Thursday, July 14, 2011

Where have I been? Where am I going? Adventures in navel gazing.

For the last few weeks, I've been asking myself "What am I trying to do with this blog?" To post my ruminations on this subject seems almost unimaginably self indulgent, but here I go. . . ;-)

There were a few key points I had in mind when I started this blog. I wanted it to be nearly a strict MMO blog. I also wanted to point out in various ways that I don't think there's anything fundamentally wrong wrong with the MMO genre. There are a great diversity of products available catering to a wide variety of tastes. In fact, for all the whining about a "lack of innovation" in modern MMOs, there are tons of downright experimental games out there. Ironically enough, most whiners will dismiss existing innovative games without bothering to even investigate them. If you really want to see more innovation in MMO space, you need to vote with your wallet or at least enough of your spare time to download some trials.

Another big theme I had in mind is that I think the venom aimed at some of the more popular MMOs is misplaced, and somewhat toxic to the social community that engages in discourse about MMOs. There seems to be this idea floating around in some corners of the net that if developers weren't so blinded by the success of games like WoW, Rift, and LoTRO that we'd see more "innovative" and "immersive" big budget MMOs. What innovative and immersive would look like is rarely described in any detail, but in some cases it seem to be code for EQ or Ultima Online with modern graphics. Since developers apparently aren't paying attention to any games but the more popular ones, all "theme-park MMOs" must be attacked as often and loudly as possible. If you generate enough noise, eventually developers will take note and stop putting big budgets behind "WoW clones."

The thing is, that won't work. First off, for any number of financial reasons, you'd be a real ass to spend tens of millions of dollars on an unproven game design that caters to a market of unknown size. No-one in their right mind is likely to do it. However, let's assume for the sake of argument that wasn't true. If you were a game developer, would seeing one or even several bloggers and message board commentators constantly whine that a particular fairly popular game "is teh suxxors" convince you that they represent a large untapped market? Particularly when they usually don't express what they actually do want in any real detail, and the few details offered differ from one angry ranter to the next?

Posting something along the lines of "This game is a WoW clone with zero innovation, everyone that likes it is one of the mindless morons ruining the MMO genre" accomplishes nothing save making the poster sound obsessed, angry, and possessed of rather fringe tastes. What developer would see that and think "Yeah, I want to spend millions developing something for that guy!" It's certainly nothing like a compelling argument for whatever you want to see developed.

Lately, I've begun feel that I'm in danger of becoming utterly repetitive if I keep revisiting these basic themes. I now find myself wondering where I want to go. I'd like to hit 200 posts by the end of the year, but that's a fairly arbitrary goal. The MMO news lately hasn't really inspired me. Of course it's to be expected that things get a bit slow in the middle of the summer. I do consider this something akin to my MMO personal record, so expect to see the occasional "What I've been up to" posts regardless. However, I think I need to change what I've been doing a bit to stay engaged with the blog. I have a couple of ideas I've been tossing around, expect to see some changes, minor or major, in the coming weeks.

One fantastic side effect of running this blog is that I've gotten to get to know so many generally like minded individuals. Most of my blogroll was unknown to me when I started this. It's been great finding out that there is a solid group of knowledgeable and generally upbeat MMO commentators. Many of the highest profile MMO blogs read like three note tunes, sophisticated trolling attempts, or narcissistic whining to me. That was mostly what I was familiar with when I started this, and it's great to know I was mistaken. Of course the converse is that I don't see as clear a need for a blog in this format as I did when I started. I now feel less a voice in the wilderness than a member of a community I didn't know existed.

[EDIT] Bit of a drastic re-write for clarity. I'm not going anywhere, and have never seriously considered shutting down the blog. This whole post is more of a thought exercise for me than anything else.


  1. Change is good, I'd much rather you change things up a bit than shut down the blog.

  2. @Blue Kae: I'm not sure how much I'll be changing things. The two main things I'm considering are simply opening the blog up to talk about non-MMO topics when I feel like it (mainly books, movies, and shows I dug or hated), and perhaps focusing more on giving detailed previews of obscure MMOs just to get them some attention.

    You also inspired me to do a massive re-write of the post for clarity. I've never really been considering shutting down the blog (despite my 3 week absence!).

  3. Whatever you end up doing, I'll be here to read it. As long as you love it, I will be interested.

  4. I think it is quite fine to sometimes explore or write a bit outside of what you may have originally intended with the blog. It can sometimes help with a writer block as well as provide ideas for more MMO related topics.

    Same as for the MMO game experience, do not force it so it becomes a chore.

  5. I know how you feel Yeebo and I agree with the other three as well!

  6. To be honest, it's never really crossed my mind to pick apart your blog to find any particular themes, because in general I've just been enjoying anything you write! I say write a general blog of games, books or shows that you like if you want, and I'll still read no matter what :)

  7. @All: Thanks for the words of support! I now have ideas for more blog posts than I will likely have time to get to. Oddly enough, all but a few of them would have fit in just fine under my old idea for the blog. Sente had the right of it.

  8. Hey, if nothing else, keep trying out the "bleeding edge" MMO offerings out there and give us your impressions. I don't have the time to spend on too much and it is nice to have someone give impressions with which to filter out the "turkeys".

  9. @Jomar: I may not always cover the bleeding edge, but you can certainly count on tales of random MMOs that catch my eye for the foreseeable;e future :-)