NBI 2016: Blogging can be life-changing

Yes, I admit, the headline is probably a bit too dramatic. ;) So before you get too excited: Blogging will not make you rich and it is very unlikely that you will become famous. However, looking back at the past five years with this blog, a few things happened that did influence our lives in positive ways.

Even though writing, and thus blogging, per se is a solitary pastime, having a blog ultimately leads to being read. If you allow comments on your blog, then the interaction with your readers can be a very direct one, obviously. In case you are wondering: Should I allow comments? – I can recommend this post by Contains Moderate Peril. If you opt for a wordpress.com blog, I would suggest enabling the feature that when somebody comments for the first time, this comment will be put in “moderation” and you manually allow it (or not). This way, you can catch trolls and delete their comment without it being public. No harm done. As soon as you allow somebody’s comment, future comments will not be put in the moderation queue and will appear immediately. So far in the five years, this setting has helped us a lot – not that we actually did get troll comments. We only sometimes get spam comments that the automatic spam filter doesn’t catch. This is still a very good feature for these situations.

But back to the topic of this blog post: If you allow comments, then you will sooner or later get a few people who will comment on your blog. It will very likely not be a huge amount as the vast majority belongs to the “quiet readers”. What I personally really like is when people comment and add their thoughts that a post of mine provoked.

On top of that, blogging about specific games also means that you are part of a gaming community. This is also where comments come into play. Reach out to other bloggers that you like reading. Comment in their blogs, add them to your blogroll or reply to a post they made with a post of your own (always remember to link to them and use trackbacks as that is a good way to notify them of your post).

In my case, some other person (Marc, the founder of GuildMag) had noticed our blog and when ArenaNet was wondering who to invite to their European community gathering before Guild Wars 2 launched, the UK community manager at the time reached out to us and invited us to come to Brighton. Now this was probably a lot of luck for us! This trip was back in 2012 when I was still relatively new to the blogging world, but without this blog, I obviously wouldn’t have been able to go because all of us were bloggers or writers for Guild Wars 2 fansites. I accepted the invitation (gladly, of course!) and then found myself on a plane to the UK. I had never been to the UK before (and still haven’t returned which is quite sad, because I really want to visit that country), so I was even more excited. Finally! Even if it was only for a bit more than 24 hours. And I’ll be eternally grateful to Tasha for pulling me back when I had forgotten that cars drive on the left side over there.

Group picture EUFanDay

While there, I got to know some Greek dude who had mentioned his Guild Wars 2 guild. Once back here at home when we were trying to find a good guild for us, I sent him a message and asked if we could join. And that’s how we got accepted to Dragon Season. This guy (those who know Dragon Season probably know by now that it’s Tilion that I am talking about) has become a very close friend of mine and if nothing goes wrong, we will finally get to meet again this summer!

Another example is the Foostival. Foostival is a real life event from fans for fans of Guild Wars 2 which has taken place in several European countries for a couple of years already. It is mostly organized by those of us with Guild Wars 2 fansites. Since we are German but blog in English, we did not actually have any connections to the existing German fansites. But when GuildNews joined Foostival back in 2014, I was invited to help organize this event (by Tilion, actually) and I happily accepted. Through the Foostival, we have met several more great people and hope to stay in touch even outside of Guild Wars 2. Since they are all German, meeting in “real life” is also a lot easier since there is less distance to travel!

Last but not least, being one little blogger with one little blog can also lead to something more “professional”: Justin from Massively mentions that a lot of them started off as individual bloggers. And some of the Massively staff actually ended up working for game companies (like Rubi who now works for ArenaNet and Celestrata who joined Turbine and later switched to TrionWorlds).

GW2 Pink Day Plaza - Aurora Glade

I guess what this post aims at is that blogging is actually not so much a solitary pastime, but a very social one with lots of opportunities to reach out to others, connect and find friends who share your interests. Thanks to the internet – and if you use a widespread language like English – even all over the world. But even if you decide to blog in your native tongue, you can still reach out to a lot of people you would probably not meet otherwise. And I personally just really enjoy participating in something bigger, something community-driven (“Pink Day in LA” should also be mentioned here which I once helped organize on our server Aurora Glade).

