Dungeon Walk

A couple of weeks ago, a few guildmates mentioned the idea of going for a Dungeon Walk- of going into a dungeon in Elder Scrolls Online, switch our characters to walking speed and enjoy the sights there are to see. There was quite a huge response, so when the time finally came, we were able to form two dungeon groups. Our group chose to walk into Direfrost Keep.

It’s hot in europe right now (slightly below 100°F), so we chose that dungeon to cool off virtually, if not in reality. AC are not (yet) very common in germany, so when there are like 3 weeks of temperatures in the mid 30 degree celsius range, the flats and houses will get warm. Very warm. A guildmate told us that he had 95°F- in his flat. Of course, walking into an icy dungeon doesn’t really help, but it was nice seeing snow and ice, anyway.

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Being supportive 2

Interesting. On my old blog, i had this post about being supportive of the few (and getting even rarer) companies who bring MMORPGs to us- at that time, it was about Trion’s up-to-then unknown imported game. Today, i’ll return to this topic in regards to Rift’s new expansion Starfall Prophecy- this post started its life as a comment on Psychochild’s blog, but i felt like it was getting too long. TLDR would be: “don’t hold a grudge”.

Trion once was that highly respected company- everyone cheered when the news broke that they’d be publishing ArcheAge. Then something bad happened and now they’re struggling – reputation wise.

Here’s the thing, though: what big MMO devs/publishers do you know? Blizzard? Cancelled their latest MMO in favour of a lobby shooter. Daybreak? Ha, well, they seem to be downgrading lately. Turbine? Already on their way out. Funcom? Is struggling and needs to do something other than MMOs to actually earn some money.

Now, we can have all the business model talks or how exactly each and every company developing MMORPGs went wrong, but i’d like to state something else:

I feel Trion is on the right way.

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MMOs are not about playing with friends

A while back i came across this quote when i read a post about Jaedia returning to Guild Wars 2:

…I love being able to play with my friends, that is the big draw of MMORPGs after all,…

Hannah Richardson-Lewis, Returning to Tyria

Hannah/Jaedia is a great blogger – i enjoy following her blog and posts on mmorpg.com and i find myself agreeing with her for the most part- but this statement is something i don’t agree with, even if i know i’m probably blowing her harmless sentence up more than i should and MMORPGs are different for all of us, it’s that statement that inspired me to draft the following post a couple of weeks back, only to edit and publish it now for Blaugust.

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The Hybrid Journal

August is almost upon us- and with august comes Blaugust. This year, i wanted to take part- to get back into the groove of blogging and to slowly phase out the summer break.

So this year, Blaugust will be a relaxed affair- you don’t really have to commit to a schedule and you “win” by participating. Seems easy, right? All you have to do is fill out a small form. But what is that i see? Read more

The sub strikes back – now what?

Woe is me, i’m falling into a trap again! I was really enjoying the first six months of this year when i played Elder Scrolls Online exclusively. Of course, MMO wanderlust was still a thing, but i kept it under check- until the summer break, that is. Interestingly, actually having even less time to play made me ponder my options more than before. Elder Scrolls Online is a great game, but to be honest, it’s not something you log into for half an hour or so to dabble a bit in and log out after a short time. The story-and-lore-heavy quests take time, which is a good thing. But it also means that you have to devote that time and i’ve found it quite difficult to do in the bright season. I don’t know about your place, but summer in Germany means daylight from about 5 am to 10.30 pm- i know it’s very different in China, where it’s dark at 8/9 pm in the evening (Shanghai area). It’s more “difficult” to lose yourself into a game.

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Guild Update: Summer break

Our small Elder Scrolls Online guild will take a summer break from the end of june to the end of august. By that, we mean that none of the recurring events (leveling DC characters together, exploring Cyrodiil, the monthly guild meeting) we do will take place during that time. We’ll still be playing ESO and we’ll probably meet for a dungeon run from time to time, but we’ll be on hold, essentially. While this is a somewhat risky move, as it might look like activity is going down and we’ll have to reconnect and get back into our rhythm after the break, i feel it’s the right thing to do for a couple of reasons.

