When I first started to seriously consider reviving The Crow's Nest in 2019 the goal was to improve some skills and pick back up a project I felt I had abandoned. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread it increased my desire to build and create to counteract newfound anxieties. With the Dark Forces community seemingly in hibernation the focus of the work was on personal fulfillment. More than anything I really wanted to build the site the right way, poring over every detail to make the best version of the Nest that I was capable of.
But as the work dragged on, I became aware of more and more Dark Forces content in an active, if small, community. A new engine was being built, complete with voxel support for a wonderful blend of old and new visuals. Modern mouse controls were added to the game via the DeHacker utility. Livestreams and VODs were being done breaking down the original DF missions and classic community-built content. The Dark Troopers made a canon appearance in The Mandalorian! There actually seemed to be an audience hungry for more Dark Forces.
Then the unthinkable happened. Before I was ready to reveal my updated site, a new mission was released complete with a big hullaballo on DF-21 and YouTube playthroughs. A new Dark Forces mission, in 2021, after 13 years of silence! And the old ego of 1990's Geoff emerged with a red-hot fury to share what it thought of my original notion of building The Crow's Nest at my own pace.
"You need to review this mission immediately! That's what you do, stay current and lead the conversation about new content! If you don't get the site out the door nobody will care what you think!"
I thought that bit of my brain had been snuffed out. Normally as an introvert I don't suffer much from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out); I'm just fine over here by myself, thank you. But Dark Forces and the Nest reviews seem to be a part of my past I've really attached to. Every time a new retrospective was posted, a new Force Engine preview was released, or somebody rebuilt SECBASE in Unreal Engine and I wasn't there to write something about it a little tickle in the back of my mind whispered that I was being left behind and becoming irrelevant.
The truth is that in the context of Dark Forces I'm already irrelevant. I've missed out on so much of the DF story after years of being away, and it wasn't because people decided to leave me; I left the community.
I'm okay with that. No regrets over the time spent in a dorm room building the Nest and interacting with people around the globe for the first time. And no regrets over spending more time with humans in my immediate vicinity and letting the Nest and Academy stagnate. Each one of those choices meant missing out on something, but each one was the right one at the time, for me.
There's a wonderful NPR story about The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We're All Going To Miss Almost Everything, that everything we do involves trade-offs. You'll never be able to do it all, so what's important is to be present and mindful with whatever you choose to do, and keep focus on the goals you've established for yourself.
In terms of The Crow's Nest, if I try to chase down every new Dark Forces development I won't be able to make the site what I really want. The plan is not to be the go-to site for the latest news and goings-on in the Dark Forces community. The time I have to dedicate to this work requires that it be much more methodical. Besides, I don't think that kind of real-time news or community cheer-leading is where my strengths lie. I'm a storyteller, and what I hope to build here will be much more of a personal retrospective on Dark Forces and the community around it.
Eventually I will get around to reviewing Among The Shadows II... and Among The Shadows I, and Condition Red, and Dark Tide I-IV, and the dozens of other missions that I missed when they were released. I promise not every update will be filled with navel-gazing. But to do those mission and authors justice I need to have the right mindset and the right expectations for what a mission could be at the time they were telling those stories, and that's going to take a little catching up and resetting.
Don't you worry, there's lots of time left for me to do it right. Just so long as I can ignore the FOMO and keep my focus.