(Side note: I had originally wanted to be a lot more active during NBI, but due to health issues concerning my fingers and a strict “NO TYPING!” from my doctor, I tried to restrict typing to my day job. :p)

Wildstar E3 Pack: Gnix pet and Hoverboard

No, one can never have enough hoverboards. At least not in Wildstar. :p

Humble Bundle is selling the “E3 2016 Digital Ticket” with lots of goodies and a couple of games in between. I actually was not interested in most of those items (though I have always wanted to feel the excitement of being a mountain…) except for the Wildstar E3 Pack. The Flask of Advancement in this Wildstar pack is nice, as it gives you some extra experience and my alts will certainly be happy to receive this. I also did get the Junkyard Dog Hoverboard previously. Carbine handed it out to players who tested the new tutorial during a couple of specific time frames they had given. Those mounts were single-claim, though, meaning that only one character could get them on my account. Up to 4 of those hoverboards could be “earned”. With this bundle, all items are multi-claim which means that every character on your account can receive this bundle once.

The main reason I had to get this bundle, however, is the Gnix pet! It’s a little stone… something. My Granok (my main character’s race) is a big stone… something. They’re a match made in heaven! :D

The Wildstar pack is in the cheapest tier which means that you can pay only $1.00 to receive the item pack! That is certainly a bargain. And if you’re still not sure, you have about 7 more days to decide whether you want that bundle or not. And in case you’re not familiar with Humble Bundle, you can pay, e.g., $1.00 and later upgrade if you change your mind and want the next tier (for $4.00 which has the “more content coming soon” next to it).

NBI 2016: Screenshot prompt “The New”

A prompt to make a blog post with screenshots? I’m in! So, this is part of the “Newbie Blogger Initiative”. You can find more information on what the Newbie Blogger Initiative is in a previous post of mine (as well as in the other posts I’m linking to there).

But let’s get to the prompt itself:

This week I was thinking “the new”. A moment in game you experienced something unexpected, learnt something new, or just a visual element or object you had never seen before.

I tried to come up with something good, funny, creative – and I failed. But then I remembered my recent rant about expansions and the new regions introduced and figured: This is just perfect, isn’t it? “The new” parts of the world that an expansion gives a player: Guild Wars 2 expanded its world by giving its players more of the Maguuma Jungle, called “Heart of Maguuma”, while Rift gave us the Nightmare Tide zones. So, one features a jungle with trees and several floors to experience. They also added gliding, so you can vertically explore the game while the other gives us nightmares in a mostly underwater world. In my personal case, this really is a nightmare sometimes because of my phobia of “deep dark water” and “the things that live there”. So in case you are scared as well, be careful!

Rift’s Nightmare Tide was released in October 2014 and Guild Wars 2 released almost a year later in October 2015, which also means that both expansions are not exactly “new” anymore. But back then, they very much were, of course, and that’s where I’m digging for screenshots. So the screenshots you will see were taken when I first played in those new zones.

Rift: Nightmare Tide

Guild Wars 2: Heart of Maguuma

Welcome new bloggers! #nbi2016

nbimediumThe Newbie Blogger Initiative started on June 1 and will run until the end of this month. Everybody is welcome to join at any time! So, if you’re currently thinking of starting your own blog, now is the best time for it! Not only are there lots of us “veterans” around who have been blogging for a longer time and like to give advice if needed, there are also other new bloggers who are probably facing the same questions or even insecurities!

For me, at least, back then the biggest worry was: Do I actually have anything interesting to say or will I just be a waste of space in the internet? – The answer is pretty is: It depends on who you’re asking. :p There will always be critics and there will always be people who enjoy reading what you have written down. So there you go.

And now that we got this out of the way, let me say hello to those who have joined the Newbie Blogger Initiative as new bloggers!

The first one (no particular order, by the way!) is “Just East of West“. I can definitely relate to his post where he mentions that he is without a “home MMO” as I have been there as well before jumping into both Rift and Guild Wars 2 – and that backlog of offline games on Steam… better not talk about those, eh? ;)

Then there is “Pleasant Gamer“. This guy has blogged before! I definitely remembered the name and I was sure we had him on our blogroll even – and we did! Just as there had not been any new posts lately, I had put him on “hiatus”. And now it seems that he took the chance of NBI being here to get back into blogging. There is no recent blog post yet that I can link to, but I’ll definitely be waiting to read from him again! :)

Number Three on my list is “The Wild Core Chronicle“. At first, I thought it said “Wildstar” and it got me excited for a bit to see somebody blog about Wildstar. But eh, it’s better than Wildstar actually. EGrey’s blog is a blog about games as well as novel writing.

