Games Played 2018 Edition

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Over the years I have developed two habits that help me keep track of what games I am playing in a given month.  The first is that I take a lot of screenshots and archive them on network attached storage so that I can reach out and get one for this blog when I need it.  The second is that since April of 2013 I have been blogging at a minimum every weekday…  and for the first three years and some change…  every single day.  This gives me a pretty good record to know what I happened to be playing in a given stretch of time.  Years ago I used to use the Raptr gaming service to track what games I happened to be playing, but as that got sold and my game time fragmented between multiple console platforms as well… it became harder for me to get a high level view of what I happened to be doing at a given period of time.  As such I crawled back through my screenshots and my blog posts and started piecing together a map of what games I played in a given month.  Now this is not necessarily tracking the length of time played…  but instead that I played a given game during a specific month.

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This is going to look like nonsense to my viewers but this image represents the top 25 games played since May of 2012…  that I had either written or screenshot proof that I was playing at the time.  Essentially I question the reliability of this record any further back than April of 2013, but I decided to extend it out as far as I could just for sake of tracking patterns.  There are years when I play an awful lot of games… and then there are years when I don’t play many at all.  This year for example I played seventy two different games throughout the year and eight of them I played for more than five months.  On the other side of that coin 32 of the games that I played were singletons… where they were only played in a single month.  Now some of these were new games that failed to gain traction like State of Decay 2 that I had been looking forward to greatly… and others are games like Horizon Zero Dawn where I booted it back up to return briefly to a game that I had played an awful lot more in the previous year.  If you are curious enough to dig into the madness you can see the full google sheet that I maintain here.  The biggest trend you will notice is that I am one of those people that revisits old territory quite often, especially when it comes to booting up an older MMO and spending a weekend or two exploring it again.

The problem with this concept is that it is really hard to keep track of a nice clean “Top 25” list as there are ultimately a lot of games that end up being tied for the same number of months.  As such for this specific year if we set the benchmark at three months played…  because there were thirteen games that spanned two months sorta skewing the results a bit.  For games that I played three or more months however we end up with a list of twenty three games.  So as a result lets run them down.  One thing that I have done since last year is combined time played in Destiny 1 with time played in Destiny 2 since there was effectively a clean cut-over there with no real overlap.

  • Destiny/Destiny 2 – 12 Months
  • Elder Scrolls Online – 12 Months
  • Pokemon Go – 12 Months
  • Monster Hunter World – 12 Months
  • World of Warcraft – 10 Months
  • Magic the Gathering Arena – 9 Months
  • Diablo 3 – 6 Months
  • Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate – 5 Months
  • Final Fantasy XIV – 4 Months
  • Neverwinter – 4 Months
  • Dauntless – 4 Months
  • Dragalia Lost – 4 Months
  • Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor Martyr – 4 Months
  • Fallout 4 – 3 Months
  • Minecraft – 3 Months
  • The Division – 3 Months
  • No Man’s Sky – 3 Months
  • Assassin’s Creed Origins – 3 Months
  • Path of Exile – 3 Months
  • Warframe – 3 Months
  • Fallout 76 – 3 Months
  • God of War – 3 Months
  • Hollow Knight – 3 Months

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So if we look at just 2017 against 2018 there are some interesting things at work here.  Firstly mobile games played way more of a presence in my gaming diet than they have ever before with Pokemon go effectively being played at least once a month since it released in July of 2017 for a grand total of 18 months of it being on my radar.  Dragalia Lost similarly has been played every single month since release, and in many cases almost every night before I fall asleep to at a minimum do the dailies.  Another thing that happened this year was that Final Fantasy XIV seemingly feel completely off my radar with playing it only 4 months instead of the previous years 7 months.  Destiny looks a little bit weird because there were two months of overlap between the games so 2017 shows it as “14” months because I didn’t have a great way of accounting for that…  but during the last two years there has not been a month that I did not play the Destiny franchise and in truth that reaches all the way back to September of 2016 in contiguous play.  Elder Scrolls Online held way more of a presence this year as being another one of those games that I played at least once a month all year long going up from 2 months the previous year.  The real story of the year however is Monster Hunter World that sort of came out from nowhere and then was the game that I probably played the most throughout the entire year, and also inspired me to latch onto Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate when it released in August.  Similar to Destiny 2 this is a game that I started on the Playstation 4 and then moved to PC when the staggered release for it happened…  so my time accounts for leveling essentially twice.

This year also made a bunch of changes in the months played all time list, but considering how entrenched World of Warcraft is it is highly unlikely that anyone will dethrone it until I just completely quit cold turkey.  Thankfully I can create a nice clean top 15 list here so lets review the “All Time” list.

  • World of Warcraft – 57 Months
  • Final Fantasy XIV – 46 Months
  • Destiny/Destiny 2 – 45 Months
  • Rift – 39 Months
  • Elder Scrolls Online – 38 Months
  • Diablo 3 – 29 Months
  • Pokemon Go – 20 Months
  • ArcheAge – 13 Months
  • Fallout 4 – 13 Months
  • Guild Wars 2 – 13 Months
  • Wildstar – 13 Months
  • Monster Hunter World – 12 Months
  • Everquest II – 11 Months
  • Minecraft – 10 Months
  • Star Wars the Old Republic – 10 Months

This list is going to continue to shift over time, but with the selling of Trion Worlds to Gamigo… I have a feeling that ArcheAge and Rift are frozen in time and will likely not be gaining any more months played.  Similarly Wildstar has officially shuttered and it is equally frozen on the list and will eventually work its way out of the top.  Monster Hunter World and Pokemon Go are both climbing significantly and I feel like there is a good chance Destiny franchise will climb into the second place at some point in the future as I am playing it way more regularly than I am Final Fantasy XIV.  Elder Scrolls Online is going to seize the third spot early next year as well.  Diablo 3 is sort of the little engine that could and it will probably always be on the list, but the sporadic nature in which I play that game keeps it from really gaining ground.  Fallout 4 is the one that sort of shocked me… but I guess I keep returning to it much the same way as I did Fallout 3 or New Vegas before.  If you are curious you can see last years list on the Games Played 2017 Edition post.

This is largely a thing that I do for myself, but I guess the question is… does anyone find it interesting?  What games did you play the most often this year and why?  I would love to hear your answers in the comments.

Capped for A Day

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Morning folks… I am struggling today.  Both in the waking up department because there is simply not enough coffee in the world… and in the illness department because I seem to be coming down with whatever the hell is going around the office.  I’ve yet to decide if I can make it to work today, so we will see what happens between now and finishing this post but I am taking a breathing treatment as I type.  As far as the weekend I did a bunch of assorted gaming because that seems to be how I roll right now.  Instead of focusing hard on one thing I seem to be splitting my time between a bunch of things, and as a result I spent a good deal of time making tiny images and updated my “Recently Playing” sidebar.  It mostly follows the post I made last week with the major exception of me apparently forgetting to include Elder Scrolls Online which I still dip my toes into occasionally.

