Blaugust

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Just dooo eeeeet!

The list for this is pretty large.  I am not on that list for really poor reasons.  I know the majority of the folks that are mentors on that list, so it would seem a sane step to be part of it too.  Ahh well.

I do think that this is a great initiative.  In the wide majority of cases, I prefer written form to video.  There’s a concise and direct aspect to this.  Unless I’m trying to build/fix something, opinion pieces are much more palatable when in written form.  The main reason here is that people think faster than they speak, and speak faster than they write.  The end result is that the written word is often a reasoned position, while the talking points are broken ides.  Mostly.

I am selfish in that I write for myself, as an outlet for my ideas.  There’s often too much in my head and this is really quite useful to get some space in there.  It just so happens that those ideas resonate with other folks.  As Bob Ross would say, happy accident.  As with other bloggers who have been around for a while, I’ve been offered to write targeted posts, and be compensated for it.  I’ve certainly done that on other sites, but never on this one. I stopped doing it after a while since it felt more like a job, and I want to have fun while writing.

I write in spurts, but rarely more than once per day.  I prefer to just schedule my ideas, or save them in drafts (I have about 50 of those).  I find that I can go weeks without inspiration, then it comes back.  It isn’t so much a habit as it is a hobby.

I firmly believe that writing has to have a personal goal, otherwise you lose interest quickly.  It takes time to write, even really small bits.  You want that writing to feel rewarding.  Sure it feels good to get a like, but if that’s your goal, then you’re going to have a bad time.  Love the act of writing, start small, and figure out what parts of that process you enjoy the most.  Then focus on those.  Have fun writing and it will be with you for the rest of your days.

2015 Predictions

New Year and all that jazz.  Still recovering from some illness and some self-inflicted pain over the holidays.  Back to work now though, hopefully things will sort themselves out.

Similar to last year, I’m looking at some resolutions and predictions for the coming year.

Blog Resolutions

  • Post more media in the blog. Pictures & video.  I think it would add more to the context.
  • Try out a diary format for a few posts. While I tend to focus on analysis, I think the recounting of adventures always fun to read.
  • More cross-posts. There are many, many bloggers out there.  I should do more to cross-post/link/comment.
  • End the year with 200 posts. That’s about 4 per week, which should be manageable.
  • Try more games! I won’t invest in a console, so I’m out about a dozen options per year.  But my tablet and Steam can keep me more than busy.

Personal Resolutions

  • Actively work on an exit-plan for current project at work.
  • Focus more on the family and what makes them happy.
  • Take time to breathe and time to sleep.
  • Read at least a dozen books.
  • Introduce my 4yr old and wife to tabletop/board games. My daughter received a Connect 4 and Trouble for Christmas and we played a fair amount.  She hates losing and wants to learn how to win. There are tons of games out there to try.

Predictions

Some of these are easy; some are way in left field.

  • SOE won’t launch a single product in 2015. Specifically, the order of eventual launch is Landmark, H1Z1 (cancelled before launch) and EQ Next.
  • EvE will increase their patch cadence a bit, to allow for more time between and draw out the ideas. Their subscription numbers will drop due to the stance on multi-boxing and bots.
  • Wildstar goes B2P by late spring. It either drops raiding as a focus or closes shop.
  • ESO will launch on consoles in the summer and go F2P at the same time. Still no auction house or viable crafting container.
  • WoW will drop back to 7m subscribers. Their PLEX-derivative won’t work due to the way the economy works (you don’t actually need gold to play WoW in WoD).
  • WoD end-game will be Burning Legion tie-in.
  • WoW patches will continue to take an eternity to go out, with no expansion news this year.
  • Heroes of the Storm will “launch” in the fall, even though Closed Beta is taking your money in about 2 weeks. Pricing will change once the gates open.
  • Overwatch won’t show in 2015.
  • SWTOR will have 3 content patches, with new raids and planets. GSF will be forgotten.
  • Steam and Riot will get hacked, which will likely change the way PC gamers identify with hackers. They’ve only targeted consoles so far.
  • 2015 will have a bunch of kickstarters finally launch. Pillars of Eternity, Star Citizen, Tides of Numenera and so on.
  • Microsoft will use the Minecraft source for a new game that’s used in schools. Makes a mint.
  • This is the year of the indie game standards. $15 dollar games will be held to similar standards as $60 games in terms of quality, less so content.
  • A new review system will be established detailing whether a game is playable at release or if you should wait for a kitchen sink patch.
  • Evolve, No Man’s Sky and Repopulation will do better than expected.
  • 20142015 will be the year of the RPG! (Witcher 3 for sure)

If I hit 50%, I’d be surprised but hey, that’s what this list is for right?

 

The year so far is off to a decent start.  Here’s hoping the same for all the readers.

#NBI – Motivation

No two ways to shake it, blogging takes commitment.  The ability to just write a sentence really is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to it.  If you want to know why the NBI is a good idea, then here are a few things I’ve found of benefit.

