Archive for the “Blog Community” Category

One of the aspects of World of Warcraft that has made it such an enduring part of my life over the years is the scale of content available.

It’s obvious, but it bears mentioning; Azeroth and Outlands are vast in size and deep in lore. With such a massive world to explore, and with things changing every so often, it keeps me coming back for more.

I am more than willing to return, too.

My journey in playing Playing World of Warcraft over the years has often reminded me a little of my journeys in learning to play chess as a child.

I was introduced to the game of chess by my father. I wasn’t really sure of the rules, or the goal, other than head to head games usually meant trying to outsmart the other person. Battleship, Stratego, Chess… head to head domination. My father liked that kind of arena, so that was what I expected going in.

After playing for a few weeks, I learned the basics of the rules, understood where I could go and what my standard options were, and I felt I could take on other players. I even won a few against my father.

The longer I played, the more connections I made between the rules, the moves, the layout and the way you needed to play a deeper tactical game. Instead of action and reaction, move to move, you needed to think ahead, plan. Move one piece here seemingly for no reason, and the next piece you move could be protected by the first. Using the first piece to protect the second by threatening retaliation through a rudimentary overwatch.

And it was mental, of course, because once your turn was over, the initiative was in the other players hands. He had the choice to make, was it worth it to take your piece, knowing it was covered by another that would take his in turn? 

Had he already anticipated your move, and was planning his own attack around your flank where you weren’t paying attention, having nothing to do with your two pieces out there in the open?

The more I played, the more I saw that there was a deeper game to learn than what was on the surface. Much deeper. And I felt pretty sharp for seeing it. I was going to get really good, and kick my fathers ass.

Then there came the day when I checked my local library for books that someone might have written about playing chess better. It seemed a long shot, I mean, who the hell would write an entire book on how to play a board game like Stratego, Checkers or Chess? That’s why they stick little rules pamphlets in the box with the game.

What I found out was that the world of chess that I thought I was getting a handle on, that I was just now discovering, was old, familiar, highly debated and researched territory.

Thousands of books, movies, programs, historical data on matches, newspaper games using some kind of obscure letter/number code designations, omigod are you shitting me?

I just hoped to find a book on how to play a deeper level of the game, and now suddenly, it felt like if I really wanted to play the game well, I couldn’t just do what I was doing, or even just read a book, I needed to make it a career.

I came here to play a game, and I wanted to play it well.  I didn’t want to devote the rest of my entire life to mastering all this…. this shit. I’m fucking seven years old! Screw that, I ain’t got time for that, summer’s here! Time to see if I can use the garden hose to tunnel a hole in the back lawn that will go all the way through to China. I hear it’s on the other side of the world.

Do they all stand upside down, down there?

Yep, that’s what I’m reminded of when I play World of Warcraft. The difference is, in WoW I was fortunate enough to start at the very beginning, and as the game grew and changed, I was there every step of the way to adapt and learn. 

I can’t imagine what it must be like now to approach this game from the outside.

I do know that I don’t ever feel comfortable calling anyone a noob. If I do get annoyed, the other person has to be max level in some decent gear, because that to me says they’ve been around the horn long enough to have had lots of opportunity to see how things work and ask other people questions.

I never assume anyone else has visited a website to study the game.

Much like chess, if you start getting into the game, what would it be like to be told, “If you want to play well, you need to go watch this list of videos, read these website guides, use these training dummies, and practise a lot first. Also, you need to go find these addons to install, otherwise, you’re never going to be able to compete in a tournament with other people. You’re never going to be at that level on your own. Too much study and research has gone before you to catch up and be rediscovered all on your own.”

Would you do what I did with chess, and decide it’s just not worth it? To choose willingly to remain a dilettante, a player who enjoys playing the game, but knows that they will never be in the big leagues of top play because they just aren’t interested in investing that much time and effort into research?

Or, now that we are mostly mature adults, do you start playing the game, love what you’re doing, and when you poke around looking for information on how to play better, see the hundreds of websites and guides and blogs and tools and addons, and rejoice that for every question you may form, there are a dozen people eager to answer?

It’s questions like this that fascinate me, because there really are no ‘right’ answers. It all comes down to how you feel at the time, what you like, and when you began playing the game.

If you’ve just gotten into WoW, do you wish you too could have been in at the ground floor when it all began?

If you are fairly new to WoW, and sick of hearing about ‘vanilla’ or BC or how great Karazhan was, are you trying to dig in deep and catch up, or are you looking with interest for a new MMO. A game that you can try at launch, see from the very first baby steps, and be there for from day one?