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In the Destiny 2 front I spent a good deal of the weekend knocking out anything that could get me a Powerful/Prime Engram and wouldn’t you know it… I reached 600 light the current cap.  This is a cap that I will enjoy for another whole day…. because when the black armor DLC releases on December 4th the cap is going up to 650.  The truth is I am fine with this.. because the last cap was quite the stretch to get to from the levels I was sitting at when Curse of Osiris released, which is unfortunately the last time I really seriously played the game.  Sure I got in and did the Warmind story content and a little bit of planetary stuff but I really was not pushing myself to cap out at that point.  Additionally Forsaken made it way easier for someone to play casually and reach the cap, so I am looking forward to Black Armory and some of the new open world “Forge” content as I have always dug things like the Blind Well or Archon’s Forge and Court of Oryx from Destiny 1.  I need to get serious about trying to wrangle folks for the purpose of having a raid night… Squirrel keeps volunteering himself but at my count that still leaves us down four people.  So if you are interested in that sort of nonsense on the PC platform drop me a line.

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Since this is the first post of December I thought I would talk a bit about InPiPoMo which just finished.  For years I had not joined in because I largely considered my blog cheating given the nonsense number of screenshots that I post.  I apparently have a problem because the goal was to hit 50 “pictures” during the month of November to parallel NaNoWriMo and its 50,000 word count goal…  since a “Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”.  During the month without really attempting to do so I posted 93 screenshots if my quick count was correct, so yeah…  that is a thing I do.  Like this morning I had a screenshot of Diablo 3 on the Switch that I wanted to post but nowhere really to post it so I sort of shimmed it into this paragraph.  Huge thanks to Chestnut for keeping this going this year and you should totally check out her blog Gamer Girl Confessions.

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Over in Monster Hunter World the Winter Star festival is going on and with it a set of gear that you can farm.  For both PC and Console players this also means that almost every event that has ever been active is active once again allowing you to farm anything you might have missed.  That list is considerably smaller for PC players unfortunately, but it does let you get things like the Wyvern Ignition Great Sword and cosmetic nonsense like the Wiggler head.  From what I can tell the only event that is not active is the Code Red event tied to the Devil May Cry cross over potentially because it just ended right before this event.  You can however farm Kulve Taroth again until your heart is content.  There is a set of lackluster armor that you can craft, or you can do what I did and cash in your tickets towards the layered armor set so you can make ANY gear look like Santa Claus.  I plan on farming up enough tickets to also be able to purchase the super adorable Snowman Palico outfit… or Snow Woman in the case of Kenzie who regardless of the game is canonically female.

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I’ve talked about how awesome the screenshots are at the end of fights, because they always capture you doing something interesting.  In this case it is me dodge rolling out of the way of a line of lightning while everyone else is apparently downhill engaged with the monster.  When you hit Hunter Rank 49, in order to make forward momentum you have to face this monster in particular…  Tempered Kirin.  It took me forever to manage to get this on the console and in truth it was probably only because I was getting carried super hard by Shiana that Ashgar and I wound up getting it at the same time.  On the PC I’ve been dipping my toes into these waters for awhile now, and I have reached the point where it is not me that is fainting and causing us to fail…  but regardless still end up failing out most of the time.  Monster Hunter does this thing where the screen freezes and it can mean either you beat the encounter or someone other than you got carted and caused the whole group to fail.  When the screen froze at this point… I just assumed we failed it… but in truth it turns out with one life left to go we managed to take down Tempered Kirin.  I will probably NEVER fight this again…  that is unless someone who has recently started the PC winds up needing help to get through it.  Super happy to be moving again on the other side… which caused me to instantly shoot up to 58.

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I also spent a good chunk of the weekend fiddling around in Final Fantasy XIV… which frustratingly has started doing this thing where it does not exit cleanly and strands a black fullscreen window that seemingly has the power to block task manager.  This is really only a problem for me personally… since I have been streaming every bit of gaming recently from gaming desktop upstairs to my laptop downstairs.  When this happens I have to go upstairs and fiddling with it in order to restore functionality, which can be a bit maddening considering how regularly I am hopping games in a given evening.  Regardless I have reached my first wall gear wise in the Main Story Quest and it requires me to get to 335 I believe which means I either need to buy my way out of that hole or start doing enough content to farm up some gear.  I am probably going with the later given that I never was rich in Final Fantasy XIV terms.  In the meantime however I have decided to revisit my old friend the Palace of the Dead to push my Dark Knight up high enough to be able to do the Heaven on High content the rest of the way to 70.  Probably a significant amount of my time will be spent catching up classes so that they are ready when Shadowbringer releases tentatively next summer.

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All Things  Geekery is a great podcast by my friends Detached and Victus that among other topics tends to be a great source of Destiny 2 related conversations.  They have been doing this thing recently where they highlight a member of the community at the beginning of their show, which I thought was a really great idea when they started this concept with the very amazing Chestnut.  However I am now starting to question their mental state because apparently they saw fit to include me in this construct as well.  This week I apparently am leading off the show, but really you should probably just fast forward past that and listen to their interesting discussion of Red Dead Redemption 2… a game I am super interested in but waiting to see if it releases on the PC given that is my platform of choice and I have a bad habit of rebuying games for it.  You can find the podcast at…

Finally there is of course the podcast we recorded this weekend where we talk about Final Fantasy XIV, Monster Hunter World Winter Star event, what happens when MMORPGs close down, Tetris in Virtual Reality and a few other topics shimmed in between.  I tend to be really bad about promoting the thing that I actually do, so I should get in the habit of talking about it more on this blog so there is some cross pollination.  I am still shocked anyone reads this thing… let alone listens to me ramble on the other thing.  At this point I have decided to stay home and crash this morning because I had very few things on my calendar for today.  If I had a packed day of meetings I might have struggled through it and probably infected the rest of the office.  Now I am going to get in some fuzzy pants and forget the world exists.

 

 

Regularly Playing: Late November 2018

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One of the constants of Tales of the Aggronaut is my sheer inability to keep any form of a series going for any length of time.  There is a thing that I used to do semi-monthly where I trued up the regularly playing widget on my blog’s sidebar and talked a bit about the games that I have actually been playing.  I would talk about the things that I was adding to the list, the things that I was for whatever reason still playing… and then talked about the things I was removing from the list and a bit about why.  Unfortunately based on a quick search of my blog…  this is not something that I have done since August of 2017.  A lot has changed since then and a lot of games have come up and gone away, and quite frankly I am not sure how valid any sort of a comparison might be.  However I wanted to get this started again.  So from now on I expect to be updating these towards the end of the month rather than at the beginning of a new month.  I’ve also decided to start including the platform I am playing on, since in a few cases that actually does matter a lot.

