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Thread: a scant sketch of a germ of an idea of a plan (or simply some questions)

  1. #1
    NorseThing's Avatar Centenarius
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    Default a scant sketch of a germ of an idea of a plan (or simply some questions)

    I am still playing with how to do an AAR. So this is a bit of a grab bag of questions / comments. I have read a number of the suggested threads involving a first time wrinting of an AAR, but that is not to say that a review would not be helpful. So even if I know about a thread, do not be afraid to reccomend it for me again and again.

    1 -- If I include pictures, is there a preferred format. I know that Jpeg and similar formats are compressed a bit. Is there any reason to not use a compressed format? I am planning on using only a limited number of stills - a combination of wiki pics when useful and limited cut and paste from Fraps for actual in game still pics. If I can get the video clips to work, I will use a limited number Youtube videos of a few minutes duration for each clip. I am not plannning on any voice being added -- these are meant to illustrate just like a still illustrates the narrative.

    2 -- I see that selected units have a green halo. I suspect that this may be annoying for some readers. Deselcting before taking the still pic is doable. But if using a video, then either I must be flying blind or the halos will be showing in the video. Is there any way to have the selection visible while not have the halos showing?

    3 -- Not that I am a professional writer, but there have been a few within the family. Writing a novel or even a short story seems to be best to story board the planned piece, card files on the characters, settings, planned character confilcts, etc. before beginning the actual writing. I know much of this was probably due to ghost writers and collaberation writing. It seems that unless it is a very short AAR, this is not feasible with this form of writing. A campaign of even several dozen turns can turn into a single post or a full novel depending on the whims of the author. The need to take notes and snapping some pictures while playing the game seems to be the best alternative. Then organize and begin the actual writing process.

    4 -- I am thinking of having several episodes in the bag so to speak before posting the first episode. Partially this is because each episode gets a few rewrites before posting and also to rewrite a bite after each episode gets some reader responses. Responses is critical for a writer if the project is supposed to have an audiance. On this, I need to do better in responding to the works that I have read as well. So how many episodes in the can should be best before the first one is posted?

    5 -- I am thinking of basing the AAR from the start of an English short campaign using M2TW with the Stainless Steel Mod and the Bug Fix add on. There are some annoying aspects to any mode or add on to a mode, but that is where the writing can either ignore the annoyances or hightlight one or two as a feature of the story.
    The working title is tentatively -- A house Divided Cannot Stand. A bit of a phrase from the King James Bible (and probably not original with the bible either). The main characters will be the children of William I and their (spouses to some degree). The chaos of succession and the end of the very first crusade will set the stage a bit. I may start a bit earlier than the game does though. I think that may violate the essence of an After Action Report. But I will declare that to be a writer's perogative and proceed on unless there is some reason to not to proceed along these lines. I am going to deviate from history, but I will use history. Call this the hollywood 'based on a true story' if you wish. I have no idea whether the house of William will stand in the end or not.

    No promises when the first episode will be posted. I have no idea yet on the main character or the focus of the tale. Things still need to evolve a bit. In any case I thought that this thread may start thing off and let people know that there is a scant sketch of a germ of an idea of a plan out there.
    Check out the Tale of the Week and write up a bit and enter!!
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    Coming soon -- a new AAR
    until then why not check out the great ones already in progress by your fellow members
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  2. #2
    Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar to rede I me delyte
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    Default Re: a scant sketch of a germ of an idea of a plan (or simply some questions)

    I think quite a lot of the process of writing an AAR is a matter of personal preference. So probably the best advice I can give you for some of your questions is: "Try it out and see what works best for you." That, however, is useless advice when you're just beginning, because you need some idea of what method(s) to try out first. Bearing in mind that my preferences may not work for you, here are some answers that (most of the time) work for me...

    1. As far as I know, there's no official 'preferred format' for images. If you upload your images to an image-hosting service, they may have their own restrictions, of course. It's worth bearing in mind that people often view the site on phones rather than desktop/laptop computers, though, so having a very high resolution image isn't necessarily worthwhile. (But since you can always edit your posts, there's no harm in trying out an image and asking what your readers think.) The idea of using video clips is interesting - I don't remember an AAR doing that before, so I'm looking forward to seeing it!

    2. I'm afraid I don't know the answer to this one. Perhaps someone in the M2TW modding forum might know?

    3. This is definitely a personal preference thing. I do exactly what you describe - take notes as I go along. But I also have an idea of where I intend the story to go, and some of that is written down (just as notes) before I actually play a section of the game. That helps me make decisions while I'm playing.

    4. I had something like the first seven chapters written before I posted my first one. That was because, although I was writing a Skyrim AAR, I started in the previous game, Oblivion. I didn't want to post anything until I was sure I could manage to keep going once I got into Skyrim itself. So I really can't say whether that number will work for anyone else! I do try to keep my writing about seven chapters ahead of my posting, though. I find that helps me - it gives me enough space to edit things properly. I don't rewrite as a result of reader responses. I work on the theory that nobody but me is ever going to go back and read my chapters a second time - so if I change the plot in a chapter, and nobody reads that rewrite, my later chapters will just confuse people! On the other hand, reader responses have been known to influence the chapters posted after the comments were made. (Don't let that stop you rewriting, though - I may be completely wrong about people re-reading chapters. )

    5. Your AAR sounds great! (And I reckon you can get away with starting before the game does. As I mentioned above, my AAR starts before the events at the beginning of Skyrim. Admittedly, I used Oblivion for that part, but really only because I needed the geographical locations - the screenshots were a bonus rather than a necessity.)

    I know how much time writing an AAR takes, so I won't be expecting the appearance of yours immediately - but I will be looking forward to it!
    Under the patronage of Shankbot de Bodemloze

  3. #3
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: a scant sketch of a germ of an idea of a plan (or simply some questions)

    Caillagh's advice looks good to me. In later games (such as Empire and Rome II) it's possible to save battles and replay them, selecting graphics options which turn off the green halos for selected units. Can you do that in Medieval II? As you said, another solution is to select a different unit (of course, it is not always possible to do that, for example if you only have a few units left, making a heroic last stand.) Alternatively, you can simply decide to use the screenshots anyway - perhaps the green halo could even become a feature, highlighting the unit you're mentioning in the text?

    You're right, it's possible to write a single post or an entire AAR based on a dozen turns, you can report events at any pace and any level of detail you want. You can invent events and characters which don't exist in your campaign (I like telling the story of something which was done with a simple click in the campaign, like recruiting a mercenary unit, agreeing a treaty or acquiring new technology); you can leave out events which did happen.

    Your working title and the concept for your starting point sound good to me. Like Caillagh, I don't see any problem with starting your AAR before the campaign begins. As Caillagh said, in A Long Way from Home, the early chapters even use a different game (because the action takes place in a geographical area which exists in the other game) - I see that as a creative way to write an AAR, not a violation. I wonder if you have come across my Empire Total War AAR Kite Pp Mwen An Ale: Let My People Go. I posted 15 chapters and have not yet reached the start of the campaign! The screenshots were taken in custom battles (one day, I might continue the AAR and tell the story of the campaign - for the moment, I am focused on my Iceni AAR.) When I used custom battles, I was following in the foot-steps of AAR writers such as Robin de Bodemloze, who found himself increasingly relying on custom battles towards the end of his Shogun II AAR, Takeda, because this enabled him to tell the story he wanted to tell. There has even been an AAR which deliberately (as far as I can tell) does not tell the story of a campaign at all, but simply uses the world in which the campaign takes places as the setting for a story - Yōkai by Hitai de Bodemloze, another Shogun II AAR.

    I hope that you will write an AAR and look forward to it. As I've shown, sometimes browsing older AARs can be a way to learn the secrets of the AAR writers of the past - even if we decide to do something different. Another thing which might help is to browse the Critic's Quill. There are links to every Critic's Quill article in the Log Book, a sticky thread here in the Writers' Lounge, or you can follow the link to the Critic's Quill in my signature.
    Last edited by Alwyn; October 28, 2017 at 04:08 AM.


