It is really very hard to effectively tape a D&D session.
So much of a D&D session is spontaneous, the game being unscripted. If you try to fix this by scripting the game, the players are NOT actors and it looks awful and phony. On the other hand, capturing that spontaneity on film, properly, would require four or five cameras, all of them running for four to six hours. A single camera simply fails 100%, as the game is not found in the DM's face alone, but in that of the players. requiring a very lengthy effort at editing the session - presuming that this was even a session worth filming! Not all sessions are.
I have seen lately that filmmakers have finally realized that every individual person needs to be miked, too - but this properly needs to be a boom mike. I've seen examples where the table is loaded up with mikes, like a set up found on public radio. This looks absolutely nothing like a game session - and of course spoils the very feel of a proper game. I wrote in my advanced guide that the DM's screen needs to be ditched because it ruins interaction and cohesion of play. Technical apparatus between the players only reminds them that they are being miked, destroying any sense of capturing an actual game.
I need a very capable filmmaker to solve these problems - but I haven't yet been able to entice anyone into the project without a promise of money. In the meantime I see videos put out by the WOTC of games held in public and I shake my head in disgust. Here are people with real money, who ought to know better how to set up a proper film . . . and obviously they don't care.
I remember episodes of I Hit It With My Axe, which I showed around to my players and other artists. These were films supposedly made by people in film - but they were cluttered, ugly, poorly miked, disastrous writing, filled with the backs of people's heads and with chatter that was either hopelessly garbled or meaningless in the context of a game. My amateur attempts to do better have proven that I cannot - that is why there are no films of my playing a session.
But I will continue to look for someone capable who would be willing. At this point, to get talent I need it to be a documentary made with real money - perhaps to show it on Netflix.
In the meantime, I am a writer. So I will stick with writing out the details of my game play as best I can. This much is free.
Earlier today, Scott Driver left a comment that can be found here, written below the DFD Introduction pose. In it he makes a very reasonable point:
"I've never successfully integrated computers either for gaming or my profession. Professionally, it adds complexity to an already chaotic situation and it's not easily stress-tested. Back when I tried cases before juries, I was almost always alone, and I stuck with legal pads and binders because they're simple and there's no risk of looking like a fumblefuck. I can execute on the fly without even thinking about the underlying tech."
I can really relate to this - but not in terms of computers. See, I have never learned to drive. I do not even possess a learner's license - and I never have. If you are a long-time reader of this blog, you may remember once or twice where I described something to do with me driving a car. I have driven a car, I know how to drive a car, but I've only done it for twenty minutes at a time and therefore always illegally. This is also, incidentally, the reason why none of the pictures I've taken this last month feature me driving a car. The one I added today (which will be gone in the morning) is of me sitting in the passenger seat.
So for me, driving through the city would be an exercise in panic. I once was a bike commuter - the kind that rode in winter as well as in summer, in circumstances probably more dangerous than driving a car - so I know the streets. But when I rode a bike, I didn't really have to look at signs. Most of them don't affect bicyclists.
Were I to get a license, it would be a completely chaotic situation. I would be terrifically stressed. 'Fumblefuck' would be my middle name. And that is the reason I have kept putting off getting a license all these years. I don't want to kill anyone.
Computers, however, are different.
I began on manual typewriters at age 8. I moved on to an electric typewriter at age 13 when my grandmother passed away and left my parents hers (she was a schoolteacher and a writer). Computers followed soon after.
In grade 10, I took a typing class - and failed (I have a 7 dexterity). But I kept the book and worked on the exercises continuously. Today I type 65-75 words a minute. I type fast enough that I can create content for the players to read, if it is something with detail that they need to remember, without breaking the pace of the session. Part of the reason why these blog posts have so many words in them is that I type and think at the same pace (I've trained myself to slow my thinking to match my typing speed when I write, so writing is just like talking). In effect, when I write, the screen and the computer disappear . . . I stare through the screen in a sort of zen-like state. Thus, during a session, if I need to send a message by computer (or type a note in the middle of combat), I can listen to a player talk and write the note at the same time - sometimes I can talk and write a completely different note.
After hundreds of hours using a mouse to build newspaper pages, a skill I learned in university while volunteering for the paper there, I applied that skill to other projects. I went on building pages for magazines that I helped build or start, while learning from professionals how to build ads or graphically design images. These last eleven years, of course, I have been building more than 80 maps that are huge in scale (maybe you've seen a few), while using the computer to run my sessions as well. This has meant that drawing with a mouse is as comfortable and normal to me as drawing with a pencil used to be. I don't even think about it while I'm doing it. In fact, I use map-making as a relation tool to manage my stress, enable meditation or to keep me busy while I listen to lectures or follow audio books and podcasts. During a game, then, the players don't have to wait a bunch of time while I interface with the computer - I can draw and design while talking to them, or listening to them make plans for their character's next actions.
This may sound impressive - but if you think about it, you can tell me all of this right back by describing what you're able to do while driving a car. There you are, sitting behind the wheel of a potential weapon, a projectile of metal, fibreglass and rubber, riding along at speeds above 100 km/hour, along with hundreds of other cars doing the same thing . . . and still you can argue with me about why you think Aerosmith deserves the attention they've received these last four decades. Vehemently. Because the car is an extension of your body and your mind that you don't think about.
Computers are no scarier than a car. The difference between me and you driving is that you were once agreeable to being educated in that - whereas I was not, for reasons I won't go into. The computer keyboard and the programs that enable me to design only happened to me because I took the courses and pestered experts for answers. You can do this too. I only began graphic design about 12 years before I began creating the maps you see - and I did tons with that design long before I stumbled across my map-making method.
You CAN do anything. Get educated. Learn. I am perfectly capable of driving a car. I even kind of like it . . . until there are other cars around. But trust me - your learning how to use a computer like a pen isn't going to kill anyone.