Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Geeky New Year Speech

This is it; the final remaining hours of the year 2011.
As I write this, I can already hear the roaring thunder of fireworks outside and in here the silent atmosphere settles for good, as we all have sat down to recuperate upon the recent feast. Long talks about the year that just passed and even more about what to come. Compared to Christmas, this is a lot different. We know we’re approaching the end now. But we also know we’re just about to begin.
This has always been a weird tradition for me. I always had a hard time relating to it. Perhaps that is why I originally planned to get tanked, stagger around at my friend’s party and loudly yell ‘FOR THE REPUBLIC!!’ while pretending to do Force Jumps. Sadly there weren’t that many parties and in the end there was no real possibility to get tanked in the manner I wanted to.
I therefore decided to do the next big thing and sit down with the family and write a blog. I mean; right? RIGHT?  But this is more than a blog. This is the official Negativethac0 New Year speech!
Saying goodbye to 2011… and welcoming the nerd of 2012.
I suppose the most obvious point of origin would be my personal life, which involves graduating as a Psychologist and currently being employed in a clinic that treats patients with anxiety. But that’s real life, and real life is never as exciting as the fictional, digital one. Right?
What is much more appropriate is to point out that 2011 was the year in which Negativethac0 launched. It’s been barely half a year only, but when I look back at it, I’m actually pretty impressed with how much we got around. From essays regarding Dungeons and Dragons to elaborate Dragon Age-reviews, it’s strange to see how much it has actually evolved since we began a long time ago.
Negativethac0 was originally my little project and only intended to describe the journey of my Savage Tide group. On a side note it’s ironic that this group has now completed the campaign, and yet one of the least active sections of the site is the Savage Tide-chronicles.
It has been very interesting to see the direction in which the site has evolved ever since, and to be honest, I’m still curious to see what the future will bring for it. Originally, I intended to only write about Dungeons and Dragons, which quickly developed into the inclusion of Warhammer as well. During the summer, especially, I had the opportunity to catch up on a lot of gaming, which meant I started doing some reviews as well. It was purely for my own amusement, of course. Some of them, such as the Quest for Glory-review and my rather long elaboration of X-COM were originally written in my first language and later translated.
One of my major concerns for the future of Negativethac0 was how it would turn out once I began in my new job. Luckily, while it has put a strain on my time, it certainly hasn’t made it impossible for me to keep up to date. Instead, it has emphasized the importance of choosing topics that have relevance to write as well as read about. Something I intend to become better at.
But, let’s just look back and consider some of the great results we’ve already achieved. On the Warhammer front, we got around a lot of work. Besides painting a lot of Skavens, such as the Rat Ogres, Weapon Teams, Core troops and Magic Users; we shouldn’t forget the ever classic Screaming Bell. A model I love dearly, and yet; never had the pleasure to bring into battle. More importantly, we also got around the Hellpit Abomination. Home made as well as the official model. All in all, besides a few slaves and warlocks, my Skaven Army is just about done. This has of course left us with some time to work on the Dwarves as well as my fourth army; The Dark Elves, of which we only got around s regiment of crossbowmen, black guard and the notoriously annoying Hydra.

A couple of battle reports did make it through. The Skavens saw a very good season and won a battle against Orcs and Goblins as well as Ogre Kingdoms. It was also a pleasure to witness how the new Ogres fared against the Warriors of Chaos, even though they didn’t necessarily fare well.
One of the very first articles on the site involved the psychology of gaming and how to deal with the issue that presents itself to everyone, sooner or later. Losing. Originally inspired by an article in White Dwarf written by Jervis Johnson, I attempted to elaborate how you could handle defeat better, through either cognitive methods or practical initiatives. Writing this article was a load of fun but also took dedicated work since I intended to mail it to mr. Johnson to himself.
Much to my surprise, he responded. Not an all out personal letter, but still something, showing his appreciation for the psychological aspect of gaming. Whether you’re making good on your promise about following this blog, Mr. Johnson, I’ll admit that this is a part I’ve been neglecting for far too long. I originally had a lot in store about handling troublesome players and situations from a psychological perspective, but I don’t have the same ability to write Standard Bearer-articles as he does. The thing is; I don’t want to write essays if I don’t feel 100% like it. In general, there is very little non-assignment related that I can write if I haven’t got just a fragment of enthusiasm.
One way or the other, I am very happy my article made it through. I’m quite proud of it, and there have to be other angles from which you can address the subject. Another part of me strongly considered writing a guide for psychological warfare in Warhammer. We’ll just have to see about that.
It wouldn’t be a speech without the mention of RPG’s. I suppose I might as well say D&D as this is more or less the only system I can be bothered playing these days. Although, to be exact, the current theme for 2012 has to be the ever promising, turning-water-into-wine and praised system Pathfinder.

I officially concluded my first 1-20 D&D Campaign in 2011, namely The Savage Tide. As far as I know this campaign began back in December, 2009 and went on every Wednesday evening. Savage Tide is a blast of a campaign, even though it did end out horribly unbalanced with advantage for the PC’s (as D&D campaigns tend to do). There were plenty of opportunities for some of my own side quests, the RP was actually quite impressive at times and I had some quite dedicated players. As a GM, you’ll have to think a while in order to ask for more. I am not going to turn this into a review of Savage Tide in any way, just say that it’s certainly one of the better campaigns out there compared to, say; Shackled City.  Some of you may know that I officially gave up on this campaign a long time ago.