You can never go back and be someone that played WoW from beta, but you can find something else to start with fresh.

I wonder, how many people look around the aging, established insular WoW community, and find that one of the reasons they want to leave for Rift or Star Wars: The Old Republic or Guild Wars 2 is the opportunity to be part of a revolution, to forge a brand new community and be there at the dawn of a new era. 

And having seen what the WoW community grew into, is it even possible for such a thing to happen again? Nothing succeeds quite like success, and bandwagons are made for jumping on. How do you forge a vibrant community for another MMO when there is such a monolithic leviathan sloughing along the tracks, sucking the light from the room? 

With all the interest in SWTOR and Guild Wars 2, such are my thoughts on a boring Friday afternoon.

Comments 15 Comments »

For commenters:

If you’ve noticed that some folks, in fact many folks that post comments on this blog or others have cute custom pictures next to their names, but never knew where they came from, this post is for you.

This blog is a WordPress self-hosted website. It, like others, uses the Gravatar system, allowing you to associate a picture of your choice with your email address, or even multiple email addresses.

If you visit the Gravatar website, you can quickly setup whatever email address you like to use for commenting and associate your picture to it.

You can also add more email addresses to your account, and more pictures, and set different pictures to different addresses, and yada yada.

Gravatar is tied in not only to self-hosted WordPress, but also is a part of the WordPress.com blog community, and I also believe that other blogging platforms and software styles can incorporate it into their comments using addons/plugins.

So what this means for you is, if you comment on blogs anywhere, chances are they request you to enter your email address, and mention that it will not be displayed in your comment. This is true. The blog software takes your email address, bounces it against Gravatar and checks to see if you have a picture. If so, it grabs it and puts it next to your comment.

Viola! Your comment, personalized!

(Yes, I said viola on purpose. It’s a lovely stringed instrument, well worth my enthusiasm. What?)

I wanted to let you know, because more and more I see people with pictures, but I never really see anyone explaining where they come from. And don’t we all love to display our interests or personality when we chat with each other? I know I enjoy seeing that grinning bear face next to MY comments!

So please, take the time to visit Gravatar and set a picture. It’ll be easy, and lots of fun. Plus, I’ll quickly learn to recognise you by your picture.

I LIKE seeing your pictures!

For bloggers:

If you happen to BE a blogger who uses WordPress, check your Discussion settings, and you’ll see that there is an area for Avatars. If you turn that on, it will enable the Gravatar system. Under that are different options for what to display if the person does NOT have a personalized picture already set up. I had previously been using the default called “Wavatar”, which puts a silly picture next to a person’s name based on their email address. That’s what it means by ‘generated’, it determines what generic picture to use by the email address, so that person always gets the same one. I just changed mine to a new option, “Blank”. So, if someone doesn’t have their own picture, then they won’t have any at all. I think that will work better. 

Other blogging platforms, like I said, can add Gravatars using addons or plugins. You’re smart folks, so I won’t insult you by telling you where to go to get neat stuff for your blog. I’m just mentioning what to look for if you haven’t gone searching for it before.

Also, I heartily encourage you, if you have ANY control over it, to allow commenters to place comments to your posts by their name and URL, followed by whatever security you use, like Captcha. I know some blogs require special accounts to place comments, and I’ll tell you, half of those error out for me, so I just don’t comment. I’ve tried, and especially from work, the special accounts hang up. I’ve never had a problem leaving comments anyplace that uses the Name/URL system, though. Just a word to the wise. You DO want people to tell you they loved your post, right?

Comments 26 Comments »

I’ve been writing for too damn long. I’ve reached the point where, every time I think about doing a storytime because I’m reminded of something, I can’t remember… did I tell that one already?

I can’t just refer to my “Storytime” category. For a long time, I would intentionally segue… well, shit, I want to type “Segway” now because of that damn scooter, I can’t remember how it’s properly spelled. Yay. I could look it up, but I feel stupid enough about forgetting how to spell it in the first place, so screw it, I’ll just leave it for you to feel smugly superior over.

What was I saying, jeez… oh yeah. For a long time, I’d write these humongous bearwalls, and I’d start with one topic, drift into a completely unrelated mini-storytime, and then drift back.

I have now published 1,356 posts as of this writing. I can’t keep track of what I’ve said anymore.

