29 August, 2016
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.