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Goblin’s End

Gevlon is calling it quits.

While some will undoubtedly be celebrating the end of his blogging, I will not. Certainly, we disagreed constantly, and I find his politics abhorrent generally. Nevertheless, his ironclad comment curation (and threat of a ban) forced me to file down my typical rhetoric and argue on the point. The ideal was to get down to an armor-piercing response, with zero distractions. Didn’t always work, but the challenge honed my craft.

As for the reason for his farewell post:

Players no longer need to be any good to progress. They just have to log in and open their wallets. The morons and slackers who couldn’t clear Karhazan back in the day, now clear all the content, because it’s tailored for their pathetic performance. They don’t have to learn anything to succeed, so learning became “tryhard”. They became the dominant culture in gaming. Being any good became “elitism”. “Gamers are dead” is the new slogan among developers. And don’t even get me started about mobile crap.

As a result, any kind of good information is rejected and actively hated. When I found how to get to the toplist of PUBG, all I got were downvotes and hate from the “community”, for ruining their “fun” of mindlessly killing each other. When I disproved the bizarre conspiracy theory that baddies made up in World of Warships to explain their defeats, I got banned from the game’s subreddit. And let’s not even mention CCP Falcon and his antics.

There is no more point in trying to play well, so there is no point writing about it. […]

In short: a decline in social validation.

Gevlon argues that games no longer require skillful play, thus no one appreciates “good information” that challenges their assumptions anymore. But what asocial scientist cares about the appreciation of an audience? Beating Ulduar in blue gear or getting to the top of the PUBG toplist by a verifiable and repeatable method is a validation by reality. There is no greater an arbiter for one who derives truth by experimentation.

To be sure, the difference between a blog and a journal is an audience – some measure of recognition is required to be the former instead of the latter. A casual stroll through Gevlon’s comment section though, will reveal plenty of fans. Just… not as many as in his heyday. And in an ironic twist, his unnecessary lurch into right-wing politics not only reduced his potential audience, it left him with precisely the sort of readers who care little about facts and truth in the first place.

Some games have indeed become more accessible to players of varying skill levels. Lootboxes and exploitative game design are definitely a thing. But WoW still has difficult raiding at the top levels, same as always. Dark Souls and “git gud” is still a prevailing culture in many corners of the internet. In fact, when is the last time anyone has remarked that so-and-so is elitist? That title is pretty much exclusively used on scientists trying to avert disasters and improve peoples’ lives.

Hey, wait a minute…

Ah, well. Gevlon has been blogging damn near daily for a decade, and likely inspired thousands of people to improve themselves, one way or another. He certainly inspired thousands of blog posts at a minimum, including this one. So… thank you for the content. Enjoy your retirement.

More than Half Done

[Blaugust Day 16]

The whole Blaugust challenge is more than half over now. Do you know where all your free-time went?

A full analysis will need to wait until the end of the month, but so far, the one good thing to come out of this is a reaffirmation that a more metered posting schedule is best for me. I looked at the subscriber numbers for this blog on various sites, and so there was a passing thought that if I went from 3 posts per week to 7, then my traffic should necessarily double, right? That does not appear to be the case. Like at all. Which means either the subscriptions aren’t being added to the views or perhaps less people are reading (due to more competition for their time).

On the actual writing front, nothing much else has changed either. While I am tempted to bang out a lot of buffer posts, it almost seems too cynical, even for me. Instead, I am sticking with my tried-and-true method of relying on my fickle muse for sudden inspiration. And Blizzard devs doing something outrageous – they’re always good for a post or two.

All that said, I do want to take a moment and thank the all the people posting comments. That particular metric is way up this month, and I’m not entirely sure why. Well, I guess it makes sense that more posts = more chances for people to chime in on a topic they want to talk about. To give some perspective, this past May had the most pageviews out of any month in the last year, and while August is less than half that right now, the comment totals are even thus far.

In any case, I think what I will do later is start combing through some of the other blogs I’ve seen on the Anook page. I’m not a huge fan of just adding everyone and sifting through hundreds of posts, but I do find it useful from time to time to add new blood to the routine.