Then we’ve got “I’m Not Squishy“. Kluwes posted an introduction post on May 30: “This blog will chronicle my adventures through my backlog and serve as a platform to write about my unyielding love for MMOs, RPGs, and video games of every flavor.” – Again, that dreaded backlog of unplayed or unfinished games… I like that I don’t seem to be alone with this issue, though. By the way, it’s 2 months and 3 weeks of playing to get through my own unfinished games on Steam. ;)

The last one checking in as a newbie so far is “Shadowz Gaming Blog“. There is also an introduction post. Shadowz plans to use this blog to not write about her main MMO (Star Wars: The Old Republic), but she will  instead try to explore other MMOs and write about her experiences there. It definitely sounds like an interesting focus and I like reading about people’s first experiences in games, especially MMOs.

This is it for now. I hope there’ll be lots more joining us in the coming days. And if you are reading this and thinking about starting a blog: Yes, do so! And hop into our Discord channel where we can get to know you!

Guild Wars 2: The upside of having a “content drought”

I saw a post on MMORPG.com about the potential correlation between content updates and increased earnings for ArenaNet and Guild Wars 2 which got me thinking about my gaming behaviour related to their content updates. In general, I would say that the less new content they release, the less money I spend in Guild Wars 2. I remember giving them at least 5 € a month (remember: I try not to spend more money on online games than I would on a monthly sub), but since the expansion has been released, I did not give them any additional money anymore. I only spent some gold to trade for gems. However, I actually did not want to focus on how much money I spend on this game. I would just say that my spending behaviour is related to the amount of time I give to one specific game over others more than how much content a game actually releases, although those two factors are related, of course!

When I looked at the charts of that post, I remembered what Guild Wars 2 was like within the first year: New content every two weeks, content that would leave permanently after two or four weeks again. It was… stressful, actually. I found myself playing more because I had the feeling that I have to or I would miss out on something instead of playing because I was in the mood to play this specific game.

If I could choose, I would definitely want to have new content every two months or so that would stay permanently! But this is not a wishing well here. So, I’ll instead look at what we had back then and what we have right now. Back then, we had new content every two weeks. Now, we don’t have much new content. In my personal and subjective case, there is even no new content, because I don’t raid (you can thank World of Warcraft for making me swear never to get into raiding again). Which of the two do I prefer then? As I already said, I found the constant temporary content stressful. So for that alone, I choose the “content drought”. I kind of embrace the slow content releases. I work full-time, I work on my dissertation, I exercise regularly, I have a social life away from the PC (well, sometimes, at least), I like getting variety by playing more than just one game when I do decide to play and last but not least, I have this little blog here. In other words: I am not a hardcore gamer at all.

Having no new content means that whenever I feel like playing Guild Wars 2, I start it up and play. I enjoy myself in the game, because I never feel as if I am in the game only because I have to. There is nothing to catch up with and no feeling to play in order to not fall behind – and that’s refreshing!

Mind you, I say that only because there is still lots for me to do in the first place. :p At the moment, I am playing in Edge of the Mists whenever I find a bit of time to gather Proof of Heroics, so that my engineer can get his scrapper specialization unlocked. Yes, I am lazy. Or rather, I don’t really want to do all those hero challenges again. I much prefer battling in the Mists. I guess I would actually prefer “real” WvW over Edge of the Mists, but when you only have half an hour or so to play, this game mode is perfect. It’s fast with good rewards for your time.

GW2 Edge of the Mists

In the long run, I do of course hope that we will get to see a lot of new content and my hopes are for season 3 of the living world to be really good and exciting!

And if we pretend that there is a wishing well for a moment, then I would definitely wish for more content like the marionette fight, but with a longer time frame to participate and learn the encounter. I just really enjoyed the open world content and that is one thing I definitely miss from the content releases of season 1.

But hey, there will be an update tomorrow. Maybe we will get something new after all. :p