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Derahan

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Greetings there reader! I welcome you to yet another astounding issue of the new AARlander which you will hopefully find very interesting. So as usual I want to give my gratitude to those people who made this new AARlander possible. First and foremost, my thanks goes to Canonized and the others, who along him, worked on the first AARlander and made this one possible with their work there, otherwise this AARlander would not be here (most likely). Secondly I want to thanks the moderators who made it possible for me to do this and came up with the idea to revive the AARlander for a second round. Thirdly I want to thank Gen. Marshall, the one who has made the graphics and also is spreading the word about the AARlander on the forums and last but not the least all of those who has contributed to this number of the AARlander, a many thanks to you all who in the end makes this possible with your articles.

And yet, a final thank you to you readers who when you read this, makes us others who work with the AARlander filled with the spirit to continune our work here! Thank you!

And as usual the feedback thread! Critique on!

Code:
[SIZE=3]
[URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?733184-The-AARlander-Edition-13&p=16392449&viewfull=1#post16392449"]Thanzhang - The Narrator as Character[/URL]
[URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?733184-The-AARlander-Edition-13&p=16392456&viewfull=1#post16392456"]Misterbean - WritAAR Introduction: Siempie78[/URL]
[URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?733184-The-AARlander-Edition-13&p=16392458&viewfull=1#post16392458"]Gela1212 - The Return of the Welfs[/URL]
[URL="http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?733184-The-AARlander-Edition-13&p=16392466&viewfull=1#post16392466"]DensleyBlair - Interlude: A Study of Genre[/URL][/SIZE]
 
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Derahan

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In his latest article for the last issue of the AARlander, one of my all-time favourite AARland author-philosophers, Merrick Chance', wrote about the negative effect impartiality can have in an AAR when it comes to writing about what he terms the “big events:” that is, wars, revolutions, the spread of capitalism, and so on. Merrick argues that by writing with a neutral or objective tone authors are actually doing their readers a disservice by denying them the sort of insight to any particular event that only a partial observer would have. He continues by quoting the Italian Marxist intellectual and Communist Party leader Antonio Gramsci, saying that on some issues it is impossible for one not to take sides, and that therefore any attempt at impartiality by the author will wind up being in some way partial to one side or the other.

Merrick's observation is that when it comes to the big events, partiality is more effective a tool for an author to use to convey them than impartiality. Nevertheless (and with a great deal of irony, I must say, given the topic of his article), his conclusion seems to offer a way out for the proponents of impartiality in the AAR by suggesting that for some events it may prove useful, and conceding in an effort to provoke debate, that perhaps he might be wrong. The great thing about Merrick as an article-writer is that one can hardly find a paragraph or sentence in one of his articles which, for the historybook AAR author at least, is not in some way enlightening or thought-provoking. Merrick wrote his article in an effort to provoke debate, and this article can be seen as a contribution to that debate. No Merrick, I don't think you're wrong; I don't think your article goes quite far enough.

Another of my fellow AARlander alumni – DensleyBlair – had been busy this past month working on the history of and common links between the various genres of the AAR. One such common link between two of the most popular genres: historybook and narrative, is the presence of a narrator. We often think of narrative AARs in terms of characters, the narrator often being one of many such characters, but rarely do we do the same for historybook AARs, outside of the historical personages the author mentions who are often characters in their own right. In my view, historybook AARs are just as character-driven as narrative AARs are, the only difference being the types of characters who typically sit in the driving seat: a narrative AAR might be driven by a whole cast of characters, whereas a historybook AAR is driven most of the time by only one, the narrator.

As Merrick reminds us, historians are taught to write objectively – or at least to try to write with objectivity in mind – but to once more echo Gramsci, it is impossible for one to be impartial on each and every possible issue. Furthermore, historians, like philosophers, often subscribe to a particular school or creed which taints their impartiality with the implanted biases which follow the adherence of such a doctrine: for instance, we have Plutarch and the “Great Man” theorists who believe that history is ultimately determined by the actions of so-called “Great Men”, or the Marxist historians, who view history through the prism of class and class struggle. Historians, like the rest of us, often hold political views and betray their individual political biases through their writings. How would, for instance, a religious conservative view the Spanish Civil War differently from a staunch socialist? What would a Marxist have to say about the French Revolution as opposed to a latter-day Legitimist? The result is that historians too often fall into the trap of “partial impartiality.”

