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Old July 28th, 2008, 08:57 PM
Karkadinn Karkadinn is offline
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In memorarium to Heroscape customs.

The following is mostly just my opinion. You are free to agree, disagree, or ignore it completely as you please. You are forewarned that there is potential for controversy.

The customs subcommunity was original driven by the extreme lack of official figures. In the battle for all time, where all genres seemingly collided, we were lacking a lot of genre staples. We didn't have ninjas, or zombies, or vampires. With each expansion, new subject matter was tackled, and as the official figures expanded, interest in custom figures shrunk. Why make your own when you didn't even have all the official ones you wanted? What gaps were left to fill that Hasbro wasn't taking care of already? So, fewer customs, and fewer people caring about them.

But that didn't invalidate the previously done work, did it? There were still some beautiful works of art, and they were still just as good as ever, having earned their place in community memory. Or had they? They have their threads, appropriately linked in the index, but how many cards belong in the Halls of Valhalla that never got there? How many belong in the Barracks and were never mentioned? Because there have been so many, after all, and seemingly everyone kept waiting for someone else to care enough to make a nomination. I know that's what I did, and that's something I regret... just a minor regret, but a regret nonetheless.

Customs were going to be less popular simply due to the expansion of the official game. It's basic science, every reaction has an equal and opposite reaction. Where something expands, something else must contract. That was inevitable. So what did we do to fight this and keep the customs subcommunity alive? We flipflopped between different organizational procedures, all equally irrelevant for not having a strong foundation.

When major public interest subsides, it's always up to those few devoted fanatics to carry the bulk of the productivity on their shoulders. You can be nice and relaxed and just hope people will care because it would be awesome if they did, but think about that for a second. When was the last time you cared about anything you didn't have an intense interest in already? When was the last time you marched in a protest whose cause you theoretically approved of? Mailed your local senator about some bit of legality you had issues with? Gone out of your way to make a difference in a way that actually demanded some of your time and a significant alteration of your daily schedule? Doesn't happen much, does it? Don't feel too bad, it's not just you. We're all guilty of it. It's impossible to really make an effort in all the things worth making an effort in, and human nature to not make of an effort as we could regardless.

So the body of the subcommunity withered and died. Then we had ourselves a problem. No one was willing to be the head, you see. It was very touching how inclusive and impartial and welcoming people tried to be when organizing things this way or that way, but at the end of the day very little seemed to ever get done, because no one wanted to be the mean guy and tell people that there needed to be things like responsibility, and hard dead lines, and productive work.

Who wants to treat a fun hobby like work, right? But without a work ethic, nothing beautiful ever comes into this world. Think about all the time and energy an artist puts into his paintings, or a songwriter into his compositions. Customs are a much smaller scale, but when it comes down to it, human nature is human nature, and you either stiffen yourself up and resolve to sacrifice fun for a viable end product, or you keep it fun and produce a puff of smoke.

I should have said all this a long time ago. A really long time ago. I'm sure everyone's figured it out by now, at least, those who wanted to figure it out in the first place. But I had to get all this off my chest. I'm not bitter, I'm just as guilty as anyone else, but I am a little sad. Could I have done something different to keep things going? Maybe if I'd tried a little harder, just a little harder.

Because, and I would like to stress this point, I really did fall in love with the customs subcommunity, and never really fell out of love with it. She may get some hideous plastic surgery and grow fat on frozen dinners but she'll always be beautiful in my eyes, because I'm not looking at the outside. I'm looking at the inside. At the potential. At what could have been, maybe what could still be... at what she was, every once in a while, in the past, in her better moments.

I feel like a dinosaur now. A relic. People have moved on to other things... so many of those I knew are gone for other games, other sites. And the ones left are on other subforums talking about other aspects of Heroscape that I don't have the money or experience or skill to keep up with, even if I'd like to.

I'm going to reminisce about some of the individuals that made up that customs subcommunity body now, if you don't mind. The internal organs and bones and muscle tissue, if you will.

