When I was younger, I attended more than a few rock concerts. I loved them. Especially the long, all day, 20+ band affairs. You name it, pretty much every rock band of the 90′s I’ve seen. So now here I am, in my early 30′s, an adult, an avid gamer, and, well… let’s just say I didn’t escape some permanent damage from all those concerts. My wife just asked me if I could bring up her smartphone, but I clearly heard her say “Can you bedazzle my trombone”. Yeah…
Also, in any given social situation, if the level of ambient noise reaches a certain volume, I completely lose the ability to hear someone even a foot away from me. Combine this with my inability to read lips, and I might as well have stayed at home. I haven’t lost all of my hearing, but it’s definitely not as sharp as it could be. That’s why, being a gamer, a fan of live music, and having some hearing damage, this new Kickstarter I came across really looked like something I’d be into.
It’s called Woojer, and it looks like it’s going to be a necessary addition to my gaming habit. Woojer is essentially a “woofer” you attach to your clothing and headphones that allows you to physically “feel” sound. It has, at it’s core, a proprietary polyphonic transducer that “plays” these low frequencies. When you hear the audible sounds from your games, and then feel the corresponding vibrations from Woojer, your brain picks up the slack. Using Perceptual Inference, the ability for your brain to essentially make up what is not there but what it thinks should be there, it translates the two stimuli as one. So when you listen to music, it feels as though you are at the concert. When playing a game, that helicopter will feel like it really just passed over you.
As Neal Naimer, one of the people behind Woojer, states in this PA Report interview:
The principle of operation is perceptual inference, or auto completion. The product simulates the sensation of live music or a very strong sound system. Using a Woojer on a single point on your body is enough to convince the brain that the entire body is receiving sound…
Placing Woojers on your body makes the sensation even more immersive. Imagine adding an augmented reality device such as Woojer which transforms any audio signal into silent, harmonic tactile sensations that resonate throughout the body to other existing immersive devices like the Oculus Rift VR headset.
I’m not a huge fan of putting on any extra headwear to experience more immersive gameplay. I already wear glasses, so adding an extra layer in front of them feels a little awkward. However, wearing a simple device that I can attach to my shirt? Done. I’ve already signed on as a backer, and since the Kickstarter has successfully funded, I hopefully WILL be receiving one of these fantastic devices next Spring.
The Kickstarter funding period will conclude very soon, in about four days, at 10:10 AM EST on Friday, December 6th. So if you want one, you better hop on it while discounts are still available.
This won’t obviously cure my already damaged hearing, but if what the site says is true, I may not have to keep my headphones turned up that loud, either. So more immersive gameplay, more intense music and movies, and not having to keep it at levels that could further damage my hearing? This sounds like a huge win all around.
Recently on the forums for the upcoming Shroud of the Avatar, Starr Long, one of the game’s executive producers and previous Project Director of Ultima Online, busted out details on upcoming available skills for the new game. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it, to be honest. It’s quite the information overload, and without the game, out-of-context, it’s hard to picture. However, using other games we have played, we can make a few general assumptions on what we can expect.
Firstly, Starr explains that there will be two kinds of acquired experience: Crafting experience and Adventuring experience, which will give skill points. This makes sense. In Guild Wars 2, making hamburgers and salads somehow made you a better fighter. People found this awesome as they had an alternate method of leveling, which is always good, but if I go home and make 200 sandwiches, I’m not suddenly going to be more effective in a fist fight. Having Crafting experience separated from Adventuring is a good step.
He then goes on to explain that there will be no classes. Similar to The Secret World, Skill points earned in each discipline can be used to buy any skills you want, with more powerful skills needing the prerequisites underneath them. So, for Ranged weapons, you first pick up the basic skill Aimed Shot, which then forks to Active skills Disabling Shot & Piercing Shot, and the Passive skill Eagle Eye. Skill trees are found everywhere in almost every game, so this should be nothing new to anyone.
Physical combat has 8 specializations: On the offense there is Blades, Polearms, Bludgeons, and Ranged, and on the defense there is Light Armor, Medium Armor, Heavy Armor, and Shields. These seem pretty straight-forward, very Oblivion-esque.
Magic, too, seems like the style of Elder Scrolls. So far, there are 9 different styles: Sun, Moon, Earth, Air, Life, Death, Water, Fire, and Chaos. Every magic skill, apart from Chaos, appears to have it’s opposite style represented.
But throughout the post, he drops hints that combat itself might be something different than we are use to. For example, on spending Skill Points on Active Skills:
Adding skill points to Active Skills increases the number of copies of that skill the player has therefore increasing the frequency that skill will appear during combat.
