In September, over at the excellent Massive Voodoo blog, Roman posted a fantastic YouTube video clip yesterday called “29 Ways to be Creative”. Here it is …
All of that got me thinking of a wargaming specific list. I think wargaming is a very creative hobby, and with the internet and the growth of the blogosphere, I think it’s getting even more so.
So, below, I’ve given my own version of 29 Ways to Stay Creative as a wargamer. It’s definitely not comprehensive. I think we all get inspired by different things – things we see, word of mouth, ideas from a huge range of media, games we play, things we come across at wargames shows, and so on.
And in that fashion, my list is very personal (and no doubt prejudiced). It's what gets me thinking. I'm betting yours might be very different - and long live that diversity! It’s meant as a bit of fun at the start of a new week and – given that a lot of my current inspiration is obtained from the internet – is a huge thank you to everyone out there who’s hobby stuff and wargames have inspired me to try and do something different.
29 Ways to (try to be) be Creative (A Wargamer’s List)
1. Carry a notebook everywhere – ripped (shamelessly) from the embedded video above, this one really does work.
2. Join a club – in my humble opinion, nothing beats the social interaction side of the hobby whether running games or just joining in as a player. Not rocket science, just great times.
3. Embrace cross-overs – love the look of that ancients unit but play moderns? I keep being tempted by new periods and new sets of rules. OK, so who doesn’t? I’ve done a fair amount of “wargames butterflying” in the past, but these days I’m as likely to try and force myself to think how those colours, that basing, those rules mechanisms would look and work transported or across into the period I’m working on. 2,000 years of history, crossed in a heartbeat.
4. Read History – it’s a lot easier than just making it all up!
5. Give yourself time to be creative – the best ideas are not a eureka moment, but evolve and gestate over time. Looking back I tend to remember a single spark because that lingers in the memory, but often I’m forgetting the long period of planning, talking with hobby friends and experimenting.
6. Listen to Podcasts when painting, modelling, and whatever – this has certainly given me loads of ideas. The guys recording these shows week after week need to be pretty dedicated to keep doing that - and that’s inspiring in itself. Current favourites: Role Playing Public Radio, Jaded Gamercast, El P and the Man, Meeples and Miniatures, The Podgecast and Fear The Boot
7. Try Writing – blogosphere, wargames magazines, self-published rules, scenarios. Spread your word …
8. Never, never, never think that you have nothing worth blogging about – thank you, Mel!
9. See a different world – try wargaming your favourite period at a different or try fitting an RPG approach into a wargame. I’m trying out a mini-campaign right now doing this – full details to follow, so stay tuned folks…!
10. Break your own rules – go further than you thought you could
11. Try a new technique, even if you’re not sure it works. Sometimes it takes a leap of faith to try something new which you’ve read about in a book or online. I felt the same looking at the paint-flicking techniques for rust in the Forgeworld “Imperial Armour Model Masterclass” book. Surely it could never work. I tried it. It worked brilliantly. Leaps of faith – go on, try it.
12. Learn from your mistakes, but never stop experimenting. Even when it means ripping up the terrain you've just spent hours gluing down....arrrrggghhh!
13. Try not to listen to accepted wisdom – when we thought about building some modular First World War trench terrain to run a participation game at Salute 2009, some of the things I read on online forums suggested it might be inflexible, lead to dull games with no tactical subtlety and be generally a dead end wargaming-wise. Three years on, we’re building yet more terrain and people at my club still seem very happy to carry on playing the period. Dead-end? Dull? Well, it certainly hasn't turned out that way so far ...
14. Visualise and dream – try an imagine in your mind’s eye what it will look like when it’s finished, and then be realistic in what you can do in the time available
15. Respect the past and the Fallen – a very personal way to be creative for me, but some of the modelling I have got the most out of has been focused in this area.
16. Realise other people have been here before or are here now – the internet has been wonderful for following in giants' footsteps. Porky’s Expanse, A Gentleman’s Ones – please take a bow.
17. Break the rules and take risks – fixing some of the problems I’ve had with air-bubbles and “Solid Water” made me realise I could do a lot more and get a better result by being adventurous
18. Adopt a complete approach – embrace everything in the hobby, or at least try. Modelling, rules, terrain, club gaming, history … delve deeper into your favourite period
19 Remember original materials – see the word from your lead soldiers’ eyes
20 Think Cinematically – scenarios work best when they’re like a night at the movies. Keep it tense and tight if you possibly can.
21. Try and start a scenario as close to the action as you possibly can – always throw in an early explosion!
22. Quit beating yourself up – relax, this is a hobby, not work.
23. Have heroes who show you the way as gamers, modellers and people – the hobby has many of them. Be inspired. One mountain, but many paths to the summit.
24. Choose a style of painting which suits you - don’t be someone else’s perfect, but find something you enjoy and work at it. I like to catch the eye from a distance. Impressionism, colour contrasts, mood, shapes and not super micro-detail. Works for me. What’s your style?
25. Dream a favourite game – what game settings would you love to have in your perfect game? For me – close assaults, urban ruins, darkness falling, chaos and battlefield friction. They’re my signatures for an intense, cinematic game. Now slot them into a game – Porky had some great ideas in his brilliant post “Getting out of the Boat”
26. Watch great films – it really helped me get new ideas for running all sorts of games
27. Visit museums and battlefields – be inspired by the real thing. Touching the past, physically.
28. Put on a game at a show – people are interested in what you’re trying to do. Honest!
29. Have fun – it’s the only Golden Rule of wargaming.
That’s my list. Have I left anything out? What would you add to your list?