My only saving grace here, is that if I do repeat a story… well, they’re all true, and I don’t lie (although I certainly will change the names of people to protect the guilty… and because I don’t know what statutes of limitations across country and state lines really are for what I may have pulled in the past) so if I tell one over again… I’m just emulating every other jarhead at the local Legion hall, right? It’s a tradition I’d be proud to carry on.

This rambling brings me directly to the point of this post; being yourself.

I don’t know if you read the Pink Pigtail Inn… I assume you do, because Larísa is more awesome than I am.

Anyway, if you’ve read the writings of the Inn’s hostess for any length of time, you know that she’s intelligent, funny, articulate, sweet and above all else, COURTEOUS.

She’s quite the hostess. Someone can be a massive douche in her comments, and yet she’s always remained on the polite side of the border when it comes to dealing with it. An innate ability to turn the other cheek, perhaps? Or is she really just that nice? I’m not saying she takes any shit, she certainly doesn’t, it’s just that she doesn’t descend to the level of mud-slinging or incendiary dropping to boot the little dillwad that I would.

Let me put it this way; I would vote Larísa the blogger most likely to violate the upper limits of Dunbar’s number than Godwin’s Law.

This being the case, you can imagine the moment of shock I felt when I read the PPI post that went up earlier this week, called “Publish and be damned“.

I started reading, and right away, I had to stop. What the heck was this? Where the hell did all this profanity come from?

I went back to the top of the post… ah! That’s not Larísa’s name as the author, it’s Tamarind! Tamarind of Righteous Orbs, of course.

That explains it. :)

I read Tamarind’s guest post, thinking all the while, “So, here is finally the best blog post of 2010. How like Tam to post it in 2011 just so it can’t win any Piggies.”

‘Piggies’, of course, being what I call the awards Larísa was giving out recently for great blogging. :)

There’s a lot o’ fun stuff in the post about big versus little bloggers, and courtesy and behavior and all that jazz. Great post, definitely a must read.

Just… be careful. Appropriately enough for someone with righteous orbs, Tam’s kinda got a thing for dicks. There’re dicks all OVER that post. Dick dick dick dick dick. After a while, you just start feeling violated by that many dicks, you know? I don’t know about you, but I’d never write a post with the word dick in it that many times, I’d be thinking the reader would start feeling a little uncomfortable, especially with having dicks coming at your eyes over and over like that. It’d be fine if there was some tits or ass mixed in there, but no, it was just a lot of dicks. Now, Tam’s undoubtedly got no issues with all the dicks you could imagine being shoved in your face, but you, my readers… you’re more cultured. More sensitive. More civilized.

…. what?

I write something like that, and I always wonder how many readers I just lost. But then I remember the movie “Star Trek: Save the Whales“, and I feel better. If Spock can drop a ‘hell’ or a ‘double dumbass’, so can I. And I do take to heart the single most important fact that Star Trek IV taught me; “Nobody pays any attention to you unless you swear every other word.”

Hey, go watch the movie and check if you don’t believe me. That movie prepared me for life in the Marine Corps very well. Damnit.

Let me, after only 750 words into a post, finally get to a point (besides quoting Star Trek or pointing you to Tams post, both laudable reasons to post in and of themselves).

If you’re going to write a blog, the very first thing you need to do is be honest. With yourself, with anyone who might come reading, with everyone.

Be yourself. I’m not a Shakespeare fanatic, but “To thine own self be true” is awesome advice, and I even know where that one comes from.

More of that quote, Paul Harvey’s ‘The rest of the story”, would be:

To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.

A lot of Tam’s post concerned drama. I don’t really care too much about drama, myself. If you say what you really think on your own blog, then you’ve done what I expect from a good writer. You can use tact or not, whatever your personality is about, but first and foremost be honest and true to your own thoughts and beliefs.

What I care about is knowing that when I read the writings of someone, that they are being true to themselves, and telling me what they really think. I don’t have to agree with them, I don’t even have to like them. What I’m going to do is try and see things from your point of view, and take that with everything else I know about you from your writings, and see if there is much to be learned from you. To see, in fact, if I should toss out some preconception I had and replace it with your keener insight and understanding on that subject.

If you’re not being honest, it’s going to be difficult to get to know the real you, and learn from your point of view.

I may not be Shakespeare, but I too can play the part of an overblown windbag giving advice to a short-attention-span youngster out to conquer the world;

It is said that for everyone in the world, there is that special someone waiting to be found. Well, for every blogger personality, there are like minded people reading blogs. Be yourself, whatever that may be, and you will attract readers who are of like mind. Wouldn’t you love to meet people who are of like mind, who appreciate what you say and how you say it? How better to find friends whose company you will enjoy?

