evilbeej: (DCU: Skeptical Sandy)
---Circa 1999; Emits by Mitch Shelley, starring Sandy Hawkins--- )
evilbeej: (Skeptical Sandy)
I originally wrote this several years ago and posted on a BBoard somewhere, but I can't remember where. I've since edited it somewhat, but I left most of the snark in because it amuses me and I am a bastard.

...or, Ten Easy Steps To More Cinematic Scenes

Stuff you need before you start:

a) A notebook and a writing utensil, or Notepad or something.

b) Caffeine, unless you're a dirty hippie or on meds.

c) Someone to back you up in case you need it, especially if you have a lot of people there. A lot of people is anything more than three in addition to yourself. For some people it's more, for some it's less.

d) A MU*-program that can log, or someone who can log for you. This part is essential. Your genius must be preserved for posterity, even if in a few years you reread it and decide it should be reserved for your posterior.

Now, down to the nitty gritty.

1) Take stock of how many players are there. If there are more than five, it's more likely than not you'll need that backup, unless your crowd is really patient.

2) Establish a pose order. It prevents people getting cranky because they have to edit poses to accomodate people they didn't expect. Most people use alphabetical or reverse alphabetical if they make up the order before the action starts. An alternate method is letting people free-pose in the first round (one pose per player) and then cementing that.

3) Open the scene with at least the following three things:

a) environment - How's the weather? Is it dark? Light? Smoky? Windy? Hotter than Arizona in August? Colder than an unemployed gravedigger in Montana? Are there crowds of people? Is there music? Is it distressingly silent? Give the players atmosphere, give them something they can see and feel. Use words, they're the props guys for a good movie.

b) locale - Establish your location. What city you're in, what kind of area. Is it a bad part of town? Are the neighbors likely to call the cops on you? Are the cops likely to show up? Are you in a house? Make up some geography, some layout. Even if you're in a warehouse or outside on the street, there's layout. There may be crates or equipment, there may be a limited amount of floorspace or groundspace. If you're by the harbor, people could fall in the water. It's like playing the Sims. You control the whole area.

c) initial action - Anything you might be doing, if you're playing a character and on the scene already. This also applies to NPCs you may be controlling for the purpose of the scene. Give people a reason to be watching, a reason to get involved, a reason they shouldn't just walk on by. If they're there on purpose, like if you're emitting for Batman or something and he's staking the place out, you don't necessarily have to do this part yet. It's fun to make players twitchy from suspense.

4) THIS IS IMPORTANT. As the players pose their positions, get out your notebook and take notes. I swear to god. Write down:

a) Where they are in relation to everyone/everything else.

b) What they are doing, like attacking or fending off an attack, or smoking up in the back.

c) What condition they are in, if they're already injured or if they get that way.

d) Who they're interacting with or watching, if anyone.

5) You and your brilliant dodges. While the players are taking a fucking lifetime to compose their poses, you will have time to work on yours. Since half of it will be a response to everyone else's actions, you can just deal with each character in either its own paragraph (long, stylish style) or its own piece of paragraph. You will not be able to get away with any less than a good, school-style paragraph for responses/results of their actions. The other half is covered in steps 6 and 7, below.

6) Yet more brilliant, your attacks. If you are not playing your own character or emitting a specific villain or somethinggy, you can concentrate on these responses AND ON whatever background thugs or the like that you're emitting, be they zombies, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, hedge ninjas, Japanese schoolgirls, or rabid mind-controlled robotic Welsh corgies.

7) Keep your emitty priorities in order. If you ARE playing your own character or emitting someone specific, take care of the other responses first, and then add what you are doing or saying. It flows better. It's also helpful if you stick a couple of %Rs between the responses and your villain's pose, so people can differentiate actions with ease.

8) Be open to feedback. Be willing to listen if people are telling you that you absolutely suck, as long as they can tell you what they'd rather be doing. Be willing to listen if people are cranky that you're not letting them powergame. Be willing to listen if people are telling you that you're powergaming. Don't get mad. Use your judgement, and pray that your judgement doesn't come from watching Dragonball Z. Generally, if you've got, say, the entire X-Men fighting, uh, Snapper Carr - and he mops the floor with them - then you've got issues and should try to accomodate the saner judgement of your players (though they couldn't be all that sane if they're using the entire X-Men to whomp on Snapper fucking Carr.)

9) End the scene where it feels right, not where you think it should end. Obviously the action needs to either stop entirely or wind down, but after that, don't wheedle for 'one final pose' if the end where it stands looks cinematically cool.

10) Disconnect right after you stop the log. Yes, before anyone can tell you how much you rule. It pisses people off but establishes a sense of enigma around your online persona.

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