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Online Return Special Release Article - January 2017

Posted January 1st, 2017 at 08:13 PM by HS Codex

Tales of Valhalla
Interview with Ryan Wilke
Author: The Grim Reaper’s Friend

It’s always been the unspoken goal of the Codex to bring new and exciting news to the Heroscapers community. That goal remained unspoken largely because the Codex has rarely been privy to news that the community does not already know.

None of that has changed. Today, however, we do have the privilege of bringing you something most of you probably don’t know: an interview about Tales of Valhalla—Heroscape’s first YouTube TV show!

For this interview, I tracked down Ryan Wilke, the producer of Tales of Valhalla. Sitting down in the familiar Private Messaging room, I open with the first question:

“Who are you, and what is your role in Tales of Valhalla?”

“My name is Ryan Wilke. I am a 33 year old filmmaker from the Michigan, Detroit area. My role in Tales of Valhalla: The Aftermath Chronicles is basically some of everything. Script writing, stop motion, directing voice actors, editing, voice acting myself, and everything else in between. Of course this most certainly is not a one man show. I have a great team of voice actors (a few of whom are filmmakers themselves) who give life to many of the characters, and I get a lot of insight from Jeremy Unitt (Majora’s Incarnation) who knows a LOT of the ins and outs of the original Heroscape universe. ToV would not be as half as good without Jeremy’s help.”

I smile despite myself as I copy and paste his answer. I too like designing anything, be it movies or novels. “I’ll go ahead and ask the question our readers are probably wondering at this point: what exactly is Tales of Valhalla?”

Tales of Valhalla is a YouTube show, but we are also doing BTS of the show as well on Twitch where I do live streams of me and the voice actors working and talking, me and Jeremy talking about Heroscape, me designing battlefields through VirtualScape and live streams when I do stop motion for ToV.

“Every season of ToV will have 10 episodes. I plan to introduce 30 – 60 second mini-episodes as well that will feature a specific character, and they will get to introduce themselves, show their personalities, possibly show a bit of comedy and provide more animated content for the viewers to enjoy while waiting for seasons 2 and 3 to be made. I plan to have those mini-episodes on Vimeo in the future as well. So while we do operate primarily on YouTube, we are working toward expanding to other media platforms as well.

“Plus for season 1 the editing software I was using to make the stop motion with could have been much sharper, so when new stop-motion content will come available it will be a much clearer stop-motion image.

“Simply, ToV is a stop-motion action adventure with a bunch of comedy thrown into the mix.

“I would mention too that I have BTS production diaries on the ToV YouTube page to see how the show got made for its first season.

“The age range of voice actors are from 7 years old to above 50 years old, and they all have a variety of backgrounds from grade school, high school and college students to a teacher, DJ, and a chef. Everyone does their very best to bring the personality out into their characters and I am proud to work with every single one of them.”

“It sounds like quite the undertaking,” I say, spontaneously rearranging questions. “I wonder, what’s the premise of ToV? What’s the main plot idea?”

“We are going to stick to original characters and go back to where the original story left off. Imagine if you will that all these warriors and monsters, good and evil fighting over these wellsprings, more come in, the battles get more intense and then at the time the game was discontinued the wellsprings dry up. Without any motivation to fight over something that is no longer there, the armies go back to their territories. Allied factions disband. No war, but an unquiet peace. There is no longer any power to transport anyone back to their worlds and homes. Everyone is stuck on the planet of Valhalla. Every faction no longer fully trusts one another, even the ones that were so heavily allied. All there is left to do is sit and wait and try not to go mad of boredom. Years go by. The universe has been saved ... maybe, but at what cost? And why did those wellsprings dry up?! The warriors isolated on Valhalla can only guess and wait to see what will happen. And this is when the story for this show starts.”

I nod as I format his reply. “It sounds like you’re doing some good work to keep Heroscape alive. I feel like I have to ask: why the different story line? How come you didn’t take up a retelling of what was already there, or maybe dive into the countless untold battles over the wellsprings?”

