A Decade Under the Influence of Online Games

Here we are, ten years and more than four thousand posts later, and I am still notably bad at online games.  But I persist.

Being there achievement, blogging version

Being there achievement, blogging version

The title is actually wrong, but I couldn’t come up with a better one.  I can prove I have been playing online games for 30 years.  I even have physical artifacts from the era.  Hell of a year for games… and movies.  I’ve merely been blogging about them for the last decade.

Anyway, for those keen to review past attempts at anniversary posts, here is the list:

I actually did a lot of work on those posts around years five and six.

Base Statistics

An attempt to quantify what I have done here in the last twelve months.  The change over last year’s totals are noted in parentheses.

Days since launch: 3,653 (+366)
Posts total: 4,075 (+368)
Average posts per day: 1.11 (-0.02)
Comments: 27,959 (+2,401)
Average comments per post: 6.86 (-0.04)
Average comments per day: 7.65  (-0.15)
Spam comments: 1,312,165 (+34,173)
Comments Rescued from the Spam Filter: 408
Average spam comments per day: 359.2 (-29.6)
Comment signal to noise ratio: 1 to 46.9 (-3.1)
Comments written by me: 3,531 or 7.9%
Images uploaded:  10,416 (+1157)
Space used by images: 2.3 GB of my 3 GB allocation (78%, up 8%)

I continue to post about once a day, but all other metrics remain in decline.  Even spam comments were just one third of what they were last year.  What does it mean when even spam bots are tiring of your blog?

Then I go over to Feedly and look at the stats for the blogs feed and is says crazy things like this:

9,000? That cannot be right!

Seriously, it says this

9,000 followers can’t be right… hell, even 9 stories a week is optimistic.  The stats from the blog say 7 tops.

Meanwhile, the site (noted down below) that sent me the MOST referral traffic shows up with this number.

Being on the CSM doesn't help on Feedly I guess...

Being on the CSM doesn’t help on Feedly I guess…

So there went logic out the window I guess.

The next highest number I could find in my feeds was this:

WoW, really not as popular as me it seems...

WoW, really not as popular as me it seems…

I call shenanigans on the whole thing, unless my site is just a magnet for people addicted to RSS feeds and daily-ish posts.

Life on the internet.  Anyway, those are the basic numbers.  More detailed nonsense is available after the cut… unless you’re reading via RSS, in which case it is all there in your reader of choice, because I love you right back RSS junkies.

Now, on to the labors.

Demographics

A legacy entry on the list, one I thought would be interesting, but which has ended up being pretty static over time.  Basically, a video game blog written in English tends to attract people from countries with populations that speak English, without about a half of all traffic coming from the US.

More reddish means more visits

More reddish means more visits… also, last year’s chart, because the colors haven’t changed

The top 20 countries that send traffic here.  The top of the list remains pretty static from year to year, with the bottom half fluctuating a bit.

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Canada
  4. Germany
  5. Australia
  6. France
  7. Netherlands
  8. Sweden
  9. Poland
  10. Spain (up 1 spot)
  11. Denmark (up 2 spots)
  12. Russia (up 2 spots)
  13. Norway (down 1 spot)
  14. New Zealand (up 1 spot)
  15. Belgium (up 2 spots)
  16. Finland (up 1 spot)
  17. Italy (up 3 spots)
  18. Czech Republic (down 2 spots)
  19. Romania (new)
  20. Hungary (new)

Brazil and Ireland fell off the list.  Then again, I was kind of surprised that Brazil was ever on the list.

Meanwhile, the “exactly one visit” list has been reduced to 10, down from 18 last year:

  1. Equatorial Guinea
  2. Montserrat
  3. Central African Republic
  4. Gambia
  5. Kiribati
  6. Somalia
  7. Mauritania
  8. St. Pierre & Miquelon
  9. Eritrea
  10. Liberia

Only Mauritania and the Central African Republic returned to the list from last year, so eight new countries or other locations have visited exactly once.

Incoming!

Top referrers over the last year, excluding search engines.

  1. Low Sec Lifestyle
  2. Reddit.com
  3. Total EVE
  4. EVE Bloggers
  5. Twitter
  6. Greedy Goblin
  7. Blessing of Kings
  8. Keen and Graev
  9. WordPress.com Reader
  10. Inventory Full

EVE Online sites top the referrers chart again this year.  The game, for all of its flaws and reputation, does have a closer knit online community than many games.

Even Gevlon makes the list largely because of EVE Online related cross traffic.

Reddit also comes from that direction as well.

Technically, Reddit, which is way up the list this year, isn’t an EVE Online site, and most of the traffic comes from ongoing comments pointing to the post Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!, which never gets old.  But the Casino War ended up with a few of my posts getting linked over in /r/eve, and you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than that subreddit.  You can find every bad thing you’ve ever heard about EVE Online there.  It is worse than any other MMO related subreddit I have seen.  And, given the angry, semi-literate comments being linked there generates, I probably would have been happier without the traffic.

