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Heroscape is a Journey

Posted November 5th, 2010 at 04:16 AM by Agent Minivann
Updated November 9th, 2010 at 01:27 PM by Agent Minivann
With the recent news that the *cough* esteemed management of Wizards of the Coast has pulled the plug on Heroscape, I have spent a little time reflecting on the last five years.

At about this time five years ago, I was employed by a company that was just pulling itself out of bankruptcy and a change in ownership. There were many changes going on with the company. It was precarious, but things were starting to stabilize. I had a distant goal of coaching college volleyball, but I was content to stay put with the relatively good pay of my current job of ten years.

In December of 2005, I think as much because they did not want to pay out the company's standard severance package plus unused vacation time, I was fired on trumped up charges. While I knew I was in trouble, but I had not yet learned that I had lost my job, I was walking through a Toys R Us with my wife doing Christmas shopping for our children. I had about $60 budgeted for my own gift. As we were going through the games aisles I saw it. I had seen the commercials for it while watching Saturday morning cartoons with the kids. I had looked at the box every time we went to Walmart or Toys R Us and passed the games. I decided that I would take the plunge because it just looked so darn cool.

Christmas morning came, and I was still kind of reeling from getting fired. I had another job lined up that paid half what I was making, but it was something. We had decided that I would actively pursue getting a coaching job even though it would be a longshot getting hired at all with zero experience coaching. In that odd place, I started reading through the rules. I was getting excited at the possibilities this game provided. It reminded me of playing D&D and other role playing games when I was younger. At the same time it was something that I could share with my then 8 year old son. I could make this game anything I wanted. I could play scenarios. I could play battles. I could play capture the flag. I could recreate elements of role playing games. It was a blank canvas for me.

As pretty much everyone here can relate, I became obsessed. I started looking for the expansions that I knew were out there. I had not had the idea to look for a heroscape forum, but that would soon come. I started to look at ebay auctions. In that process I saw someone mention buying multiple master sets to build the maps that had been designed and posted online by fans. That led me to HeroscapeHQ in the days before its ultimate demise.

On HSHQ and the eventual successor we are on now, I started to see Heroscape customs. I did see some on ebay, but they were so aweful that they hardly deserve mention. It was here on the community that I started to see good customs. I started to see the fan made maps. I started to see a lot of creativity that others had expressed on their Heroscape canvas and then shared with the online world.

Heroscape became a really cool part of my life when a lot of other stuff was really screwed up. We had some problems with our son, but it opened a door for us to bond and connect. I went from not really having a lot of people I cared to spend time with to having a big worldwide dysfunctional family of some really cool people. I took the plunge and started having game days with some of the ones who lived reasonably nearby. For a couple years Heroscape and its community filled a need.

Then something really cool happened. I ended up getting that first college coaching job. That involved uprooting the family from the familiar neighborhood in Utah to a small town in Ohio. Soon after arriving in our new home National Heroscape Day gave me and my son the opportunity to do the same thing we would do in our old place with some more of the cool people in the Heroscape family. We infected a couple of the friends he made there with the Heroscape sickness.

That brings us to the end of 2009 and beginning of 2010. In December I came to a point where I had to step back from my studies. That meant that I also lost my coaching job. Long story short, we decided to return to Arizona after a 15 year absence. The kids need to get to know their extended family. I wasn't finding any work to keep us going until the next adventure in volleyball pops up, so we packed up and came home to the desert. With the move we know we have new Heroscape friends waiting to be found. Heroscape family members to meet without an internet connection between us. New adventures await.

Through it all there has been the drama with Wizards' (mis)management of the line. There has been talk of the end of Heroscape for a couple years now. On the surface it looks almost prophetic. Sure, it was a predictable outcome, but it still stings a little. With the recent reflection on the big impact Heroscape has had on my life the last half decade, I have come to realize that the predictions were wrong. Sure they were right in the literal production sense, but they were simply wrong in every other sense. Heroscape is a canvas. With apologies (and heaping spoonfuls of respect) to the design team, the corporate delivered product has been a series of patterns with numbers to indicate what color to use. We still had that canvas, but so many of us were painting by numbers. Now we are free to paint outside the lines, make our own lines. Craig, Rob, and Stephen's masterpiece was giving us a blank canvas and telling us to create. Colby, Chris, and Jerry gave us some great examples of what our own masterpieces can be. C3G gave us a start. Now the "death" of the game puts the palette and brush in our hands.

I believe when Marvelscape was coming out, someone mentioned something Hero said about Heroscape. Something about its value and strength being that it is a system. It is a system that can be used with any setting, any type of unit, any type of terrain. He was specifically referring to licenses as the future of Heroscape. I think that is the prophetic statement. The future of Heroscape and its long life after "death" is in the other things that we will bring in. When we find that figure to make Raptorians or Dreadguls, or we make something completely outside the established Heroscape mythology with the underlying system, we are bringing Heroscape into its potential.

Heroscape is a journey. Enjoy the ride.
Posted in Musings
Comments 4
Total Comments 4


chas's Avatar
...dysfunctional in what way?

Great story! Yes, for most of us old veterans, Heroscape provides a fine system, and will go on into what I call Fan Scape for a long, long time.
Posted November 5th, 2010 at 10:05 AM by chas chas is offline
hextr1p's Avatar
All very well said. Thanks for sharing. I especially liked the closing statement about Hero's 'prophetic' words.
Posted November 5th, 2010 at 12:51 PM by hextr1p hextr1p is offline
Sherman Davies's Avatar
Beautiful. I mean that.
Posted November 5th, 2010 at 02:51 PM by Sherman Davies Sherman Davies is offline
i_r_beej's Avatar
Nice post. I agree about the flexibility and adaptability of HS. The premise hooked me and the gameplay options kept me coming back.

Good luck to you in your personal endeavours!
Posted November 9th, 2010 at 10:01 PM by i_r_beej i_r_beej is offline
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