Oh Italy, how i miss you!
Oh Italy, how i miss you!

It’s not the season for in-game commitments

It’s summer. Real-life activities turn up very regularly- be it holidays, parties, events, simply meeting friends, the will to do something outdoors or simply the heat that drives us away from the pc. There’s a lower motivation to sign-up for an event and actually taking part in it.

Experience

In my experience, planned events for summer days get cancelled often due to a lack of participants. Sure, there might be people signing up, but more often than not, there’ll be cancellations on short notice and i’d end up with just one or two other players taking part. There’s nothing worse you can do for your guild’s morale than cancelling events- usually, when i schedule one, i’ll see it through even if only one other person shows up. The second you start cancelling events, they’ll seem less important to your members and soon they might choose to simply not turning up even when they signed up for an event.

That’s much worse than simply deciding that one type of content or a particular time (like the summer months) are off limits for you and your guild.

Recharging the batteries

When you set up weekly events, it can get exhausting. For the members who participate, surely, but all the more for the guild leader, as they are the person who has to commit to the schedule as well as each individual event they set up. While i’m always having a great time when an event starts and we are playing together, sometimes i’m not in the mood to play just minutes before. Maybe i’d prefer to watch something, spend time with my wife or read a book.

So a time where i don’t have to think about running events frees up a good chunk of time for me- and this is important to recharge my batteries and stay motivated to provide scheduled events. By the end of the summer break, i’ll be looking forward to get the guild going again, and i have quite a few plans for the final four months of this year.

The move

Furthermore, my family will be moving in the end of june. Not far, just about 15km (9mi) away, from a rented house into our own. There won’t be much work to do, as we hired a company to make the actual move and our new house is in a good state. However, we have to do a few things here in the rented home, maybe painting the walls a bit, and getting rid of furniture and stuff we don’t take with us. I expect to be busy with the move at least until mid-july, maybe the whole month.

discord

Staying in touch

The most difficult thing to achieve during the summer months will be staying in touch with the guildmates- we are a young guild, after all, and while bonds are continuously growing stronger, they are still building up. So the summer break also holds the potential of throwing us back a bit.

What can you do to stay in touch with guildmates if you have a very casual, small and social guild?

Encourage forum usage. I’ll prepare a few activities that will take place asynchronuously in the forums- things like screenshot contests, storytelling, sharing our appreciation of the game we’re playing come to mind. There’ll be forum titles to go along with these activities.

Encourage use of Discord. Voice chat is a funny thing in our guild, actually. We have the opportunity to make use of it, but rarely do so. I can only remember being on Discord for an event once. In the upcoming guild meeting just before the summer break begins, i’ll emphasize again that Discord will probably be the second most important community hub for us. I mean, there’s chat channels in addition to voice chat, so there’s that.

More casual ingame events. While i won’t commit to it, i still aim to meet up for a dungeon run or other group activities every once in a while.

Enjoying other games. Quite a few of us are big fans of The Secret World. Besides ESO, TSW has the biggest chance of seeing a group of us playing together. As with the casual ingame events, i won’t commit, but chances are we’ll form up a group once or twice during the summer break.

This should do it- i don’t want to overstretch as that would be counterproductive, but i do hope that this will work out in giving us a break for a couple of months while still feeling connected and looking forward to playing together from september on.

NBI – taking a break is fine

The Newbie Blogger Initiative is here again and after taking a blogging break for a few weeks i thought i wouldn’t have much advice to give to Newbies. But i think one of the main reasons for blogs to be discontinued is when the author stops writing for some reason or another. While that might be obvious, i think many people think that once you lose your rhythm, they “failed”. Once upon a time i read about how to quit smoking and one advice i read was that if you found yourself smoking one cigarette again, don’t think you failed quitting to smoke – because if you do, you’ll end up smoking just as much or more than before, and more than that: each “failed” try will make you more afraid to try again. I know that because i quit smoking half a dozen times and the thought of quitting terrified me in the end. Now, smoking is a bad habit and i’d call blogging a good habit- so let’s turn this around, shall we?

