Tag Archives: Blaugust

To the Series Born

There is a bit of a topic trend going on for Blapril, started by Krikket, where people name their top four or five favorite video game series.

The Blapril commeth

This is week four, which has its own topic, but since I haven’t come up with anything else I took “series appreciation” as falling under the “developer/creator appreciation” umbrella and decided I should run with it.

  • March 29th – April 4th – Blapril Prep Week
  • April 5th – April 11th – Topic Brainstorming Week
  • April 12th – April 18th – Getting to Know You Week
  • April 19th – April 25th – Developer/Creator Appreciation Week
  • April 26th – May 2nd – Staying Motivated Week
  • May 3rd – May 9th – Lessons Learned Week

Looking at video game series seems pretty reasonable.  In the last decade or so especially the large video game publishers have gone all in on series and sequels for games, eschewing much new in favor of a reliable return on investment that churning out annual change ups on standard formula has proven to bring.

So I started thinking about which series I might put on a list… and I sort of ran into a bit of a wall.  This is different than, say, picking my 15 most influential games.

Part of that was I immediately put bounds around the possible answers.  It is just what I do out of habit.  First, to my mind, a “series” requires there to be three or more games.  So as much as I may have enjoyed  Defense Grid and Defense Grid 2, they are only a game and its sequel and not really a series.  And that along knocks off a lot of possible entries listed over on Wikipedia.

I also felt that unless I had played a substantial and representative number of titles in a series… arbitrarily I figured I needed at least half to cover… I couldn’t really count that series as a favorite.  Playing only Need for Speed: World or Dirt 3 does not really give me enough to make a claim on either series.  I can say I love Mario Kart, but I only ever played Mario Kart 64, Double Dash, and that version on the DS.  I never even bought the Wii version!  Can I really complain about the blue shell if that is all I have experienced?

Likewise, although I had played four of the nine games in the Ultima series, those were the first four games of a series that expanded quite a bit from humble origins.  I enjoyed Ultima III the best out of what I played, which probably means I am not down with the series as a whole.

I did wonder for a bit if MMORPG expansions ought to count.  Is EverQuest one game, or a series of 27 games churned out over 21 years?  But I decided that way lay madness and discarded the idea. (Also, how many expansions would I have had to have played to be legit in counting EverQuest?  More than I have I am sure.)

This would have been much easier if I had been a big console gamer.  Or a sports focused gamer.  There are so many series there.  But as an online and/or MMO gamer, series haven’t been a huge thing for me and, as I have noted here in the past, I have been playing online games since 1986.

So what series of games had I played enough of to meet my own criteria?

Cilivization This series of games came up on a some lists and I am good here.  I have owned I-VI and a couple of the side games in the series, like Alpha Centauri.  I played the hell out of the original, the first sequel, and the fifth entry, along with Alpha Centauri.

Pokemon Or at least the main line Pokemon RPG titles.  I think I am covered on that, having played every title on the DS/3DS handheld series as well as Pokemon Sword on the Switch.  I even played two of the GameBoy Advance titled back on my original DS Lite, because it had the GBA cartridge slot.  And I played the re-release of Pokemon Blue on the 3DS and have the blog post to prove it.  I’ve even played Pokemon Ranger and a couple of the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon titles.

Age of Empires – The RTS winner here, though of the three core games I was only really a fan of Age of Empires II – The Age of Kings.  That was the pinnacle of the series to my mind, though I owned and played all three.  The original was a bit rough and unbalanced and the third seemed like Ensemble had lost its way.  But I have Age of Empires II in my Steam library.

Diablo –  There are three games there, so meets the bar for a series and I have owned and played all three games plus their expansions… multiple copies of a the first two even.  I owned a copy of Diablo II and the expansion for both home and work because we could play games on the work network after hours back around the turn of the century.  Those days are long gone, but if Blizzard made a credible Diablo II remaster I would throw money at my computer screen.

LEGO Star Wars – I thought I was done when I hit four series, and then this run of games finally popped up into my conscious thought.  There are six titles and we own four of them… more if you count the combo edition that reworked and repacked the first two games when Traveler’s Tales got the vibe right on the series.

And that’s it.

By my own criteria I cannot really come up any more, though at least I made it to five.  I can declare these as my five favorite series by virtue of being the only five.  I imagine if I rack my brain I can probably shake out one or two more… but it would be stuff from the 90s, things long forgotten.

Oddly, I have the games listed in the order to which the series came to mind, which corresponds roughly to a the descending order for both how much time I have spent playing them AND how I would probably rank them.  Seems natural enough.

Others who have posted their lists, some of whom felt less self-constrained than I:

Road Trip with Mojo Nixon

We are into the third week of Blapril here and my weekly posts about it are coming later and later in the week.  I may have to work on that.

The Blapril commeth

This week is getting to know you week.

