Category Archives: blog thing

The Thirteenth Floor

Another year has come and gone and here we are at thirteen.

This car does not stop at that floor

Thirteen is an unlucky number to some, but it has always been a bit of a talisman in our family, something of an attraction rather than an aversion.  I went skydiving with a friend on Friday the 13th, picking that day specifically for the unlucky connotation.  In the end though, it is just a number, something that passes by fleetingly, unless you’re 13 years old.  I’ve never been more miserable in my life than when I was 13, an age that seemed to last forever.

Now my blog is thirteen.  I hope it isn’t as bad off as I was at that age.

For those new to the site… how did you end up here… this is an annual tradition.  If you’re a glutton for punishment, there are twelve past entries to review.

I used to do cute themes for this post.  Years five and six are probably the best efforts for that, while I think eight is where I get the most philosophical.  That is where I said I would stop blogging at the ten year mark.  But here I am.  There are days when I am just so very tired that I can barely crank out the 2,000 words that make up the core of the post like this.  Cute pictures and the philosophy of the internet just aren’t in me anymore.

But on we go, as we do every year, for a look behind the curtain at the numbers and such that inform about this blog.

Base Statistics

The same thing every year, looking at how the various needled moved over the last dozen months.

Days since launch: 4,748 (+365)
Posts total: 5,215 (+420)
Total Words: 3,967,279 (not including this post)
Average words per post: 761.18
Post Likes: 9,521
Average posts per day: 1.098 (+0.05)
Comments: 32,451 (+1,670)
Average comments per post: 6.22 (-0.20)
Average comments per day: 6.83 (-0.18)
Spam comments: 1,482,548 (+32,607)
Comments Rescued from the Spam Filter: 438 (+4)
Average spam comments per day: 312.24 (-18.7)
Comment signal to noise ratio: 1 to 45.6 (-1)
Comments written by me: 6,430 or 19.8%
Images uploaded: 14,575 (+1,432)
Space used by images: 603.7MB 1.2 GB of my 3 GB allocation (33%, up 100%)
Blog Followers: 1,701 (+209)
Twitter Followers: 743 (+14)
Tumblr Followers: 33 (+7)
US Presidents since launch: 3
British Monarchs since launch: 1
Prime Ministers of Italy since launch: 7

Much more after the cut, if you feel like looking at a lot of charts, lists, and numbers.  Actual page view numbers are available.

Continue reading

The Labors of Blaugust 2019

Blaugust has come and gone.  Whether or not is was a success, or what impact it had, is pretty much an individual perspective.  My goal of posting every single day in August was achieved, so I guess it was good.

Belghast has a summary post about the achievements of Blaugust.  The basic stats are:

  • 1305 posts were made by Blagust 2019 Participants
  • 66 Individuals Participated
  • 11 Newbie Bloggers Participated
  • 55 out of 66 made at least 5 posts qualifying for Bronze
  • 36 made at least 15 posts qualifying for Silver
  • 31 made at least 25 posts qualifying for Gold
  • 27 made 31 or more posts during the month of August qualifying for Rainbow

We were down in participants, having seen 90 last year, but the post per participant ratio went up, closing in on 20 per, and more people made it to 31 posts this year.

Being in the 31 post club, I get to display the rainbow Blaugust badge.

2019 Rainbow Badge for 31 or more posts

Bel has a Blaugust media page up where you can grab this year’s, or any previous year’s, badge.

As is often the case, I got to the end of the event and then wondered what had really happened.  Sure, I wrote a lot of posts, but did I do anything for the Blaugust community to earn my self-appointed “mentor” title?  I am not sure.  I did make some Blaugust posts that contained some advice, if you could manage to distill it down enough I suppose.

I was feeling a little manic this year, just judging by those titles.  I think I was more on point with last year’s advice posts:

I should probably go back and lump together all the posts about blogging I have made over the years for the various NBI or Blaugust events.

Traffic-wise, I saw an uptick in page views and visitors and likes and comments.  That seems to be the norm here for Blaugust.  Stats show that has happened for the last five years, an uptick from July to August.  Whether that is the impact of Blaugust or other items… last year, for example, Battle for Azeroth hit in August, this year WoW Classic hit, and posts about both attracted search engine traffic… I could not say.

