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)

Newbie Blogger Initiative 2016 in June!

nbimediumNot too long ago, I saw a short conversation on Twitter about how NBI would most likely not be taking place in 2016. Not because nobody wanted to do it per se, but most of all because it requires time and dedication to get this initiative off its ground. That dreaded real life again making us unable to do the fun things we would really love to do. ;)

However, there is a happy ending: We are going to have another round of Newbie Blogger Initiative this year! Doone from XP Chronicles announced the NBI 2016 starting in June on May 12th, actually. This totally went over my head here, but I’m so happy to see it happen either way! I really love this initiative and I love that it makes people come together and support others, because blogging can be an awesome and fun hobby!

The person running it isn’t alone, though. As with all the recent years, a lot of us “veteran bloggers” are joining, lending our helping hands and answering questions to those of you who want to start blogging, who recently did start or even those who want to get back into blogging. While most of us, if not all, blog about games, it is not a requirement for you to do so as well. If you’d rather blog about cooking recipes or your daily life, then do so! We will be here encouraging you to blog either way.

 Tyrannodorkus has a great post introducing you to the most basic questions like “what is a blog?” and links to where you can get in touch with all of us and with each other, because I do hope that we’ll be able to greet a lot of new bloggers this NBI! Just so that you will not miss the most important links, I am going to put them in here, too:

NBI forums
NBI twitter
NBI Discord

Others have joined Doone by now with announcing the NBI and welcome prospective new bloggers: Eldaeriel from StarShadow, jewel from Healing The Masses, Aywren – and probably more that I forgot now or haven’t seen yet (sorry if that’s the case!).

On a personal note: I was looking through my blog to find the posts from the previous two years only to see that I have tried to support NBI since 2012 already making this the fifth year it’s running. Back in 2012, this blog here had only been around for one year, so I felt a bit newbie-ish myself!

So, if you ever thought about starting your own blog, now is the perfect time! Get started and join us. Don’t hesitate to ask your questions! :)

Edit: I am going to list all announcement posts that I find here. The reason is pretty simple: Those who announce the NBI are also very likely open to listen to your questions or give advice if you need it! So go check out their blogs and don’t be shy!

Doone from XP Chronicles
Eldaeriel from StarShadow
jewel from Healing The Masses

Iogro Merrybelly from A Hobbit’s Journey
Belghast from Tales of the Aggronaut

Impressions from Foostival Germany 2016

NamensschilderAs some of you may know, I am part of the organizing team of the German Foostival. It took place yesterday, on May 7. In the previous two years, we had a location in Hamburg which is in Northern Germany. As amazing as that city is (seriously, there is no better city in Germany than Hamburg if you ask me), it’s just not easy to reach especially for residents in the southern parts. So this year, we switched and had Foostival take place at the esports bar Meltdown in Cologne.

The location was very fitting, obviously. :)

The only downside of this place was that it was dark inside while Germany is currently experiencing a very unusual early summer with temperatures up to 25 °C instead of the usual 15 °C. If we had known that in advance, we could have looked for a beer garden instead. :p  But seriously, it was a very really nice location with good drinks and the pizza place on the other side of the street even brought some of the ordered pizzas in!

What I liked more in comparison to the location in Hamburg was the absence of PCs – well, mostly. The Meltdown actually has PCs and consoles that you can play on, but those were ignored for the most part and did not play a role in our organization of the event (they were used after Foostival was over, though. Gamers will be gamers, after all!). We were also all in one room sitting around a couple of tables whereas in Hamburg, the group had been split in two rooms at times. This way, we could all be together and mingling was a lot easier. It being a bar, we could also enjoy lots of beverages including drinks like a “Headshot” or a “Stimpack”. Not that I think we need alcohol to have fun, but it was still very convenient to have drinks around. :p

So, without PCs and all of us being in one room, it was also much easier to get in contact with the others and as such, I met a lot of new people and had a lot of interesting conversations, not only about Guild Wars 2, but also about other games and “The Dark Eye” (a German roleplaying game similar to “Dungeons & Dragons”).

Once the event was over, the bar opened to the general public, but not all of us left. I really enjoyed just sitting there together with the others who had stayed behind and talking. If you ask me, we wouldn’t even need any programme, quizzes or games. I could just spend that whole day talking and getting to know the others! And as such, I hope to see them all again soon – maybe at Gamescom, maybe at the Foostival 2017! :)

Please excuse the crappy quality of the pictures. I took them with my mobile phone, but I know there will be much better pictures soon and I will of course link you to the picture gallery then!

As always: A huge Thank You to everybody who organized the Foostival with me and to all the helping hands! Foostival would not be possible without us all working together the way we do. :)

5 years of Nerdy Bookahs!

5 years ago, I certainly was not expecting this little “blog project” to be running for such a long time. I did not even know whether it would last for longer than a month before I would lose interest. But here we are and the blog is as alive as it was back then. Let’s have a closer look at those 5 years…

The archives show that we did publish something in every single month since March 2011. Of course, there were also some “slow months”.