  • March 29th – April 4th – Blapril Prep Week
  • April 5th – April 11th – Topic Brainstorming Week
  • April 12th – April 18th – Getting to Know You Week
  • April 19th – April 25th – Developer/Creator Appreciation Week
  • April 26th – May 2nd – Staying Motivated Week
  • May 3rd – May 9th – Lessons Learned Week

As with so many things, I am perhaps a bit skeptical that there is anything I can write here that would end up with anybody reading this “knowing” me very well at all.  I can recite biographic facts, dates and times of specific events, games I’ve player, colors I favor, religious beliefs, or my astrological sign and leave you no more the wiser as to who I am really.

And that leaves aside the deeper philosophical question of who we really are in any case.  Do I even know me?  Who am I really?

I get annoyed when I go to family gatherings and my siblings seem so keen to dwell in the past.  Specifically, nothing that happened after high school ever seems to come up.  Not that I am against living in the past.  This blog is, in a way, a shrine to the past.  We are, it seems a product of the past, just the sum total of our experiences existing in that razor thin sense of the present.  It isn’t that they go to the past, but they pick such a mundane part of the past to bring up.

So rather than something formulaic or statistical, I am going to tell a story about a past event that popped into my mind earlier this week.  It was sparked by Mojo Nixon.  I saw somebody asking, “Where the hell’s my money?” online about the stimulus checks we’re alleged to be getting some day, which just happens to be the title of a Mojo Nixon song.  So I brought that up in iTunes (you can listen to it here on YouTube if you so wish) and started listening to it and the rest of the tracks on the Frenzy album.  And that sent me back to when I first heard one of his songs.

It was the summer of 1987.  Or maybe 1988.  Bill and Tony and I were headed south out of Silicon Valley… that name was still fresh and meaningful back then… towards LA for the Crossroads of the West Gun Show.  It took place at the Panoma fair grounds and was the largest guns, militaria, antiques, and collectables show west of the Rockies at the time.  The event was absolutely huge, spread out over multiple event halls, and my friend Bill was (and remains) a big military collectables guy, so was headed to the show to scout items, make deals, and meet potential sources.

I think I had some vacation time handy, so went along.  I am not sure how Tony got invited, or who Tony really was other than being some sort of Armenian royalty whose family fled the place when the Bolsheviks took over.  He had a Russified Caucasian last name, put in for gas, and was good company, so he was welcome enough.

For some reason I ended up driving us down to LA.  I had a fairly new Mazda 626 which had a decent stereo and a cassette deck… the idea of a CD player in a car was at the luxury end of the market, if at all at that point… and we were pushing various tapes in the deck as we made our way south.  I didn’t have a lot in the car.  I think we went through the Repo Man sound track, but  I tended to listen to books on tape in the car on long rides, which were fairly common as my girlfriend at the time was going to Chico State, a four hour drive north from home.

Tony had a tape though.  He had Bill put it in the stereo and Mojo Nixon came pouring out of the speakers with I Hate Banks.  I had never heard him… or heard of him… before, but for three twenty somethings on the road in the middle of nowhere it was about the perfect sound track.  I don’t think we played another tape on the trip.

Interstate 5 is four and six lanes of blacktop through the middle of nowhere for most of its run through California, interrupted only by a bad smell as you pass by Harris Ranch.  So a loud sound track is appreciated.  We rolled on through the summer heat, windows down, yelling along with Mojo.

It wasn’t until we hit LA that we ran into traffic.  The fairgrounds are off of the 10 in LA, which is a major artery in the congestion that is LA.  I seem to recall seeing my first car pool lane on that trip, down there on the 10, or maybe on the 210, which required three people per car to use.  There were three of us, so on we went.

We stayed at a Best Western near the fairgrounds.  I still have a postcard from it.  We checked in, put our stuff in the room, and went out into LA for the evening.  I have almost no memory of that evening, not due to drink but just the fading of time.  I do recall, however, that we wandered into a record store where I found a copy of Back from Samoa by the Angry Samoans on CD, which I purchased and still have.  There is maybe 20 minutes of music tops on that CD.  Short songs were the punk thing.

The next day we got up early and headed to the show.  This is also a bit of a blur, though I recall going by the booth that had on display a Walther PP pistol owned by Heinrich Himmler.  I am not sure it was even for sale, but it was the center piece of somebody’s booth.

We spent a lot of time digging through displays of wings and badges.  Bill’s current passion was pilot wings and he could spot the good from the bad.  This was at a time when a lot of WWII stuff was becoming collectible and, thus, valuable.  Things that were laying in heaps into the 70s were suddenly becoming interesting as the 50th anniversary of the start of the war approached.

The problem is, a lot of the stuff is faked up.  Less so back then, but it was still pretty common.  Now the odds of anything you run across being authentic are pretty small, but Bill was an expert at spotting anomalies that marked fakes or at least put authenticity in doubt.  And he had a nose for the real deal.  So we spent the day deep in the minutiae of the collectors, occasionally stopping to goggle at some big item, but mostly talking to dealers with wings, badges, and patches.  And Bill found some deals.  He always did.  I remember going over to his apartment one day and finding it full of WWI British uniforms.  RFC tunics with wings in golden thread and uniforms of various regiments with ribbons and buttons shined bright, and uniform caps to go with them all.  He’d gotten them at some auction and they were all about the house as he sorted them and found buyers.

