Thursday, 17 April 2014

"Freeway Fighter" Adventure Gamebook - Episode 2

Last week on Freeway Fighter...
For part 1, click here

The last episode saw our intrepid non-hero (who seems to be me partially channeling Alan Partridge) tasked with driving across a post-apocalyptic wasteland full of marauders in order to collect a fuel tanker from a distant city. Thankfully they'd given me a heavily weaponised Dodge Interceptor. Basically, the plot to Mad Max. However I have no driving licence - never mind insurance. And come to think of it, I don't remember the town council that sent me on this mad task even giving me a map...

So far on my quest for petroleum distillate, I have met a cyclist whilst I was looking to loot some abandoned shops. It didn't get off to the best of starts as he waved a shotgun around at me. But then I imagine you would be a bit tetchy if your only means of transport through the apocalypse was a bicycle. He warned me not to stop at a nearby petrol station as I would be robbed (just like a modern British petrol station then - end satire), I followed his advice and drove on despite the allures of the gasoline siren beckoning me onto the forecourt.

The story continues...

Episode #2
Starts on page 167 for those reading along at home

I was back on the road again after a close call at Joe's Garage, if our cyclist friend was to be believed. I treated myself to a fresh mint imperial from the glove box, and popped a new mix tape onto the radio

Even driving through a desolate wasteland I had a quick look around to make sure nobody could see me singing, I mean that would be embarrassing. I put my foot to the floor and watch the needle go up to 190km/h (118mph in proper), " had a temper, like my jealousy; too hot, too gree --"

Cook a cat. There's someone following me and matching my speed. In a red Chevvy, not on foot - that really would be cause for concern. I have a sneaking suspicion that he doesn't want to overtake, mostly because his mate is leaning out of the top and pointing an M16A1 at me. 

Gah, my armour isdown from 35 to 34...
It was times like this that made me start to think I should have worked out what all of the buttons in the car did. A short burst of 5.56 rounds hit the tarmac beside me as I fumbled for the turret-mounted machine gun. As the rear windscreen wipers waved furiously at my pursuer I realised that this might not quite cut the mustard. I was the right, unperturbed the red chevvy continued his pursuit. After hitting the hazard lights, I finally managed to get the computerised turret to whir into life and two of the bursts found their target which swerved off course slightly.

But it was too early to start celebrating just yet. In the wing mirror, I saw the machine gunner lean out of the red chevvy again. This time the burst of fire raked the side of my car, making a right mess of the paintwork. Another burst from my computerised turret hit my would-be-attacker's tyres and I watched through the rear view mirror as he carreened across the road, rolled over a couple of times and then vanished in an improbably large explosion. So that's how it's done.

Now on to page 188

I turned the car around (after decelerating first, I'm not a maniac) to inspect the wreckage of my attackers. Why on earth would somebody attack me unprovoked? Who were these jokers? Given the state of the car, there weren't really any clues as to their identity. I decide to drive on.

New Hope's Council Leader, Sinclair, off to the shops...
Just as I was about to put some more tunes on when the radio burst in to life of it's own accord. It's one of the Council leaders from my hometown of New Hope, the one's that sent me on this road trip through the apocalypse. Nice of them to check up on me at last. She lets me know that the town has been attacked by a gang of bikers. Eight people have been killed and they've kidnapped the Council leader, Sinclair. Poor sod. She warns me to be on my guard, I thank her and say goodbye. 

I ignore the looming Plot, and continue my journey down the freeway. Looking around as I drove on I was reminded of the I-Spy books you got as a kid, to keep you occupied and stop you from saying "are we nearly there yet." You could do one of those now: burnt out car (one of these was down to me), boarded up shack, wandering dogs, and old swing, abandoned fridges... hours of fun.

Ah bugger. Apparently during the Disaster there had been a tail back on this road, as I soon discover when I pull up behind it. Unlike most traffic jams which just feel that way, there's definitely no chance that this will ever move. There's no way through so I turn round and look for another way around. As I exit the highway, I notice the fuel gauge has started to drop, luckily I was sensible enough to pack a jerry can full of petrol. Sat at the junction of the road that passes beneath the highway I'm faced with a dilemma. Which way do I go?

Hmm, something's off here...
Tune in next time to find out!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Beating the hobby burnout - what keeps you motivated?

Ahhh the sun has emerged in Blighty and my Smarch hibernation is at an end. Thankfully, April has already been a good month for gaming. Last weekend saw me GM a new Old West RPG campaign which saw Scipio play an inebriate. I'm not going to comment on how much of a stretch that might be ;)

"Lousy Smarch weather..."
That said, following the proper tradition, my New Year's Resolutions have been roundly forgotten, pushed to the back of the drawer like that slightly awkward Christmas jumper with your aunty's face on that she decided would be an appropriate gift. 

