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Do It Yourself Campsite: A few simple prop ideas

November 7, 2012 Leave a comment

Heylo, folks!  Let’s talk a little about the in-game look to your camp area.

Not everyone thinks to decorate their in-game area, and I fully believe that an in-game campsite adds BUCKETS to the feel of a game.  Sure, you don’t NEED to, and the people running the game will decorate certain buildings where you can hang out.  However, I feel that if everyone puts a little effort into their area, you can have an entire WORLD to play in, rather than go to bed in your out of game area after playing in the one decorated building.

Lighting

Lighting is a really simple way to make your site look in-game, especially at night.  A really few simple and cheap fixes include:

Replace the light bulbs in your cabin with red, blue, or green lights.  This immediately makes the building seem different, without having to hang things all over the walls.

Candles are super-useful, but always make sure that the game and the camp allows them.  Even if they do, make sure your candles are in safe glass/metal containers.  While tapers that are loose are neat looking, they are more likely to catch things on fire.  Try to be sure that all of your candles are safe.

Battery powered lamps can fix up things like tents, but make sure that they are covered with some sort of colored-clear tape.  This way it is not harsh white light, and it looks more like candle-light than anything.

Flags

A few well placed flags outside of your campsite make the place look more like a war camp than a girl-scout cabin.  These are easy to make and do worlds of good for a site.  Simply take a long cloth and fold it in half.  Cut a hole in the center of the fold so that a PVC pipe can fit through it.  Then get yourself some PVC and make a lowercase “t” shape, so that there is a tiny piece that sticks out the hole (this way the flag doesn’t fly off).

Decorate the flag with whatever you want (paint the PVC!) and stab it into the ground somewhere in the camp!

Wall Hangings

These can be as simple as a 5 dollar sheet from Wal-Mart, to as elaborate as a lovely wall hanging that you “borrowed” from grandma.  Tacking or stapling this up on the walls of your tent/cabin/pavilion will change the look of the place enough to help it feel in-game and period.

You can even paint something on your Wal-Mart sheet to make it more in game! Or leave it unpainted and sleep with it later!

Pens

I love my cheap feather pens, and I leave them EVERYWHERE.  They are really simple to make, and having them around a building adds just a little extra detail that will make people feel in-game in your camp, and think you are just super cool.

Simply take a regular, cheap pen and tape a feather to it.  Then take yarn and carefully tape or glue it to the pointy end of the pen (make sure you can still write).

I like to take the point and ink cartridge out of the pen, stick a small part of the yarn in the plastic tube, and then replace the point and cartridge, so that I don’t have to have tape.

Then simply wrap the yarn around the pen until you get to the top, where you tie it off around the feather.  If you want to reverse some tape on the tube of the pen so that the yarn is more stable, you can do that, too!

You can get detailed, like tying intricate knots all along the pen, but since I give these out like candy, I don’t have time.

Cups

If you don’t have your own cup for your camp, simply buy some clear plastic ones.  Make the effort to avoid Red Solo cups, because they just look red and out of game.  The little detail of a clear (and therefore glass-like) cup goes a LONG way towards making your camp not look trashy.

Plastic Water Coolers

Take one of those big orange water coolers and wrap it in fabric.  BAM!  Now you have a water cooler IN YOUR CAMP, and it doesn’t look trashy.  Thus: people want to hang at your cabin and drink water (yum) and it doesn’t look trashy.  Win-Win.

Bottles and Cans

Step 1: Don’t have them.

Step 2: If Step 1 fails, wrap them in duct-tape.  Then you have no red-bull cans sitting around, and it makes it a little more in-game.

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Believe it or not, it is the little details that can help put someone into the in-game mindset, and the little things that can jar them out.  (We had an article about immersion earlier, so I won’t harp.)  You don’t need large, expensive items to add to the in-game feel of the camp: the devil is in the details.

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Hiding Logos on In-Game Gear

November 6, 2012 3 comments

To continue the multi-article topic of immersion, today I would like to talk about brand names and sneakers, and the damage they do to your in-game image.

When you are an NPC, the occasional jeans or sneakers is quite all right.  Sometimes you just forget to pack black slacks and boots.  Everyone has done it, no harm-no foul.  We just kind of assume that NPCs are going to be in the less detailed costumes anyway, as they are probably working out of a bin, and someone already snagged all the good armor.

However, for players, the little things like seeing a brand name on your shoes can make someone forget that they are talking to an impressive mage.  Your image is everything, and you want people to know what you are.  If you have a football helmet on and have made no effort to make it look in-game, I am going to have a lot of trouble taking you seriously.  I just can’t bring myself to be afraid of someone called “Brigard the Barbarian” in Nike Hockey Gear.

Thus, today I have a few quick fixes for gear to make it look more in-game!  If you have any additional ideas, please add them in the comments section.  I love new things.

Armor

Sports padding, sneakers, jeans, and even gloves often look incredibly out of game, and there are really quick, simple fixes for all of them.

The answer, almost universally, is spray paint.  If you want it quick and dirty, hang your armor on a fence post two days before the game, and douse it with spray paint.

Ta-da!  No more Nike on your lacrosse pads (those are a thing, right?).

If you want to get a little more detailed, cut out a neat design from fabric, and glue it onto the armor.  If you do this with pleather, or perhaps even a shiny, metallic fabric, then your armor suddenly looks much less like padding and much more in-game.

Glue/sew some spikes on there.  Maybe cut and shape some cheap metal siding from Home Depot to fit over the bigger parts, so that the shoulders don’t look so rounded and foot-ball-y.  (Be careful with this.  Later I will have to post a tutorial on making safe metal additions to your armor.)

Shoes

As for shoes, try to get yourself some boots/sandals/moccasins that match your costume.  Most can be gotten cheaply at a local large-chain store.  If you can’t afford crappy 10 dollar shoes, or don’t want to WEAR crappy 10-dollar shoes, take a comfortable pair that you have, cut the sleeves off of a tee-shirt, and then tape the edges down to the sole of your shoe.  Wrap the top around your ankle, so that the sleeve covers the entire shoe, and tape it a little around your ankle, or tuck it into your sock.  There, you have hidden your sneaker, and at the low cost of a tee-shirt that probably has a stain on it anyway.

Jeans

There is no useful fix for jeans.  Try to remember your black pants.

Gloves

A lot of people like to wear sports gloves, because we are swinging pipes at each other in the dead of winter, and that hurts your hands sometimes.  Again, cover the logo!  If you can remove it without ruining the gloves, wonderful!  That takes a few minutes, and no money, and thus your outfit looks even better.  If you cannot safely remove it, slap some tape over it.  Sure, it is a quick, dirty, sort of ugly fix, but at least your gloves won’t have a football on them.

Slightly more detailed fixes include sewing patches on the gloves, painting over the logos, or adding pieces of metal.

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Your character stats can say that you are the Lord High Grand MurderFace of Death-ville…  Your outfit, however, says Adidas, Nike, and Hot Topic…  I have a few things to say about that…  First: brand-loyalty, dude!  Second: remember that other players don’t know what is on your sheet.  They can only see how scary you are by your appearance and your actions.  If you want to advertise that you are awesome, make sure that your costume reflects this.  There are very cheap ways of doing so, and you will be that much more badass.