Like the “real” historians, the narrators of your respective historybook AARs would be likely to have and hold biases of their own were they real people and not figments of your imagination. Thus, when writing such an AAR, don't merely think of the story you wish to tell, but rather how you wish to tell it. In other words, think of the biases you want your narrator to hold and write your story according to those biases. I find this works best by taking your narrator as what he or she is, a distinct character with idiosyncratic views, beliefs and upbringing all his or her own. Choosing to write a historybook AAR with a contemporary narrator (that is, someone who lived through the timeframe in which the AAR takes place) could well result in a radically different story being told from one written with a 19th, 20th*or 21st*Century narrator in mind. Just as authentic historians subscribe to various schools of thought, so might yours, and this school may influence the entire direction your AAR takes. A Marxist historian type narrator writing about the events of a "Victoria" AAR could well lead to a tale focusing on the trials and tribulations of that nation's individual POPs (similar to Naggy's Canadian AAR) while a “Great Man” type might be more fitting for a reign chronicle similar in style to Tommy's ongoing Egypto-Norse saga.

For "Hearts of Iron" or "East Versus West" AARs, the narrator's nationality or political views might also play an important part: How would an overly-patriotic Russian communist narrator tell a history of the Soviet Union, and how would a Ukrainian dissident tell that same history differently? How would both narrators view Russia's enemies, Germany and/or the US, differently from one another? By taking the concept of the narrator as character and applying it, the author can write two radically different histories from the same base game.

But by far the most important reason for adding a hint of bias into any narrator in my opinion, is that sanitized neutrality is boring, (apologies to any Swiss out there – I'm sure that Switzerland is a perfectly interesting country once you get to know it) both boring to write as well as being boring to read. As you write your AAR, events will take place and characters – historical and fictional – will move in and out of the limelight, and your readers will respond to this. They will take sides, as any avid spectator of theatrical or sporting pursuits often do, and with great gusto. Your readers will cheer for the heroes and boo at the villains, or, depending on how complex your characters are, they'll at times boo for the heroes and cheer for the villains. When it comes to war – a central element of all Paradox games – they'll want your side to do well and your enemies to do poorly – but not too poorly. If your AAR has a political focus, or is in some way Interactive, they'll support particular political parties and factions too, barracking for one side and shouting down their rivals in the process. All of this when done in an atmosphere of good nature and fun helps to add spice to an AAR: it encourages your readers to comment and engage further with the story you're trying to tell, and as any late 19th Century/early 20th*Century street-spruiking salesman worth his salt will tell you, crowds attract crowds. A steady flow of comments can mean the difference between life and death for any AAR – we all know that – so why not encourage your readers to take a side and barrack along?

Now you may well think that taking an impartial stance helps your readers to think for themselves, to understand both sides of the metaphorical story. This isn't the case in my view for two reasons: the first is that your average denizen of AARland is far more intelligent than your average human being, and thus is perfectly capable of thinking for themselves without the author having to do so for them. The second is that by using an obviously biased narrator, you are actually encouraging your readers to question your narrator precisely because they are intelligent, freethinking individuals to begin with, and such individuals are more prone to both noticing when something is “not-quite-right”, so to speak, and openly questioning why that might be the case, than others. Readers are more likely to question the motivations of characters when they feel they aren't entirely being honest when they feel that they are, and as the great PrawnStar himself once said in an AARlander article past (to paraphrase) AARs are in fact a form of dialogue between author and reader. What better way is there to engage in dialogue than to question, and to provoke questions?