The rest of the list is less specific.  There is no common thread.  Blessing of Kings remains popular enough that its blogroll drives traffic.  Keen and Graev have a short blogroll on which I am listed.  Bhagpuss and I link back and forth whenever possible.  The only surprise is that I get that much traffic from the WordPress.com Reader, which isn’t really all that good.  But somebody must be using it!

Top referrers over the life of the blog, again without search engines.

  1. VirginWorlds
  2. Blessing of Kings
  3. Low Sec Lifestyle
  4. WordPress.com Reader
  5. EVE News 24
  6. EVE Bloggers
  7. Jester’s Trek
  8. Google Reader
  9. Keen and Graev
  10. Hardcore Casual

The joy of inertia.  My feed hasn’t been active on VirginWorlds for a few years at this point, but there it is, still at the top of the list.  Even Reddit’s love for one odd druid post over the last few months couldn’t crack the all time list, which has a decade of weight behind it.  Still, there is the WordPress.com Reader again.  It has been around in one form or another for about half the life of the blog, but I still can’t picture getting that much traffic from it.

Search Engines

I left out search engines from the above, because as far as traffic goes, Google is two orders of magnitude over any other referrer. So putting Google there just pushed somebody else off the list, and I would rather mention a fellow blogger than Google.

Bing, the next biggest would almost make the list for this year, but Inventory Full aced them out by less than a dozen clicks.  Bhagpuss > Bing if you are an MMO blogger.  No other search engine even comes close to making the list.  But here is how they ranked over the last year:

  • Google
  • Google Image Search
  • Bing
  • Yahoo
  • Ask.com
  • Yandex
  • Duckduckgo.com
  • AOL
  • Google Mobile (the app I guess)
  • Myway.com
  • ixquick.com
  • Dogpile.com
  • Baidu
  • earthlink.net
  • kvasir.no
  • Yahoo Image Search

Everything after ixquick.com rang in with a single digit, with Yahoo Image Search bringing up the rear with 2 referrals over the last twelve months.

Social Media Sites

Again, a look at a specific range of sites as opposed to the general list.  Two of the social media sites made the top ten referrers for this year, Reddit and Twitter, but I figured I would rank them all in their own list, just in case you were wondering how I stood with Pintrest.

So here is a list… I cast the net a bit wide as to what I consider social media… from the last twelve months:

  • Reddit.com
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Netvibes
  • Google+
  • disqus.com
  • newsblur.com
  • Anook
  • Pocket
  • Tumblr
  • digg.com (It is still alive!)
  • Pintrest
  • i.Reddit.com

Google+ might have been higher, but a few months back the automatic posting option from WordPress.com changed so that it posts so that only *I* can see the entries.  Not very useful.  Every click from Pintrest was to the post about a ramp I made for LEGO cars for my daughter’s birthday eight years back.

Outgoing!

Over the last year, what links on the blog have people clicked on and where have they been sent.

  1. Wikipedia (Castle Wolfenstein being the most popular click)
  2. Civ Fanatics (Running Civ II on Windows 7 64-bit)
  3. Battle.net (Mostly April Fools stuff)
  4. Daybreak Games server status page
  5. Reddit
  6. Kickstarter
  7. Inventory Full
  8. Zkillboard
  9. Greedy Goblin
  10. Hardcore Casual

That is a bit of a change over the last year.  The first three are identical.  The fourth is because Daybreak has suffered from some outages and nobody else seems to have a link to their server status page.  Kickstarter posts have been a thing I suppose, and Reddit is where all the EVE Online news is these days.  And then we finally get to another MMO blogger!  Only three of them made the list.

Over the life of the blog

  1. Pokemon.com and various sub sites
  2. Wikipedia (Castle Wolfenstein being the most popular click)
  3. Civ Fanatics
  4. Battle.net
  5. EVE Online official sites
  6. Hardcore Casual
  7. Keen and Graev
  8. Blessing of Kings
  9. Kill Ten Rats
  10. Bio Break

Meanwhile, as with incoming, the outgoing is very much influenced by the weight of time… and people’s love of Pokemon I guess.

Most Viewed Posts

Over the last year

  1. WoW and the Case for Subscription Numbers
  2. LOTRO and the Great Server Merge
  3. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  4. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  5. SOE Finally Gets a REAL Server Status Page
  6. When is WoW Legion?
  7. Too Late for Torchlight II?
  8. Level 85 in EverQuest… Now What?
  9. Me and the Medium Higgs Anchor Rig
  10. The Mighty Insta-90 Question – Which Class to Boost?

