Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Starting something new...

This diagram is yet another reason to hate 'web 2.0'

... and hopefully exciting. It's something I've been talking about now for quite some time, long before I started this here blog. A few people initially wanted me to get my ass on the internet and partake in some web 2.0 shenanigans. Yeah, I too hate the phrase web 2.0 (I quite like the word Shenanigans), but as Lauby said in my interview with him for the HoP Idol contest, people do at least know what you're going on about when you use it. No matter how irksome you might find it as a phrase. If you don't know what I'm on about, well basically it's all about user created content. Things created by the great unwashed, you and me providing the content rather than the normal channels, sources, media etc. producing it and us all just consuming it passively. It's about getting involved and doing it for yourselves, a bit like 'sisters'! Encouraging a state where we all have a voice, no matter how annoying.

I'm going to be blunt here. I hated the idea of web 2.0, the idea that idiots like me could add our own voice to the already bewildering vortex of static and noise, and add yet more confusion to the message being transmitted, it just seemed like a bad idea. I found most wargaming forums pretty damn frustrating experiences, full of people who were convinced they were right. Rather than accept the fact that they were just somebody with an opinion, oh no, they believed they were right. Yeah, sure we all think our opinions are right, otherwise we wouldn't hold them, but when we call them opinions we accept the possibility that some new information could come along that could change our opinions somehow, and we might learn something new. If we start believing our opinions are fact, as is so often the case with forum dwellers, we preclude the possibility that they might change, and in short accept that we are living in a state of general ignorance, and for me this is where web 2.0 was heading. Jake Thornton has had problems with this intransigent attitude.

So it was with some trepidation, I have to admit, that I started the Frontline Gamer blog. I wasn't convinced that people would A) want to listen to what I had to say, B) that even if they did, that there wouldn't be enough sensible voices out there to make it worth my while doing it and C) that because of my opinions the blog would just revert to the base form of human nature we see on internet forums, as my thoughts are hardly 'mainstream' and 'popular'. Or so I thought. Also I'm still not convinced what I have to say is worthwhile, or even interesting to most people, and fundamentally I wasn't sure I wanted all the hassle and work, just for people to turn round and tell me what I do is rubbish. I'm male, and our ego's bruise very easily! I was wrong on all counts though, and I'm more than happy to admit it. You lot, the people who read my blog have proved that there are sensible wargamers out there, capable of holding their own opinions and beliefs, while respecting those of others. Thank you, for restoring some of my faith in humanity. You've also proved that actually there are people out there who want to hear what I've got to say about the hobby, even if they don't agree with it. And some of you find it interesting, entertaining and worthwhile.

Right now I feel like Charlie Sheen, except without the hookers
So although my blog isn't quite yet 5 months old, and in many ways is still growing and evolving, I'm calling my initial tentative steps into web 2.0 interactions a success. Now that might come back to bite me on my huge hairy ass in the future (no doubt it will). However, I'm told by those who have experience in these things that for a new blogger, never before having started a blog or been involved in a blog, to have started a blog under 5 months ago, and to have sailed past 100,000 hits in that time frame is quite an impressive feat. I personally have no yard stick to measure that performance against. It could be distinctly average performance, and those telling me it's good going, could quite frankly not realise their own performance is poor (sorry guys). But quite honestly, I just have to take people's word for it that for an out of the way wargaming blog it's not half bad performance. For that I guess I have to thank all you lot for reading my articles and sticking with me; for giving me advice and pointing me in the right direction. So where next for my web 2.0 career?

This blog was the start of the experiment, as I said, not the experiment itself. I'm a researcher and we test things slowly and surely, we collect data and refine our hypotheses. But now, with phase 1 out of the way I think I understand a little bit better what people would like to see in terms of content, and indeed, that there are people out there willing to consume it. So onto phase 2 of my web 2.0 experiment, podcasting. Yeah, I've decided to start doing some podcasts with a few friends of mine. To be precise the Cursed, Mr Chaos Space Marine and Sorrowshard from the blog Rant in E Minor. Right now we're all in that wonderful experimental phase, where we're trying to work out what it is we're doing, and whether or not we have enough stuff to say. However, more importantly whether it's interesting, informative, engaging or funny enough for people to want to listen to us prattle on. We have lots of ideas and we want to run with them, but we also want to remain focused and with our feet firmly on the ground. There is no point in running before we've even learned to crawl.

