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Author Topic: Preparing for, and posting to, Actual Play  (Read 23291 times)
Tim Alexander
Member

Posts: 304


« on: February 03, 2005, 11:07:34 AM »

Hey Folks,

There are near constant references to how posting to Actual Play gives context to pretty much all the other theory stuff that goes on at the Forge. I know personally that some of the most thought provoking stuff I've seen has come directly out of Actual Play posts. I also know that I get more out of some posts than others, but I feel like I personally have a hard time constructing a post that really reveals the useful stuff. It ain't the cake walk I'd expect it to be.

Part of this I think is related to a sort of laissez fair note taking during play on my part. I'm just not good at it, and so the player kibbitzing, and the group dynamics that I'd really like to get across is often lost. Part of it comes from wanting to get across how neat this scene or that scene was, but replaying the game as fiction falls somewhat flat. So, I'd like to talk about successful techniques for both keeping things like:

-Kibbitzing at the table
-Player resonance
-Interesting social resolutions

fresh in your mind after play, via notes or otherwise. I'd also like to talk about how you best combine the fictional events with these metagame inputs in order to provide the most effective look into a play session. Things like the 'Moose in the City' PTA thread, and Vincent's 'Adventures' threads are great, but there are lots of examples.

So, how does one go about preparing for and creating an engaging and analytically useful Actual Play thread?

-Tim
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Bankuei
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« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2005, 11:59:56 AM »

Hi Tim,

I can't say for anyone else, but I know the big thing I'm always looking for is the information about interaction amongst players, mood/flow/synergy of the group, and what aspects of system went exceptionally well or poorly.  The in-game events(Transcript, or whatever word we're using for it now) are the least interesting bits to me, because they tell me nothing about what the players liked/disliked or how the system worked.

Usually, in my own accounts, I do a high focus on those things, and pull out a few short examples of in-game events as concrete aspects to point to a given thing I thought was cool or not working out right.

Chris
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Mark Woodhouse
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Posts: 121


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« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2005, 12:11:27 PM »

Speaking for myself, I'd like to contribute to AP, but I find that whenever I try to consciously prep something, it is just quicksilver.

All of the stuff that really matters for an AP post is so referential to past history, social context, the specific personalities involved.... every sentence I draft seems to need six more to give context.

And inevitably I give up. This thing is hard to write about.

Two suggestions. AP with a new group or a one-shot may be easier to see meaningful total-System phenomena than AP with an established group of players who have a lot of history or tacit culture. And if you can get group consent, tape the session.

Now, if only I could get myself to act on that advice.

Best,

Mark
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Tim Alexander
Member

Posts: 304


« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2005, 01:14:01 PM »

Hey Guys,

Chris: I think it's a careful line between the interaction stuff and the in game events stuff. I think it's important to relate one to the other, but I agree that the long recaps aren't as engaging as well supported interaction information.

Mark: I find it hard too. I've got a few Sorcerer sessions, a couple of dogs sessions, all kinds of stuff that I can't quite get out. I want this thread to help guys like us by giving us some sort of template. Certainly having better raw data is part of that, but how to distill that data is important too.

Towards that end I'm sort of searching for something akin to the format you learn for a book report:

Intro/Premise
Support/Examples
Conclusion/Evaluation

Can we map something similar to an actual play post? I think having some sort of template might be useful for guys like Mark and I who feel like we flounder whenever we're trying to relate things.

-Tim
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Bankuei
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« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2005, 02:24:55 PM »

Hi Tim,

I think you just wrote it out for yourself right there :)  To elaborate try some things along these lines:

Premise

-What are you playing?  How long have you been playing/how long do you intend to play this game?  Is this your first time?
-Who's playing, how many people, any notable things about them(demographics, relationships, blood kin, etc.)?
-Group history- how long have you all played together, if at all?
-Logistics- Face to face, LARP, online chat, email, forum post game?  How long are the sessions?

The Game
-How did it go?
-Pro's/Con's - what caused them?  specific examples to highlight them?
   -System? Techniques? Drifts, house rules?
   -The People?  personality, communications, etc.?
-Compare and contrast- how does this compare to other sessions, other games, and/or other campaigns?

