Written by | Posted November 13, 2014 – 12:30 pm A Girl and her Dog

The morning of the all hands summon to the Blasted Lands, Aely went for a walk. The late fall air was clear and cool, and leaves crunched under their feet in the less-traveled parts of the streets. She and Roger took the long way around Old Town, south through Tanner Circle and down Bulwarks, across […]

filed under Feature, Roleplay
Turning a Chat Log into a Story
comment 4 Written by on November 16, 2009 – 11:28 am

Running an addon that logs chat conversations is a huge boon to roleplayers, especially if you want to refer back to them for later or out-of-game writing.

I use the addon WoWScribe, which lets you choose what chats you want to follow – for me, I am always logging /say, /yell, /whisper, /guild, and our in character and out of character chats. It saves the logs as .txt files in your WoW directory, and is really quite simple to run.

But when you go into your logs folder and open the chatlog, what you get is something like this:

11/15 23:38:46.890  Arrens says: Do tell Ms. Mathers I send her my regards, would you?
11/15 23:38:51.421  Aelflaed says: Ayeh – I will.
11/15 23:38:59.718  [5. OOC] Yva: a felhound would appear.
11/15 23:39:01.765  [5. OOC] Windstar: O.o
11/15 23:39:06.937  Aelflaed says: Y’r a ponce, sometimes, y’ ken?  <laughs>
11/15 23:39:10.000  [5. OOC] Dravir: Free lunch for puppies?
11/15 23:39:13.734  [5. OOC] Aelflaed: and it would eat them?
11/15 23:39:16.859  [5. OOC] Yva: oh yes.
11/15 23:39:21.734  Arrens looks at Aely incredulously.
11/15 23:39:26.562  Arrens says: I…I am?
11/15 23:39:32.078  [5. OOC] Yva: flaadhun is a good egg.
11/15 23:39:37.000  Aelflaed says: Yeh – ye air.
11/15 23:39:46.031  Arrens says: I…but…why?
11/15 23:39:51.671  Aelflaed says: Ponce’s… sommat uppity, an’ proper.  too proper.
11/15 23:40:03.234  Aelflaed says: Poofter’s sommat wha’s buggerin’ somebody else.
11/15 23:40:16.609  Arrens says: I…see…
11/15 23:40:22.906  Arrens says: That would explain…
11/15 23:40:26.375  [5. OOC] Aelflaed: Aely attempts to explain Lordaeron slang to Arrens
11/15 23:40:27.671  Arrens says: Nevermind.
11/15 23:40:29.343  [5. OOC] Aelflaed: this should be fun.
11/15 23:40:36.625  [5. OOC] Windstar: >.>

While you get the basic idea, there’s a lot of extraneous… fluff. And text. And things that aren’t in-character conversation. So obviously the first step is to clean all of that out. (The OOC chatter, while amusing, doesn’t actually help anything with making a story in this case, with the exception of one line. I”ll leave that line in.)

Arrens says: Do tell Ms. Mathers I send her my regards, would you?
Aelflaed says: Ayeh – I will.
Aelflaed says: Y’r a ponce, sometimes, y’ ken?  <laughs>
Arrens looks at Aely incredulously.
Arrens says: I…I am?
Aelflaed says: Yeh – ye air.
Arrens says: I…but…why?
Aelflaed says: Ponce’s… sommat uppity, an’ proper.  too proper.
Aelflaed says: Poofter’s sommat wha’s buggerin’ somebody else.
Arrens says: I…see…
Arrens says: That would explain…
[5. OOC] Aelflaed: Aely attempts to explain Lordaeron slang to Arrens
Arrens says: Nevermind.

I left the one OOC comment in, somewhat as a stage direction. It tells me what Aely is thinking/trying to do. Sometimes those things happen in OOC chatter, and it’s good to leave them in a log if you think you’ll need them.

The next step is to consolidate what people are saying, down to one “Soandso says:” per statement. You may also need to rearrange what is said a little bit, especially in a huge group. If there are 12 people talking in three conversations, it’s better to group the conversations slightly than remain true to the chatlog, simply because it’ll make the resulting fiction bits easier to read.

Arrens says: Do tell Ms. Mathers I send her my regards, would you?
Aelflaed says: Ayeh – I will. Y’r a ponce, sometimes, y’ ken?  <laughs>
Arrens looks at Aely incredulously.
Arrens says: I…I am?
Aelflaed says: Yeh – ye air.
Arrens says: I…but…why?
Aelflaed says: Ponce’s… sommat uppity, an’ proper.  too proper. Poofter’s sommat wha’s buggerin’ somebody else.
Arrens says: I…see… That would explain…  Nevermind.

