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Keeping Character Journals in (Role-Playing) Games

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Draconifors

Moderator
#1
What is your opinion on the topic? Have you never tried it, do you do it all the time, something between the two extremes?

If you have done it, how did you find it? Fun, boring, a great way in increase immersion, a total waste of time and effort, something else? Also, do you prefer digital or physical format?
If you haven't done it, would you ever consider trying it out?


Personally I think there are two sides to it: on one hand it can be really fun, increase immersion, improve your creative writing skills and of course immortalize your character(s) -- but on the other hand it takes time and effort, and if needing to Alt-Tab out of the game in order to write the journal, it can decrease immersion.

The only game I've done it thus far is Skyrim, and I used a mod to be able to write in an actual in-game journal. It was a lot of fun, and I wrote long entries, but every single time the frequency and length of my entries steadily decreased to a full zero. :(

At the moment I'm thinking I might try keeping a character journal in Cyberpunk 2077, once it's released. In the meantime, I will most likely give that Skyrim journal mod yet another go, and hope that I won't lose interest after a dozen or so entries. :D
 

SigilFey

Moderator
#2
I like the idea of being able to do it. Basically, if there's no auto-journal, I'll use the manual feature. In general, though, I use the manual ones mostly as just a way of making notes to keep track of little side quests.
 

Rawls

Moderator
#3
Personally I think there are two sides to it: on one hand it can be really fun, increase immersion, improve your creative writing skills and of course immortalize your character(s) -- but on the other hand it takes time and effort, and if needing to Alt-Tab out of the game in order to write the journal, it can decrease immersion.
I've done it twice once for TW3 and once for a Mass Effect Trilogy play through. It's fun for documenting your "canon" playthrough. But as you said ... it can be very tedius. I've never had the alt tab issue, because I've always played the game on console with my laptop nearby to type out sections once I'm at a good stopping point.

EDIT: I would not recommend doing it on a first play-through. Learning the pace of the story first is important.
 
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Draconifors

Moderator
#4
I would not recommend doing it on a first play-through. Learning the pace of the story first is important.
Fair point.

But on the other hand, doing it on a first playthrough enables you to record "true" reactions to plot/side quests/etc. without needing to think "OK, I knew this was going to happen, but my character didn't, so how do I write it?".
 

Draconifors

Moderator
#6
I used to keep journals for some of the characters I played on the 360, but like Rawls I used my laptop for the documenting.
 

Loostreaks

Junior Member
#7
Sounds ok, as additional feature, but probably very small percentage of players would actually use it, to the end. Something for really ( and I mean really) immersion fan.
It would be interesting if we could look up to our ID/profile as sort of immersive tracking of player's actions (throughout the game).
 

kofeiiniturpa

CyberPsycho
#9
I don't know about a full journal, the game can keep track of the high end stuff (although, preferably not in a diary or narrator written manner), but I'd love it if there was a manually used notebook feature to keep track of certain stuff myself.
 
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SigilFey

Moderator
#10
I do sort of miss the old games, (like Ultima, Darklands, Wizardry, etc.) where I'd have a notebook and graph paper sitting on the desk. I remember trying to map out the dungeons by hand and making pages of notes. (I also remember feeling that it became obnoxious at times. :sneaky:)

I think my favorite method of "manual journal" was an auto-map that created only a rough depiction of an area as you explored. You could then double-click anywhere to place a marker and leave a note of ~1,000 characters. By mousing over the pips you placed on the map, it would display the note. I remember that working really well. (Can't remember which game it was, though...)
 
#11
Like @SigilFey I used to spend a lot of time journaling in RPGs. It started as a necessity because games like Dragon Wars & Bards Tale had elaborate dungeons and no mapping feature, but eventually I started adding quest details, then moved onto reflections on the story/events, eventually turning into something akin to an character POV expedition journal.

For these I always used graph paper (For the maps), and then would write in the moment observations/reactions in empty spaces, and more in depth debriefings on the next empty page(s). Wing Commander Privateer probably produced the largest journal.

I fell out of practice with it as more games started logging most of this in a way I could reference later.
 

RLKing1969

Junior Member
#12
Short answer: Yes. It is a great aid for GM's , players in character development and, if the game is good enough, good fodder for a short story, a novel or a screenplay.... Oh sorry, I thought you meant for a pnp. My badness.
 

volsung

NetWatch
#13
In Baldur's Gate 2 I actually added a few of my own notes and added custom markers on the map to remember important locations/events/characters, and had a lot of fun writing my own ridiculous journal entries. I think if the game is complex enough to warrant a player's journal, it can be a great, fun experience. Most AAA "RPG's" nowadays are essentially enhanced action games and pretty straightforward so they don't really need it though and I can see why people wouldn't use such a feature.
 

rrc

Junior Member
#16
I do sort of miss the old games, (like Ultima, Darklands, Wizardry, etc.) where I'd have a notebook and graph paper sitting on the desk. I remember trying to map out the dungeons by hand and making pages of notes. (I also remember feeling that it became obnoxious at times. :sneaky:)

I think my favorite method of "manual journal" was an auto-map that created only a rough depiction of an area as you explored. You could then double-click anywhere to place a marker and leave a note of ~1,000 characters. By mousing over the pips you placed on the map, it would display the note. I remember that working really well. (Can't remember which game it was, though...)
The closest I did to what you did was to use my arrows and weapons to mark the map so that I don't go round and round to the same spot in (one of the greatest games I had ever played) Blade Of Darkness. Some of the maps are so confusing and all places looking the same that, I had to waste my precious arrows and weapons (fell from fallen enemies) to mark the map. Though it was not done as a journal on an RPG, it reminded me of this when you mentioned about drawing the maps.
 

Draconifors

Moderator
#17
Looks like the Skyrim journal mod I mentioned has been ported over to SSE, so I'm going to start a new character and see how long I can go before I just can't be bothered to write journal entries anymore.

It's been so long since I last did that I'll probably last for quite a while. Writing about the stuff that happens in the game truly is a lot of fun. :D