Herein we see the power of Google.  April Fools did not make the cut this year!  Alamo is long standing Reddit bait, but only the Higgs Anchor Rig post was similarly boosted by Reddit.   And, as noted above, apparently nobody else links to the Daybreak (formerly SOE) server status page besides me.

Over the life of the blog

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  4. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
  5. April Fools at Blizzard – 2013
  6. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
  7. Diablo III vs. Torchlight II – A Matter of Details
  8. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  9. The Mighty Insta-90 Question – Which Class to Boost?
  10. World of Warcraft Magazine – Issue 2

Inertia and search engines rule the roost again here, though Reddit managed to push Alamo onto the list at last.

Categories and Tags

Top Ten most used Categories

  1. EVE Online (1084, +173)
  2. World of Warcraft  (1034, +51)
  3. EverQuest II (629, +46)
  4. EverQuest (496, +24)
  5. Lord of the Rings Online (361, +11)
  6. Sony Online Entertainment (336, +1)
  7. Blizzard (309, +22)
  8. Instance Group (273, +0)
  9. Humor (227, +3)
  10. Misc MMOs (181, new to list)

Categories are a hard set item, every post has at least one.  The current list of categories is currently 91, up from 88 last year.  I believe I converted three tags to categories as I deemed they were used often enough to warrant that.

EVE Online passed World of Warcraft for the number one spot this year, largely thanks to the Casino War and my not playing WoW again until July of this year.  I made the Null Sec category a sub-category of EVE Online, since every null post is also an EVE post, so it fell off the list and Misc MMOs made it into the 10th spot.

Top Ten most used Tags

  1. Progression Server (98, +5)
  2. Fippy Darkpaw (81, +0)
  3. CCP (71, +24)
  4. Nostalgia (64, +3)
  5. Free-to-Play (59, +6)
  6. Warlords of Draenor (57, +7)
  7. MMO Expansions (51, new to the list)
  8. Meaningless Milestones (49, +8)
  9. contest (41, +0)
  10. RMT (41, +0)

Tags are much more whimsical than Categories.  They cover spaces where I am writing about something for which I do not have a category (such as a game like Civilization V), or specify some aspect of a category (a server, a region in space, or a personality involved in a post), or sometimes just announce the mood or tone of a post as I wrote it (including several flavors of “rambling” when I end up spewing out words without getting to the point I thought I was heading towards).  The site has a total of 3,006 tags used over the last decade, up 205 from just last year.

I throw tags about with abandon.

Frankly, any tag I use too often ends up being shifted to a category.  So went the Kickstarter, YouTube, and like tags over the years.  And, looking at the list, I could make the case for CCP and maybe Meaningless Milestones being moved over.  We’ll see.

The Drafts Folder

Contrary to popular opinion, I do not post everything I write.  I have a drafts folder in WordPress that ebbs and flows with size.  When the mood strikes, I start a new post and sometimes it makes it, and sometimes it loses steam as I write or I realize the premise is flawed or I actually Google the idea and find it has a simple answer and doesn’t need a post.  I try to keep the folder under control and delete things regularly.  But it still has a pile of posts, the count standing at 60 as of this post.  Here is list of the ones I might actually finish some day

  • Comparing Two Free Apps and Their Attempts to Make Me Pay
    -Could be made into a Goofus and Gallant cartoon series.
  • Reflecting on Pandaria with the Sha of Nostalgia
    -Why I liked Pandaria so much.
  • Up All Night in Leuthilspar
    -Some TorilMUD quirks.
  • The Full Zone Respawn
    -Another thing MUDs did that MMOs do not.
  • The Long Term Relationship
    -What keeps me playing a game for more than 10 years?
  • Nostalgia for the Telephone
    -I’ve worked on or with telephony for most of my life, which has led to some odd situations.
  • My Top Video Game Achievements
    -What do I remember years after the games themselves fade.
  • The Remaking of Classics
    -Why doing remakes is totally normal.
  • Worrying About What Fun Is…
    -Sometimes I am having fun subjectively, but cannot explain why something is fun objectively.
  • Bringing Your Own Baggage
    -If you’re raging against some game, does that say more about the game or you?
  • What Made MMOs Special?
    -Why is that genre so attractive to some of us?
  • Life with Yahoo!
    Complaining about how Yahoo! has become complete shit in 20 years.
  • The Expanse Series – TV vs. Books
    -I read the books and watched the show… and how they differ say something about each medium along with the hazards of crossing mediums.
  • Server Communities
    -Response/follow-on to Brian Green’s post about servers.
  • How Fast Should Levels Be
    -What is too fast?  What is not fast enough?  Is there an objective sweet spot?

