Back again.

It’s been a while, four years actually, since my last post celebrating the end of my seventh year on the blog. Obviously my plans at the time to set a writing reminder and do one or two posts a week didn’t succeed.

What started as one of my normal slow gaps turned into a January where I didn’t have much to say about the last years games or upcoming games and just went on from there. Not just with the blog either but my time on Twitter dropped off in the last few years too. I’d find myself browsing Reddit much more often when I had some time to kill. Eventually I started using Instagram a bit as well, but it seemed like any time I would check in on Twitter that were a lot of conversations going on that I didn’t have anything to contribute to or were over hours before I was reading them.

MMO’s have always been one of the primary drivers for getting me to write, and were the reason why I started the blog in the first place. So once my interest in MMO’s dwindled to logging into Star Trek Online occasionally, the main driver for me to go online and write was gone. There’s such a time commitment required and getting back up to speed in an MMO after an absence often seems like learning a new game, that I’d never play for long.

So, why am I back now?

I’ve started to write posts like this two or three times over the last four years, but I always came up with some excuse and put it off. Recently I’ve been back on Twitter more and feeling more engaged in the online conversations. I’ve also gotten into flying quadcopters over the last ten months, and I’ve been wanting to write about my experience of getting into that hobby. It’s not the kind of thing that fits into a tweet no matter what the character limit is up to now.

The other big motivator was my original site host was acquired by a company I try to avoid, and my hosting plan was coming up for renewal. So I needed to decide if it was time to just shut the site down or I should put the effort into finding a new host and migrating the site over.

Of course, it remains to be seen how it goes, but I have some ideas already and I’m hoping I can capitalize on my productive bursts to get a buffer of posts scheduled. Since I’m primarily planning to write about my adventures in FPV drones, I can work ahead as much as I’d like.

Seven!

Today marks the end of the seventh year of the blog. I say this every year, but it’s crazy to me that the blog is still around after so long. Of course just like last year, my posting has been sparse outside of Blaugust, so the blog is really barely around. I’m at the point now where it’s nice to have an outlet when I need one, but I don’t feel guilty when I look at the site and see it’s been four months since I wrote anything.

I’m not saying that I expect to fall silent until next year though. I’ve got a weekday reminder to write something set on my phone and that has worked more often than it hasn’t in September. My hope and my goal is to keep that up with two or more posts a week depending on what I’m doing and how much I have to say. If nothing else I expect to have regular KSP mission reports.

Thanks to everyone who’s stopped by to read or comment, I’m looking forward to seeing what the next year brings.

Almost There

Blaugust 2015 Day 16

Guilt and Joy

About two or three Saturdays a month since March, I’ve been heading down to my local gaming store and playing Golem Arcana. Usually I feel a little guilty because I’m gone for about five hours and leaving my wife to deal with Thing 1 and Thing 2 solo. This weekend though, my dad was taking Ting 1 for the day, and Thing 2 is much easier to handle without his older brother winding him up. So I was able to have a nice guilt-free wargaming visit yesterday.

I got three games in, didn’t win any off them but they were still fun. Afterwards while we were packing up and chatting I realized that everyone was thrilled to be there and playing. It seemed like a stark contrast to what I usually see in MMO forums and chat.

So far the only downside to being part of an active group is that it has finally pulled me into using Facebook regularly. I’ve had an account for years but used it very little, like nearly never.

Blaugust Midpoint

August is now half gone, and while I’ve had a few days that were tough for me to get something written overall I’ve been totally happy with my writing. I have seen posts from some people that aren’t joining the event or have already dropped out. It’s understandable. I’ve certainly considered it myself a few times, especially when I sit down and think I’ve got nothing to say. But for me, that’s really the point of this. I start writing and after getting a few hundred words of drivel out of the way, something usually comes out that I didn’t realize that I’d been thinking about. I find that experience pretty cool.

So if you’re participating and worried you run out of steam now that we’re halfway through, I think you should look at it as a good thing. It’s a chance to see what happens when you sit down and just start typing. Even if you don’t actually post it.

 

Blaugust is Back

Blaugust 2015 Day 01

It’s August which means Blaugust is back. The second annual insanity thought up by Belghast as a way to motivate bloggers like me to actually post stuff. Having to write everyday last year finally got me past some of my hang ups and bad habits about leaving drafts unpublished. Usually after writing something I’ve save it and want to come back later to proof it before publishing. A month later when I’d finally look at it again, I’d delete it because it wasn’t relevant anymore or I’d moved on to other things. While I didn’t stick to any kind of schedule, daily or otherwise, for the blog after last year’s event, I haven’t dumped any articles into daft limbo in the last twelve months like I used to.

