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)

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!

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

The Seven Gaming Sins – NBI 2015 Talkback Challenge #4

nbimediumThe 4th “Newbie Blogger Initiative” topic has been released this weekend: “The Seven Gaming Sins“. This one is not a single topic that you can write about, but seven questions instead. What they focus on is probably rather obvious… ;) So, here you go. My answers to Joseph Skyrim‘s seven gaming sin questions.

Lust – Do you enjoy games more if they have scantily clad and “interestingly proportioned” avatars? Do you like playing as one of these avatars? Why or why not?

My favourite races are dwarves, gnomes (in World of Warcraft) and asura. Does this answer the question already? :p I do like characters (I mainly play female ones, so I’ll concentrate on those now) that are aesthetically pleasing to me. But this is a very subjective term and far from the tiiiiny waist and huge breasts that game designers like to put on some of their characters. I do like my characters wearing clothes that show their body, but I can do without the skin. So, I would say I am in between. I like “sexy clothes” as long as they are not over the top or look silly on my character (like a dress showing off breasts that asura just don’t have).

Gluttony Do you have a game backlog of unfinished games but still buy new games regardless? Why or why not?

Oh dear yes. I recently told myself to at least try to play some more games and finish them and I have been kind of successful. Tropico 4, Torchlight I and Shadowrun Returns have been played through. I am currently giving Skyrim another try (no promises here) and have also picked up “The Book of Unwritten Tales”. I strongly predict I will finish the latter in a bit as it’s very entertaining to play. As I just said, I picked up the latter. I have not stopped buying new games, I just try to slow down and finish some I did buy some time ago. At the same time, especially with games like Civilization or Warlock 2: The Exiled, there is the open question: When is such a game finished? With those games, I instead look at how much time I have spent in the game and if it’s a couple of hours (depending on how much money I spent to buy the game), I am satisfied. I always like to compare it to the price/hour for a cinema ticket.

Do you enjoy hand outs in a game? Have you ever opted to NOT do an action / in game activity because the rewards were lacking? Why or why not?

I have refused to do something in game that was not fun and the rewards were lacking, yes. But as long as something is fun – or an activity leads to something that will be fun later on – then I’ll do it regardless of the rewards. Rewards are a nice bonus, though. :)

Sloth – Do you ever leech or AFK in a party? Do you discourage others from attempting things that you feel are difficult? Have you ever seen someone that needed help, but decided not to help them? Why or why not?

No, I don’t ever leech or go AFK unless there’s a need for a bio break – which I would inform people about in a dungeon run, for example, so they know I’ll be gone for a minute. I don’t discourage people from playing the game, no. I do discourage them from trying to make me come, too. ^^ In MMOs, when I see somebody needs help, then I usually do help. Unless it’s a person that passed me before without helping me. In this case, I deliberately choose not to help either (though this would not be “sloth” but “wrath”, I guess).

Wrath – Ever get angry at other players and yell (or TYPE IN CAPS) at them? Have you ever been so angry to stalk a person around in game and / or in the forums? Why or why not?

I have gotten angry with others countless times. Most of the time, those are random players who were rude, impolite or just generally offensive. I tend to rage and rant in front of my PC, but not in public chat and not in direct messages either. Blocking them is much easier and faster and more satisfying because they can’t talk back to you. ;)

Stalking people has never even occurred to me. I only remember one person that annoyed me very much – unfortunately even a fellow guild member until we finally decided to flee from that server – that popped up wherever I was. So, it was the other way around. But I don’t think he stalked me. He just happened to be a very active player (and yet, still a very bad one who insisted on knowing everything better…). That one player did get me close to yelling at him, but instead, I opted for laughing in front of my PC instead. Oh, the stories I could tell (well, if you’re a WoW player, at least…).

Envy – Ever felt jealous of players who seem to be able to complete content you can’t? Do you ever suspect they are hacking or otherwise cheating? Why or why not?

Of course! Who doesn’t know the feeling of trying over and over and over and over again just to see somebody pass by, hop around a bit and get to the end of that jumping puzzle to reach into the chest and pull out a precursor item? Grmpf. ;) I usually don’t think they are cheating. I just think they are there to make me feel especially incompetent. :p No, seriously, unless they appear and disappear randomly at various spots in the world (teleport hacks – I’ve seen them often enough in Warhammer Online), then I don’t think they are cheating.

Pride – Are you one of those people that demands grouping with other “elite” players? Do you kick players out of your team who you feel are under-performing? Why or why not?

I demand grouping with sensible people! People who know that others make mistakes, but who try their best to help each other and have fun. I admit, I get frustrated when there is another player who is severely underperforming even after telling them how to do something (e.g.: Do not stand in the red puddle on the ground. It’ll kill you instantly!). But I haven’t kicked them out yet or asked to have them removed from the raid, because this would also make me feel bad. I usually just hope that one day, they will finally understand what that red puddle looks like and get out of there quickly enough – or get a better PC or a faster internet connection which could also always be the reason for why they are performing the way they are.