this extended cast of Hiveswap, and I'm way more excited about the future of the property than I was before.
Kate: And so, y'know, for those who aren't familiar, it is the Official Opinion of this podcast that you should play Hiveswap Friendsim, or watch it be played.
Sam: Please play Hiveswap.
Kate: It is, I think, crucial for like, understanding of trolls and troll culture, and it's just, fucking funny. It's fucking funny, it's fucking endearing, and, so – what I wanted to do was talk about like, what's your favourite Friendsim chapter, and don't say Tyzias because I'm gonna.
Sam (distraught): Ooohhhhhhhhhhh –
Kate: [laughs] I'm so sorry!!!
Sam: I'll just, choose another one, I guess.
Kate: [various guilty noises] [laughs]
Kate: Or we could just talk about Tyzias, fuck it, we're already – look, we're already like, forty minutes in the can!
Sam: Oh wow...alright. If I'm not allowed to choose Tyzias, um...
Sam: [various thinking noises, whistling through teeth] I remember Konyyl left a really big impression on me, partially I have a soft spot for like, strong, almost bitterly (?) strong characters who secretly are pretty soft-hearted and good.
Sam: I remember, yeah, for the same reason I really like Skylla as well –
Sam: Skylla also because she is um...shoot, what is the term used for her blood color, was it copper?
Kate: She's bronze, bronzeblood.
Sam: Bronze. Shoot, close enough. I'm new to this franchise! [laughs]
Kate: No it's fine! It's fine, nobody is –
Sam: Yeah –
Kate: Y'know, we all have to go look at the wiki like, seven times a day when we're talking about Homestuck, like [laughs] it's complicated!
Sam: I'unno like, I do have a pretty strong attachment to lowbloods in general –
Sam: Not to sound like Zebruh for a moment, who by the way is my least favourite!
Kate: Oh yeah, Zebruh's...he's wack!!
Sam: Oh, fuck Zebruh, he's wack [laughs] His clothes? WACK.
Kate: Yeah [laughs] His hair? WACK.
Kate: But, yeah, like, Konyyl and Skylla are such a great like...I mean, they interact with each-other and like, they flirt, and that is fucking fantastic. [laughs]
Sam: I remember the biggest smile on my face happening when that played out in Konyyl's route, and then I remember...shoot, was it...
Kate: Are you gonna ask about who Konyyl's matesprit is?
Sam: No, I was going to ask how to pronounce Az-dai-ya?
Kate: Azdaja, yeah, I say 'Az-dai-ya', you can say whatever, like, there's no official pronunciation for these things.
Sam: Alright, Azdaja, is he Konyyl's matesprit specifically? moirail? I didn't remember off the top of my head.
Kate: So there's this ambiguity about it! Because he's –
Kate: They're initially introduced as matesprits, but Azdaja says something that indicates there might be some red/pale vacillation going on there, and so it's –
Kate: They might be struggling to define their relationship in the strict terms that Alternian romance provides.
Sam: Yeah, I remember being a little confused when we did go to Azdaja's route specifically because there was that dissonance between how he was originally introduced in Konyyl's route, and then how he actually like, presented himself I guess.
Sam: But I like that there is room for that kind of ambiguity in Friendsim, it's part of why I like the episodic format of it so much, because there's always room for discovery, even about characters that you've already met, characters that you've already played the routes for. Like, how characters like Cirava will show up in the later routes and provide vital context for not just their own story but other trolls' stories as well, I love that so much.
Kate: Yeah! It started out as this –
Sam: The same reason why –
Kate: It started out as this siloed thing, but now it's telling a story, and it's bringing characters from the past back and it's really weaving like a really nice, really rich web of like, social interaction, and I think that's awesome. I love games where the stakes are social. That's always my favourite thing in video games.
Sam: Low-key this is also me asking the writers to hurry up and show us which troll is Tyzias' matesprit, I'm very –
Kate: I know! Gimme [laughs] gimme –
Sam: Exactly [laughs]
Kate: [laughs] And so that's a perfect transition to us talking about Tyzias!
Kate: And, so...That route, the Tyzias route, that struck a chord with you, me, and like, a lot of people, I know a lot of people who felt really affected by that?
Kate: By her, sort of, struggle in, ‘Holy shit, everything is really fucked up, it's really really fucked up’ –
Kate: ‘And I could just ignore it, and I could just go through life, like just benefiting from the fucked up system, but, I have to DO something, it's just so fucked up, I have to’, as she says, 'piss on the fire, even though there's so much fire you just gotta keep pissing'. [laughs]
Sam: [unintelligible] even a little bit.
Kate: And it's like – it feels very necessary of a message in these times, not to get too sombre and serious, but like, y'know.
