Blogging is srs bsns

This is one of those “it’s a comment but it’s too long so it becomes a post” deals, in response to Keen’s post about hype/excitement. I’m likely near the top of people who have criticized or at least taken a cheap shot at Keen for getting too hyped up about a game. In my defense, there is a Friday every week.

There are a few things that play into all of this. The first, and really central point, is that following/playing an MMO is closer to a religion than a hobby (or should be). When you are all-in on an MMO, it dominates your time, and the better the MMO is, the more time it takes up. And in a ‘real’ MMO, the more time you put in, the more fun it puts out. Before the casual ‘solo-hero’ revolution, MMOs were as much about WHO you played with as WHAT you were doing, and the ‘who’ only mattered if they stayed logging in month after month. “Guild hoppers” were the tourists of the genre before we had enough titles to allow tourism, and neither term is one you want associated with you.

Under that approach, someone who is in/out of a game in 1-3 months is unhelpful at best, and a ‘problem’ at worse. Combine this with the religion thing above, and if Keen hyped and then left your MMO of choice, that can rub people the wrong way. This effect has noticeably decreased as MMOs become more content rather the community focused. In SW:TOR, does anyone even notice if someone else stops playing? Is it even possible to notice? At least in Skyrim Steam shows me who is playing while I’m playing.

Another aspect is one that Keen mentioned; the pre-release talk about features that likely won’t work as written/hyped. Rift is one example that comes to mind. Pre-release I believe Keen made a statement that thanks to the soul system, you can build any character you want in Rift. That was simply not true, and if someone (me) wanted to make a point of Keen creating unrealistic hype around a game, that was a great example.

At the same time, Rift’s soul system is a hell of a lot more flexible than the other members of that clone army, so the spirit of what Keen wrote is still sorta true, if just stated incorrectly. If you don’t get hung up on the exact wording (although really, what fun is that?), you get the point and move on. If it’s Friday, or you just hate Keen, you don’t (unless Tobold has a PvP post up anyway).

Experience is also a factor, both with MMOs and blogging itself. When you are new to MMOs/blogging, everything seems fresh and new to you, and you truly believe you are sharing revolutionary ideas/thoughts, and you sorta believe the devs because hey, why would they lie? As you progress towards bittervet gamer/blogger, and go through multiple releases that fail to not only live up to expectations, but outright lie about features/goals, you stop trusting words/hype and consider anything pre-beta as a maybe (or in the case of Rift, even beyond).

GW2 is a good example of this right now. ArenaNet will tell you that GW2 has an active combat system. If the only MMO you have played is WoW, that’s sounds true-enough to you. If you played UO, or AC-DT, or Darkfall, it’s not exactly as ‘active’ as ArenaNet tries to paint it. Now it’s the job of PR to create hype, so not-really dynamic content like rifts in Rift are called “The most dynamic content ever”. They are lying, but it’s their job to lie. Since bloggers don’t get paid (other than me, buy Darkfall), just accepting the PR release and running with it opens you up to skepticism or ridicule, especially if you can already spot the hype just on what they have released (GW2 will have ‘massive’ battles, limited to 300 people. 300 is not massive if you play EVE. It is if you play WoW).

The final piece here is being the ‘white knight’ for a game. Not only have you bought into the hype, but you also defend the game from all criticism and refuse to believe that flaws exist even in just the facts released (GW2 non-80s being able to contribute meaningfully in WvW for example). This not only comes off as silly, but also reduces the value of your otherwise solid insights. You might have made nine good points, but if your tenth is clearly a copy/paste belief in PR spin, it’s the tenth point everyone will focus and comment on.

With all of that said (told you it was too long for a comment), I still read Keen’s blog because it is entertaining, and the ‘white knight’ aspect has been toned down big time over the years. When you blog for as long as he has, you are bound to write a few things that you later look back on and shake your head. So long as the head-shake posts are far and few between, and you own up to them (everyone with WAR), the blog remains entertaining and the author credible (whatever that means in the MMO blogging world).

14 Responses to Blogging is srs bsns

  1. Carson says:

    Shortly after WAR released, I concluded that its greatest value would be providing some interesting ideas that more talented developers could take and run with.

    In retrospect, a similarly valuable service it provided was to teach many, many bloggers the risks involved in getting over-excited and over-hyping an unreleased game.

  2. bhagpuss says:

    Limiting myself to two points since I don’t want my own comment to turn into a blog post.

    1. You represent very well a particular segment of the committed, long-term MMO-playing community. It is, though, only a segment. I would bet that my played hours over the past decade and change are not dissimilar to yours and I’ve spent many, many years playing certain MMOs. Over that time I have seen empires rise and fall. World First Guild replaces World First Guild. Raiders burn out and move on yet I endure. sorting my banks, chatting to the new folks in my tiny guilds, leveling yet another alt. Most things that happen in most MMOs happen far above the pay grade of most players.

