Writers Block

I finished a scenario in Flashpoint Campaigns and was preparing to write the AAR for a blog post when I hit a crushingly painful brick wall of writers block. Over the years my AAR’s have become more involved affairs detailing things such as strategy, terrain, equipment, etc. This all led to circumstances where I would spend more time writing an AAR than actually playing the mission being discussed. There are some AAR’s on this blog that have taken more than a month to write from start to finish.

When I completed “Ardennes Revisited” from the Reforged expansion pack I had 62 screen captures. The scenario itself took almost two hours to play, and I am easily staring at six hours or more of writing just to get the format consistent with other posts on the same game. It was at this point that I realized quite clearly why I enjoyed my flirtation with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim so much. I was simply playing the game to enjoy it and thought nothing about making a post during the various quests and achievements.

There are a number of quality blogs out there (some of which I have in my blogroll on the left side of this frame) that go in depth about the subject matter, and you can clearly see the level of effort and dedication put forth by the author. Perhaps not strangely enough, the blogs that I tend to gravitate to however are those that have a handful of screen captures and a brief summary of what happened.

A prime example of this is Real and Simulated Wars: This is a quality blog that appears to operate under the principle of keep it simple stupid and pulls it off with deft mastery. Others such as Cry Havoc! and The Sharp End Gaming seem to take a similar approach of not choking the reader off with a word wall of blah blah blah, and I find it much easier to read an excerpt there and move on.

This brings me to videos. They are a logical alternative to a novelized blog post. A picture is worth a thousand words, and moving pictures are well, like sex. The problem is that some videos out there are quite long in the tooth and you wonder if you have the time to invest in a two hour plus long Morgan Freeman style narration about how you chose to align your tanks on a ridge (hint: the first shot fired occurs in episode VI, however the author/director lost me long before that).

This brings me to Sim Deck, a blog that is augmented by a You Tube page full of interesting videos of an acceptable length. Phil does a great job of presenting the material in a compressed timeslot of around 20-30 minutes (mostly due to bandwidth limitations I believe). The end result is something you can watch and take something away from to actually apply in a game. For instance I could not figure out how to utilize artillery in a certain game and used this video to learn how.

An English cleric named Charles Colton is believed to be the correct attribute of the following quote: “Imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery". While I have been content for a number of years to do my own thing, at the end of the day I feel compelled to evolve and take some of the most positive aspects I see in the work of others and incorporate it into my own formula of sorts.

Where this takes me at this point is unclear, and that frankly is part of the fun of growing. So hopefully as I continue to blog about my favorite pastime of video gaming, you will see positive change in the value of the content of this blog.

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