Wait… what? “Increasing the frequency that skill will appear”? The wording he uses here is interesting. He doesn’t say “will decrease the cooldown of the skill” or “reduce the time in between attacks”, he says adding skill points to Active Skills adds to the “number of copies of that skill the player has”. I don’t know about you, but this is sounding a little like a card game style of combat.
There is a skill in Chaos Magic, too, which adds to this deck/card game style combat idea, the aptly named Tabula Rasa skill:
Tabula Rasa: Instantly discard all skills and replace with new skills
Discard and replace skills, huh? Okay. So far, then, we know Shroud of the Avatar’s combat will include copies of skills, which adding points to will increase the frequency that they will appear, and a magic skill to completely discard all skills and replace them with new ones.
Also in Chaos, there is the skill Chaotic Confusion which says it “randomly rearranges target’s skills”. Woah. This skill doesn’t seem like it would be very powerful in, say PvE, as the computer doesn’t care where it puts its skills, but in PvP, just imagine being thumped with an attack that completely rearranges your skillbars. In every game we play, that would feel pretty overpowered, unless your skills themselves are also being changed out consistently.
So are they somehow going to fuse the third-person 3D world that we are use to, with a randomized skill deck style of combat? I am intrigued, to say the least. Combat would feel very dynamic and fast-paced, especially if you’re not exactly sure what your next upcoming attacks may be.
Starr then goes on in the post to talk about Crafting and the skill trees that will open up, and how recipes can be purchased, traded, or discovered, which seems similar to Guild Wars 2. The crafting disciplines of Gathering, Refining, and Production, though, sounds like Lord of the Rings Online.
All in all, comparing a game’s system prior to launch is, in a sense, an exercise in futility. We may see signs of what it may look like, but in the same way we know the different parts of a car’s engine and how they interact, the feel of driving is something else entirely. This concept of deck-style randomized skills, though, sounds intriguing, and I’d love to see it in action.
I’d highly suggest giving Starr’s post a read, especially if you have any interest in Shroud of the Avatar‘s development.
P.S. – Of course, I could be reading it the wrong way and be WAY off, or it may change completely before now and release… but speculation is kinda what we do, yeah?
So, these new Issue #8 scenarios, they are something else, huh?
On the day of release, I, like a great number of my Secret World brethren entered the next step of the game’s evolution. And, like a great many other players, got my virtual behind handed to me in a sling. The first night I played the only scenario, Seek and Preserve, and the only one I didn’t fail was the Hotel, with only one survivor left. Despite going in with my all blue, QL 10 DPS, elite-level gear. I couldn’t keep the mobs from rushing the survivor groups and I couldn’t keep myself alive long enough to stop them, but my gear was of high enough quality to do so. So, it was me. Totally me.
Something needed to change, and that change was an entirely new build. A build that would allow me to survive longer, be able to heal myself, and grab the mobs attention quicker.
Here is the build that I was using, a very fun DPS Elementalism/Pistol build, a build that didn’t need a lot of survivability as mobs would fall quicker. Only one health talisman was necessary to stay comfortably alive:
Active: Hair Trigger, Shootout, Anima Charge, Blaze, Lightning Manifestation, Ice Manifestation, Overload (Elite), and Dragon’s Breath (Flamethrower)
Passive: High Voltage, Increased Focus, Mad Skills, Elemental Precision, Mind Over Matter, Aidelon, Big Bang (Elite), and Searing Magnesium
This is a fun build that piles on the critical hits, and is good for groups and single targets. For single targets, the high damage from Shootout, mixed with the high critical chance of Blaze, caused them to not last long. For groups, Ice Manifestation and Overload cause hinder, which keeps the mobs out of arm’s length, and then Lightning Manifestation and Big Bang bring them low very quick. But it’s a terrible build for these scenarios.
So, I started with TenTentacles advice, and then took a look at the Illuminati Goon tank deck (Blade/Hammer) that I already had unlocked. I find that, in this game, you should at least unlock a build of each style, DPS/Tank/Healer, as you never know when those would come in handy. It worked, it had the survivability, and mobs jumped off the groups easier, but it’s AoE damage output just wasn’t up to snuff. I could do better. So, I switched out the Hammer and replaced it with Elementalism, something I already enjoy and have experience with, and started rolling with this Blade / Elementalism build:
Active: Forking Paths, Steel Palace, Lightning Manifestation, Fire Manifestation, Martial Discipline, Point of Harmony, Silver Streak (Elite), and Dragon’s Breath (Flamethrower)
Passive: Perseverance, Enervate, Regeneration, Agitator, Riposte, Chain Reaction, Sixth Sense (Elite), and Assiduous Burn
This build has a lot of defense in damage reduction and glancing, and then punishes the attacker for glancing as well. It draws AoE damage with Lightning Manifestation, Steel Palace, and Forking Paths, with the Fire Manifestation adding a bit of burst on single targets. Every attack heals, and Point of Harmony gives a dedicated self-heal, too.