Wrap up
-How did people like/dislike it?
-Are you gonna play more?  What will you do differently?  What will you do the same?
-Questions
   -Any questions about the system/rules?
   -Any questions for advice on how to do X, or do it better?
   -Ask for comparisons- "Has anyone else encountered this?"

I'm sure there are tons more, but that seems more or less comprehensive to me.

Chris
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Tim Alexander
Member

Posts: 304


« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2005, 07:09:53 AM »

Hey Chris,

That's looking pretty damn good. If Mark is out there, I wonder if he feels like that's helpful for him too?

-Tim
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2005, 07:17:35 AM »

Hello,

I'd like to clarify a key component to posting in Actual Play.

Before, I get into it, though, I should also say that this is not socializing. It's not about how much attention you get, how much people like or appreciate or praise you, or about increasing your reputation as a real-hot role-player.

Here's the point. This is discourse. You need to raise a point, something upon which someone else can express or arrive at mutual understanding with you.

It doesn't matter what the point specifically is. Maybe it's a point about using a particular system. Maybe it's a point about some aspect of your social interactions. Maybe it's a point about saying "I" instead of "McCargar the Macerator."

It does matter, profoundly, that it's a point that someone else can relate to. Maybe they relate to it because they do that exact same thing, man! Or maybe they relate to it in surprise, that they never dreamed of that being in play, and here's an example of their experiences without it. Or anything in between.

So! Raise a feature of play, whatever it might be, that others can use for a basis for comparison. And be damned sure that you, personally, are interested in that feature, so that discussion of what you actually did and discussion of how others do can be fruitful.

Best,
Ron
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Mark Woodhouse
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Posts: 121


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« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2005, 08:04:52 AM »

Quote from: Tim Alexander
If Mark is out there, I wonder if he feels like that's helpful for him too?


Well, sort of. My difficulty leans more to trying to balance that need to hit everything that is relevant and still be readable, while also, as Ron reminded us, having a real point that I can offer up for discussion instead of just "this is what we did."

But the outline does hit most of the Things To Think About pretty well.

I have an AP in my head and even outlined in text that's all about playing DitV Gamist, but it doesn't resolve because the context for it is so complicated that the whole thing becomes a digressive mess. Maybe I'll take the suggested outline and try to refine it enough to post.

Best,

Mark
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Tim Alexander
Member

Posts: 304


« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2005, 08:11:31 AM »

Quote from: Mark Woodhouse
[Well, sort of. My difficulty leans more to trying to balance that need to hit everything that is relevant and still be readable, while also, as Ron reminded us, having a real point that I can offer up for discussion instead of just "this is what we did."


I've got the strong feeling that starting from that point and working the rest of the post around that statement is a much easier way to construct than the other way around.

Quote
I have an AP in my head and even outlined in text that's all about playing DitV Gamist, but it doesn't resolve because the context for it is so complicated that the whole thing becomes a digressive mess. Maybe I'll take the suggested outline and try to refine it enough to post.


I really want to see this.

-Tim
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clehrich
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Posts: 1557


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« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2005, 11:23:42 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
It doesn't matter what the point specifically is. Maybe it's a point about using a particular system. Maybe it's a point about some aspect of your social interactions. Maybe it's a point about saying "I" instead of "McCargar the Macerator."
....
So! Raise a feature of play, whatever it might be, that others can use for a basis for comparison. And be damned sure that you, personally, are interested in that feature, so that discussion of what you actually did and discussion of how others do can be fruitful.
Let me just add to this that a question is also a great place to start, especially if you're not terribly confident about what the "point" really is.

As Ron says, the point is definitely not socializing.  But maybe you had a great game, and you want to tell us about it.  You're sure that there is something here, food for thought, but you're not sure what that is.  In fact, that may be exactly why you're posting it.

Consider what seems to me one of the most likely [good] scenarios for posting Actual Play without really having a point to make.  You just had a great game.  In at least some respects, it was unusually good in your recent experience.  Implicitly, you're wondering why it worked so well, because if you could pinpoint that you could maybe reproduce it and have more really great sessions in the future.

So your question is, "Where did we go right?"

And if the discussion is fruitful, the "point" raised is going to be the (or an) answer to that.

