Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

29 August, 2016

#Blaugust2016 wrap up: Introspection on blogging
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 12:09 PM

It’s not quite the end of Blaugust yet, but I have a special post for the last day. So, I figured I’d do a wrap up today, and maybe beat the crowds of people writing posts like this in a few days. :)

So, another Blaugust has come and gone. As is my wont, I’m going to get a little introspective about what blogging means.

The blogging

As always, big props go out to Belghast over at Aggronaut for introducing and doing the hard work for Blaugust. His dedication to this event and to blogging on a daily basis throughout the year shows just what kind of awesome people are in the MMO/gaming blogging community.

I’m in an interesting position, personally, being an MMO developer who blogs. As far as I know, I’m one of the last few who blogs fairly regularly not tied to some official company function. Almost every other developer I used to follow has retreated to the walled gardens of Facebook or churn out the occasional bon mots on Twitter. I don’t think this makes me better, more informative, or more entertaining than others. However, I do feel a little bit of responsibility for carrying the torch and continuing to provide one developer’s perspective on things.

I did originally think of this blog as a extension of my professional work. But, I’ve seen little return on a professional level. My posts have never really seemed to influence design direction; chasing the popular trend of the day has always been a higher priority for many MMO development teams than blazing trails like I prefer. Most of the consulting and contract work I get comes from personal connections and direct references rather than from anyone reading my blog and getting excited. I do try to research my crazy ideas and cross-reference blog posts to have a consistent progression through my blog. But, professional concerns are not why I blog now.

What keeps me going is the regular readers and commenters. I love the comments on my blog, as I always have. I enjoy interacting with intelligent people. Sadly, I don’t always have the time to wade into a good discussion like I have in the past. In fact, there are a few comments this month I wanted to reply to, but I’ve been too busy to write a good comment.

The community

Blogging is important, even if it is no longer quite as huge as it used to be. As I like to say, a lot, the core of an MMO is the community; I still firmly believe that MMOs have been weakened by the lack of emphasis on community. Bloggers are a visible extension of this community. We may play different games and have different motivations in the games, but we still have a connection to each other through our words.

As I said, there are some regular readers who stop by and comment. These form a particular sub-community on my blog. The names might change slightly over the years, though; reading old post and the comments sometimes makes me nostalgic for when blogging was more popular and there were more people regularly commenting. You’d often see the same names commenting or posting on forums. The community is smaller now, certainly, but the quality of discussion is still there.

But, change is constant. Murf announced his decision to stop blogging on his blog recently. He’s one of the regular commenters on here who I look forward to reading. There are plenty of other bloggers who left their blogs behind: Spinks and Larísa are two I particularly miss. I might point to the closing of the Pink Pigtail Inn as the inflection point for blogs, a sign that we were past the peak.

But, the people remaining are no less awesome. And it’s not all sadness and people leaving. Just this year we’ve seen the MMOBro come on the scene with a new blog exploring new ideas.

The writing

One thing I like about blogging is the creative act of writing. I’ve always liked to write. When I was in school, I enjoyed creative writing and the chance to write a story filled me with excitement. I loved stretching my imagination and writing about fantastic things. Even before I read The Lord of the Rings or played D&D, I loved visiting the world of my imagination.

As I grew older, I found an affinity for technology like a lot of other introverts with some autistic tendencies. The world of computers was fascinating, and I quickly bent the computer to doing my will: letting me play and eventually make games. But, I never stopped loving the process of creative development and writing.

Richard Bartle once talked about how many early game designers were programmers, not because they loved programming for the sake of programming, but because it was the one sure way to get their game designs implemented. This rings true to me, which is one reason why I’ve been a lot more interested in technical design rather than pure engineering. My interest in writing sets me apart from other game programmers; sometimes it makes me feel like an outsider in the game industry.

So, the blog gives me a good outlet. Even when I’m restricted from creating in other ways, this blog has been my outlet. It’s kept me writing and kept me happier than I probably would have been otherwise.

The future

It’s hard to tell what the future holds. Will there still be any significant MMO blogging in a few years? Will more and more people wander away or shift their blogs to other topics? Will MMOs survive in any recognizable form over the next few years? I don’t know. All I know is I’ll still enjoy writing and I’ll probably still be posting on here, as long as someone occasionally comes along to comment.

Anyway, if you could do me a huge favor: leave a comment below if you read this. It doesn’t have to be long, and if you haven’t commented before you’ll probably have to wait for me to approve it. But I’d just like a little show of the strength of the community left in MMO blogging. I think that’d be a great way to emphasize the power of this year’s Blaugust.

And a sincere thanks to all the readers and commenters. I really appreciate you all spending your time here.

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  1. Yo!

    Comment by Trevel — 29 August, 2016 @ 12:11 PM

  2. “Just this year we’ve seen the MMOBro come on the scene with a new blog exploring new ideas.”

    As well as exploring some well worn topics. I don’t think you get your official MMO blogger pin until you’ve railed against the WoW tank/healer/DPS holy trinity.