Oddly, the uptick tends to continue into September, with that month being slightly higher in page views than August, though likes and comments tend to fall off.  Just looking at the average views per day, this September seems to be following the trend, though I also do tend to keep rolling on the daily post thing for a few weeks after Blaugust.  Once I get rolling I guess.

I’m not sure what else to say.  I made it.  I read a lot of other people’s posts.  I tried to comment on some, link out to others, but managed to do neither to the extent that I would have liked.  I suppose I should take a moment to get in what has become my baseline advice over the various blogger events, which is:

  • Be the blog you want to read

If you’re not making that blog, then what are you doing?

And, of course, I want to link out to everybody who participated.  Please click on the links and visit these people!

Blaugust and Keeping the Words Flowing to the Site

Dans ses écrits, un sage Italien
Dit que le mieux est l’ennemi du bien.

-Voltaire

Here we are in the last week of Blaugust and the topic of the week is about staying motivated.

To write a single blog post is pretty easy.  We all have something to say, some opinion to share, something to complain about, or some entertaining tale of challenge, victory, defeat, or shame.  It probably isn’t a chore to get to maybe half a dozen posts.  The world is, as I noted a couple weeks back, full of topics if you look closely enough.

But at some point the white hot rage or whatever drove you to start a blog will diminish.  You will have said the things that were on your mind at the beginning and will have to face the fact that if you want to keep writing you will need both a source of topics and the motivation to keep going.

If you are happy with what you have written, if people are reading, if you’re getting comments that turn into thoughtful discussions or interesting counter-points to your posts, it will be easier to carry on.  Attention is a powerful motivator.

But what if you post your well crafted opus on the evolution of housing options in Runes of Magic and nobody responds?

There was a time about a decade back when you could reliably count on somebody showing up for a comment if you had managed to pass what seems now like a fairly low bar of notoriety.  The stats that WP.com shows me say that there was a stretch when I could count on an average of 8 comments per post.  Even with some percentage of those being my own responses in comments, that is a lot of discussion going on.

As SynCaine pointed out in my July month in review post, there was a link to a reference to a fairly simple post he did back in 2009 that ended up with 40 comments.  That was the golden age, where a rant or a controversial opinion might get your comments to overflow.

But now a days the threshold for getting comments has risen quite a bit.  The advent of other social media channels like Twitter and Reddit, and other gamer outlets like Twitch, not to mention the whims of Google, has made blogs much more of a niche than they were.  Comments per post here, which peaked at 9 a decade back, are a lot closer to 3 these days.  And if it wasn’t for Bhagpuss that number would probably have sunk to around 2.

What do you do now?

Well, first, go leave a comment on another blog.  They’ll appreciate it.  And, if they don’t, you know not to bother going forward.  There are still plenty of fish in that sea.

But after that, you probably need to evaluate why you were blogging in the first place and work towards that as a goal.

If you started blogging in order to get traffic and comments and whatever, you can still do that.  It is more difficult than it was a decade back, but you can still swing it.  You can work on your SEO, you can promote your blog on a wide range of social networks, and you can tackle controversial topics or take radical stances on more mundane things.  You can get attention.  Whether that attention will make you happy is your call.

Or maybe you set out simply to craft a gold plated edifice of perfect text that you expect to stand the test of time and and serve as a shining beacon to future generations.  You might manage that with a few more revisions of that post that has been sitting in your drafts folder for two years already.

My own motivation is much more mundane; just to remember.

Even if you have your writing goals nailed down and you can think up topics left and right, there can still be times when motivation lacks.  Do I want to write about another move op or quest run or achievement?  Sometimes the words just won’t come, or dribble out half halfheartedly.  It is around then that I feel like I need to prime the pump.  The one thing that seems to get me writing is to be writing already.  So I have a series of regular posts I do, or events that I will write about, which I can fall back on.  I mentioned a few in my prep week post.

Probably the most common on here at TAGN is the month in review post.  I have managed to do one on the last day of the month, every month, since I started the blog.  But I don’t have to write it on that day.  It has a standard format and, save for a couple of entries that require the end of the month, I can start writing it any time.  I often start writing these posts weeks in advance when I have some time to write but don’t feel I have something to write about.  Doing the 1/5/10 years ago section often sparks ideas and leads me off to some topic about which to write.

Another post type I find I can get running with are Quote of the Day posts.  Somebody is always saying something.  Take their quote and run with it.  And then there are “Summer Re-Runs” posts, where I lump together a series of posts on a specific topic that bring together a story or a bit of history.

