Writing an AAR.
An After Action Report (AAR) is story given by the player on their game play from a single custom battle to a single player campaign. The idea is to give the reader some sense of the game being played in story telling fashion. The style is up to you! The most recent Gahzette 7 on pages 21-22 Warmaster Horus offered some tips for an AAR.
Being a real noob when I started my first PBEM and AAR the whole process was new to me but not that difficult. I did a lot of searching through the forums to get answers. I thought I would share without getting technical so I am adding this sticky for anyone new who would like to post an AAR and have an idea how the process works.
First pick an interesting topic such as the faction being played, maybe one that is not too common or add interest in the story to make an alternate history. A sort of what if this had happened in history scenario?
Before playing make some ground rules that will bring a challenge and make your story interesting to the reader. You would not want to have the game over in 20 turns and the victory conditions met or maybe you would. I guess itís how it presents its self will make it an interesting read. When you establish the ground rules try to stick with them.
Now you ready to play. It is important to remember the commitment and you wonít want to leave your readers hanging. Not only will there be the game play involved but you have to plan for the editing of screen shots, the write up and then posting.
You create the narrative from your game play. Depending on what is happening in the game or your style you can cover a few turns or many turns.
A picture is really worth a thousand words and your screenshots could well explain the situation that happened in the game with little narrative. Also you may have a reader who does not have the game and can give them a picture of what is happening with certain screen shots.
When you do write your narrative you should try to keep proper grammar and sentence structure so the viewer can navigate through your story easily. Also it is a good practice to use Word or other program to type your narrative and then copy and paste in to the post. That way you can catch tipos and speling mistakes!!!
There are several methods for capturing screenshots in the game. The MTW II has a file that will store your screenshots when you hit the print screen. The file name is tgas. Every time you hit the print screen it will store in the tgas folder. I did not have much success with this option and went for one of the freeware programs offered on the net.
There are several programs out there and they are free that will help you capture screen shots without interrupting the game play. It is a matter of preference and there are several posts in the org on the topic. When the screen shot is taken it will go to an assigned folder and are there ready for editing. Here is some discussion on taking screen shots.
When you have a screenshot that you are wanting to post you will have to save in a jpeg file. Most will be saved in jpeg but you may want to edited or scale down the screenshot. In this case you will use a program like MS Paint that will change the file to a bitmap. When you have the final product you can save it back to jpeg.
MS Paint is not the only program any of the photo programs like Adobe Photoshop also work for editing screen shots. A photo program may offer you more editing choices like black and white images. Again there are personal preferences and what resources you have available to you. Here is a link recommended for editing and it's free:
When you have your screenshots ready to post they have to be uploaded image to a site. There are several provided and are free to register. Some sites that are used by org members: imageshack, photobucket or picadoodle. On the site you would create a folder and upload the screen shots on to the server from the file on your computer. Now that your photos are uploaded you are ready to post. Here are some links:
When you create your post you will be combining your narrative with the pictures. Some like to post the screen shots with the narrative and other will use tags to hide the shots. A mixture of the two works well for viewing.
The screen shots will be placed in the post by copying the IMG link from where the screen shot is stored. A link is created to your post from the image server. Then every time the post is viewed images that are linked get downloaded to the post. Your images are never stored on the Org server and you canít paste an image directly into your post. You can copy and paste your text just not images. Just a note you cannot link more then 50 images into one post and therefore would have to tell your story over several post.
A note on the downloading depending on your internet provider it does take some bandwidth. I was using a Basic DSL with a 2 G bandwidth. This was sufficient for internet use and email. I did very little with up/down loading. After a few post combined with my internet usage I was just over the 2G and incurred some extra cost. I just upgraded my service and it was no longer an issue. Just so you are aware if you do not have a lot of bandwidth in your current package. I would hate to see a good story started and not finished because of cost.
The AAR does need some commitment to finish. Therefore I would recommend that you plan out your time knowing that so much game play will mean twice that for getting the story edited and posted. A little planning will ensure that you will have success in completing the AAR. A single player campaigns are interesting because of the depth but maybe try a custom or historical battle. The time involved is minimal and you can create a finished product for posting rather quickly.
Good Luck and looking for the next AAR!