Guild Wars_Dancing Derwish

January 2013, December 2013 and July 2014 were the laziest ones with only two blog posts each. January and December are usually pretty “busy” months for me. There is often lots of work left to do before I can go on Christmas break and then, of course, there is Christmas and New Year’s which is always spent with family here and travelling to visit part of said family. So while I do theoretically have lots of free time at the end of December and beginning of January, that time is often spent away from the PC. July 2014 is easy to explain. It was both an awesome month and a really annoying month. We had moved into our new flat and at the same time, I had to fight off several nasty colds and a really bad rash covering my whole face which led to countless sleepless nights. Due to all of this, I had also decided to go on “summer break” with this blog. The first and only time I did that while running this blog. Hey, in hindsight, I should have probably used those nights to write some blog posts. Something fun and productive to do in the middle of the night. :p

The busiest months were November 2013 with 31 posts and August 2015 with 33 posts. Both those months were part of some blogging month-campaigns (NaBloPoMo and Blaugust).

Altogether, within those 5 years we published a little bit more than 500 blog posts. So, about 100 posts per year.

Our top 3 posts are:

  1. How to switch between the starter areas in Guild Wars 2
  2. Guild Wars 2: Regions by level
  3. Guild Wars 2: A FAQ for new players

And our top non-GW2 post is Trove: Biomes and their map colours.

We don’t publish that many guides, but apparently, if we do, they have staying power. :) The FAQ is the only one that is horribly outdated by now, though. I try to keep the others up-to-date because they are still very popular and I would hate to have people come here and be disappointed to only find outdated guides.

Now, as you can guess, Guild Wars 2 and Trove were part of my blogging life. Other than that, the main games I’ve been writing about are Rift and the newest addition, Wildstar. Lord of the Rings Online and Warhammer Online only got a few mentions with lots of eye-rolling on my part as I had already fallen out of love with both of these games.

My favourite “project” here in our blog has been and still is the Guild Wars 2 Screenshot Gallery. I don’t think I will ever be done with it, though, but at least, it always gives me something to do!

My favourite “one time” blog post was the Underwear Fashion Show. Unfortunately, Guild Wars 2 is very boring when it comes to underwear with no differences between classes as we had in Guild Wars.

GW2 male asura in underwear

And then there are my favourite “off topic” blog posts, the cooking recipes: Tiramisu Cheesecake (still a favourite among my friends and family), Flammkuchen and lentils soup. I wonder when the muse will hit me again to publish another cooking recipe… :p

The best part of this journey, however, has been getting to know so many other people and making new friends, some only online so far (one day, Nick, we will have breakfast together on your terrace!) and even more so those that we have been able to meet in person. Then again, this is not “just” the blog, this is the strength of the internet which enables you to make friends that you would have never even met otherwise.

Fireworks 2nd anniversary

And last but not least, a big thank you to all the readers – yes, all of you! The ones who come here regularly, the ones who just come here once in a while, the ones who only stop by one single time, those who leave comments and the silent ones! While I really enjoy writing and would keep this blog even if nobody read it, knowing that out there in this huge big world are people interested in what I write is awesome and some extra motivation for me to keep writing and sharing my thoughts! :)

So, here is to another 5 years… at least!

Brains, Brawls and Bravery

GW2_Brains Brawls and Bravery

“Show yourself right now!”, she loudly exclaimed and looked around frantically. These dreaded shrubs everywhere! She twirled her staff in the air and let out several fiery beams. It had not rained in days and the twigs made some nice crackling sounds, but nothing else could be heard. “Not here”, she mumbled. She was not yet ready to accept that she had lost his trace. That blasted empty-headed Skritt thief had probably found a hole to hide in and there was no chance for her to get her revenge – and her stolen goods back.

“One more and I can go home”, she had quietly said to herself prior to that incident. She could have just sent some of the idiots from her lab to do the task, but she preferred to collect those precious plants herself. One single flaw and her carefully brewed tonic would taste like rotten chickpea salad. True, the effect would not be extenuated, but Gechii was a perfectionist.

Since it had already turned dark, she decided to call it a day and head back now. She would probably have to send somebody to collect the plants after all, as her trip to Verdant Brink could not be delayed much longer. Her expertise was desperately needed there.

 “Graarrrr!”, she suddenly heard a growl from her left. Quickly, she raised her staff and turned around to see where the noise had come from. She could not hold back her chuckle: There stood a little Charr cub. His beige striped fur was bristling in the wind. He – or she… it was hard to tell, especially at such a young age, but she guessed it was a male – had raised his paws ready to attack. His tiny claws were reflecting the light of the flames from the shrub.