“I realized when writing the script for season 1 that I wanted something different and doable. It would have been hard to do a stop motion show of Valkyrie generals who do not have game figures of their own. Plus I wanted to get creative with the story. To see what I could do with not only the normal heroes and villains like Drake Alexander, Raelin and Kee-Mo-Shi to expand their story lines and backstories, but I wanted to give equal if not more light to the common squads, the "meat shields," so to speak. Countless common soldiers in the game that do not have names or detailed individual backstories. I wanted to give them that and lift them up into the spotlight. What I did with the Airborne Elite in season 1, I plan to do with other common soldiers in the seasons to come.

“The most important reasons of all though for a different storyline was not wanting to have issues with copyright and making a subtle statement to Wizards of the Coast that this game still has a following and it should be revived again. (Although I understand the chances are slim that the game would ever be re-released.) That and I thought about what would it be like if the wellsprings would dry up? And there was no way to get back home for all these warriors, good and bad alike. What lengths would they take to find other sources of power? And (spoiler) if the Valkyrie generals were put out of commission, who would be able to stop those who would go after such power? and what power would that be and what evil could be behind the scenes controlling it all? Kind of makes it a compelling story, does it not?”

“It certainly sounds like there’s a lot of potential there,” I agree. “I’m interested to see where you take it.” I cast about within my virtual notebook for a brief moment. “On the topic of the origin of things, I wonder if you could tell us a bit about the origins of ToV itself. How did it get started, and why?”

“The start of everything goes back to 2006 when I was first shown Heroscape from a friend of mine. I ended up helping him co-host an online video/audio podcast called The Tabletop Battlefield. Heroscape was one of the many miniature war games we played and reviewed for the show and it was always (in my opinion) the best game we ever reviewed. The show was ‘canceled’ in 2010 but we still do one episode, during the holidays usually, just to tell the viewers what we have been up to.”

Ryan pauses to provide a link to the Tabletop Battlefield podcast he referred to, before continuing. “Then for almost the past five years I have been very sick. I have Crohn’s Disease and since 2012 I have been to the ER/hospital on an average of every 3 – 4 months with intestinal blockages. Before getting sick I was getting started with my own production company but because of my illness I had to completely cancel it. After a few years of very hard times I felt good enough to think about doing something in spite of my illness. Heroscape seemed like a simple way to learn stop motion so I began writing the script for season 1 of ToV in 2013 and finished at the end of 2014. The first season of ToV was supposed to have been a one-time thing. A learning experience so to speak to learn more about my craft. But I enjoyed making season 1 so much that I wanted to continue the story and thank goodness due to some good therapy and some surgery I am having this year I should be as good as new for next year 2017 and able to work on ToV seasons 2 – 3 full force.”

“That’s great!” I say. “Best of luck in that.” I consult my notes. “You mentioned you plan on creating seasons 2 and 3, and that got me wondering: are you open to maybe putting the work of other writers here on HSers on the screen? There is a lot of fan fiction on this site that is in my opinion right up there with the best-selling novels of today, not to mention the countless custom projects being released all the time and their backstories. Is that something that would be within the realm of possibility?”

Ryan answers quickly. “Seasons 2 and 3 are already pretty much set in stone as far as the script and characters in the story. But I am always looking for terrain battlefield ideas through the HSers website and I do work on the story with Majora’s Incarnation (Jeremy) who gives me a lot of information to keep close to the Heroscape story and the characters’ backstories as much as possible, and if anyone else would like to throw in their ideas and opinions I really have no problem with that. Email me at: conductorproductionswork@gmail.com and join the team.

“As far as customs go, I mostly would like to stick to the characters that were released for the game but I would be open to custom figures/characters if they fit with the story and I could get them sent to me.

“I would be much more open though to custom terrain/castle/ruins/or whatever someone’s creative heart desires to make. I have zero problems putting those on the screen.

“I would not be picky about custom terrain either, I can’t say much about these upcoming seasons at the moment but let’s just say we are going all over the Valhalla map: be it castle, forest, jungle, lava, desert or ice.