Destiny 2 – PC

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I’ve been having a bit of a renaissance with Destiny 2 and I spent the vast majority of the weekend hanging out downstairs and playing it while remoted into my desktop upstairs.  My nonsense Parsec setup is amazing, and this really has become my default gameplay method most of the time.  I mean who doesn’t want to play sitting on the sofa, wrapped up in fuzzy blankets…  with two cats snuggling into them?  I got the Trinity Ghoul to drop after completing Ikora Rey’s bounty objective, and it is awesome…  unfortunately I will probably never actually use it.  The fact that we can only use one exotic weapon pretty much means that choice is always going to go to the Thunderlord.  If they introduce some legendary HMGs into the game again…  that decision might shift…  but for now it feels damned good to have access to one again.  For the most part I am spending my time knocking out various things that award Powerful/Prime engrams, and other than that I started leveling the Hunter last night while watching Walking Dead.  The game really is in the best state it has been in period… and I am probably counting all of the awesome stuff that was available during Year 3 of Destiny 1.  If you are not playing this game you owe it to yourself to check it out again.

Monster Hunter World – PC

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The other primary game that I am spending most of my time playing is Monster Hunter World on the PC.  This game is so much more enjoyable with a mouse and keyboard, and I have recently been grinding away for the Dante weapon and armor set that came in with the Devil May Cry cross over event.  I also had no clue how often I use the term grinding… until this weekend when a Chinese Cutting Wheel and Grinder company reached out to me to see if I wanted to do a paid product placement.  It is weird how things like that happen… how the  gaming sphere takes a perfectly normal and reasonable word and shifts it into something else.  I still have yet to get over the level 49 hump that is Tempered Kirin…  but I figure in the coming week I might start devoting some of my play time towards doing that.  I would really like to be uncapped again by the time the Winter Festival starts up, so that all of the time spent doing those events can bolster my hunting rank.  The highlight of the weekend was the Code Red match when three of us were using Kulve Taroth Paralysis weapons…  and it was shocking just how often we had the mob locked down tight…  even Teostra.

Final Fantasy XIV – PC

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Somewhat shocking to me… I am apparently back playing Final Fantasy XIV regularly after my extremely long absence?  The last update from August 2017 was just about when I started to peel away from Stormblood, because that was also the month that I played a significant amount of Guild Wars 2… enough to probably consider it my main game back then.  In the year and some change that has passed since that post… I really have not spent all that much time playing the game.  I came back a few times attempting to get caught up with the main story quest, only to stall out in this place or another.  However lately it has felt really good to roam around and play something like this, especially when paired with my more action oriented main squeezes of Destiny 2 and Monster Hunter World.  I can only take so much of that in a single setting and need to retreat back into something slower paced…  and for now at least hotbar combat works nicely for that.

Diablo 3 – Switch

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Another game that I have been enjoying the hell out of is Diablo 3 on the Nintendo Switch.  It is a really great platform for the game and I had never really given the console version any serious play prior to this.  My only gripe is the way it requires connectivity to play seasonal characters.  Essentially if you want to play these in a disconnected state, you need to have the forethought to start up a game before you leave the safety of WiFi… and then place your switch into Airplane Mode.  From there the game will allow you to continue playing your seasonal character, and eventually synchronize everything when you get connected once again.  This is somewhat maddening, but at least I have the ability to tether to my phone if for some reason I did not think ahead to do this thing before I left the house.  I am spending a lot of my “while trying to fall asleep” time playing Diablo 3.

Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee – Switch

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While I did not play much of it this weekend, I am still very much enthralled with Let’s Go Pokemon.  When I last played I had just beaten the third gym and was grinding my way towards the next one.  However when I get back into game I want to do some backtracking and train my Eevee with some of the silly named abilities that the mentor is offering.  Based on Ashgar’s suggestions, these are apparently really good moves.  This is the biggest problem that I have with Pokemon games in general, is that I never know what moves I should be allowing it to learn and what ones I should be ignoring.  As a result I tend to largely favor straight damage attacks and ignore the more fiddly nonsense of raising and lowering accuracy and such.  Pokemon is a game about collecting cute pets for me… and the combat nonsense is largely just something I have to deal with in order to collect said cute pets.

Fallout 76 – PC

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This game is still very much on the list but I have not devoted near enough time to it.  Largely this requires me to be upstairs… and since I have been spending most of my time downstairs it just isn’t getting played.  I’ve also been dealing with a lot of stress and that makes me turtle and avoid doing any manner of group activity that requires voice communication.  This is coupled with the fact that I don’t really have a great comms set up downstairs, and as a result simply avoid joining voice servers.  I could of course go into “listen only” mode but that doesn’t really work in situations where the in game chat is not amazing.  I did spend some time this weekend hanging out with Rae and walking her through the finer points of Monster Hunter World… or at least answering a bunch of the questions anyone has starting that game.  I know Tam, Kodra, Shiana and Waren have been having a massively fun time running around in a big group… and as cool as that sounds… I just can’t bring myself to be that interactive.  I am hoping when the private servers release that there will be a second awakening of this game and I can hop on the bandwagon at that point.  In the meantime however I am playing a very quiet and crafting-centric version of the game as I expand my nifty roadside base.

Hellgate London – PC (Steam)

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As generally “not good” as the Steam version of this game is…  I find myself still regularly booting it up and playing around with it.  I did however dig out my copy of Hellgate London on DVD, and plan on going through the nonsense to install it and get set up to use the London 2038 emulator servers to see just how well that version of the game plays.  In the mean time however… it is still Hellgate London,  no matter how cludgy it might be and I love this game.  I am guessing this would be on my list of guilty pleasure games that no one else really understands…  like Vagrant Story…  or Simon’s Quest.  Remember kids…  Excessive game play may affect your lifestyle.

Dragalia Lost – Android

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While this is not necessarily an every day thing anymore… I am still very much playing Dragalia Lost on a regular basis.  At this very moment there is a special summon event going on, and I seem to have missed the guaranteed five star adventurer summon…  and currently it is a wyrmprint.  No one gives a shit about wyrmprints…  so I will wait to use mine until the five star dragons kick in at the end of the cycle.  The current event is somewhat enjoyable, but I do greatly prefer the cycles where we have a raid open and a new character that we can gain faction with.  So far it seems to alternate back and forth between kill a boss and get bonus loot…  and earn a new character and do a raid.  Since this is a wind event and that tends to be the crew that is the least used overall… I am using it to work up their levels and have largely coalesced on using Melody the Samurai Maid as my main for the event.  Admittedly I mostly like her because it reminds me of my friend PizzaMaid… only because she is a maid that kicks lots of ass as well.

Pokemon Go – Android

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With the connectivity between Let’s Go and Pokemon Go… it has also spurred me to be a lot more active in this game as well.  I don’t have an awful lot to say about it other than the fact that I am regularly checking what “Mons” might be around when I am out about in the world.  The fact that I got a Google Wear watch has also increased this experience because I am now getting credit via Google Fit for the time when I don’t have the app open.  As a result I am hatching a lot more eggs than I did previously, since it seemed inconvenient to keep the app open all of the time.  Mobile games are generally a massive drain on the battery, and none are harder on it than Dragalia and Pokemon Go… so as a result I tend to play them sparingly when I am at fear of running down my battery and without a way to charge it again.

