Category Archives: Blogging

New bloggers Monday


I’m starting this new week of blogging with a lovely MMO screenshot and lo and behold, a new bloggers-on-the-block roundup! It’s shocking how long I haven’t done this and not for any lack of intention. As we all know, the MMO blogosphere hasn’t only become more generalized in more recent years (which I like) but become somewhat more private since the waning of the great WoW boom. I expect all of that to change come early 2014, when TESO, WS and EQN fan blogs will be shooting out of the ground like mushrooms. New MMOs always mean fresh meat for the blogosphere, also the more generalist one.

Until then and hopefully not for the last time, there have been four newer blogs catching my personal attention lately – so in good old blogosphere neighbourly spirit, go check them out sometime and say hi!

  • Maldwiz at More than just a game is ready to roll on a variety of MMO subjects, being interested in different titles as his “personal MMO history” post reveals.
  • Scree, longtime lurker and resident cynic with a focus on EQNext, contacted me a while ago to say hi and check out his new place. He is still working out that blog template (and I hope he will add a comment function sometime).
  • Steppen over at WoW Politik is “Analyzing the community and media environment of MMORPGs” with a focus on WoW. Already he proves to be a resource for clever, in-depth and well-spoken analyzis on a more meta commentary level.
  • Last but far from least, I’ve recently discovered Ravanel’s place which features a diary on her journeys through various MMOs. I am behind on this one because Ravanel has been around for the NBI in 2012 but alas, it’s the nature of blogospheres that some paths take longer to cross than others.

A warm welcome from me guys and keep blogging! Happy Monday, everybody.

Wanted: Your help against the evil Spam!

It’s getting out of hand, waaay out of hand. Last time I asked for help in the blogosphere, it resulted in a perfect new rig, so this is me turning to my fellow wordpress veterans out there. As an ex-blogger, I’m still fairly new to self-hosted wordpress and after researching spam plugins, I’m a bit at a loss what to go for next.

Some context: I am currently using Antispam Bee, so spam won’t be auto-published on the blog. Most of it goes straight to the spam box although a few will be pending for regular approval. While spam Bee unfortunately doesn’t seem to “learn” as far as popular spam words, sender address or IP go, it was fine to check the spam box manually until more recently. But not so anymore. Ever since my hoster “fixed” my comment issues (genuine commenters receiving 404 errors on comments), the flood gates to more web spam have apparently been opened wide.

I am now receiving 180 comments and upwards per day. This is 18 pages of spam to go through a day if I want to make sure no genuine comments or pingbacks get lost in the mix. After holiday break I came back to 1000+ spam comments which I deleted right away. This is of course not satisfactory at all since the whole point of fixing my past issues was to minimize commenting troubles for readers.

So, this is where I turn to you. I have of course come across Akismet and alternatives such as Spamfree WordPress or Growmap, but there are some general concerns I have. Basically, I am looking for the following:

  • Unobtrusive, as in no captchas or similar inconveniences
  • Smart system that will automatically expand filter database
  • Spamfilter that will keep spam from happening: going through a ton of spam pages a day just won’t do.

Now, I’ve no idea if that last part even exists, however I don’t see any value in yet another plugin where I’ll have to manually select spam to be approved or moved to the trash bin on a daily basis. Also, while several bloggers seem to use Akismet, I recall that causing a lot of commenting troubles in the blogosphere (but maybe that has been fixed). How does Akismet hold up in terms of minimizing manual labor and genuine comment loss?

Maybe there’s also some other alternatives I’m not seeing – unfortunately I am no code monkey. Thanks for any tips and recommendations! It’s greatly appreciated.

The MMO blogosphere is here to stay – if you want it to

I’m not sure exactly what caused the recent stir of blogging-death related posts these past two weeks, or if it’s even a thing. Bloggers tend to magnify issues by joining in to comment or just muse on a matter. It doesn’t really mean everyone’s worried. That “golden age of MMO blogging”-theme has been spooking around ever since Cataclysm latest. So, let me just get this out of the way: I am not worried. It just so happens there’s a few more voices on this you shouldn’t miss.

