• Crusader Kings II Expansion Subscription

    Subscribe to the CK II Expansion and enjoy unlimited access to 13 major expansions and more!


  • Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Status
Not open for further replies.

Derahan

Ever doubtful
27 Badges
Oct 30, 2009
2.710
54
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • 500k Club
  • 200k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Rome Gold
  • March of the Eagles
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Rise of Prussia
  • Pride of Nations
  • East India Company
  • Sword of the Stars

Welcome and greetings ladies and gentlemens! I see that you have stumbled upon this thread o' mine, well no worries, this is not a dangerous thread! I'm happy to announce to you all that this is the publication of the AARlander edition 5! Although a bit delayed, with a month, I am sure that those of you that have waited hopefully will see through this miss calculation of mine, ofcourse i can't control what assignments i get in school....

Anyways i would like to say thanks again to those who along Canonized ran the original AARlander and actully made this new one possible because of their work, secondly i would like to thank the moderators who helped me start this and who got the idea to continue the AARlander, most of all Qorten, Eber, Loki100 and Mr.Capitalist, Thirdly but not least i would like to give thanks to all contributors to this edition of the AARlander who put time to work on articles to get this magazine up and running and being the foundations, without them there would be none.

Hope you have a fun visit! Enjoy!

p.s. When you are done reading, head over to the Feedback thread and tell us what you thought!

Code:
[SIZE=3][URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?644147-AARlander-Edition-5&p=14568128&viewfull=1#post14568128"]Special - Diggin the Title, Bro! By Tekcor[/URL]
[URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?644147-AARlander-Edition-5&p=14568129&viewfull=1#post14568129"]Special - Narrative AAR Writing as a Collaborative Journey. By Philo32b[/URL]
[URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?644147-AARlander-Edition-5&p=14568136&viewfull=1#post14568136"]Special - The point of an AAR? By Prawnstar[/URL]
[URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?644147-AARlander-Edition-5&p=14568141&viewfull=1#post14568141"]AGEOD/MP AAR - Telling the truth in a MP AAR. By Loki100[/URL]
[URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?644147-AARlander-Edition-5&p=14568145&viewfull=1#post14568145"]Victoria 2 - By Avindian[/URL][/SIZE]
 
Last edited:

Derahan

Ever doubtful
27 Badges
Oct 30, 2009
2.710
54
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • 500k Club
  • 200k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Rome Gold
  • March of the Eagles
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Rise of Prussia
  • Pride of Nations
  • East India Company
  • Sword of the Stars
Diggin the Title, Bro!
By TekcoR


I am writing a response and opinion on what Saithis wrote in AARLander Edition 4 titled: “Standing Out - Breaking HOI3's Moulds and Finishing Touches”. The title of the after action report is like a headline, without a good line, the potential viewer is likely not to bite; which leads the author to fail either be receiving additional comments or the viewership they like. It really is a catch twenty two. Why is it this way? How can one improve on their “headlines”?

Authors love viewers, because it gives them a sense of accomplishment and worth – everybody loves to be entertaining the crowd, to be the center of attention. Writing provides this “fix”. Yet this fix isn’t easy to obtain. One really must stand out in the market of competing stories. There are dozens of other after action reports, there several different games within the Paradox universe that people visit. Now you aren’t going to win over a person who exclusively visits Crusader Kings if they never visit Victoria’s sub-forum. But you can win over the viewer by having an interesting title that perks ones interest.
Here is a brief example, from the Crusader King’s sub-forum:

• The Rise of the Hohenzollerns, 1192-1399: A Mega Campaign Beginning CK2 AAR
• In the Shadow of Certain, Painful Doom: Abyssinia
• Aegean Isles AAR
• A Quest for the Baltic Lake
• The Ultimate AAR

I choose these titles from page one (as of Oct 3 2012) as an example. There are two titles here that do not stand out and perk at least my interest to click the hyperlink and read. These titles: “Aegean Isles AAR” and “The Ultimate AAR” are rather bland and in a limited amount of time available today, are going to be skipped over by me. Is it wrong? No, and yes. No, I have the right to be selective in what I choose I like to read. However, it is also wrong because as an author myself, I feel I should provide constructive feedback to help improve the other person’s writing style.