And here are few more I will probably never finish, yet can’t quite delete what I have so far:

  • View from the Jury Box
    -A description of my time on a Jury late last year, my third time sitting in the box, and how unlike TV the whole thing really is.  Also, people are dumb and it should scare you.
  • Let It Go… and then what?
    -Response to the Scott Jennings presentation suggesting that MMO developers kill off their long running worlds and do something else, only I can’t find the presentation again.
  • Picking My 15 Most Influential Games – The Other Side of the Coin
    -Supposed to be the flip side to another post, games that influenced me through bad design, poor implementation, or other flaws, only it turned into a rant about the game Mutant Beach.
  • NBI 2014 – Getting Posts to Your Readership
    -It’s not really 2014 anymore, it is?  And I am not SEO expert, clearly.
  • The Burden of Norrath
    -Why doing something like EverQuest Next is fraught with peril when it comes to the fans… only they cancelled that, so peril avoided I guess.
  • Fixing Sports Friday
    -Meant to be a series where every Friday I propose “fixes” to make popular professional sports “better.”  Actually have a football, soccer, hockey, and baseball sketched out, but some of my ideas are heretical, might border on trolling, might induce rage, and likely wouldn’t “fix” anything in the longer term.

The Search for Something

Another yearly thing I thought would be more interesting than it ended up being.  You all search for the same damn things, so the list is practically identical to last year’s. You can go look at that I suppose.  This post is long enough already without it.

Trivia

Now it can be told… except for those bits I have brought up before.  Actually, I have probably brought them all up before.

The blog was actually started on September 11, 2006, but then I thought that was not the best date to kick off something new like this, so I changed the date of the first post to be September 12.  But I didn’t check the time, so it became the second post and I had to go back in and edit it again, changing the time so the posts were still in the correct order.  And then at one point I put it back to September 11.  Then I moved it back to September 12 again.  Anyway, that post has been there for ten years now, give or take a day.  Like so many things, it hardly seems to matter with the passage of time.

I was tinkering with the idea of a blog for a couple of months and had a few name choices.  TAGN came to me the night before I started the blog, just as I was falling asleep and struck me as very amusing.  However, it turned out to be one of those things that just got less and less amusing over time.  At this point I would change the name of the blog if I could come up with a name that worked with the acronym TAGN, which I do like.  I’m still open to suggestions on that front.

Despite KNOWING that I had other names lined up, I cannot remember any of them.  They are probably in a notebook somewhere.  I have a memory of listing out options during a very dull cross functional meeting, just no recollection of what they were.  Is there a term for having a memory of having a memory?

My nom de plume, Wilhelm Arcturus, is about 30 years old at this point, dating back to playing Stellar Emperor on GEnie back in the day. (It was original Wilhelm d’Arcturus, but I simplified it somewhere along the line.)  My main in EVE Online, rolled up just weeks before starting the blog go the name Wilhelm Arcturus.  Yet, for some reason, I went with Wilhelm2451 as my handle on the blog for the first couple of years.  I am not sure why, in hindsight.  That is my shorthand handle I suppose.

The original tag line of the blog, “20 years of online gaming, still a noob” was something of a troll to see if somebody would challenge the idea that I had been playing online games for that long.  Somebody did so by my third post.  Op success!

Subject/verb mismatch or other obvious grammatical errors on the blog are generally the result of either my starting a sentence one day and finishing it at some point down the line or editing half a sentence later to change the feel or reduce word repetition and not bothering to look at the rest of the sentence.  Or sometimes I just screw things up.  However it happens, I remain incapable of seeing such errors until a blog post goes live.

I have a general set of rules about editing posts.  I am always clear to edit grammatical errors, typos, and the like.  I can update sentences for clarity… which usually means replacing a pronoun with the correct noun… so long as there are no comments on the post.  I try not to alter material statements of fact unless a post went live and I spot an error I really did not intend.  Otherwise I use the line-out font and put in what I meant.  And when something related comes up later, I try to add such items as an addendum to the end of the post.

After a couple of years I somehow settled on 17:15 UTC as the standard time for scheduled posts to go live.  I have no objective proof that this is the ideal time, but it seemed to work for me.  My other blog, EVE Online Pictures, posts at 19:00 UTC on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Almost all of my posts are written in advance and scheduled to post at that time.

If I have more than one post set to go in a day, I try to leave a two hour gap.

Judging from traffic and demographics, most of you sit at work and read blogs.

MMORPGs

The list, from memory (which makes the list extra accurate I am sure), of all of the MMORPGs (for my specific definition thereof, where World of Tanks doesn’t count) that I spent some amount of time playing during the life of the blog.  There are a number of instances where that time was during open beta, but I played.