Sam: The world's a scary place.
Kate: Yeah. And so how did you feel, like how did that route – how did you relate to that?
Sam: Well, I remember one of my favourite things about Tyzias is how, after you got to know her a little bit, she was very frank and up-front about the fact that, yeah, the world around her was basically a massive dumpster fire. This is something that you don't get a whole lot from the other trolls, where, whether they're highbloods or lowbloods, or whether they have a strict profession or they're just kinda, y'know, doing whatever...most of them seem to be like, direct results of the really massive Alternian society, really massive troll society, without saying a whole lot about how bad it is or expressing a lot of immediate willingness to do something about it. Obviously that's not every troll –
Sam: But, most of the time you'll have ones like, y'know Tegiri, who, his whole honor and justice 'I live by the blade' sorta thing –
Sam: (continuing) is built on, y'know, the trolls' pretty messed justice system, and we know that he's at the very least questioning it, and y'know, he let another certain someone survive –
Sam: (continuing) back in the day, even though his code of honor would say, don't do that. So we know that he's willing to at least quitely subvert these expectations placed on him, but would he ever say, 'Hey, this is messed up, and we have to change something, I personally have to do something about it'.
Kate: Mhmm. And –
Sam: Would he ever do that? Probably not, I think most trolls wouldn't, and –
Sam: I mean I can understand it, y'know like they want to survive just as much as they want the world to be a better place, but Tyzias was different because she was not only very frank about 'this sucks, this is bad, this is objectively harmful to everyone', but was willing to do whatever it was in her power to try and change that. Like, she's not going to y'know, just pick up a sword and just go running at some legislacerator or whatever, she –
Kate: Yeah, she doesn't have the muscle mass for it [laughs]
Sam: Yeah I know, instead she's willing to actually worm her way into the system, use her own strengths and her own passion to try and fix it from within. I think, y'know, since both you and I have a decent background in political involvement, it may've reverberated with us specifically –
Sam: In a way that it might not have for some others, but that sensation of, 'we have to do something', even in what feels like the end times, was admirable –
Sam: And very unique to her.
Kate: Yeah, and that is at its heart, like, the heartbreaking thing about these characters that you're meeting in Hiveswap, is that...none of them are really served by the system. Like, y'know, and that's how it is with injustice in our world too, none of, like, everyone could be better off if these systems were dismantled, but it just seems so impossible that most people are disaffected, or just lean into enforcing it. And there's something I was thinking about recently, and writing about recently, was how both Terezi and Vriska tell humans separately that they don't feel like they're up to the task of participating in this brutal and oppressive system, but they don't want any other troll to know about it.
Kate: And that is, y'know, that's how society puts its tendrils into you, right, that's how oppressive structures get made, is that, even if you disagree with it you feel isolated, you feel like you're the only one.
Kate: And so there's so much potential here, for these characters that we're meeting, to have their world transformed and become part of this resistance that we're learning about, and in many ways Joey's arrival is a mirror to the way that the arrival of the humans in Homestuck transformed – y'know, allowed the trolls to think about their society externally, right and –
Sam: Yeah it gave them a different lens, a different context upon which they could look at their own reality and realize, hey, this could be so much better, this actually really sucks, what can we do about it.
Kate: Mhmm, and of course that's not just one-way, it doesn't just work one-way in Homestuck. In...y'know in Homestuck, Dave talks about how meeting and getting to know trolls and troll culture totally changed his views, his previously restrictive like, societally imposed views on gender and sexuality, right?
Sam: Oh that segment was actually one of my favourite parts of the original comic, the point where he was willing to look back on a lot of the things, the pretty edgy things that he was saying in the earlier part of the comic and say, 'actually, now that I've had some time to think about it, actually met other people with different standards for, y'know, romance, interacting with other people, maybe I wasn't being that good of a person, maybe there's room for me to grow from this.'
Sam: I found it very admirable.
Kate: Yeah, and I think that's, sorta the core message of this massive intergalactic work, is if you get to know people different than you, with an open heart and an open mind, everyone is better off. And, y'know, that's – and Joey, like, the writers and artists specifically talked about how Joey is intended to be portrayed as, like, a young queer kid who doesn't really realize that yet or even know that that's a thing, right?
Sam: I'm so happy there's room for that specific kind of representation.
Kate: Yeah, for sure, and she doesn't know! I mean, she's living in 1994 and it's just like –
Kate: And, genuinely – like, when she finds out that like, the person that is important to Xefros is another boy, this is like...it's this, it throws her for a loop! It's totally new to her!
Kate: And so I'm really excited to see that process of discovery and cultural interchange, y'know, improve Joey's perception of herself and her society, in the same way that she has the potential to improve the way that the trolls organize and deal with the fucked-up shit in their society.