The literary device of the “unreliable narrator” is a familiar one with a long and varied history in theatre and in literature, but, while the concept is not uncommonly seen in narrative AARs, rarely do we see the unreliable narrator feature in a historybook AAR. By writing this brief and one may say, biased, article, I hope to provoke some thought and discussion amongst historybook AAR authors – and perhaps of some other genres as well – about how they think about, treat and utilise their respective narrators in their current AARs and future projects. I for one hope to see the concept of the narrator as character feature in more and more historybook AARs in the future.
 
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A long time ago, he was famous for his Polish AAR in the HOI3 forum. However, while most will still remember that AAR, he has moved to the CK2 AAR Forum. Where he is currently very active with a lot of AAR’s. So here I present you, Siempie78!
It seems that you left the Hears of Iron III AAR forum. Ever planning of returning with an AAR there?

Well, it's really all about when I feel like returning there to continue the AARs that I want to continue, namely my Poland and 'Merica AAR. Right now, I'm kinda hooked on CK2, but one day, I'll be finishing my Poland AAR.

Currently you are doing a CKII AAR, The Struggle of the Norse. Can you tell what it is about in short? I mean, you are creating huge empires, and it is going to be a megacampaign, is the goal to let them fight against each other in EUIV?

The Struggles of the Norse is actually a very misguiding name, as I started the AAR playing the empire of Scandinavia, from which the leader is the Fylkir of the Reformed Norse faith. But as it's more meant to be interesting alternative history than a world conquest, I think this can be justified. For example: right now, catholicism is extinct. I could easily wipe out the Byzantine Empire and end christianity altogether, but that wouldn't be any fun. They're the last christians, and when I wipe them out, it'll be shortly before converting to EU4.

As such, my entire CK2 game is about paving the way for EU4 right now. When the game's converted to EU4, we'll see for example that the 'French' nation which holds only the North of France, suddenly receives cores on the entirety of modern France and will start fighting over it. Of course, the partition of France between the true French nation and Aquitane was my doing. I could easily have kept these parts of France, but again, there's no fun in that.

As for my final plans in EU4? Well, I'll be using Iceland to hop into the Americas, and to finish off those nasty Aztecs, while chopping up what's left of the Golden Horde in the east, while Great Britain will probably go for Africa. And every once a while, we'll have a huge war, though this would have to be somewhat historically correct. I guess the true goal is an alternative history where the Norse religion has replaced the current Christian role of dominant world religion, and the Norse culture group is dominant. So… Viking colonization, I suppose?

Now to another CKII AAR of you, grab a pict. It is with the Winter King mod. How would you describe that mod to other CKII Players, and how would you convince them to play it?

I ran into the Winter King when I was on a spree of downloading random mods. It is best described as a mod centered on Northern France, and of course Britannia. The twist? It's set around 430. The Roman Empire is collapsing, while christianity is sweeping across the land.

The mod is stuffed with flavour events adding to the historical feel of your game, and you've got these nice ways of altering history... For example, the Romano-Gallic in Gallia can recreate the Roman Empire, while Britannia is invaded by the Saxons and the Picts and Irish raid one another.

Admittedly, it's not the best mod I ever played. I'd refer you to A Game of Thrones for that. But this one comes second, and its gameplay is refreshing. I'd recommend it especially if you're getting somewhat sick of vanilla CK2 and require something renewing.

You did AAR’s for HOI3 and CK2 now, but what about other Paradox Games, which one do you play, and would you ever do an AAR about it?

I play a lot of EU3 and MOTE at a friend's house, I’d do an AAR about MOTE if I had the game. I like the fact that a MOTE game doesn’t take very long.

And Last but not least, what is your favorite AAR written by your own hand?

To Arms! To Berlin! To WAAR!
While CK2 is easily my favorite game do to its immersiveness and masses of dlc, my First AAR, started while playing Poland (or should I say Koscialkowskia?) was easily my most popular one, and comments about my mad premier Koscialkowski leaked onto other AARs. It was the writing project which started my interest in AARing and modding, and my best training on comedy writing.
Yeah, this is easily my best AAR.