After the show shut down we went back to the room for a rest.  I then went out to meet up with somebody I knew through Air Warrior and hang out.  We nerded about the game for a while and I flew a bit on his account, which is where I twitched to some of the differences in the clients.  One of the controversies of the game, which Kesmai denied for ages, was that aircraft on the Mac client were not as powerful as those on the IBM PC and clients which derived from it, being the Atari ST and Amiga versions.  But playing on his IBM machine it was immediately obvious to me that the planes were noticeably more powerful.  Later it came out that the method for calculating engine horsepower was much more generous on that code base and it eventually was fixed.  But those of us who flew on the Mac felt validated when the news finally came out, not to mention a little superior, having often held our own even when the deck was stacked against us.

I headed back to the motel at about 2am, which back up in Silicon Valley would have meant having the highway to myself.  But LA, even then, was busy around the clock and the freeway, while not rush hour full, was still packed like it was maybe a Saturday afternoon.

When I got back to the motel room it was clear that something had transpired while I was away.  To start with, Tony’s clothes were in the pool, as were all the screens from the windows of our room, and maybe those from a couple of other rooms.  I knew ours were in there because all the windows were open and all the screens were missing.  There was a bunch of paper in the toilet… not toilet paper, but note paper…, the bathroom window was cracked, and the bathroom door had apparently been kicked in as the door jamb was split.   Tony was lying on the floor under the little coffee table that was in our room while Bill was bundled up in the comforter from the bed laying across the foot of it.  He was there because the top half of the bed was wet.

To this day I do not know what they got up to while I was away.  There were some empty beer cans, some of which were also floating in the pool, but not enough to explain wild behavior.  I got Tony up and we fished his stuff and the screens and what not out of the pool and tried to put the room back in some sort of order.  Then I found a dry pillow and a corner of the room and got some sleep myself.

The next morning we got up kind of early… youth knows no end of energy… and quietly checked out of the motel and headed north, stopping at the traditional last point in LA, In-N-Out Burger.

Now there is an In-N-Out Burger a few miles from my house, but back then the last one was off the freeway by Magic Mountain and Knotts Berry Farm and it was the usual routine to stop and eat there on the way home.  So we got out and had our double-doubles or whatever.  It is hard to say what the real draw of the place is, save for simplicity of menu and quality of product and service.  I might pick Five Guys some of the time, given a choice, but In-N-Out can be damn good when you’re in a mood for it.

We ate up and walked out to the parking lot where I put the key in the lock of my blue Mazda 626 2-door and got in, Bill in the passenger seat and Tony in the back.  At that point there was a car alarm going off and Tony, still a bit blurry from the night before, asked if the child’s booster seat had been there on the trip down.

We were in the wrong car.

My Mazda was parked three spots further down the row.  But my key let us into the closer one, or seemed to.  It might have been left unlocked, due to it being equiped with a car alarm, which was what I had been hearing.  It was surprisingly muted from within the car, but as we unassed the wrong car it seemed very loud.

Oddly, this was not the only time I ended up with the wrong car in LA.  My girlfriend and I were down there a year or two later.  I drove her down to LAX because her year of study abroad was departing from there and not up north.  We stayed the night and the next day I went to go put her luggage in the trunk and, when I opened it up there was a huge bouquet of flowers in there, which sent her into tears.  That quickly stopped when I announced we had the wrong car and moved to one in the next aisle which had my stuff in the trunk and no flowers.

Back at In-N-Out we quickly made our way to the correct car and left as quickly as we could, heading north for home once more.  Mojo Nixon once again blared from the speakers as we headed through the central valley heat, zipping along at well beyond the newly posted 65 MPH speed limit.

All of which came bubbling back up into my conscious thought as I listened to Mojo Nixon sing Where the Hell’s My Money earlier this week.  Listening to his music… and I think I own most all of his albums… brings me back to a youthful state of mind full or irreverence and lacking in much of the responsibility that weighs on me today.

So do you know me any better after that?  What if I told you I took that quiz and my top match was Frodo Baggins?  Any better? Probably not.

All of that seems like an eternity ago and very recent at the same instant.  Time is strange, memory is flawed, and in that the past is all we really are.

Being a California child, automobiles enter into many of my youthful tales.  Other car stories I’ve written about here:

The “Bill” in the latter of those two is the same “Bill” in this story.  I might have to record another tale or two involving him.  Maybe our Friday the 13th adventure.  But that is for another time.

Blapril and Figuring Out What to Write

We are deep into the second week of Blapril.  If you’re not sure what Blapril is… welcome I guess… go here and read all about it.  I would argue that even today it is not too late to join in.

The Blapril commeth

It is not too late because because there are six weeks worth of Blapril planned, having started in March and not finishing until May and, as I noted, we’re not even done with week two.

  • March 29th – April 4th – Blapril Prep Week
  • April 5th – April 11th – Topic Brainstorming Week
  • April 12th – April 18th – Getting to Know You Week
  • April 19th – April 25th – Developer/Creator Appreciation Week
  • April 26th – May 2nd – Staying Motivated Week
  • May 3rd – May 9th – Lessons Learned Week

This week is Topic Brainstorming Week and I am going to declare myself both good and bad at that.