Recently three more MMO bloggers, namely Jeromai, Azuriel and Jewel, have joined the debate and made some excellent points each on why things are starting to sound very doomy-gloomy and largely disproportional in some cases. Let me recite one of my favorite lines in this context: “…I’ve thought myself out of happiness one million times, but never once into it”. Let’s not overdo it with the next generation and social media anxiety – you don’t wanna start sounding like your grandparents, do you? So, let’s highlight just a few tiny bits from the links above –

There are I few issues I think that are maybe giving this impression. Firstly is that some of the old cranky dinosaurs of the blogging world have been retiring in recent years, some that were part of those early communities. [Jewel]

Do you know what the upcoming generation’s great crime is? They have a choice, whereas we did not. Do you think the New Blogger Initiative failure rate of 73% is a new phenomenon? It is not. In fact, I was pretty surprised the number that survived was that high. Blogging is hard. [Azuriel]

Some grew up and got older and prioritized other things to do with their time than write blog posts – like start a family, begin a new job, play non-MMO games, continue playing MMOs but not bother to chronicle or document it. – The others, well, they haven’t gone anywhere. [Jeromai]

I don’t know about you but I think it would have been incredibly boring to just have one primary game most were talking about. Now we have multiple opinions about a variety of subjects spawned on by new experiences and it is an exciting time to be a part of. [Jewel]

Things aren’t worse; things are different. To some, maybe different is worse. In which case, you probably chose the wrong genre of game to write about in the first place. [Azuriel]

In short, if you want a blogging community, it behooves you to form your own. Go visit and bookmark your favorite sites to read and leave a comment here and there. Develop your own circle and fellowship. [Jeromai]

About everything that I believe about this current, colorful and diverse age of MMO blogging (and what makes a community for that matter) is covered in these three articles. As Shintar points out elsewhere in context of MMO players crying for community in games, there is something comparatively weird about beweeping a collective that you are still part of. Don’t want blogging / the MMO blogosphere to die? Keep writing!

[…]I wrote elsewhere that I personally favor today’s diversity among bloggers. and even if MMO blogging becomes smaller, that doesn’t have to be worse, either. do we need 100% growth for growth’s sake? or could it be that the blogosphere grows closer together that way, making for better discussions at times? all things pros and cons.

This was always a niche and as you said too, blog ‘failure rates’ were always high. maybe the biggest contribution to this topic from our side is to not stop blogging just because we believe others stop blogging. 😉 my personal blogosphere corner is only marginally smaller than ever. [Syl]

My blogroll has shed a few feathers in the last three years, mostly due to retiring WoW bloggers who either felt like WoW was dying or realized that they had no more to say about it. Now I can’t guess what other bloggers want from their blogosphere; I can only point out what it is I am looking for. For me, it’s always been about exchange – about the hot cross-blog debates, about shared topics, about great discussions (you guys are awesome!). I don’t require a hundred other bloggers or commenters per topic for this, in fact that would be very hard to manage (although you can bet I would try and reply to every comment). The great majority of my visitors per day are silent readers, as I am sure they are for all blogs. As far as reciprocal relationships go, I can maybe keep track of dialogues between 30 or so different people. Does it matter how many more exist besides that? Were MMO bloggers ever so much more than a tiny niche, really?

If we keep with the numbers, blogs are about being read first and foremost. Any more visible connection is the amazing icing on the cake that keeps so many of us going. And I don’t detect a decline of general interest or visitors on this or any of the other active, general MMO blogs on my blogroll. No more than is warranted by annual summer- and release low, anyway. I’ve started dabbling with youtube more recently (and it’s really just for fun) and I’m having the greatest time with the Battle Bards podcast. More social creative media are awesome in combination with blogging. As for twitter, I’m sorry I didn’t join sooner. It has made MMO blogging that much more personal.