Of course, Like always I give some advice:
Add a border around your images with GIMP or Photoshop, Then the images looks better, while it isn’t that much more work.
And here I have a short review of the struggles of the Norse:
He starts the AAR in an unusual fashion, the Empire of Scandinavia is formed, Brittania is in Chaos on Europe is being raided. He is switching characters for AARing purposes, and his goal is a WC of the Norse religion, not as one empire. Soon Britannia is created together with Scandinavia. He is really just steamrolling Europe, and pretty fast there is no Catholicism left. Then the horde invades. He is currently at that point, and while the horde is strong, He is even stronger…
Siempie’s Inkwell:
Poland AAR: To Arms! To War! To Berlin!
Japan AAR: tales of a co-prosperity sphere, a short HPP Japan AAR
USA AAR: ‘Merica vs the World
The Struggles of the Norse
Grab a pict
 

Derahan

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The Return of the Welfs*is an exceptionally extensive Crusader Kings 2 AAR, starting from the position of the Duchy of Bavaria under the Welf dynasty. It is written primarily from a first-person perspective, allowing the reader to become close to each ruler, which certainly enhances the experience. First-person and AARLand have an interesting relationship, in my experience. On one hand, there is probably a greater percentage of first-person AARs than first-person books. On the other, they are still rare and a good one is rather refreshing.

Tnick0225 shows improvement over the course of his writing. Indeed, considering the first chapter is written in December of 2012, it's rather remarkable the degree to which the quality improves. That said, the beginning chapters are still well written, and are by no means off putting.

The characters are developed so that you are actually interested in them to a degree, not just the events of the game. This is a feat that has traditionally been hard to pull of in an AAR, but it is done here fairly well.

Gameplay is well blended with the storyline, and generally speaking the reader can put the story in terms of what is happening in the game with little difficulty. This isn't necessarily a good or bad thing – but it is certainly an important thing. Different people have different thoughts on whether or not they want the AAR to still feel attached to the game. Personally, I like the way it is handled here. While you can connect story events to the game, it doesn't feel like the story is essentially the game dressed up with a narrative.

There's essentially two ways of doing it that lead to a story that can be easily connected with events in game that a player would be familiar with. A “How can I dress up what happened in the game to sound like a story?” approach, which often leads to a story with little conflict or tension and often ends up reading like a textbook. That isn't to say that it's bad, but it doesn't*feel*like an actual tale. There's also the “How can I reconcile the game with the story I want?” approach, which maintains the same simplicity but allows the story to take on a life of its own. I think this particular AAR falls in with the former rather well.

Overall, The Return of the Welfs is, in my opinion, well deserving of a spotlight in this issue of the AARLander, and something that I think many will enjoy.
 

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A Study of Genre

[HR][/HR]

For the late, great Lou Reed, a true genre-defying genius.

[HR][/HR]

Foreword

You may have noticed by now that this isn't the Magical History Tour (or, if not, you will probably be well on your way to noticing.) Don't fear: that series is more Resurrection than Indies and will be continuing next month.As for this month; well, let me explain why I have decided to take a short break.

First of all, writing and researching the History is a big task, and can take up a lot of my time. Writing this, on this other hand, is a relatively short process – a process which is also (largely) subjective, and therefore allows me to record thoughts straight away – and in a more organic fashion – without the need to keep everything I write completely (which autocorrect just changed to 'simpleton'...) factually accurate.

Secondly; this article will actually eventually form part of the History Tour series as a useful companion article – something which places what I'm researching and you, the reader, are (hopefully) learning into a more modern context. Genre is one of those things that we take for granted – that is, there is a feeling (or I certainly feel) that there is an underlying sense of 'yes, genres exist; we don't need any philosophical articles about them. Let's please leave them be for the good of our sanity'.

Indeed, there is only really a superficial simplicity to genrology (and that, it could be argued, depends which school of thought you advocate.) Yes, it could just be said that there are four genres, but that in itself – something which has been for years taken to be a core tenet of AARland – is contentious.

