Let's talk about The Initiative's play-by directory! For this guide, we'll go over how to use it, and how to contribute to it, because we love contributions, as well as some things to keep in mind when adding play-bys, and a couple questions that may come to mind when thinking to help with it. We're nearing 500 play-bys in it at the time of writing this, so it is a very useful tool in PB hunting, but it could be a bit overwhelming or intimidating.
You'll probably need a lot of patience to add to it, it's not actually quite as easy as some of us make it seem to be (you know, dropping over a hundred PBs in a day is actually very difficult…), but it can also be a lot of fun! We've also got some neat features that can make finding what you're looking for a lot easier. So, let's dive in, starting with how to use the PB directory.
You can find the PB directory under RPG Resources in the navigation bar.
Viewing PB Entries
When you first poke into the play-by directory, you'll see a bunch of faces. Each one's got a main image, the big one you see first, their name, and some options and descriptors, and finally, more example images. The options and descriptors are for the filters, so if you tick 'female,' you'll only get the PBs that are marked as female. More on that later.
When you click a name, it'll take you to the main PB listing page. This mostly is just a larger version of what's available on the directory listing, except there's a section at the bottom called Familial Relationships. This section holds main images, names, and links, to other PBs that can be used for family to a character that uses this PB. At the moment, these are primarily other celebrities that the given celebrity is related to in real-life, but any celebrity that looks a lot like another can be marked as a familial relationship suggestion to that other celebrity. These can be super helpful for creating character families that are blood-related, so be sure to check these out if you need siblings or such.
To the right hand side of the main directory listings is a side-bar. This side-bar has a bunch of check boxes and options. Tick these in any combination you like in order to get a narrowed down search, based on traits, styles, and appearance, that match what you have in mind for your character. You can also save these filters, by ticking the Remember filters box before the Update button at the bottom.
Note, there is no ethnicity filter, it is based on generalised, occasionally variant skin tones. This is meant to help peeps broaden their horizons a bit, without being obnoxious about it. You'll probably find someone in there you like, no problem, it just may take a bit to do so. There's a huge range of skin tones and hair colours and ethnicities in our play-by directory (we're super proud of it, can you tell?), so there's bound to be someone in there that matches what you're looking for - and who knows, maybe you'll come across someone that doesn't match what you're looking for right now, but inspire a new idea for later.
At the very top of the filter side-bar is a name search. This field was put in because I am a lazy brat, but it will search only the play-bys for a specific name. You can input 'smith' and get all the Smith siblings (Daisy, Starlie, Lucky, and Pyper), and the Smith family (Will, Jada, Willow, and Jaden).
If you're looking to add to the play-by directory, this function will come in handy (do a quick search to be sure the PB you want to add isn't already in there - while there is a public listing, we highly recommend searching by name anyway, because sometimes, names get missed). You could also use this function to quickly find someone's entry, and see if x style/hair colour/whatever has been added, or to confirm to yourself if they did x thing.
Adding a New PB
So, you've gone through our listings, done a name search, and a few of the PBs you use aren't in there. You want to add them. That's great! We thank you very much!
First, toward the top of the main listing is a big green Add new playby button. Click this to get started! Now, the first field is name. Check this for typos, make sure you spell it right. Typos make us sad pandas and lead to accidental double entries. If your chosen person uses multiple names, please ensure that the primary name that is listed first for them is their real life name, with their more well-known name in parentheses. For instance, with Misha Collins, his real name is Dmitri Krushnic, so he is listed under Dmitri Krushnic (Misha Collins). For those that have a shortening or a middle name they use, we put it in the middle, so in the case of Ellie Goulding, she is listed under Elena (Ellie) Goulding.
The first image at the top is the main, the one that shows on the main directory in large. Please be sure this is a decent quality image, around 600 in height and width is a good choice. A little smaller can work, but we want these clear and easy to see. Ideally, they'd focus on the celebrity's most common appearance, or be a good shot of their face.
Now, the rest of the entry page is all tick boxes. You can mark more than one in each category, so if you have a celebrity that's male but very androgynous, ticking male and androgynous is okay. If you have images of them in a cowboy hat and also in biker garb, you can tick both southern/cowboy and rebel.
