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!

 

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Resolutions for 2016: embrace PvP

It’s the end of the year and we’re about to switch (paper-)calendars, so it’s time to make some resolutions. Recent developments in my own gaming habits as well as those of others – i’ve read more than a few “MMORPGs aren’t fun” posts in the past few weeks- made me think about just how i approach gaming in the new year. There are a few things at play here.

Rocket League and Global Agenda

I bought Rocket League during the last Steam sale. And boy, did it grab me, in a totally different way i expected it to. Earlier, i hesitated to buy it, because it’s main focus is what we’d call PvP-centric in MMO-land. Sure, there is AI, but everybody seemed to be playing with or against other humans- and that’s something i usually avoid because i’m not really a very good player, and when it comes to twitchy mechanics, i suck. The only exception is when there’s an option/play-style that caters to a more strategic approach. That’s why i loved Global Agenda- it was a shooter, sure- but as an Engineer you had some very interesting tools that helped and weren’t twitch-based.

Yes, it's rocket car football and it sounds crazy. It's fun.
Yes, it’s rocket car football and it sounds crazy. It’s fun.

I bought Rocket League to play against the AI, but i stay with it because of the PvP. And here’s why: it’s very easy to simply log in and play a match for 5-10 minutes and then log out. It’s also one of these “easy to learn, hard to master” games where you’ll see your skills improving at a nice pace. As a newbie, i was very confused and playing in a very chaotic way. Soon, i started to learn how to push the ball in the general direction i wanted it to go (earlier, it was random). Then i learned that chasing the ball wasn’t the best thing to do. Stay back, watch and learn. Defend. Try and not bump into your teammates or stand in their way and so on. Rocket League is also a trap: “one more match” is a thought that kept me awake past midnight more than once in the last 3 weeks.

And behold: my /played count sits at 29 hours, 12 in the last two weeks. For me, that’s a lot. In a game i spent 13€ for (and 35 for a controller, but i can make use of that in other games, too). Now, if i compared that to my subscribing to, say, SWTOR, FFXIV or Wildstar….well, i’d blush. Usually, i’m ok if i spend about 1€ per hour /played. But Rocket League made me think.

Global Agenda - still one of my "most played" games.
Global Agenda – still one of my “most played” games.

And now, as i’m writing this, i remembered Global Agenda- i’ve clocked 350 hours on Global Agenda and i’m very sure that this is my most played MMORPG (with maybe Lotro coming close or even higher). Granted, those were different times with more time to play and less money to spend on games. But still, there’s a pattern here.

Embracing PvP

When i thought about why i liked Rocket League so much, and thinking the same about Global Agenda now, it’s because they’re not grindy. It doesn’t take much build-up time to get to play, and it is possible to play them in short sessions while still trying to achieve long-term goals. When you think about it, PvP/RvR/WvW is also the only truly dynamic content in an MMORPG. Sure, dynamic events are nice (but were, in my opinion, already done better in Tabula Rasa) and PvE is important, but in 2016, i want to look more into the PvP side of MMORPGs.

Luckily, there’s new stuff coming. I do like what i read about Camelot Unchained and Crowfall, but up until a few days ago, i filed them under “PvP-centric, not really for me”. But what is “for me”, nowadays, anyway? If there were a game coming up with all the features i wish for (deep crafting, nice exploration in a big, open world, interesting trade mechanics), would i even be able to play it on a level that made it interesting? I guess i’ll see when The Repopulation releases, because, on paper, it has everything i’d want from an MMORPG.

camelot_unchained_logo

Or maybe it’s time to try something new? Maybe these pvp-centric games will fit better to my actual lifestyle by not having long grinds, having no endgame and catering to both- shorter sessions and long-term goals. Maybe it’s not only the MMORPGs that are “stuck in the past”, but me as well. We often say/write things like “MMO players claim wanting something new, but when something fresh comes up, they complain” (see reception of TSW, nerfing of Rift’s zone invasion events, changes to Firefall and so on), so i guess it’s time to change things up a bit.

And think about this, as well: a pvp (read: player-) centric game doesn’t need to provide tons of NPCs, thousands of quests (linear content), dungeons (finely crafted experiences) and voice-overs; it can concentrate developement resources into that stuff that actually differentiates the MMO genre from simple Multiplayer games: interaction between players, a dynamic, persistent world, crafting, trading and systems in general. More focus on systems is a good thing, in my opinion.

I’m actually quite confident and decided to back/buy Camelot Unchained…and i’m really looking forward to playing it.

The present

Until that is playable, however, i’ll also look into this kind of stuff in other games. As far as i know, there are two MMORPGs with a good, more open-worldy PvP: Elder Scrolls Online and Guild Wars 2.

Daggerfall is one of my favourite MMO-cities.
Daggerfall is one of my favourite MMO-cities.

Seeing that The Elder Scrolls Online is my (and my guild’s) main MMO right now, Cyrodiil and Imperial City will be the places where i’ll look for PvP-fun in a short while. I really enjoy playing Elder Scrolls Online at the moment, and i might write about the reasons another day, but of course it suffers from my Rocket League addiction. So i still have to get one of my new characters to level 10 (very close) to get access to Cyrodiil/Imperial City. I’ve noticed their RvR campaigns have changed quite a bit since i last played- there’s a non-veteran campaign now that maybe allows players to enjoy the RvR before hitting VR16.