Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Planning the Gaming Year

Defining a New Calendar
So I've decided by fiat to change my reporting structure-- from now on my gaming year will end at the end of February and begin on March 1st. Banks and other business do this all the time, changing what the key quarters and time lines are. By making this shift, I finish off the year fairly close to my birthday. I also pack together the lowest performing sections of the year (December/January) which usually get hit by holidays, schedule conflicts, weather and illness. In fact this is the first year in a long time that I haven't (knock on wood) gotten seriously ill. I've had a cold but nothing like last year. The switch also reflects the fact that this is the one year anniversary of quitting smoking. I think its worth honoring the positive and seismic changes which came out of that awful bronchial infection of Feb 2010. Shifting the timeline seems fairly appropriate. So I'm writing this post in compliment with my earlier one in Jan to consider some of the other gaming events of the past year and plans for this coming gaming year. It's my birthday so that seems like as good a plan as any.

Gaming in the Ludological Year 2010-2011
Non-Campaign RP Gaming
I didn't get to run any real one-shot session this year. I do like putting together one-offs, as they give me a chance to do some really tight planning. They're useful for introducing new players as well. However I didn't get a chance to do that at all. I did manage to get in a couple of session of the Magic School/Mage: the Ascension game for my niece and Sherri-- but we didn't move any further forward on that. I'd at least like to get to a solid story point in that, but schedules have been bad. She and I have been doing a collaborative story using Google Docs, but it moves a little slowly as well. My biggest success on this front wold be the Star Wars seven session campaign I did using our homebrew Action Cards system. I've written about that before.

My Play: RPGs
This year I got to play in two other campaigns. First, Kenny used Action Cards to model HALO. I was unfamiliar with the setting and actually got quite a bit out of these sessions. I still can't aim at all on a console, but playing a simulation at the tabletop gave me a better sense of the universe. Likewise I've been able to play in Dave's Fallout campaign.

Fallout's another video game setting I only had a passing knowledge of. That has been an absolute blast. He's done some really interesting hacks to the Action Cards rules and has pulled off a few narrative tricks I wish that I had thought. Dave has also been generous enough to let my neice Kali sit in on several sessions of the Fallout game. She's really enjoyed it and plays quite well. Kali knows the Fallout setting, which gives her a leg up on me. Though she'd played little before this she slotted into the group well. I also got her to sit in on a couple of sessions of the Third Continent Fantasy Campaign. That was a good deal more daunting since that campaign has a lot of background, has been running for some time, and isn't your classic fantasy setting. Still she did well and in the second session she sat in on really moved the plot forward with a couple of her choices. I wish I'd gotten a combat in there as well, but you can't have everything. I'm pleased she's been willing to take the risk and try these things out. There's a real challenge of being a young person playing with a group of older gamers. That's how I learned-- everyone I seriously played with was at least five years older than I. When I was in grade and middle school it was the adult gamers at conventions, willing to teach and be patient, who really inspired in me a love of all games: rpg, board and miniatures. I wish there was more of that available. Kali's good in that she keeps up with a plays well with adults/people older than her. I've seen younger players have problems with that before-- from questions of maturity to questions of emotional problems.

My Plans: RPGs
For this year, I want to finish at least one campaign off and begin at least one new one. I have several I'd like to commit to a longer format: Trail of Cthulhu, HCI or even the fantastic Rome idea. I have a few others as well. That's however a fairly loosely defined plan-- this year gives me plenty of room to pick and choose. I know the Sunday night campaign arc means we will be hitting some of the big beats, so that's the obvious choice.

More importantly I have some one-shots I really want to try. I'm running Dread soon for a group as an experiment. I also really want to get my brother in to play at least once; I told him about Fiasco and he seemed intrigued. I have a one-shot in mind for Kali and her brother David; I hope to put that into operation over one of her school breaks. She heads off to college next year which means that will be harder to do in the future. So I need to hit them with a zombie horror game sooner rather than later. I also hope to either do the next chapter of the Star Wars mini-campaign or anothr short experiment I have in mind once dave finishes his game, but before Kenny picks up again.

I want to either run, play in or see run the following games over the next twelve months: an ORE game (preferably Reign), Apocalypse World, HeroQuest 2e, Time & Temp, Dogs in the Vineyard, Don't Rest Your Head, Fiasco, Dresden Files, Mouse Guard and Diaspora. If I can manage at least half of those I'd be happy. I also want to go to a convention this year, a good rpg one (not GenCon) and either run seriously or play fully. I may have to look to Chicago, Fort Wayne, or Indianapolis to get that settled out.

I also want to have lunch with Ken Hite again.

Finally, I really want to get a finalized version of our rules for Action Cards done up. I keep getting distracted and I need to press forward.

My Play: Video Games
Nothing I played this year really grabbed me like other games have in the past. I enjoyed Left4Dead 2 and probably had my most vivid experiences in that. I also played the hell out of Final Fantasy VIII and Final Fantasy XIII until a system crash robbed me of my saves for both of those. I did some Persona, Persona 4, and SMT: Strange Journey all of which have been decent, with P4 leading the pack, but that's an older game. Bayonetta was fun but outside my skill set. If I had to pick the three games this year which I played most and got the most out of, I'd have to say Rock Band, Final Fantasy XIII and Blur.

My Plans: Video Games
Right now I'm beginning work on Dragon Quest IX on the DS. There are a couple of other DS rpgs (Radiant Historia, DQ VI) I'm interested in as well. But there's nothing I'm waiting for on the console, unless Rune Factory Frontier 2 comes out. Final Fantasy XIV still looks good to me if they fix the problems; the Secret World probably won't be out this year or that would be on my list.

My Play: Board Games
I've been really lucky this year to have two really solid board gaming groups. The Tuesday night group moves on, especially since we have Jan back as a regular. I also finally got off my duff and went over to the Goshen group's play more regularly which has been amazing. I've played a lot more games this year than in years past, with a wider group of people. In the past, outside of the Tuesday group, I'd had a difficult time finding people who played games with the same kind of experience over competition approach. The Goshen group has provided that.

My Plans: Board Games
I want to play more games: simple as that. I want to play at least one serious wargame this year. I am about 95% of the way done with the board game I designed (Right of Succession). I've been reworking the design and want to get a couple of nicely done prototypes done. At that point I want to look for a publisher and get it out the door. I have several other designs in my head that I don't want to commit to working on until I get this to a more finished stage. We've been playing it on Tuesday and have really enjoyed it.

Related to board games, I haven't played any miniatures in a couple of years. I need to get back to a planned Mordheim-style Confrontation campaign for local players, using modified Dogs of War rules. I haven't painted since the fire, but I want to take the first step of actually fixing and assembling some figures.

Get gaming.

Additional Thought/Plan

I want to recruit at least one, good new solid player into the rpg games. We've had some bad experiences of late with new players, but I think it is important to keep working to keep the ranks filled. We've been lucky in that some who haven't played as much have been playing more, but I'd like to expand beyond that. I'm not sure how yet.

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