Radio really turned out to be an exciting and fun project, I seriously lucked out in getting such a cool group to do it all with. The core of the show was a live D&D adventure, so the bulk of the project was fun as hell when we played through our noir story. The adventure was to solve a murder in a city full of corruption. We talked, sneaked, and fought our way to the truth behind the conspiracy. It was even an authentic investigation since Matt, our DM, was the only person to actually know the story. It was also a great dynamic way to bring life into our noir characters as they responded to situations as they unexpectedly arrived. I got to expand Jim Sardic’s personality through example, which turned out to be a very memorable way to deepen a character’s experience.
I suppose the most difficult aspect of the show was the background stuff. Setting up the mics was interesting. We signed out some serious gear from the school and set aside a study room in Mason Hall to set everything up. It took a while to get all the recording equipment where it needed to be, adjust levels to account for the party members moved around in their seats, and get all the feeds to record into the memory. We had to stop recordings every once in a while to make sure everything was still working correctly and everyone was still being recorded. The files were uncompressed as well, so during those breaks we would transfer all the recordings into a larger hard drive to make more room. Luckily it all went smoothly once we had our system in place. There was only one real hiccup, where we went through about 15 minutes of content before we realized the mics were off. That didn’t even show up in the actual radio show though, it was of a later point in the story.
The full D&D game took a long time to make. The clip we put up for the radio show was the first episode of many. Throughout them we continue to investigate the murder. It took a few days, but eventually we solved it and defeated the killer in his mansion. In total, I think there’s about 10 hours of content, each split into 1 hours episodes. Not all of them are edited yet though; it turned out to be a lot more content than anyone anticipated. It will be a cool thing to have once it’s finished, the complete set of our adventure.
Looking through the comments on my group’s sites on our show, I was pleased to see that people really seemed to like the show. I felt like we were hogging time by taking a full day’s worth of radio show broadcast time, but I’m glad others in our class enjoyed it. The two shows I listened to, NOIR Not the Father, and Dinner Party at Six, were both fun to listen to as well. It was great to see the vastly different takes each group had on the project. NOIR Not the Father was also a murder investigation scenario, but extremely different in its approach. The investigation was in the style of a game show of sorts, with the moderator examining evidence, testimonies, and the suspects responses to them. It was a classic noir story of deceit and crime, and we got to see it through the lens of the aftermath. It acts like the epilogue of a story, and we’re getting to glimpse in with the details and evidence that the investigators managed to find. Dinner Party at Six, alternatively, was more of a live show. I love the format that these kinds of shows use, with the written story being unveiled live on the radio show. It was a murder mystery, with the motives behind the potential murders slowly unraveling for us as time goes on. It was reminiscent of the movie version of Clue; nobody knew who the dangerous one among them could be. There were technical mishaps; the group was communicating through skype and the various call sound effects came up sometimes in the show. It wasn’t too much of a problem though, since it was mostly just in the beginning. If I were to suggest anything, it’d be to either edit out those parts or just plan out the recording technique among everyone to avoid technical background stuff bleeding through. Regardless, I enjoyed the show a lot. Murder mystery is a great backdrop for a noir story, and this was a good rendition of it.
Overall, I enjoyed the hell out of the radio weeks. I had a great group who I got to know over a very social game, all while expanding my character’s personality and depth in an improvised, interactive story. And after that, I got to listen to some other cool shows, and see all the different ideas people came up with when they had such artistic freedom. Here’s hoping video will be just as interesting!__________________________________________________________________________________________ Radio Listen In – NOIR Not the Father
This week I listened in to NOIR Not the Father, a crime investigation radio show. The show took the form of a mock trial, or live public investigation of the murder of a woman, Jackie Steel. The two suspects, or contestants in this case, are the the woman’s husband, Billy Steel, and her extramarital lover, Mick. The show consisted of of a moderator, Stella Vaughn, who asked each suspect questions regarding their relationships to the woman and their potential motive for killing her. Unbeknownst to either Billy or Mick, one of them was the father to Jackie’s unborn child.
Throughout the questioning, we learn that these two men were in a love triangle with Jackie, and that Billy’s marriage with her had all but collapsed years ago. He goes so far as to say that when he found her dead in their home, he made himself dinner before calling the police. Mick had fallen in love with Jackie recently and believed the child was his. It turns out that neither of the two men were the child’s father; it was a third man who impregnated Jackie. In the end, we learn through polygraph that it was Billy, Jackie’s husband, who murdered her. Billy was taken away by the guards, and Mick was free to leave.