Savage Tide came to an epic conclusion once the heroes marched upon the Gaping Maw and slew Demogorgon. They immediately turned upon each other for the Throne of Demons, which eventually resulted in the demise of two of them, whereas those remaining walked into history, never to be seen again. I’ll admit; I felt sad once I read the epilogue. So many adventures had played their parts in the overall story, but it was time to bring it to an end. I am not sure whether I will ever get the chance to achieve such a feat again, but I am surely going to try.
But Savage Tide was also my officially last D&D 3.5 campaign ever. I made a big deal about stating this to everyone around me. Why? Because Pathfinder simply is so much better in just about every way. It’s still a horribly broken system in some regards, class balance is down the drain as usual but at least they’ve tried to address it in Pathfinder.  So we started out fresh on ‘Carrion Crown’, one of the apparently most popular campaigns in my social circles. And as you might’ve read, we haven’t been disappointed in any way. We’re only about to begin on the second book, but people have been enjoying the ride and I frankly intend to keep it smooth and to the point. There have been very few flaws and some unforgettable moments along the way, so if you’re in my situation as an aspiring Pathfinder GM, give Carrion Crown a go.
I am still not playing in any groups, though. As a player. I suppose there is nothing to blame but my lot in life and often critical approach to other peoples’ campaigns. I frankly don’t have any intentions of changing anything in 2012. This is a great working system. We play every Wednesday evening, which is a luxury only a few groups can dream of. I have a feeling that we might actually be over Carrion Crown faster than I originally expected, as my players are all seasoned. In that case, I can only say I am seriously and eagerly considering ‘Legacy of Fire’!
Oh yeah – Computer games! Do we love computer games. STEAM surely proved that point to me this Christmas. But let’s start in hindsight; We’ve done a lot of reviews on this blog. Some of the early ones do indeed bear touch of…well, earliness. But it’s an art like so much else, and eventually I got around new as well as old. Some well-known titles as Duke Nukem ForeverHeroes of Might and Magic 6 and Dragon Age 2 were a thrill to write about. In other regards, I’ve never attempted to be up to date with my reviews. Why should I? I’m not Gamespot. Negativethac0 is more of a personal journal of mine, which I’ve opened up to those of you wanting to follow. This means that old games such as Theme ParkUFO and Quest for Glory occasionally make their way to the blog.

And yeah, I suppose I don’t have to tell you about me and WoW. At this time of writing, I haven’t been playing it for a couple of weeks. As my recent blog mentioned, the chances of me coming back are rather slim, especially with The Old Republic around to steal so much time. It’s something I want to write more about, but to put it short; TOR is a decent game. But also a very safe bet. In its execution there are many similarities to WoW but not quite enough that I’d call it a clone. It certainly helps immensely that I love the Star Wars universe (more so than Lord of the Rings, actually) and the game has caught this quite well. The huge focus on storytelling is awesome, especially during some of the flash points, but at this time the game is still very young and finding the right group setup can be a drag some times. Especially since there is no dungeon tool, and it’s not always I’m in the mood for spamming /1 over and over if all I want to do is instance a bit. I’m aware I’m spoiled that way, but then again, I’ve simply been avoiding the 4+ heroic quests so far and concentrated on the story.
As mentioned, Steam unloaded a new truckload to my already huge pile of unfinished digital challenges. Some of these are still untested (Assassin’s Creed and Left for Dead 2) whereas some were downright disappointing (Limbo, seriously; why the hell do you people hype this game?) and others born a legend. Skyrim being the obvious elephant in the corner but let’s certainly not forget LA Noire which I am having so much fun with these days. I don’t own a console (except for a SNES) so I’d been waiting for this release a long time.
Sadly, one of my big anticipations weren’t fulfilled by Arkham City. I like the game for what it is, but for a story driven game it didn’t appeal to me. In another life, in which I love gathering stupid riddles, I might eat those words.

Luckily, there is a long time till the next mastodon of a game hits. I am naturally referring to Diablo 3 here, although I WILL admit; a very little part of me has a bad feeling about it. Not sure why, but it’s there.
It should be plenty of time to advance a bit in TOR while completing Skyrim and Noire. These are in general the main priorities as it is. I’ll admit; I MIGHT fall into temptation once Pandaria hits. With a strong emphasis on MIGHT. I love seeing new content, but as I wrote; WoW is not really the game I used to love anymore, which also accounts for reasons beyond its power.
I foresee that 2012 will be a great and geeky year for us all. 2011 certainly blessed us with plenty of opportunities, and upping the ante never seemed like a bad idea. When I look back at it, 2011 certainly doesn’t seem so short as I originally felt it to be. There have been so many accomplishments, and remember, my dear fellow geeks: Never let your enthusiasm, inner fire, joy and happiness fall. Remember to play. Remember to have fun.
And most important of all; remember to be proud of doing so. And every day will be all the better.
In this way, I am convinced we will have a great 2012 together!

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