On the “good” side of that statement I offer as evidence this blog.  More than 13 years and 5,400 posts down the road I think it is safe to say that I can come up with things to write about.  My basic goal is have a post for every week day, which would be about 250 posts in a year.  Looking at my stats, I have not fallen below 350 posts for any full year.

Arguing against that is the fact that I rarely, if ever, do anything that one would consider brainstorming.  Part of my systems studies minor involved trying to be able to find different ideas and points of view, which left me with all sorts of techniques for approaching problem solving and idea generation.  The books from that are some of the few I have hung on to for all the years that have passed since college.

But I don’t really do any of that.  Not usually.  In fact, I do what one might argue is the opposite of creativity, which is structure.  This blog has a system as to what gets posted and even when it gets posted.  For example, Blapril posts are something that mostly happen on Thursdays here.  today’s post got bumped by something time sensitive.  The instance group posts are a Wednesday thing.  Patch notes for EVE Online releases tend to be on a Tuesday, the month in review is on the last day of the month, SuperData is on the Thursday before that, and so on.

This is all because my blog is not so much to inform or review as it is to remember and create a timeline.  I went over this last Blaugust if you are interested in more detail.

So now that I have argued that I cannot really help you with topic ideas, let me turn around and try to help you with topic ideas… at least in a general way.

  • You don’t need a big finish

Early on in my blogging I felt that every post had to come to some sort of epiphany as its conclusion.  This was no doubt left over from school essays and such.  But not everything has to be a teachable moment or change somebody’s mind.

  • You don’t even need a big topic

I have at various times questioned whether or not a given topic is important enough to be worth posting about.  It is fun and fulfilling and feels good to take on big topics of the day.  But, in doing so, you may feel that your lesser achievements, your personal tales, your odd observations, might not stack up.  Don’t worry, they do.  I have found that a year or five years down the line it is often the little things I wrote about that end up being the most fun to rediscover.

  • You don’t need to be first

The truth of the matter is that no matter what you write about, somebody else has covered that topic before.   But it is also very likely that somebody will hear about that topic first from you… news doesn’t travel in a straight line… and even if you don’t have a radically different perspective on a given topic of the day

  • You don’t need a fresh new topic every day

After some time you may, like Alexander, weep when looking back at the breadth of your work, thinking that you have no new topics to conquer.  You may worry about repetition or covering old ground again.  Trust me, as you get older you’ll get over it.  And it isn’t necessarily repetitive to go back to a topic if something has changed, some experience has altered your perspective, or if enough time has passed that you want to explore a topic once more.  And by “enough time” I could me a day, a month, a year.  Whatever.

  • Every post doesn’t need to be a victory

It is always nice to celebrate wins, and some people can be reluctant to talk about failure, but after years of this I often find that disaster makes for a more interesting story.

  • This is all just my opinion

If you’re blogging goal is to tackle big fresh new topics first, drawing grand conclusions out at the end of each, who am I to tell you no?  But some people will worry about the above, worry if it is alright to cover a topic that might have already gotten a lot of play or express an opinion that aligns with somebody’s earlier post.  It is fine.  Nobody will mind.

In the end, the only advice I have that I will stand behind is the bit I trot out every year, which is to make the blog you want to read.  If you’re not happy reading it, or re-reading it as time goes by, I think you might have missed your core demographic.

Anyway, how about a few others with some better ideas or insights about actual topics this week:

Blapril Prep Week is Almost Over

It is Thursday already.  Or I think it is.  I went to my Wednesday morning meetings yesterday… unless that was a dream.

Anyway, the week is heading towards its close and I haven’t done much Blapril prep.

But that is probably okay for me.  I didn’t plan on doing much in the way of prep in any case.  I’ll worry a bit about coming up with enough posts and write out a list of some possible topics and, if history is any indication, events will overcome any plans and I won’t use half the topics I list out anyway.  Basically, with more than a dozen years of momentum writing a post every week day, I will probably just muddle through as always.

The Blapril commeth

However, if you are still thinking about joining in on Blapril by starting up a new blog, reviving an old one, or just joining along with your current one, it is not too late to get going.  This is only prep week, the first of six official weeks.

  • March 29th – April 4th – Blapril Prep Week
  • April 5th – April 11th – Topic Brainstorming Week
  • April 12th – April 18th – Getting to Know You Week
  • April 19th – April 25th – Developer/Creator Appreciation Week
  • April 26th – May 2nd – Staying Motivated Week
  • May 3rd – May 9th – Lessons Learned Week

Not sure if you can make it to the end?  Don’t worry about it.

Back in the early versions of Blaugust, the idea was to get out a post a day for a whole month.  But then the chill era took hold in Blaugustan, and it became less about hitting an arbitrary number of posts over a given time frame and more about connecting with other bloggers and sharing ideas and what one might call “community.”

You can still do a post a day.  There is a special rainbow achievement for that.  But if you’re new to the whole thing, there is an award for that, and if you make five posts you’ve earned an achievement.  And, for a lot of people, five posts will be more than enough.  It does take a special sort of mania to want to post every single day and not everybody wants to create a giant memory book of their online gaming life.