In this article, I won't be looking at how each genre evolved over time. That is more suited to the main History. Instead, I'll be looking at each of the 'main four' (a term I'll be using a lot – largely so that I don't have to repeatedly type gameplay, history book, narrative and comedy), identifying notable sub-genres (or styles, depending on your personal views – more on that later) and notable AARs. This article will probably be quite scientific (or pseudo-scientific, as the case may be) in nature (and as such I'll probably litter it it's the occasional humorous quip or non-sequitur.) What was it I said about subjectivity earlier?

Hopefully you'll enjoy reading this – even if you outright disagree with everything I have to say. If so, please feel free to say such in this thread (which by no means has to die because this article has been published.)

Thanks,

DensleyBlair

[HR][/HR]

Ideologies

It is important when studying genre to note the many different viewpoints and schools of thought to which people adhere. The authority with which I am able to classify the different schools of thought largely through my experiences with and impressions of posts in my Can you help? thread. Of course, these are by no means definitive groupings, but I think they work well enough.

So, without further ado, I present the Genrological Spectrum of Ideologies!

(Listed from 'right' to 'left' – handily presented using Victoria-style political ideologies.)

Reactionism (or: Uncommon Tern-ism)

Arguably a sub-set of the Genre Conservatives, Reactionaries advocate the existence of only tree true genres, with comedy relegated to sub-genre status. Often, what liberals would consider sub-genres are 'styles'.

Conservatism (or: Not-So-Reluctant Fundamentalism)

Advocates the belief that there are (and always will be) four AAR genres – namely, the 'main four'. They accept the existence of many varying styles, but would not go so far as classing any as genres in their own right. More liberal conservatives (oxymoron count: 1) may acknowledge certain sub-genres.

Centrism (or: Confusionism)

The centrists advocate anything from liberal conservatism to conservatism liberalism. Sits between accepting only the main four as genres in their own right and a complex system involving a plethora of sub-genres (hence 'confusion'.)

Liberalism (or: Accepting All; Excepting None)

Genrological liberals are those who advocate the acceptance of many genres (notably Interactive and Video AARs) and a wide range of sub-genres.

[I don't know of any people who campaign to abolish the classification structure altogether, and therefore there are no anarcho-liberals. Similarly, I don't know of any people who would rather we just called everything a genre, and therefore there are no socialists. If there were, however, I'd bet good money that Belgiumruler would have something to do with it. ;)]

[HR][/HR]

Genres

And finally we get to the meat of the article. In the following few paragraphs, I'll be looking at each of the main four, giving a bit of history and identifying common or notable sub-genres and styles. I'll also look at some of the more contentious genres out there in the dame fashion.

Gameplay

Gameplay AARs were the first to develop after the first proto-AARs. It was a natural progression to go from simply recording a log of events to adding pictures, as well as small explanations for why the author did certain things in the game. Though now often considered the least literarily rewarding, without gameplay AARs, we certainly wouldn't be a part of the same AARland. This small innovation developed gradually by EUII writers led to further, more experimental innovations – which in turn led to genres such as the history book and the narrative.

Today, there exists a large diversity amongst gameplay AARs. At their simplest form, they consist solely of pictures with captions underneath, offering a small amount of insight or rationale. Of these, the most basic will be told from the point of view of the player. Others are told from the points of view of the characters themselves (though I have seen instances in which this was mixed to create AARs where we have characters who apparently understand certain game mechanics giving their thoughts. These might also be tutorial AARs – with examples coming from eminent figures such as Avindian and Rensslaer.

Because of their simplicity, this genre is often best for those who aren't writing in their native language. Often, readers of gameplay AARs come to see just that – the gameplay. It is seldom that an author in these instances will be penalised for poor grammar or inaccurate spelling. This can also make gameplay a popular choice for new writers.

History Book

History Book was the first definite new genre to evolve from the early gameplay AARs – the result of experimentation by early authors who sought to make their own efforts different by writing as if a chronicler or historian.