    I was brought up a Quaker. I have some of the values still but the religion itself is long gone. Hobbies trump religion, at least in my book. And probably in my culture, which is supposedly the least-religious on the planet. I’m happy to be an MMO Hobbyist. I don’t want to be an MMO zealot.

    2. You’ve been blogging a lot longer than I have. On the other hand, I’ve been writing for more than four decades. For my money, writing is all about entertainment. The main person I want to entertain is me but its a fair bet that if I achieve that I’ll entertain someone else too. And piss off several more but them’s the breaks. I’m betting you write mainly to keep yourself amused but it translates. As you say, Keen is entertaining to read. So is Tobold (although I’d be hard-put to explain why). Would Keen be as entertaining without the puppy-dog enthusiasm? I doubt it.

    Nothing wrong with having a schtick.

    • Keen says:

      I wouldn’t call it a “schtick” to reserve the right to be excited. I would call it being “normal” and/or “Purposely optimistic”.

      • bhagpuss says:

        A schtick is an unreservedly good thing in my lexicon. Everyone should have one. Of course, I may be misusing the expression or misunderstanding it.

  3. Syl says:

    The way i see it, you’ve lost your ability to appreciate teh hype, brother – which is a sign of deep MMO burnout! really, this post is just way too srs for me personally, where’s the frivolity? :)

    also, I believe Keen has the advantage over you here; even if the game(s) he is excited about should overall (objectively /cough) fail miserably, he’s still enjoyed several months of Vorfreude over them – what will you have to show for? ;)

  4. Roq says:

    Not sure what your point is about GW2: It’s hardly hype to say that GW2 WvW is “massive” when compared to PvP in other fantasy MMOs (how many times larger & longer than Alterac Valley is it?) that aren’t set in the vasty depths of space; and it’s not hype to say that GW2’s combat is dynamic – it is compared with previous MMOs and with it’s predessor GW1. In any case, degree of dynamism is hardly a measure of a combat system, more doesn’t necessarily = better. Maybe ANet are “hyping” GW2, but if so the two examples you pick are not good ones, in that unless the beta participants were seriously mislead, those two claims would appear to be true.

    Reading between the lines, my guess is that you’re just as optimistic about GW2 as many of the rest of us, but it just wouldn’t suit your curmudgeonly image to admit it?

    • SynCaine says:

      Darkfall has bigger battles in a larger ‘map’, and that’s an indy title with a fraction of the budget GW2 has.

      Reason I use those examples is because I often feel MMO hype either exists in a vacuum, or is horribly uninformed (likely intentionally).

    • Kilratha says:

      Eve, Darkfall, Planetside, and WWII Online. Four games, one of which was created in 2001 and two of them in 2003, all have actual massively multiplayer content and battles. Yet a title being created for release over / almost a decade later can not get it right?

  5. Bernard says:

    Where would MMOs be without the passion?

    The joy at the announcement of the next WoW killer.

    The thrill of excitement browsing the features list.
    -It really feels like a whole new world. The remedy for my MMO burnout. Finally!

    The frustration when beta keys are being handed out.
    -Why them, not me? I’ve been blogging about this game for 9 months!

    The shaking rage at launch day server issues.
    -I took a whole day of annual leave for this and you’re telling me servers are offline?! 5 hour queues? Account can’t register? Box not delivered on time?!

    The first month of white knight heroics on the blogosphere and forums.
    -They’ve announced these bugs are going to fixed in X.X.X. What’s your problem people, is this your first MMO launch??

    The retreat into bitterness.
    -So much potential… what a waste… never again…

    The joy at the announcement of the next WoW killer.
    [etc]

  6. Chris says:

    Just a small correction because he might use it to defend against you, the soul system was actually something keep was openly skeptical about (I seem to recall particular audacity at the idea of a teleporting sniper). He’s definitely come off as a flip-flopper in the past (darkfall is probably the best example) but, to be fair, it’s not as bad as it was back then. These days he’s pretty consistent with the skeptical optimism -> excitement -> decline -> criticism progression now.

  7. Percy says:

    Whenever I read Keen and Graev I still think of Allods Online and giggle to myself a little.

    • Keen says:

      I think we all giggle at Allods, in a demented Joker sort of way.

      For who it was made by, it was a great game in beta. The astral ship system was actually something I have never seen and still have not seen done in MMO’s.

      Had they not screwed it up with cash shops, it would have been very fun.

      I feel bad for those who missed out on trying it when it was fun.

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