There are some other regular posts, like a look at the EVE Online Monthly Economic Report and the SuperData Research digital video game revenue chart.  EVE Online also releases a patch/feature update most months, which is an easy item to write about.

And then there are the items that trigger posts for me, things like announcements, patch notes, expansions, and the sort of headline news items that come around once in a while.  There are times when I get in almost a reactionary style of writing, where these sorts of bits that I feel I ought to write about start showing up all of a sudden and I am just writing about them.  The blog starts to feel like a news site as I try to cover these sorts of things.  But I am not about news, but about context, the idea that all sorts of things are going on even if I am only playing EVE Online or WoW in a given week.

Of course, the problem with standard posts is that they can start to feel routine.  If they get stale then they are less likely to spur you to write other things.  Sometimes you have to shake things up in order to find a new balance that can keep you going.  For example, for the EVE Online MER I kept reporting on the same charts for over a year.  When that got stale, I decided to find something specific to focus on each month, something related to events in the game to see what influence they had.

And then there was the weekly Fantasy Movie League posts, which grew to be immense, 2,000 word ventures each week.  That started to feel like a burden.  So I looked at what was the most interesting bits and focused on that… for me it is probably the look at the new movies that show up each week… and cut other parts back to no more than what was probably really needed.

But all of those together, the regular posts and the fall back options, give me just enough structure that I seem to be able to build up a week’s worth of posts, one week after another, until another year has gone by.  And then they find their way into the Month in Review post where I look at them and often find inspiration from them yet again.

Or I suppose you could just to what WordPress.com sent me this morning about writing more.

Blaugust and What the Hell to Write About

We’re past the first full week of Blaugust so it is time for another community post.

This week the schedule of suggested topics says something about topic brainstorming.

Here’s the thing.  I never have a problem coming up with topics.  I mean, have you read this blog at all?  I can clearly poop out 500 words on just about any tangentially video game related topic… mention the main event/title/actor, bring up a bit of history, relate it to myself and my experience, speculate a bit on the future, and were done.  And if I warm to to the topic then we’re probably into the 1,500-2,000 word range.

And I have mentioned how I crank out all these posts… a simple lack of standards and a strong sense that having written something, even if it is junk, is better than having written nothing.

So nearly thirteen years down the road I have a blog of some 5,000+ posts adding up to nearly 4 million words that feels like a giant first draft of something.  When it comes to the sheer mass of words I’m catching up to the Wheel of Time book series, which weighs in at 4.4 million words, and I don’t think I have over abused nearly as many turns of phrase. (He said, tugging on his braid.)

The thing is, at some point along the line I actually decided what I wanted this blog to be.

I am sure that sounds like a “well, duh!” sort of statement because I am sure many people start out thinking they know what they want to write about and what they want their blog to be about.  And I am sure I did too.  But I was wrong.

Or, rather, I was not specific enough.  So for the first couple of years I wrote all sorts of things about all sorts of semi-related topics.  I wrote 490 blog posts in 2007, the first full calendar year of the blog, more than any other year and they were all over the place in terms of style, format, direction, and what not.

Eventually though I figured out what I wanted the blog to be.  It took some time and it came to me via what was a rather random event in the first month of the blog.  For no particular reason, other than it seemed like a good idea at the time, I wrote a month in review post.

It was short, ringing in at just 500 word, relative to my current monthly monsters, which can loom towards the 3,000 word mark without much effort.  But the basic elements were there.  And I kept doing it, month after month until I hit the one year mark of the blog.  With the first month in review of the second year I added a new element, the “One Year Ago” section.

And that was the magic moment, though I did not know it at the time.  The first few attempts at summarizing what happened a year back were pretty rough.  But it got me looking back at 20-40 old posts at regularly monthly intervals in order to decide what I ought to bring up, which got me thinking about which posts were important, which posts mattered to me, and which posts did not stand the test of time.

If you have done any systems analysis, you will see that I managed to accidentally create a feedback loop that was triggered at regular monthly intervals.  Every month I would review and evaluate some old posts to see which ones were worth bringing up again and which I should let fall by the wayside.  That let me know which posts were important to me and shaped what I would write going forward.