Walking Dead Our World – Android

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This game is barely holding in there and since being punted from the clan I was in…  a lot of my reason for playing on a nightly basis has disappeared.  It was enjoyable to feel like my little bits of play were adding up to larger objectives, but without that incentive…  I am just not motivated to play that often.  The game has a problem of not making it really reasonable to acquire better characters or weapons.  99.9% of the activities you do will give you white cards, which might as well go straight into the dumpster.  The only things worth using really are purple or orange the highest tiers, and they have tied a number of objectives to doing things with specific legendary weapons making it really hard to knock those out each week.  They really want you to spend money on the game, and I feel like I am just not getting enough joy out of the game to do so.  I’ve lucked my way into a few items and they were running a special where Legendary Morgan and Rick were super cheap to purchase with one of the in game grindable currencies.  I fully expect however that by the time I do my next update this game will be on the outs.

There are other games that I might boot up here or there but for the most part this is the crux of games that I am playing regularly as the title of the post suggests.  What are you my wonderful readers playing lately?

 

 

Blaugust 2018 Wrap Up

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The time has come to close Blaugust 2018 and as such you are all owed a post wrapping up the numbers.  Firstly I want to give special thanks to Armagon/Nogmara for chiming in and volunteering to help when I posted on twitter this morning.  I went from the top down on the list and they went from the bottom up and we knocked out the official tabulation of posts way faster than would have been the case were I doing it entirely by myself.  Things I have come to appreciate…  blogs that have a monthly tabulation of posts.  Things that I have come to dislike…  themes that do not clearly show the date a post was made.  Regardless we made short work of the counting and as such I have a bunch of numbers to share.  Of course we are fallible human beings and if we failed to count your blog correctly, please let me know and I will remedy this.

First some general commentary.  This is without a doubt the most successful running of Blaugust to date.  The discord turned out to be a pretty excellent way of interacting throughout the month and while I got super busy with the start of the school year and things getting crazy at work…  we maintained an active community from start to finish and I am super proud of everyone who participated.  I am especially proud of my mentors and all of the time they spent answering questions for the other folks participating.  I am also super happy for all the folks who just wanted to join into the community without actually participating, so a shout out to all of the supporters.

Here are some general statistics for the month…

  • 90 blogs signed up in Blaugust Reborn 2018
  • 83 bloggers made at least one post during the month
  • We added 1404 new blog posts to the community as a result of Blaugust Reborn
  • This equated to an average of 45 new blog posts per day
  • 26 Bloggers had 31 posts during the month or in a few cases considerably more

I have to say that is some pretty impressive numbers, and I am very pleased with how things turned out as a whole.  As such now is the time to start showing the progress.  While I traditionally don’t consider myself part of the festivities, I’ve included my numbers in the list just to show as a baseline for folks to compare again.  There are a lot of people who did WAY better than I did this month.  Additionally I thought it would be interesting to track the progress of mentors versus participants, because again…  some of the participants blew the mentors out of the water as well.  For sake of making tracking easier, folks who signed up with multiple blogs were counted as a single tally rather than a tally per blog.  Without further stalling on my part… the numbers.

Bronze Award Club

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Now if you go back to my original post outlining everything, these are folks who made at least five blog posts during the month of August 2018.

Silver Award Club

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Again based on the original outline these are folks who got at least fifteen posts during the month of August 2018.

Gold Award Club

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As outlined in the original post, these are folks who got at least 25 posts during the month of August 2018

Rainbow Award Club

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Finally we have a rather large number of people who hit 31 posts in the month…  and a few went considerably over.  Grace with her two very active blogs managed to get the single highest post out which is super impressive.

I am exceedingly impressed with just how much content was put into the world by Blagust Reborn 2018, and I thank you all for particpating.  I want to give a special honorable mention however for the folks who started but never quite made those five posts to get on the chart.  Signing up and starting something is the first step and hopefully next year they will find the oomph to post a little more frequently.  The discord community will be here supporting them as they keep their blogs going throughout the calendar year.

Honorable Mentions

So there it is folks…  some amazing work for Blaugust Reborn 2018.  I am humbled by the sheer amount of support I got from the community on this, and without a doubt we will be making a come back with Blaugust Reborn 2019 in the near future.  My hope is that through the Discord community the planning process will go a little more smoothly in the future as I was sorta doing this by the seat of my pants as I went.  Thanks for proving that blogging is not in fact dead, and maybe making a bit of a resurgence.  For now I am going to close this post and go play some games, but sincerely I love this community.

Dealing with Absences

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Yesterday was crazy.  It was one of those days when moments after checking my phone I realized things had gone south with the patch cycle from the night before.  I tried remoting into things from home and had no luck, so I hurriedly shower, dressed and drove into work to see if I could raise anyone to get the matter resolved.  I left so rapidly that I freaked my poor wife out who was out on a walk…  and she came home to my vehicle being missing from the drive way.  The other bad thing is that I didn’t actually get breakfast meaning I was probably more grumpy than intended during the entire day.  The problem with running on adrenaline is that there is an inevitable crash…  which came about noonish.  All of this said…  I didn’t get to do a morning blog post yesterday and I was not in the proper frame of mind when I got home to do one either.

As a result this morning I am going to use this incident as a teaching moment.  There will be times when you just cannot force a blog post out of yourself…  and that is okay.  When I was doing my “Grand Experiment” that involved posting every single day I managed to make it 1121 days without missing a post or a little over three years.  That streak sorta developed a life of its own as time went on, but I knew sooner or later I would need to break it for my own sanity.  Knowing that regardless of the day that you had to get up and write something was fairly oppressive.  I would literally day dream about stopping cold turkey, and then ultimately talk myself back down off that ledge.  Ultimately when the time came I made a compromise and switched the blog for the last couple of years over to week days only, that way I could have the weekends to myself to leisurely do whatever comes along.

The truth is…  I would have probably been a lot happier with my streak of posts if I had allowed myself to have the occasional day off.  The thing with posting is that you need to be doing it regularly to gain reader traction, which for me at least translated into forcing myself to post something regardless of circumstances every day.  The truth however is that you simply need not to allow yourself to fall completely off the wagon.  It is fine to take a few days off here or there but for me at least the most important aspect is to get back to posting as soon as you feel able to.  The early days of my blog were a tale of a flurry of posts with massive gaps in between…  some of them months long.  The longer I was away the harder it seemed to create a post worth the justification of how long I was gone.  It was as though I needed to come up with some epic reason why I just wasn’t feeling up to writing about myself or the games I was playing.

In my experience however you just need to post something…  anything…  to get yourself over the hump after an absence.   You could post about what you had for breakfast…  or in my case yesterday the lack thereof.  You talk about whatever stressers caused you to need to duck your head back into your shell and turtle for awhile.  You could write about something on the horizon that you are looking forward to, or about something that you just accomplished that you are still thinking about.  The point is just to write something to get yourself over that initial gap in content and back into the habit of regularly posting again.

One of the things that I like about my current schedule is I feel like it gives me the room for these gaps.  Is it an extended weekend that includes a few days of vacatrion?  Then I have the option of writing on those days or just saying screw it and taking the entire time off from the blog.  Is there a time when life has just become too much and I cannot fit proper writing in?  Then a gap in the middle of the week is honestly no worse than a gap at the end of it.  Basically the schedule that allows for absences and not holding myself to some nonsense like those 1121 posts in a row…  makes the blogging experience far more livable.

