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Skyping The Spillane Way

Saturday, of course, was the first session of Primetime Adventures, with Dan and Sallidar joining Vickie and I via Skype. You’ve most likely already seen the “ads” Vickie and I did up for The Spillane Way, the show the four of us came up with, and seen the wiki page for it. As with the first attempt, the whole first session (around three hours, not including breaks) wound up being pitch, but things still went smoothly. We’ve decided to reunite over Skype on Saturday, August the fifth for the pilot.

A few notes about playing over Skype: Firstly, things take longer than you think or plan for. I reckon it's a combination of not being face-to-face with everyone (I have the feeling the pitch might have gone for about half the time when we were face to face) and a phenomenon similar to the one that happens on long phone calls; you're so busy talking you don't realise just how long you've been talking for. I think a timer near my desk would help; each episode of PtA should have four acts, so allowing an hour per act would allow us to get through one episode per session.

On the other hand, we didn't have anywhere near as many "floor" problems, where people talked across each other, as I was expecting (at least none that were obvious). Vickie wound up with less floor time than Dan, Sallidar and I, so that's something I'll keep an ear out for during the pilot.

Also, I don't think we quite got the "click moment" mentioned in some write-ups of PtA games. Again, I think that was a function of both voice chat time and my still fairly novice skill in keeping the pace during the pitch. Nonetheless, I think our show idea is very gameable; I’m very confident in my ability to cook up a good starting situation for the pilot session and pace things from there on in.

I used a free audio recording plug-in called PowerGramo to record the whole session and am slowly splitting it out into three or four separate files using another freeware app called Audacity. Editing the files is an interesting and complex exercise; I’m stripping out extended silences, bits where Dan’s and Salidar’s kids demand their Dad’s attention and those annoying bits where I say “So, right, ummmm…” God, there’s a lot of those bits, a whole job lot.

There are two other things I’m trying to do: Amplify the sections where Vickie and I are speaking (because as we’re sharing the one microphone placed between our desks we’re a lot fainter than the headset-using Dan and Sallidar) and strip the background hiss out, which I’ve learned the hard way is best left until after the amplitude is fixed (doing it beforehand results in some interesting distortions to Vickie’s and my voices). So I might have to re-do the whole first file again.

I’d like to be able to post the end product somewhere, podcast-style (like those Sons of Kryos podcasts I mentioned a week or so ago); the only problem is, each of those files is around twenty to twenty-five megabytes in size (for around forty minutes of audio), more if I save them as MP3s instead of Ogg Vorbis files. I’d rapidly run out of space on Marcus’ server. Of course, I could chuck him some more dollars every month for more space – and then I’d probably hit bandwidth use issues for the first time ever, which might necessitate yet more cash!

Oh, well; we’ll see how we go. In the meantime, Reefcon is fast approaching; I’ve signed up for a single session on each day, which should give me enough time to hob-nob and meet new gamers. I might even take my recently-purchased perfect-bound copy of Primetime Adventures and a deck of cards with me. You never know...

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