  1. City of Heroes
  2. Club Penguin
  3. DC Universe Online
  4. Dragon’s Prophet
  5. Dream of Mirror Online
  6. Dungeon Runners
  7. Dungeons & Dragons Online
  8. Elder Scrolls Online
  9. EVE Online
  10. EverQuest
  11. EverQuest II
  12. Fallen Earth
  13. Free Realms
  14. Guild Wars
  15. Guild Wars 2
  16. H1Z1
  17. KartRider
  18. Landmark
  19. LEGO Universe
  20. Lord of the Rings Online
  21. Matrix Online
  22. Need for Speed: World
  23. Neverwinter
  24. Pirates of the Burning Sea
  25. PlanetSide
  26. PlanetSide 2
  27. Rift
  28. Runes of Magic
  29. Saga of Ryzom
  30. Second Life
  31. Silkroad Online
  32. Star Trek Online
  33. Star Wars Galaxies
  34. Star Wars: Clone War Adventures
  35. Star Wars: The Old Republic
  36. Tabula Rasa
  37. Toontown Online
  38. Uncharted Waters Online
  39. Vanguard: Saga of Heroes
  40. Warhammer Online
  41. Webkinz World
  42. Wizardry Online
  43. World of Warcraft

Notable omissions from that list, MMORPGs I never played, but feel like I should have given them a try at some point.

  1. A Tale in the Desert
  2. Age of Conan
  3. Dark Age of Camelot
  4. Darkfall
  5. Runescape
  6. Ultima Online

What Was Popular Based on Post Views by Year

Another attempt to get the flavors of years.  For this I took the top ten posts for a given year, removed any posts not written that year, and then listed out the games associated with the remaining posts.

  • 2006 – EverQuest, EverQuest II, EVE Online, and World of Warcraft
  • 2007 – Tabula Rasa, EverQuest II, World of Warcraft, and EVE Online
  • 2008 – World of Warcraft
  • 2009 – Pokemon
  • 2010 – Pokemon
  • 2011 – Pokemon and EverQuest II
  • 2012 – Diablo III, Pokemon, World of Tanks, and World of Warcraft
  • 2013 – World of Warcraft, EVE Online, and World of Tanks
  • 2014 – World of Warcraft, EVE Online, and Pokemon
  • 2015 – World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online
  • 2016 – World of Warcraft and EVE Online

I was a bit surprised to find Pokemon edging out literally everything else out of the top ten for a couple years there.  The power of the Pikachu I guess.

A Peek into Page Views

Here we get to the raw numbers when it comes to page views.  How many people come here every day?

Total Page Views by Month/Year

Total Page Views by Month/Year

Average Daily Page Views by Month/Year

Average Daily Page Views by Month/Year

While those numbers would likely be tiny on any big commercial/celebrity site, they still represent more than I ever expected to get.

The peak of the blog was 2012, with April 2012 being the high water mark for page views.  The fall from there can be attributed to a few things.  There is the general reduced popularity of MMORPGs and the overtaking of blogs by other social media options.

There have been changes to how Google works, including a big change in January 2013 related to how it dealt with images and its image search, something that cut traffic in half on my other blog.  Google, as noted, sends me more traffic than all other sources combined… doubled.  So when Google feels a chill, small sites can get frostbite.

And then there is the content of the blog itself.  In 2006 I was writing largely about playing MMORPGs that were 2-3 years old and was keen to focus on new entries into the genre.

In 2016 I write largely about playing MMORPGs that are 12-13 years old and haven’t written about playing a new title in the genre in ages.

All of which leads to a question I wish I could answer:  How many regular readers does the blog actually have?  The odd thing about referrals is that those are unlikely to be regular readers, especially somebody sent here by Google.  Somebody here from Google likely clicks away almost immediately.

So, using the data available, subtracting daily referrals from the total unique daily visitors (neither of which WordPress makes a nice chart for, otherwise I would share those too) for a stretch of days on which I put up at least one new post, and then factoring in how many people click on that day’s blog post to read it and any comments, which seems like something a regular reader would do… let’s say at least once a week… I come up with ~120 people who visit the site regularly.

Not exactly hard science, but something of a rough estimate in the absence of any other hard data.

Which makes that 9,000 number that Feedly is feeding me seem all the more dubious.  Maybe if everybody who reads this on Feedly could click on the link to this post in the read so that Feedly generates a referral, I could get a count on that.  Though maybe I had better do that in a post by itself, since I suspect that even among regular readers wading this deep into a 5,000+ word post might be asking too much.

Subscription Charts

The final set of charts from MMOdata.net, which I refer to now and again, thrown in here just because… history… or something.

What Happened to the Last Ten Years?

When I started this blog my daughter was four years old, I was ten years younger… and I was driving the same car and using the same keyboard, mouse, monitor combo that is on my desk today.  I rue the day that my Logitech G15 keyboard wears out, as I have grown used to having that little LCD display on it, and Logitech has since abandoned the idea.  The desk itself… really just a table with folding legs… has to be 30 years old at this point.  A quality piece of equipment, as it looks about the same as it always has.

