The October Interviews!
A month of great conversations
During the month of October, I sat down and did interviews with some amazing people from the old-school gaming scene. I thought I’d list them all in one spot and talk a little about the process I followed to get the interview booked, researched, recorded, and to your ears. Keep in mind that this process will certainly change over time but this is how it went for now.
Who did I talk to?
Chris Gonnerman - Basic Fantasy RPG
Greg Gillespie - Barrowmaze
Nick Hewitt - ofsleepingbear
Save for Half Cast - Save For Half Podcast
Matt Finch - OSRIC, Swords & Wizardry
Ray Otus - Plundergrounds
Gavin Norman - Old School Essentials
Dan Proctor - Labyrinth Lord
Hankerin Ferinale - Runehammer, ICRPG
How did I organize it?
I had pinged Chris, Matt, and Dan via Facebook as I had wanted to make sure I could get the creators of the four original OSR games. I emailed the Save for Half cast directly, Hankerin I reached out to via Twitter, Save for Half via email, and Ray via discord. Nick, Gavin, and Greg all saw me posting about looking for folks to interview and reached out to me directly via either Facebook or Reddit.
The problem I had at that time though was I didn’t expect to suddenly have these many interviews in a short period of time, so scheduling was a bit of a problem on my side and we had to reschedule a few of the interviews due to folks getting sick (it’s that time of year). There were a lot of emails/messenger conversations in this process that could have been done better in hindsight.
What I’ve decided to do moving forward is I’m using a service from www.cal.com which links to a google calendar I have set up and when someone wants to appear on the show they can see any open interview slots I have, pick a time that works for them, it gets emailed to me to approve, and then it automatically puts it in my calendar and emails the meeting link to the interview subject. I’ve got a couple of spots booked for November and we’ll see how well it works in practice but thus far I’ve been very impressed.
Did anyone say no?
Yup, they were super polite in all three cases. They got back to me quickly and stated that they do not do podcasts or interviews. Honestly, through the entire process, I didn’t think I’d get too many people responding back at all (and that happened a time or two as well - but I figure these people likely get hounded with messages all the time) so I was grateful to get a reply, even if it was a decline, back quickly.
How did you record the interviews?
I used google meet to set up the calls and there is an option to either stream your meeting to youtube or record directly to your google drive. I chose the latter. Google meet is very accessible as it will work cleanly in a web browser and integrates well with cal.com which I’m planning on using moving forward. I had zero issues with anyone being able to connect or losing the recording or anything of that nature. It can sometimes take an hour or so for the video to appear on your google drive but I was aware of this due to some test runs I did before using it the first time.
Now, this system is something I’m going to be looking at possibly changing in the future - it works really really well however the one critical flaw with it is that google doesn’t record separate audio tracks for the various participants (something Zoom and Zencastr do). The way I tend to do interviews (generally 1 on 1, and with little to no editing) this hasn’t been a problem but if you think you will want to do more in-depth editing then possibly look at the other options I listed.
Did you chat off-air?
A little bit, but not a ton. I try to be respectful of everyone’s time so if I book them for an hour I think we all know that can leak a little bit but I try to not make it go much more than 90 minutes on the long end. So when we are all on the meeting call I’d quickly introduce myself, ask if they have heard of the show (honestly almost none of them had ever heard of me prior to the call), and ask if there were any topics they didn’t want me to ask about (and some folks had things, others didn’t and it’s important to respect that). Once we were all settled I’d start the recording which for the vast majority of the conversations went completely unedited. When the interview was done another couple of minutes of chat to make sure they were happy with how it went and see if there was anything they wanted to be removed, gave them a rough idea of when it would be coming out, and a thank you.
How did you pick the questions & structure the chats?
I really wanted these to feel like conversations and not a Q&A period. Obviously, there would be questions but I set out trying to pick questions I thought could flow naturally from one topic to another. With the majority of these folks, I had things I personally wanted to ask having been aware of them and a fan of their work. Since many of them are well known I could do a quick google search and find out about other projects or aspects that I didn’t know about them that I could ask about.
Nick however was a good example of someone who I didn’t really know much about going into the interview so instead, I had a list of topics to touch on and then planned on simply reacting to his answers.
The key though as in all conversations is to actually listen. It’s easy to fall into the trap of simply waiting for open air to ask your next question but if you’re actively listening you can find little paths for the conversation to go which might still get you to your next question but will feel natural - at least that’s how I hope these came off.
Will you do more interviews?
Most definitely. It was a lot of fun to chat with these people and I hope that it gives a different insight to them than maybe people may have had previously. I’ll certainly continue to play with formats and how I ask questions but my goal is to try and make it feel like a normal conversation and hopefully have everyone smiling at the end of it.
If you’d like to appear on the show or if there is someone you’d like me to reach out to come on drop me a note either as a comment here or via any of my other contacts found on www.theredcaps.net
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