So far, my success with this build, with 4 damage talismans, 2 health, and 1 heal, has given me a Gold rating in both the Hotel and Mansion scenarios, and a Silver in the Castle scenario. Booyah. It also has started allowing me to crank out these Hard missions in Transylvania I’ve been avoiding, too. I’m still not a fan of using the Sword (personal preference), but boy does it work.
So my big suggestion is if you are having trouble, take a tank deck of your choice, and then tweak it to your liking. It’ll work wonders, at least for the first Seek and Preserve scenario. I’m sure the other scenarios are going to require different tactics, though.
As you can see, this is one of The Secret World’s strengths. If you want to only use one character and tank, heal or deal damage, you can. And that’s awesome. But with the ridiculous grind necessary to create these new augments that drop in the scenarios, having multiple characters and making progress on all of them is quite a tall order.
Rowan… I don’t know how you do it.
P.S. – Have any fun builds you designed yourself? Go ahead and post them! Share! (I really think there should be a way to view and vote on builds INSIDE the game, as any reason to check a wiki or look outside the game can be better designed, but I don’t think that’ll happen anytime soon).
I have been having issues lately with the communities that are in these MMOs that we all play. Namely, it’s been very hard for me to avoid the creme de-la-creme, the bullies, those that consider themselves the saviors of gaming: the elitists. In general, I tend to avoid them like the plague, but lately it seems I can’t avoid them, and I seem to be encountering them at every turn, even to the point where I find myself reticent to post an update for fear of elitist retribution. Fear.
Fun fact: I don’t accept fear. I approach fear as just another obstacle to overcome. I had a fear of heights once. To get over it, I went skydiving. Is there a better way to deal with a fear, any fear, then bringing it out into the light and squashing it where it stands? I don’t think there is, so instead of running away, I want to shine a big spotlight and delve into this issue: namely, dealing with the elitism we find in MMOs.
First, lets define this gaming elitism. A good starting definition of Elitism:
The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.
Now, let’s think about the different types of gamers that we debate about constantly, the “casual” vs the “hardcore”. In my opinion, casual gamers are loosely defined as those that are more relaxed in nature, those that enjoy the journey, that are willing to stop and smell the roses, are more striving self-improvement, and are not necessarily striving to be the best, but just to have a good time. Hardcore gamers, on the other hand, are competitive in nature. They play these games so that they can be the best, they take the most efficient paths to obtain the most power, even if it entails rather sterile methods of getting there, like repeating the same content ad nauseum, power leveling, farming, and skipping any annoying story. Of course, it’s not just black and white, we are all some combination of the two, but generally lean one way or the other. I, if my blog’s title isn’t evident, identify more with the former.
Casual and Hardcore gamers factor heavily in this discussion because we both occupy the same gaming space and or motivations often clash. MMOs are one of the best forms of gaming entertainment out there because, no matter your tastes, there is something for you. Want to be told a story? It’s there. Want a challenge? It’s there. Want to dominate others in PvP? You can. Want to cooperate and strive toward group-oriented goals? It’s there. Want to play the game solo? You can. Having multiple types of players, all playing for different reasons, and all jockeying for the attention of the developers, creates conflict.
Finally, let’s look at the third most important factor: player skill. Player skill is hard to quantify. Skill is a combination of many factors including past game-playing experience, knowledge of the game’s mechanics, and application of those mechanics to achieve the best results. Skill is easy to graph, though, as it is assumed it resembles a normal probability distribution. In other words, a bell curve.
Players with very little skill (who still play, and usually stand in fire for the majority of it), represent the far left portion of the curve, and gamers with a significant amount of skill, those that are famous and whose names are revered and known, are on the right. For those in the center, some are better than others, but in the great scheme of things, a great percentage of us fall within this region.