Long and short of it is this, we're fumbling around trying to find a formula that works. When we do we'll let you know, possibly via this here blog or Sorrowshards Rant in E Minor. But, for now just stay tuned. Why am I telling you lot this? Well I'd love to hear from you, which podcasts do you like and why? Also, which podcasts do you hate and why? We'd also all love to hear from you in terms of what you'd want to hear from podcasts, gaps you think need filling, topics covering... anything really. So get jotting your thoughts down below. Because we really do want to hear from as many people as possible, because although we want to do this for our own reasons, we do want people to tune in and listen to what we have to say, and find it useful or entertaining. Do you listen to podcasts? If so when and how do you listen to them? All of this information is useful to us, and will help us shape the sort of podcast you want to listen to. As for this blog, does phase 2 of my web 2.0 experiment mean the death of the Frontline Gamer blog? Hell no! I enjoy writing my blog, and as long as that remains the case, and there are people who enjoy reading it I'll be here as usual, sprouting my own unique brand of web 2.0 nonsense. Peace out!


  1. The Curtain opens! this should be an interesting experiment and I'm glad to be on board as a dramatis persona.

  2. Hopefully Mr Shard we can provide something interesting and entertaining for people. I'm not going to rush into it and I would like to hear what others have to say. I think we've got some damn fine ideas as it goes actually and working through the kinks over the next month or two should show us if we're on the right track!!!

  3. i'm really looking forward to try something different as a podcast and to be a part of this. I swear it won't be a rant about my Cursed luck each week!!!

  4. No it won't Chris. Because if you start going off on one we'll just turn your mic off!!!

  5. A podcast sounds like a smashing idea! Of course, I always think podcasts sound like a smashing idea, but I never get around to listening to them. I enjoy a it of youtube now and again but I just can't seem to wrap my head around the podcast. Too much like talk radio perhaps? Maybe I'll make it my goal to try one out when you produce yours. I'll have nothing to compare it to, so I'm sure it'll be the best I've heard yet!

  6. OMG I would SO listen to that Podcast!
    Finally, someone who I actually LIKE making a podcast? I'm there....
    (no offense to other podcasts, it's just that I actually read yer blog, so...there's that I guess...)
    Also, most podcasts are super-focused on their 'thing,' so a broader, 'hobby-based' blog discussing a larger spectrum of....stuffs would be da awesome.
    Please, please, please tell me there'll be drunken ranting in cool British accents...
    DO WANT.

  7. @SinSynn, drunken ranting in cool British accents... you didn't tell me you knew Unique_Geek!!!

    @The Inner Geek, I think that's the thing. They're not for everyone a bit like blogs. I have a list of pitfalls I personally want to avoid.

  8. I would require libations of finest Kentucky straight , yOu mUsT SeND iT !

  9. Hope everyone can understand the good old Brummie accent!
    I'd listen to it just to hear Chris bemoan his luck ;)

  10. Thing is Jez you just have to turn up to the club for that!!! PMSL

    Honestly, could he have any other nickname than the cursed? Genuinely?

  11. This is such great news! Very much looking forward to see how this will turn out.

    I'm not really a big podcast consumer though. The ones I listen to with any regularity are The D6 Generation (good, but getting a bit stale) and Minions of the Monster Master (not really comparable since it's an actual play podcast).

    A broader base sounds good (as long as there's lots of Infinity in there!) although you'll have to be careful not to allow it to get too much of a jack-of-all-trades. Hmm... tricky but exciting!

    Best of luck to you all!

  12. I only listen to two podcasts semi-regularly, D6 Generation and World's End Radio.

    D6 Generation I like because it is established, professional, and they get good interviews. I also like that it covers a lot of different sorts of games, and mostly that it goes for four hours at a time! I know they get some criticism for that but I like it. I also appreciate their "no-hate" policy. What I don't like is that their PG-attitude sometimes make me feel as though they are holding back on adult topics.

    World's End Radio I like because they are Australians, and it's good to hear opinions that are culturally similar to my own. They are also very professional and both of them come across as very intelligent and critical guys. Like me they grew up on GW games but they have branched out. I also like that they talk like grown-ups, so if they need to say something is fucked they say it straight up. What I don't like so much is the amount of time they spend talking about Blood Bowl!

    I used to listen to 40k Radio a while back, but I lost interest as it became pretty much like most of the blogosphere: "reviews" that were just guys going through (basically reading out) new books with a fine-toothed comb, articles that didn't tell me anything I didn't already know, and interviews with "celebrity" 40k players about the metagame. Yawn. Then they had some sort of controversy and disappeared as far as I know.