This was mostly meant to be an "I'm-still-here-and-I'm-blogging-(honest)" post, and a "sorry-I've-not-been-online-at-all-and-commented-on-your-wonderful-blogs". I've got a lot of catching up to do. 

I've been musing about about this hobby lark lately, and particularly the phenomenon of "burnout" - and consider a few ways to prevent or minimise it.

A bit of burnout
I've managed to have my annual burnout a bit too early and I've not even managed to get much done leading up to it. A six week break from doing pretty much anything wargames related, bar painting the scratchbuilt TARDIS, has actually done me and my attitude to gaming some good.

Obligatory stock image. If only I could juggle.
I had reached what I like to call Critical Project Mass. I theorised that juggling several small projects (see stock image) would keep things fresh. It backfired horrifically. Instead I end up not knowing which project to start with and getting nowhere.

Now, Scipio is a prolific painter and can finish projects in the blink of an eye. And that's only partly because he can often paint at work (git). He's so well organised that he would make the Prussians look like a bloody shambles. Sadly, no matter how hard I try I can't be that organised and I can't keep up, and instead leave swathes of half-finished projects in his wake. Rather than just throwing in the towel, I started thinking what I could do differently. 

Organise your hobby space and get the Right tools
Many of us do not have the room for a dedicated wargaming area, even just for painting or model building etc. The small desk I do have for this purpose is littered with finished models, half-finished models, and models still on sprues. Although I have a reasonably organised bitz box, and my terrain building stuff is vaguely organised my paints are chucked into one box and my paintbrushes old and new are in one pot. This has annoyed me for a while. 

I've always said that taking the time to invest in the right tools, even cheap ones, makes a HUGE difference to he final product. They definitely helped my terrain building. Similarly, just buying a palette is what alowed me to make half-decent progress in improving my painting.

So, with both of these points in mind, I've ordered one of these from HobbyZone... a HobbyZone Professional Paint Station (despite being of firmly amateur status).

The HobbyZone Professional Paint Station, image courtesy of Chest of Colors
At only £25, I don't think you can complain about what you get for your money. I'll do a quick a review when it arrives, but Chest of Colors already has this superb review already. Sounds spot on.

As the photo shows, this allows just the right level of organisation for me, from paints, powders, water pots, brushes and other tools - why didn't I get this before. It also allows a clear hobby space.

Put miniatures away. One project on the table at a time
Perhaps a bigger obstacle is the fact that my desk is filled with miniatures. Not only does this make painting impractical as there is physically little space, but there's also a constant reminder of how much stuff I have to build, convert and paint. It also means the finished work gets lost in the mass and you don't really get the sense of achievement you should. There's still the same amount of miniatures as there were before.

Solution: Bite the bullet and buy carry cases. Sort the unfinished from the finished and have no more than 5 miniatures on the table at once. Nothing else goes on the table till they're finished.

It's not work
This is a hobby. This is a hobby. This is a hobby.  A very useful mantra I find, and one that I'm going to start saying even more. As a hobby it's how we choose to spend much of our (often sparse) free time. It's meant to be fun. If it's not fun, then it's not a hobby. I'm not saying it should be easy, I think almost all of us love the challenges we get from our chosen pastime, but that's the point - it should be enjoyable. If it's starting to feel like a chore, put it down and go back to it later.

Do what you enjoy
Bloody fun to build.. Like hobbies should be.
I loved the terrain building that I did for Necromunda, and was pretty please with the results despite the fact it was a rush job. The same with the scratchbuilt TARDIS. I worked on that almost every night for over a week without anyone needing to kick me up the arse. So why I haven't I done more terrain building if I enjoy it so much? Well, I'm going to do more now. 
Although it's a social hobby, most of us still spend more time building, painting etc. than actually gaming. That is as much the hobby as the gaming.

Remember why you do it
There's a reason why all of us got into this and more importantly why we carry on doing it. Personally, I love the creative outlet (I realise I'm bordering on sounding like a self help book). So why do anything that doesn't fit that reason.
Do something new

My "something new" for a rainy day
I realise that this might seem counter-productive, but sometimes doing something completely different can kickstart the old hobby mojo again (I realise that sounds like a bit of a euphemism). If you're really not getting anywhere with a project, do what you can with it and then put it away for later. And then start something completely different, have painting burnout - do some converting. Have 40k burnout, try Infinity perhaps. Tired of painting vikings? Try some 20th century stuff. 

Over to you
So how do you keep motivated? How do you stop the burnout and keep things fresh? Comments on a postcard! (or in the designated comments section below I suppose).

Next time on DYHAF...
Part 2 of Freeway Fighter will be up next Thursday and will continue once a month until the character snuffs it or I actually manage to complete the book. I have a feeling I know which will happen first.
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