Anyway, if you are new and considering joining in, there are some posts up for you.  Belghast has some of the essentials:

There is also some sage advice out there that may help you along with the blogging process:

You can also find what passes for advice from me around here under the Blaugust tag. (You’ll see this post if you click there, but if you scroll down you’ll find past efforts.)  Like Bhagpuss, I have gone on about editorial style and blog comments and some of the finer points, but my basic philosophy remains that it has better to have written something, even something you’re not happy with, than to not write at all for fear of not achieving perfection.

Nobody who writes regularly should be completely happy with their work.  To be a writer is to be unhappy yet willing to go at it again in the hopes of a better result, or so I have been told.  Maybe you should care more about getting better than I do to be a “real” writer, but I am still ahead of somebody who never hits the “publish” button.

So, if you’re feeling it, give it a try.

And if you want more insight, there are plenty of participants in the mix now.  The current list of participating blogs (and vlogs) is:

The latest version of that list is available on the media kit page for the event.

There we are.  If you join in, you’ll get on the list.  If not, come and visit.

Blapril is a Promise that Blaugust is Bound to Keep

Pardon that mangled quote but I always feel like I have to find a different title when a bunch of people are writing about the same thing.

And, if you’ve been around the blog neighborhood, you may already know what I am talking about, and that is Blapril.

The Blapril commeth

Blapril is Blaugust come early.  Blaugust is the annual festival of blogging that Belghast runs, but with so many people at loose ends and with the general oppressive sense of the world, he thought it might be time for a community activity.

And while I am not thrilled with the name… everything is down hill from Blaugust I suppose, which works so well… I do applaud the idea.

Belghast has a full post about the event here with the usual options.  The schedule, which you may indulge in or ignore as suits you, is set out as follows:

  • March 29th – April 4th – Blapril Prep Week
  • April 5th – April 11th – Topic Brainstorming Week
  • April 12th – April 18th – Getting to Know You Week
  • April 19th – April 25th – Developer/Creator Appreciation Week
  • April 26th – May 2nd – Staying Motivated Week
  • May 3rd – May 9th – Lessons Learned Week

That gives you six weeks of potential blogging motivation.

To get involved you can do some or all of the following:

  • The first step is to fill out the Sign-Up Form for Blapril 2020 which can be found here. Only those who have signed up will be given credit towards the awards.
  • Next make sure you are active on the Blaugust Discord and the link for that can be found here. This is the third year we have been active on Discord and it is a community that has managed to stay evergreen throughout the years. Maybe even share your content each day in the appropriately named “share-your-content” channel.
  • When you share your content on social media please use the hashtag #Blapril2020 for tracking purposes and to make it easier for those watching the event to find fresh content.
  • Mingle with your other Mentors and Participants because this is a community event, and part of the fun is getting to know the community. These folks represent a social structure that you can lean on for advice in the coming years. I personally deeply value my ties with other bloggers that I have built up over the last decade of doing this thing.
  • If you are so inclined there is a “gaming-together” channel on Discord for impromptu grouping in various games while the event is going on.

If you have a blog already, sign right up and get involved.  If you don’t have one, now would be an opportunity to get one going.

The participant list so far is:

That isn’t a huge number.  A lot of those people were still hanging around the Discord channel and chatting from last Blaugust.  But it isn’t too late to get involved.

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!

August in Review

The Site

It was Blaugust, which meant a post every day of the month.

And, in my over zealous attempt to ensure that I would have a blog post for every day of August, I ended up with extras.  This is my 49th and final post for August.  At least I hope it is.

You would have thought after I had already posted every single day in July that I would have been more relaxed about Blaugust, but such is not my way.  In fact, if the WP.com insights page for the blog is to be believed, this is my 82nd day in a row of posting.  Go me I guess.

Three month post density chart

The colors go from zero to four posts.

49 posts in a single month makes this my most prolific Blaugust ever and puts this August in third place overall for months with the most posts, falling behind January 2007, which saw 59 posts, and November 2006, which rang up 53 posts.  But in those early days of the blog I was posting a few words or a picture about a bunch of things.

Now will I have something left to post tomorrow?  It seems likely.  I barely had to dip into my backup posts for the month, so I have some things still ready to go.

One Year Ago

I built myself a new computer!

That meant an update to Windows 10, which meant jump starting my ancient copy of ZMud yet again.  You have to hand it to Microsoft that the support libraries it needed were still available and still functioned.  You don’t get that from Apple.

There was a data leak from Steam that gave us some insight into what was popular on the service. (But only if they supported achievements.)  Oh, and Runes of Magic finally landed on Steam.

On Kickstarter there was Stay Awhile and Listen II and the return of the Warcraft Diary, this time with a more reasonable plan.  Also, there was a Togdor board game.  Nostalgia made me back that.

I first heard about Decentraland, which sounded like Second Life combined with Block Chain.

It was Blaugust and I was wondering what I should even write about.  I also wrote about consolidating your blog reading via various options and the importance of leaving (and responding to) comments, and something about blogging editorial policy.

