GrogHeads Forum

After Action Reports => Digital Gaming AARs => Topic started by: airboy on January 16, 2019, 08:00:49 PM

Title: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: airboy on January 16, 2019, 08:00:49 PM
Beyond the fame, glory, babes and ducats that come from doing an AAR, why do people do them?

If you have never done an AAR it takes a lot of time and work.  You have to:
a] Play the game
b] Make screen shots
c] Annotate the screen shots (if you care to have your readers understand your work)
d] Write up what is happening.

It takes me about 6x times longer to write up an AAR as it did to play.  This is a minimum amount - it is probably more like 10x.

I'm leaving out video AARs which I find to be almost 100% horrible.  People don't write a script, they ramble a lot, and they have no structure.  I taught outreach marketing classes on video for 30 years and I spent 6 hours outside the class for every one hour in the studio - minimum.  I wrote detailed scrips, had my background material ready to roll, etc....  The quality level of most video AARs is so horrible that I find them unwatchable.  One of the very few exceptions is the work by Seth Skorkowsky who is not really doing AARs but is doing reviews.  But he does do some "how to" stuff on running RPGs that is also really good.

While you are doing this you could be doing something else - like playing another game.

For those of you who do AARs I'm interested in why you do them.  You can PM me, or I could PM everyone who did a decent AAR and bug them.

[Sorry you can make the researcher retire but you can't make them stop wondering why things happen the way they do].
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: Sir Slash on January 16, 2019, 09:11:07 PM
I would do one to try to make people think I am really smart. And good at the game, not telling them I lost the same battle 5 times already.
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: JasonPratt on January 17, 2019, 06:46:13 AM
Mainly I only do them when I think my nieces and/or fellow Grogs would like to see them. That's especially true in multiplayer games, as that way I can give other people an opportunity to shine.  O0

For example, I was suuuuuuuuuper annoyed that four out of my final five 'films' for the Fire in the Grogs Too match, were corrupted in the video (not the audio oddly), because I wanted to be able to show NVA-Dave and even VC-Larry (Arizona Tank here on the forum) coming back to win it all against Rich and myself. Dave's surge for the win was epic: he had come back from literally only one point of score, one base on the board (and maybe a few specs), to lead the way for his team to win. I hate not being able to show that!

(Though notably, not enough to reconstruct my notes about the moves during the final ten or fifteen turns from the Vassal save files, yet...  ::) )

Sometimes, for the print AARs, I have an idea for a story (like in the Survive Harder or PanzOrc Corpz series), which I'm basically generating and writing out. And that can amount to showing off myself.  :coolsmiley:

Mostly though I'm trying to show of other people, whether giving some attention to the game and its devs, or to my multi-player opponents, or providing a demo look; or just because my nieces might like to play the game but can't for various reasons. I'm running a hotseat game of Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic right now (with one of the standard unofficial patch-mod upgrades), which I worked hard to figure out how to import snapshots of the nieces as the portraits, so that even though I'm the one playing the game they'd think it was fun that the game and its developing story are about them. I'm making plans to try a Paradox run for them, too, later this year, starting from the CKII mod "When the World Stopped Making Sense" (set shortly after the fall of Rome) through HOI 4. (And maybe into Stellaris although I can't understand how that would make sense.) "They" would be a set of composite characters starting out as the Catholic princess inheritor of a small kingdom on the northwest coast of Africa -- a former Roman Imperial outpost -- which happens to be that area south of the Atlas mountains where "The Eye of the Sahara" is: arguably the best current guess for the location of the historical Atlantis!
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: W8taminute on January 17, 2019, 07:03:16 AM
A lot of YouTubers confuse AAR with let's plays.  They pride themselves on providing live commentary to games they're showcasing rather than tell a narrative on the events that occurred in game.

