Nocturne Alley

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Journal Community
Name: Nocturne Alley
Date(s): 2002-2004
Moderator: anonymous
Founder: anonymous
Type: closed community RPG
Fandom: Harry Potter
URL: main community
watcher community
website (archived copy)

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Nocturne Alley was a Harry Potter Role-Playing Game that ran on LiveJournal from 2002 to 2004.[1] Nocturne Alley was hugely popular among HP fans.

It originally had a website, Nocturnealley.net, but the domain expired, and it moved to LiveJournal.

In 2012, Aja said:
So Nocturne Alley was this RPG that started in 2002 and ran until 2004. It was extremely popular. Because of where it existed, which corner of fandom it was in, it had a lot of Harry Potter BNFs that participated in it. At some point almost all of the major writers of, especially Harry/Draco [H/D] were in Nocturne Alley. [2]

Archived

See Main Game and Supplements; WebCite.

The Premise

The game's conceit was that computers had been installed in Hogwarts, and every student and staff member (with the exception of Dumbledore) was required to keep an online journal. Other members of the community, notably the Malfoy and Weasley adults, also kept journals. There were more than forty players in all, each of whom posted in their individual RP journals in addition to the main LiveJournal community. The game had a huge following.

In 2012, Aja said:
Well the premise was actually—it was really cool. I don't know how many other role plays did this, but I know that a lot of them imitated the style that Nocturne Alley used, because instead of trying to, I guess, play out stories, the hypothesis was that Nocturne Alley, during Harry Potter's—whatever this would be, his fifth year, fifth or sixth year—it would have been fifth year, I think. Oh God, now I'm having to look it up to see what year it started in. It ran for two years, so I think it started in his fifth year and ended in their seventh year. Essentially the premise was that Dumbledore had given them all LiveJournals, literally, had given them all LiveJournals as part of Muggle assimilation, like Muggle cultural assimilation. So instead of having these awkward situations where you had to like, play out a chat on the LiveJournal, people—like the characters—just used their LiveJournals the way that we'd use LiveJournals and played out stories and comments. Sometimes there would be back story role playing in—you know, individual chats, or group chats, and so forth that would then sort of come to light in the next blog post or the next comments section of a post that someone would make. But it was all very—it was pretty veiled. It was basically just very realistically done as "What if Hogwarts had LiveJournal?" community essentially, and it was ridiculously popular. [3]

Players

Player identities were carefully protected during the game's duration so as not to ruin the illusion for the audience. While some people were open about their participation in the game, few players were open about which roles they played. The identity of Malfoy, Harry, and Cassandra Claire's character especially were vigilantly guarded secrets until nearly a year after the game ended.

weatherby (aka breed or miss breed) - was the main organizer, owner, and player of the group, filling in for other players as necessary, and structuring most of the main storylines. Weatherby played the role of Draco Malfoy (potterstinks ) for the duration of the game. This fan also alternated the role of Harry (just_harry ) with the LJ user font, taking over the role completely near the end of the game, when Font left the HP fandom. Weatherby also played many of the minor regular characters such as the popular Lisa Turpin, Ernie MacMillan, and most of the faculty/staff, as well as occasionally taking over for other characters.