I think ultimately that is why I have shifted things around this year for Blaugust is that I realized over time I was trying to get people to sign up for something that was largely unrealistic.  After that first Blaugust I noticed that the majority of “winners” that managed to get in all 31 posts in a month…  also wound up taking a full month off as a result.  A not insignificant number of those blogs simply ceased to exist afterwards…  or maybe had a few false starts at getting back at posting without ever really returning.  Basically Blaugust and that schedule had killed blogs…  which was the exact opposite of what I was hoping would happen.  I kept shifting around the format until in 2016 I simply couldn’t handle taking anything else on that year…  as was apparently the case with all of the events in our community.  So now as Blaugust has returned…  my hope has been that the focus be on just posting more regularly and also participating in the community…  rather than trying to run some race.

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I am not entirely certain if this post will help anyone, but I thought it was worth talking about the mindset I now take towards dealing with absences.  I hope you are having an awesome day and I highly suggest getting out and checking some of the other blogs participating in Blaugust.  Here are some resources to help you get started…

There is still plenty of time left in the month to participate.  If you are interested check out some of these links.

Side note:  The images don’t mean much of anything but I played some Monster Hunter World on PC last night and am getting tired of just posting the Blaugust logo over and over on these.

 

Jason Jessee Board

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This week was originally designated as “Get to Know Each Other Week” in my master scheme but I feel like that is well under way in part thanks to the existence of the Blaugust Discord.  If you have not joined the discord I highly suggest doing so, also if you have not signed up for the event then there is still plenty of time to get involved.  For as generally open as I am with my readers about a lot of things… I still find it fairly hard to actually talk about myself in any sort of directed way.  Sure while I am in the middle of writing about a topic there are a bunch of real life details that end up getting thrown into the mix for flavor, but to sit down and write a specific topic about me as a person…  that is a whole other challenge.

I was born in 1976 on the wane of the seventies and the cusp of the eighties…  then spent my high school and college years in the nineties giving me a really odd blend of cultural experiences.  Each of those decades left its own indelible mark on my psyche.  Another piece of the puzzle is the fact that I was the only child of a machinist by day and occasionally professional photographer by night and weekend…  and a home economics teacher.  I grew up in Rural Americana in the middle of the part of Oklahoma aptly referred to as “Green Country” in a town with a population of around 2000 give or take a few.  We lived just far enough outside of the city limits to prevent us from getting cable…  or me having many kids to play with.

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That means a good deal of my life was spent entertaining myself through copious amounts of imagination and a strong dash of public television.  I’ve talked a bit about my attachment to Mister Roger’s Neighborhood but I was equally attracted to adult programs like Nova.  For the first several years of my life I spent the majority of my time with my grandmother and grandfather who served as a babysitter while my folks worked.  My grandmother also doubled as my companion on so many adventures from learning how to cook, to roaming around in the pasture…  to playing rousing games of candyland.  There were many times come Friday night when my folks came to pick me up, that I would announce that I was staying the weekend.

As time passed and I aged those weekends with my grandparents were replaced with staying over at friends houses.  There was a circle of two other close friends that I had and it seemed like every single weekend we were gathered together at one of the houses.  I always enjoyed the act of getting out of my own family and melding into another one for the weekend.  In late middle school one of the trio moved away and we were left with a duo.  By the time high school rolled around things started to get a little strained, since my partner in crime was largely forced into sports by his father who wanted him to follow in his own footsteps…  and I didn’t really have the equivalent pressure pushing me in that direction.

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We all saw each other pretty often because around about this time skateboarding was a massive thing.  My first “real” deck that I planned for and bought on my own was the Jason Jessee Neptune deck, and I wish I still had it if for no reason other than to hang it on the wall.  I’ve contemplated buying one of the modern reproductions to do that, but its an awful pricey expense for a piece of kitch.  Skating lead its way to other drift compatible activities…  like playing in a band that ultimately formed around the nexus of a few of us that hung out frequently.  I played the drums, the friend from middle school played the bass and patterned himself after Flea of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and the other friend with seemingly unlimited means bought a sweet telecaster and played lead guitar.  We never really coalesced on a proper band name… we were FSU for awhile which we thought was edgy because it stood for Fucking Shut Up.  Later we performed under the name Jive Daddies… which I always thought was kinda dumb but was overridden by the other two.

During my junior year however I got really sick.  I started having these black outs and managed to park my car perfectly in a ditch down from my house once.  It was ultimately sorted out that I had a pinched blood vessel in my neck, that was the side effect of getting rear ended in a car wreck and developing a minor case of whiplash.  However it took awhile to sort that out and during this time I sorta drifted away from that circle of friends and built a new one.  One of the truths of small time life is the lack of things to do… leads kids towards copious amounts of alcohol and drug abuse.  My original duo of friends found their way into more serious paths leading towards hard drugs, and that was not a journey I was willing to follow them on.  So really my illness became a convenient excuse to simply stop participating and extract myself from that situation.

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Another thing that happened around this time is that my family finally got a computer.  It was a 386SX 16 MHz without a math co-processor with 2 meg of ram and a 90 MB hard drive that at the time seemed like all the space I would ever need.  It had no sound card because those simply did not come with computers standard at that point and was largely designed for business products running Windows 3.0 originally…. and later upgraded to the revolutionary 3.1.  I learned computers through necessity, because I kept doing something to jack the machine up and then needing to figure out how to fix it before my dad got home.  Largely these interludes involved me trying to sort out how to get more than 16 colors in windows paint…  it was simpler time.

The new circle of friends and I vacillated between two activities…  pen and paper gaming and pouring over whatever bootleg games we managed to get from someone that had a relative in college and would ship us home boxes of pirated games.  Getting anything new was pretty much out of the question because at this point we had no access to stores that sold anything even vaguely related to PC gaming.  At some point I stumbled upon a bookstore that happened to have 5.25 inch floppies with shareware on them and got my first copy of Wolfenstein 3D and an editor that someone made for it.  We obsessed over building levels to the game and the result was usually one person building a level and another person trying to run through it.

I feel like at this point I have already typed too much information about myself, so I am going to cut things off at this point.  We are now circa 1992 and on the cusp of Magic the Gathering being a thing.  I’ve recently gotten back in touch with one of the members of the little crew that I played table top games with, so I fully expect him to respond here at some point.  I do miss those days when things were so much simpler and it seemed like we had all of the time in the world to hang out and do stuff together.  Time moves so much faster as you get older, and busier, and have your attention fragmented by dozens of things at the same time.  I might pick up tomorrow with some more details that I maybe glazed over, but like I said…  getting any sort of coherent narrative out of me about myself is a challenge.