Here to stay

There is room here for everybody. There is a community you can carve out for yourself and reach out to. There is an audience for every type of blogger. The same was true ten years ago – only, there was actually a lot less MMO audience around than there is today. As for WoW’s hayday well, fewer blogs on the same topic mean better chances for newer bloggers to get noticed.

The community is you. It’s us. If we keep writing, connecting and acknowledging each other, it’s us who decide what happens to the MMO blogosphere in the future. And it’s also the only way of telling aspiring bloggers than this is still very much a venture worth pursuing. Well, I think it is.

Happy weekend to all you MMO bloggers, readers and commenters out there. Here’s a silly picture of a cat for you! It’s Friday after all!

When did frivolty go out of fashion?

When Syp shared a link to this excellent Extra Credits video today, I couldn’t help but think about how videogames indeed have changed since the 80ies when the whole business started off. And not just games actually but western pop-culture as a whole; I used to love the silly action flicks (like Lethal Weapon or Beverly Hills Cop) of the 80ies, I still do. Their kind or also the type of sitcoms that used to be popular at the time, are almost completely non-existent nowadays. Critics would tear them apart. Everything has become a lot more complex and that is an inevitable part of an evolution and progression – but things have also become a lot darker, grimmer and more cynical.


My retro extremist friend Cyrille, who’s been a next-gen-grump ever since the early 90ies, used to tell me how games were increasingly losing that “charm and magic” for him and I don’t think he was merely a victim of nostalgia. Yeah, we’ve grown-up since the 80ies but our games at the time were created by grown-ups and those action movies I miss so much were also created by grown-ups for grown-ups? So there’s clearly something bigger at work here culturally when we compare different eras. When did it become so unfashionable and untrendy to be frivolous? Why is it silly to be a little silly and over the top? Why this trend of ever darker and edgier?

In context of many of the recent “blogging cowboys/girls aka is blogging dying out?”-debates in the blogosphere (I’m not worried, by the way), particularly also this take by Liore and my personal reply in the comment section, I’ve been thinking a lot about my own blogging and blog as part of the MMO blogging community. As Wilhelm put it too, gold is where you find it and that community is wherever we believe it to be depending on the particular space we inhabit and our closest neighbors. I’m very happy and grateful where I am, for the way things have gone so far and for all the amazing people that frequent my comment sections and populate my blogroll, filling my head with new thoughts and ideas. I know fully well though that there are also a few readers and probably also more bigtime bloggers, who believe I am not serious enough because I dare to be hypey/enthusiastic or ranty/pissed in some of my reviews. Or then, I delight in more silly and trivial things or swear on appropriate occasion. This blog is a colorful place, I hope for more than just its design. To me, the world of videogames isn’t serious – it’s colorful, hyperbolic, goofy, hilarious, strange, creepy and fantastic. My heart goes out to the part where the Extra Credits video speaks about Final Fantasy and how the older titles dared to be shamelessly magical and over-the-top. It was pure fun and joy, it was silly and beautiful.

That’s everything games and the entire fantasy genre for that matter, are to me. That’s also what I’d like to be and remain as a blogger, hot and cold as appropriate (I actually believe true balance is created by the existence of two extremes), enthusiastic and passionate about the things I write. It’s a great feat to be a consistent source of information for your readers, but there’s also wanting to inspire connections and emotions, looking to create a spark or maybe just a smile or constructive disagreement. When I started my journey in this blogosphere, I introduced a regular category of posts called “Frivolous Friday” to celebrate the trivial and humorous side of gaming. I realize though, I too have stopped paying this category the regular tribute it deserves and for this I apologize. Truly. I hope it’s not because I considered it to draw too little attention or because I felt some kind of peer pressure. More than maybe most of the articles I write on MMO Gypsy, passionate explorer and social justice discussions aside, frivolous Friday represents me as a person. I love creative, poetic or silly writing as much as putting on the meta design or social critic’s hat. I can do both.

So I guess to bring both topics to a happy end: let’s not forget about the simple joy and fantastic hyperbole that can be part of games and MMOs. It’s okay to just entertain or delight in silly stuff while also being a srs blogger. Just because we’re growing up doesn’t mean all of our games or other interests have to.

