Q: Is everything we hear really improvised?
A: Yes…and no. The narrator and all non-player characters are reading from a script that is derived from the role play session. When the players play a campaign, they are recorded in that moment, so most of the time, their lines are improvised on the spot. Sometimes somebody can’t make it to a session so the game master “plays” for them. Later, the player will fill in an approximation of what the character might have said in that situation. Sometimes there are microphone malfunctions and a players session has to be recorded again. Sometimes players will forget to say what they do in-character, or a background noise ruins a line of dialogue. We strive to have the show be as improvised as possible, but sometimes we have to make concessions to move the story forward.
Q: Why does it sound like someone is inside when they are outside/ Why does that character sound weird?
A: We strive to keep make the audio as immersive as possible, but we don’t have the equipment for superb recording quality. We are just regular working folk with limited access to sound equipment. Sessions are recorded in peoples homes and bedrooms, and sometimes the microphones we use pick up room ambiance which can’t be separated from the dialogue. One player even lives in the heart of San Francisco next to a fire station! Long story short, we record in sub-optimal conditions because it’s our only option.
Q: How is an episode created from start to finish?
A: We meet online, turn on our microphones, and start playing in-character as much as possible. After the session, each player sends their recordings to Paul. Paul adapts a script to all the usable audio that was recorded, and makes each usable sentence a unique mp3. Paul begs and pleads his friends to record voices for any non-player characters that may have been in the session. Paul arranges hundreds of mp3s/sentences of dialogue/sound effects in order. If required, Paul writes music to enhance the story further. The finished mp3 with everything in it is sent to an online mastering house, where they make it sound better. The episode is released as soon as possible!
Q: How much usable audio do you get from a typical session?
A: There’s typically 10-15 minutes of usable material in a two hour session.
Q: Will there be hypercuts of different role-playing games?
A: We sure hope so. That’s the plan, but it all depends if we can find support. Right now it costs time (about 40 hours a week) and money (web fees, mastering fees, initial costs of microphones, art, web building software, legal fees, etc.) to make this show and it isn’t sustainable without some kind of listener support. We’re just humans with jobs and problems like everybody else. The more support we get, the more stories/better recordings/better sound effects/better everything.
Q: What are the plans for the future of Sonic Realms? What's your mission?
A: You can read our mission statement here