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This month's topic:
To Readme or not to Readme?

A Kami story is not made in one day. (Unless it has 6 scenes, 7 "borrowed" bitmaps and 1 music file, but I'm talking about real stories here.) It takes time to plan out, to code and to draw. Some people can't do it all by themselves, so they use pieces of other people's work; the most common example is MIDI music, wich nearly all Kami makers (including myself) take from freeware CDs or websites.

In the case of taking things like pictures or sounds that you know the author of and you know that they were not made to be re-used, you should ask permission, and of course give the author credit.

And even if you're not using anything that you have to give credit for, you often want to give your reader some extra information, like the things that inspiered you, how hard it was to make this story, wether and when to except next parts, and so on.

And here's where it begins. For there are two options; You can add a few extra scenes at the end of the story. Or you can make a separate little file called, say, README.TXT, with all the info in it.

You can, of course, forget it and give the readers just the story, without any extras. However, they will most likely want some background info or stuff. I say most likely because I'm not sure; Nobody said that they didn't want extra info. Kaze Neko wrote "I'm kinda dissapointed if a story don't have some extra stuff at the end", and that is also my opinion. (Hey, if I actually agree on something with that character, it has to be everyone else's opinion too. ^^)

So: end of Kami or separate text file? What do the makers of Kamishibai think?

Most of them claim to choose both methods: "I've tried putting it at the end of the story and also in a text file.", says Chibi-Alex. However, this doesn't mean that they repeat things twice. "First, the detail of the readme should be taken into consideration. If its a long twelve page essay on how you wrote your kamishibai story, you should consider a) dedicating a page on your homepage to it or b) including it a seperate file. If it's a simple, 'Please excuse my bad artwork' then including it at the end of the story should work fine." is Firefly's opinion. ARK also points out: "If what you want to say is directly related with the story, and is short, it should be included in the final scenes."

Sailor Dragon sums it up nicely: "I kinda like a little blurb inside the kami, and I like an in-depth readme included in the file."

We should also remember that including readmes in the story lets you put pictures or sounds with them (important if you're making an advertisment for another story). Of course, as always in Kamishibai, too much fancy stuff means too much taken space (slow connection/small dics owners whine here). "However, you are almost garaunteed more people will read the readme if it's included in the game." (Firefly). Chibi-Alex even put a little interactive reamde at the end of Vision Quest 1. You can click on one of four different opinions and see the author's reaction.

Firefly's Questors has quite a few interludes, that you can choose to see or not, mainly explaining the Japanease words. (However, in Q7: Kita's Path there was a... um... different interlude... If you read it you know what I mean. If you haven't, what are you waiting for?!?!?)

The hugest extra info ever is probably at the end of Sailor Dragon's "This Is hAVoC"; short profiles for all the characters. (And there are about 10 of them, I think). Large in scenes, but not size. Sailor Dragon had a very good idea of making a single bitmap for that entire section.

The biggest surprise is that, despite what the authors say, readme files aren't common at all. In fact, I belive I've seen two or three in all of the stories on OW. Could it be that no Kamishibai artist has any special thoughts to share with thier beloved readers? Not nesseseraly; it's also quite possible that they choose Firefly's option a) and put in on their webpage, for each and every writer present on the Message Board has one.


P.S. This article may seem like doing a big fuss over nothing, but I'm writing it to try out this method of getting everyone's opinions and writing an editorial using them.

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