    So yeah, my advice would be, if you want to please someone like me, give your considered honest opinions about things, discuss a wide variety of game types and gaming issues, and get as many interviews with designers, artists, whatever as you can. Assume your listeners are as smart as you are and interested in the things you're interested in, not what you think they'll be interested in.

    Hope that helps!

  13. @Martin, Thanks very helpful as always. I have an idea in my head that I hope we can make work, or indeed makes sense to gamers out there. It could all just fall flat on it's face I guess, but I'm prepared for that to happen I guess.

    @James S, cheers never really listened that much to worlds end radio, so I'll go check it out today. We'll definitely be speaking our mind and letting people know what we think, and some of the things you describe as negatives are already on my pitfalls list, along with in-jokes, swearing because its 'cool' and being rigid in our approach. It all sounds vague right now, but I am working on it and anything any of you can drop down here in comments will help us firm up our thoughts greatly. Cheers.

  14. You made mention of wanting to hear some things people don't like about podcasts. Here goes.

    #1 - Gimmicks. I find Lost Hemisphere almost unlistenable because of that one boisterous overenthusiastic bloke who does the intros, Fell Calls' Top Fives were just a string of nonsequiturs toward the end, and The D6 Generation, while basically decent, is bloated with slots and features that feel like they're there for the obligation, not for the content.

    #2 - Not knowing or caring what you're talking about. See also: Fell Calls, again toward the end. There's getting things wrong and then there's not bothering to get them right and THEN there's openly admitting that you don't care if you're right or not.

    #3 - No backup plan. Sometimes, if there's a long-distance contributor or interviewee involved, the technology will fail, and that's fine: but broadcasting the stop-start monstrosity full of gaffes, apologies, line noise and distant mutterings is a no-no. This isn't live radio. Have something else to talk about. A good episode on an unexpected topic is better than a bad one delivering what was advertised.

    #4 - Loss of agenda. Whether it's phoning something in because it's what's hot on the blogs this week and so you have to talk about it whether you're interested or not, or drowning in a sea of in-jokes and bickering, or one person's pet horse coming out for another ride around the paddock (this is partly why I won't listen to Boosted Damage on principle), the drift away from what you're actually interested in talking about and able to talk about with some insight is a killer.

    #5 - I don't have a nifty one-line descriptor for this... but here we go. If I wanted to listen to a bunch of ordinary gamer dudes chatting about stuff in an ordinary gamer way, I can pop up to the local GW or round my mate Ben's house or wait 'til Tuesday's Warmachine night or what-have-you. Your voice has to be worth hearing. You have to be saying something that's more than just what I'd hear over any gaming table you'd care to name. I don't think you'll have a problem with this one, given the sheer breadth of stuff you play and the generally nuanced take on it that you present, but it is a Thing.

  15. @Von, thanks for that, all of it was excellent and I'll be chucking that down on my list of things to be aware of. If we don't think what we're planning on doing is going to work, we just won't do it. But we think it's worth a try.

  16. I've only really followed the one podcast, and that's Lost Hemisphere. I can cope with the occasional recurring silly gimmick bit, because the vast bulk of each episode is folk rattling about what they enjoy. And, they changed primary presenter recently, so there's less of the gimmick moments.

    To me, what LH do well is to talk in a relaxed, fairly well flowing way, without too much "um", "er", nervous laughter, or other verbal tics, that have put me off when I've tried other podcasts. They're as much into the community and modelling aspects of the hobby as they are into winning games, which also appeals.

  17. @Fiendil, cheers. Yeah we spoke about lost hemisphere as well, and like you I like the way they present. Thing is when just chatting and talking you'll get pauses and um's and er's, it's only natural. However, you can edit them out in post production, and that's where a lot of hobby podcasts seem to get it wrong. I also think you could potentially cut a lot of material down in some of the podcasts I've listened too recently and I think they'd be improved massively for it. Just because you had a 3 hour chat it doesn't mean it was all killer. Some of it was invariably filler. Thanks.

  18. I'm currently going back in time to read all articles on your blog and so I found this gem! This podcast that was planned, is it floating around the internet somewhere or did real life/lack of time/lack of motivation/whatever get in the way? :p

    1. No, it's still on the back burner though. It was a collaborative project between a number of people. We did do some test recordings and sent them out to others we knew to see what they thought. On the whole they were positive. The difficulty came when trying to arrange everything and getting peoples diaries to mesh. Still a lot of excitment about it, but right now I've got other things on my mind and getting in the way... in short everyone wanted me to do all the leg work! :P