Ok. So now we have a combination of emotes and chat, arranged in proper order, with each person’s “lines” consolidated. This, by itself, is imminently readable, and can probably be posted to a forum or blog and people will get the idea.

Which is good, because doing that for an entire evening’s conversation can take a few hours (no, I’m not kidding!).

The final step is by far the most time consuming.

Because this is a conversation, and not actual fiction, you’ve got a number of things to adjust for.

  1. There are no stage directions. This could happen anywhere, while the two characters are doing anything. It’s a peripheral conversation, and it needs to be grounded in a setting to make sense.
  2. The emotes are sometimes separate from text, and sometimes incorporated in it.
  3. Some of the text is on its own, with no emotion, expression, or movement.

So, once you start working with all of those things, you get something like this:

Arrens looked relieved to hear that she was alright, even if he was getting the news at a pirate hideaway in the bluffs near Stromgarde. It wasn’t the most glorious of safe houses, but at least it lived up to being safe. He managed a weak smile.

“Do tell Ms. Mathers I send her my regards, would you?”

Aely smiled back. “Ayeh – I will.” She paused, an impish look creeping into the corners of her eyes, and she laughed. “Y’r a ponce, sometimes, y’ ken?”

He looked at the paladin incredulously. “I…I am?”

“Yeh – ye air.”

The grin remained plastered on her face; Arrens’ confusion was just as easily written on his. “I…but…why?”

Explaining Lordaeron slang wasn’t something Aely had to do often, but fortunately this one wasn’t hard. “A ponce’s… sommat uppity, an’ proper.  too proper. Poofter’s sommat wha’s buggerin’ somebody else.”

Arrens blinked, color flickering around the edges of his cheeks. “I…see… That would explain…  Nevermind.”

And there you have it. A silly little conversation turned into something that could be used in a story.

Doing this kind of thing is tedious, especially for long conversations. Right now I’m working on the confrontation that happened between Bricu and Aely last Friday night (there were teeth rattled) – and it’s enormous. The chatlog at stage 3, after consolidation and removal of all the extraneous junk, was over 6,000 words. And, as you can see, turning it into fiction ADDS words.

But the end result, when you get an amazing piece of character development out of it, and something more permanent (and sharable) than just retelling “what happened in game”, is definitely worth it.

So give it a try.

Next time there’s a particularly awesome conversation that happens IC, think about turning it into a fiction piece. If nothing else, it’s free blog fodder! (Just check with the other people involved to make sure it’s ok!)

annas

As an aside, chatlog programs don’t work if you’re not actively logging the channels. That’s why I never turn mine off, and just go through once a week and save them as new files. The .txt files are small, and I’d rather be “over logging” than go back to try and find something only to discover that I’ve lost it.

Also, many thanks to Arrens for being my unknowing guinea pig this morning. He’s an awesome RPer, and if you don’t read his blog, you should!

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4 Responses to “Turning a Chat Log into a Story”

  1. I’m doing this right now, with some stuff that happened to Shaurria last night. Without the chat logs though, since I don’t use stuff like that. I’m thinking I really ought to look into it, it looks easier than screenshotting chat boxes in-game.

  2. I’ve never tried WoWScribe; I might give it a shot. I know that plain chatlogging with flagRSP turned on produces an epic amount of xtenstiontooltip2 channel spam. Up until, I’ve been using an awesome out-of-game chatlog parser that a friend and fellow Boomstick developed (http://fishsticks.fobby.net/wow/rp/calsh/chatlogparser.php).

    As a side note, I am forever forgetting to turn on chatlog, then remembering midway through important RP and frantically scrolling up through my chat window, screenshotting madly. I’ve had to reconstruct parts of conversations from memory after the fact because I missed a screenful of important dialogue, or a key emote.

    By Corise on Nov 16, 2009 | Reply
  3. WOW I had no idea these scribing addons existed!!! I’ve just been tediously taking screenshots and compiling them, and that’s quite a distraction to rp. Thanks for the heads up!!!

    By Molly on Nov 17, 2009 | Reply
  4. I’ve done this once or twice with Flinthammer Hall, like with the fishing story, which grew out of smack-talk in guild chat.

    http://www.flinthammer.org/2008/05/05/rather-be-fishin/

    My wife pointed out afterward that I really did need to just run a chat log mod and now that you’ve reminded me, I will!

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