The show was entertaining. It’s a classic noir formula: there’s a murder, an investigation, an affair, and perhaps Jackie acted the femme fatale in life. There was a twist in the formula in that the whole story is presented in the format of a game show-esk trial. As Stella Vaughn questions the men and presents evidence, an audience reacts to the revelations throughout the show, gasping, yelling, and cheering accordingly. In the end, it wasn’t much of a surprise that Billy was the guilty man of the two, since he did not try very hard to act like he cared his wife had been killed. It was quite the twist though that neither of the suspects were the father of Jackie’s child.
The commercials in between segments of the show were very entertaining. Many of them were morbidly funny takes on what was going on in the show. For example, there was a commercial for a cleaning service that would essentially help cover up murders. I got a good laugh out of those ads. Overall, it was a very enjoyable show. I liked how the narrative of a noir story was condensed into the trial of everyone who was involved after the fact, and presented as evidence. It was a cool way to tell the story.__________________________________________________________________________________________ Dun-noir-geons and Dragons
So the D&D noir session went excellently! We all had a great time recording our game, which was expertly written by Mat, our DM. On the night of our first session, we set up some serious audio equipment, borrowed from UMW, in Mason hall and went at it.
We all converted our noir characters to D&D 5th edition characters beforehand, but nobody except Mat knew what the story would entail beside the basic premise. So the whole narrative was authentic in the sense that we each treated the situations through their characters as they came up. It was a lot of fun to role play through the scenarios that were presented in the perspective of a noir archetype character. In my case, I got to play the role of the private investigator, contracted to help Ellen’s character, who is trying to uncover the conspiracy behind the murder of her husband. The story is very classic noir; we’re all trying to solve this murder, and all the while there’s this sense that we’re in way over our heads.
It starts the way any proper D&D campaign starts, at a inn. Each of us were there for our own reasons, and we all found each other as the narrative drew us in. As a D&D plot goes, it’s certainly on rails, meaning it’s a specific story rather than an open world to explore. But this is fitting toward the noir genre. The protagonists of noir often are dragged deeper and deeper into the machinations of the people behind the conspiracies, and that’s definitely the feel of what’s happening with our characters here.
We each did a bumper and commercial for the episode. Here’s mine:
We’re going to finish the story, though that’s a lot more hours worth of content than we could fit into one episode. So we’re going to finish the story and release the recordings in one hour increments until we get the whole thing out. It’s going to be fun as hell to complete, and hopefully just as fun to listen to.
For the upcoming radio show, our group will be playing and recording a game of Dungeons and Dragons. The game will be set in the D&D world, but our adventure will be focused on a noir themed story. Each of our noir characters will be adapted to the D&D world, so we’ll get to actually play as our characters! This is exciting for me since my character, Jim Sardic, has access to a portal between worlds. So I don’t even have to change him to fit the universe; I can actually just have him enter the world as himself.
Transferring Sardic to a character sheet was a fun process; it allowed me to really flesh out what he’s actually capable of physically doing in his investigations. I was a bit difficult picking out a class for him. I was stuck for a while between a wizard and a rouge. I could have made him a wizard, saying that through his experience dealing with the Puncture and the technological/magical artifacts he’s found allow him to essentially act as a wizard would. But I ended up setting him as a rouge, since it’s more fitting to the noir side of Sardic’s story and character. A wizard would have been fun, but my character, and his world, was already leaning heavily toward the sci-fi/fantasy aspects of the story. It was time to focus more on the noir.
Ellen O’Brien, Max Johnson, and I have all discussed the logistics of this adventure with the rest of the D&D party and the DM, so we’re all on the same page for how the adventure should move thematically. All that’s left is to get together, roleplay our characters, and see where we take ourselves. We have some good archetypes for the story. Sardic is the classic detective character with his sci-fi twist. Ellen’s character is playing the femme fatale. We even have a morally virtuous character who will be dealing with the corrupt world as we investigate a murder. I’ve played quite a bit of D&D before, but not to such a direction in noir in terms of the role playing. It should be quite interesting. We’re meeting at the convergence center tonight to do the adventure; I suspect we’ll all have a lot of fun.__________________________________________________________________________________________