Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, May 02, 2012
 
My doubts about a worthy project

Syp from Bio Break is announcing a worthy project: The Newbie Blogger Initiative. Quote: "The goal of the NBI is simple: To get prospective writers to come out of the woodwork and try their hand at an MMO blog of their own." I do recognize both the good intentions, and the good parts of the idea. Nevertheless I have my doubts that overall 2012 would be a good time to start a new MMO blog.

This blog started in 2003. MMORPGs were relatively new, there were only a handful of them. They were fresh and exciting, and mainstream media barely even covered them. Today there are hundreds of them, you'll get reviews of them in every PC games print magazine and website, and their design has been discussed to death. Worse than that: Out of the huge probability space of game design options for what all could be a MMORPG, the genre has crystallized into a tiny corner where all games more or less work the same way. Even minor variations of the theme, like Guild Wars 2, stand out as a beacon of innovation, in spite of being 95% the same as most of the other games out there. The games that do things differently, like A Tale in the Desert, are ignored.

I would love to talk about new and exciting game designs for MMORPGs. For example I am still waiting for a MMORPG where combat is based on a "deck" of abilities, working a bit like a trading card game instead of having fixed abilities on hotkeys like every other game. Or how I believe that less static, more random design could somewhat revive the genre. But I can't get that discussion going. Whenever I write about a new idea I get flooded with comments why new ideas will never work in this genre. And with no actual games on the horizon likely to implement any new ideas, the discussion is futile from the start.

With the genre itself stagnating, what is there to write about on a new MMO blog which hasn't been written about hundreds of times on other MMO blogs over the last decade? Does anybody really still want to read about the adventures of your Jedi consular, or Charr warrior? About the guild drama which ensued when the guild leader favored his girlfriend over the most loyal guild member in loot distribution? About the endless hardcore vs. casual debate? If I wanted I could design a "MMO blog Bingo" card which would have a guaranteed hit on 95% of the MMO blog entries still to be written for 2012. If I knew the release date of Guild Wars 2 I could mark on your calendar the date on which the discussion of that game will switch from hype mode into disappointment mode.

My advice: Find a topic that is somewhat hotter than MMOs to blog about! Or be prepared to write a niche blog with not much traffic (which is where I am heading with my D&D writing).

Comments:
That would assume that you are writing for an audience.
I'd suggest that blogging should be selfish where you write only for yourself. Very few people write a diary for outside consumption.

When I blog, it is to clear my thoughts and sort out some plans. Matter such as market saturation. I have a niche blog that perfectly satisfies its audience (me).

Based on that assumption, the perfect time to start blogging is when you want to start blogging.
 
Why become an economist, when everything that can be said about the economy has already been said?
 
I dunno, I think gaming as a mindset and hobby is larger now than it has ever been, evolving faster than it has ever been, and it's as good a time as any to start writing about gaming.

MMOs the way we have known them aren't what they used to be, I agree about that. And maybe blogging also isn't what it once was.

But sometimes the most interesting times to write about a hobby are when things are rapidly changing, and that's what is happening to online games at the moment.
 
I'd suggest that blogging should be selfish where you write only for yourself.

Very good point, which is similar to what I wanted to say with the last phrase of my post. As long as you don't mind who reads it, you can blog about whatever you want, whether that be MMOs, D&D, or garden gnome painting. But then you don't really need the new bloggers initiative to send links your way either.
 
Does anybody really still want to read about the adventures of your Jedi consular, or Charr warrior? About the guild drama which ensued when the guild leader favored his girlfriend over the most loyal guild member in loot distribution? About the endless hardcore vs. casual debate?

Uh...well, yes. Thats...why I still read MMO blogs.
 
I probably agree with you that the Golden age of MMOs has past and with it the golden age of MMO blogging. Nevertheless opportunities still remain for he fledgling blogger. The launch of GW2 will create a flood of traffic for anyone writing about it. Even Diablo 3, though not an mmmorpg looks to have enough complexity to justify a few blogs.

EVE remains a fruitful souce of blogging material. The sandbox nature of the game means it never really gets old and there is always some new drama to write about. I suspect other sandbox games (ATID, WURM, etc) present similar opportunities even if they are pointed at a niche audience.
 
I was over at a friends trying out a new first person shooter and I was reminded of Goldeneye.

Video games as a whole haven't innovated a whole lot in the last decade. There are very few genre bending games out there. Aside from a handful of independent game designers, video games are designed to make money.

And as in any industry, it's far easier to cater to the lowest common denominator than to strive to make an innovative product.

At any rate, I'll keep reading your thoughts on MMO's as long as you care to write about them, Tobold.
 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
As someone who likes to write, and at times even does so in my own blog, I find projects such as the NBI a good thing. It's useful for finding community among other writers and to be encouraged to write about what your passionate about.

Tobold, you may be surprised that I have your blog in my "must read" tag in Google Reader next to James Altucher's blog, James Gosling's blog and SI's Peter King's articles for SI.com. They have little to do with each other in terms of topics but they are all the excellent in quality and involve topics I'm interested in.

