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Enabling transcripts of play

Started by DevP, March 20, 2005, 05:06:06 PM

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Transcripts of play are very useful (for both Actual Play and Game Design scripting), but they can also be hard to read. I think we could really help folks by coming up with good formats for play transcripts, and then a way of automating that format via PHP magic. So firstly:

Any links to threads with good and very digestible formatting that we should adopt?

I can imagine either a forge feature, or possibly a random website, where you past in a transcript and it (automagically) reformats it in bb or html code. This seems doable, but I first want to see some examples of what i should be shooting for.

Jonathan Walton

Major support for this idea.  Just the other day, I was reading A. S. Byatt's On Histories and Stories, in which she writes:

QuoteMy quotations are like the slides in an art historical lecture -- they are the Thing Itself, which is in danger of being crushed under the weight of commentary.

Often enough, I think this holds true for discussions of roleplaying.  The conversation about roleplaying, even in stuff like Actual Play, sometimes gets pretty far removed from the act of roleplaying itself.  Obviously, transcripts of face-to-face games are really difficult to do well (because, to be of the most help, you'd need to include gestures and body language and voice tricks and the like; interior monologue would be a bonus), but more of that stuff would give us more of the Thing Itself.


If you're talking about transcripts of IRC or other chat-format gaming, I've always liked the logs I get through iChat (which uses the AIM network).  It generally assigns each participant a different color so that it's easy to see who said what.  It wouldn't be hard to write software that could take any transcript and assign color tags around particular user names.  You still have problems when people start talking over each other or out of sequence, but I don't think any program can fix that.

If you're talking about summary transcripts of live play, I think the most important thing people can do is use clear identifiers for their participants ("the other guy" gets really hard to remember after a while) and use lots of paragraphs to help separate out scenes or actions related to particular things.  I don't think any program can help here, but you could try using color for names or quotes.
Justin Dagna
President, Technicraft Design.  Creator, Pax Draconis

Mike Holmes

Nobody actually does strict transcripts of live play, do they? Like record them and type them up afterwards? What we always see are just rememberances of play.

Frankly, sans the social context, that is without hearing the voices of live play, I think that transcripts are next to useless. I think that what people really should do, is to condense play down to important observations about it. Hence the sticky saying not to do "breathless and then" descriptions. Event by event recounts don't do anything for anyone - they're not even entertaining to read.

So, if you're recounting live play, I say just don't do transcripts.

IRC play logs are a bit different, because the media does capture most of the social context. It does make pacing hard to discern (even with timestamps). But otherwise WYSIWYG.

Still, even then, IRC transcripts are of limited use, IMO. You're always best off clipping down to the portion of play that says what you want to say about the play. Posting whole logs just make sifting through to find the important stuff much more difficult.

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