It took a while to gel.  I had to go a full year before I even started on that, so there was a lot of chaos in the first twelve months as I thrashed about in my writing.  And then looking back a year took some refinement as well.  You can see in that 13th month in review that I didn’t even link back, I just wrote a summary.  I had to develop how I even did a “One Year Ago” section.

So I would say, in looking at how things went, that the whole process didn’t even settle down until some point in 2009, and there was some over-correction in 2010 and 2011 as I chased after some things I might not have written about in later years.  2011 was the year with the second most post, ringing in at 488. (It was a busy year.)

Eventually though I managed to hit something of an equilibrium.  Looking back a year in 2008, I would end up excluding a lot of posts I had written when it came to the summary.  They just were not worth mentioning.  But as I have moved along, the ratio of posts written in a given month to the number of post mentioned in the following year review has narrowed dramatically. (All of my month in review posts are collected in a single blog category here.)

And even what to include has changed some over the years.  Generally, when I go to write a month in review today, I do the “One Year Ago” section from scratch.  Then I go back four years ago and take the “One Year Ago” section from that post and use it as the core for the “Five Years Ago” section.  But I go review what was in that year to see if I need to add or amend anything.  Then I go back five years to use the “Five Years Ago” section as the core of the “Ten Years Ago” segment.

That process has gotten much easier over the years.  There was a point when I was rewriting whole “Five Years Ago” segments because what I had written at the one year mark was insufficient.

These days the source for most of my “Five Years Ago” links is generally pretty solid.  I only add something if I feel I missed an event that I did not post about at all.  You will get the occasional Wikipedia article link in the midst of those for an expansion or launch that I might have neglected to mention, but which seems important in retrospect.

And I am getting to the point where the sources for my “Ten Years Ago” sections are starting to be pretty solid, though I do go through and add some links there fairly often.  And, in a few years, when “Fifteen Years Ago” becomes an option, I think I will be able to mostly just copy and paste work I have already done.

But that doesn’t really get to the whole topics question directly, now does it?

The thing is, in looking at what has been important to me in the past serves as a guide as to what I ought to write about in the future and has shaped what sort of posts I take the time to write.

The end goal of the blog is to write something or a narrative history of my gaming.  That wasn’t what I set out to do, that is just what I ended up with after going through and deciding what was important to me.

That does tend to make the blog very event driven.  Something happens, a launch, an update, a battle, a dungeon run, a major announcement, or whatever I filter that through what has become my criteria of importance, which I can sum up simply as, “Will I want to remember this in a year?”  If the answer is “yes,” then I have a topic and a blog post is on the way.

Now, it is not infallible.  I still write stuff that I don’t end up caring about in a year.  You will, for example, see that I rarely ever mention the Fantasy Movie League posts in my monthly review.  The week to week scores just are not that interesting a year later, unless something outrageous happens.  I do mention the end of season posts.  Those seem worthwhile.

And, of course, I write about things that seem very much off topic at times.  I have done book reviews and posts about our cats and vacations and other similar things.  Those don’t get triggered the way that a lot of gaming posts do.  However, they do act as sign posts along the way, points of reference as to what was going outside of video games.

But you still don’t have a topic to write about coming out of this, unless you want to get meta and write about what your blog is really about, what posts appeal to you immediately or in the hindsight, and whether or not you are like me and reflect on the past on a regular basis or just write and move on and never look back.

So maybe think on that.  That might be a topic for you.

Blaugust Arrives and You Call This Prep?

On the first day of Blaugust… I wrote a post about Blaugust.  No surprise there.

Blaugust, back in its early origins, was a goal, a challenge, to write a blog post every day for the whole month of August.  It has softened up a bit over the years, merging a bit with the Newbie Blogger Initiative idea, to become more of… well, as it says on the logo… a festival of blogging.

You can read all about it here.  It is not too late to join!

But I hold myself to the traditional goal of the event and plan to post daily for a month.

Which, of course, means I am in a bit of a panic here on day one.  How the hell am I going to find something to write about every day for a full month?

That is my usual lack of confidence speaking.  It ignores the fact that not only have I managed to fulfill that task in every Blaugust so far, I wrote more than a post a day for a full month just last month.  July could count as my Blaugust.

In fact, if you look at the stats of the blog, I have effectively write more that one post a day for most of the years that the blog has been around.  In 2009 and again in 2017 I only wrote 350 blogs during the calendar year.  Those were my worst years ever.  Given that my goal is a post every weekday, which adds up to about 260 posts in a year, I am well ahead of the curve.