I think "making a point" can be rather daunting, frankly.  I think that some folks, and I'm included in this, are not at all confident that "I had a great session today" also means "I have something important that you should all sit up and pay attention to."  That seems a bit presumptuous.  More commonly, this arises I think when it starts with "I had a crappy session today."  So if you want to post good play, happy play, I think realizing that asking why it worked may be very valuable for everyone.
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Chris Lehrich
Tim Alexander
Member

Posts: 304


« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2005, 11:50:48 AM »

Hey Chris,

Quote from: clehrich
I think "making a point" can be rather daunting, frankly.  I think that some folks, and I'm included in this, are not at all confident that "I had a great session today" also means "I have something important that you should all sit up and pay attention to."  That seems a bit presumptuous.  More commonly, this arises I think when it starts with "I had a crappy session today."  So if you want to post good play, happy play, I think realizing that asking why it worked may be very valuable for everyone.


This speaks a lot to why I started this thread. I think that the "I had a crappy session" posts end up with a lot more forum time for a couple of reasons. Some of it (as Meg notes in a thread on Vincent's blog) is that those posts invite people to help solve a problem. However, I also believe that it's because there's some level of frontloaded analysis on the part of the poster. I make the distinction of having a point, and making one. In this regard point is probably not as useful a term as Ron's feature of play, but that's nitpicky.

So, when I form my Actual Play posts in the future I'm not presuming that I have something so riveting that people stand up and notice, but I want to make sure I have something that might be. I think teasing that sort of point out in discussion without the sort of pre-post analysis is really difficult. If everyone just nods their heads, then ok, the point is either accepted or widely understood, and so it slides off. If not though, then hopefully we get more agressive discussion about those things that strike folks as being different or unique or powerful.

Perhaps starting from the question can work as well for this, but I'm not totally convinced. Or rather, the question is a great place to start, but I think teasing at it long enough to distill that feature before actually posting is incredibly useful.

-Tim
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Frank T
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« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2005, 12:45:25 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Here's the point. This is discourse. You need to raise a point, something upon which someone else can express or arrive at mutual understanding with you.


How about feedback? Isn't this channel intended for that, as well? Ron, don't you want to read about what people did with your games? Is "just sharing" not enough to justify a post at The Forge? When you say that one needs to raise a point, would "this game rocks and worked very well for us" be enough of a point, or is that just "socializing"?

- Frank
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2005, 03:22:42 PM »

Damn close to socializing, and empty socializing at that, Frank.

Why did it rock? What rocked? How did it rock differently? Why might it not rock for someone else?

All that stuff. It's really about the discourse. Even a little is enough.

Best,
Ron
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Frank T
Guest
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2005, 02:09:52 AM »

Hey Ron,

now, here's why "you have to raise a point and not just sucialize" makes me a little wary. The Actual Play thread I enjoyed most reading here at The Forge was Moose and the City. The thread awed me, and it made me want to possess, and play, PtA. Thanks again for sharing it.

The thread contains a lot of stuff that I would call "socializing" or "just sharing". However, it is exactly those passages that make the reader guess how great that session must have been. That you guys really experienced something special there.

Now, I do realize that points about the rules, about using the demo version instead of the full version, and about the delighted atmosphere at the gaming table were raised in that thread. I have made these very points in my German RPG-Forum, with reference to that thread.

On the other hand, the thread started with Vincent just wanting to share this great game. And even if it had been left at the "empty socializing", I still would have enjoyed reading it, and it still would have made me buy PtA. Is that nothing?

Frank
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2005, 05:26:05 AM »

Hi Frank,

You're mistaking "just socializing" for interacting at a personal level. A lot of people do that. They will mis-read this Sticky to mean that we all have to post with tightly-compressed lips and Deep Thinks furrowing our brows.

"Just socializing" means that we are forgetting to focus on illuminating the actual play of the game. Our posts in that case would be stuff like repeating little jokes to one another, or saying "Hey, it was cool to meet you too," as the main content.

The Moose in the City thread made it clear to the reader what playing it was like, from the top level of the Big Model (social contract) to the Ephemera, all nailed together by the Creative Agenda at work.

Perhaps, also, I should clarify that we can discuss how we socialize during play as a legitimate topic. Perhaps you are mistaking "just socializing" for discussing social stuff about play. The former is forgetting to discuss anything about play. The latter is not only legitimate, but encouraged.

Best,
Ron
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