# of Players v Skill Level
But let’s go back to that earlier definition. There is a big key phrase in there that sums up a lot of the conflict: perceived superiority. We see it time and again. Those generally with an above average amount of skill, and those that identify themselves with the more hardcore spectrum of players, feel that they are the ones who know how to play, and if you’re not playing their way, or by their standards, then you’re playing wrong. What are you doing in their game, anyway? Just wasting space and developer resources. If the game wasn’t targeted to the dirty casual players, it might actually be a challenge! All they have to do is just play better! Damn noobs ruining the game for everyone!
Sound familiar? Elitism is primarily a trait of hardcore players, but I don’t believe it falls in the same normal distribution that skill does. I believe it to be variable depending on a players skill. Bad hardcore players will think that they’re good, and will have a negative attitude toward others to compensate. Okay and average hardcore players know their standing, and know what they need to do to get what they want, they generally show less elitist behavior.
Good hardcore players is where the problem lies. Good players will start demanding obscene levels of others above what is called for. They’re the ones you see demanding ridiculous gear levels just to run a dungeon with them. I saw a post in the Looking For Group channel of The Secret World the other day where someone said that if they didn’t like the looks of your gear from the character website, they wouldn’t even acknowledge your request to join up. They’re good, but they’re not good enough to assure success, without a perfectly optimal group around them. They’re insecure, and so compensate by acting superior.
Good Hardcore players will tend to have the “I’m better than you, so you need to listen to what I say” attitudes, whether it’s justified or not.
The truly skilled, excellent players, though, their level of elitism is much lower. They don’t need a perfect group to still achieve success, and they don’t demean others who don’t live up to their ability, as they would hate everyone. Their excellence is shown in their actions, not in their demands. A great saying I once read was “A rich man doesn’t have to tell you he’s rich.” They just are, and it shows in their demeanor and lack of insecurities.
Casual players, though, their levels of elitism, though still there, is by far not as pronounced. Bad, okay, and average players know their skill, but they enjoy the game for other reasons. Good and excellent players may demand a little more from others, but it feels more in the realm of assisting those around them to be better. A failure here and there isn’t going to affect them, as their end goal is more about self-improvement and having fun rather than being competitive.
Casual players, overall, tend to be less demanding of the other gamers around them.
So that conflict: it lies in the space between elitism levels and crosses the hardcore/casual behaviors. Over time, those of us who are veterans of the MMO genre, who have seen this same pattern play out many time before, are use to it by now. We adapt by finding groups of players who think like we do, hardcore or casual. We don’t love the games we play less because the other groups exist, we can coexist as we’ve done for years now. We do sometimes feel the conflict when we see special developer attention paid to the opposing groups, and if a game opens that plays more to our own nature, we might gravitate toward it more. It’s just human nature.
The shaded area represents the conflict between those who demand others play their way, and those that just want to enjoy the game.
But the next time you feel compelled to tell some noob how they should be playing the game, or you are at the receiving end of some vitriol aimed at you because you’re not in full epic gear and feel depressed or angry, I hope you take the time to think about why you’re feeling that way. Look at how it might not make a difference in the long run, and how the end-goal for all of us should be striving to be a better community.
We live in a civilized society, after all. We may as well act like it.
When I was a kid, I was totally into Halloween. I’d dress up in some costume, and my parents would take me and my sister out trick or treating, and, like any other kids, we’d go from door to door and collect a big haul of bite-sized candy. And life was good. But then I grew up…
In college, Halloween took on a whole new meaning, it went from being about dressing up and candy, to getting hammered and hooking up with cuties in costume. There was one time, the student house I was living in, which was affectionately called the Love Shack, had a Halloween party so big that it not only encompassed our house, but our neighbors house as well and although we weren’t in any fraternities, we had many offers to join some that night. We turned them down, of course. Our parties at the Shack were more legendary than anything they could muster up. But then I grew up again…
These days I spend my days working, and my nights in hobbies and hanging out with my wife. When Halloween comes around, we generally grab a drink, have some traditional White Castle, put on a movie, and kick back and wait for trick-or-treaters to come to the door. Our tastes have changed over the years.
So what does this have to do with MMO’s? Well, you see, my gaming tastes have also changed since I was a kid, too. Now, I could be playing World of Warcraft, and go trick or treating. Or I could go play Guild Wars 2 and get dressed up in costume and brawl. And this is fun! It takes me back to those times when I was a kid, and dressed up, and went from house to house trick-or-treating.
But as an adult, I want more. I want something that doesn’t feel like it’s aimed at a much younger demographic. I mean, these are MMO’s, they not only take a time investment, but they also take a significant monetary investment, too, and so MMOs naturally have more adults playing them. According to this site, and this doesn’t sound that off, the average age of MMO players is 26 with a third of players married, and half working full-time. We’re not kids anymore.