 

Mining The Past

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blaugustrebornlogo2018

This week was at least in part supposed to primarily be about generating topics for your blog that you can sustain yourself on for the rest of the sprint.  Unfortunately only one of my posts has actually accomplished this.  I brain stormed together a list of topics on August first and never really revisited it because I was ultimately dealing with some of my own things.  However one of the general pieces of advice I can offer you is to be willing to mine your own experience for topics.  Each of us tends to think our own experiences are banal and not actually worth writing about.  The thing is…  those experiences are unique to you and tell the reader an awful lot about your own feelings on a subject.

This is where I break into a story to illustrate this point.  I started leading guilds with the launch of World of Warcraft in 2004 and since then have been the helm of many offshoots be they connected to House Stalwart or later Greysky Armada.  In addition to that there has been an awful lot of experience leading various communities from the Argent Dawn Exiles that I started when the Blizzard mods made the official server forums completely unpalatable to the things like BelEffect that I largely started as a joke but developed a life of its own.  Every single bit of that experience, while I didn’t necessarily know it at the time was relevant to what I would ultimately do for a living later.

While I have never listed it on my resume, that solid decade and some change has been a hardcore training ground for management in the real world.  I first had my taste for managing others at my first job back in 1999-2000 and I did not like it at all.  The whole setting the vision for the group was fun, but what ultimately broke me was a situation that happened with one of my employees.  I had been placed in a position of power because I was the one with the answers…  not with none of the training to actual manage others.  I had a boss at that time for whom the most important thing you could do was be sitting at your desk at 8 am.  I didn’t believe this and still don’t for that matter…  and was put in the awkward position of having to discipline an employee for an infraction that I didn’t myself believe in.

This bad taste made me actively avoid taking on the mantle of supervisor or manager for a significant time.  However in the gaming space I found myself pushed into that role because no one was willing to take it upon themselves to create the sort of gaming environment I wanted to play in.  So out of necessity I became the Guild Leader and set forth the build the best possible guild I could…  and immediately stumbled about six months into the game.  However I learned how to deal with different personalities and outlooks on the game play experience and about a year and a half into World of Warcraft we picked ourselves back up and rebuilt House Stalwart.

Throughout Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King we forged the guild and the raid associated with it into a strong community.  So strong that when my account got hacked while raiding Ulduar and said hackers disbanded the guild and moved my main off server…  we immediately picked back up the pieces that night.  The community had the guild up and running before I managed to get my account restored, and then handed back over the crown willingly.  The hack itself is a story that is buried somewhere in the annals of this blog, but I had somehow managed to forge something strong enough and loyal enough to keep on going without me even being in the picture.

So much so that all these years later without me really at the helm since Cataclysm…  the guild continues on through a succession of leaders from Elnore, Rylacus and now Kylana keeping things alive and actually in a constant state of growth.  I admit it was a bit of a hit to my ego at first to see that the guild was doing well without me.  However over time I came to appreciate the fact that I built that organization and it managed to survive succession which is a truly rare occurrence in either the gaming world or the business world.  While I spend significantly less time playing Alliance right now, I am still happy each time I hear about them downing some new boss or getting some new achievement.  I am proud of what that guild and community became.

When my boss moved up from Manager to Director, I was presented with another challenge.  Did I stay in the comfortable development lead role I had carved out for myself, or did I step up to management not quite knowing if I would be able to make it work.  The truth is it was the years of experience I had leading other people in situations where I often times had no actual power of authority to use as a crutch…  that gave me the confidence that maybe i could do this thing.  If you can convince forty strangers to work towards a singular goal, then you have a significant bit of work experience there leading people and understanding how to adapt your message so that others will be able to consume it.

So this morning I had sat down and mined a bit of my own experience to convert it into a blog post.  Each of us has deep reserves of information just sitting there waiting to be harvested, talking about past experiences in games or how they have effected you in the real world.  The challenge however is being willing to open up and talk about your past and present it with a new perspective.  I would say most of what I write about draws deeply upon all of the decisions that I made to get me to where I am today.  Often times when I write about things I omit details here and there to clarify the narrative that would otherwise muddy the presentation, but the core of the experience is still effectively what happened.

With time you develop your own personal methodology for which things to talk about and which things to skip over because it won’t translate into words that well.  However the only way to really sort this out is to start trying to adapt your own life story.  Our experiences also change over time…  because how you view something at age 20 is going to be different than how you view an experience at age 40.  In all of my time working there has only been one boss that did not like me.  While I was going through those experiences it was a very dark time for me…  but after exiting that shroud I have come to realize that even that horrible experience was a blessing in disguise.  Effectively it gave me the piece of experience that I was missing…  how not to lead others.  I had a use case of the exact wrong way to do leadership and I have been able to mine it as well to make sure I was not following in his footsteps.

Basically mining your past experiences allows you to dust them off and view them from a different perspective, which is helpful for you to grow personally…  but also can be exploited to make something relate-able for your readers.  Like I have said before… there comes a point where the readers stop caring about the subject matter you are writing about and start caring about you as a human being.  These are the posts that effectively set that process in motion.  When you share of yourself… it makes others more willing to share of themselves.  I realize this has probably turned into a really contorted esoteric topic, but I still feel like it is useful information.  So often we look outside for assistance when occasionally the answers we need are buried deep down inside of our own experiences.

Thanks Folks

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blaugustrebornlogo2018

Yesterday I made a blog post with one intended purpose, but it wound up being interpreted in a completely different way.  I thought I might talk a little bit about this because as a blogger this is going to happen.  We all view our posts through the lens of our experiences.  No one can actually be inside your head or completely understand what it was that you meant by something.  This is in part why I spend a lot of time retracing things I have already talked about in my blog posts because in my head…  no one actually reads my content.  The corollary of that however is that I feel like I need to write something that would make sense to someone who is hitting my blog for the first time.  I do a lot of things like “for the uninitiated” call outs where I back track and explain why a thing is important to this topic.  Granted this ends up increasing the length of my posts, but the hope is to keep someone from needing to furiously crawl through my back log of now over 1800 posts.

Ultimately for me personally, when something is so widely interpreted in a way I stop to think…  is that ultimately the post I wrote without intending to.  There are so many times that once fingers get started on the keyboard that posts sort of develop a mind of their own.  I know there are writers out there that carefully choose every word and sentence to build a strong discussion about the topic they are referencing.  Then there are others like me that get started and let the post develop as they go.  The problem with that method however is that things can veer off in unintended directions.  My intent in yesterdays post was to be some sort of a positive post about “these are my demons that I deal with but I still manage to get up and write every single day”.  The idea was to share my personal struggle so the folks out there who are going through the same thing can know that they are absolutely not alone.

However I feel like maybe a little too much of those demons were on display, and the post maybe came out a little true to life.  The hard truth is that I do not see in myself the person you all see in me.  I find it as impossible to reconcile that as it is to develop the internal infrastructure to accept a compliment.  That said… there were many times yesterday where I was almost brought to tears as the comments came in throughout the day.  I had every intent to sit down and respond to each and every one of them…  but I am still to this very moment a little too overcome with emotion to try tackling that task.  I didn’t write a post with the intent of getting reinforcement from my community, but that was ultimately the result.  I got a virtual war-cry from my friends to the equivalent of “we got your back!” and I appreciate it greatly…  even though I am not entirely certain how to process it.