Besides starting Blaugust, I’m just past the halfway point of GenCon. I’ve had three days of getting up at 7 am and going to bed at 2 am, and I’ve walked a ton. I don’t use a fitness tracker but I’m sure I’ve been getting in 5-6 miles a day between walking to the convention and roaming the halls. I’m exhausted and I’m sure that going to work Monday morning will be tougher than usual but I’ve had an incredible amount of fun in the last three days. The timing for GenCon worked out well as I’ll have a lot to write about from the last few days of getting to meet people and play games. And I still have one more day to go!

Six years.

Wow, I can’t believe that I’ve been blogging for six years. I don’t stop to appreciate it much, but even though I don’t blog regularly in any sense of the word, I need to cut myself a little slack for maintaining a blog for six years, no matter how sporadically I post. And it’s definitely been sparse outside of Blaugust. Speaking of, I haven’t kept up with the “post every day” thing, but I hadn’t intended to anyway. I have been getting one or two in a week though which has been great. After looking at my archives, I don’t think I’ve been this motivated to post since 2011.

Anyway, I wanted to send out a big “Thank you!” to everyone who stops by to read and comment. Onward to year seven!

Looking Back at 2013

What a weird year 2013 has been. I started the year looking forward to several MMOs none of which lasted. City of Stream imploded, Defiance and Neverwinter both fizzled for me, and Elder Scrolls Online didn’t release. Defiance turned out to be the least social MMO I’ve ever played, and add to that the bugginess of the interface after launch, and I lost interest after the first month or two. I’m still not sure why Neverwinter didn’t click for me, I was very excited for the game and really enjoyed the demo I played, but somehow I shifted from mostly playing to mostly doing offline crafting to not doing anything. This year was also the first time I didn’t buy the Lord of the Rings Online expansion, and even now I’ve not logged in to try out the class changes that came along with Helm’s Deep. I just didn’t have that moment of nostalgia this time around like I did when Isengard was being released.

Star Trek Online was the only MMO I played regularly this year, and I think that this past year was probably STO’s best year to date. Romulans have always been one of my least favorite non-Federation factions, so when Cryptic announced their expansion plan at the beginning of the year I was ambivalent. I did get excited though after I got a change to try some of the new Romulan content on Tribble. Cryptic really hit a home run with the mission content for Romulan characters and the upgraded tutorial missions for the Klingons, so much so that updating the Federation tutorial became a priority. I was very surprised that Cryptic had decided to add a new faction but allowing them to ally with either the Federation of Empire allowed people to play as Romulans without further splintering the PvP community, as well as fitting with existing canon. Then in the second half of the year with the Season 8 update and the incredible visuals of getting to fly my ship inside a Dyson Sphere. I’ve enjoyed the space adventure zone much more than the ground zone of New Romulus, and I’ve especially enjoyed the more streamlined and far grindy Dyson reputation. I’m hoping that Season 9 includes a redesign of the other reputations along the same lines.

Besides STO my other main game this year has been modded Minecraft. I started with the Direwolf20 pack from Feed the Beast but eventually moved on to making my own mod pack in order to stay on the most current releases of Minecraft and mods as possible. I haven’t tried yet, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to enjoy playing standard Minecraft again. I enjoy designing and building automated systems too much, and exploring the different magic systems, alternate dimensions, and building with a wider array of cosmetic blocks than vanilla Minecraft provides. Minecraft has always been a favorite game of mine, but generally I’d always get to a point where I was bored with a map and move on to something else. Having mods available changes that. Minecraft is always changing now as mods add new features or new mods become available, there’s always something to try, and starting over in a new world also means a chance to make big changes to which mods I’m using.

This year I’ve also added board/card gaming to my collection of hobbies. After going to GenCon and picking up Firefly, I realized that there were board games out there that would play well solo as well as in a group. Since October I’ve been spending a lot of time on BoardGameGeek and started collecting some games. Ironically, I’m playing board games now much the way I play MMOs. Solo. So far, in addition to Firefly I’ve picked up Space Hulk Death Angel, Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, Thunderstone, Marvel Legendary, and Pathfinder the Adventure Card Game.

My proudest achievement this year though has to be finally winning National Novel Writing Month. Not only has it motivated me to spend March doing a first revision but it’s heavily influenced my plans and resolutions for 2014.

Year five?!

This has been, by far, the roughest year for me with blogging. I’ve been on a hiatus of sorts since April and only last week really started to feel the need to start writing here again. Really I don’t feel like I’ve missed too much as far as topics or news. It seems like it’s been a really quiet year overall for MMOs. Not that I’ve really been playing them anyway. I had a brief stint with Defiance before I got burned out on the clunky UI and severe lack of any social environment in the game. I also spent quite a bit of time with Star Trek Online this year, Cryptic did extremely well with their Romulan expansion, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t actually like Romulans much. No, what I’ve been spending most of my time playing this year has been Minecraft, specifically modded Minecraft. I mentioned back in April that I’ve found the Feed the Beast mod pack and since then have move on to customizing my own mod pack.