Goodbye from Raging Monkeys! Hello from MMO Gypsy!

Dear readers, subscribers and blogger friends,

After almost three years I bid farewell to my old blogger blog, known as Raging Monkeys (sometimes with apostrophe, sometimes not) and am very happy to welcome you to my brand new wordpress site: MMO Gypsy!
When google announced the death of google reader that was the final push for me to turn my back on blogger whose continued existence is now doubtful at best. I’ve always toyed with the idea of moving to wordpress but platform switches being such stressful undertakings, I resisted. So, I guess this is where I give thanks to google for ever treating blogger as their bastard child.

That said, moving blogs cross-platform was as rocky as expected; much reading, eyebrow raising and hair tearing has gone before this very first post on wordpress. Coming from blogger with all its installed conveniences and simple stylesheet, learning how to navigate WP’s plugins structure, editing themes and setting up a self-hosted domain are a challenge. That last part was easiest thanks to some friendly support, but I am still working my way through finish issues concerning permalinks switches, feed redirection, google’s SEO et cetera. Oh boy.

A new name and theme

I am very happy that the move to WP also marks the beginning of finally hosting my own blog (as blog content ownership is shady at best at blogger) and loosing the baggage of Raging Monkeys. It is always weird to be the only person blogging from a ‘plural blog name’, frequently being referred to as ‘they/them’. Somewhere along the lines I gave using an apostrophe a shot which only created more confusion on people’s blogrolls, either linking to Raging Monkeys or Monkey’s. Yeah, that worked well. I haven’t felt attachment to my old blog’s title for a long time now and after having had friends ask me what was apish or angry about my blog, I had to agree that it neither really fit my personality nor writing style. It was fun for a few months before blogger hindsight struck me. Alas, Raging Monkeys was my home for a long time and I’ll always treasure it for all the enjoyment blogging in the MMO sphere and interacting with my commenters has brought me.

I’ve chosen MMO Gypsy as my new alias. I feel it’s a fitting description of my many travels through online worlds that started over a decade ago. I know I will be attached to this wonderful genre for much longer. There is also a more personal identification with the literal gypsy as I partly share origins with some of that wandering folk. This is something I only recently discovered, so I take it as a good omen towards the new name choice.

About the old feed and blogroll issues

Due to both permalink reasons and google punishing duplicate content, the old blog is not accessible anymore but redirects to the new domain. However, as you can see I managed to fully import all my past articles and all your old comments to MMO Gypsy! This was the most important part for me and luckily it all went smoothly. I am glad that from now on there will be more and better options for commenting.

As I intend to keep my old feedburner feed, no changes have gone into the site’s feed; if you subscribed to my old blog before, you should now automatically get the new updates from MMO Gypsy. I have installed a feed-redirection in WP on behalf of new joiners (unfortunately WP automatically generates its own feed and won’t let you delete/replace it) and sincerely hope that’s working reliably to direct them to my old feed to avoid multiple feeds. Please let me know if this appears not to be the case!

To those of you who have Raging Monkeys on their blogroll: I’m afraid this will have to be updated manually by yourself as the old blogger link will not update any longer or reliably (and certainly not update the blog title). Thanks!

With that, I hope to have sorted the most important aspects of the move. As you can see the new blog is not entirely finished yet and I have few qualms to sort out on the sidebar and plugins to find to replace blogger’s inbuilt functionality for mobile view or statistics. Many thanks for letting me know if you detect an error or loading issues anywhere!

A look ahead and thank you

So much novelty did of course beg for a brand new look, too. I’ve been a white, minimalist theme blogger forever and while I loved Raging Monkeys final look (and have kept its overall layout and font styles), I’ve been wanting to go more ‘gamey’ and cheerful for a while. I hope all you non-feed readers like the new look – after much fixing I am quite happy with it now!