“Send me an email and we will work it out.”

I jot down his reply with my keyboard, and then look up. “Sorry, I should have clarified: I was talking about creating something totally separate from ToV: a stop-motion rendition of some fan fiction or custom unit backstories. I’d imagine ToV takes up a lot of time, so I was wondering if something like that would be possible.”

Ryan realizes what I’m getting at. “Ah ... I see ... totally misunderstood that. To put it simply, nope.”

“Thought I had something there,” I say, grinning. “Well I think we have a pretty good grasp on what ToV is now and where it came from, so I think it’s time to start wrapping this interview up. I’d like to ask you one or two more questions before we do though. Firstly, do you have any final goals for ToV other than YouTube? Or is YouTube the end goal?”

Ryan chuckles. “YouTube most certainly is not the end goal; only the start of it. I do hope to bring the show into other social media platforms, but as to exactly how and when is still in the brainstorming stages. With the exception of Vimeo: I plan to release the ToV character introductions on there as soon as I can make them.

“And I know you did not ask this specifically (but I wrote it anyway): For my goals on future seasons I do have ideas for up to season 9, but at this time I only plan to go up to season 3. These shows take a long time to make and if I progress further it will be either because I really want to (which I do), get a much bigger audience or develop some way in which to financially back this show, or all of the above. The ultimate goal of course is to keep on learning and growing in filmmaking and working on ToV has been a great platform in which to do so and will continue to do so for a good while to come.”

“Well I think that about covers it,” I say, checking over my list of questions. “Have I missed anything?”

Ryan has one last thing to add. “I would like to give a big thank you to everyone who has helped volunteer, voice act, do graphics (and is continuing to help out!) for this show (if I have not said this already). Everyone who is involved with the show is taking time out of their way to make ToV possible. There would not be a show without them.”

“I want to finish up this interview by asking if you have any message for the ’Scapers community. Is there anything you’d like to tell them?”

“Yes,” Ryan says, “I would like to say a few things to the ’Scapers community.

“Thank you to those of you who support the show via likes, subscriptions and comments on the YouTube and Facebook pages. This show is a gift for you all. For anyone who has ever wondered, ‘What would these guys be like and act like if they would be able to move by themselves?’

“I hope as well to give all of you a more emotional connection to these characters. I had a fan tell me that every time he plays Heroscape now and uses the Airborne Elite, he thinks of the names of Toothpick, Henderson, Lt. Dan and Gimp. Even though this show has a good bit of satire, it is about sticking together during tough times and counting on each other. That is what a community of like-minded people with a cause, be it continuing the legacy of Heroscape or otherwise, is all about.”

“Thanks Ryan,” I say, shaking his virtual hand. “It’s been fun interviewing you and learning more about this great project you’re putting together.” I’d urge the readers of the Codex to visit and subscribe to the Tales of Valhalla YouTube page, and be sure to check out their Facebook page as well and give them a like. You can also email Ryan directly if you have questions about Tales of Valhalla, or are interested in getting some of your custom terrain/figures on the show (probably terrain more so than figures). He can also be reached through his Heroscapers account.

Until later, this is TGRF, signing off.

Contact or Support Tales of Valhalla:
Total Comments 3


HS Codex's Avatar
That's right, the Codex is back! We're kicking off the new year with the first of many articles to come. We plan on starting January a bit slow while we get things rolling again, but by about March we should be able to bring you more articles than ever, featuring new types of articles along with the old favorites.
Posted January 1st, 2017 at 08:15 PM by HS Codex HS Codex is offline
Thanks again TGRF for the interview. I dont know if I left a link for the twitch live stream but here it is. I am trying to do at least one twitch live stream show a week. Usually it will be building battlefields using Virtualscape. https://www.twitch.tv/conductorproductions
Posted January 3rd, 2017 at 05:37 PM by TalesOfValhallaOfficial TalesOfValhallaOfficial is offline
Tornado's Avatar
Great interview.
Best wishes Ryan!
Posted January 4th, 2017 at 04:31 PM by Tornado Tornado is online now
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