Anyway, I want to thank anyone that’s still stopping by to see if I’ve gotten off my lazy butt to write, and hopefully you’ll be hearing more from me for the rest of the year. It’s best not to make any promises, but I will say that I’ve finally managed to get into Dwarf Fortress after many failed attempts and that it’s unique among the single player games I’ve experienced in that it makes me want to write about the events that happen in the game. Beyond that, I’ve recently dropped back into Champions Online for more than a brief check in, so you all might finally see origin stories for a few more of my heroes like what I did for the Silver Hunter.

Thanks for reading.

Four years, almost missed it.

On Friday as I was leaving work, I looked at the calendar on my phone to see if anything was planned for the weekend and saw that Sunday was my blog’s anniversary. I nearly missed it.

I hadn’t realized that it’s been almost exactly a month since my last post, but I guess it’s not that surprising to anyone who follows me on Twitter. Things usually get quiet around here when I’m in the obsessive honeymoon stage of a game affair. For most of the past four weeks that’s been Guild Wars 2, but the last few days have also seen Torchlight 2 take up some of my game time.

I keep intending to sit down and write up all of the notes I’ve been taking while playing GW2 but I always end up playing instead, which is a bit of a review in itself. Obviously I need to work more on easing up on the self-editing.

Anyway, thanks to everyone that’s stuck around over the last twelve months to read my ramblings and leave comments. Even after four years I always get excited when I see an email saying there’s a new comment.

NBI: Advice is a strong word.

In three years of bogging I’ve broken most of the suggestions you’ll see other bloggers advise. I don’t have a consistent posting schedule. I don’t do any marketing or link trading. Most of my posts don’t use screenshots or pictures.

This site started because I had a few rants about DRM to get off my chest, and because after years of reading other blogs and commenting I decided I wanted my own soapbox on the Internet. Sometimes I think the blog continues in spite of me rather than because of me.

So rather than advice, I thought I’d highlight how I’ve managed to make it three years as a hobbyist blogger.

Why?

Figure out what your goals are. Are you hoping to make money? Become famous (fame being a relative thing)? Join the blogging community?┬áThis wasn’t something I thought about initially, though lucked into a good niche. I’ve made some good friends through the blog and gotten some loyal readers/commenters that don’t mind my erratic posting schedule.

Speaking of consistency and schedules, if you’re trying to build a reader base you need to post as often as possible, but don’t post just because you feel like you have to. If you’re like me you already have a full time job and don’t need another. Hobbies are fun because you don’t have to do them.

Where?

There are lots of options for where to bogging. I use a self-hosted WordPress blog because I enjoy the technical aspects and I like having complete control of what version of the software I’m running as well as what plugins are installed.

I didn’t start out that way though, and it’s not the quickest way to get started. My advice is to pick one (or try both) of the major platforms (WordPress and Blogger) and get started. You should start as soon as you can and not get sidetracked in registering a domain name or picking a theme. Those are excellent ways to procrastinate (which is something I’m eminently qualified to give advice about) but jumping straight into the writing is the best thing you can do. You can always move your content to a different platform or new name a later.

Marketing vs. Networking

To me: marketing is business oriented and networking is community oriented.

If you’re looking to make a business out of your blog, I wish you good luck, but I have no suggestions for you. I’ve never had the slightest interest in that.

If you’re trying to connect with other bloggers and attract readers then my suggestion is to be yourself and be personal. Different styles attract different crowds, so it does you no good to build a readership by being aggressively opinionated if that’s not really you. It’s a great way to build readership but they’ll be gone quickly the moment your style changes.

Besides taking advantage of NBI, commenting on other blogs is the best way to get noticed by other bloggers and readers. If you just spam a bunch of blogs with links to your site then expect your comments to get moderated away quickly. What you need to do is find blogs you enjoy, which necessarily mean agree with, and read them regularly and leave good comments. A quick, “I agree,” is not going to entice anyone to click your name and read you. Networking this way isn’t easy but it does work.

Social networks are another good way to connect and promote yourself, but again you can’t just make an account and start blasting out links. I’ve been on Twitter nearly as long as I’ve been blogging. I originally joined to chat and occasionally I’ll link an article. Being genuine and willing to have conversations with others will let you get much more out of the service than just posting nothing but links.

Have fun.

Try not to focus too much on stats (no matter how tempting or easy that can be). Don’t limit what you write about to what you think people want to read. Don’t post just because it’s been a week since your last one.

Blogs are great ways to meet like minded people. They are also great for recording thoughts and experiences that you can refer back to. Writing is an excellent way to think through an issue or opinion, especially if it sparks a discussion with your readers.

New Blogger Initiative!

From the crazed mind of Syp from Bio Break comes the New Blogger Initiative (NBI).

For the month of May, the goal is to encourage anyone that has been thinking of starting a blog to go ahead and do it. Throughout the month there’ll be articles posted here and on the other participating blogs to help get you started (see Syp’s announcement for a list). You can also head over to the forums and ask questions there.

I have a few ideas for helpful posts this month, but if you have questions leave them below.