All that said, from here on MMO Gypsy is resuming all business and tomfoolery as usual. While names may have changed, I remain yours truly Syl, host of this not-so-serious but always sincere MMO and RPG blog – looking forward to many adventures to come, interesting discussions and great laughs with the community.

I do also want to take this opportunity to thank all my faithful readers and commenters, those who have stuck with Raging Monkeys for so long and those who have only discovered it more recently. You’re what’s making blogging this fantastic and worthwhile experience to me and all the merry chats, insightful debates and exchanges we’ve had over the years are what I will always cherish and welcome, also on this new blog. I look forward to seeing you back here! A very warm welcome to MMO Gypsy!


– Syl 🙂 (who still needs to figure out how to align images in WP)

The quintessential indispensable guide to successful blogging (and cheeseballs)

In case you’re wondering what’s up with my publishing speed of late, I am finally off work! Yes, that evil work from hell and I couldn’t be happier about it. I am back open road, my old friend! Just this Monday I got an SMS from my successor and she is telling me that she intends to resign this week (after a mere two weeks in a company I stayed at for 8 months) and that the other new gal (who replaced everyone else of my team who have also resigned with me) already resigned last Friday. Ahahaha! If only I could shed a tear for my former bosses but sometimes karma hits the right people.

Anyway, I noticed that I have been entirely too unserious with my blogging of late, so today I intend to fix this by giving quintessential blogging advice after receiving an email from Sam, a silent longterm reader who approached me about how to best establish a successful blogging venture. Now, back in the days I would’ve felt horribly unqualified to answer such a question and just have redirected him over to Larisa, who always offered the best of counsel mixed with some genuine, motherly peptalk. Truth be told, I still feel rather awkward to share my “wisdom” on something I still consider trivial at its core (not the art of great writing mind) but then again, I have been a steady blogger for 2.5 years now with 300ish posts published – so why the hell not?

Of course, the internet is full of serious blogging advice by very experienced individuals. These days you can hardly get a word out before being confronted with “becoming a great blogger” and all the fatal “do’s and donts” of publishing – and rightly so! After all, this is the new journalism and we need to imitate that crowd. So, I can definitely see why some people are intimidated to start their own blog, no matter how long they’ve toyed with the idea. For those, let me guide you on your road to guaranteed successfullness.

The lofty art of SRS blogging

Dear Sam and everyone else it concerns,
I hate saying it but while blogging ain’t rocket science, you gotta know your stuff these days. You wanna stand out among one billion gazillion bloggers out there, don’t ya? Well, you better follow this guide meticulously. It really isn’t so hard (or scary) if you follow few easy steps!

Rule #1: Be overbearingly present!
If you intend to start your own blog, you better know that it’s not enough to write good articles regularly. Make sure to also get accounts on facebook, myspace, google plus, twitter, tumblr and youtube right away – the more, the better. NETWORKING NETWORKING NETWORKING! If you wanna up your traffic, your presence gotta be inescapable!

Rule #2: Nomen est omen!
Naming your blog is serious business. Further down the line to fame and success, you might hate yourself for not having given this proper thought and then it’s too late! Think hard on something fresh and catchy that represents you and sticks with people, or don’t open a blog at all. Ever. 
Good example: a geeky/techie wordplay on your name and chosen subject.
Bad example: completely unrelated monkey business.

Rule #3: Limit your subject and be real!
The worst you can do to establish a big readership fast and harvest hits, is to write about too wide a field of topics. You want to be known for something, right? Even if you are a really interesting person with many different interests, try to focus and deliver one thing only. Also, avoid niche topics and meta analysis. Nobody wants to read a meta commentary blog on MMORPG design, for example. Trust me.

Rule #4: Guides guides guides!
The best you can do to keep’em hits rollin’ is writing guides. Might sound dry and boring to you, but nothing gets you street cred and longterm visits like a nice and detailed guide with pictures. Great writing and insightful debates are cool and all but….guides dude, guides!