The table is unusually clear in this picture

The headset has been replaced… also, my desk is a lot messier at the moment

Beyond my desk, World of Warcraft and EverQuest II were less that two years old, EverQuest was feeling quite ancient at seven years, Lord of the Rings Online, Star Trek Online, and Warhammer Online were all still out in the future somewhere.  There was a lot of talk about virtual worlds and a future that looked something like Second Life… with less flying penises I think… and the sky seemed to be the limit.  The success of Ulitma Online was eclipsed by the success of EverQuest which was in turn eclipsed by World of Warcraft and there seemed to be no end in sight.  Heady days as millions of subscribers seemed to beckon developers give them more.

Blogging was the big wave and MMO related blogs seemed to be springing up like weeds after a summer downpour.  Google owned Blogger, but it was still somewhat primitive at the time.  WordPress.com hosting was barely a year old and, while more restrictive in what it allowed users to do, offered integrated stats and some nifty site templates.  The stats made the decision for me, though I experimented with a Blogger site before this blog.

Facebook was just starting to let anybody sign up.  MySpace was still the place to be, momentarily passing Google in popularity ten years back.  Wikipedia was controversial.  Twitter was just starting to come together.  Reddit was just a year old, but who needed that when you had Digg?  Even the much loved and even much more missed Google Reader was just passing its first birthday.  I used some stand alone RSS app, the name of which I have long since forgotten.  YouTube, barely 18 months old, was beginning to gather steam.  And Steam was still some oddball content delivery system that Valve used for its own games.  Tumblr was still months away, Instagram was four years away, and people still used the “CrackBerry” because the iPhone was still just a rumor.  Apple was still Apple Computer and the latest iPod was the second generation Nano, but you could still get the iPod Classic with a hard drive.

Basic Summary:

2006 – I’m excited about the future of MMOs, occasionally gripped by nostalgia for EverQuest and the early days, try almost every new MMO title that shows up hoping for some great new experience, but mostly just play World of Warcraft, EVE Online, and EverQuest II.

2016 – Given up thinking about the future of MMOs, occasionally gripped by nostalgia for EverQuest and the early days, ignore almost every new title that shows up because they are all bland carbon copies of things I’ve already tried, and mostly just play World of Warcraft, EVE Online, and EverQuest II.

The more things change…

A Forward Looking Statement of Sorts

This is where I usually write about playing more and blogging less.  And maybe that will actually happen this time.

Part of me was hanging on for the ten year mark, just to say that I did it, that I blogged almost every damn weekday for ten whole years.  More than 4,000 posts at maybe 250-500 words on average, that is somewhere between one and two million words.  An edifice of nonsensical verbiage mostly devoted to a niche sub-genre of video games.

Part of me is actually surprised I am still here.  Hobbies like this generally have a limited shelf life for me.  They last about five year max, with two years of enthusiasm, a plateau, some minor crises, and then a year or two of fading where I just keep going out of habit.

My BBS back in the day, as an example, lasted from 1990 to 1995.  From 1990 to 1992 it was active and growing and I met people through it and it actually got me a couple of job (and a couple cases of beer from a local brewing club that wanted to setup their own BBS) and it was quite the thing.  And then things peaked, I had a “real” career and I kept it running more out of habit than anything else.

Some day I will need to do a weekend post about running a BBS back in the early 90s.  Friends, FidoNet, and picnics are involved.

On the other hand, BBSes were past their peak by 1993 or so.  They were still around, but the modems, AOL, and the internet were becoming a thing you needed.  Why would you want to dial into somebody’s machine when you could dial into a world wide network of machines?  Even having FidoNet connectivity (something in the back of my head said I was at node 1:143/229, but that might be completely wrong) which could route to the internet so you could have real email… with only a couple days of delay as messages made their way to the gateway to the internet… was hardly a draw.  We had passed out of the age of shell accounts and command lines and were getting PPP connections so we could use local, graphical clients for mail, FTP, Gopher, and Usenet that made them accessible.

And then came the world wide web and people got online in drove so that around 1996 in Silicon Valley you had to wait 30 seconds or more to get a dial tone most evenings because the phone network was never built with the idea that everybody would be essentially making a 2-6 hour local call every night.

Anyway, BBSes hung on for a while, so long as every computer had a modem.  But once we had always on internet connections, they became an anachronism, to the point that BBS has come to mean a forum on the internet as opposed to a computer at somebody’s house that you could dial into.

And blogging has seen a similar trajectory.  I got in late, about at the peak of the popularity of blogs, which had sort of replaced personal web sites on GeoCities as a point of self expression on the web.  But, as I noted above, when I started other venues were looming.  People who might have started a blog a decade ago might just use Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Tumblr or Reddit or YouTube or Twitch or any of the other outlets the net offers.