I played the Guild Wars 2 Halloween content. I zerged and attacked giant monsters made from candycorn, because that made sense. I climbed the clocktower, and helped smack down the whiny Prince Edrick. I even opened trick-or-treat bag after trick-or-treat bag. I carved pumpkins. It was pretty much everything one would expect for Halloween… and yet it didn’t really scratch that Halloween itch.
Then I played The Secret World, and my Halloween itch has been thoroughly scratched. Finally, here is a game that doesn’t just treat us like kids. The Cat God mission, the main event of the holiday, is a tough investigative mission involving possessed cats, family crypts, creating pungent incense, performing ancient rituals, and defeating none other than Baron Samedi himself at the home of Halloween, Stonehenge, as he attempts to rend the veil between worlds.
Then this year, they topped it by adding the amazing Stories of Soloman Island, a collection of horror short stories, penned by Joel Bylos and Joshua Doetsch, that are pretty amazing reads. Here’s a quick sample:
So, the winner of Halloween 2013, in my own humble opinion, of course, is easily The Secret World. Instead of playing with the commercial versions of Halloween, of costumes, candy, and decorations, it shows the more mature meaning behind Halloween: that we enjoy exploring our disturbing side. We like the macabre, we enjoy the chills down our spine. We celebrate the unknown and embrace the supernatural. But you can already tell that Funcom gets this, the supernatural runs through the very blood and fabric of The Secret World.
So, MMOs take note: the bar has been raised. We’ll see what they come out with to top themselves next year.
I get it, Guild Wars 2, you want me to be max level before participating in any events. But then why did you give your game a really high max level? Something happened between Guild Wars 1 and Guild Wars 2 that changed, and I’m not talking about mechanics. I’m talking about the overall philosophy. In Guild Wars 1, max level was truly the beginning of the game, and getting there was really just an extended introduction. 90% of the content happened at level 20, which was reached in a few days. Progression was based on acquiring new abilities, finding item synergies with your playstyle, learning tactics, and just becoming a better player. In Guild Wars 2, levels actually mean something. However, the grind to get there is long, and the gear is significantly more important. Up-Leveling to max doesn’t make you strong enough to do the content, and Down-Leveling makes you still overpowered. In a game that feels like it doesn’t need levels AT ALL, why is max level the only acceptable place to be? And why is it such a grind to get there?!
I thought I was wrong, I thought not all content had to be at max level, and sure, the Super Adventure Box is a good example of GW2 content that doesn’t need to have levels attached, but that’s the only one I’ve seen so far, including the Halloween content. “But, Ocho”, I hear you say, “When you’re in the Halloween instances, you’re up-leveled to max level, you noob!” Up-Leveling, however, did nothing to make the content anything more than an exercise in futility. I did finally finish off Bloody Prince Edrick, but not before downing him on my fifth attempt, which took about 25 minutes each, with all my armor broken.
Faced 1-on-1 with a level 80 mob, with myself up-leveled from level 60, with decent level 60 gear, caused every single mob to be a crap-shoot at survival. 1 mob, no problem, depending on it’s strength. 2? Almost certain death. With Edrick, the battle was just futile. If he got within arms reach, I’d be dead. The mobs he spawned at different stages, spawning 4 or 5 at a time, where a fight with more than 1 was certain death, caused me to become very familiar with the corpse run. His healing to full in between each stage? Ridiculous. My only real attack, since Elementalists can’t switch weapons mid-fight, was an earth spell that reflected projectiles. By essentially hitting him with his own attack, once every 30 seconds, and running away, I was finally able to defeat him.
I’ve heard the fight is NOT supposed to be this tough, though. So what did up-leveling do? It certainly didn’t level the playing field. In fact, it made the fight about the most un-fun it could be. It wasn’t a challenge, it was a chore of throwing myself up against a wall. Up-leveling essentially did not do what it was intended to.
Down-leveling, though, doesn’t work as intended, either. At level 60, if I head to the beginning zones, I’m able to faceroll content and make dynamic events trivial. There is no challenge. Why do you think these champion farming events are going on in the starting areas? The ability to completely wipe-out low level content is ridiculously easy at max-level, even with down-leveling.
Not all of the Halloween content is bad, though. The Mad King’s Clocktower? Awesome. Tough, doable, and everyone can do it with enough practice. Costume brawl and Mad Inquisition? Also awesome! These are fantastic diversions, but they’re not the Halloween main courses on offer.
