I would like to thank you for many things, such as your unflagging attention to my ramblings, your comments that reinforce that I am not just typing to myself in the dark, but primarily, for dethroning the “Halp, How do I find my way to Blue Mountain in The Secret World?” joke post that has -finally- dropped out of the Top 5 most popular posts section in the annual report.
Took it three years. Wow.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 88,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.
Honestly, there are even fewer surprises to me this time around.
I’m still thrilled to see there’s been growth in pageviews, though it’s probably slowing and plateauing from having established one’s little foothold into the teeny corner of the interwebs that are interested in the subjects I write about, and will likely slow even further this coming year.
I’m almost deadly certain that much of that growth has to do with just a few key posts *coughguidescough* that I occasionally get the urge to write, if only to vent some frustration and then suddenly realize that “YES, there are people who do look these things up and appreciate the summaries, tips and advice.”
2014 is essentially the year I try to harness this phenomenon for good.
Reddit becomes my top referrer, from a mere two posts – one pushing the Marionette AoE guide, and the other introducing the Movement/Combat guide, both of which stay pretty popular.
The biggest surprise was the chance Missing Worlds Media facebook link in May, that sent 2.5 Things City of Heroes Did Wrong to top at least one category – most commented on, and that became my second biggest referrer.
Bhagpuss continues to draw GW2 fans from his site over to mine, for which I’m very thankful… (or maybe it’s just him clicking his own sidebar, given that he’s my top commenter… twice over. 🙂 He has more misspelled accounts that are also cleared to comment here!)
The other highly popular posts all chanced to hit various popular search keywords, imo.
I happened to type up my thoughts to the Path of Exile expansion just when others were searching for info regarding it, I suppose.
“MMOs are dead” is apparently a super-popular phrase to google, along with “GW2 endgame.” Hoorah for contradiction in terms.
I feel moderately guilty about the Dry Top post, since it’s not a complete guide, just some rambling at the midway point of Dry Top when T4 was as high as it got. There’s a T6 one on Reddit somewhere, I believe. *googles* Here, summary and chat codes.
What’s new this year is that they’ve switched search terms, which I suppose are much harder to tease out these days, with a graphical display of one’s posting rate.
I apparently post on many Wednesdays. (It’s probably due to guilt when I realize that I haven’t posted in forever, better churn out something nao!)
Total number of posts has stayed relatively constant through the years – I try to do an average of one post every 3-4 days. Some weeks I lie fallow, and then I make up for it with “too many things to say” days where I post twice.
I’d say that it would be nice if I learned how to spread these things out a little more, but I also know it’s just not gonna happen. Quite a bit of my stuff is time-dependent and it wouldn’t really make much sense to schedule it for a day later or two. I will just trust my regular readers know how to use feed readers.
I -would- like to try a month long writing streak akin to Nanowrimo or Blaugust some day, but will 2015 be the year I find the time to do so?
WordPress’ friendly blog stats summary of the year that is now history. All conveniently packaged up to share with readers.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 64,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
The blog has doubled its views in its second year, which is still kind of thrilling, even if the cynic in me says that’s probably mostly bots hitting old pages.
And they tell me that my writing has staying power! (Or I used up all my interesting topics in the first year or that’s probably still just bots.)
But the eternal optimist in me would like to thank my HUMAN readers who put up with my ramblings and appreciate at least a few of the posts that turn up now and again.
It’s a dartboard, y’know? Write and toss up enough posts and hopefully some will stick.
# of Posts and Pictures
Those have remained fairly consistent. I’m personally quite happy with that. Part of my rationale for starting the blog in the first place was to prove to myself that I could commit to a long term project and not get distracted by new shinies and then get lazy and slack off.
I’m on partial break for now, but I do hope to get back up to steam soon and get less lazy about including pictures in my posts again.
Let’s not call it a New Year’s Resolution, but more of a re-commitment, after I’ve taken stock of where I am this season and reorganized my life some.
(Chinese New Year is fast following in the western New Year’s footsteps this year and that is traditionally a period of mass cleanup and reorganizing BEFOREhand, since it is considered bad to sweep good luck out the door during the festive season. And it’s occurred to me that there’s a LOT of things around the house in desperate need of a cleanup from storerooms to wardrobes to terrabytes of data on computer hard disks. Argh.)
To absolutely no one’s surprise – not mine anyway – the evil evil Liadri topped the stats as the most popular post of last year.
I remember watching that bar climb on the stats and shoot up to a way higher outlier than pretty much all of my other posts, confirming once again that if you are all about pageview whoring – write guides. Lots and lots of guides. Be a Dulfy, and monetize the heck out of your adverts, because there are a lot of people who a) Google up the answers before even getting started or b) get stuck on games and then Google.
Me, I’m more about writing what I feel like writing, in that moment and context. So yeah, expect guides only as and when I feel they’re appropriate (usually when I’m bursting to make a point or just want to share a particular strategy that worked after lots of effort on my part.)
