Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Babylon 5 was last of the Babylon Stations. There would never be another...

I missed the UPS man today by three minutes, so my proof of D&H isn't in my hands. If it was, the latest piece of serendipity would be even more vivid. As it is, its kind of cute. I was cleaning out some old gaming stuff today and I came across a stash of old newsletters - Black Omega Squadron newsletters. Not many people will know what they are, so I will explain.

Ten years ago, I used to play a lot of the B5CCG. I was a 'Ranger' - a tournament organiser and it was good. I had just discovered the internet and I was contacting other rangers. It was really the first time I had ever done internet communication and I seem to remember it being very scary and very prone to misinterpretation. I remember it was using Pegasus Mail as well. Those were the days. Anyway, this was just before GenCon '98 in Loughborough and we, that being me, Phil Nicholls and Bruce Mason, decided we should do a newsletter and some t-shirts. We did, it all went swimmingly and indeed snowballed from there. Skip forward two years and we were the official arm of Precedence Publishing in the UK and Europe, we ran their promotions and we produced our bi-monthly newsletter, a websites, t-shirts and regular quite large tournaments. The game folded and we moved on. Some left the CCG hobby altogether whilst others drifted into WWF Raw Deal and indeed, the rest is history.

Reading those old newsletters I was amazed by the quality of the content and the nice layout, considering it was done by me on Word 95 with not one moment of training or experience. And in that realisation I understood the place that newsletter had in my development as a person. It was the first time I actually stood up to the plate and not only joined a community but threw off my oft-held belief that I am a crap leader but a great #2. It was the first time I ever used a web application (Hot Metal Pro...) or a graphics package (Paintshop Pro) in anger. It was the first time I had used my contacts in 'the industry' to source advertising and distribution. It was the first time I had tried to make an impact in gaming. I read some of the things - home organised prize distribution, home organised rankings, massive tournaments drawing people from far and wide, a real sense of community - these are all things that I have taken into other fields and used to great effect and within B5 was where I learned them. It wouldn't be too big a leap to say that without my experiences in B5 and Black Omega Squadron, there would not be a Squared Circle, there would not be Omnihedron Games, there would not be Duty & Honour and there might not even be a roleplaying version of Neil today.

Ten years ago. It makes you wonder really. There are names on those newsletters of people that I still see regularly now - Andrew, Graham, Craig, Gordon - and other people who I had forgotten even existed. There are memories that still get talked about now - like massive long finals - and there are others that have passed into memory - like the uncertainty towards the end of the game when we were handed total power.

Ten years ago, I realised I could make a difference and that in the wacky world of gaming if you didn't make yourself one of 'those people that do things' then no-one else would. Tomorrow I should see whether my own self-published RPG is ready for release. Its one big long journey.

I wonder where it will take me now?


Anonymous said...

Good old Black Omega.

I have very fond memories of those days.


Vodkashok said...

I have to admit, so do I. It was when everything like that was new and exciting rather than how it became where it was rather by-the-numbers and expected. Yeah, an awful lot of fond memories.


Gordon said...

B5CCG was my first and only CCG. Even though I tried some others, I never got the same buzz. I suppose with hindsight it was dynamics of social interplay. I miss b5ccg I really do, it still hurts but then life goes on.
Black omega will always have a special place in my heart (i still have the t-shirts) not just for the game play but for the many friendships such communities bestow.