VC #12: The Story is Everywhere
Tally excels by matching the available publishing formats to the trajectory of the story
This is Valet Confidential (VC), the best way to keep up to date on Jenkins the Valet, Azurbala, the Jenkins Audio Experience, Bored & Dangerous with Neil Strauss, mutant hijinks, and everything else in the Writer’s Room ecosystem.
Story is baked into the bones of Tally. It’s the genesis of the company. On that fateful day when VJ and SAFA handpicked Jenkins the Valet, they weren’t degen-ing into the latest hot project looking for a flip. They saw a story that was waiting to be told through him. The humble valet came to life and Tally Labs was born. Remarkable.
What’s even more remarkable? Tally saw a story waiting to be told through us as well.
Here we are now, over a year later, with an entire book written by Jenkins and Neil Strauss that’s based on our stories. Every step of the way, it’s as if VJ and SAFA asked themselves, “How can we bring the community into the story and elevate their voices?” Their website states it perfectly:
WE BUILD CHARACTERS, TOOLS, AND WORLDS TO MAKE THE METAVERSE A BETTER PLACE… AND WE DO IT WITH OUR COMMUNITY.
But as I wrote in a MetaVault article called Lore So Hard, world building in the NFT space has been challenging for companies and their communities. If a company relies on NFTs to progress their story, they have to find the balance between price of the asset, complexity of the release, and speed to deliver. Does an NFT do the work the story needs?
Tally excels by matching the available publishing formats to the trajectory of the story. The benefit to us, the audience and community, is we find the story where we’re most comfortable. Old head like me who likes a clean website? Tally’s got you. Twitter god who follows 5,000 people with alerts set on the Jenkins account (🔥 when the retweets start up!)? Tally’s got you. Discord fiend who’s in dozens of groups with an unread notification count that never falls below 100? Tally’s got you.
This four-word tweet codified an idea I had swimming in my head for a few weeks. I’ll end up writing 1,000 words in this newsletter issue to try to draw out the significance of this concise tweet — and likely won’t match the elegance. The success of Tally traces back to this. Let’s take a look at the release of Azurbala through this lens.
Website. The Azurbala.com homepage feels like a window looking out into the jungle. Subtle movement with the wind. Chirps from the crickets. It’s alive! Navigating around the map, we get overviews of the primary areas with snippets of story that provide just enough detail to make the imagination run.
Twitter. Tally’s Twitter game has always been on point. They understand engagement intuitively. A simple retweet of a community member excited about the project engenders tangible good will that’s worth 1000x the amount of time it took to hit RT. Hiring Thread Guy was a stroke of genius. He extends Tally’s good vibe out in to the larger NFT Twitter space, all while drawing eyes back to the mothership.
All this to say, it’s not a surprise that Tally’s expansion of Azurbala on Twitter has been masterful. Hints, teasers, and art dropped on the Azurbala account. The Azurian Legends accounts tweet as their characters. Did I hear that the Legends may show up in a Twitter Space soon?! 👀
Discord. The first day that the Azurbala Discord opened I shuffled over to the Welcome channel to see who joined the server earliest. Scrolling through I saw Jet, Falon, Lady Vo. Hmm. Their names were a different color than other members. “Oh, these are the Azurian Legends. But wait, are they going to be in the Discord?” Yes, they’re absolutely in the Discord. That day, in a channel called Legends Chatter, they started talking to each other… live! To see “Jet is typing …” felt magical.
I spoke with Emma Needell, Head of Story at Tally, about this concept on the MetaVault podcast. Here’s how she framed the success of the experiment:
I think one of the reasons it was so successful is because there was enough of the world that was understood and the characters were understood and how they fit in that even though you don't know yet what Falon looks like or what Jet looks like, you know enough about them to understand why everything they're saying has meaning behind it. And I think that's really important.
This wasn’t an elaborate animated trailer. It didn’t take weeks or months to build. It was simple dialogue represented as a chat in a Discord channel that drove story and engaged the community. Great example of nimble storytelling that can be published at the drop of dime and keep the community intrigued.
Energy Within The Community
Why does this matter? We haven’t even seen Azurians and we already feel like we can place our Azurians in the world. And we’ve started to do just that:
Need a late night snack or some TP? Stop in at the Bala Bodega.
Want some of the finest wearables in all of Azurbala? Try House Vosace.
None of this is possible if Tally didn’t give us enough to bite into. We have a sense of what The Sprawls looks and feels like. Makes complete sense that there are bakeries and bodegas there. We feel the air of superiority wafting out of the House of Calypso. Of course purveyors of fine clothing would pop-up.
Story + Community. This is the Tally way. Azurbala is alive through multiple mediums: web, Twitter, Discord. And we’re excited to contribute to the story.
Some Disclaimers: None of this is financial advice. DYOR. And yes, FilmBook and SpaceWalk are WR collectors and long-term hodlrs.