None of which can dissuade my brain from trying to calculate out how I am going to make it this year.  The past is old news, I have to do this today, this week, this month!  Aigghhhhh!

It is good thing that this is, according to the suggested calendar for the event, prep week.  So let me do some planning here in front of a live studio audience to see if I can calm myself down a bit… or let you in on my thought process, which might be a more useful/scary way to look at it.

Blaugust 2019 Schedule

How to fill up that calendar?

Well, to start with, I can skip that last week, that is September.  I’ll worry about next month when it arrives, though that Monday will probably still be a summing up post about the event.

The other weeks each have a topic, I can probably make something out of each of those… except developer appreciation week.  I appreciate devs, and wouldn’t necessarily want their career path, but I never know what to say when people get on that appreciation topic.  I’ll find something.  So that is five topics for August, five posts down, including this one, 26 to go.

Then there are my standard weekly FML posts.  The league goes on through the end of the month, so that is a post every Wednesday, so four more knocked out, 22 to go.

There is also the monthly look at the SuperData numbers and the EVE Online monthly economic report, plus there will be an August patch update for EVE Online.  Oh, and month in review, the cornerstone of every month!  That brings the number of posts down to 18.

What is coming up in August?

There is the final two aspects of the Season of Skills event in EVE Online and another EVE Online stress test event.  And my 13th anniversary of starting off in EVE Online lands this month.  That is four more posts easy, so call it 14 needed now. (I’ve already written that last one too.)

WoW Classic is coming.  Launch day is August 27.  I wish it was earlier in the month, but you get what you get.  There will be at least one looking forward post, the launch day post, and a post about the chaos of the first night.  At least four posts this month will likely be about that, so now we’re to 10.

What else is coming up?

DC Universe Online is launching on the Switch on August 6th.  Might be worth a mention, just to keep track of what Daybreak is up to.  That gets us to 9.

Time to look in the drafts folder.

I have three almost complete posts in there, all started with Blaugust in mind.  I should be able to knock those out.  That leaves us at 6 posts.  I need to come up with six new post ideas over the course of August.  That doesn’t sound too bad.

Likely topics:

  • Ops I fly in EVE Online
  • Looking at Dota Underlords after a couple weeks of play
  • Looking at Teamforce Tactics, a Dota Underloards competitor
  • TorilMUD introducing a new character class… 36 year old MUD is still going
  • My Pokemon Go 3 year anniversary
  • The Switch Lite – my daughter an I have been talking about that
  • Something about my new keyboard
  • Kickstarter project review
  • Something about books/movies/TV

Things I will jump on if they happen:

  • Any Daybreak announcements/rumors
  • BlizzCon rumors
  • CCP making people mad in EVE Online through words or deeds… some more
  • Anything particularly quotable in the MMORPG space
  • Waves of nostalgia, my own or from others

From all of that I think I might be able to scrape out 31 posts, one for each day of Blaugust.  We shall see.

So welcome to Blaugust!

In furtherance of Blaugust spirit, I present a list of the current participants according to the master list that Bel has.  There are some old, well established blogs there, some brand new ones, some that have been quiet for a while, and some that won’t need to change pace to plow through the event with a month’s load of posts.

The list is in order of when people signed up so I can just compare the end of Bel’s list with this list and add people as they appear.  Hopefully he won’t sort the list, since there isn’t a time stamp field or anything.

For those with a social media bent, there is also a Twitter list of participants that Chestnut put together, as well as a Blaugust subreddit on Reddit that Bel launched because there is apparently not enough pain in his life.  (That might just reflect my own experience with Reddit however.)  And UltrViolet has a post up with an OPML file of the RSS feeds for the participating blogs if you want to import them all into your feed reader.

Anyway, there are all the blogs on the list.  I’ve clicked on every single one and only had to fix one URL.  Of course, Bel’s post today also has a list up as well, but I already did the work on this one so I am keeping it.

