Spotlight: Hella XP Actual Play

This might be helpful…

Heya Podcast-Amigos… (I only have a couple tricks.)
Here’s a new podcast format I’m exploring, the Actual Play. This is a podcast recording of me and some friends playing an improvised game for public consumption, and editing it to make it even more consumable.

I need help with…

Is it interesting? Does the story encourage you to want to know more? How’s the sound design? Levels of audio? Distinction of voices? And my personal inadequacy: how do I sound? Comfortable? Annoying? Judicious? Mean?


Moe P

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Thanks for putting yourself out there @MoeP !

Podcasters, have you seen the Tuesday spotlight opportunity? Audio Spotlight

My thoughts…

  • very much not my cup of tea :slight_smile: that said…
  • it was very clear what I was getting into; music set the tone, description of what the show is, the episode, etc.
  • but by a couple minutes in, the music bed is far too loud… I’m not great at mixing, but I’d want that much quieter. I’d suggest the focus be on the voices, and the music needs to be just audible in the back…
  • at points I think the different voice tracks were different too—you sound quieter then your other hosts… but not sure; that might just be the difference in the color of the voice tracks…
  • I like the sounds of the dice… little touches like that are engaging.

Hope that helps.

Updated to add: I actually was listening to Episode 3 — not Episode 1 as appears in this platform’s preview of the link you’ve shared. Not a problem, just wanted to be clear about what I had listened to.


…for the first part of your topic, “something helpful.” Can you dig deeper?

What’s something you’ve learned in your podcasting journey that you can share to help someone else learn?

Podcasters, that first part is part of the Spotlight challenge itself, Audio Spotlight

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What have I learned… not to enjoy listening to my voice while editing. LOL.

What I’ve learned is that you’ll work super hard on your first episode, but you’ll ‘find’ a comfortable place with your pod by and by. As you do it, there will definitely be a level of discovery. Not just from feedback, but also in the doing.

Moe P

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@supporters? …this topic could use some more attention I think :slight_smile:


Hey @MoeP

I listened to the opening minutes of the Beer Wars episode, and my question for you is: Who is this podcast for?

If it’s for people who already enjoy LARP and other roleplaying games, I’d expect more geeking out about the game-maker specifics, how elaborate is your set-up, what does it ‘look’ like to play.

If your goal is to get people interested in this kind of gaming, an introduction up-front about basics for how someone comes into this kind of game would be helpful.

Right now, it seems like your listener needs a lot of insider knowledge to stay involved with the episode. I had trouble understanding what the experience of playing the game feels like for players. It felt more like I sat down at a nearby table and was overhearing something than I was a person invited to the table as an observer.

Is there an opening hook to let me know what this is and who it is for?


Thanks for your feedback @Kato . There is a whole genre of these Actual Play podcasts, the biggest of which being Critical Role and Dimension 20. What I hear is that my response to some of these podcasts taking 5-10 minutes to ‘start’ with the catch up, small talk and promote products, I’ve maybe dove in a little too quickly.

My approach isn’t unusual, a lot of this style of pod does this. But I’m hearing it’s also not approachable for people new to the format. That’s going to stop me from growing my audience beyond people who already want to listen to these… but who might have enough to listen to.

That’s a great note. It makes me question my next assumption: Do people who’ve never heard of these, want to become listeners? Or am I simply speaking to the narrow loyal few? A similar podcast I’ve guested on is called Stories RPG (An Actual Play particularly designed for kids, pre-teens in particular), and it’s audience is skyrocketing, but it’s an offshoot to a podcast that is already huge. So where as the Stories RPG audience is growing exponentially, weekly, It could be that kids are more inclined toward this format, they do it better, they onboard listeners better than I do or some mix of the three.

Hmm. Wheels are spinning. Thanks!

My question is, what makes your show remarkable? What is the special thing that you and your gaming cohort bring that will hook people on your project? Why would people seek out your podcast in a heap of similar content?

Maybe you state up front that you are cutting thru to the game-play without the chit-chat, or maybe you will help others understand how to host a game…?

Being as specific as possible about who you intend your listener to be and providing a useful experience is essential as you develop your project.

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That’s absolutely a great question. Most of these shows are D&D, so this falls into the smaller subset of Indie Games, and it’s got some sound design distinguishing it further. (Many of these games are first broadcast on Twitch in real time, and include a video component.)

So on the one hand, it’s a very niche of a niche market product, and it’s been a bit slow starting building audience. On the other hand, we’re playing a game I designed and published, and about 2 dozen people who are on my game design mailing list listen and comment via email. So it’s definitely a niche thing, but it’s also marketing for a product that has a re-release coming in the spring.

I’m trying to keep this in mind as I slowly build the audience because I still want the show to be good and accessible. We’re definitely thinking of playing a more popular game for the second session, before jumping into another game designed by me or one of the players.

Thanks to your feedback, I’m working on adding some narration context for future episodes, and I may re-upload the previous 4 w narrative framing.

Hey @MoeP

As I understand more about the game and what you’re looking to do, I get a sense that it might be two different projects that intertwine. One project is the game-cast for the inside lane, and one is the outside lane that is about how your game works and introduces people to the possibilities of what the game can be for them.

How you developed the game and how you are gearing up for the relaunch is compelling content, for sure. Might this be a limited series kind of feature?

Definitely keep experimenting and getting solid audio. That is always fun. And the tighter and defined your niche, the more you can lean into serving those listeners.

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I’ve definitely considered that. But between my paid pod work, my Kid’s Podcast (BunnAmigos) and pitching for new business, I don’t have any bandwith for new.

Actual Plays help sell your game because people get a sense of how the game ‘feels’ and people who play Indie Games are in it more for the feels and less for the hack and slash.

I do temporarily host a RPG Designer Interview spot on the RPG Academy channel, (Show & Tell) but I’m not sure how much time I have to do even that! It has helped me immensely be more comfortable on mic, but the work-work has to get done. I fancy doing a couple articles on the community and it’s diversity, but that’s a ‘when I have time’ thing too.


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