A Return to AARland

Lots of really cool things have happened to me in World of Tanks, but two in particular stand out because of how they link to an earlier period of my gaming and internet life. The first occurred on a random battle on Steppes, when someone (I forget whether on my team or the opposing team) suddenly shouted out to me, asking if I were the same person as on the Paradox Interactive forums. Also, when I joined QSF-X one of the people I first started to platoon with asked me the same question. I must admit to a certain warm glow that I was recognised – internet non-so famous! – because for a time I put my heart into a certain portion of the Paradox Forums, in particular the AAR forums.

The Paradox AAR forums are quite unlike anything I have ever discovered elsewhere on the internets, as a community, and has a place to recount the games we have played in a vast variation of styles. Some AARs are essentially full-length novels, whilst others are the barest bones of gameplay – a few screenshots with sparse accompanying text, and everything in between. I garnered a certain reputation there by being a very prolific commentator, to the extent my profile records me having made over 17,000 thousand posts, most of which were made between 2003 and 2008.

When I became ill, I never had the energy to re-engage with the forums as I wished to, so eventually I formally stepped back, and for a few years hardly visited. Along the way I played a lot of EVE Online, fell in love, married, became a father, and amassed nearly 9k games in World of Tanks. However, there was been something calling me back for some months now. The sound was subtle to begin with – really just a desire to once again descent into a Paradox game – in this case Crusader Kings 2.

The original Crusader Kings was always a favourite of mine, despite its flaws, because it was so easy to construct stories from the interplay between the characters. Crusader Kings 2 is a very worthy sequal, being deeper and richer in all particulars. The various DLCs have only added to the depth of the game. I determined I was going to rate for Rajas of India before diving in properly, which I did. I started a game, and now I am thoroughly invested.

My main game at the moment is as Ireland. I began as the Earl of Dublin, and went from there. Part-way along I realised that the reign of one of my characters was so full of incident that it was sure to be remembered, and the spark of an AAR began. Originally I was going to write something based from the point of view of his immediate heir, showing the troubles of living in the shadow of a great ruler. Indeed I stopped playing for almost two weeks, thinking about things, but then I changed my mind. Rather than dilute matters by looking at the heir, I decided to write a series of short entries about the life of this one ruler, in a variety of styles.

Along with starting to write though, I also began to read other AARs once more. Some of these are just pure fun, others have useful gameplay tips, and some are just very good stories (some are also all three). Along with the reading, comes the commentary, and with a wry smile I noticed my post count has started to tick upward once again. I am taking things slower right now, not “pigging out” like I sometimes used to do on AARs. Still I am following a reasonable number of currently active AARs, and I am sure that will increase as time goes by.

Of course, one reason to read – and comment – is that it is only fair to read and comment in others’ work if you wish people to read and comment in your own. And touchingly, I find myself well-remembered on the forums, even by some folks who were not members when I mostly left. Which is quite weird, actually, to think that in this one community I have a certain amount of e-fame. It is good to be back and active in that community though, and I truly hope to manage to be so for another good long stint.

The only game I am hoping to get on the Steam Summer Sale is indeed EU4. HoI4 will probably be in my Christmas list at this rate. Meanwhile I am very much enjoying playing Crusader Kings 2 (including now a co-op game with a friend of mine once/week).

The AAR is Stories of King Sean. If the posting here is a little less, well, that project will be partially the reason why.

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