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The Self-Appreciation Society

being one of those Stupid Weblog Things


February 5th, 2009

Priority Reshuffling @ 06:58 pm

Turns out all that uncertainty I had about joining the national squad for the World Kendo Championship turned out to be right, and I've officially withdrawn. I like the space kendo occupies in my life; bit of exercise, bit of learning and challenge, bit of competition, no real pressure except whatever I choose to put on myself. I like not having to go four nights a week, I like being able to not attend if there's something else I'd rather be doing. The run-up to the WKC would have destroyed all that, probably burned me out on kendo at least for a long time, maybe forever. I thought that was a sacrifice I was willing to make but it isn't. Plus the time investment - there's just so much other cool stuff I want to be doing too that I'm not inclined to give up. And people on the team are expected to be taking it oh so seriously, traveling to competitions and seminars, but my first priority for a holiday is snow and second is maybe GenCon if it's to be related to an activity; kendo is way down there. I couldn't even bring myself to fill out the after-action report forms for self-improvement that the coach guy wanted. Boring! Also, for the past month I've had a nagging cold that makes me cough spasmodically when I breathe deeply so haven't been going to training, and con season is coming up.

Other stuff to do, though, I got it. It seems as though kendo and gaming fought and gaming won.

Now that I don't have to spend thousands of quid on flights and accommodation and entry fees and green tracksuits and gifts for opponents and gifts for coach and green tracksuits for coach and so on and so on, I'm figuring on hitting up the con scene to as close to the max as is practical (which means Itzacon or K2 because they're on the same weekend and it's Itzacon this time). Secondary to the Warpcon charity auction, this'll include Conpulsion in Edinburgh, to which I have a VIP type ticket. It's cheaper to fly there than to choo-choo to Cork. Along with pedestrian things like t-shirt and pints, the ticket gets me some pre-con alone time with the special guests: Dude Who Wrote 3:16 which the Internet loves but I thought was bollocks, Dude Who Wrote The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen and I'm not sure what else he's done, and Loren Wiseman, co-creator of Twilight: 2000! !!!!! !!!!!!!! omfg very excite

The inspiration for that in turn (it's for the kids = yay! It's for the kids to go to Disneyland for Christmas = hrm) came from the fact that I recently chased the long-departed bandwagon of gaming podcasts and launched The Adventuring Party, leading to a sudden need to find people to interview. I've learned a lot about mixers and content management systems and audio editing and herding cats in the past number of weeks, and even though it's technically only two days old it's already undergone some overhauls before ever it made it this far. I think it's not great yet and there's lots of things I want to improve for the future, but people have been saying nice things about it, which I appreciate. Talking about gaming is fun, but sure you already knew that.

That first episode speaks of a Dark Heresy LARP afoot, and I'm co-GMing that. It's going pretty well, just over a month deep now. I still haven't had time to read the actual rules properly (it took me a week to find the time to wipe dried sandwich pickle off the counter) but that hasn't been too much of a problem yet. Watching it in action this week I was sort of wishing I could play because it looks like fun, and that's a good sign.

My Friday game group hasn't recovered from the Christmas season, and now con season is upon us it'll be another while yet before Friday evenings are regularly available. I'm thinking a Transformers game of Prime Time Adventures, possibly Decepticons.

I'm on the committee of the Irish Games Association, which is mostly the odd meeting. There's some stuff cooking that we sort of decided not to mouth off about in case it doesn't work and everybody's low opinion sinks lower, but I'm liking being involved with a group that likes gaming and wants to facilitate more gamingfun happening. The Games Night in the pub of a Thursday is going pretty damn well, and one was set up in Cork too. The big thing is Gaelcon of course, which was recently announced will be taking place in a swank hotel in Ballsbridge, with lots of space for millions of special events and things, and hopefully running all night. Going to be deadly.

So deadly, in fact, that I volunteered for the assistant RPG co-ordinator position, on the off-chance I might have a spare second sometime (like I do now; my game fell through because of the snow or something). Got some ideas for things to do, but since this only happened last night I haven't even been in touch with the other guy yet.

And later than that last night, I was approached and propositioned online by DoC, and not in the usual way, but to write battle scenarios for airsoft groups (that's laser tag taken to its logical conclusion). As far as I've ascertained so far, a typical game is lining up on opposite sides of a field and shooting at each other, like your basic scenarios in Warhammer 40,000 or Necromunda or millions of computer games and so on, whereas what he wants is something with a bit of story and objectives. Given free rein here I'll have them all with introspective, flawed but noble characters embarking on year-long plot arcs towards self-realisation and redemption through shooting pellets at people in an old bus, but we'll have to meet up and hash out what's practical. I was initially hesitant because of the vast amount of spare time I don't have with all this going on, but of course turning down gaming because you've got too much of it is folly and ingratitude of the highest order. This isn't something that's typically lumped in with gaming, and that makes it even more appealing in a way - the chance to employ gaming skillz in a different arena is rather cool. And worst case situation I can just rip off Combat Mission: Shock Force scenarios.
 
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From:natural20
Date:February 6th, 2009 10:31 am (UTC)
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I'm surprised you didn't like 3:16, anything in particular about it? And James Wallis has written a bunch of stuff, but was also responsible for the reprinting of WHFRP a few years back, Dragonwarriors now, scad loads of other stuff and is a top gent.

Really sad I won't be at Conpulsion this year, but these things happen.
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From:evilrobotshane
Date:February 6th, 2009 10:49 am (UTC)
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Well... I learn games best from a trial run, so when humbug and gaming buddy Stu were playing hotseat Civilisation IV and therefore each spending exactly half the game standing up staring in the opposite direction to the monitor, I was like "right, you have two stats, assign numbers" and "pick a gun from this list" and it was something for them to kill the downtime and for me to get used to it. Then it became "blobs attack, roll this under that number" and learning the little bit there is to learn about changing range bands and so forth. By the time we were far into it they were mildly engrossed and I had to be "go take your Civ turn, I didn't come here to interrupt your game".

So I concocted a scenario based on the real-life Battle of Nasiriyah some time later, sat a bunch of people down at the gaming table with character sheets and pencils and GM screen, and played it, and it was arse. The two stats and encouragement of min-maxing makes role-playing anything other than banter pretty weak, and the combat system is too mechanical to be immersive but too simplistic to be tactically challenging. It's not the game I hoped it'd be (military combat RPG - I'm hoping the Burning Empires mass combat system, which I never got around to trying, might manage that). I found that the good bits (flashbacks, medals, upgrading your guns) don't happen often enough, and the rest is hollow.

However, humbug, who played both, maintains that he saw flashes of brilliance in the game and thinks it could be great. He says that approached as a role-playing game, with table and character sheets and GM screen and scenario, it doesn't make it, but as something looser and more casual it's got lots of potential. The case he makes is enough to make me want to give it another shot aimed that way, which I'll really need to do anyway before tearing into the unfortunate writer, in case I'm wrong. Hopefully I can get him to run a game of it anyway to see how it's supposed to go.
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From:natural20
Date:February 6th, 2009 12:12 pm (UTC)
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Interesting. Would you mind if I pointed the designer here as he is very interested in any kind of constructive feedback?
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From:evilrobotshane
Date:February 6th, 2009 02:05 pm (UTC)
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I wouldn't mind at all; I'd sort of intended to air my experiences more diplomatically in person, but this is fine too.

While we're at it, if you can point John Wick at me I have some horribly hurtful things to say about Wilderness of Mirrors. :>)
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
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From:evilrobotshane
Date:February 6th, 2009 02:05 pm (UTC)
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Nice one, that could indeed be very handy, thanks!