I used to do AARs in written form on gaming forums.  My main reason for doing them at the time was strictly for my own immersion and entertainment.  The story behind the campaign played against a human opponent was much more entertaining to me then actually playing the game.  I would imagine myself to be an everyday citizen reading the daily newspaper on current events.  It was fun!  But it was also a lot of work and I ultimately gave up on doing AARs.
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: airboy on January 17, 2019, 07:21:31 AM
W8taminute & Jason Pratt - thanks for sharing.
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: Jarhead0331 on January 17, 2019, 08:16:11 AM
I enjoy doing AARs because it gives me an opportunity to showcase a game, while also discussing and exploring the history/lore of the subject matter while also providing an opportunity to express myself creatively.

Doing a preview or a review, I tend to be much more “boilerplate”, if you will and I get overly compulsive about being thorough and accurate. For me, an AAR is much more freeform and subject to my own whim.
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: Sir Slash on January 17, 2019, 08:36:55 AM
And I love reading all of your AAR's. Many times I use AAR's to make the final decision on whether or to pass on a particular game as well as how to play the damn things. Hats-off to all you AAR-er's.  :notworthy:
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: airboy on January 17, 2019, 10:04:17 AM
Thanks Jarhead!

And Sir Slash - thanks for the nice comments on the AAR writers.
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: Airborne Rifles on January 17, 2019, 01:20:49 PM
I’ve enjoyed doing AARs because it lets me tell the “story” of how the game unfolded. I started to feel like the stories being written by the gameplay were too good to keep to myself.
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: KyzBP on January 24, 2019, 04:16:11 PM
I’ve enjoyed doing AARs because it lets me tell the “story” of how the game unfolded. I started to feel like the stories being written by the gameplay were too good to keep to myself.
I thoroughly enjoyed your AARs.  They actually made me buy the game.
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: airboy on January 24, 2019, 04:28:20 PM
I've bought quite a few games from reading AARs.  I've also played games I already owned because I read an AAR.
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: Crossroads on February 03, 2019, 03:07:05 AM
Nice posts, thanks guys

I do AARs also simply for the reason that I like doing them. Lots of work, granted, but lots of fun too  :))

I don't have that many games going on at any time, H2H games in particular, but once I do they are usually against folks I know and trust to give a good game and not quit nor disappear. We take our time selecting a battle, and I often get immersed quite deep in them. Which is how to do them, of course. Writing an AAR is a fun way to put some of the stuff in writing.

Also being not a native in English it gives some practice, which is nice. This is a funny language you know. I can live with reading and writing, but pronounciation, with not any rules to it, madness!  :uglystupid2: But I digress...

Granted, I do it to give the games some publicity as well, when playing one of the Campaign Series titles. We're not a big crew with real jobs to pay the rent, but then again we're in it because we're fans of the game too. Not a bad deal to get to move the game towards what you like it to become. I grew up playing boardgames with my cousins, and I like the link the CS series has to the platoon scaled boardgames of the old.

I love the AARs you guys have put out as well. I often look for an AAR before buying a new game, the Decisive Campaigns AAR by Jason and Bartheart a good example. Really love what you've done with your AARs too Airboy! Haven't bought CMANO yet as I fear the learning curve, but one of these days...
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: Crossroads on February 13, 2019, 11:23:45 AM
Writing an AAR is also a nice way to speed up the learning process with a new game. That's why I do boardgame AARs, most of them is just me recording all the silly mistakes I did when playing while not just perhaps grasping all the details in play. It is fun, though.

I just updated my signature with links to the small boardgame AARs I've posted here.

Also: I am left with just one character available (from the total of 1 000 chars) for adding to my signature text. What should it be?
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: SirAndrewD on February 13, 2019, 11:52:18 AM
Fame, glory, babes and ducats

I need to start doing more AAR's.
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: Crossroads on February 13, 2019, 12:30:46 PM
Fame, glory, babes and ducats

I need to start doing more AAR's.