So, again, Guild Wars 2, why even bother with levels? Why put in this level-gate at all when artificially moving up and down is pointless? Sorry, ANet, your Halloween events in the past even made WoW’s look weak, but this is not the quality I remember from Guild Wars 1. I completed it, but it gets a solid “meh”.
And because of this, next time you have an event in a week or so, I’ll be less likely to join in.
P.S. – But now I’m off to see what The Secret World has to offer, and my expectations are really high. I hope it can deliver…
This post was set off by the one, the only Ravanel, on her post based on Lonegun’s post about who, and who is not, playing MMO’s correctly, based off a Massively article by Beau. Got it? Good.
Beau’s article, in a nutshell, focused on the recent decisions to offer max level characters to new players of TERA and Everquest 2, and he loves the idea. Offering them, though, sparked a bit of controversy. You see, because some gamers don’t like the fact that absolutely new players are capable of playing at the highest levels, without having to earn their scars through the leveling process. These players would not be as skilled or know their characters as well as those who have gone through from Level 1.
They are offering these free high-level characters as incentive for players who are fans of playing end-game content, without the arduous process of power-leveling. Lots of players have already taken advantage of this opportunity, and the results have been mixed. Some love it, and feel that now the entire game is accessible to them, instead of just a tiny portion, where others feel that they have been given too many options, and little direction. Getting a free high-level character is similar to eating at The Cheesecake Factory, you see. Suddenly having 20 pages of menu items is a little overwhelming.
Lonegun think’s the idea is madness. He posits that the process of leveling a character from scratch IS THE WHOLE POINT of playing MMOs. Afterall, these MMOs are created worlds with deep lore and exploration which open up as you progress through the game’s narrative. Without the leveling process, why even play MMOs?
“In my opinion people who are, “bored with the slog of leveling” are not true MMO gamers.” – Lonegun, The Rant: Leveling is a Grind
I can totally see where he is coming from. I mean, that’s why I play video games. To me, video games are an entertainment media meant to be consumed, just like books, or movies, or TV shows. We give them our time and money, and in return we are told a story. Opposed to the others, though, video games give you the opportunity to interact in the story’s world. In MMOs, the leveling process fleshes out the world, and gives a metric ton of story. After getting through the content, you feel more connected to the world and your character.
Ravanel, however, took offense to that. She, on the other hand, sees the leveling process as merely a stepping stone. She wouldn’t pass it up, herself, the first time around, but it’s not the part of the game that she enjoys the most. As like many, she feels that the endgame is the part that derives the best gaming experience.
“What I truly love about MMOs is endgame. The challenge of getting a group together and get the best out of yourself, combined with the comradeship that emerges in a group when doing things together. This is what makes me log in with enthusiasm and keeps me interested in an MMO.” – Ravalation: In Search of the True MMO Gamer
How can one argue with that? Take a look at the biggest MMOs that have been around for ages and what do you see? A solid, well defined end-game. LotRO, WoW, etc. You get to max level, you grind dungeons for gear, and then you grind raids for the best gear. It’s a template that runs deep in the MMO genre, and you can’t deny that it works as a great mechanism to keep gamers not only playing, but subscribing to play.
“I do not believe we have found the ‘true MMO gamer’ in Lonegun’s leveler, though. In fact, I do not believe either the leveler or the hardcore end gamer necessarily represents the ‘true MMO gamer’.” – Ravalation: In Search of the True MMO Gamer
I believe, though, that I have the answer, and it is much simpler than any of that. MMOs are a great boon to the video game industry. They are games where you can have character progression, player vs player combat, hard challenges, and easy grinds. Games where you can be told an amazing story and tell your own story. Games where you can corner markets, become a notorious pirate, hit the jackpot, form lasting friendships, and experience a world that never stops changing. We play MMOs for all of these reasons. In the biggest entertainment industry in the world, MMOs exemplify why we love gaming to begin with: there is something for everyone.
A True MMO Gamer: Someone who enjoys playing MMOs, no matter the reason.
It truly is that simple.
May of 2012. It was a crazy world then. TERA had just launched, The Secret World was still in beta, and Aion just went Free-To-Play. Crazy. (Thanks to Syp for the timeline!) Also, the Newbie Blogger Initiative was in full swing, and Casual Aggro was a new and fledgling blog, waiting to be read and judged by the masses.
Hindsight is 20/20, of course. Over that time, a lot has surprised me, and I’ve learned more about myself than I ever thought I would. Mostly, I’m shocked I’m still writing. Seriously, usually I would have flaked out on something like this ages ago, and during a rough period where I got sick and depression got the better of me, I did end up taking a 2 month hiatus. But it didn’t knock me out, or mean that I was done. I may have been downed, but I pulled myself out and came back for another round. I may sometimes be a flake, but I’m also stubborn.