Not necessarily most pleasant, but probably most memorable, and I'm sorry but it simply has to be said... Reapersaurus. Yes, the man infuriated me every second conversation I had with him. Yes, he could be incredibly smug and condescending without technically breaking any blatant rules of forum behavior in a way that would drive anyone insane. Yes, he was opinionated and argued his opinions to the death regardless of how much proof was stacked up against him. But the man knew how to organize things so they'd work properly and have a productive output, and he had a passion for analysis that would leave you happy he'd bothered saying so much about your custom even if half of his longwinded speech was negative. (And boy, aren't I hypocrite... longwinded speech? Yeah, check the current post. I'll be honestly surprised if anyone gets to the end of it.) Everything he did, he gave it his all, from making the customs to reviewing them to supporting contests and other forms of custom recognition. He was a jerk, but he was OUR jerk. And if I were in charge of making that man's virtual tombstone, that is what I would put on it.

Screamingtruth is equally obvious defunct organ in that prestigious body, if less emotionally evocative. He gave up customs, more or less, to take a bigger hand in running the community, and finally ended up where he is today... at the very top of the ladder. Where would we be without him? Worse off, undoubtedly. He's not perfect, but he's a great guy and he does great work at whatever project he sets his mind to. What can I say, except, his customs rocked. If you weren't keeping up closely with which figures were official and which weren't, you could put his side by side with a master set and not by able to tell the flippin' difference. They were simple, clean, elegant. Just the sort of thing to bring people into the game, and help old players be less scared of customs. No one ever really made a card as official-looking as he made his, that was his gift. And of course we can't blame him for prioritizing the maintenance of this community site over making pretty little cards. But we can still miss the pretty little cards.
One of the most significant community events, for me, at least, revolved around him. It was back on the site just prior to this one, a 'hoax' involving a faked up card of some exclusive official figures. The mockup card was done as a joke, before people had access to the real thing to know the difference. Truth hadn't done anything to abuse what minor authority he had on that site, but still, because he was in a position of minor authority, people got mad. Incredibly mad. To my mind, irrationally mad, like a snowballing mob, where one person throwing rocks suddenly made it okay to break into jewelry stores and make off with gold and gems. It sicked and enraged and disillusioned me, because up until that moment, I'd lived more or less under the assumption that we were all one big happy family. And then I saw my family turning on one of its own, one of its most respected and beloved and productive members, because of a petty prank that hadn't hurt anyone. After all he'd done, hadn't he deserved better? I never really got over that, and reacted by emotionally distancing myself from posters, which was a part of what led to my increasing decline in participation. Of course, I'd been living under ridiculous, naive assumptions, assumptions that were better off shattered... but did it really have to be in such a blunt way? In all the time in this community, only one event ever struck me as more disheartening to the community. And I'm not speaking of that one because it has nothing to do with customs.
Frankly, I have more respect than ever for Truth now, because he took up the reins of holding the community together after they did that to him. And that's more than I would have done, in his place.

But I digress.

Who could forget Aratak? He drifted off earlier than most, but his early contributions served like a skeleton to us, giving us goals and form to aspire to and grow along. He did zombies, he did giant mythological statues, he did super heroes... and he did them all pretty well, too! While it would be easy to consider his customs clunky and outdated now, they're still just as functional and enjoyable, if you'll blow the dust off of 'em and give 'em a try. Every once in a while he would poke his head in and I'd hope against hope that he'd come back to stay, but it was not to be.

In the same era of time as Aratak, we had Ozmanstrange. Playing with this guy's customs was like playing with Godzilla. He was giving us two hundred point ginormous heroes back when the concept seemed completely ridiculous, and yet he made them work. Unfortunately, he didn't really listen to commentary and revise his cards or anything like that, so his art was flawed art, but it was definitely original and filled an emotionally-satisfying niche.

And speaking of people who didn't revise their customs, I have much to say of dear Hex Enduction Hour. And I say dear because his customs were, out of anyone's, my very favorite. He shared my love of really weird customs, you see... and by really weird, I mean insane painters with color-coded spinners on their cards, and the people from Clue (yes, the board game), and elementals that swapped figures depending on what terrain they walked on. All marvelously creative, off the wall stuff. I have an intense feeling of nostalgia for his original, old card template, which was plain white with minimal ornamentation. It'd served as a nice little graphical signature for his work and while I couldn't always be certain his stuff was balanced, I was always certain it was going to be fun to play with. The (censored) never revised his cards, either, even though they were so close to perfection and usually only needed the tiniest of textual tweaks to ascend, IMHO, to the HoV, but I forgive him. I ask all of you now, where are the people making hero cards out of characters from other board games? How about stats for the Monopoly shoe figurine? Am I the only one who wants this?