Rule #5: Use catchy post titles!
You probably know how the google search engine works, so you want to make sure when people are looking for something they always end up on your blog! Intention means nothing but every hit counts! Try and make your post titles as search engine catchy as you possibly can. Add meta tags and work broad terminology into the mix! If you manage to weave “cheeseballs” coherently into any given post title, you basically got it down. Ninja!

Rule #6: Sound smarter than you are!
Make any given topic sound like an academic treatise. The art of spicing up the mundane lies in correct placement of a few superfluous but trendy or intellectual sounding catchwords the average reader probably won’t understand. Popular words include: “dichotomy, paradigm (shift), per se, oeuvre, juxtaposition” etc. Jep, any of those will do. Or better even, use them all!

Rule #7: Don’t swear!
You may never ever swear or sink to vulgarity in an article. Even if it’s really witty and in context, or alternatively just damn funny and honest, you do not want to alienate anyone by using bad words on your blog. Only unprofessional and shady people swear. In general, avoid being too extreme with your opinions; you don’t want to polarize – to polarize is to lose half of a potential audience. People only like strong opinions as long as they are theirs.

I will stop here because seven is a beautiful number. Also, these are really the most valuable points I can possibly pass on to rookie bloggers – points I live by myself every day. I hope I’ve managed to show that there’s nothing to worry about whatsoever as long as you heed a few simple, widely approved rules. If not, I’m afraid to say your blog’s gonna crash and burn and sink into oblivion.

Also, for Sam – please check my other answer in your inbox!
Best wishes,

(who is entirely guilty of using ‘per se’ when others aren’t looking. The Big Yin would not approve.)

Happy Birthday to Meee!

Guild Wars 2 cometh and I am so prepared, Illidan would be proud! After a Friday night shift in the company of euphoric buddies (particular thanks go to my friend Dave for doing most of the work and research!), the new PC is up and running – as in running any game on maximum details smoothly I can possibly attempt to play on Steam. If you’re currently looking to benchmark a gaming rig I recommend DayZ though, no game (maybe with the exception of BF3 which I don’t possess) is a better indicator of what your PC can handle right now. Needless to say, DayZ looks amazing for me, much to the envy of a significant other! Everything onscreen down to my Windows system fonts, is so damn sharp that my eyes need actual adjusting….Is this the real world??

Real or not, this is also where I give thanks again to everyone who left their comments and recommendations on what components to get last week and those contacting me via email. To sum up briefly for you what I got in the end, and maybe also as pointers for anyone else currently looking to upgrade to a solid gaming rig on an average budget:

(click image to enlarge)

You might think I slightly exceeded my price limit there (which I did), but the list includes a new 2TB hard disk and Win7 64 which I had not considered earlier. I chose the GTX-570 over the GTX-560ti for reasons of very similar price. I went with a different brand as no other were on stock, it’s absolutely fine and looks impressive.

One piece in particular I couldn’t be happier about is the much debated SSD: this is quite possibly the most amazing upgrade ever and for 150 bucks extra worth getting if you’re in any way similar to myself – somebody who frequently uses the same few, big applications. It is paradise to see your Windows or Photoshop launch within mere seconds (no kidding) and games like Skyrim or any MMO with significant loading times and a tendency to crash every now and then. An SSD is such a huge improvement in terms of overall enjoyment and quality time, there’s no going back for me ever! Add the nice side-effect that I will now frequently shut down my PC, instead of keeping it running while having dinner or a shower…all systems are back running so fast it’s silly.

I R really happy now – why, oh why can you not let me test GW2 already, ArenaNet??

Year Two

Over the PC building zeal and GW2 euphoria, I actually almost forgot that this blog here is turning two years old as of today. That’s right, 730 days and a second cupcake! Such nice timing it is, with me gifting myself and the world of MMOs being so considerate, too!

Alas, I have not much else to say, I am not a big birthday person. When I think back to my last bloggaversary, I feel that everything I said there still stands and I still very much endorse the same topics (and people). I’m glad I’ve found this place for myself and my writing, and I’m particularly glad that I’ve stuck with the blog for this long no matter how busy the times. I don’t believe in grand quitting gestures and hasty goodbyes, I believe in comebacks and life being about ups and downs rather than stability. Our blogs are patient and they will always be there when we return (that is if our providers don’t quit on us in the meantime). To me that is a strangely comforting thought.

