|Oh no... they're changing stuff again!!!|
A manager once said that to me, 'things change, deal with it', this was my first job as a bright eyed bushy tailed graduate... after only working there for about two sodding weeks! You see I was being trained on a computer system they currently used, they were showing me how things worked in the office and it was antiquated and quirky. I'd just about got my head around the now 'old' system, when in a staff meeting I was told we were getting a completely 'new' system next week. No cross over period, no gradual hand over... nope... Monday morning we were all getting a crash course in this newer better software that would make our lives happier and easier. I had no reason to doubt her at the time, but I did question the bloody wisdom of having me in the office for two weeks learning the old now defunct system when there was a shiny new one on the horizon, and lets not get into my concerns surrounding such a hasty transition period! Apparently that made me a troublemaker... if you ask sensible questions you're a troublemaker it seems.
|How we really react to 'change'!!!|
That particular change in our office was actually disastrous, not because the software was crap, but because they couldn't just import the data over as easily as they thought we could (quelle surprise) and we ended up losing shed loads of fields and cases. Turns out this particular change wasn't so good for the manager... but... it did make my life easier, so I guess ultimately she was right! The new software though had varying degrees of impact on different people, and not always pleasant. You see while some of the more IT literate amongst the staff found it easy to adapt, some staff who'd been there a long time just couldn't adapt and were seen as dinosaurs and 'removed' over time via voluntary redundancy, retirement or in one messy case a sacking via a lengthy and nasty work tribunal. Despite people like me thinking that it was unwise losing such experienced staff members, considering their vast wealth of knowledge and expertise in the field... but... things change, and not always for the best. It's how we as individuals deal with those changes that determines how we will adapt and view them.
So why the boring preamble to this weeks Sunday Sermon? Well apart from the fact that I'm mostly a boring person! Well it's because their seems to have been a lot of change in the air lately within the hobby, and I wanted to just give you all a real world anecdote of change, and let you all know that things are normally 'OK' afterwards, and we all move on with our lives. However, currently change in the hobby is almost tangible, and you can almost reach out and feel it. The past 12 to 18 months have felt like they've at the very least ushered in a big change in attitudes, and at times a change in the games people are willing to play. But lets be honest, it kind of feels like the industry has gone all Barrack Obama on us of late and has been actively courting change, we're in the Golden Age of Gaming and some of us feel uneasy about it. First up though for the 'change' bandwagon was the venerable old statesmen and erstwhile intransigent curmudgeon of the industry, Games Workshop, who finally decided that what Warhammer Fantasy needed wasn't a slow evolutionary change... nope it needed a 50% radical cock up of a change, and 50% bland iterative stagnation.
This was not change I could believe in, no, this cock eyed approach has birthed the mutant spawn bastard that is 8th Edition. The ugly inbreed slightly retarded cousin to Rick Priestly's glorious lineage. I'll be honest here, I had thought that Warhammer Fantasy needed drastic change for many years before 8th Edition landed. Long before Chaos Daemons in 7th Edition I was advocating a radical approach to updating Warhammer Fantasy. The simple reason being that the game has grown to a size that Ricks original mechanics were never designed to deal with, so I was a banner boy for changed, just not the crap change we've ended up with! Random charges but not random ranged attacks? Come again? Tacking the shackles off of magic and making it a no risk push button to win? You what? Monstrous Cavalry, Steadfast... etc. etc. etc. This wasn't a positive or decisive change in my opinion, it was a mutation and aberration that came about because somebody at Games Workshop knew that the game needed changing radically. Sadly they were either drowned out so we got a half-finished, half-arsed job, or they hadn't got the foggiest idea what it was that needed changing.
I think Games Workshop have known for a long time that they sort of dealt Warhammer Fantasy an almost deadly blow with their treatment of it during the heady days of Lord of the Rings. They sidelined it as a product at points, and ignored it like a slightly bonkers insane elderly relative at a wedding. They literally stuck it in a corner with a bottle of wine and cocktail sausages and left it to its own devices. And, they've struggled ever since to make sense of what it is they need to do to rejuvenate the brand and game. They chose to throw the baby out with the bath water with the last update, and then it seems spent a lot of time trying to put the bath water back in and completely forgot about the baby. What they've left gamers with is not even a decent halfway house for casual gamers and more strategic competitive types, it's ultimately unsatisfying for both camps and can't be easily manipulated by house rules for either group. I have no problem with Games Workshop deciding they want to shoot for the casual gamer... just do it bloody properly and give them a decent product they deserve! Stop pretending with points systems and just get on with it. Seems they're potentially at it again...