Moving along to HEH's polar opposite, there was Silverstoner. I'm sure I'm not the only one whose jaw hit the floor the first time eyes were laid on his work. He brought customs to a new level, artistically... to the point where you could actually call them art and not be made fun of by the other members of the community! While the mechanics were simply worksmanlike and solid but unremarkable, the amount of effort put into the raw aesthetics was simply amazing. These were cards to print out on expensive paper and hang in your room as posters!

Similarly gorgeous were Atmospro's works. He's a very busy boy with the Codex, but once upon a time he churned out cards almost as visually intense as Silverstoner's, but with moderately quirky choices of character themes. He was varied and intriguing in his choices. Cyberpunk-esque witch hunters, demented carnie folk, a geisha, and (my personal favorite) a Canadian mounty all numbered amongst his graphical offspring. To this day I retain an affection for his works, and along with HEH's cards, Atmospro's are the most likely for me to select as being worthy of inserting into fanfiction simply for the pleasure of writing about them.

And who could forget Euryon's fascinatingly impractical animated card? It was a gimmick, a trick that made the card itself unusable, but it was freaking hilarious and a little brilliantly innovative. While I didn't share his passion for historical units, I loved how every card looked different, a template unto itself, making each unit feel special and unique. With his cards, I feel like I could play a historical war game and actually enjoy it. And you'd know how big a compliment that was if you knew how much historical war games bored me.

Infinitymax did great customs, very solid and entertaining, but what I miss from him the most is not his cards. (With the possible exception of his minotaur brothers, whose cooperative teamwork assault mechanic was truly inspired!) What I miss the most is simply his opinion. When he could pry his fangs from out of Reaper's throat, he was able to give extraordinarily eloquent and useful posts, as intelligent and enjoyable reading as anyone could hope for. Truly a pillar of the customs community. I almost wish I had a plushie of him and a plushie of Reaper to engage in play fights with, except I'm scared he'd hunt me down and beat me up for it.

Grungebob, why didn't you make more cards? I very much liked what little you did, and would have had no problem whatsoever in drafting them blindly into any game. Like Truth, you aimed for clean, simple, official-feeling cards, and there's never enough of those. But what I most remember was how inherently amusing I found the 'Hitch a Ride' ability on the Magruts. Tiny little goblins riding on huge giants? Even huge enemy giants? Priceless.

LordRaidor shared the verbosity that I and Reaper and Imax all textually bludgeoned each other with. Still does, I think, since he appears to be at least semi-active in the games subforum. He always apologized for rambling on about customs, but I loved to hear him ramble, it was a shared trait between us that I had nothing but sympathy for and enjoyment of. The unique layout of his cards was another one of those graphical signature kajiggers I grew fond of, too, and I quite liked many of the individual concepts of his Mageknight figured alien faction, even if it drove me nuts how he felt like he had to appoint each card in the faction at Godzilla levels of power.

Last on my list of emo memories is Netherspirit. His stuff wasn't graphically awe-inspiring, nor was it super clean and neat, but he had a steady stream of good old fantasy units with a variety of interesting but not overwhelming powers coming out often enough that I treated him a bit like a newspaper... 'Oh, let's see what's on the front page this week. Huh, hellhound with a passive wounding ability, cool.' With just a little spit and polish his cards would have been as comfortable for use as any of Truth's, and while not remarkably exceptional in any one aspect, his contributions were reliable and soothing.

There's more, of course. Lots more. You can see for yourself just by scrolling that index of custom creators. I could rant for longer still about how much it pains me that so many other customs have been lost in site transfers, or how so many other customs could have, would have, should have achieved greatness, if only their creators had stuck around a little longer and done a little editing. Or I could talk about how depressing it is to see someone new post a few shoddy customs, then go away without having learned anything from the vast treasure trove that is this subcommunity and its past, only to be replaced by another newbie the week after that. But those are comparatively minor issues. I've said my piece, and gotten the main things that were bothering me off my chest, so I'll leave it at that.