Blogs, however, did not go the way of the BBS.  They stuck around.  If I had been running a BBS a decade after I started mine, that would have been odd, but a blog… is still a blog.  And while I have had a couple moments where I thought I might just chuck the whole thing,… this hit most recently during the Casino War in EVE Online, but was solved by simply banning one horrible troll from commenting on the blog… (Amazing how one person can ruins things, Let that be a lesson to you, life is too short to put up with that sort of thing.) …in the end, I always return to what I value about the blog.

At its core, the blog exists as a place to making note of what I have done, where I have gone, and what I have seen in the video games I play so I can remember the good times and laugh off the bad, which never really seems all that bad in hindsight.

All of which is a round-about way of saying that there might possibly be a blog post tomorrow… if I can find something to post about.  Maybe I will let a weekday pass by without a post now and again.  Chances are though that I already have a draft in shape for tomorrow.

We’ll see at 17:15 UTC I guess.

28 thoughts on “A Decade Under the Influence of Online Games

  1. Isey

    Happy 10th. I enjoy coming here and reading, it’s a nice break in the day. The longer you go the harder it is to let go, probably more so since you write on relevant topics =P Ultimate longevity test:
    Here is to 10 more!

    (did that make you feel good, or a bit nauseous?)

    Congrats, and thank you for the great space to visit.

    Like

  2. bhagpuss

    Grats! Ten more years! Ten more years!

    TAGN has been my favorite MMO blog pretty much ever since I happened across it and it’s the one I still look forward to reading most every day. Even so, I’d understand if you wanted to slacken off a little – I’ve only been going half as long and I don’t post half as often but I feel the strain some days…

    Very happy to see Inventory Full still clinging on there by its fingernails to the No 10 spot as a referrer – it’s not all me, or even mostly me, I promise. I almost always come here from Feedly, so I’ve already fulfilled your clickthtrough request for this post.

    That 9k Followers figure has been puzzling me for a while. Looking at your current Monthly and Daily Page views TAGN appears to be about a third to a half bigger than Inventory Full these days. I average around 18-20k views a month, between 600-900 a day. You have nine thousand Followers according to Feedly – guess how many I have? Fifteen. 15. One-Five. Something is not right.

    You remind me with that list of all the MMOs you ever played that I never did the second half of my post on that. I still have the list, which ran into three figures when I compiled it. I think I have at least 20-25 more to add since then. Of course, when I say “played” I often mean “logged in a handful of times” or, in a few cases, “logged in once”. Still, if I downloaded it, it counts and I really ought to do the second part some day.

    Anyway, that was a great read. I’m always up for that kind of detail. Keep on keep on and here’s hoping someone eventually makes a new MMORPG that catches your attention sufficiently to push its way into another year’s Most Posted Abouts. It could happen!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Shintar

    You can’t stop now, I want to see most of those drafts finalised based on the titles alone!

    Anyway, huge congratulations. In internet years, you must be about a hundred now!

    Like

  4. bhagpuss

    Corrections for fact: Feedly actually gives me 251 Readers. It’s Blogger that gives me 15 Followers. 251 to 9,000 is still some disparity though…

    And TAGN is half to a whole bigger not a third to a half. I’m an English Major, what can I say?

    Like

  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @noumenepewpew – Chile is in 50th place according to WordPress.com. Your neighbors across the Andes, Argentina, are in 31st place. But if you cast it as views per capita, the two countries are tied.

    Like

  6. Calthaer

    I am one of your Feedly readers – and I really enjoy the blog. But “followers” is probably not the same as “readers.” You can subscribe to something in Feedly, but never read it – or maybe those are from users who never log in. I am also not sure what counts as a Pageview (or User) in Google Analytics from Feedly – do they cache the blog as soon as one person reads it and then serve it up multiple times? Or do they reload each time someone in Feedly expands the post, giving you one pageview (and user) for each reader? Tough to say; I somehow seem sure that they care very little about making sure everyone else’s Google Analytics accounts are helpful for understanding your audience.

    Like

  7. Gaff

    Proud to have been with you for much of the journey in MMOs (and daughters). Great blog with a unique voice of social history in games. Oh, can you well me back to Leuth?

    Like

  8. Liore

    Happy Birthday, TAGN! Between us there are about 3 MMO/game blogs that I still read, and yours is at the top of that list. Thanks for the entertainment. :)

    Like

  9. Stabs

    Congrats, it’s a superb blog and 10 years is a fantastic milestone.

    I hope some of our blogs survive us into the later part of the century and belong, this type of eye-witness testimony is so useful to historians and I think it likely that MMORPGs will be of interest.

    Like

  10. Jeromai

    Happy tenth anniversary. Fantastic post.

    Reading it really brought home something that I was only skimming the surface of before – which is that we’ve gone through at least one complete gaming generation shift from 2006 to 2016, let alone 1996 to 2006 (ie. when us old MUD players started.)

