Following on from my State of Play post the other day, I’d like to ramble for a bit about hobbies. Specifically, the gaming hobby I used to have and don’t quite any more. Essentially, I’d like it back.
I’ve been pondering this, and what I think I need to do is fairly simple in principle. It comes in two parts: Separation of time and separation of game.
Whilst I am very lucky to be able to earn a living in the world of gaming, it does have a habit of taking over every waking moment. If I want to have a hobby where I can relax away from deadlines and other such worldly tribulations, I need to be stricter with myself about allocating time for a hobby and keeping it sacrosanct. All too often I pilfer time I’ve allocated to play a game for fun and make it a playtest session instead.
So, set time aside and make sure it stays set aside. Like I said, it’s easy in principle.
Whilst I do enjoy playing games I design, after several months with my nose in the details I usually need a break from it to clear my head. Even after months or years, if I designed the game I’m playing it’s hard to step away from an analytical mindset. How is the balance, are these rules really as clear as they could be, what if I rewrote that bit, etc? That makes it all rather less relaxing. For the moment, let’s assume that I’ll be playing my own designs anyway, but they don’t qualify for being my hobby. At the end of the day, if I wrote it then it’s always at least partly work.
I also realise that I’ve not mentioned the type of game I’m thinking about. This is really just about finding a figure game. Board games tend to be much more self-contained, and though I play a lot of them they don’t really need planning in the same way as a figure game. Board games will happen as and when the gaming group feels like playing one. It’ll get opened, played and put away without any more fuss. Figure games, on the other hand, need planning, collecting, building, painting and so on as well as playing. As you all know, an army is seldom if ever truly finished. There’s nearly always something else you could add.
I don’t expect to be able to deal with a lot of different games and do any of them justice. I need more focus. This means I need to be very picky, and with the wide array of high quality games and figures these days it’s a real luxury to be able to pick and choose. I have, in fact, been doing this for a while now, searching for probably one main game and a few smaller ones. The main game needs to have enough grit to it to get my teeth into (well, my brain actually), and I’ve tried several over the years. Confrontation and Warmachine both fit into this category. I was hoping that Dropzone Commander would too, but that’s not worked out quite as I wanted. I’ll do a final piece on that soon to wrap up my thoughts on why not.
In the end it was a happy confluence of circumstances that helped me decide. While I was at the UK Game Expo I shared a stand with the Prodos guys and had a good look at their new version of Warzone. It seemed to have all the requisite elements I was looking for and they were kind enough to give me a copy to review. Since then I’ve read it in some depth and played a game or two, and it has become my game of choice for the moment. At least (to misquote Lieutenant Rasczak from Starship Troopers) till it dies or I find something better.
Exactly why, I will cover in more detail in a proper review, or series of reviews that I’m working on. For the moment, let’s just say it’s got my attention.
So now I have a game and a plan of attack, let’s I can see if I can make any headway on reclaiming this hobby
Stay tuned for updates cos you know I’ll be back 🙂
Warzone and the upcoming AvP really have my attention and if it were not for the fact I feel I’ve really overloaded on Sci-Fi over the last few years I would have picked them up (especially since I have always been a high/low Fantasy guy)… The Models look cracking also, which def goes a long way…..
Well you can always pick them up later if you change your mind. I didn’t go in for either Kickstarter. And the models are mostly very good.
So that’s how you spell his name!
That’s how Wikipedia spells it. I think this is a different name from the character in the book, but then the film and book have so little to do with each other anyway…
I’ve heard Mars Attacks isn’t bad… you should try it. 😉
The ‘work-life’ balance is a constant problem for most of us and I guess more so when your work is also related to your hobby. I’m by no means in the same boat as yourself, but even one commercial hobby-related project can mean a choice between spending my free time on that, or actually enjoying the hobby itself.
I suppose applying some of the discipline we typically use in a work environment to our leisure time is the answer, but that doesn’t really seem like fun.
I didn’t really understand how professionnal games designer arrive to play for work and play for pleasure.
As a playtester myself for a long time and a little designer ( the first inspire the second i think), the pleasure to design leaves with something else that when i play. Questions, possibles answers, the pleasure of the others around the table… much more like reading a love letter and writing one.
In any case, playing for pleasure is always needed. Much needed. 🙂
I like my all-time favourite ( 40k and the old confrontation, 2nd edition) but at the moment, i’m looking forward to wrath of kings. And of course, as i’m not the designer :-), i can play at dreadball and deadzone as much as i want.
( sorry for my english, i’m french… )
Playing games is something I enjoy doing regardless of the purpose, it’s just that there is sometimes a big difference between doing so for work and not. When I’m not playing for work there’s no pressure on me to do anything that have a fun time with my friends. It’s a social thing, and if I want to be competitive or not then that’s fine too. I rely on the designer to make the game as slick and well-balanced as I need and don’t have to worry about anything else. It’s a mental freedom I find hard to get to when it’s something I have written myself.
It’s related, in part, to the truism that whether you’re a writer, composer, designer or director, you’re unlikely to be entirely happy with the end result of something you’ve created. There’s always something you could have done better. Oddly, the last person I heard saying that was Mr Stallone on one of the extras for Expendables.
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