I guess, in the end, all I'm trying to say is that I do remember all the work you guys did, and all the stuff you made, and all the things you said, to make the community what it was. And even if no one else gave a darn, I appreciate it. (I was going to say something other than darn, but I'm trying to keep this child-friendly. Ahem.)

Requiscat in pace.

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  #2  
Old July 28th, 2008, 10:42 PM
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Re: In memorarium to Heroscape customs.

Wow. I really don't know what to say, but I'm gonna say somthing anyway.

I started making customs before I even found this site. Stupid little carboard figures with characters drawn on them. Everyone hated them, especially because I would always change the stats and points after every battle. Then I found this site. I saw the customs community, and was enamored. I spent three days looking through all the old posts, gleaning as much information as I could.

My first thread flopped. The customs were ugly, poorly thought out, and unoriginal. But the critique I received helped me make the second thread, which lasted much longer. FRom that point on, I made customs for fun. Sure, I posted them for feedback, but I was content to print out the card, set the figure on a display shelf, and let it be. What I didn't realize then, but I know now, is that the customs community was in decline. I gradually stopped and slowed down, mostly because of lack of figures to modify for customs. I just kind of drifted off. Of course, there was the TNT process, but that was short-lived and didn't really get off the ground the the Marvel TNT.

I feel sad that the customs community is dead, but I don't regret the time I had with it. I'm just sorry I don't have the same fond memories as you do, Karkadinn.
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Old July 28th, 2008, 11:00 PM
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Re: In memorarium to Heroscape customs.

My customs are far from dead, but for some reason it's especially difficult to keep people around for any length of time on the big projects.

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Old July 29th, 2008, 12:03 AM
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Re: In memorarium to Heroscape customs.

Hey Kark,

You forgot aother other important community member to the beginning of customs: JustJohn has many customs that appear in the Halls and his customs of actual members are beautiful with loads of flavor.

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Old July 29th, 2008, 12:07 AM
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Re: In memorarium to Heroscape customs.

But I haven't even began making mine yet. I have a few ideas, now just where do I get the figures?

http://www.heroscapers.com/community...191#post646191 Check out my Epic Battles! Vote for Samurai Showdown or Northern Outpost!
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Old July 29th, 2008, 12:08 AM
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Re: In memorarium to Heroscape customs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NecroBlade View Post
My customs are far from dead, but for some reason it's especially difficult to keep people around for any length of time on the big projects.
Sorry Necro, but I ve been really busy. My wife and I just had our fisrt child recently and that has taken all my attention. I am still interested in customs and still check this section frequently.

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Old July 29th, 2008, 12:08 AM
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Re: In memorarium to Heroscape customs.

Wow. 2920 words. You should look at CyberMagyver's pokemon customs.
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Old July 29th, 2008, 12:36 AM
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Re: In memorarium to Heroscape customs.

I will sum up my take on what has become of the customs that used to rock...everyone thinks they can do it...I know I can't so I don't try...yes I can mod figs and do repaints but my card building skills are lacking so I don't (well I do but I do not post them here). There are tons of custom threads out there where it looks like someone just sat there and just typed away till they got bored with names and stats and specials. I for one look at peoples custom threads but unless there is an actual figure being used then it really doesn't interest me.

Would really like to see more quality and less quantity.
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Old July 29th, 2008, 12:49 AM
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Re: In memorarium to Heroscape customs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Onacara View Post
I will sum up my take on what has become of the customs that used to rock...everyone thinks they can do it...I know I can't so I don't try...yes I can mod figs and do repaints but my card building skills are lacking so I don't (well I do but I do not post them here). There are tons of custom threads out there where it looks like someone just sat there and just typed away till they got bored with names and stats and specials. I for one look at peoples custom threads but unless there is an actual figure being used then it really doesn't interest me.

Would really like to see more quality and less quantity.
I will mirror Onacara when it comes to customs. Call me picky, but, if the picture on the card does not match the custom itself, then I don't pay too much attention to it. I pay more attention to customs that are actual customs instead of cards that are just typed up with the disclaimer (actual figure not available, etc.).
As for the lessening in customs, I can't provide too much input. I took a break due to a new job and new responsibilities. I'm at a point at work that I can take more time to get back into Heroscape with my son (add to that, it's also summer vacation for the Kylester, so more time to play). To me, everything is like a tide, it ebbs and flows. Customs go down, Marvel or other stuff comes up. Custom units will become the hot issue again, especially now that you can expect to see more figures from WotC. It seems, with more figures, you get more ideas for more customs, not less.