Essentially, they are a slightly more refined version of the gameplay AAR. The premise of having a historian narrator allows for writers to give reasons for their actions in game into the text – usually altering it slightly so that, instead of just saying 'And lo! the king in his almighty wisdom did implement high crown authority' we would get some idea of a (potentially fictional) socio-political context in which the event supposedly took place.

Because of this propensity to include aspects not strictly in game, history book AARs are often a lot more wordy than simple gameplay works, and (the most accomplished, at least) therefore do often require more control over the language in which the piece is being written on the author's part. Despite this, those who comment on such AARs will likely not be too fussed should the occasional grammatical error occur.

History book AARs are perennial favourites – especially those done well (the work of Tanzhang, Jape, Merrick Chance' and MondoPotato come to mind) and can be very successful, if you're into that sort of thing. Due to being almost a halfway point between full on narratives and gameplays, history books tend also to attract not inconsiderable followings drawn from those who like seeing a game progress quickly, as well as those who are interested in background information and context. I have also noticed that Victoria and Europa Universalis tend to favour this genre more often than other fora.

Narrative

Narrative AARs were, along with history books, amongst the first few works to evolve from simple gameplay. In their purest form, narratives are essentially serialised novels, taking thousands upon thousands of words and full of polished, deft English.

At the other end of the narrative scale, we have what are often termed 'mixed narratives' – AARs which are almost a smorgasbord of different styles in one thread. These hybrids will often contain snippets of narrative – perhaps displayed in the form of a diary – and will combine elements of either history book, gameplay or both. Often, narratives that take long periods of time to write, and might only cover short periods of gameplay. History book sections can therefore be useful in providing a means of advancing the story quickly, whilst still giving readers an idea of what has happened in that particular history. This is a technique I have employed in my own work, which saw about four years pass in the first nine or so months of writing.

Being novels or novellas does, however, mean that narrative AARs are often not as popular amongst those with a less-than-confident grasp of the tongue in which they're writing. This also means that they do require a lot of effort to follow actively. Due to their verbose nature, they are often a big time investment to follow, and are as such not always as popular as other, lighter genres. Indeed, even compared with the popularity of the genre three to five years ago, we are seeing a sort of decline. Epic works of the past by the likes of Lord Durham, CatKnight and canonized which enjoyed immense popularity are rare now. Though the most polished works of narrative do often enjoy success, a narrative writer should expect a small but dedicated following, with only a handful of comments per update.

That said, the feeling of completing a narrative AAR can make the whole process worth it (imagine writing a >50,000 word novel) – and the genre by no means shows signs of waning. There will always be those prepared to write epic pieces of narrative fiction, but all too often we see these works being nipped in the bud by an apparent lack of interest – something common across all fora, though CKII seems to enjoy the highest number of such AARs. (I have written about this phenomena before in this very publication.)

My advice to anyone looking to write a narrative is this: don't expect big things straight away, but don't be put off by this. People will be reading, but often those who do read can find little about which to comment aside from writing techniques.

Comedy

Comedy is interesting as a genre, in that it can be said to straddle each of the other 'big three'. Comedy didn't particularly develop in the way that other genres did – that is, people actively experimenting. Instead, the genre came more from writers adding elements of humour to early gameplay AARs. Indeed, comedy AARs do tend to be gameplay AARs at their heart – possibly with humorous captions under pictures or some sort of narrator who adds a comedic element, whether intentional or not.

And this is the interesting thing. Often, comedy AARs don't set out as such, but will develop over time. A person might begin writing and be told that his style is funny, then seek to develop on that. AARs that start out as comedies are rare, though people such as Peter Ebbesen and phargle crafted and delivered them with aplomb in days gone by, creating hugely popular and successful pieces of work.

When done well, these are the potential rewards for comedy writers – awards and comments galore. When not done so well, comedy AARs can often just revert to gameplay – or even stop altogether.

Stylistically, comedies are often simple. Very seldom will we see actual narratives — more common forms of delivery including dialogue, and the classic gameplay templates. Comedy will often be derived from farcical situations or amusing characters. In-jokes can also prove popular, though aren't always assured routes to a laugh, as can deliberate anachronisms and nonsensical situations. Many comedies can even turn 'Pythonesque'.