And I suppose that’s how most of you found me in the first place. Fair’s fair.

The Next Generation is Better than the Original

#Picard4Life

Blogs are dying. PCs are dying. The next generation is functionally illiterate.

Do you know what the upcoming generation’s great crime is? They have a choice, whereas we did not. Do you think the New Blogger Initiative failure rate of 73% is a new phenomenon? It is not. In fact, I was pretty surprised the number that survived was that high. Blogging is hard. I probably spend ~2 hours writing each post, with pictures eating up extra time. The only rational response to an unpaid part-time job that has nothing to do with job advancement is to run away.

Or shrug and stop.

In the Olde Days, it was a choice between blogging, forum posting, or… nothing. I don’t actually remember there being more blogging going on 5+ years ago, but let’s assume there was. So what? The overwhelming majority of those blogs failed too. The only difference today is that the people who just wanted to fire off pithy quips can do so on Twitter instead. Or if you just want to post screenshots or memes, you can use Tumblr. If you just want to keep in touch with friends, you can use Facebook – which didn’t exist prior to 2004, by the way. And that was nine (!) years ago.

Smartphones and tablets “cannibalize” the PC market because those individuals did not actually want or need an entire PC. Twitter and Facebook and Youtube “cannibalize” the blogging market because those individuals did not actually want or need a long-form writing space. Personally, I do need space to write, and I do it because it’s something I enjoy doing. If you don’t enjoy it, that does not reflect poorly on you.

Now, MMO blogging going away is another story. Then again, I am not entirely sure whether a hyper-focus on a single MMO is even all that good anymore. I got started by writing about the WoW auction house, which is a niche of a niche of a niche. But even back then, I recognized that tying my identity and voice to something so specific was a bad idea. If I quit WoW… then what?

Besides, I think it’s pretty clear that the days of playing just one game for years is going away. Not that you can’t play one game for years, but that you probably aren’t going to just be playing that one game. Maybe you will lose some readers only interested in your latest Secret World escapades, but odds are that if they enjoy reading what you write about X, they will probably read Y too.

Things aren’t worse; things are different. To some, maybe different is worse. In which case, you probably chose the wrong genre of game to write about in the first place.

OTOH Experiment

Everyone knows the importance of first impressions, and how they can color every experience thereafter. The situation is a bit more dire when it comes to blogging (or at least it feels that way), because once we nail something down with words, it not only helps cement the first impressions in our own minds, but it also becomes baggage that gets checked any time we say something contrary in the future. You would not see Wolfshead or Syncaine posting about how much they enjoy Mists of Pandaria, for example, even if they were genuinely impressed; so much of their identity and “e-cred” is wrapped up in historical posts about hating WoW that everyone would assume they are trolling at best, or hypocritical at worse.

I was thinking about all that this weekend, as I mused over the sort of feedback and counter-arguments I have been getting about my Guild Wars 2 posts. Do they have a point? Am I letting my first impressions and foreknowledge about the “endgame” color my moment-to-moment enjoyment? Am I not talking about the fun/interesting things because I subconsciously fear “contradicting” myself?

To answer these questions, I decided to try an experiment I am calling: On The Other Hand. The idea is to carve out a space between playing Devil’s Advocate and cleaning the slate as much as possible for a second impression. The experiment does not involve me being relentlessly positive or pretending to like things I do not – it merely gives me mental room to acknowledge that I may have been unfair in the past.

I’m wrapping this all up in a fancy “experiment” instead of just coming out and admitting possible wrongs, because… well, it is easier. Hey, I never pretended to be a humble guy.

In any case, the first night of the experiment actually happened on Saturday when I strolled into a zone I had never been to before; took some screenshots, jotted down some notes. Since I spent all day Sunday playing FTL (ominous foreshadowing?) I am going to try and run the experiment for another day or two. The end result may be in one big post, or several smaller ones. I especially want to try to get back into a third dungeon.

So look forward to that, or dread it, as is your predilection.