Saithis touches on having a “unique factor”. Two of these titles in my opinion ring of that unique factor. “The Rise of the Hohenzollerns”, not because of the title solely but for the fact that within it the author mentions it is going to be a Mega Campaign. These are rare enough, that my interest has been perked. I do not have expend additional time by clicking the hyperlink and finding out additional information, it has already been provided.

The second title: “In the Shadow of Certain, Painful Doom: Abyssinia” stands out above and beyond. My interest is perked because this already reads as the author expects to fail, and most likely will. It does get tiring to see people win every single time, and stories where the author truly has a difficult time winning or ultimately loses bring about a greater feel for the story.

To me, the title of the after action report must not be the only piece that stands out. I am a huge fan of interesting chapter or update names. The blank or bland “Chapter #” scheme gets old and is rather uninspiring. These titles can give away little bits of information before the reader even gets into the story. I have not seen a lot of people practice this on the forum, and those who do are good at it. I am going to use some of my work here as examples. In an older scenario, I was writing “In Den Augen Gottes” (In the Eyes of God). Two of the chapter updates are:

• Heaven Isn’t On Earth
• Neither is Poland!

I consider these little jokes thrown in for the reader to catch. The first one “Heaven Isn’t on Earth” deals with mentioning the Taping Rebellion; which ultimately fails, leading to the name of the chapter. The very next update deals with Polish revolts, and thus the title; which plays on the first: “Neither is Poland!” Does the reader have to be paying attention to what’s going on in order to catch it? Yes. However, these small little things, especially when somebody notices it and brings it to attention of the author, it causes a smile within – because the “fix” of being at the center of attention.

What can one do to better their titles? Experience followed by a dose of patience. Again the catch twenty-two, not everybody is experienced. Overtime a person should obtain the experience to write better, to be influenced by their reader’s comments, and over the course of years also. The act of writing is easy; the art of writing is difficult. We can all write; but we can not all write. Becoming a person experienced within the art of writing takes time. You do not learn to write solely by just writing. You read. Read other authors work, either on the forums, books, poems, short-stories, etc. Find a style you are comfortable with, but do not avoid changing up the style if you think it would be unique.

The people who tell you how to write are wrong, the story is yours to tell. How you tell it determines the success. Be unique. Be interesting. Be informative. Be yourself. But don’t be afraid to accept constructive criticism.
 

Derahan

Ever doubtful
27 Badges
Oct 30, 2009
2.710
54
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • 500k Club
  • 200k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Rome Gold
  • March of the Eagles
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Rise of Prussia
  • Pride of Nations
  • East India Company
  • Sword of the Stars
Narrative AAR Writing as a Collaborative Journey
by Philo32b

There is something very interesting from a creative standpoint about a Narrative AAR as a literary device that sets it apart from other literary art forms. It is much more a collaborative form, which makes it a mixture of random elements as well as elements derived from new and opposing viewpoints of people who challenge your own beliefs.

If you are writing a novel, you are responsible for the different elements of that literary form—such as dialogue, theme, plot, and character. If you are writing commercial fiction, there are genre guidelines as well. But as long as you honor these conventions you can do anything you want, even if it is unlikely that things would turn out just the way you write them.

In contrast, with the AAR you must balance the literary form mechanics as well as adhere to the rules of whatever game you are playing. It might be narratively more satisfying to have your king in Crusader Kings 2 (CK2) live to the point where he can exact revenge on that neighboring kingdom, but if the CK2 game engine decides that your king somehow dies of syphilis at 25 (amazingly before syphilis has actually been imported from the New World), it’s time to see what the little heir-to-the-throne has been up to. And that will also probably be forced on you—you may find that junior will soon be developing a keen sense of cruelty by torturing rats while your moronic regent turns a blind eye. Or the next monarch may be a craven, shy, and sloth ruler when really you’d like your story to have an active king. These kind of random detours and dead ends thrown at you are much more like life.

So you are in essence collaborating with the game engine, that uncaring and impartial creator of random events and hilarious ironies, because you have to. You relax narrative requirements—such as a unified plot that comes to a sensible climax—and let a random invasion by the AI cut short one of your subplots involving a character with whom it is now difficult to continue the narrative because he has the awkward trait of being dead.

