Tag Archives: Navel Gazing

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:

When is it Nostalgia Anyway?

Nostalgia is part of the basic premise of this blog.  A look at older games is called out in my introduction post for the blog, and the very next day I was on about what I called the EverQuest Nostalgia Tour, a semi-regular event for me in the last seven years.

Cube Ahoy!

Nostalgia in cube form

I have spent time on the way things were.  In addition to EverQuest, TorilMUD has gotten its share of posts. (I recommend the Leuthilspar Tales for real nostalgia.)  I have delved back into various Kesmai games from the GEnie days, such as Air Warrior, Stellar Warrior, and Stellar Emperor.  I stopped to recall things like the first game I played, the invasion from space, the amazing Spaceship Warlock, the influential Total Annihilation, the old shooter Delta Force, and even a game played with real cars.

I have attempted to define the essence of what it means to be a Wizardry game, at least from the perspective of 1983.  And I have gone back to my first gaming console and my first computer, as well as trying to chart out my own gaming timeline.

Nostalgia is definitely on the menu here at Cafe Wilhelm.

So I am sure it was no big surprise to long time readers that, as the turning of the season approached and school started back up, I headed out on my regular autumnal nostalgia run.  This year EverQuest was set aside (for now) because my daughter wanted to go back and play World of Warcraft.  Azeroth was declared the nostalgia destination this year.

And then Bhagpuss asked a question in a comment which made me start to consider when something was really nostalgia and when it was not.

Going back to EverQuest, for me, is clearly nostalgia.  I stopped playing the game in any serious way about a decade back and have only returned now and again to help revive my memories of that time.  My intention for those efforts is always to review and remind.  I do not think I have ever seriously entertained the idea that EverQuest would become my main gaming focus again.

I feel about the same way about EverQuest II.  I have many fond memories from playing the game in 2004 and 2005.  But the game has grown beyond that and has become something I tend to like less and less each time I visit.  I do not think it will ever be my main game ever again.  It has been relegated to the nostalgia pile.

But for MMO tagged games that I started playing after that, things get a bit sticky.

I do not think that Lord of the Rings Online is on the nostalgia pile as yet.  I have a fondness for it, and enjoy going back and playing through the Lone Lands and Evendim to a degree that seems a bit odd even to me.  But I also played the game seriously all summer and went on to see new things as I made my way through Moria.  I am still making progress in the game, not just revisiting old haunts to rekindle memories.  Playing LOTRO is not yet about nostalgia to my mind.

EVE Online, which I started playing about seven years back, is still a main focus game.  I am nostalgic for some of my naivete I suppose, but listening to Below the Asteroids in a dark room makes me feel like it is 2006 all over again.  I see trails and old graphic models in my mind’s eye.

And green nebulae

I get a tinge of nostalgia every so often for Warhammer Online.  There were some good bits there.  Fun was had, for a time.  I sometimes want to go back and just look at the landscapes.  But that tinge is never enough to overcome the memory of not wanting to log in after about the 10th week or the idea of giving EA money.  My embargo on EA is not absolute.  I still play some Need for Speed World once in a while.  But the company and its reputation adds an additional barrier between me and their games.  And Origin might as well be the Berlin Wall.  Anything that requires that is off the table.

Pirates of the Burning Sea whispers in my ear every so often.  I liked the ship battles.  But it seems like too much effort for just that.  The rest of the game was uninspiring.

Rift is still too new for me to be nostalgic.  Neverwinter is barely a thing for me yet.  Vanguard was never a thing for me.  World of Tanks is there whenever I want it.  Star Trek Online lost me, though I was in denial for a long time on that one.  Runes of Magic became all that I hated about F2P games at the time… greedy, spammy, ugly, and unpolished… and don’t get me started on their patcher.  I have no desire to return.  Star Wars Galaxies, which I could experience through emulation, was just me on the outside looking in.  I never bought the box.

Which brings us around to WoW.

I am certainly nostalgic for Azeroth.  Or the 2006-ish version of Azeroth, as my time on the Emerald Dream server indicated.  I wish against all possible hope that Blizzard will give us that sort of thing some day.  (Or at least that I hadn’t forgotten my Emerald Dream password.)

But does that mean returning to World of Warcraft is necessarily an act of nostalgia?

Certainly memories of past times in the game fed the desire to return.  And the plan to roll on a fresh server and start from scratch to experience it all is straight from the MMO nostalgia playbook.

On the flip side though, the plan is not to relive the old but to experience the new.  We have chosen a different path.  We are rolling pandas, going horde, trying pet battles, and generally throwing ourselves into much that is new… or at least as new as post-Cataclysm Azeroth.  And if the regular Saturday night instance group was up for it, I think WoW would become my main non-EVE MMO for the foreseeable future.

So I do not think that playing WoW is not about nostalgia for me.  That is in part because Blizzard foolishly (in my opinion) put a bullet in the head of nostalgia with the Cataclysm expansion.  But mostly because WoW is still a current game for me.  I am there to play, not just there to visit.

Or such is my belief at this time.

How about you?  What is MMO nostalgia for you?

Where is the border between nostalgia runs and just playing the damn game?

Or do you buy into the nostalgia concept at all?