I look forward to some high times ahead now, with GW2 coming and whatever the MMO and RPG future holds for us all. I will be there and I count on you joining me, all of you whose voices I’ve come to know better over the past two years and who make blogging such an enjoyable and rewarding venture to me, as much as those visiting for the very first time. All winds of change aside, I am still feeling optimistic about this wonderful genre and grateful to live in times such as this; times of truly big and beautiful games, vast worlds with many stories yet to be told and epic memories to be had in the company of friends. From here MMO Gypsy is resuming MMO business as usual and with very much the same promise as last year – that absolutely nothing will change on this blog. A merry /toast to all of you! ~Syl

Highly overdue weekend roundup

“If I knew that tomorrow was the end of the world, 
I would plant an apple tree today. [Luther…not Lex Luthor]

In the face of doom and the end of the MMO world as we know it (…), it’s appropriate to focus on the fresh and new. It’s been a while since my last New Bloggers on the Blogroll roundup, so this Friday is dedicated solely to some great and new (to me) writers that have made it into my much tended blogroll over the past few weeks. And yes – you’ve probably encountered many of them by now, if you’ve in any way followed the NBI some time ago, but I do things in my own time and spreading the attention is never a bad thing. The blogosphere also never seizes to amaze in terms of surfacing older blogs I’ve never countered for some unknown and no doubt shady reason. Alas.

Without much more needless explanation, I’d like to highlight those few MM-O/game bloggers who have caught my eye more recently. They’re generally awesome and fulfill different criteria I am personally looking for – a variety in perspective, consistent, intelligent writing, creativity and a sense of humor. Alternatively, their site just looks pretty……err needles to say, pay them a visit sometime!

While I am pointing out places you should know, I’d like to make the MMO Melting Pot my special mention of the week: it’s come to my attention that the center of the geeky gamers bloggiverse, or Hugh’s MMO crossroad as I like to think of it, is still unknown to many a blogger and blogreader out there. How that’s even possible after 2 years of busy meta-blogging I don’t know, but anyway – if you’re in any way looking to follow the comings and goings in the blogosphere with more ease and are tired to miss out on some of the good stuff, the Pot is the place to go for some great reads and weekly highlights. There’s also ways you can actively contribute or just spread the word to make the Pot an even livelier, buzzing MMO blogging hub for everybody!

With that I’m off to the weekend to plant that proverbial tree, maybe even in The Secret World. To the rest of you I wish, as always, wonderful online adventures and many new beginnings ahead. Happy weekend everybody!

Round-up: All the Ways that WoW changed us

It’s been an incredibly interesting blogging week for me, ever since Monday’s post on how WoW changed my preferences as an MMO player. The topic resonated with many readers who left their very personal takes on the transformations they perceive in themselves, the changes of playstyle, attitude and expectations towards future games. WoW has been the dominant player on the MMO market for at least 7 years and its impact on all of us cannot be denied, one way or another.

Commentaries didn’t stop there though; many of you went and took the topic further, contemplating on all the effects WoW had on a social and emotional level, what it left you and maybe even helped you with in your lives. This aspect was also reviewed frequently in other bloggers’ responses which I found especially fascinating reads. Indeed, there would be much more to say for me too, from how WoW taught me things about myself, about people management or online friendships, down to affecting the way I speak and vastly improving my second language skills ever since starting to play.

So, for those who have missed some of the great, personal responses that have been published over the last few days, or those just starting to read about this topic, here’s what the blogosphere had to say about how WoW (and other MMOs) changed them on a personal level, as players and people:

…and Liore commented in humorously crisp manner how WoW has basically turned her into this “huge elitist casual player”.