Daybreak was closing down the first EverQuest II progression servers.  They don’t last as long as the EverQuest flavors.  Daybreak also told us that Just Survive was destined not to.

Before Battle for Azeroth launched for WoW I was wondering about the now every expansion question about where I should use by character boost.  I ended up boosting a Horde Blood Elf paladin.

And then BFA went live and it was time for the opening tale.  Then it was off to Kul Tiras with Jaina.  Given how they did the zone scaling, I was wondering why they bothered with levels.

BFA sales were about on par for for a WoW expansion.

I was wondering how many people played EVE Online.  It was alleged to be less than EverQuest.  As it turned out, my estimates were not far off from what CCP would tell us a week later.

The August update for EVE Online brought us new Badger models… and a few other things.

I hit 200 million skill points on my main character.  I decided to start working on an alt on that account then.

In EVE Online the Monthly Economic Report was showing how much deploying off to war was costing the Imperium in opportunity cost.

The Rooks & Kings video First Light on the Fifth Day, about how the great war on the China server ended up sending refugees to Tranquility, was released.

Out in null sec on TQ there was a war on, which was focused on the NCDot Keepstar in X47L-Q in Pure Blind.  Titans clashed at the armor timer.  Then we had to wait for the final timer, which meant smaller ops in the area and doing some prep for the final battle.  Asher also drove us back to Delve for some side tasks.

Then more titans died along with the Keepstar.  After that, attention turned to the Circle of Two Keepstar in Fade.

And Gevlon was back with his conspiracy about CCP picking winners in EVE Online, and I only made him angry by suggesting that Malcanis was the one doing the picking.

Five Years Ago

I was marveling at the prescience of some quotes from GDC 2007.

We had a couple more SOE games close.  Vanguard saw some touching tributes, while Wizardry Online pretty much passed without comment.  Then Dragon’s Prophet launched without comment, which I suspected might be a sign.

The last ever SOE Live tried to get us excited about EverQuest Next again.  Otherwise it was sort of business as usual on the Norrath front.  I wished for more than I got certainly.

Project: Gorgon was having a Kickstarter and was asking for $100,000.  I was dubious.

Google was forcing me to make bad referential post titles.

Our months long Civilization V game wrapped up with victory for mattman and China.

DarkFall introduced another PLEX-like currency, DUEL. (Which was alleged to stand for “Do U Even Lift?”)

I was wondering what to do about Raptr.

Blizzard gave us a date when they would tell us the launch date for Warlords of Draenor,  then eventually told us November 13th.  Meanwhile WoW subscriptions were down 800K during the long summer of mild discontent.  But people were in the beta for the expansion at least.

I took my loremaster project into Outland and content from The Burning Crusade., staring with what I consider the worst zone in the game.  Then I had to search hard in Terokkar, and had trouble in Nagrand.

We also had that whole 10 Years, 10 Questions thing about WoW to write about.

EVE Online gave us the Hyperion expansion, which included burner missions that killed a lot of player ships.  I was on about hats in New Eden.  We also deployed to Delve, because we always deploy to Delve at some point during the summer, and hung around towers.  There was also a fight at our staging system.

Nintendo announced a new 3DS XL handheld, and my thoughts went straight to Pokemon.

Amazon acquired Twitch and GamerGate became a thing,

And then there was the first Blaugust, from which I at least got a post out of a questionnaire.

Ten Years Ago

The Matrix Online (MxO for those in the know) was shut down by SOE that August.  Planetside was still around though… for the time being.

Bruce Everiss was getting sued for libel by the makers of Envoy.  That was eventually worked though the next March.  Enovy, LLC dropped their suit, but not before causing Mr. Everiss much pain and hamstringing his desire to be as forthright in the future.

Somebody was granted a patent for something that sounded a lot like podcasting.  How did that ever turn out?  Oh, wait, like this.  Turns out podcasting doesn’t make any money, even for Adam Corolla, so trolling with that particular patent is a losing proposition.

That Wii Bowling Ball made another appearance.  Still no know deaths attributed to it.

I was wondering what genre our post apocalyptic future really was.  People assume it is Science Fiction.  Is it?

On the Blizzard front, we learned that we were not going to get StarCraft II for Christmas.  I still don’t own a copy yet, though I did buy that remaster of the original.

There was a lot of speculation before BlizzCon about the next WoW expansion.  My guesses were far off the mark.

I also tried to draw parallels between 2004 and 2009.  It was a Cataclysm in the making.  At least I correctly predicted nostalgia might come into play if the old world changed.

I subscribed to the BlizzCon Pay-per-view event via DirecTV.  That was a lot of gaming coverage to watch.  Also, it was the first year of a big act closing ceremony, with Ozzy Osbourne featured.

Meanwhile in the instance group, we were finally almost all level 80.  It was time to screw around in some old raid instances.

I actually posted the results of that cheating poll I had set up.  I generally mean to post the results of these sorts of things, but somehow I usually don’t get around to it.

And, finally, I was on a re-reading binge that August while making Code Red floats.