If the NBI produces a set of writers that engage in their passions, develop their craft and perhaps one of their blogs ends up on someone's "must read" somewhere out there, then it will have been a worthwhile pursuit. (In my humble opinion, of course.)

It's less about the topic. It's more about the writer and their audience.
 
Wasn't there a F2P MMO with a Roman Empire/fantasy theme that had a "deck" of abilities and was some sort of Magic: The Gathering and Diablo hybrid. I think I remember reading about it. I'm lost on the name. I think the company was bought out or something.
 
I thought a blog was a personal diary made public on the web. that's what mine's for. It exists primarily so that five years from now I can read it all back and relive old times.

I keep the whole thing backed up offline and I'd carry on writing it offline if for some reason I couldn't share it on the web.

It's nice to have readers and feedback, but it's not the point of doing it.
 
Actually, I think the MMO that this guy is trying to write http://www.eldergame.com/ does a kind of deck-of-skills approach. He's trying to address the 'optimal rotation' problem at least.
 
The fact that others are doing it should not be a reason not to do it yourself. Emulate the success of those who have succeeded, and learn from the mistakes of those who did not.

The same can be said about any type of information-based internet business for that matter. Find what is working for others and emulate their success.
 
Find what is working for others and emulate their success.

Well, engineers in the 19th century had a lot of success with the steam engine. If you want to emulate their success, you might still be able to apply their methods, but you'd better not try it with steam engines.

Making a blog is probably a good idea. I just have serious doubts whether MMOs are still the topic du jour.
 
Making a blog is probably a good idea. I just have serious doubts whether MMOs are still the topic du jour.

Lots of the people who will start blogging because of the NBI project will not do so because they intend to provide inciteful social commentary on the MMOs.

They don't see themselves as the Gore Vidal or Christopher Hitchens of the MMO blogging scene. They just want to have some fun with like minded friends.

The wealth of indepth discussion that you reference has probably never touched them and never will.

If you find their writing to be simply covering old ground then fine. You will simply avoid it.

But for people of a similar disposition, their work may be extremely entertaining and valid.

Casual gaming leads to a casual blogging scene. This is not a bad thing, as it provides the player base with material on a par with their aspirations.

More in-depth players like yourself who feel that the subject has been "done" can adapt as you have.

It's a win win situation.

I gave up discussing contemporary UK politics because I thought the conversation had effectively ended. But for other it is still a talking point.

Each to their own surely?
 
New bloggers and especially new MMOers may bring fresh insight into the community. Perhaps they see things just a bit differently than the established players. Could make for an entertaining read, and that's what the project is all about - building community.

Also, the MMO blogs don't necessarily have to be "general MMO" or "MMO Theory" blogs and certainly don't have to be analytical or have cutting edge content to be worth a read.

Game specific blogs, like Hunter's Guild Wars 2 blog is a place I like to go to get information on GW2, not because it's the first place to find the information, but because it has a unique player perspective that news sites and larger gaming media outlets can't match. It's similar to why I read your blog.

Surely there are other people with strong voices and interesting things to say about all the new, old and future MMOs?

Side note: there is a cycle of life with everything. In MMO blogging, writers come and go, but there are those that have succeeded throughout the years. Somebody who started blogging about the genre in 2003 may have a different spin on things than a guy who started in 2007 who may have a different spin than somebody who started in 2012. Older gamers probably want to read the older gamer blog. New players will likely enjoy the excitement and upbeat perspective that the new blogger may have. Options are a good thing, and seeing that many bloggers write just to express their thoughts on a hobby, what's the harm?
 
I can't understand why more people aren't blogging about Minecraft.

Changes are still being made to the game and sales remain strong.

Notch may have moved on to his next game, but Mojang has staffed up and big changes are in the works. A mod API and in-game mod selection and download means that the already fertile mod scene will explode when mods become an easy point-and-click install.

Mods are where all the innovation will take place as Mojang correctly takes a conservative stance to maintain Minecraft as a modding platform. It wouldn't surprise me if a mod was to emerge within the next year that becomes as huge as Counter Strike.

I blog about Minecraft as time allows and it still surprises me how little serious blogging is going on. There are lots of how-to videos, sure, and it's late to break in doing video, but thoughtful blogging and analysis about Minecraft is wide open territory.
 
"what is there to write about on a new MMO blog which hasn't been written about hundreds of times on oher MMO blogs over the last decade?"

This:
"talk about new and exciting game designs for MMORPGs."

It's game design posts that made your blog one of my favorites.
 
It's game design posts that made your blog one of my favorites.

Those were the ones where I found the comment section the most depressing. Describe a new idea, and you get everybody telling you why it won't work.
 
I'm just kinda discouraged to sink my comment in sea of rage, so I usually refrain from commenting on "controversial" stuff - but that doesn't mean I'm not interested. I also don't like to comment without reading all the comments, but I'm too lazy to read the whole storm.
Maybe I'm not the only one.
 
Wait... what do you mean 'still waiting for CCG based MMORPG'?

Doesn't Wizard 101 count?
 
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool