Saturday, October 20, 2012

Module Writing Processes

As I'm currently staffing three games, I've been thinking a lot on module writing processes. I have a fairly reliable module writing style, but I'm curious as to what more experienced staffers do. Where do you start? How do you brainstorm? How does input from and collaboration with other staffers help you? How do you pair down all of your ideas into a streamlined document, presentable to a larger staff? Do you use any technology or web services to help the process (I'm pretty dedicated to Google docs, myself)? How do you edit text and incorporate criticism?

Just some questions to think about. If anyone has processes, styles, and strategies they'd like to share, I'd be grateful.

Oh, and on the topic of a certain three games...

I'd like to take a brief bit of web space to talk about the three games I staff... and upcoming opportunities therein.

Endgame is, well, ending. We have two events left, and, I promise you, they're sure to be exciting. That being said, if you're interested in getting involved in the last two events (happening this coming spring season), please send our NPC coordinator a message. Not only can you get some CP for new games, but you can take part in an excellent, intelligent, and well-executed game. (And I really don't say that lightly-- of all the games I play, Endgame provides some of the most thrilling and emotionally taxing RP I've experienced to date.)

Like Rome? Like Egypt? Like your historically inspired fiction with magic, epic battles, intrigue, and ancient lore? The come play Invictus. There will be drama. There will be fighting. (Oh, will there be fighting.) If you haven't already, go check out the rules and forums! And come play!

Clockwork Skies
If you're already familiar with The Calling, then you probably know about Clockwork Skies. If not... it's Steampunk done right. Sure, we all know about Steampunk. But, trust me, this isn't just bustles and goggles: this is going to be a really innovative approach to the world of Steampunk. Plenty of combat and RP, so come play! You can check out the staff here.

Please. Come play. Come NPC. Make my suicidal decision to staff three games worthwhile.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Picturing Fantasy: Photography and Costuming

post over on Xeph-Ink, about photographing costuming, really caught my attention. (In fact, this post is largely in response to Xeph's blog, so please go check it out!) Xeph writes about the best possible ways to photograph costuming; she mentions lighting, context and environment, and models, as well as her own experiences with the ins and outs of photography. Professional costumers are probably familiar with the trials of photographing LARP pieces well, but, with a more general audience in mind (myself included), I wanted to give a few thoughts on photography and costuming.

During a LARP, I think it's easy to see fantastic costumes and makeup for what they are: well-done elements that add to the immersive IG universe. However, to me at least, once costumes drift outside of their intended context (for instance, in the middle of the woods at 3 am), they lose a lot of their magic. Sure, when someone is standing under the fluorescent lights of a bathroom, I can see skillfully applied make-up and/or a well-conceptualized costume, but something is, undeniably, missing. The diamond studded skin becomes a face with glued on plastic gems. The whiskers or scales body paint. While the beauty of the piece is still apparent, the real life of the person wearing it is obvious. In many ways, this is how the art of LARP works: it's ephemeral-- and tenaciously glued to its own context.

This is problematic when/if we decide to show our costumes and makeup to an audience outside of the LARP event itself. As Xeph writes, costumes out of context look a little sad: in your living room or on your front porch, your highborn tarantula queen doesn't look nearly as elegant as she did two weekends ago, deep in the woods. We've all seen the pictures of costumes photographed outside of their intended environment: unless the game itself is modernistic, they rarely look good (boffer weapons, an entirely different story, even less so). This is a pity: a lot of people, even if they aren't LARPers, could probably understand and get into LARP through pictures of good costuming.

All of this considered, I've seen some pictures, including those on Xeph-Ink, that are fantastic: not only are the pictures themselves artistically taken, but the setting works. The model doesn't seem awkward. The costume, even though obviously outside of a LARP or Faire, is displayed to its full potential. While photographs of costumes may seem superficial, to me, they have a larger significance: well-done photography is one way to preserve and communicate our art form. As I've discussed before, LARP is difficult to communicate or display (as well it should be, perhaps). In my opinion, options that allow us to successfully capture our art form should be pursued.

So, what are methods for successfully photographing costuming and makeup? Are you a fan of photographing costuming? Are there privacy concerns involved with photography? And, please, for some really practical technique tips, go check out Xeph-Ink!