    Also, I have read this post.

    Comment by Wilhelm Arcturus — 29 August, 2016 @ 12:14 PM

  3. I think the death, or even decline, of blogging is exaggerated. People will write. The problem mostly is stopping them!

    MMO blogging, though, that is in decline. Very few blogs I read now focus wholly on MMOs and many that used to now write about other types of game or topics other than gaming. I’ll most likely carry on blogging about MMOs whether anyone reads me or not because in the end my main reader is me and I’m not going to lose interest any time soon.

    I also reckon MMOs will see me out. I’m 58 this year and WoW will almost certainly outlive me if none of the others do.

    Comment by bhagpuss — 29 August, 2016 @ 1:05 PM

  4. Blogging has been an outlet for me to get a bit creative and analytical in a public space where I can see other ideas bounce off of mine. My local peers don’t have interests intersecting mine, so finding interested parties on the internet is excellent. I like reading, I like writing. When I wind up doing other creative things or simply lack the time for any writing, as I have the last few years, blogging naturally ebbs.

    Spoken conversations don’t fill the same function, so I’ll probably always be blogging in some form or another. Even so, priorities naturally change as life meanders here and there. So it goes, and unless you’re answering to someone writing big fat checks for your blog, I figure there’s no shame in doing something else.

    I’ve been out of the video game industry m’self for a couple of years now. Life has a way of wrecking the best laid plans. I still find game design fascinating, though, and I’m polishing up a tabletop game that I’ve wanted to produce for a while now. There’s never a lack of things to write about… but that creative urge can often be filled in more productive ways. Since I’m trying to find other revenue streams since I’m “circumstantially retired”, I have to bend my creativity and time to more profitable pursuits. It’s just a phase of life, I think. Blogging is a luxury, in a lot of ways.

    Comment by Tesh — 29 August, 2016 @ 1:09 PM

  5. The sum of the text of my comments on other people’s blogs probably outpaces my own monthly blog posts. I really need to put in more effort. Anyhoo, I have appreciated all of our discussions in years past and looking forward to more forward ;)

    Comment by Isey — 29 August, 2016 @ 1:19 PM

  6. Blogging, I want to do it, I don’t find the time. That’s been the constant of the last few years.

    I’ll get around to it again.

    Comment by unwesen — 29 August, 2016 @ 1:36 PM

  7. Grats on another blaugust.

    Comment by Tyrannodorkus — 29 August, 2016 @ 3:15 PM

  8. The number of ‘blogs’ vs. ‘other’ in my tt-rss feed has been shifting. I miss a lot of what has been lost.

    Comment by The Alien — 29 August, 2016 @ 3:21 PM

  9. I read this, and I DO think that the fact you express your thoughts in a blog, rather than a poorly-suited medium like Facebook or Twitter DOES make you “better, more informative, or more entertaining than others.”

    Comment by Carson — 29 August, 2016 @ 4:21 PM

  10. Here’s your read receipt.

    It’s a little ironic and mildly guilt-inducing that I haven’t made/found time to upkeep my own blog regularly lately, but such is life. Juggling too many projects, including hardcore gaming, and something’s gotta give.

    I do still make it a point to read and comment on other blogs as it takes much less time and keeps the community going.

    Comment by Jeromai — 29 August, 2016 @ 4:51 PM

  11. While I don’t read as many blogs as I once did, I have been reading yours for the better part of a decade. I appreciate your posts and look forward to your future insights.

    Comment by Sean Boocock — 29 August, 2016 @ 5:34 PM

  12. Big fan of the blog, thank you for taking the time!!

    Comment by Grumpy — 29 August, 2016 @ 6:23 PM

  13. Hello. I just wanted to add that I wrote about the state of MMO blogging this July with the following article: (Warning: the article contains some opinions that may not be politically correct)

    There can be no doubt that MMO blogging is in decline. As the genre continues to erode, devolve and be reduced into a single player MMO, so too does the community that writes about it. This is normal except for a few holdouts.

    To me the start of the MMO genre in the late 1990′s was a lot like the heady days of the 1960′s when the USA strove to put a man on the moon with NASA. Lots of excitement, promise and innovation soon followed. Now look at the space program in America, we have nothing left.

    Yet 20 years later, the fact remains that virtual worlds have barely scratched the surface of what is possible. Designers don’t dare dream anymore. Instead they care more about metrics, monetization and virtue signalling than promoting fundamental design principles. As players we took the bait and have sold our souls and settled for the empty calories of puerile blockbuster MMOs with their false “epic” Hollywood narratives.

    The only real hope for the MMO genre is that eventually platforms will emerge that enable passionate fans to create their own MMOs much like how fans are modding Skyrim and building worlds in Minecraft. The Nostalrious team shows us that a few volunteers have far more passion and love for the MMO genre then the out of touch suits and hacks at Blizzard.

    When that day eventually comes, then the MMO blogosphere will rise again.