  1. A Hobbits Journey
  2. Aywren Sojourner
  3. Backlog Crusader
  4. Bio Break
  5. Contains Moderate Peril
  6. Gamer Girl Confessions
  7. Gaming Conversations
  8. Inventory Full
  9. Me vs. Myself and I
  10. Nerdy Bookahs
  11. NomadicGamersEh
  12. Tales of the Aggronaut
  13. The Ancient Gaming Noob
  14. ..in the mind..
  15. Cooler on the internet
  16. Dating Sims on the Holodeck
  17. Enjoying Overload
  18. Everwake’s Internet Journey
  19. Indiecator
  20. Kaylriene
  21. Synthetic Dulips
  22. Where The Monsters Are
  23. Aeternus Gaming
  24. All the Ampersands
  25. Ammo’s Rambles
  26. Ash’s Adventures
  27. Azerothian Life
  28. Beyond Tannhauser Gate
  29. Blog of the Idle
  30. Book of Jen
  31. Can I Play Too
  32. Daily Creative Thing
  33. Dextraneous
  34. Endgame Viable
  35. Galumphing
  36. Gaming SF
  37. Going Commando – A SWTOR Fan Blog
  38. Home of Beau Hindman
  39. I’m Not Squishy
  40. Kabalyero
  41. Knifesedge Blogs
  42. Later Levels
  43. Leaflocker
  44. LeeksEverywhere
  45. Mailvaltar – MMOs and other stuff
  46. MMOJuggler
  47. Nerd Girl Thoughts
  48. Neri Approves
  49. Neverwinter Thoughts
  50. Priest with a Cause
  51. RandomX
  52. Shadowz Abstract Gaming
  53. Shards of Imagination
  54. TechJoy2Day
  55. The Friendly Necromancer
  56. The MMOist
  57. The Parent Trope
  58. Time to Loot
  59. Unidentified Signal Source
  60. I Care a Lot
  61. Wordy Introvert
  62. A Technical Rejoinder
  63. A Missioneer in EVE
  64. Psychochild’s Blog

Blaugust 2019 is Coming

Belghast’s annual blogging festival, Blaugust, is nearly upon us.

For the month of August the call is out for bloggers to unite.  New bloggers are encouraged to join in, faded bloggers asked to revive their sites, and those of us who run off at the keyboard regularly try to energize the event by sharing what keeps us going.

Bel has a post up with all the information you will need to join in on the event.  There is a sign up form, a link to join the Discord channel where we hang out, and various versions of the event artwork as part of a media kit that you can use on your site.

There is even a schedule of events.

Blaugust 2019 Schedule

The schedule is optional of course.  Nobody will tell you what to write, how to write, or when to write.  But if you are somebody who wrestles with the “what should I write about?” issue, this bit of structure can help organize your approach or narrow your focus.

Focus is my problem.  I never have a problem thinking up things about which to write.  I have a text file full of topics I hope to get to some day.  My problem is time and motivation and deciding what I am going to spend time writing about today.

But if ideas are an issue for you, the second week is dedicate to thinking up topics.  There is also a channel in the Blaugust Discord dedicated to writing prompts.

Anyway, if this at all appeals to you, I encourage you to go check out Bel’s post about the event.

Unlike early versions of Blaugust, there is no longer a push to post every single day over the course of the month… unless you’re just into that sort of thing.  We would rather you write a few fulfilling posts that burn yourself out trying to meet an arbitrary goal based on quantity.

And the event is not limited MMORPG blogs, or gaming blogs, or even blogs.  Your blog can be about other topics or you can jump in if you do video logs on YouTube or if you have a regular show on Twitch or whatever.

Anyway, it all kicks off next week.  Be prepared.

Six Months of Tracking with ManicTime

As I mentioned back in the Month in Review post back in January, I started off the new year with the time tracking application ManicTime in order to see what games I was really playing, and how much I was playing, over time.

If you read the Month in Review posts, you may have noticed that there is a new section each month that reports what I played according to ManicTime.  If you don’t, or haven’t noticed… well, you probably have probably stopped reading by this point.  Oh well.

I had previously tried this sort of thing with XFire and Raptr, but found those to be generally unsatisfactory.  That was largely due to how they presented your data… which wasn’t very well at all.  For a couple of years running Raptr would send users a nice annual report showing their top games played, which was fun.  But that fell off after a while.  And the services themselves had their own issues tracking time.  EVE Online was perennially problematic with Raptr, for example, and simply wouldn’t get tracked as often as not.