Blogging is a social circle

Believe it or not but most bloggers read other blogs and use them as inspiration or for dialogue.  Very few people live in silos and blogging is a non-physical way to get to know new people.  It also helps expand horizons.  Gevlon, Tobold and Syncaine are all on my list of reads because they somehow manage to play complete opposites to each other and each has a valid point of view.

Blogging is cathartic

Back when we were kids often times we were told to keep diaries or journals.  You often here of war veterans who kept them during battle, as a way to keep grounded and provide a version of the story if ever they didn’t make it.  Blogging is a way to write down, publicly, your thoughts for the internet to host forever (until it becomes sentient and enslaves us). It allows you to get those troublesome ideas out of the head and put them on (virtual) paper.  This is incredibly therapeutic and has helped me tremendously in organizing my ideas.  Plus, it’s something I can show my kids later on.

Blogging improves communication skills

The more you practice something, the better you get, simple adage.  There are two ways to go through this.  Either you type and correct before posting or you type and go “I can’t believe I wrote that” after you posted.  I aim for the latter.  My career path involves a lot of writing, either technical, executive or through briefings.  It also involves a lot of public speaking.  Over time, I’ve found that my writing voice has changed due to a combination of “practice” writing through blogging and real-world application.  Word diversity, thematic representation and overall sentence structure has improved (or evolved I suppose) over time.  While it seems fairly non-evident here, I have a profound appreciation for the semi-colon (;), the dash (-), parentheses, and the oxford comma.  Blogging has also changed the way that I speak and vice-versa.  Sentences are typically succinct, or spread out with apostrophes for dramatic pause.  There’s a cadence/rhythm to my ideas that makes them easier to digest.

Blogging is excellent for introverts

I am one.  My wife is not.  Blogging allows, by some stroke of luck, for my wife to see inside my mind and get a better appreciation for my thought process.  Because it takes longer to type a sentence than to say it, you end up putting more weight to the thought.  This is a core concept of being introverted – not wanting to say the wrong thing.  Blogging also can lead you into breaking out of the shell, either through gaming guilds or podcasts or a bunch of other social vehicles with other bloggers.  I’m not saying it’s a cure for introverts because that simply does not exist.  Instead, I am saying that it’s a great tool to compensate for some of our more social inhibitions.

Blogging can be done anytime, anywhere

Posting requires an internet connection, blogging does not.  I write posts on my phone on the bus, or on my tablet in bed, or on the laptop in front of the TV.  I have 3-4 posts going on at any one time, sometimes just to collect ideas for future posts (I have 1 app to collect those).  Sometimes it takes me a week to finish an idea, sometimes 5 minutes.  There’s nothing wrong with getting a streak of ideas, just schedule them for posting every day or so.  That way, when you think about potential updates, you have time to go back and edit. Plus, you’re not spamming the world to read 5 posts in one sitting.  It’ll give people a chance to comment on one stream, then come back for another.

For all those reasons and more, blogging is something that’s a fair amount of fun and provides a fair amount of return on investment.  Much more than is likely apparent at first.

NBI 2014 – Get Blogging

The Newbie Blogger Initiative for 2014 has begun.  This annual event is a chance for new blood to mix with the old and to help strengthen the blogging community. I wrote about last year’s event and it’s nice to have another repeat.  There’s a fair chunk of advice in that post as well.

In this day and age of Twitter and Instagram, typing more than 150 characters might seem like a chore but it is of my opinion that blogging is the framework on which all the other tools depends.  That tweet you posted or that link you put on Facebook – it’s likely that the idea was from a blog.

I read a ton of blogs.  I really should make a larger effort to link to them in posts, cross-seeding as it were.  I have the ones I frequent most on the right side of the screen but for those reading on mobile devices or RSS readers, you might not see them.  There are some real smart and funny people out there.  Who knows, you might be one of them and you haven’t even blogged yet.

The neat thing about blogging is that it’s a zero cost investment, other than the time it takes to write.  You don’t have to do it every day, though that’s certainly a good habit.  It doesn’t have to be targeted to an audience because in reality, blogging is about writing for yourself.  If you’re a perfectionist, you’re likely not going to be a having fun blogging.  I know I rarely review my text except to fix spelling mistakes.  I just get better at writing from doing it and reading other people.  Practice makes prefect right?  heh.

Give it a shot.  Get a blog from Blogger or WordPress (or something similar) and just start writing.  Link to some other blogs.  Follow other blogs.  Comment away.  In no time at all, you’ll find out that there’s an entire world of people waiting to say hello.

Newbie Blogger Initiative

If you’ve ever wondered to yourself “hey, blogging looks easy and cool”, then I want to burst your bubble.  Blogging is super easy and mega cool.

The Newbie Blogger Initiative is in year 2 (of two) to help aspiring writers debase themselves in the blogging world.  Syp started it last year and it was a decent enough success.  I think there were more than a handful that made it to 12 months.  Those that quit are quitters and we’ll never talk about them again.