Also completely unsurprising was the fact that the next two most popular posts were PSAs. Short, sweet, simple and as to the point as the usually longwinded me can make them.
“Here’s the answer to whatever you were googling for.”
Of course, me being me, they also do double duty as subjective criticism for “HEY DEVELOPERS, LOOK HOW NOT AT ALL OBVIOUS THIS IS.”
No, really, people are still looking for directions to the Blue Mountains a year later.
And those voting baskets… yeah. Put ’em on top of a floating airship in the sky with nary a label or signpost, except on a minimap that is better at showing stuff in two dimensions only.
Searchers, don’t worry, besides one teeny safe for work cutscene in The Secret World, I believe the Grand Theft Auto, Dragon Age and Mass Effect universes hold out more hope. Mebbe Skyrim or Baldur’s Gate with mods? If you’re willing to go without the latter word of the pair, I recommend the hottest couple in GW2, Marjory and Kasmeer, and flex your imagination and fanfiction writing skills!)
Referrers and Commenters
You now know who you are.
I love all of you guys. In a totally platonic way.
Please keep it up. Make it a competition and beat each other, even. 😛
(Fer example, I know off the top of my mind that there’s at least two more reader-commenters whose names begin with R and one more whose name -sounds- like it should begin with R, that I appreciate too. And everybody else who I’m brain-blocked on at the moment. But y’all lost to the most prolific! Noooo…)
They’re the only way I can tell a human cared to read my drivel, rather than let my cynic tell me it’s bots.
An odd sort of ennui has come over me lately. I have, quite literally, more than a hundred games I could be playing at any given moment – some of them MMOs, and some of them singleplayer ones. But none of them appear to match or fulfill this restless craving desire that has woken within me.
I’m normally quite good at matching specific games to specific needs. I had a strategic and mild tactical urge a couple days back, so several hundred turns of Civilization V and some dickering around with Total War: Shogun 2 it was. I went through a bout or two of casual games when I just needed a short gaming spurt. But recently, I have developed a growingly insatiable desire for a game that can inspire a story to be written about what happens while playing it.
Moreover, I’m hoping for something more than a developer-created narrative, the same old linear things that every player of the game sees, be it in the same or different order. Writing about how Vault Dweller X pops out of their vault and saves/nukes Megaton and ignores/saves Dad and massacres post-apocalyptic wildlife of every shape and size is… well, been there, done that. Obviously there has to be some developer input, even Dwarf Fortress establishes setting and what you’ll be dealing with (dwarves!), but I guess I’m grasping for emergence. Something that surprises the player, and perhaps even surprises the developer. Something that doesn’t happen in every other player’s game.
And I want it in a different game from the above examples.
Oh, I tried Dwarf Fortress. It’s certainly intricate and complex, but it takes way too much time to learn and play. My one serious attempt ended up with one and a half seasons of uneventful thriving, before another season of flooding and drowning because my enthusiastic approach to irrigation sent a dwarf digging an open tunnel into the side of a river, which, judging by the volume of water which emerged, was about the size of the Thames. One year later, of endlessly digging deep deep reservoirs just ahead of the rising waters to stave off inevitable fate, I gave up.
I’m not especially keen on multiplayer competition, which rather rules out things like Neptune’s Pride, Solium Infernum, Eve Online and the like. I don’t really need the additional complication of real people and their emotional needs/drives messing up any storylines. Imaginary characters, be they computer-controlled or me-controlled, do just fine.
I was looking at roguelikes as a potential source of story fodder, but as much as I like Angband for its simplicity and games like TOME and ADOM (they might be going under different names like JADE and what not by now), they have the dungeon crawl structure. Have town, have dungeon, dive deep, kill stuff, level up, sell stuff, eat food, try not to die by all manner of different things, fail at that goal, admire gravestone, try again.
I’m rather tired of the survival theme. I don’t own Arma II, I think it’s too expensive at the moment, they’re relentlessly cashing in on DayZ and I’ve no real interest in trying it out as yet. Survival + other people. It’s no doubt interesting, but it doesn’t match the current desire. Minecraft is okay, but it’s missing the element of surprise/story/other NPC interaction. It boils down to a lone survivor story again, eking out an existence, Robinson-Crusoe-like, building an immense fortification of creativity out of what is present in nature. Terraria was more of a gear grind. Unreal World is way too lethal, unless you know certain loopholes for trading useless bits of wood to villagers, I tend to starve to death before managing to hunt or trap anything. And the story again is survival-based, don’t starve, don’t die of thirst, build a fancy house, profit, till you die.
I had an almost got-the-feeling-I-wanted moment while playing Civilization V, as I marched four units of mechanized infantry and a giant death robot down the continent wiping up the last holdout Korean civilization.