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  4. #4
    NorseThing's Avatar Centenarius
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    Default Re: a scant sketch of a germ of an idea of a plan (or simply some questions)

    Still sorting out the video stuff. I think I will be using modest sized fraps pictures in my albums on TWC, but maybe photobucket. Of course there is the occasional picture from wiki, but I do not want to over use what I am not paying for. (that sound a bit weird as I post for free on TWC.) I am a bit on the poor side so I am not certain if the 'free' option in photobucket is even allowed for third party posting such as an AAR on TWC. It would seem that there service would need to be feed $400/year to do such 2rd party stuff. I have noticed that photobuck seems to have a combo text / pic / vid service. Now I know you cannot solve my money issues, but I would like to know from others what services are used and for what prices.

    Of course there is the Youtube for videos -- I have not posted to it yet, but when I do get the cinematic editor working... Yeah I know. Promises are not as easy to keep when you need to begin by learning everything and discovering much that you did not even know you did not know.

    Better news is on the actual writing front. I have outlined about 6 chapters with no pictures or videos. The prologue is almost finished and I may reveal it shortly. I know once I begin posting the actual AAR, then the real actual writing will be better than planning. Over planning is an occupational problem though.
    Check out the Tale of the Week and write up a bit and enter!!
    Any member can create a blog -- TWC Member Blogs -- Blog Commentary
    Citizenship or staff status not required.

    Coming soon -- a new AAR
    until then why not check out the great ones already in progress by your fellow members
    -- After Action Reports

  5. #5

    Default Re: a scant sketch of a germ of an idea of a plan (or simply some questions)

    Whatever you use for images, don't use photobucket. The site has this tendency to break links across the internet. As far as images are concerned, imgur has always served me well, and for videos youtube works just fine.
    former administrator @ MTWGG
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  6. #6
    Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar to rede I me delyte
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    Default Re: a scant sketch of a germ of an idea of a plan (or simply some questions)

    It's good to hear you're making progress, NorseThing.

    I have most recently used imgbb.com for images. (It can be used free, and without an account if you prefer.) I've also seen pictures posted using postimg.org - and lots of people using imgur, as recommended by CommodusIV.
    Under the patronage of Shankbot de Bodemloze

  7. #7
    NorseThing's Avatar Centenarius
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    Default Re: a scant sketch of a germ of an idea of a plan (or simply some questions)

    I will check out the suggestions. Thanks. I think Photobucket.com has an image problem (pardon the pun). They changed their business model a few months ago and did not do any or at least insufficient preparation / coordination with the current user base before making the changes. So I am wanting to know from current users what they think and if only the more expensive ($400/yr.) option is useful for our purposes here at TWC. Their idea of third party posting and my idea of third party posting may be a bit different. Their web sight is not particularly helpful -- or it may be that I am a bit dense.
    Check out the Tale of the Week and write up a bit and enter!!
    Any member can create a blog -- TWC Member Blogs -- Blog Commentary
    Citizenship or staff status not required.

    Coming soon -- a new AAR
    until then why not check out the great ones already in progress by your fellow members
    -- After Action Reports

  8. #8
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: a scant sketch of a germ of an idea of a plan (or simply some questions)

    I think you're right, NorseThing, that Photobucket has an image problem! To be fair to them, they were providing a free image-sharing service. Of course, if someone provides a free service, then it seems reasonable that they can choose to stop. On the other hand, their decision to switch to a fee-paying service hurt a number of much-valued AARs in the Writers' Study, whose images no longer appear. I feel sad about that and wish that Photobucket had found a different way to sustain their business.

    The good news is that we don't have to pay Photobucket to display images on our AARs. We can use other web sites which continue to offer free image-sharing services. Here's a tip which Caillagh taught me: when reading an AAR, right-click on an image and select 'View Image Info'. The web site next to 'Location' should tell you where the image was posted. I use img bb, for example. The only tricky part is working out which version of the code provided by the image hosting web site to post in between [img] [/img] tags here on TWC. (There are various options on img bb and, in fact, only a part of the code is needed to make the picture appear. That takes a bit of trial and error using the 'go advanced' and 'preview' functions on TWC. Just ask for help if you need it - I needed help when I was first posting images on my AARs. (Also, don't forget to look at Shankbot's Unofficial Guide for New Members - his third tip is about posting pictures.)
    Last edited by Alwyn; November 11, 2017 at 03:53 AM.


    Andraste's Children (Iceni AAR) | Under the Patronage of PikeStance








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