There is no real hyperbole intended in yesterdays post, because I sorta accidentally opened the door a little too wide to the self doubts that I hear inside of my head every single morning.  That said I still hold my breath and hit that publish button.  I am glad that there are people out there however that apparently believe in me so much more than I believe in myself.  So many of the things that I have done in my life I did only because I felt like there was no one else out there to do them.  I lead my first guild because I was concerned about what the future might bring for me if I didn’t step up and do that.  I moved into a leadership role at work, because no one else was and the challenges that we were dealing with required more management than a bunch of independent developers.  I stepped up to my current management position only because I was afraid for what might happen to the unity of our team if someone else took the reigns.  A lot of the decisions I make are not out of a faith in my own abilities, but a fear in what might happen if I don’t do the thing that appears to need doing.

I was afraid that if I waited much longer that whatever was left of our community what fade away.  It was my hope that it was not yet too late and by the fact that we have now tied our best year in participation it seems like I might have accidentally picked the right time to do this.  The last couple of years have been extremely rough on this community, and my ultimately hope was that we could get back some of what we lost.  There are blogs that are gone and likely never coming back, but we are bolstering those holes in our wall with brand new bloggers that will hopefully infuse us all with a level of excitement.  I think it is impressive how far we have come in so short of a time.  Each year the initiative has picked up steam as the process has gone on and the flood of topics pulls people out of the woodwork.  Here are the numbers of past years…

  • 2014 – 52 Participants
  • 2015 – 88 Participants
  • 2016 – 62 Participants
  • 2017 – 0 (I failed to get it organized)
  • 2018 – 88 Participants (so far, it is not too late to join in)

Also impressive at this point is we have 92 members active on the Discord with a large number of people who have just joined to participate in the conversations even though they may not be officially participating in the event.  I do believe…  we may have a community again and an extremely active one.  Ultimately that was the thing I was missing the most, being part of something much larger than myself.  There have always been some of us that spun topics off one another, because quite honestly we refused to accept the pronouncement that blogging was a dead art.  It is my hope however that this version of Blaugust will be more forgiving when it comes to the after effects on the community.  There are a lot of bloggers that in the crush to get their 31 posts in…  have burned themselves out in the process only to close up shop shortly after the event ended.  My hope with this year is that we are providing folks the tools to run the marathon, not the sprint and keep going for the rest of the year.

There are so many mornings that I feel like a little kid pretending to make a newspaper or sitting in a hollowed out cardboard box pretending to be on a television show.  The truth is however that people are out there reading this and I am thankful of the kind words that you have shared with me.  I will do my best to try and figure out how to accept them.  I have more of a support structure than I deserve, and I am extremely thankful to everyone who has joined me in this madness.  We are on a really interesting journey together and I don’t quite know where it is going…  but I feel like it is going somewhere very special.  So in so many words… thank you so much for the help and love and support and random hugs.  Thanks for having my back.  Lets go do awesome things together!

Talentless Hack

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blaugustrebornlogo2018

The other day Chestnut did an excellent post about Impostor Syndrome that you should check out if you have not.  The fact that it is a real thing, doesn’t actually help me personally get over being mired in it at times.  Right now I am fighting it massively as yesterday was the official first day of August and as such the beginning the periods where the posts start counting towards the totals.  The problem is I am personally feeling overwhelmed with doubt.  I am questioning who the hell I was to be thinking I should bring back Blaugust and at the same time try and cherry-pick aspects of the Newbie Blogger Initiative and other blogging community events.  What gave me the right to be the one to do all of this?

Even more so…  I question who I am to be giving advice to anyone.  Most of the time I feel like a talentless hack that somehow mastered the ability to get up in the morning and spew nonsense into blog form.  My claim to fame has always been longevity…  not actually being good at anything.  Who am I to even suggest anything out to another human being out there that is quite honestly probably already better at this than I am?  My experiences are not unique and my gaming interactions aren’t particularly interesting…  so why would I think that I should be documenting it and pushing it out there into the world.  To make matters worse…  I am not even good at life in general and I spent my days waiting for my workplace to catch on to the fact that I don’t actually know half of the things they think I do.

Ultimately…  this is what my brain sounds like every moment of every day.  There are times where it is really hard to push aside those little voices and keep moving forward.  The thing is though…  that I know I am not alone in this.  Almost every friend of mine that I get to know, has their own version of this cadence playing in their head telling them that they are not good enough or strong enough to do something.  It is very easy to let the voices win and slink back into the comfortable shadows trying to keep anyone from noticing you disappeared.  The early days of my blog is filled with periods of time where the voices won, and silenced me.

I would accidentally find myself falling behind in posting because life happens, and then it became this massive barrier to get past to start again.  I kept thinking that in order to make a post… it had to be good enough to make up for the amount of time I was gone from the blog.  So if I was gone a month…  then when I started posting again I needed something truly epic to talk about in a time when nothing in my life felt epic at all.  Even to this day I never really understood what prompted me to start the experiment of getting up every single morning and writing anything that came to my mind.  But the repetition and routine allowed me to push past that barrier and just start up again and the track record of doing it for so long…  gave me empirical proof that I could in fact pull a post out of the ether every single day.

I am not a good writer.  There are people who are participating in Blaugust that absolutely are, and take their craft extremely seriously.  My blog is not one of those.  I have come to accept that fact and instead focus on sharing my story with you the reader.  I occasionally have nuggets of wisdom to pass along, or an interesting life experience…  but more often than not it is the simple act of getting up and sharing something real with you every single morning that keeps this process going.  It is a weird protracted one sided conversation that I am having with you, serialized a single day at a time and largely that is the method of communication that feels the most comfortable at times.

I can imagine that I have no readers at all and that I am just chronicling my ideas for my own purposes.  I can imagine that I have a large audience out there when I want to feel more important.  The act of creating something and thrusting it out into the world can be extremely therapeutic at times.  I will admit however there is not a single morning that goes by that I don’t have to sort of hold my breath and push the publish button without thinking about it too much.  This is why I don’t really edit my posts and you get them in their natural raw state…  typos, word swaps and all.  If I were to think about what I was just about to throw out into the world I would mire myself in the all too familiar cycle of analysis paralysis and self recrimination.

There are members of this initiative that talk about how they carefully edit each post to pair down the number of words, and that is brilliant advice if you are in fact the type of writer that can take it.  For me personally…  this blog is more compulsion than willful act at this point.  The more I think through the process the more likely said process is to fail.  The more I examine something the more I get caught in a loop of inaction because sitting in that silent place where I am forever weighing the outcomes occasionally feels good.  The inertia of analysis is a pleasant thing.  Every single morning is a struggle and to make up for my own failings…  it is like I have tricked myself into hitting that publish button when I am still very much half asleep.