Adding to an Existing PB
Say you come across a PB that's already in the directory, but they did something new, like a historical film or something, and you want to add images from that, or maybe you have images from some obscure sci-fi flick they did a long time ago. Go ahead and edit it, tick the appropriate box(es), and add the new images. All we ask on this is that the new images add something to the listing. Ergo, if her days as Morticia Addams wasn't in Anjelica Huston's entry, someone else could certainly come along and add some images from The Addams Family era. If someone manages to find pictures of a celebrity when they were younger, it's also absolutely acceptable to add those images and mark a younger age.
The PB directory is collaborative; no one person owns any given entry, and it is a community effort to keep these entries up to date, and as robust as they are. Don't be afraid to add new ones, or add on to existing ones!
We also greatly encourage adding family suggestions to existing PBs! If you're using Jason Momoa as a brother to someone else, mark it! Please don't take any familial suggestions out, however; this is really kind of subjective, I've been mistaken for a sibling of people I look nothing like before, and maybe they look related to someone else, but not to you. Quite frankly, the Smith siblings look nothing alike to me, but I'm sure they look alike to someone. This is par for the course, so we're just going to leave those in once they're in.
Things to Know / FAQ
What constitutes a celebrity?
Were they in a movie/TV show, on a fashion show cat-walk, signed to a modelling agency (IMG, Next, etc), did they create music/sign to a record label, or do they have over 10,000 subscribers on a social media account? There you have a celebrity. We do not condone placing PBs in the directory that are not intentionally celebrities. General rule of thumb for these, check if they have an IMDB entry. If not, find their Instagram or YouTube; is it over 10,000 subs? Go for it.
Please do not add models from small-time modelling sites where little teenagers try to make it big, but aren't big yet. They get kind of annoyed about that.
DeviantArt stock models are okay, as well, those images are meant to be used by others.
Tags and filter markers versus example images:
One thing to remember about the tags and what they're for is to ensure that for each box you tick, you have an example image that matches. For example, if all you have are images of Kate Winslet with her hair blonde, don't tick the red hair colour box. Even though we know she's had her hair red, we need at least one image of that. Don't worry, the PB directory is intended to be collaborative. This means, whatever you miss, someone else can come along and add later.
Skin tone: This one or that one?
If your chosen entry can be between this tone and this one, as in you can't tell which they are, aren't sure, or their images have a wide variation of skin tone based upon lighting and post-processing (that Photoshop thang they do to models all the time), tick the two they can fall into. Yes, both. Skin tone is somewhat subjective, albeit we do have a skin tone guide in the information page, to use as a basis, and can change drastically depending on variant factors, so it's okay if they don't fall neatly into one or the other.
Different people can look at someone's hair and feel differently about the length of it, I get it. For continuity's sake the basis we've been using is 'short' is anything more than 2-3 inches above shoulder length; 'medium' is within a few inches of shoulder length, and 'long' is anything longer than that.
The play-by directory is NOT an image gallery!
A marked trend is to drop essentially all the images anyone can find for a PB, or images edited for a specific character or a graphics image. This is not the PB directory's intended usage. It is not a gallery. It is a deliberate selection of images that showcases a PB's varying looks, styles, hair colours and styles, and the overall versatility of a given celebrity. For instance, Alyssa Milano has had her hair relatively long, and fairly short, so we wanted to choose images for her that show both these looks. In some of her images, she also wears glasses, so we wanted at least one of those.
When selecting example images for the PB directory, be sure that each image chosen showcases a different appearance or style. We don't need all the images from a single photoshoot; we just need to see the different types of personality they can convey. It is recommended to get fairly decent resolution images (around 4-600 pixels at minimum), but they don't necessarily need to be stellar for creating avatar and signature sets from; they're just examples. So, toss the red carpet and speaker panel images up if they're useful examples of a given style.
Is the PB directory only real-life?
Yes. Unfortunately, allowing animated/CG play-bys in the directory causes some legality issues, and also kind of turns the PB directory into more of an art gallery, which isn't what we're looking to do here. If you need help with animated/CG PBs, there are galleries online for that (be careful, however, I've found my art on some of them, and no one asked permission to put my art there).
Obligatory dad joke: two guys walk into a bar, the third one ducks.
That's all, folks! Happy PB hunting and contributing!