So, here is an outpouring of accrued knowledge I’ve gained over the past 17 months, far from the multi-year’s worth of experience of others, but I hope it’s still something that you can take away from.
Write Down Your Ideas
You never know when inspiration is going to strike. Brilliance is going to strike at 2 AM, or on the drive home, or at the bar, or on the disc golf course, and if you think you’re going to remember it, you’re taking a big chance. What you might remember in the future might be different, or changed, it won’t be the brilliant flash. So, write it down! Thankfully, there are many ways to do this. Smartphones all have note apps, notecards work, any spare piece of paper, really, just write it down!
Game blogging doesn’t happen all alone, it takes a village to raise a blogger. When one of us succeeds, all of us succeed. Just as a store’s employees are some of their biggest customers, the majority of eyes that will be on your blog are other bloggers, but that’s okay! Your audience and word of mouth will be your biggest promoters, so join in on that. Get yourself a Twitter account, and use it. Find other bloggers, retweet or repost their stuff, comment on their articles and read them, really read them. Now, you can’t read them all, and that’s okay, too, but following the old “Do unto others as you would have them do to you” rule, you can’t go wrong.
Spend A Good Chunk of Time on Your Title
The number one thing that will draw people to your post, whether it’s from others blogrolls, from Twitter, or any other site, will be your title. So, spend some time on it. Make it compelling, make it something you think others can’t resist reading. Think about why YOU click on any link, and work on your title from there. But then you should follow the next point…
Stay On Topic
If someone clicks on your link because they expect topic A, you shouldn’t hand them topics B and C. Give them A! So stay on the topic you promised. If I visited a site and the post ended up being something different than the title, I wouldn’t be reading it for much longer.
Widen Your Gaming Experience
People like to read about others new experiences, mainly because starting something new is risky. I was never big on grouping, and am mainly a solo gamer. This hasn’t changed, but I have started grouping a lot more, and it’s still outside my comfort zone. But that’s okay. Try something you would never imagine yourself doing: PvP, Raid, Roleplay, play a popular military shooter or a new indie game. Just try new things, and tell us all about it.
Imitation is the Highest Form of Flattery
Trying to find a truly creative source for your blog is difficult. Really difficult. Those that do it are working on a whole other creative level. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking inspiration from other’s sites. For example, all of my screenshots have roll-over text, ala XKCD. My blog’s main image switches and shows game images like Bio Break and Kill Ten Rats, and I try to use a lot of screenshots like Massively. If it works for them, it might work for you. However, signing my posts is something I’ve made up. Not everything needs to be borrowed from others.
Make your RSS Links Easy To Find
Google Reader may have shut down, but just because it has, that doesn’t mean Rich Site Summary feeds are dead. Far from it. They’ve just switched providers. Currently I have my Feedly looking at 100+ gaming blogs, and even this is nothing compared to other bloggers. So, the easier you make it to find the RSS link on your site, the less there is in the way of having someone add your blog to their RSS aggregator. Also, if you have a podcast, make that link easy to find as well! I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to want to subscribe to a podcast, but then find out the podcast has no direct RSS Feed link. Even if it’s only on iTunes, there is still a way to find that link. The more barriers you take down for others to reach your content, the more they will read it.
Write When You Have Something To Say
Updating frequently is a good thing, and is a good thing to strive for, but if you’re writing “just to post something”, you’re doing a disservice to your readers. If you’re writing just to have SOMETHING, namely your quality is going to suffer. Some blogs post very rarely, but if all of their posts are high quality, it doesn’t matter if they post once every two months, you’ll still be more likely to read it. On the opposite end, if the majority of your posts are the writing equivalent of “white noise”, even your loyal readers are more likely to pass it over.
Promote Yourself, But Be Humble
Imagine you’re in a car dealership, and you’re looking at a brand new, 2014 Blahdeblah. The salesperson comes over and tells you “Oh. This car? Well… it doesn’t get the best gas mileage. The seats aren’t that comfortable, and after a few miles, the engine tends to make a funny noise.” Are you going to buy the car? Most likely not. Be proud of what you write! Promote it! Tell it to others! Let THEM be the judge of your quality. There is a time for self-deprecation, but when you’re promoting your blog, that isn’t the time. The other side of this is that you don’t want to go too far into arrogance. It’s not as fine a line as you think, though it is easy to cross sometimes. Humility will draw others to you, arrogance will push them away.