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The Contentious Genres

As I have done for the main four genres (and the only real universally accepted genres) I will now look at two of the more controversial genres to have emerged in recent years.

Interactive (IAAR)

Interactive AARs have existed for many years, though have taken time to develop – and have done so in different ways. According to Tanzhang, there are really four different types of interactive AARs, which I shall briefly cover.

Collaborative

Collaborative AARs are essentially narratives written by a group of people all contributing to make one story. These are the oldest sorts of interactive AARs – and, arguably, aren't interactive at all. Instead, Tanzhang proposes, these can either be considered 'proto-interactive' or just collaborative, and fall into two further sub-genres – namely, the MCAAR and the common multiplayer AAR. MCAARs see many people writing to form one story, and enjoyed most popularity during the EU1 and 2 period, with Lord Durham's The Free Company and Ariel's Who Killed Charles Cromwell? These are essentially collaborative writing projects, and seemingly extinct as a genre nowadays.

The latter – multiplayer AARs – involve a write up on an MP game by all players, and often assume gameplay styles. These tend to be popular with HoI players (see the Carnage series) but not exclusively.

Reactive

These were the first real interactive AARs – and the first AARs that we would still recognise as such. These AARs would see commenters form political parties with manifestoes and goals. Other commenters will then vote, and the 'host' will play the game according to the manifesto of the victorious party. This cycle continues until the end of the game.

With these AARs, while some aspects of later role-playing AARs were present (for example, with people creating their own party leaders) it is important to note that the driving force – and main aspect – of these AARs was the commenters voting and reacting to in-game events.

Realpolitik and E Pluribus Unum are notable (and possibly the only) examples of such AARs.

Second Person

Like reactive AARs, commenters in second person AARs get the chance to vote in elections – the results of which determine how the game as out. They differ from reactive AARs, however, in that commenters so not create their own parties and leaders, and do simply vote. Most aspects of role playing are not present in second person AARs, with commenters voting as themselves – though one's can assume the viewpoint of someone else when voting.

These AARs are best seen in Tommy4Ever's interactive AARs, with the latest interactive AAR in these fora – Blood and Iron – created in this format.

Role Playing

Role playing interactive AARs are the furthest away from the conventional AAR. Though they still function with updates and such, players (rather than commenters) assume fictional personae and progress via debates – proposing laws (that may or may not affect the actual game) and actually controlling the game.

This type of interactive AAR is often the source of the most controversy, with many not considering them AARs at all – more Role Playing games befitting more the OT fora than AARland. Nonetheless, they remain very popular, and do have a dedicated following.

The first of these AARs was The Presidents.

Video (Let's Play)

Video AARs have always been controversial in AARland – even more so than the aforementioned RP Interactive AARs. To my mind, this is largely because they are inherently different – there are no readers, as such; they are on a different website; we see the action as it happens rather than reading it afterwards (thereby actually possibly disqualifying itself from being an After Action Report)... The list goes on.

I actually really like so-called 'Let's Plays' when they're well done, though. The work of people like quill18 and Arumba is polished, and the commentary is coherent and relevant. Above all, I believe that actually watching someone playing the game as if in front of you is also the best way to learn (I have never watched an LP for HoI – I have no idea how to play the game.)

Yet they do remain an external, alien world. It seems to me like this is why they are currently not accepted as universally as a standard gameplay piece (essentially, an LP is just a gameplay AAR in video form.) Will they ever be regarded as such? I don't know.

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Thanks

Thank you once again to all of you who helped by contributing your views and opinions – especially Tanzhang for his detailed thoughts and history of interactive AARs. This article would've been a lot harder without you all. And of course, thank you to my magazine colleagues who continue to make the AARlander a fantastic, high-quality publication.

Oh, and thanks for reading. If you were affected by any aspects of this article, please feel free to send shrapnel in the general direction of my posterior either via PM, or this thread.

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Next Month: EU2 – 2003 Onwards: A Look at Greatness
 
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