Another difference with novel writing is that with novels you usually are finished with a draft or are fairly further along before you start getting detailed feedback from one or a few readers. With an AAR you might get feedback from the very first post, and the number of readers you might have could be a hundred times what you would have starting out writing a novel. This makes the AAR, similar to the relationship with the game engine, a collaborative project. Unlike the game engine, this is something that could potentially be ignored by the writer, although doing so would squander a rich resource. As opposed to a novel, AARs can build up a regular readership that may be vocal in what it likes and doesn’t like. Also different from a novel, what the readers vocalized is democratically presented in the thread format on equal footing with even the writer’s work. Anybody and everybody can present their ideas with the same level of visibility as the writers. They are both just posts on the same thread.

Granted, most of the readers’ posts will be much shorter and much more focused thematically than the AAR writer’s posts. But the complete and unavoidable visibility of the readers’ posts cannot be easily be ignored by the writer, and so can help better steer the AAR as something along the lines of a collaborative venture. Several times I have experienced cases where a reader has posted a game strategy or narrative suggestion that I have realized was much preferable to my own. Instead of the critique coming after the work is done and set in stone, I simply incorporated the advice in my gaming or writing decisions. The resulting work is now a mixture of my and others’ efforts.

In the end, I think one of the things that makes AAR stories interesting in their own right is the knowledge that it does take place, like real life, in a messy and public environment. We wonder how someone will avoid losing their duchy in CK2 to the infidel invasions or other random events and what the characters in the story will think and do in response to what does happen. We watch as the writer attempts to balance long-term strategy in an unpredictable and surprising world. And then we stop reading and have to get back to our own real life, in which we are also trying to cope with events that are also sometimes unpredictable, sometimes intractable, as we weave our own narrative that we would like to make sense.
 

Derahan

Ever doubtful
27 Badges
Oct 30, 2009
2.710
54
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • 500k Club
  • 200k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Rome Gold
  • March of the Eagles
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Rise of Prussia
  • Pride of Nations
  • East India Company
  • Sword of the Stars
The point of an AAR?
By Prawnstar


Here’s something I’ve been thinking about recently, what’s the point of an AAR? Why are people writing them and just as puzzlingly why are people reading them?

As I see it an AAR is a conversation about our hobby with people who are actually interested and have something to contribute. After all it’s very rare we can talk face to face to someone we know about strategy gaming. So we’re writing AARs because we want to talk about our games and we’re reading and commenting for pretty much the same reason. I’m strongly of the opinion that while AARs grow with views they only really thrive with comments. Comments are the AAR equivalent of people responding to you starting the conversation. Nearly every successful AAR has a strong relationship between the writer and the people making comments. Indeed there’s often one or more readers who engage with the AAR and respond to most if not all updates with questions, suggestions and thoughts. The key point here is it’s a conversation. There’s more than one voice in an AAR or at least there should be if the AAR is to flourish.

So how can we apply this line of reasoning to the practical world of AARs? Simple, it’s all about comments and feedback. An update is the writer making a statement, a comment is a reader’s response and the writer’s feedback is their reaction to comments, the natural ebb and flow of a conversation.

Comments are the lifeblood of the AAR. Without comments AARs tend to fade away as the writer realises they’re talking to no one and stop writing. So how does a writer get comments? That is how do they start a conversation that other people find interesting enough to join in. The writing needs to be clear and accessible. Clear means that why the writer is writing, the reason for the conversation if you like, is obvious to the reader. Accessible means that what’s been written can be understood without difficulty. That‘s all that dull stuff we slept through at school, you know spelling, grammar, punctuation, presentation, stuff like that. Any AAR where it’s not possible to understand the opening posts is going to fail because the readers won’t know what’s being said to them.

Comments come in all shapes and sizes, from simple ‘hello’ to detailed analysis of the situation to points about the presentation of the AAR. Every comment is valuable as it gets the conversation flowing but one type of comment really needs further thought. Whenever someone comments on how the AAR is presented the writer needs to consider the comment carefully even if it’s not immediately welcome! Comments will arrive, probably slowly at first but they will come as an AAR keeps going and attracts more readers. Once someone has commented then the writer needs to cherish the attention and keep that person involved - that’s where feedback comes in.