Over the last several years I have built up a level of honesty with my readers and part of that is sharing my own failings.  I am not good at this and I have no right to be kick-starting the return of Blaugust.  I did it however for the purely selfish reason of wanting to see more people out there doing the sort of thing that I do on a daily basis.  I want more windows into other worlds where I am can sit down and partake of these elongated one-sided stories myself.  I missed having a thick blogroll full of tales to experience any time I needed that to escape from my own frustrations and troubles into someone else’s world.  I have no right at all to give advice but I will continue to share my experiences, because it seems to be the thing that I need to do each day to feel normal.

Syndication and Social Media

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blaugustrebornlogo2018

This morning I have struggled a bit to get off the ground and coalesce into writing something that might be valuable to someone else.  One of the things you see a lot with my blog is me attempting to be honest with my readers.  This isn’t really the point of this mornings post but i would say if you are struggling with something…  let them in on it.  I’ve said before that blogging is therapeutic and at the same time lowering your guard a bit is too.  Now I am not saying that I recommend this practice for everyone, because it does in fact give trolls an attack vector.

The thing I wanted to talk to this morning is the interwoven relationship between blogging and social media.  I can say without hyperbole that almost every one of my social media accounts exists because of this blog as I sussed it out as another possible syndication venue for my content.  It is not a coincidence that both my twitter account and my blog both started in April of 2009, because twitter has long been the vehicle that bloggers get together to talk to one another.  This is why I asked for twitter handle as part of the sign up instead of other social media options.

I think the reason for this is that twitter is better than any platform at the quick distribution of a blog link.  You have enough characters to provide a quick summary, a link and an image enticing your readers to click through and visit your post.  The retweet culture allows someone to pass your information on… without passing too much of themselves in the process and I think that simply leads to more folks passing more information around than on other platforms.  Granted in the era of the quoted retweet that changed a bit, but I still feel like that platform is the best place to quickly distribute content.

The thing is…  I don’t just think this I know this from the statistics.  I’ve been running google analytics since day one and that has given me a lot of information about what works and what doesn’t work for the purpose of spreading my blog.  If I had utilized this more fluently rather than the generally lazy way that I do… I could be a hell of a lot more popular than I actually am.  However it does tell me things about which platforms work and which do not.  Let’s talk for a moment about the content I share and where it gets consumed.

Direct Traffic and RSS

First off one of the things you need to know is that the majority of your readers are probably still to this day going to be consuming your content through an RSS Feed Reader.  Before sitting down to write my post I ran some numbers for the past year of usage and only 14% of my traffic comes from any referral source.  This means the majority of my readers are either coming in directly or through an RSS feed reader.  There are some other statistics that I have through WordPress that tell me that the majority of my readers are in fact coming in through RSS.

I don’t want to necessarily talk about the numbers because I have a larger audience than some folks and a much smaller audience than others.  I use analytics for the purpose of learning about the data not necessarily as creating a benchmark to judge my success on and I highly suggest if you decide to go down that road you adopt a similar stance.  The big thing I want as a takeaway however is that RSS is in fact not dead and you are going to see a large number of your users that are not accessing your content  directly.  As a result I highly suggest you check your own blog out in a news reader and make sure it looks like you want it to look.  Since I am not trying to drive ad venue I syndicate my entire blog out over RSS instead of snippets…  your mileage may vary here.

Social Media

In the above bit I mentioned that only 14% of my readers come as referrals from any other source and that also includes social media.  As it stands right now I syndicate my content in the places that are built into WordPress, so that when I hit publish it also sends my content out there as well.  Here is a rundown of where all said content goes…

  • Twitter – This is my primary social network
  • Facebook – At some point along the line I created a Facebook account just for the blog.  I don’t use this network much.
  • Google Plus – Hold out from that era when we thought Google Plus would rule the world and a lot of us bloggers started hanging out here.
  • GPlus “Page” – Similar hold out where I thought it was a good idea to create a Tales of the Aggronaut page.
  • Tumblr – I don’t even know why I do this, but it was an option in WordPress so might as well.

These are effectively the places that I can push to each day when I hit publish without further interaction.  The only publish option that I am not utilizing is Path…  which if I am being completely honest I  don’t know what the hell it actually is.  It’s seems to be an iPhone thing and since I am not an iDevice user I have never actually encountered it.  Now since only 14% of my traffic comes in through referrals…  I could make an argument that syndication doesn’t actually matter.  However I feel like putting your stuff in front of as many eyeballs as possible is always going to be a generally good idea.

Let’s talk a bit about where that referral content is coming from.

  • 25% – Twitter – this is my primary platform for engagement so it probably isn’t shocking that the vast majority of my click-through’s come from it.  It probably says way more about my willingness to engage with it than the actual power of the platform.  My tweets don’t really go viral so it isn’t like I am getting a crushing number of hits this way.
  • 12% – Bhagpuss.blogspot.com – That is right… my appearance in the Inventory Full blog roll is quite literally beating every social media platform but twitter.  Thanks Bhagpuss!
  • 9% – Facebook – this shows up as a few different addresses but combined together it equates to a little less than 10% of the referral traffic.
  • 2.5% – Google Plus – There are still folks actively using this platform in spite of the fact that I am not.  At one point I had a nonsense number of people following me so there may be some residuals from that?
  • 1.3% – Reddit – Not something I actively engage with but a handful of my blog posts have made their way to Reddit where they got significant action.  Getting anything on Reddit means you are going to have a constant trickle of users from there clicking on the links as people search.
  • .32% – Tumblr – I mean it makes a lot of sense given that my posts are not exactly formatted in the Tumblr way and I don’t spend any time engaged with that platform other than occasionally going on a reblog bender reposting cool comic book art.

Now as an academic experiment I extended out my timeframe and looked at all traffic I have ever gotten to my blog.  At that point a bunch of data points change… namely my referral rate goes up to 26% of my traffic and the influence of twitter drops to only 11% of that…  with WoW.com coming in second at a little over 8% showing the sheer influence of being part of the World of Warcraft blogging community used to be.  To round out the top five… you have Google Plus at number three, Facebook at number four, and Reddit at number five.  It is funny how things change over time.

Engagement

Ultimately my take away from all of this is that social media syndication is worth it… but only if you plan to engage with those communities.  I feel like my numbers don’t really point out that Twitter is the most superior platform but instead that it is the only platform I am willing to actively engage with.  It is the place where people know my name and respond to the things I say… and on the other platforms I am just a weird guy that refuses to use his real name or picture.  Granted my real name is pretty freaking easy to find and I have tweeted out my picture a few times… so it is a personal choice thing not like a witness protection program thing.  Ultimately I feel like you get out of social media what you put into it as far as blogging goes.  I still feel like it is my favorite way to link up with other bloggers, but especially now that we have the discord and how active it has been…  maybe that could shift into being that primary vehicle of communication for the community.

Regardless don’t feel like you have to do social media if you are not comfortable doing it.  My engagement brings me in some hits but in the grand scheme of things it accounts for a very small percentage of my total users.  The effect that is impossible to capture however is where people found out about my site in the first place.  I have a sneaking suspicion that if you somehow managed to factor that into the equation… then social media would have far more weight in the equation that it appears to have.  I choose to put my stuff out there and over time have built a community of regular readers, and if you do the same you will build your own circle of readers as well.