Sunday, February 19, 2012

Podcaster Spotlight: The Independent Characters - Zachary Walter (Part Two)

The Adepticon trophy isn't this nice.
Today we finish out the interview with The Independent Characters. We really appreciate Carl, Geoff, and Zach's time with these interviews. This blog focuses on different ways to play and that is always one of their points of emphasis.

Anything you'd like to say about the Adepticon coverage you'll be doing this year?
Beyond that it’s going to the most watched program of 2012, Superbowl and Summer Olympics included? It’s going to be great fun. I think we learned quite a bit from last years coverage, and we’ve made some really good changes to make it even better. I’m looking forward to doing tactical/strategic analysis of the top-tables again this year. I’m sort of professionally critical, so I really enjoyed the opportunity to watch good players last year and critique their performances, noting their successful decisions as well as obvious mistakes. We’ve got several new features we’re going to be adding
to the coverage this year that we believe will make for more compelling (and discernable) viewing. I’m just hoping we get some interesting army-builds in the finals this year…IG versus Space Wolves, yawn.

What are a few things that you'd like to get out of the rumored 40k 6th edition this summer?
Oh, man, I’m so excited for this. I love changes in games. New ways to play with great models is what I’m always looking for. Like a lot of people I’m hoping for a more complex scenario or mission generator beyond just the 3 x 3, but I’d also like to see the game grow in its complexity of rules
somewhat. The 3rd-5th rule sets were good but are dated, I’d like to see something new and dynamic to arrive. I’d like a true version 6.0 rather than a 5.1.
I know that many competitive players are concerned that GW might “fantasy” 40k, as they did with 8th edition WHFB, with all of the craziness. I’d be fine with that for 40k, as I’ve never thought it was a particularly good competitive-type game and barring them releasing a tournament game-play subset of rules for tourneys, 40k seems to function best for fun or narrative play. Having said that, if 6th could meet both the demands of casual and serious players, I’d be pretty happy as both could be
viable ways to play this awesome game with less headaches if the ruleset accounted for all the various ways its played.

What do you usually look for in a blog or news site on the web?
New content daily (I need my distractions!). The less drama and nerd rage, and the more humor and rumors to keep me excited, the better. This is a game, I’d rather not take it to seriously and I like to see that reflected in the sites I visit. I’d love if a site could put together well-reasoned and executed tactics and strategy articles, stuff beyond just gimmicks or unit- specific strategies, but that might never happen. I’m just not sure that even top players necessarily understand what it is they are doing half of the time. Intuition and practice seems to account for the successes of many strong players, so articulating how to be a good general seems to be challenging. This is something that the ICs will be tackling to an extent in the near future, but as nothing beats print and visuals for demonstrating the
principles of miniature warfare the podcast forum could sure use some web-based accompaniment.

Can you tell the readers a little about the hobby challenge you're taking part in?
Aside from the fact that its making me blind from all of the edge hi-lighting and it might well earn Geoff a world-shattering wedgie? Almost a year back Geoff, Carl and I decided we should get some new armies painted and share the trials, triumphs, and tribulations with our delightful, engaged
podcast community. It’s an idea that’s worked elsewhere, and we thought we’d give it a shot to provide some focus to our hobby-ing for the year (as well as force Geoff and I to finish some damned armies). It’s been great to see members of our audience slowly build, paint and grow new 1850 point lists (with an additional 400 point sideboard). Many fun, well painted, and spirited armies are taking shape and I can’t wait for April to see them complete. Plus, the winners are gonna win some very nice prizes!

How are you prepping the 'guns' to give the atomic wedgie to Geoff?
It’s a complex regime of fitness and nutrition…with a little help from, um, “supplements.” Beyond extensive weight training, I’ve made use of some of my foreign contacts, some of whom since losing their main “employment” in the late 1980s, ya know, following the fall of the Eastern Bloc, have passed along to me some “additives” to provide the extra heft and leverage I’ll need to do Geoff right and proper. But as I’ve said on the podcast, I’m pretty sure Geoff will pull it out for Adepticon. I’ve
got faith in the guy.

From listening to the podcast, it seems like you are an educator. Do you ever face challenges with 40k and being an educator? Do the students ever notice and question you, or parents? Are you a 'proud nerd' when it comes to that or do you keep it in your basement?
Yes, I am a college instructor (and scholar of sorts) and it is sometimes an issue I consider whether my participation in the podcast and the hobby-ing in general might be viewed weirdly by the academic community or affect my reputation. Only recently has the serious academic study of games and gaming become a more acceptable topic for scholarship, and myself and one of my colleagues have begun working professionally on the intersections of gaming and society, combining something we’ve always experienced privately with our professional lives. Regardless, I figure even professors are entitled to hobbies, and more the better if we can maybe get a little career and hobby overlap.
Zach's closet is full of professor jackets.
Funny story: when I was teaching in Oregon a student came to visit me during my office hours and he flat out asked me: “do you play 40k?” I was a tad taken aback because in the small town where the college was located I hadn’t ever played. After a moment I admitted I did and asked how he knew
I played, to which the student responded that apparently I’d mentioned “the hive mind” in a lecture and such aroused his suspicions. I ended up playing with him and some of his friends once for the next year or so before I returned to school myself to get my doctorate. Now I now seed my lectures and presentations with subtle 40k easter eggs, figuring that the gamers out there will recognize the messages and come find me.

While I’m not ashamed of my gaming, I did grow up in the era where gaming was much more under the radar, and coming up in the hobby I was a “closet gamer” for the most part, as I was also an athlete, dj, regularly socialized guy, etc. 40k and gaming is just one of the things I do, so I don’t let it define me though I’m sure I would not be the person I am today without it and most of the time I feel bad for the ‘normals’ who live their lives without games.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell the world?
That I appreciate being asked to do the interview, for the chance to share a little about myself with the interwebz and your blog’s readership. I hope I didn’t ramble too much (it’s a danger with us professorial types). I wanted, also, to comment on my podcast mates, and just say they’re great guys
who, despite being unable to put up a challenging game of 40k, are a lot of fun to work with, game with, and be friends with. They put a lot of hard work into the podcast and its nice to see them recognized for their efforts. Finally, I always like to remind myself and others that a game is just a game and to play it, enjoy it, but don’t forget to get outside every once in a while (even if you, like me, live on Fenris…)