Forty Years Ago

Atari released the Lunar Lander arcade game.  I remember playing this when it came out.  It was difficult, single player, and the first game I can recall where you could feed in quarters for more play time.  Each quarter bought you a set amount of fuel rather than a specific amount of time or in-game lives.

Most Viewed Posts in August

  1. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  2. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  3. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  4. The WoW Classic Name Reservation Run
  5. What Should EverQuest 3 Even Look Like?
  6. The Factions of MMO Nostalgia and Progression Servers
  7. WoW Classic First Night Fun Complete with Queues
  8. WoW Classic Server Names Announced
  9. Chaos Fatigue
  10. All I want to do right now is Play WoW Classic
  11. The Chaos Era is Coming to Cynos
  12. WoW Classic and the Hunter’s Path

Search Terms of the Month

minecraft everquest qeynos
[Yes please!]

will burning down a pillager outpost stop them spawning
[No it will not]

asilomar haunted
[So I have been told]

pokémon go account gehackt
[das ist Scheiße]

why is rasberry so hated?
[if only…]

Game Time from ManicTime

Pretty much a two game month for me.  I was probably too busy writing posts for Blaugust to play much more.  EVE Online was heavy at the start of the month, tapering off until the skill point give away time was over.  WoW ramped up some before WoW Classic, then took over my play time at the end of the month.  ManicTime sees them both as the same app, which no doubt aligns Blizzard’s plan in that because they do not want proof that their old game is more popular than their new.  You don’t want an analyst at the earnings call asking if the Blizz team has basically been wasting the last decade on stuff less popular than vanilla.

World of Warcraft – 54.93%
EVE Online – 39.16%
Teamfight Tactics – 2.89%
Minecraft – 2.17%
Dota Underlords – 0.85%

Auto Chess

While I spent a bit of time with both Dota Underlords and Teamfight Tactics, “spent” is probably the operative word.  They were both interesting to tinker with for a while, but I didn’t really feel the need to keep playing beyond the point when I wrote a post comparing the two games.  Just not my cup of tea, though I will be interested to see how they evolve over time.

EVE Online

The Chaos Era and the Season of Skills login rewards dominated the game in August.  Well, that and arguing about changes to the game, but that seems to be part and parcel of the Chaos Era.  I remain chagrined that chaos was the takeaway for Hilmar from The Three-Body Problem.  It would be like coming away from Game of Thrones thinking, “What I really need is a dwarf in my game.”  Anyway, I persisted through the login rewards and got my remaining ships home safely from our deployment.

Minecraft

I did get log into Minecraft for a bit to play, though less out of a desire for the blocky landscape and more out of a need to find something I could occupy myself with during the wait for WoW Classic.  It is a fine game for logging on and tinkering a bit.  Not sure I still need to keep our server hosted on Minecraft Realms though, as it is just me on there of late.

Pokemon Go

The Team Rocket event was interesting, a change up for the game.  I went through and did what I needed for the event and got ten victories for the bronze badge, but after that I was kind of done.  Unlike a raid or a gym attack, you don’t know what you’re facing until you’ve already picked your team.  I used up a lot of potions and revives for just those ten wins.

Level: 37 (+1)
Pokedex status: 438 (+6) caught, 461 (+4) seen
Pokemon I want:  Any of the ones that need Sinnoh stones
Current buddy: Feebass, for the current special task event

World of Warcraft

I was feeling quite the malaise when it came to Battle for Azeroth.  I thought with the Rise of Azshara update I would get in and unlock flying, but I wasn’t really thrilled with the Nazjatar zone.  Like the Tortallian, I am not down with the Naga.  It wasn’t until I went to Mechagon that I found something I liked… just in time for WoW Classic to show up.

WoW Classic

Given how many posts I had up this month about WoW Classic, you’d think that was all I played in August, but it didn’t even go live until the last week of the month.  It hasn’t even been up for a week yet.  But it is finally here.  You don’t have to listen to me pine for it any more.  We’re trying to get the band back together as we wander through a version of the game more than a decade gone.

Coming Up

WoW Classic.  WoW Classic.  WoW Classic.  The highs, the low, the queues, the memories, the complaints.  I am sure there will be a lot of WoW Classic talk.  It is the event of the season.

Still, while that will no doubt be a regular feature, other things will happen.

I am sure I’ll have something to sum up from Blaugust.

Some of us are waiting for various bits of news from Daybreak, from release and expansion info to the status of the company overall.  Some of that will show up next month I am sure.

The Chaos Era continues in EVE Online.  There will be the September update and the first CSM14 summit.  Reavers might even do a thing as well.

Also, there is a milestone coming up for the blog.  All that and more… hopefully more… coming in September.

My Gamer Motivation Profile Once Again

I was tagged for something for Blaugust, and right at the last minute too, so I am going to have to squeeze in just one more post in the month.

Angie at Backlog Crusader did the Quantic Foundry Gamer Motivation Profile survey and then tagged some other bloggers to give it a try.  I’m game… so to speak… but here is the thing.  I’ve done this before, back in 2015 when the survey was new.  Still, I figured I could go through the questions again.  The test itself is built around some assumptions about gamer behavior.