I haven't seen much fame, glory nor ducats, so YMMV I guess ... Just sayin'

But as for babes...
You need to try it at some time. Just walk to a bar, whisper with a low, masculine voice: "I do AARs", and ... oh boy :smitten:
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: SirAndrewD on February 13, 2019, 12:54:39 PM

But as for babes...
You need to try it at some time. Just walk to a bar, whisper with a low, masculine voice: "I do AARs", and ... oh boy :smitten:

I believe you.  That wasn't too much different on how I landed my wife.
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: Gusington on February 13, 2019, 01:33:33 PM
I am contractually obligated to post:

‘I landed your wife the same way!!’
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: Crossroads on February 13, 2019, 01:45:21 PM
I am contractually obligated to post:

‘I landed your wife the same way!!’

”Everybody, jump Queen!”
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: MengJiao on February 13, 2019, 01:49:10 PM
I’ve enjoyed doing AARs because it lets me tell the “story” of how the game unfolded. I started to feel like the stories being written by the gameplay were too good to keep to myself.

  Yep.  they are stories.  Rather oddly presented stories, but still stories.  And people are fond of stories.  Moreover, AARs have some characteristics that the best stories have -- most notably they are not just the stories of the teller (Mister AAR dispatcher), but also of others such as (in this case) the game designer and others who worked on the games and game companies and printers and people who sat on games etc. and also (in many cases) the stories of the actual people who where in actual battles and such.  You get a lot of story (at least potentially) out of an AAR.
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: Sir Slash on February 13, 2019, 05:30:16 PM
All the really HOT girls go for AAR guys. So much so, I feel sorry for quarterbacks.
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: FarAway Sooner on August 15, 2019, 12:00:45 AM
I do it because I like to showcase less well-known games that have really caught my fancy.  It's a different medium for expressing myself, and I find it tiresome to do an(y) AAR after a while, but I feel like it's a good way to market a game that might not otherwise be so accessible to a user in the first hour or two of playing.
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: IICptMillerII on August 17, 2019, 02:29:02 AM
I've always enjoyed the realistic visualization of warfare. Seeing how and why everything happens, especially the things that went wrong, is both entertaining and informative. Plus, as others have mentioned, AARs can be mini-technothrillers or other types of engrossing stories that can be a lot of fun to read through.

Another one of my personal motivations is a bit cynical. I'm often annoyed by the "Lets Play" nature of YouTube and other mediums. A player will grab a game on release day, and pump out 5 or so video's of them just playing the game, but having no idea what they're doing or how anything works. Watching someone who has no idea what a sabot is feel their way through a Steel Beasts mission is at best an exercise in frustration, and at worse straight up torture. So, I figured I might as well create the content I would like to see more of instead of sitting around ranting and raving at the way things are. Not to say I'm an all knowing expert, I'm certainly not.

On a more positive note, I think that AARs can also do a great job of showcasing lesser known games/sims and the features that make them exceptional. Getting (good) feedback and discussion from readers can also be a lot of fun as well.
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: Yooper on October 02, 2019, 10:45:38 AM
I like reading, and doing, AAR's because it's more curated than watching someone ramble and play a game on YouTube or Twitch for 4 hours. I can spend 5 minutes, see the highlights, see the critical points, and not have to waste my time to get to the good stuff. This stream of consciousness ramble as you play games just doesn't do it for me. Getting a narrative experience is great too, though a basic playthrough can be fun as well.
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: airboy on October 02, 2019, 06:43:56 PM
I like reading, and doing, AAR's because it's more curated than watching someone ramble and play a game on YouTube or Twitch for 4 hours. I can spend 5 minutes, see the highlights, see the critical points, and not have to waste my time to get to the good stuff. This stream of consciousness ramble as you play games just doesn't do it for me. Getting a narrative experience is great too, though a basic playthrough can be fun as well.

I agree.  I have difficulty watching youtube game discussions.
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: TacticalWargames on December 02, 2019, 05:55:40 AM
Not sure but I'm glad they do. A good AAR is more likely going to sell a game to me than a review. I've did two AARs years ago for Squad Battles. One of which (Korea game) used to be on the SB website Task Force Echo. I remember enjoying it though was time consuming I found it helped loads with the immersion aspect of the game.

