Actual Play Recordings: How polished do you like them?

edited March 2013 in Actual Play
I am at the moment editing my first audio recodring of a game. Trying to turn it into an enjoyable Actual Play someday but mostly to give a player who missed a month the details of what we did in the campaign so far.
Aside from removing most of the dead air and some annoying sounds from the background I find myself wondering what I should take out and what to leave in. How much of an out of character tangente should be kept? If removed completely it might misrepresent the mood at the table but it might not be all that entertaining. I was wondering if I should cut stuff like that out completely or maybe keep the beginning of the rant and then fade out and back in a sentence before play resumes. Or maybe indicate in some way that there was a break?
How much throat clearing and "uhm..." when people are thinking about a response should I leave in?
I think it might be a more enjoyable listen without most of that stuff. But on the other hand I often enjoy actual plays that seem like they open a window into that group and it's dynamic even behind what they are playing at the moment. So I wonder how much "imperfections" and "radio don'ts" are part of that.

So what is your preference? How much authenticity? How much polishing? Do you have experience with editing gameplay recording that you want to share?

Comments

  • For me, selfishly: Cut it to the bone. I would rather the AP get to the game. I've played games, I know there's chatter, I don't need to be reminded that most players have the attention span of a gnat (me included). Polish it to a shine and give me an encapsulated nugget of what a game would play like.

    But the question is for you to answer, since you'll be doing the editing. Are you trying to present a group of gamers playing a game or are you trying to represent only the game bits? I'll admit if you want to make a show out of it that you need to let the players' personalities shine through. As for me, I can always skip ahead. ;)

  • Personally, I like them either pretty close to raw -- dead air included -- or as polished as possible. The former is useful particularly from a design / playtest point of view, because you can tell where things slowed down or stalled, or when players tended to become distracted. But if I'm listening mostly from the point of view of a player/GM (or for pure entertainment, though that's kind of unlikely), I'd like to hear mostly game discussion whenever possible.
  • How much throat clearing and "uhm..." when people are thinking about a response should I leave in?
    I think that people stop sounding natural if you cut out all of these. When I edited AP I would try to chop out multiples (so "um... errr... ah..." would become just "um..." or whatever) because that would tighten things up without altering the character of what happened too much. Also, whenever I did an edit I would rewind a few seconds and listen to the snippet and if it ever felt "awkward" or the edit was otherwise noticeable I'd put back whatever I chopped out. Similarly, I'd shorten long pauses into short ones but not eliminate them entirely.
    I've played games, I know there's chatter, I don't need to be reminded that most players have the attention span of a gnat (me included).
    Maybe I'm weird, but in the online groups I've played in we'll sometimes chat before the game starts, but once the game starts we tend to just play the game and don't have many digressions. I'm not sure if that's a quirk of the personalities involved, whether we're playing more attention-holding games than average, whether the fact that the groups formed to play games rather than being groups of pre-existing friends has an impact, or what, but I find it odd when people say that digressions are universal when it doesn't match my personal experience. Whether to keep that sort of thing in would really depend on the intended audience and the goals behind creating the audio presentation, but since I haven't dealt with much of this in my own AP editing I don't have any instincts for what the best way to go is. For truly external events, like somebody needing to take a short break, I'd usually edit them out completely unless it somehow impacted the downstream conversation in a way that a listener wouldn't be able to follow what people were talking about.
  • I would skip preplay stuff (unless someone asks for it, then provide it as another file)

    Once play has started, I would keep out of character tangents.

    In my own game, I find when the pressure on the PCs/players lowers, the more they go into out of character tangents. It's a measure of pressure currently in the game.

    Keep the umm stuff.

    But 'dead air' - anything over about two seconds of silence, clip out the remaining silence. Its a rule of radio and it applies here. Even a 'Ummm' is better than dead air.

    My estimates.
  • Thank you for the advice.
    Leaving in parts of the imperfections but cutting them a little bit is what I am going with at the moment.
  • I like recording sessions as Livescribe pencasts, so you can see the notes that go along with the game as they're being written.
  • I would skip preplay stuff (unless someone asks for it, then provide it as another file)
    Very much this. When I start listening, I want to get down to business quickly to see if I'm interested in listening to the whole thing. Later on, I can be more forgiving.

    Also, I think post-game commentary is underutilized. You could explain things not clear from audio, mention where you screwed up the rules, or why you used them how you did.
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