In 2012, Aja said:
Cassandra Claire was in it, her roommate Ali Willgus, Cleo was in it. Altricial was in it, Eleveninches was in it—Derek … aka Durendal, she was in it, Alex Malfoy was in it … Kissani was in it—or Kissaki was in it, sorry—Rue was in it, God, Nancy was in it—Nancy Malfoy was in it. Um … Peg Kerr, the original fic writer who was a Harry Potter fan, but I don't think she actually wrote fic, she was in it. That was basically her main contribution to Harry Potter, to the fan fiction side of Harry Potterishness. She was in it, she played Neville. There was always a ton of speculation of what part Cassie played, obviously, but she actually had a minor role, and kind of an evil role, which I think she liked. (laughs) The main speculation revolved around the two people who played Harry and Draco. Which, they were actually not very well known to fandom at large. They hadn't written a lot of fan fic, especially the person who initially started out playing Harry had not written—I think they had only written one fan fic, period, up to that point, but their Harry was beautiful. And that person's name was Jenny. She didn't really have a standard username. At one point her name was Font. I think when I had first met her, her name was cellardoor on LiveJournal. And she, like I said, had written one or two fan fics here and there, and just very small tiny things. But she had gotten involved in this roleplay. [4]
In 2012, Aja said:
Especially it was popular because—(laughs) because the person who played Draco was pretty amazing and was extremely influential in terms of the way people wrote Draco at the time. He had a mood that was always enraged—like every time he posted a LiveJournal—like a post at all, his mood was always enraged. (laughs) And he was brilliantly angry and huffy and also insecure and vulnerable and just very much, very much the way early Tom Felton played Draco, I think, in, you know, in the very first couple of movies. When you could just tell he was this bratty little snot and had all kinds of insecurity and envy and so forth. It was extremely popular. The name of Draco's character's journal was PotterStinks. Yeah. Yeah, and the person who played—the person who played Draco was also the owner and the moderator of the community so, obviously they had a lot of control over the story line. And they were very, very dedicated to it. Their username in fandom early on was MalfoyEatsCock. (laughs) But that quickly changed to Weatherby. They were Weatherby, and still are Weatherby to most of the fandom. I think that most fandom—I think most of fandom would know them as Weatherby, and—they didn't write very many fics but the ones they did were very popular. And I don't think people knew that they were Potterstinks until probably a year, year and a half after the game ended because one of the things that we were always really really dedicated to was not outing the players. Because people didn't want—people didn't want to have the association of you know, "Oh, so and so played—you can tell they played so and so," because … especially because so many of the players were really really well known it fandom. I think it would have ruined it for a lot of people. [5]
Character Player
Harry Potter Font/cellardoor/Jenny, Weatherby
Draco Malfoy Weatherby
Ron Weasley Altricial
Hermione Granger Hermorrine, Aspen
Milicent Bulstrode Altricial
Sirius Black Jade, Tradescant, Moony
Remus Lupin Moony
Professor Snape Kissaki, Telanu, Moony
Lucius Malfoy Nancy Malfoy
Neville Longbottom Peg Kerr
Professor Vector Aja
Colin Creevey Aja, Flourish
Terry Boot Cassandra_Claire
Professor Flitwick Flourish
Parvati Patil Thessamunga
Padma Patil Legomymalfoy
Lavender Brown Altricial
Goyle Mizzy
Pansy Parkinson Dee / Deche
Ginny Weasley Aspen
Cho Chang Lasair, Moony
Dean Thomas Tartanpants
Arthur Weasley Thessamunga

Other players: jlh (clio), eleveninches, Rue, Ali Willgus (ali_wildgoose), Alex Malfoy, Derek/Durendal, many more.... One old cast list is here.

Plots

[need info]

NrAged, Gold Stars, and Friction

Fans set up a watcher community, NrAged, "to discuss the activities and developments of their favorite RPG."[6] NrAged is a reference to the Draco character's penchant for selecting "enraged" from the Current Mood box in all of his posts. [7]

In 2012, Aja said:
because it was so popular, I got the idea, actually, to start this fan community for Nocturne Alley, and it was called NrAged, with an N, after the fact Draco's mood was always enraged, and it still has fans—I mean, I'm looking at the membership info right now and it still has 480 members listed. Um … Flash Fic had 305 which I mean, to … this is an RPG that ended eight years ago.

[snipped]]