I'd like to set up a sister website to AWNT that is all about AARs. Something I don't think has been done yet. A place to find AARs instead of them being scattered around the net.

Anyone like the idea?

Edit: Like others I prefer written AARs over YouTube. Same with reviews.
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: TacticalWargames on December 02, 2019, 06:10:05 AM
I've bought quite a few games from reading AARs.  I've also played games I already owned because I read an AAR.

I too have revisited games after reading a good AAR about one or the other.
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: Michael Dorosh on December 02, 2019, 06:55:29 AM
People don't write a script, they ramble a lot, and they have no structure.  I taught outreach marketing classes on video for 30 years and I spent 6 hours outside the class for every one hour in the studio - minimum.  I wrote detailed scrips, had my background material ready to roll, etc....  The quality level of most video AARs is so horrible that I find them unwatchable.

I agree. I've done a couple myself, and as you note - trying to do a good one is a lot of work. Probably at least 6 hours to put together a 10 minute video, though I've spent up to 3 or 4 days on some.

I did this one for example:

https://youtu.be/2r_-CxEj3wk

Two major things wrong I can see - the robot voice is jarring (done out of the usual dislike one has for one's own voice, and a belief that while I have a face made for radio, my voice does not match). And secondly, while I played this one with a human opponent, we both muffed the entry zone for one side. So it's useless in any kind of teaching capacity.

So why do people do it? Same reason people write reviews, I suppose. A desire to tell other people you enjoyed something, share some information about what happened and how, and breathe some life into the game by constructing a narrative. In the process you can teach people how to play better, create a compare/contrast to other, similar games so people can be better informed on whether it is for them or not. And, they're also fun to produce.

And a successful YouTube channel can be rewarding, and even lucrative. I doubt anyone is getting rich doing AARs, but I started a channel on German Army historical stuff and am approaching 2 million views, and I've gotten my second royalty cheque which if broken down into dollars per hour of work, doesn't come close yet to approaching minimum wage.

A good AAR can do a number of things - introduce someone to a game they've never played, but might consider buying. When you do get the game and you just can't figure out how to win a particular scenario, a good AAR can demonstrate a different approach to the problem. Can also give some general tips on gameplay.

As for the strap a Go-Pro on and ramble, I am equally at a loss. One of the well-known "reviewers" has over 4,000 videos, and they are generally in the 1 to 2 hour range. He has a few thousand subscribers and his vids generally attract between 200 and 1000 views. Different things interest different people. His 'reviews' are all solo play throughs of games I presume he just sits down, reads the rules once, and bashes on. Not for me, but he has loyal viewers. I wouldn't presume to tell them how to suck eggs.

Though I have in the past. On the Gamesquad forums, there were a few people posting DARs (During Action Reviews). I mentioned all the things you did, airboy, and added that the "Series Replay" was a great feature in the old General wargaming magazine. They would have two players write up their experiences playing a game, and a neutral commentator would add his two cents, point out rules infractions, etc. Apparently they were quite selective about what they printed, and if a game was a total walkover, or the article didn't seem that interesting, it wasn't published. Times have changed.

Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: airboy on December 02, 2019, 08:49:24 AM
For me, a good AAR is the best selling point (or reason not to buy) that I've ever experienced for complex games.

I've read wonderful AARs, that convinced me that I would hate the game (all of Jason Pratt's survival game AARs are an example).

I've read many AARs that persuaded me to buy the game.  The most recent was Tripoli's AAR from Civil War 2.
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: JasonPratt on December 02, 2019, 10:44:03 AM
...I didn't know I'd even written a survival AAR, much less a lot of them! Or 'filmed' any; though on reflection I guess the two Isle videos would count in a very minimalist way (don't starve, don't thirst, don't get eaten.)
Title: Re: Why do people do AARs?
Post by: JasonPratt on December 02, 2019, 10:46:57 AM
OH! -- I had forgotten I had written the Empyrion AAR (aka "7 Days to Fly"), and had started a little on a Fortresscraft: Evolved AAR (aka "7 Hives to Fry").

 8)