After six months of running ManicTime I wanted to see what I had played so far in 2019.  The list probably isn’t too surprising.  Broken out by percentages, the top ten from January 1st through June 30th were:

  1. World of Warcraft – 29.89%
  2. EVE Online – 22.29%
  3. RimWorld – 16.59%
  4. LOTRO – 9.98%
  5. Minecraft – 7.90%
  6. EverQuest – 7.78%
  7. Path of Exile – 1.76%
  8. Diablo – 0.95%
  9. WoW Classic – 0.60%
  10. Civilization V – 0.95%

World of Warcraft reigns supreme, even though I have taken some time off from it now and again this year.  I was a bit surprised that EVE Online was that far behind WoW, but we’ll get to why that is below.

Hardcore

ManicTime tracks all of your activity.  It will tell you what apps were in use on a given day.

Some applications

It also goes down to the individual document level.  If you are interested, see which browser you had running, which web sites you visited, and how long you stayed on any given page.  Or, which Twitch streamer you watched for how long.  Or which server and room you spent time in on Discord.  Keep your nose clean or ManicTime will rat you out.

In Focus

One of the interesting aspects of ManicTime is how it counts time towards specific applications.  In the past, when I measured time using things like XFire or Raptr, they watched the executable and would give me a total of how many hours it was active.

ManicTime, which was meant to be used to support billing activities, is much more granular.  It only counts the time that a given application is in the foreground and active.  This definitely has an impact on some games.

EVE Online probably takes the biggest hit from this.  I would say, without a doubt, of the applications that spent the most time launched and running, EVE Online would easily be at the top of the list.  But, if focus is required for time to count… well, then you start to see how much time I spend tabbed out of the game.  Here is what an evening might look like:

EVE Online focus time

I was up and in a fleet in EVE Online between 6:30p and 8:50pm one evening.  That is 2 hours and 20 minutes of linear time.  However, the gray bands show when EVE Online was actually the foreground application, and the total for ManicTime is just 1 hour and 25 minutes.  You can see the periods of time when I was tabbed out because we were still docked up.

And even some of the EVE Online time isn’t for that fleet.  I logged in an alt and was doing some stuff in Jita while waiting for us to undock. (Cainun has trouble with time and pinged us to log in about 45 minutes early.)  So there were some stretches of time where the game had focus but where I might have otherwise been tabbed out into other apps while I waited for things to happen.

And on Black Ops fleets the time spent tabbed out can be hilarious.  You sit on the blops for an hour, all the while doing other things, waiting for the FC to say in your ear, “Wake up!  Wake up!  Bridge!  Bridge!” Then you have a 20 minutes or so of activity, after which you’re back on the blops waiting again.

Compare EVE Online to the stretch afterwards where I played Civilization V.  I had an audio book running and played for almost two hours straight without tabbing out once.  Some games lend themselves to that.  My World of Warcraft sessions tend to have a lot less time spent tabbed out as well, which is why it comes in ahead of EVE Online despite the fact I have probably spent more time with EVE Online launched.  I have spent time waiting for a blops bridge doing world quests in WoW, so sometimes my EVE time is spent playing WoW.

All on the PC

The one hole in all of this down-to-the-second accuracy is that it only tracks games I play on my Windows box.  If I am out playing Pokemon Go or playing some game on the iPad while I listen to the TV, that doesn’t get counted.  That isn’t to say that I expected it get counted.  It is more that ManicTime is a solution for a specific situation.

Hawthorne Effect

I recall from a college systems study class discussing what is sometimes called the Hawthrone Effect, where knowing that you are being measured in some form changes your behavior.  Changing the lighting levels at a Western Electric factory improved worker productivity no matter what change was made.  That they knew they were being measured made them work harder.

So how does knowing I am being measured affect me?  Do I game harder?

Maybe.

I have caught myself trying to keep EVE Online in the foreground more often than I otherwise might have.  No doubt some part of my brain wants to make sure the game gets represented better despite my tendency to be in other windows.

But what it does more often is suppress my desire to launch other games.  This came up a bit during the Steam Summer Sale where you, to earn some of the event points you had to play certain games and accomplish specific tasks.  I thought about diving into a couple of games, but decided I didn’t really want to have them tracked because I really had no plan to write about them.

That is likely some internal conflict between the blogger part of my brain and the gamer part of my brain, which overlap but still have their own agenda at times.  Most of the time this is not an issue because I am boring and play the same games for years at a stretch.

Results

So far I am happy with how ManicTime is tracking.  In addition to giving me in some insight into what I have been playing, it also adds in a bit of information about how I am playing… at least with EVE Online.