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Old July 29th, 2008, 01:46 AM
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Re: In memorarium to Heroscape customs.

I think I came too late to the party to ever get into customs. Since I started playing Heroscape last July, there was a huge glut of official stuff that I had (and still have) to keep up with. W7, SotM, and Marvel were all coming out, and I had the 6 previous waves and large expansions to track down.

If and when WotC ever stops this train, I might get into the customs community, but I'll definitely have my work cut out for me when it comes to the artistic side of things.

Either way, that was an excellent post which kind of makes me wish that I had been around, Karkadinn. UPC's blog post with all of those Super hero customs gave me a similar feeling, but I've read maybe 2 comic books in my life.

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Old September 13th, 2008, 02:19 AM
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Re: In memorarium to Heroscape customs.

I started typing the following as a response to the Custom Verification thread, but it just seems more appropriate here where I can also mourn the death of the vibrant customs scene...

"These "Custom Verification" Threads are all useful for highlighting the best and most playable customs, but they are a lot of work. Over the course of time there have been booms in the custom community when there are a lot of people expending a lot of energy creating customs.

When the game first started, there were not so many units and there was a lot of room for customs. Now, there are thousands of customs in addition to the many official units and there is not as much room for originality - just look at the Marvel customs area. There aren't many comicbook characters left and many have been done multiple times.

What it takes is one or two individuals to excite the custom creators and drive the community. I did my bit long ago with contests and prizes, JustJohn hosted the Speed Customs competitions and the Barracks, and Necroblade with the T&T (emulating the Marvelscape T&T spearheaded by IAmBatman, allskulls, Firemaster, greyowl,netherspirt, and more).

Those efforts take a lot of work and time. Many of us do not have the time or have other pursuits (like my blog). It will take a real leader to revive the customs community like justjohn did.
"

I personally have not done any customs work since revising MacGreggor for the TnT last May. Before that it was revising Lobster for 2007 Natl Heroscape day. Before that it was Hellboy and the BPRD for the Codex in summer 07.

But the customs creators I would like to honor are the ones that had the most impact on me.

Aratak and his son created lots of cool cards for figures I thought would be cool to put into Heroscape. Between them and Annerios (especially the Aliens) I realized how open and customizable Heroscape is. It is a game system that provides a framework to play the minis game you want. Without those two creators I don't know if I would have ever bought the game.

Then there is Reaper. I agree he had to go and it came down to him or Truth and there really was no choice. Reaper was gone. But his passion and drive in the customs community really was a loss. He didn't make a lot of customs, but he made ones with big ideas. More importantly his critiques of other peoples customs made them better. A lot better.

Silverstoner and Atmospro made works of art.

Screaming Truth - we know he doesn't really have time for customs anymore... But our world is better for it.

I just can't keep up with the customs scene anymore and it seems most of the old-timers can't either.

Reviving the customs community will take the leadership of a few individuals and the teamwork of many.

If you are making customs - pick a few creators you like and be sure to give them feedback. When I was active I spent far more time critiquing units than creating them.

I can barely keep up with the official figures... and my blog...

Karkadinn, thanks for bringing this up...

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Old September 13th, 2008, 08:42 AM
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Re: In memorarium to Heroscape customs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NecroBlade View Post
My customs are far from dead, but for some reason it's especially difficult to keep people around for any length of time on the big projects.

I know that since I started working on my TF2/HS conversion, I've had very little time for anything else, which is a shame. I thoroughly enjoyed being involved in the many various customs processes. I used to look forward to JustJohn's weekly competitions (I even won one ) and if they started happening again, I'd try to enter every week. The popularity of TW's recent custom competitions is proof that there are still many people keen to be a part of something.

I even miss having the time to discuss other peoples customs. I enjoyed the mental challenge of judging the TNT's and I am proud to have been a part of them both.

I guess that the long and short of what I'm saying is that after I'm finished TF2/HS, which is getting close to being finished, I'll be keen to get back into the customs community.
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