When you fail to deliver content regularly, don’t think of it as a failed attempt at blogging. It isn’t- you can simply continue whenever you like. Nothing got deleted, nobody forgot you and most certainly, nobody is angry with you. I know that because somehow, every year there seems to come a stretch of time when i don’t post. I’m always passionate about MMORPGs, so you might wonder why that is. There are a couple of possible reasons, actually.

Burnout

What it is

Burnout is the best reason to take a break. Burnout, in this case, is meant as the realization that we devote much more time to the hobby of gaming and writing about it than we are willing to give. Like Ironweakness did last month. MMORPGs are a time-intensive hobby and if you don’t pay attention, it is able to devour your free-time fully. Add reading and writing blogs to simply playing these games and it’s easy to lose track of time spent on the hobby before realizing that it took over your soul. Don’t let that happen to you- if you feel you need to take a break, just do it.

What to do about it

Nothing, this type of burnout is healthy. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to re-evaluate just how much time we spend on playing these games or read/write about them. It’s also one of the best ways to gain some distance and realize that, no, this news/Patch/Update/DLC/expansion isn’t that important and we are able to continue our lives just the same without them. Staying away from all that actually helps in rekindling your appreciation of the hobby- after a while, you’ll want to log into your favourite game(s), and consequently, you’ll find yourself willing to continue to share your thoughts on your blog. In this case, my advice would be to simply take a step back and return when you’re in the mood to.

Less time in game

What it is

Gaming blogs and playing games feed into each other- blogging about games can make you more excited for your games of choice, and playing games can give inspiration on what to write on your blog. However, sometimes, you’ll simply spend less time in game- for me, this is usually in the summer months, as there’s just too much going on aside from gaming so that i’m having trouble finding the time and the will to spend hours in games. This time of playing less can last a few days or a couple of months. If your blog only covers your ingame-actions or out-of-game-but-genre-related thoughts, you might find it difficult to think of topics.

What to do about it

Again, nothing much. However, if you’d like to write on your blog more than actually playing games, there are a couple of possibilities like commenting on news pieces, genre developments, things you look forward to in the next couple of months, commenting other bloggers’ posts. You could also change the range of topics covered on your blog by adding posts about your travels, writing about other types of entertainment (books, movies, tv-series) or different topics altogether (sports, for instance). Now, i do find it weird when i mix my “gaming” and “real life” personalities by writing about travels and i actually feel real life stuff like that has a better place elsewhere, it also helps your readers to get connected to you on a more personal level. As for the entertaining stuff- ever noticed how people who like the same artists/authors/directors/actors tend to share a lot of these? That’s how Amazon’s recommendations for you work- there’s a good chance, actually, that people who enjoy MMORPGs might share a similar taste in movies, books and such.

No ideas

If you still have no idea what to write about, read other blogs for inspiration or do one of the challenges for getting a blog started. There is that 20 days of blogging challenge floating around. I think it was created with World of Warcraft in mind, but it can be applied to many MMOs.

After the break

As i said, if you take a break, don’t fret about it. You didn’t “fail” in blogging, if there is such a thing. Personally, i’d advise against “i’m back”-posts, because if it turns out your break wasn’t over yet, it looks kind of strange to have a break of 1-3 months followed by a “back” message from 3 months ago. I’d simply get back into writing. In the same way, i’d advise against announcing your exit- because more often than not, you’ll be back, because MMORPGs are a great hobby, writing about them makes it even better and my guess is that once you’ve got bitten by the blogging bug, you’re probably not going to quit anytime soon.

Yesterday, Wolfy chose to write about the same thing, so this post might be redundant (but…but…i had it drafted and didn’t want to scrap it!). Join me next week when i write about reasons for why sharing topics isn’t bad, but great!