Happy New Year
New year’s resolution #1 — stop ignoring this blog.
OK, so, it’s been a long while. Let’s catch up: Things got pretty bumpy in the wake of the collapse of 38 Studios. My weekly game limped along for a little while. Actually, it was fairly strong initially as we were all laid off and had a surplus of free time. Nobody seemed to mind schlepping on out to my house for our weekly game. Slowly though jobs were obtained and moves started happening. Several members were lost to the lure of the west coast, and others simply couldn’t make the drive out to my place happen week after week.
I myself got a new job at Subatomic Studios, which has been great, though the only downside being that it’s a significant commute. Over an hour on a good day, thank goodness for flexible hours or it would much worse. Still, some days I stay a bit later than I expect and can face an hour and a half to two hours to get home. It’s not fun. The new job is closer to my wife’s job though, so there’s no reason not to move. We put the house up for sale in early September, and took it back off at the end of November. We’re waiting now for the spring, hoping a re-listing after the winter will get us out of here.
I’ve run a few games for folks at the new office, which were much better received than I expected. In fact, I regularly get asked when I’ll do it again. Unfortunately due to the horrible commute a regular office game just isn’t in the cards for me right now. Yet another reason to eagerly look forward to a move. Honestly, it feels like a whole lot of things are on hold until that move happens, which in turn makes it difficult to motivate myself to start up anything new.
I did try a grand experiment of playing online. For the last campaign I started a google group to organize play time, and as players left and new ones joined, nobody ever left the email list. I would think if you weren’t playing you’d want to stop getting annoying emails about who is coming or who wants to order pizza, and yet whenever I asked a former member they always claimed to want to remain on the list. I guess it made them feel like they were still connected in some small way to the game. As such, when the home campaign finally halted completely, I was left with an online group of almost 20 former players. This seemed to me like a great potential for forming a west marches style game. We could play entirely online using G+, which I’ve had success with in the past, and I though the players would have the extra motivation of scheduling games simply to catch up with old friends that moved away if not to also play some D&D.
That game limped along for a few weeks, but it seemed we always had trouble gathering enough players. There were one or two highly motivated players, but it just never seemed to gather up the required steam. I think we were missing one major element from Ben’s post, the idea of a shared experience via game summaries and chatter. Here’s a quote from his original article:
What started off as humble anecdotes evolved into elaborate game summaries, detailed stories written by the players recounting each adventure (or misadventure). Instead of just sharing information and documenting discoveries (“we found ancient standing stones north of the Golden Hills”), game summaries turned into tributes to really great (and some really tragic) game sessions, and eventually became a creative outlet in their own right. Players enjoyed writing them and players enjoyed reading them, which kept players thinking about the game even when they weren’t playing.
Ultimately, I’ve now seen several failed attempts at west marches style play. I suspect it’s simply a case of requiring the right people at the right time. I think it’s similar to the experience I had participating in a round-robin GM game back in the day. It was such a successful game that I tried to reproduce the magic with several other groups, and yet it never managed to catch like that first game. Again, I suspect our success was just a case of the right group of people at the right time.
Finally, let’s talk about conventions. My last posts before this one was GenCon. Unfortunately that trip happened very soon after getting hired by Subatomic, which meant that my vacation time was quickly in the negatives. So much so that when going over plans on what to do with my vacation time this coming year I realized very quickly I’d have to make a cut, and that cut ended up being TotalCon. It took a while for me to come to that conclusion, enough such that I missed the deadline for registering any games. It’s a close enough convention that I could still do a day-trip or even two when it comes around, but I’ve done so little preparing for it that there’s no way it won’t feel like a shadow of the experience from past years. Still, I expect by the time it comes around I’ll convince myself to drive down at least for the day on Saturday.
HelgaCon, however, I refuse to sacrifice. January is usually the time I start preparing for that, so I guess I better get on that pretty soon. January is also the time GenCon badge registration opens, and my darling wife seems pretty adamant that we go again. Honestly, after that one year we decided not to go and then regretted it horribly come the summer, I think it would be pretty hard to intentionally skip it again.
So what will 2013 hold for me gaming wise? Honestly, the outlook is a little muddy right now. A lot may depend on how this whole house selling thing goes. It’s possible the online game will manage to pull itself back together (I suspect there’s at least one player that won’t let it go down without a fight). Two former players from 38 actually both work with me here at Subatomic, so I’m pretty sure once the move happens a new weekly game will come together. It’s just the waiting that’s so painful.
I do have some other upcoming news that’s quazi-game related to share, but this post is getting long so it’ll have to wait. I know, terrible to tease you like that, but I’m hoping if I leave some threads dangling it’ll force me to remember to come back and post more often. I suppose with my weekly games in the shambles they are right now you should probably prepare for more posts that aren’t exactly D&D related. Hopefully we’ll get things back on track soon though, and next year I can look back and say that yes, 2013 really was the come-back year.