Sam: I wonder if that element of her personal development is going to be shown explicitly or not, I'd be happy if it was –
Kate: I, y'know, I look at this – I look at trolls like, especially like, the fact that Elwurd is there, there's a specific lesbian culture on Alternia? And they bothered – and they specifically included a character representative of that in the game? I feel like it must, especially since it's not like, the original like, it's not like Homestuck shied away from, y'know, addressing gay-ness and like –
Kate: Y'know, and givin' us the goods. [laughs]
Sam: I mean troll culture's already pretty fascinating as-is – troll queer culture, hoooolyyy shit [laughs]
Kate: I know, I'm so excited to learn more about it, and of course you and I are both looking forward to Lanque.
Sam: Oh my gosh, absolutely.
Kate: Y'know, learning –
Sam: I remember –
Kate: Sorry, go on?
Sam: I remember you were talking on Twitter about how gender, or rather speculating as to how gender is actually defined on Alternia in the first place given that trolls obviously have completely different standards to that?
Sam: And of course their physiology is completely different from a human's as well, and what actually would define a transgender troll to begin with? Especially in a role of a jadeblood, where many of their duties, their traditional duties, they're depicted in very maternal –
Sam: [unintelligible] what does it mean to be a transgender jadeblood specifically? Are you forced to reject that, or is there some other way?
Kate: Mhmm. I'm so excited to find out! And I...and, y'know, looking at the maturity and the, y'know, stuff that the writing team of Hiveswap has achieved so far? I am confident that they're gonna do it well.
Sam: Yeah...I really really look forward to it.
Kate: Yeah, for sure. So, I think that's, for the most part, our show! It's been a wonderful time having you on, congrats on your first podcast appearance? You seem like a pro –
Sam: [laughs] I'm flattered, thank you.
Kate: Uh-huh, so this is the Perfectly Generic Podcast, it's a exploration of themes across the media universe of Homestuck. I'm Kate Mitchell, you can find my Homestuck Twitter at twitter.com/gamblignant8, and if you can't spell that I'm sorry, I should probably have an easier one to spell! [transcriber's note: lmao] But you can find – you can just go to perfectlygenericpodcast.com to find all of our social media links. And Sam, do you wanna pitch your Twitter?
Sam: Oh yeah, my Twitter is also @Sapharodon, with a 'p-h' instead of an 'f', I'm sorry if you can't really sound that out I just had to take the most confusing username on the planet, but at least it sounds –
Kate: Yeah there'll be links in the description.
Kate: So yeah, thank you so much for coming on, do you have any projects or anything comin' up that you wanna show off on the show?
Sam: Not immediately no, everything is still under wraps for the moment, but I appreciate it [laughs]
Kate: Alright well I look forward to being the hype squad for your webcomic once it makes its debut.
Sam: Ohhhh NOOoooo you revealed it, now everyone knows!!
Kate (sarcastic): Oh well I'm sorry, I'll bleep it out! [laughs]
Sam: [laughs] No, no it's ok.
Kate: Oh wait, we have one – and so let's sign off, but we have one more listener question, and Jackie asks: 'What member of Homestuck Twitter would work best in the place of MSPA-reader in Hiveswap Friendsim?' And the obvious answer is me, I'd kick ass at that!
Sam: Didn't –
Kate: I'd made so many friends. Sorry, go on?
Sam: Didn't you once describe the MSPA-reader as the ultimate paleslut?
Kate: They're the ultimate paleslut, yeah, the ending of Hiveswap Friendsim is going to be fifty trolls convinced that they're that human's moirail –
Kate: and like, all getting pissed and beating them up. [laughs]
Sam: This is true troll culture, getting angry and fighting each other to the death over one, exactly one, friend, with interesting blood.
Kate: Yep, exactly! And with that, that's our show! Thank you for listening, we'll see you next week, our future episodes are gonna go into topics as diverse as: Dirk and the duality of man, Roxy Lalonde's character development, more troll culture stuff, the much-lauded Vriska episode, and one I'm really looking forward to, an interview with one of the two primary creators of Vast Error, which is one of the most popular fancomics. So, stay tuned, subscribe in your favorite podcast client and follow us on Twitter, that's twitter.com/pgenpod, p-g-e-n-p-o-d. Yeah, so we're gonna play you out, and we've got music by Rin Tezuka (?), which is our ending theme. The opening theme you heard at the top of the episode is 'Thinks', which is by myself, and look forward to members of our music team contributing more songs to play our podcast out over the weeks. Thank you Sam!
Sam: Thank you for having me!
Kate: Yeah, and everybody have a good week.