    Comment by Wolfshead — 29 August, 2016 @ 9:24 PM

  14. I rarely comment on much of the MMO blogosphere, but I read and subscribe to it!

    Comment by Seraphgrim — 29 August, 2016 @ 9:51 PM

  15. Read.

    Comment by Tom H. — 30 August, 2016 @ 7:27 AM

  16. Many of your thoughts echo mine, Brian.

    I code not because I’m good at it, but because I grok design and programming is the only way I can reasonably expect to see any of my design ideas made playable.

    And I also enjoy writing, in particular about computer games. I haven’t done nearly as much as I used to, because reasons (full-time day job, evenings with family, an ambitious game project). So I appreciate those who do make the effort to write semi-regularly or more.

    But when I do get to write, there are a few rules I try to follow: find a subject about which something illuminating can still be said; say it clearly; don’t be a jerk to people who might disagree. It’s hard to find writers who do all three of those things well. It’s in part because you are one such writer that I continue to read your blog.

    I’ll keep reading as long as you keep writing. :)

    Comment by Bart Stewart — 30 August, 2016 @ 8:10 AM

  17. I didn’t read this, but then I never do.

    “I might point to the closing of the Pink Pigtail Inn as the inflection point for blogs, a sign that we were past the peak.” — And I felt the same at the time, and haven’t seen any reason yet to think otherwise.

    I have other things to say regarding blogging but no energy with which to say them. Sign of the times, maybe.

    Comment by Ysharros — 30 August, 2016 @ 11:27 AM

  18. I really miss Google Reader as it was a really great way to never miss anything. Now, even by posting links on Twitter it’s so easy to miss the latest entry on a blog (and I follow only 63 accounts!!!).

    Blogs are where I took a lot of input when I started to make games and I wonder now where new game devs find this. It feels to me like blogs were/are the best way to engage in calm insightful discussions. At least it was true before posts started to be put on Twitter and started to attract a lot of outside uninterested to engage in anything constructive and just want to see their words on the web…

    I still read a few blogs but I miss a lot of content that might interest me. The only thing I found to try to keep up with some interesting content is to check Gamasutra on a regular basis but then not everyone cross-post there and they do have some tendency to over-promote click-bait articles with little value to me which isn’t helping the search for interesting content.

    Comment by Dave Toulouse — 31 August, 2016 @ 7:27 AM

  19. Still love reading long-form stuff!

    Comment by Samuel Kernan — 31 August, 2016 @ 6:10 PM

  20. I dropped by and read the thing, as I often do. I don’t tend to comment, but I value your unique perspective. I’m not an MMO player myself, but I enjoy the way they tend to go about gaming and thinking about gaming, and you’re a good example of the sort of thing I like.

    Comment by UnwiseOwl — 31 August, 2016 @ 7:22 PM

  21. We may be the mighty few, but we still appreciate and devour blogging content. Read.

    Comment by Todd Melaragni — 1 September, 2016 @ 12:35 AM

  22. Read. Blogging has been a constant pleasure for me for five years now, one based on the pleasure I derive from MMORPGs. I’ll keep writing as long as I enjoy these games!

    Comment by Telwyn — 1 September, 2016 @ 1:21 AM

  23. Read! Happy end of Blaugust!

    Comment by Gracie — 1 September, 2016 @ 8:40 AM

  24. I haven’t read either the post or any of the other comments, which is lucky or I would’ve seen Ysh had already done that gag. Don’t even have the time to post a comment, sad state of affairs really.

    Comment by Zoso — 1 September, 2016 @ 11:31 AM

  25. Ysh & Zoso — We weren’t here. You didn’t see us. Move along. :D

    Comment by Ysharros — 1 September, 2016 @ 12:16 PM

  26. You ain’t seen us, right?

    Comment by Zoso — 1 September, 2016 @ 2:38 PM

  27. Extra points for getting the Fast Show reference :)

    Comment by Ysharros — 1 September, 2016 @ 8:44 PM

  28. I too miss the pink pigtail inn.

    Not a game designer or developer, but have always been a gamer, and always enjoyed thinking about the design, what made them fun, or not. Trying to figure out what the designer was thinking, or why they did things a certain way has always been almost as much fun as playing the games. When blogging took off I got access to the reality of how some of you think, got to see if my thoughts and theories matched reality.

    Still reading blogs, don’t see stopping as long as there are people like you writing things worth reading. I do miss Google reader, but feedly works well enough most days.

    Comment by Halsey — 2 September, 2016 @ 12:30 AM

  29. I catch up on my Google+ every Saturday, but I miss the blogosphere of old and haven’t found myself providing much content. While I’m not focused on MMO games, gamedev posts in general have always been welcome. =)

    Comment by Andre La Barre — 3 September, 2016 @ 2:33 PM

  30. Finally got around to reading, I have a backlog even with the diminution of the blogosphere, though I rarely comment.

    Comment by Muir — 12 September, 2016 @ 5:57 PM

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