It’s likely I missed somebody but these were the contributions I’ve come across. It’s certainly never a finished conversation – MMOs will continue to influence us and WoW’s legacy will echo through many of the games yet to come. Whether we feel that we’ve changed for the better or worse as gamers, what all these reads have truly illustrated for me is how big a passion we all share and what positive potential lies in online gaming and communities in general. Personal player testimonies like for example that of Wapsipinicon put all the hearsay, stereotypes and bad press about MMOs out there to shame. So, thanks to all who gave this interesting topic a much wider scope, commenters and contributing bloggers alike.

A warm and sunny weekend to all of you out there – inside and outside your virtual spaces!

The MMO Tribute and Weekend Blog Updates

I’ve spent the past few days skimming through an immense archive of MMO screenshots, from early beginnings in Final Fantasy Online (I don’t have anything older stored anymore) on to four folders full of WoW to different titles I’ve played whenever I was jaded with the game and those I’ve played after. Needless to say, it put me in a painfully pensive and nostalgic mood, reliving some of the time I’ve spent in virtual worlds, looking at pictures of old friends who are no more and remembering some of the epic fun and silliness we shared. There is nothing that sets such an MMO picture album apart from real-life photographs; I’ve been to Vana’diel and Azeroth, to Hyboria and Telara, I have lived there and all the memories are memories of real things, real experiences and emotions. It’s been a hell of a journey and I don’t regret one damn minute. When I close my eyes I can be anywhere I want to and that has always been my escape.

Pewter recently examined what makes “the soul” of an MMO which is not an easy mission. It’s a question that can only be answered individually, what it is that draws each of us to virtual places and what we seek there. I once attempted to name that magic that makes games compelling to us, that draws us in so completely and utterly like only the best of them achieve. Where does the soul of an MMO lie? To me it’s many things come together, as it is no doubt for everybody (if not necessarily the same ones): it’s atmosphere and setting, a sense of world and scale, it’s in randomness and freedom, balance and cooperation. Longterm, the social component has the power to change everything. I am also a sucker for shiny art and beautiful music, but then you knew that already.

However you like to call this soul of adventure, I’ve found it there preserved in my screenshots, a decade of fun and wonders documented – a decade of me made up of different pieces. And it hit me that for each of those worlds I’ve visited, I left something of myself behind. That is the painful nostalgia, that’s what it means to truly immerse yourself in an MMO – it doesn’t come for free. We are all paying a tribute.
And maybe that’s why as the years pass, the longing increases and the older we get newer games make us feel less and less. For every world we’ve traveled, we leave a part of ourselves behind…until there’s nothing left to give. “When I was young I was a fool…”

The gallery is up and new blog is shiny!

My gallery is finished now and I’m very happy with it. It was initially only meant for my recent GW2 beta pictures but I’ve always wanted an online documentary that shows all the places Syl has been to and to go drown in nostalgia whenever I feel like it.
Unfortunately I haven’t found too many screenshots of the older games – I’m especially missing my Age of Conan folder that I seem to have lost. I realized too, that I haven’t taken nearly enough good screenshots in Allods, but then I’ll be back – I am always back to Allods.

Since I’ve spent so many hours picking pictures, I’ve finally also tackled another big to-do on my list, which was re-designing the entire blog to make it feel more personal to me and expressing the MMO / gamer thematic. The assorted screenshots were a big help and I absolutely love the new look and header image! This might get me to stick to blogger for a while longer, absolute pain in the ass that it is sometime.

Speaking of which, naturally the overhaul made me lose my blogroll again – this is the third time in a row now and I’m sick and tired of it. I finally found a way to store the links for good (doh), however I had to reproduce all of my blogroll pages manually (from memory) again and I am still missing at least 10 blogs on it. There’s only so much I can remember out of 55 links. So, in case you’re one of my blogroll users or find yourself missing all of a sudden – it’s quite possibly not intentional and I hope to restore the last few over the coming days. Letting me know is also much appreciated.

A good weekend to all of you out there paying the MMO tribute – and yes, one day I will tackle the even bigger headache that is switching my blog over to wordpress!