The Motivation Model Overview

As I said previously, it reminds me of the Bartle model, with a few more dimensions.  It does rely on the common personality test dynamic of paired behaviors that are placed as poles in a given motivation.

I had even made a profile back in 2015, so was able to log in and go through the test again.  It remembered my answers from back then, though a couple more questions had been added.  I also changed some of my answers, ending up with a chart that looks like this:

My profile summary graph – 2019

You can compare that to the last time around.

My profile summary graph – 2015

In 2015 there were only five factors, now there are six.  If you want to see how the test has changed you can compare my 2015 post, where I wrote about each of the factors, and my 2019 results available here.

In 2015 I was “Calm, Spontaneous, and Grounded.”

In 2019 I am “Calm, Driven, Gregarious, and Grounded.”

The problem I have with this sort of test is the somewhat generic set of questions asking how important certain things are to me.  I sit there and read the question and think, “Well, this is important to me under specific circumstances, but at other times I could care less.”  So the strength of my answers is not very strong at all.  I went through and changed a good chunk of them as I passed through the quiz once again, but never by more than one notch either direction.

Basically, my mood at the moment could alter many of my answers at least somewhat, to the point that I am pretty sure if you wiped all my answers and had me take the survey again in a week, the results would change some.

But for an afternoon in August, that was how I was feeling.

And at the end of the survey the site offers up some games that might appeal to you based on what other people taking it who scored similarly to you ranked as their favorite games.  My top game was No Man’s Sky.

Seems appropriate.  I actually own it, having picked it up in a Steam sale.  Couldn’t get past the forever loading screens though.  Maybe that has gotten better.

The game recommendations come in three levels.  To get an MMO result I had to select “niche” as a parameter, because MMOs remain a niche genre.

Anyway, if you want to take the survey as well, you can find it here on the Quantic Lab site.

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 Burning Things Down

Here we are into the third full week of Blaugust and another topic of the week.

I have tried to keep up and do something on the right theme each week, though I failed a bit last week.  I mean, you got to know me some, but maybe that wasn’t what you were looking for.  And I felt, looking at the calendar, that this week was going to be another punt.

Blaugust 2019 Schedule

Developer appreciation things never quite resonate with me for a variety of reasons I’ve been over in the past.  I neither revere nor dismiss game devs or their work, or so I tell myself.

So I was going to give this week’s topic a miss… and then INN posted an article with the title, Why EVE or CCP Games Needs to Fail and I felt maybe I had an angle.

The basic premise is that CCP has done so many things wrong with EVE Online, made so many errors in the face of players telling them what would happen, been so tone deaf in their relations with customers, that the whole thing, game, studio, and all, should be burned down and scattered to the winds.

I have run across this attitude many times, the idea that things are so bad that we need to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch.  Only then can we get something good.

I think there is a class somewhere that instructs young developers, when faced with taking over somebody’s code, to say that it would be easier just to re-write it all from scratch.  (Oh cute little dev, if we trusted you to do that we wouldn’t have handed you that code to maintain.)  But even old salts fall into that trap, the idea that it would be easier to go back to a blank sheet rather than start with code not their own.

Starting from scratch is a hazardous path, one that I’ve been down before.  It can even kill whole companies.  Microsoft gets the attention for the fall of the Netscape Navigator web browser, but if Netscape hadn’t decided to rewrite everything from scratch… in Java… it might have remained viable, or at least capable of keeping up with the features of Internet Explorer.

I’ve watched devs get their wish to start from scratch only to have to spend their time on a long voyage of discovery as they have to relearn all the wisdom that went in to forming that mess of code they are trying to replace.  Instead of spending time adding to the product that dev is stuck redoing something we already had.

Which isn’t to say there is a lack of code that deserves a fiery death.  There was a fax form editor I had to work with about 20 years back that was so problematic that it might actually have been better to restart from scratch.  But you never know until you’re waist deep in things and begin to regret your decision.

Anyway, my point here is that EVE Online or CCP failing would not automatically result in something better coming along.  If anything, the opposite is likely true.  Who wants to create a harsh, dystopian internet spaceship sandbox game if the premier example of the niche has failed?

And what other options would former New Eden residents have?  Star Citizen is not ready for prime time, Elite: Dangerous requires docking skills I’m too old to want to work on, Prosperous Universe is all the bad UI and spreadsheets of New Eden without any of the pretty pictures, and the handful of spaceship MMO startups are so far from being anything close to the scale of EVE Online that we would all be clamoring for an EVE Online emulator five minutes after the game went down.

Appreciate what you have got.

That doesn’t mean you have to be satisfied with everything.  One of the more dynamic aspects of EVE Online is the discussion of what it is, what is wrong, and what it could be.  And it can be tough when “chaos” is the new flavor of the month.  But EVE Online with chaos is still better than no EVE Online at all.  Space is still pretty, the scale is still epic, fights still happen, and chaos cannot go on forever.  Maybe Hilmar will read Ringworld Engineers and become obsesses with stability.

Leave the wishes for financial failure, closure, and all that to the people who find the game’s mere existence to be an affront.  There is enough hate out there already.