Feedback is simply responding to comments, it’s all about continuing the conversation and engaging with the reader. It’s not hard yet a surprising number of writers seem to struggle both with the idea and the practicalities. When someone comments they are responding to something you said, it’s only polite to acknowledge that and respond. Feedback doesn’t need to be elaborate or lengthy but it should identify by name the person who it’s for. Also, feedback for comments about the last update should precede the next update otherwise it’s disconnected from the conversation it’s part of. We all know that once a conversation has moved on from one point it’s very hard to go back no matter how witty or insightful the comment you want to make.

So to wrap this up, my insight for what it’s worth is that AAR writers should treat their AARs as a conversation and appreciate that it’s a two way process engaging positively with the views and opinions of their readers.
 

Derahan

Ever doubtful
27 Badges
Oct 30, 2009
2.710
54
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • 500k Club
  • 200k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Rome Gold
  • March of the Eagles
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Rise of Prussia
  • Pride of Nations
  • East India Company
  • Sword of the Stars
Telling the truth in a MP AAR
By Loki100


This post is notionally one of my regulars about the AGEOD corner of AARland. Well all I’ll say it is good to see a number on the new Roman era game, Alea Jacta Est, including an indispensible ‘how to’ and exploration of the mechanics by Narwhal. Equally, Pride of Nations seems to have taken off with 2 ongoing Sardinia-Piedmont/Italy AARs and a wonderful insight into the events in a 24 player MP game provided by Kensai7 – yes you can have a 24 player game with the PBEM [1] mechanics.

So that’s brief.

Now what I want to discuss is an issue that has come up a few times in past AARland discussions (there is a link in the FAQ to some previous comments on this theme), which is on adjusting the game events as part of writing an AAR. Now this can comprise quite a range from modding, writing custom events to fiddling with the save game to produce a particular advantage (or disadvantage). Now, I think that in single player AARs there is a rough consensus. If you alter the underlying game events (for or against you) you should acknowledge this openly. If you are doing a world conquest style AAR then any reader can judge your performance in terms of these changes. In a History Book or Narrative AARs authors often take a lot of liberties with the basic flow of the game to generate something that sustains the AAR.

So in SP, it’s a matter of taste. Be clear what you have altered and your readers can accept those as allowing you to make a consistent AAR or stop reading. The key is, the computer can’t read what you have written.

Now in MP, there is a different issue. Most (all?) MP AARs are written as gameplay, so in theory the intent is to show the reader what you did, why, how it worked out and so on. As has been discussed in previous AARlander editions, within the AGEOD board, MP is much more prevalent that elsewhere in AArland mainly as the PBEM mechanism makes taking the sort of notes and screenshots you need much easier than in a real-time MP game (hats off to the small regular group of HOI3 AAR writers who do manage this).

However, when you write a MP AAR there are two audiences who maybe very interested in your moves. Your current and any future, opponent(s). So how to balance this with full and open reporting?

One advantage in many of the AGEOD games is their representation of the seasonal flow of pre-20th century warfare. In effect, armies do break apart for winter and campaigning slows down. So one partial solution is to write the AAR one season behind the game play so your opponent is not seeing that much that is relevant in the current game year (well they may have more information about what happened and the impact, but not about current deployments and plans). In general there is another good reason to delay converting a MP game into an AAR – check it is going to be an interesting game first. I have seen games end very early with a catastrophic mistake. However, something like Pride of Nations is a different beast (in so many ways). In the grand campaign it can take 2-3 years to build up to a war, so advance knowledge would be incredibly useful and incredibly hard to obscure so it is much harder (unless the AAR really lags the action by 4+ game years).

The second problem is if you lay down a strategy or neat plan and any future opponent can read it. I certainly ‘trained’ for my last bout with Narwhal over Rise of Prussia by re-reading his classic Learning from Prussia. In turn that latest game sets out an Austrian strategy that I would probably re-use (refined and adapted but I think it is an effective approach).

I’m not sure where the answer lies to be honest. So far, the PBEM community seems to have gleefully ignored the second problem (as noted the first can be controlled in part due to how an AGEOD game turns out). The openness of authors such as Bornego with his trilogy on the Russian Civil War and Narwhal, as mentioned above, is typical of the openness that pervades this forum. If that means our opponent is going to be better prepared in a future game, then that is a bonus, not a problem, as it will lead to a more challenging tussle (and the chance/need to develop new strategies in turn).

[1] – PBEM – Play by Electronic Mail. The AGE game system runs the orders in an end of turn sequence, so the players send their orders by mail, or drop-box, to the person ‘hosting’ the game.
 