    No wonder I’m watching memes stream past me in Twitch, Discord and Telegram and feeling like a disconnected old fogey.

    I hope you get to the “full zone respawn” topic sooner than later. Those couple of words immediately evoked the memory of being able to wander through and clear/’solve’ a MUD area within a time limit before everything reset, as opposed to individual MMO mobs resetting willy nilly. A limited sense of “persistence” on a timer, so to speak.

    We need more MUD history records from those who were there.

    Like

  11. p0tsh0t

    Congratulations! Never underestimate the power of vicarious living. Watching it grow and joining in the journey has been extraordinary and dare I say life changing. IF you do decide to ramp down on posting, for gods sake don’t stop writing. I’ll just selfishly say, make sure you have another project we can enjoy before you ever decide to turnoff or even dim the lights here on the blog.

    Cheers,
    P

    Like

  12. Telwyn

    Happy blog-anniversary. Ten years of daily posts, I had to cut down after only a couple at that pace!

    TAGN has been on my reading list from the early days of discovering MMO blogs (after years of lurking in MMO forums), back when I didn’t use an RSS reader and used to cycle through browser bookmarks on my lunchbreaks…

    Like

  13. Carl

    I’m slow this morning: I don’t understand the thing with the Wikipedia Castle Wolfenstein link. Care to explain ?

    Also: congratulations. You’re one of the most reliable blogger around and it’s good to have people like you on the Internet…makes it way more interesting.

    Like

  14. Telke

    I picked up reading your blog in the heyday Jan ’09 era of Warhammer Online blogs linking left and right. Some of your posts were part of the prompt to try, bounce off, and try EVE again, and have prompted several of my resubscriptions to WoW. It’s been a great read, massive congrats on the milestone, and best wishes for many more.

    Like

  15. Sarkomand

    Congrats on 10 years, Wilhelm. Yours is one of my favourite MMO blogs. I think it’s the measured, slightly ironic tone that works so well in a blogosphere often dominated by hysteria and hype. Perhaps that also explains how you have avoided burnout when the average MMO blog has the life expectancy of a mayfly.

    Anyway, best wishes for the future, whether it contains blogging or not.

    Like

  16. SynCaine

    If you do stop blogging I’m going to be legitimately sad, as this blog is one of the few I visit daily, and at this point the only blog where I read every post (yes, even the poke posts). I also think you would somewhat regret it, in large part because you enjoy going back and reviewing what you have done in the past, and if you stop blogging, you won’t be able to do that anymore.

    I was just trying to compare my stats to yours, but I can’t get WordPress to show me the stats in the old style. How do you do that again? (mumble mumble stupid WordPress updates)

    You should try UO btw, perhaps not the official version, but one of the many emulators. It still holds up, and really is an amazing contrast to EQ. It’s fascinating to thing what the MMO genre would have been had UO beat EQ in popularity in 1999 or 2000.

    Also not to give them any fame, but who was the troll you banned?

    Like

  17. Carl

    @Wilhelm What I should have said is: I don’t see any reference to this blog on the Wikipedia article about Castle Wolfenstein…

    Like

  18. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @SynCaiune – Rob Kaichin, who seemed to be trying to fight the war single handed by being an ass in every comment thread he could find. He fought in one real battle, when PL was inviting neutrals to join in, and is still over on Reddit now and again acting like he played some key role in the war. He still makes a point of leaving a dick response to nearly every comment I leave on Reddit.

    Like every war, those who actually fought, those who had some actual skin in the game, are generally pretty chill, while those who maybe dipped a toe in for one battle remain toxic cheerleaders for their chosen narrative. They actually believe the propaganda.

    @Carl – Oh, okay. The Outgoing section refers to links here on the blog that people have clicked on that have sent them to other sites. I have a couple of posts where I link to the Castle Wolfenstein article on Wikipedia, but the most used one is probably on the post 20 Games that Defined the Apple II.

    Like

  19. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @anon – Yes, we had two cats at the time, Felix and Oscar. Felix passed away in 2009 and two other cats have come and gone since then. We still have two cats, Rigby who is coming up on 3 years old and Oscar who is past 16 now.

    Like

  20. Krumm

    If you ever did want to get the Ultima Online experience of how it really was… the closest you will get will be in the Second Age free server. I say that it is the closest but the one negative that cannot be overcome is in the current population. In 1999 the server pop felt bustling …The Brit Bank was much like Ironforge in WOW during Vanila. No amount of programming can bring that part of the nostalgic experience back. It is mostly a ghost town now. I would poke around there for a week or two and then sign up for a free trial for the current Ultima Online and see how it has changed. Oh and Happy 10 years.

    Like

  21. Stropp

    Congrats on the ten year milestone, I’m glad you’re still going after all these years. Your posts are something I look forward to. Now on to twenty! ;)

    Like

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