I was playing Bismarck and the German Empire, espousing the social policies of Liberty, Honor, Order, Rationalism and Commerce. I envisioned this as a expansionist, liberal (in terms of whatever other races or cultures were annexed into the Empire) civ, but focused on science/technology and merchantilism as a means of maintaining power and autarky, having both a very militaristic and honor-based tradition and a nationalistic pride. In other words, join our Empire and prosper. Work hard and see, you will reap the rewards of our science, our art and culture and great people. If you are foolish enough not to want to join the Great German Empire, then we will not hesitate to move in our advanced troops and -make- you join, by removing your foolish, rude, leaders.
The Korean leader had been previously both insulting and kept denouncing me at every opportunity, despite my obvious dominance of that particular game, and so, after I finished a Tech victory, then a Diplomatic one (by virtue of saving and reloading just before winning), I decided it was time for a military Dominance victory, declared war and moved in the troops. For the heck of it, since I had the tech, and since I was convinced there must be a Steam achievement for it, I made a nuke or two and dropped it on top of the capital, Seoul, and the southern Korean city of Pyongyang – it wasn’t easy finding a safe place I could bomb without nuking my own troops in the vicinity.
And as I moved the umpteen bomber in from neighboring cities and aircraft carriers, softening up the Korean cities for my infantry to march in and annex, fragments of an almost Harry Turtledove Worldwar scenario came to my mind.
I envisioned a Korean girl, writing by candlelight in the darkness, to the distant sounds of bombs shelling other city districts, wondering to her diary about why these strange German invaders had come. Of her telling her diary about the massive mech she saw on the horizon, and the tiny APCs around its feet, dwarfed by the giant, grim uniformed men with sophisticated rifles moving like ants in a long disciplined line.
I imagined a young German soldier, wrapped in protective gear and breathing mask, looking about him in dismay at the wreckage of Pyongyang, the irradiated fallout having destroyed practically any resistance or indeed, any semblance of hope, in the starved shambles of the city.
He tells himself that in a few years, maybe five, not more than ten, certainly, the city, having come under the Great German Empire, will be better for it. It will be richer, more prosperous, linked to trade routes, it will have all the benefits of science and technology, it will have happy hardworking workers, “Arbeit macht frei.”
After all, centuries later, the Polynesian peoples and the ancient Germanic peoples have long intermixed on the mother continent, and the pointless warring between the Chinese and the Americans on this continent have finally ceased by virtue of both coming under the banner of the German republic, two, three decades later, all the cities are happy, productive contributers to greater society.
But a theoretical better future is hard to believe in, when you are afraid to walk now, in the fields glowing with ash and the Geiger counters crackling crazily, and thin skeletal Koreans with dirty or burned faces eye you warily, or even hostilely. He wants to help, but he doesn’t know how.
And a decade or so later, perhaps the same Korean girl, or another, writes about how the strange alien Germans, having occupied Pyongyang and brought it under the rule, move in a fleet of workers in just as orderly a fashion as the army marched in. Equipped with uncomprehensible technology in trucks and suits, they clean out every trace of the fallout that they themselves inflicted.
In fact, they run the risk of contaminating themselves with radiation sickness, but they shrug it off as their duty to the Fatherland, which Pyongyang is now part of. With typical German efficiency, they install modern farms and roads, and motor off, leaving the city on its way to recovery. Perhaps the Germans are not so bad after all…
…Meanwhile, the ring around Seoul tightens. The naval blockade has been there for years. No news gets out from the capital.
Something like that, anyhow.
Vanilla Civilization V unfortunately seems to have very little AI sophistication. Everyone is cheerfully friendly all the time, unless you decide to move in on them. Then again, remembering previous Civ games past, I don’t think having aggressive cheating AI swamp my spearmen with knights running from an endless faucet is terribly fun or interesting either, you end up militarizing to defend against the zerg and either you die or you win and annex their city and now that you have such a massive army anyway…
There’s not much room for a narrative to go after that. All hail the king of the world, or Ozymandias.
Problem is, I’m also moderately tired of combat as conflict resolution. (Or rather, relentless slaughter masquerading as combat as conflict resolution.)
This knocks out an immense number of games. Every MMO that has quests and combat, well, kill that to solve this problem. Kill 5 or 10 or 15 or 500 of that to solve that other problem. Sorry, kill is such a vulgar word. Let’s call it, “defeat.” *coughs*
Doesn’t change much, alas.
I dabbled a bit with Hunters 2 on the iPad. It’s a pretty slick-looking game, somewhat reminiscent of X-COM. I could also play X-COM, which I have on Steam, but turn-based tactics is not feeding the exact need. So a Blood Bowl league story format and such are right out too. For now, anyway.
What’s left? I don’t know. Fallen London’s random resolution and grindy style isn’t cutting it either. It just feels like I’m clicking on a button and waiting for a result to show up. Repeat x 10 to get anywhere.
It’s gotten to the point where I’ve moved away from computer gaming and gone back to idly browsing through tabletop RPGs from RPGnow, and combing through solo roleplaying blogs, wondering if I need to go back to the Mythic Game Master Emulator to get what I’m looking for. I’ve found a few intriguing ideas, but am still trying to put things together in my head. If it gets to a form that can actually be articulated, I’ll be certain to share.