Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The makings of a GW External Playtester. (The Ancient and Honorable Order of the TechPriests)

For those who stumble into this and DON'T already know me, I thought it might be helpful to know what a freak with a two decade old hobby defending and assaulting Humans who worship a guy who sits on a golden toilet.

I'm a fortysomething GIS Rulebase Analyst who bought into the game thinking the old Hard Cover Rogue trader book was a roleplaying game. I found the game difficult to comprehend, being almost completely oblivious to standard wargame concepts (If I can glue a clip onto a marine's leg, how come that doesn't let me fire more.... what do you mean we don't even KEEP TRACK of AMMO!?). I probably never would have pushed further into the game were it not for a bold stupid kid named Todd Hallchurch who fell in love with the Rogue trader Miniatures....something I had ZERO tallent building painting or even understanding. He made some AMAZING figs with guns stolen from Transformers and GI Joe figures. He actually had a standing space marine who was armed with a reasonable size DEFENSE LASER.(okay it was small, but it was significantly larger than most vehicle weapons of the day.). I

I went through 2nd edition in my college years and played the Uber power gamer with my college crowd. I had friends in ROTC and studied Platoon and squad SOP manuals (FM 7-8 is a personal favoriteof mine) and was somewhat irked that what produced game victories seldomly resembled modern infantry tactics and manuvering. I'm not fond of those years and were it not for Jervis Johnson producing a small article series called the "J files" in WD and Citidel journals, the gamer in me would have died for sure.


I had the amazing fortune post college to have a lengthy chat with a good bloke who used to work in the GW design studio and not before long I joined "THE ANCIENT AND HONORABLE ORDER OF THE TECHPRIESTS." This was GW's early attempt at external playtesting and I had the luck to be able to work directly with the game designers over the course of 7 years. I've been directly or indirectly (under the blanket of the Honorable Order) credited in 7 40k publications and worked on 2 White dwarf tidbits and some other items.

This was a dream of mine second ONLY to working as Games Developer myself and one I came pretty close to achieving despite the fact of being a "Colonial".

The Honorable Order was disbanded around 5th edition playtesting, though through what I believe is the fault of the Order(external playtesters) themselves, the group lost reputation in the Design studio as being too hard to work with (and finally prone to a major PT leak the only I know of in the history of the Order). They were a good group of well meaning playtesters and a smart bunch too, but bias and passion often overshadowed solid analysis. When a Leak finally occured that was indeed the fault of the Order all were let go besides me and my tiny band of amazying servitors.


I was Tim Sawyer, Leader of the bold and stupid Sawyer's First Chancers, the Last of the TechPriests...The last of a proud order, the last slice of grimy pizza. We had secret handshakes and code words (none of which were required or sanctioned by GW....we were just that dorky) My playtest cell rode into the mouths of Game Studios Guns...Cannons to the left of us, Cannons to the right of us.....Into the Valley of death rode we 7 dorky Rule laywering nerds....
Me clentching the Pencil, and several of my
Playtesting and D-Company gaming Buddies

What can be said of my time in Nirvana is that I feel most people in the gaming verse think they understand how the process works without having ANY CLUE of how such a process works. it's easy to blame a single Name in the studio, when really they are extremely limited by how much influence they have(or don't have) on specific details of the book that they will be applauded/chastised for. and I can honestly say that while I shared many harsh criticisms of unit design/costs, or rules, The GW design studio was a great bunch to work with and I miss my interaction with all of them. They TRY hard and WORK harder than any disccussion forum dares give them credit.

In my time since, I focus much more putting the recreation back into the game and cutting back on the 'tourney style' competitive play which I strongly feel is antithetical to what the game is best at providing. 40k is a game to me which is meant to be played with a pint in hand, hollering a hearty Waaagh! or "The Emperor shields us!" as we foolishly rush our Marine captain out to prick his little power sword into the giant Chaos deamon standing in front of his Brother marines....It is a game where an individual grot can take down a mightly Hive Tyrant if his luck is Juuuuuuuust right. and the stories that stem from those games are those to which songs will be sung in the great halls of Valhalla.


While I don’t see them as often as I’d like any more, I have the best group of gaming dorks to pal around with, and in the coming millennia, I hope to tell you a bout them, my crazy gaming stories, and the work I’ve been up to.

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