Do not try to be what you are not, for the readers you attract won’t be coming to spend time with you, they’ll be coming to spend time with some fictional stranger you are pretending to be.

I’m very serious. Don’t let concerns of politeness or courtesy or skill in writing or any of that bog you down. Be yourself, whatever that may be, and trust in the fact that there ARE people who will be attracted to your writing. It may take exposure to alert them you’re out there… but if WoW Insider links to you, there is a good reason that 1500 people will read your post that day, but only 15 will stay on as regular readers. Those 15 people were the ones that enjoyed the way you think, and decided to stick around. They felt comfortable.

Those are the ONLY folks you want to stick around. And get to know them!

Do you really want all the rest of those people to stay? Is it sheer force of numbers you’re seeking? Or is it a place to have a conversation with friends or like-minded spirits?

I’m truly being serious, this is the most important lesson in my opinion to give anyone writing publicly. Be yourself. Don’t try and get everyone to read you, write for yourself and attract YOUR kind of people to come read you.

Whether you’re goofy and exuberant or quiet and thoughtful, smart and analytical or profane and aggressively asshattish, there are readers for every writer.

Even Gevlon. :)

Gevlon’s a great example that you don’t have to be a kissass to be read and enjoyed by people. So don’t try to be one!

You don’t have to be bare assed naked up on stage with your real name and all that hanging out, trying to dig into the deeper meaning of being you, either. If you want to write from an ‘in character’ RP point of view, that’s fine. Or use an alter ego or persona to provide yourself a filter to protect your true identity, you super hero you.

It’s fun to be the Big Bear Butt… but BBB sounds an awful lot like John Patricelli because, oh wow, it’s the same dude. Talk through the persona of Tamarind or whoever you’d like, but let the thoughts and feelings behind the words be your own, and not what you think someone else wants to hear to make you more popular. 

If you say what you think and people don’t like it… as long as it is exactly what you really think, then so what? There will also be people that DO like it.

Don’t worry about the people that hate on you, did you really get along with everyone in High School? Really? I don’t know about you, but I took it as a point of pride that I didn’t get along with some of those idiots… they were freaking morons. I don’t want morons nodding their heads and loving everything I say, I want morons confused, or, in a perfect world, whipped into a white hot incandescant rage, spittle flying from their lips.

There are so many distinctive voices out there, and I would love to see yours out there too. If you start your own blog… please. Be yourself. The friends you make will be drawn to you, and not to some mistaken idea of what they think you are.

You’ll be a LOT happier in the long run.

/endsoapbox

Comments 18 Comments »

I do, I do love you all.

I’m not going anywhere, the lack of postage lately is NOT a sign I’m fading away.

Blame it on Twitter.

See, normally while I’m working my butt off during the day, my mind is turning around different fun things, and from such mental meanderings comes blog posts. At the end of the day, look: writings!

But now I have a phone that gets internet reception. The keypad is still quite small for my big Desert eagle sized paws, so typing is a laborious process; but I can read.

Now during the day, instead of my poor little brain cruising along with a sub channel devoted to bloggy thoughts, I’m getting derailed with Twitter shinies from the prolific tweets of Restokin, and Matticus, and GamerGaz, and SuicidalZebra and Jaedia and _Angelya, and DiscoPriest and Velidra and Restokin and so. many. more.

Yes, I mentioned Restokin twice. Have you seen the numbers of tweets?

Seriously, I get my ‘talking about Wow and games and geekdom’ fix simply by following along the thousands of tweets that scroll across each day.

I know I’m not ‘with it’, but I didn’t realise Twitter was a combination of IM and an open party line. I guess I didn’t know what it was, but now that I do, it’s ability to suck all imaginative, creative writing impulse in favor of passive chatting is terrifying.

I’m at the point where I can either think, or follow Twitter. That says more about my lack of processing power in my frontal lobes than anything else, but there you have it.

Crazy, man. Crazy.

In other news, a massive congratulations to Fannon at Dwarven Battle Medic on the birth of your adorable Dwarfling. She is just the cutest little girl ever. Congratulations, to your wonderful family.

Comments 23 Comments »

In case you missed it, there’s a nicely laid out rundown of the Stonecore instance on The Dragonslayer’s Ease.

That’s was well worth mentioning, but the real reason I wanted to mention it, is look at the Kitties! Awww, they’re so cute!

Welcome to the party Sarriss, you’ve made a great start. Now… post!

Comments 1 Comment »

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