Derahan

Ever doubtful
27 Badges
Oct 30, 2009
2.710
54
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • 500k Club
  • 200k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Rome Gold
  • March of the Eagles
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Rise of Prussia
  • Pride of Nations
  • East India Company
  • Sword of the Stars
Victoria 2
By Avindian

Hello there! For those of you who may not know me, I'm Avindian. I've written several AARs and generally make a nuisance of myself on the forums. :) Our dear editor asked me to contribute something on Victoria II for this edition of the AARlander, and after a couple of gentle reminders (sorry, Derahan!), I've decided to write on Victoria II AARs and the game in general.

Victoria II (and A House Divided) are very different from the average PDS game. The game's nearly infinite complexity, particularly the economics system, is almost entirely under the hood. One of the things that occasionally turns some people off of the game is that, at times, there's not as much for the player to do as there is in other PDS games. This complaint is particularly prevalent for AHD, as the new requirements to justify a CB lead to fewer wars. If you're looking for a war game, pick up Darkest Hour or HOI3 and its myriad expansions.

Why play AHD, then, I hear you asking? Because Vicky 2 and AHD aren't about world conquest; they're about watching your country grow from a largely agrarian power to an industrial behemoth. They're about carefully balancing risk vs. reward. Do you build that high tech factory, or is your industrial base too weak? Laissez-Faire or State Capitalism? Is anybody insane enough to play with a Planned Economy?

There's still war to be had, but it's even more strategic. As Prussia, when do you attack France? Do you wait until they're distracted or are you so confident you've built a better army that you attack them on day one? As the USA, do you focus on the Pacific, try to drive the British out of Canada (that's for burning the White House, you jerks!), or simply wait patiently until the CSA forms and take over? Does the Ottoman Empire take over Egypt, or just sphere it? With the addition of AHD, nearly every country is playable to one degree or another. (Okay, maybe not an OPM in Germany.) Your first few years might be a bit dull as an uncivilized nation, but you could always go after your neighbors.

Of course, the real strength of Paradox games, in my opinion, is the forums and community (take a bow, dear reader!), and specifically the AAR forums. Writing AARs for Vicky 2 requires considerably more imagination than any other PDS game I've tried, because the game provides you so little characterization. There are no rulers (except for the big ones like Queen Victoria, and even she's only introduced in an event) and only the generals/admirals have much in the way of traits to work with. For a gameplay AAR, that's no big deal, and there are some excellent Vicky 2 gameplay AARs. (For example, Avocado Aguila's superb world conquest as Krakow.)

For narrative AARs, which tend to be more popular (at least for me), you need to be much more careful. A rich understanding of the era's history, carefully crafted characters, and the ability to integrate events from both the player's country and the world at large into a story are all required to write a truly great Vicky 2 AAR. It can certainly be done, and done very well. Look at Dewirix's Japanese conversion AAR, Chilango2's Mexico AAR, or Fire and Ash's AAR of Afghanistan. (I'd offer my own AARs, but I'm much too humble. ;))

I'd like to close my little piece here with a call to forumites who are less active. First of all, stop lurking! Remember, if you read and don't contribute, either with comments or your own AARs, you're stealing. (Okay, not technically, but you really should contribute. ;)) Second, it's something of a cliché that you never truly learn something until you try to teach it to somebody else, but it's true, and I've learned about and enjoyed PDS games far more since I started writing AARs. When I originally got Hearts of Iron 3, it sat on my bookshelf for six months, I even gave it to a friend, who also let it gather dust before I asked him to send it back. Then I read some AARs, wrote my own, and I've come to appreciate it much more. I'll almost certainly pick up Their Finest Hour when I get the cash. Third, if you're new to the community and new to PDS, welcome! Don't be scared off by the rather steep learning curve many PDS games have. They are incredibly rich and rewarding; definitely worth your time and energy, maybe even your sanity, if you still have any. Read the manual (it really does help), read the strategy guides, but most importantly, read AARs. There are some great tutorials: Misterbean's recently concluded HOI3 tutorial, gela1212's EU3 tutorial, and my own Vicky 2 tutorials (both with and without AHD) are all worth a look if you're mulling over a game.

Thank you for your time, and thank you to our superb editor for putting this little e-mag together! I'm a devoted reader, and you should be too.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.