All kidding aside, I’ve been hosting my own website for way too long and posting for half that much time.  It ebbs and flows, depending on a combination of my free time and my need to put words to pen (or keyboard).  For those who do read this blog (thank you) and have a desire to give blogging a shot, here are a few tips to get going.

  1. Get a decent blogging host.  I prefer WordPress but Blogspot is cool too.  Both are free, have plenty of templates and mobile options.
  2. Figure out why you want to blog.  This should be first but just by going through the process of finding a host, you’ll figure this one out too.  Is it a personal one?  It it to comment on a particular topic?  I am fascinated by game design, so most of my stuff is about that.
  3. Keep a blog roll.  Cross post to that blog roll if you find a good topic.  There’s a saying that good authors borrow, great authors steal.  Nearly all of my posts are triggered by reading something else.  Try to always have a link or two in the post.
  4. Keep a draft bucket.  I have a dozen or so ideas that just aren’t good enough yet on that list.  Sometimes I go through it and it gives me another idea.
  5. Write every day.  This doesn’t mean post every day, simply write every day.  Blogging requires a heck of a lot of motivation to get started.  Once you do, it sort of becomes habit.  Some use schedules to rigidly block out time.  Figure out what works for you.
  6. Schedule posts.  You might have 3 great posts all written in one shot.  Don’t let them all out at once.  Try to keep a solid 12 hours between them, so you can digest the other ones.
  7. Writing conveys little emotion or context.  Keep in mind that 90% of your communication skills are non-verbal and that you might have trouble getting an idea across effectively.   Don’t worry, you’re human.  It’ll get better.

I’m glad that I blog.  It keeps me sane.  It give me links to other bloggers with amazing ideas (hence the blog roll to the right).  It gives some feedback on ideas.  It gives me the ability to look back on some topics and go “right on” or “what was I thinking?”.  It can be hard but like anything else, it’s extremely rewarding.  Give it a shot!

Reading Resolutions

I read a lot of blogs and one of my favorite streams is the Joystiq line.  The main site provides all sorts of gaming and it’s relatively neutral in terms of opinion.  I do like to read their reviews though, as they take a rather different, almost meta, approach to the process.  Quite a bit different than IGN’s game reviews, where you can practically see the dollars changing hands.

The World of Warcraft stream used to be the go-to place for information.  It’s been a few years now but I would say mmo-champion is the place for breaking news.  WoW Insider is clearly lacking in content drivers and more importantly, authors.  Other than the class columns (which I think only the  Rogue and Warrior ever have regular updates) the site is mainly a platform for Olivia (PvP) Grace and Mike (WoW-fanatic) Rossi.  It’s really too bad, as the past authors brought some needed diversity to what now reads as continual gripes about the game.  If I was Blizzard, I’d be worried that the #3 search result for WoW lacked quality and content.  Too bad, I rather enjoyed the Warlock vs Mage battles that happened on that site.

The next stream that I enjoy is Massively.  This to me seems the future of gaming, where everything is persistent multiplayer – either characters or setting.  The best part is the widely divergent views of gaming.  I think it would be hard to find more opposite gamers than Shawn, Justin and Eliot.  When you have a clearly jaded gamer, a superfan and a realist in a room, it makes for very interesting commentary.  Even Jef’s Soapbox  columns clearly are made to generate conversation.  The recent hands-on testing with Marvel Heroes with Justin and Eliot went exactly the way I thought it would.

The concept of Confirmation Bias is prevalent in many blogs.  I’m quite certain the Syncaine doesn’t read much else than Aventurine and EvE material. I read the left and the right to try and find some semblance of balance.  It’s a lot harder than it seems as there tend to be more critical bloggers (myself included) than positive ones.

Perhaps this has more to do with the genre as a whole.  Where WoW has become more familiar and therefore less news-worthy and the MMO-genre as a whole is in a rather large transition.  People have trouble with change and when you realize that your corner of the world is getting less and less relevant, it’s certainly something to talk about.  While it may not seem like it, this year was a great year for gaming in my mind.  Grimrock, XCOM, Torchlight 2, Borderlands 2, Rift and now The Secret World are all consistently putting smiles on my face.  I wish I could express that more.  It might be a bit early for it, but I’ll be trying really hard in the New Year to temper the criticism with more positive posts as well.

New Site

Clearly my previous site was having performance issues.  Last night it took over 15 seconds to load this site and that had been going on for over a month.  I wasn’t on any free service either, it was ~100$ a year.

My provider, iPower asked me to make a few changes.  After about 12 ticket exchanges, the answer I finally had was that I was on a shared infrastructure and if I wan’t good service, I had to pay 100$ per month to get on a dedicated VM. That is one of the dumbest things I have ever heard of in my life.  I had been with them for about 5 years now and up until that message, I would have recommended them to others.  Today though, we’re in 2012 and everyone should be on a service managed VM.  It probably didn’t help their case that I work with that stuff on a daily basis.

So here I am, hosted by WordPress (it made sense since I used the program already) and we’ll see how this works out.