And the thing about NrAged is it caused a bit of friction among the actual players, because when I was the moderator, I was really in favor of letting the fans kind of run wild and do whatever they wanted. (laughs) But the other players, some of them were like, No! They're getting it all wrong! (laughs) And so we had this kind of showdown of like—where I was essentially saying, No, but you can't actually —you have to let them alone. You can't let what they say get to you. You can't—you know if they see your character, oh, "is acting like an ass" or something, that's their right as fans to say that. You just can't pay attention, but the characters wanted to be kind—like, they wanted to point them in the right direction. So we had a lot of friction over that at first and then the moderator Rach came up with idea of doing—well, not necessarily herding the right direction but leaving gold stars for people when they said something, when they guessed right essentially. So they would comment— like, the moderator journal would comment with just, gold stars here and there, every now and then, to sort of point people in the right direction. But yeah, it actually caused some friction, I think that's actually why I left the group. I was playing—I was playing two parts, and I essentially left because I didn't want NrAged to become like this albatross around everyone's neck where they didn't like it and they didn't want—and they didn't really like the fact I was in favor of letting the fans essentially have their own—like, have their own space. And I was trying to keep like—because I mean … to me it was the same that, the same principle that we have when we, you know, we interact with actual creators you know, like … "We have this space to say what we want and you don't get to talk back to us, cause this is our space", right? I mean you can, but it's not going to get you anywhere, because we're still going to keep talking about what we want to talk about, right? And it's the same kind of principle where I wanted the players of Nocturne Alley to sort of respect the space that the fans had … and they did. I mean, I think that sort of compromise of sort of leaving gold stars here and there helped along, helped—it went a long way to sort of easing that friction, but at that point I was like, You know what, I'm just going to let the moderator, Rachel, run both things because I think she'd be more comfortable that way. And so I stepped down from moderating the community and playing my two parts. And then at the very end of the RPG, they did this spectacularly, really well done, essentially Hogwarts invasion, where they killed off a bunch of characters and everything was very dramatic (laughs) and they invited me to come back and do, essentially, to do the end of the—I guess the big series finale, essentially, to make like a couple of final appearances and do my blog posts and so forth. So that was really nice. Yeah. (laughs) [8]

The Screened Comment

I think the last post we got was just on April 12th or April 14th 2012, and essentially it was a reupload of the entire RPG. Somebody, a guy named a Jude, actually, was really really nice enough to archive the whole thing in readable format and upload for it us. So yeah, and then a year ago, like—um September 24th, 2011, on the community there was this comment about "the screened comment" (laughs) and the screened comment—this is again from a community seven years earlier, and the comment was, "So did anyone ever work out what it said?" because one of the things that they did because it was as if the Harry Potter characters had their own journals, was they they would screen—they would have, I guess, conversations where they didn't want other people to see them. So they might have a conversation in a post that they had made six or seven months back. And they'd just leave it up to the fans to find it. So it was very much like if you were in NrAged you were constantly on a treasure hunt to try and piece things together and work out—pretty much like if you were in an actual fandom, essentially. There was this notoriously, I guess, important screened comment that Harry Potter left for—I think it was actually Draco left for Harry. And you saw the response, and you saw what came before it, but you didn't know what the screened comment said.... So it was just like—and it was always one of those "Oh my God! What did they say!?"...

Essentially, pretty much [like the ending of "Lost in Translation"]. It's one of those things people always, like always um … Yeah, like, that they always came back to and they were like, Oh no!—and, again it was also in one of those really like arc-like hidden conversations. So it was an argument Harry Potter, Harry and Draco were having on a back post from like six months ago, you know. And it's one that the fans just randomly happened to find. [9]

The "Nocturne Alley" Model, and What It Influenced

Yeah, so that was NrAged. It was super popular, and especially the Harry/Draco had a huge impact on the way Harry/Draco was being written at the time, especially PotterStinks — Like, his style was really really, sort of iconically hyperbolic, and a lot of people, a lot of people borrowed that. I know that a lot of people felt that Maya especially, Sarah Rees Brennan, that she borrowed from PotterStinks, and I actually thought that too for a while, but then it turns out that she never even read PotterStinks, so it was sort of this thing that happened organically around the same time. So yeah. And yeah, so that's NrAged and that's Nocturne Alley.... As far as I'm concerned, Nocturne Alley is still one of the best like fan creations I've ever seen, because it just was really sort of like—it was really smooth and well done from start to finish. It had lots of — like, the typical RPG drama throughout. But just, the way it was constructed was just really really well done. Um, yeah. And of course other RPGs after that also had fan communities but NrAged was really the first. That's that. [10]

References

  1. nocturne_alley - Community Info. Accessed October 1, 2008.
  2. Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Bookshop
  3. Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Bookshop
  4. Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Bookshop
  5. Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Bookshop
  6. nraged - Community Profile. Accessed October 5, 2008.
  7. potterstinks' lj
  8. Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Bookshop
  9. Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Bookshop
  10. Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Bookshop