Now there were two. Then three. He tried to stand steady, even though something inside of him wanted to run and hide in a hole. ‘Never show fear’, he heard his Primus’s voice and he straightened his posture slightly more. The figure chuckled again… or rather, all three of them did. Then he realized, “You’re a Mesmer!”, he exclaimed clearly impressed, but he did not let his paws sink even an inch. If only he knew where he had put down his sword before he had fallen asleep. The yelling and the fire had startled him and he had gotten up and prepared to fight for his life, but now this seemed like a foolish move. The attack had obviously not been directed at him.

He did not know which one of the three figures to address. She – or he, it was hard to tell, but he went with “she”, mostly because of the way she had styled her hair – was roughly his height. Her dark brown hair had carefully been braided. Her yellow eyes and her pale skin seemed even brighter with the reflection of the fire. Some spots around her eyes were darker skinned as were her ears which were also surprisingly short. This paleness stood in stark contrast to her clothes which were a weird mixture of gold and orange. All three figures had their staves still raised, ready to shoot more fire, but their facial expressions suggested they may not kill him right away.

“What are you doing here? Did you see a Skritt?”, asked the voice on the right.

“No, ma’am”, he replied as politely as he could to her second question. “It’s just me.”

She snipped and her two clones disappeared. “Then what are you doing here all alone?”, she asked again with a slightly more pressuring tone in her voice. She had learned that Charr were with a group of other Charr from the beginning on.

“We got attacked. Giant earth worms! They left me. Ran away like cowards”, he said with disgust in his voice thinking of his former warband. He still could not believe they had done that! “Once I realized I was alone, I decided to run away, too. I am brave, not stupid!”, he added, puffing his chest just a little bit.

Gechii nodded. Intellectually, he, just as all Charr, was far inferior to any Asura, but some possessed qualities – like the bravery this little one showed – that she had come to value lately. She made an almost inaudible noise thinking of the Inquest. So much intellect wasted – and worse, combined with sheer foolishness. It was simply nauseating.  With their superior intelligence, she did not only believe that all Asura had to try and strive for the best, she also thought that they were responsible for the wellbeing of the races below them, just like the little furball in front of her.

“And now you’re lost and scared, right?”

“I’m not scared!”, he yelled loudly with pride in his voice. “I can defend myself!”, he quickly added to make his point clear.

Gechii took a step to her left and shuffled with her foot. “Is this yours?”, she asked after she had moved a tiny blade closer to him.

“Yes”, he said, slightly embarrassed. He did not recall putting the blade there, but it was definitely his.

“What’s your name?”, she asked now, her voice being a lot gentler.


“Good, Oci. My name is Gechii. Now please tell me what exactly you are planning to do, except for becoming devourer breakfast if you sleep here with no further defenses set up?”

He was thoroughly ashamed now. After wandering for a few hours, he had lain down here. But only to rest and close his eyes for a moment! He made one last attempt to show her he could handle the situation: “I was on my way back to the Black Citadel!” He puffed his chest again and pointed into the distance behind her.

“The Black Citadel is that way”, she pointed to her right.


“But there’s a portal to a safe town nearby. From there, you can go back home.”

He scoffed. As far as he was concerned, he had no home anymore, no family. They abandoned him, after all. Such Charr could not be a family. Then his gaze brightened. “Can’t I come with you?” He looked at her excitedly. Surely, such a bright Asura was leading a very exciting life and he had always found mesmers fascinating!

 “No.” She shrugged.

“But…” – That came out of her before she had even thought about it. What was she doing? Her mind had certainly had enough time to process the question and think of at least a dozen possible scenarios for every possible answer she could have now. Adding a Charr cub to her krewe… But there was something special about him – and even though she could have killed him with just a snip of her fingers earlier, he had not even blinked, let alone moved away from his spot. He could prove useful. Yes, she reassured herself. That was the only reason she had hesitated. He could prove useful!

Oci stood in front of her with big eager eyes. He had almost jumped up and down excitedly when she had hesitated, but had resisted that urge as it might have made him look childish.

“But you can’t come with me right now”, she finally added. “I have important business to do.” She could not imagine Oci in Verdant Brink, not with the recent happenings over there. “I will bring you to my krewe and you can stay with them.” Oci nodded and smiled.

This would be interesting. A young Charr being instructed in Asuran fighting techniques. Stepping a bit closer to him, she finally patted his head. The sound that followed could have either been a purr or another little growl. It was settled then.

GW2_Charr cub(This is just a symbolic picture showing a random little charr cub.)


This story is part of the Story Contest hosted by Kit the Traveler. The prompt is easy: Write about an adventure (set in the Guild Wars 2 universe) with at least 300 words and publish it in the GW2 Community subreddit. The contest is open until February 26, 2016, so there is still plenty of time to participate! You can win gems and weapon skins. :D

I decided to post my entry here as well, so I can save it for eternity (we all know how Reddit works, right? Things will get lost there over time) and to point you all to that contest, because I like such contests!