|Apparently it'll be coming with added 'fluff' in July.|
So when I heard all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the Warhammer 40,000 rumours the past few weeks and months it was somewhat understandable. I'm not going to cover the rumours, because I'm like the President, I don't comment on rumours. But, what I think we're witnessing isn't necessarily the rational concerns of gamers, no, it's more our very human irrational response to change. Or perhaps more accurately our uncomfortable relationship with the unknown period before the change occurs. Lets face it as a species we don't like not knowing stuff do we? I mean we invented a sky faerie to make ourselves all feel better about not knowing what the fecking hell was going on with the universe. We have a need to know, or explain things, we don't like knowledge vacuums and we don't like uncertainty. I remember managing a team during a horrible period when there were rumours of redundancies, this gave space for the gossip mongers to set the agenda and right royally screw things up. For over two months I found it difficult to direct staff and get them focusing on their work, the lack of any official word meant people were finding it difficult to cope. When the redundancies were finally announced and people knew where they stood, ironically things got back to normal.
|There used to be lots of Space Marine Chapters...|
People can deal with change as long as they know what it is and what it's impact will be. So it will be with Warhammer 40,000. This is why the rumours are causing so much angst amongst gamers of all persuasions, people don't know whether or not to believe them, and if they do believe them and they're not true what then? I personally don't think whether any of the leaks, rumours or outright horse crap that's flying around the Internet are true is actually matters, it's more our collective response to them. It's just enough that they're there and that Games Workshop feel unable to fill that void with any concrete information and that 'helpful' members of the community feel it's their duty to step into the breach. Change happens and people deal with it all the time, it's the waiting for it to happen that kills us. So why is our industry so bad at handling these transition periods... no scratch that, why is Games workshop so bad at it? I think we're partly to blame as a community. Lets be honest here, a lot of us love giving Games Workshop a good old kicking. No matter what they do, someone somewhere will take offence at it. I often think they can't win.
|...now not so much!!!|
I mean I keep hearing people say that they need to get 6th Edition right... or else! It's almost become a mantra on message boards and Blogs, hell I think even I'm guilty of using the phrase once or twice. What nobody is saying is what 'right' looks like. Does anyone actually know what they want? Apparently a few people can answer yes to that question, they want 5th Edition with better missions and a few tweaks to vehicle rules it seems. In short people don't want change... but change happens and we need to deal with it. Games Workshop must also often feel like they can't win, in the past they've used playtest groups but some crazy test things leaked out, and they got lambasted for it by us 'fans'. Now they're trying to keep schtum and we all take a pop at them for being aloof and out of touch. If you were psychoanalyzing them as a company you'd call their current behaviour a defence mechanism. They just need thicker skin as a company, and to not take it all so personally, even when some people try making it personal. Because we can deal with change. I dealt with the change to Warhammer Fantasy in the only way I could, I sulked for about two months and decided I liked other games better and I moved on.
I suggest all those 40k gamers out there wailing venomous lamentations at the sky while shaking their fists skywards towards the imaginary sky faerie who fails to heed our prayers... just get on with playing and enjoying the game you've currently got for now, and worry about tomorrow when it actually happens. Because what's the point in worrying about something you can't change? Some people have said on Blogs and message boards that if there's an outcry on the Internet over some of these rumoured changes that Games Workshop will have to listen. Yeah, because they've done that in the past right? Look, I think we'll all find out that the look, layout and rules for 6th Edition Warhammer 40,000 were locked down months ago. They would have to have been finalised months ago. Think about it, they need to have printed boat loads of copies for a world wide launch of the world biggest wargame, in multiple languages, and that takes time to amass the required stockpile. They will then have to ship them all over the world, so logistically they'd need to have had the final copy off to the printers in China a good 4 to 5 months ago at least. So guess what, that change you're all worried about... it's already happened, you just don't know about it and there's nothing you can do, so lighten up already.
The industry is changing and morphing, not just Games Workshop. Privateer Press seem intent on making HoMachine as big and brash as they can, and growing their share of the industry. Mofaux is also constantly in flux it seems, having new and 'exciting' expansions bolted on every two seconds whether we like it or not. Infinity looks like it's finally getting its much vaunted and anticipated campaign system and official missions. We've had Fantasy Flight Games finally throw their hat into the ring and release a wargame. In fact there are new wargames being announced at an alarming rate... I've spoken about the Golden Age of gaming in the past, and I'll not got over old ground here again. But for the love of that imaginary sky faerie I mentioned earlier, can people please learn to embrace the change that is happening around them? Sure not all of it will be positive or suit you, but seriously there's so much of it going on right now in this great hobby of ours that some of it simply has to suit you, or at the very least be to your tastes. You just have to find out what it is. It's not change that defines the world around us, it's how we adapt to that change that shapes the world we live in... or more importantly the hobby we all love, yeah I said more importantly! Change isn't necessarily bad, good or indifferent. it just is. Deal with it. Peace out!