Write What You Want to Read
More than anything, you’re writing for yourself, and your target audience is essentially YOU. So, write what you would like to read. Your style, be it long prose, or short thought-provoking pieces. Nothing but screenshots, or haiku. If you find what you’re writing interesting, that will show and improves the chances that others will find it interesting, too. If you’re passionate about your topics, that passion will flow, and your target audience, other gamers like you, will see that.
Be An Elitist Jerk
Are you the 1% of the gaming elite? The kind of player that actively looks down on other gamers they deem beneath them? Do you frequently find you seriously use the term Noob, Scrub, Welfare Gamer, etc.? Then why are you writing? Who do you think your audience is going to be? The other 1% of gamers? No. If all you’re talking about are top raids, and how you have to carry everyone else, all you’re doing is stroking your own ego. It’s tacky and arrogant. Get over yourself.
Seriously. Writing is not my number one skill, but even I know how low this is. I can’t think of anyone who has done this in recent memory, and it’s not a rampant problem, but just don’t do it. You know what is good? Quoting others, linking to other sites that you find info from. Always give credit to your sources. Always. Even if you’re just writing a discussion piece off of some other blog, give credit to the source as inspiration. They’ll appreciate it, and be more willing to pay attention to what you say. It’s just good karma.
Be Hard on Yourself
If you miss a week or two, eh, it’s no big deal. I started off writing this blog and put myself on a strict once per three days schedule. This lasted… pretty much three days. For days I would see it on my calendar: Write a post! Overdue! I was being hard on myself, but it didn’t really push me to write, it pushed me to NOT write. I was just being hard on myself for not living up to my own expectations. The schedule I wanted to post wasn’t the schedule I could actually post, and it depressed me, and caused me to take a month long break. I was simply being too hard on myself. If you don’t live up to your own expectations, give yourself a break.
Be Negative Without Constructive Criticism
Rants will happen, and a rant from time to time isn’t going to hurt, it’s only human. But if all you do is complain, and don’t offer suggestions on how to fix the problems you see, then you’re quickly going to gain a reputation as a complainer. A “This game sux!” post just looks immature and trolling, and nobody is going to take it seriously. However, if you post what you think is wrong, and offer ways to fix them, or examples in other games of where something works, you might even become a force of change.
Apologize For Taking a Break
This is hard to avoid, sometimes, and the best of us will do it periodically, but when you apologize, the assumption is that you did others wrong. That others are dying to read what you say soooooo much that you not posting has wronged them in some way. When you apologize for taking a break, the true person you’re really apologizing to is yourself. And like I said earlier, don’t be so hard on yourself. Plus, if a blogger is constantly apologizing for not posting, it takes away from what they’re posting about. If you plan on taking a break, maybe consider taking on guest bloggers, or just not mention it at all. If your readers consider your posts high quality, it won’t matter the time in between posts, they still want to read it.
Again, this is common courtesy. If you don’t like what someone else posts, don’t flame it, use it as counterpoint. Attacking others will quickly push your readers away. But actively reading a post you don’t agree with and writing your side of the story creates discussion and civilized debate. And isn’t that what we are, a civilized society? A rule to live by: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
So, there you go. My hope is that, even with all the grains of salt you are taking with this post, that there is something here that will assist you. I may not have been blogging for a long time, but I have learned a lot, and if I can even help one other blogger with this post, just one, it will make it entirely worth it.
This shot was taken during our weekly group get-together in The Secret World, in which we decided to run the dungeon Hell Fallen on Elite. As you can see, we made it, with the Ascendant having keeled over behind me, but he REALLY didn’t give us a lot of room to finish him off.
I really don’t have much to say on the dungeon itself. It was my first time running through it, we wiped a couple times on the tricky Engine Tyrant fight, but we pushed through it. Although I didn’t run away with any good loot, I’m able to check this Elite off my list and am one step closer to fighting the Gatekeeper.
Overall, though, what made the run fun was simply the people. Couldn’t run it with a better bunch and I heavily agree with Rowan’s sentiments, more than anything it truly is awesome to have such a great group to run around with.
So Syp, Rowan, Ten Tentacles, Scooterz, Mogsy, Maric, and the rest, I owe you one.
Signed, your resident dungeon noob,
P.S. – It appears that ability is called the “Electric Smoke Grenade”, and he carpet bombs one side of the room. Huh. Good to know for next time! A guide of Hell Fallen can be found here. Thanks, Dulfy!