Reflecting on the Last Three Months of Blogging

This past weekend I was so exhausted I completely forgot about writing for this blog until late Sunday night as I was getting ready for bed, thus the delay in posting something today. I’m not sure what the issue was; I slept twelve hours Friday night, another ten on Saturday night and I took naps off and on all weekend. This from someone who generally gets about six hours of sleep a night. I might have gone ahead and worked out a post last night had I already decided on a topic for today but with nothing specific in mind (or nothing that I could write quickly at least) I figured I would just skip a day.

It turns out I have some time this afternoon in between finishing up a few work projects and so I decided to write a little about my blogging from the first three months of 2016. I’ve been posting something five to six days a week for almost three months now; something I would have never thought possible when I started blogging last year and I’ve learned a lot from the activity. This started in January with a new approach to blogging which I’ve continued to adjust until reaching a more or less comfortable equilibrium of writing and gaming during the free time that I have available without compromising the central importance of family and of Jesus Christ in my life. With three months under my belt I’d like to reflect a little on the experience.

Quantity, not quality…

Okay, that’s not exactly my philosophy but I have found that writing shorter posts consistently is much better for me in the long run than trying to write longer, more involved posts that often take up hours and hours of my time. I’ve learned to write somewhere around 500-700 words and have it posted all in about 30-40 minutes which is much better than the 2-3 hour posts of 1200 words I was writing more often than not last year. And while I certainly am not the greatest of writers, I do think the challenge of writing succinctly on a regular basis and allowing myself only one editorial pass per piece (I do cheat a little sometimes) has improved my abilities.

I’ve also seen more traffic on my blog because of the amount of writing I’m doing, which is something I had never thought about before. It makes sense now that I’m looking at the statistical reports on wordpress; if you have one hundred posts each being read once per day you’re going to have more hits than if you have 20 posts being read by twice as many people. This of course is not a reflection of engagement or quality, but it does create a kind of momentum and I’ve certainly seen far more followers added to my list and at least a couple of regular contributors via comments or “likes.”

Churning out ideas

One of the challenges to writing this often is coming up with ideas for daily postings. At first it was easy; having taken off from writing for about six months I was fit to burst on things I wanted to include in the blog. However in time either the well of ideas ran dry, or I found that a few concepts didn’t have the legs to make a full post, or the time between conception and execution was so long that I was no longer interested. I never erase those unused ideas from my list— even now I have a backlog of potential blogs from back in January—but the longer they go unwritten the less likely it seems they ever will be. That’s one of the reasons I started writing daily again rather than trying to do it all in a 2-3 hour block on the weekends. Often ideas have a momentum that can be easily lost if they aren’t put to proverbial paper quickly enough.

My Sunday posts I’ve found to be the most challenging. This is the day I’ve set aside to write on spiritual concerns related to my daily experiences as a follower of Jesus Christ but it’s not always easy to write a post of this nature. They take a lot more work so I’m learning I need to start them sooner than the night before (something that works throughout the rest of the week) and honestly whether or not I have something to write is a pretty good reflection of where my head and heart are at spiritually at any given time.

Lately work has been busy and I’ve come home (or gone back to a hotel more often than not) completely exhausted. Prayer and reading the Bible are both these funny activities that often require a bit of “oomph” to get started but once you do get going they become extremely refreshing. In other words, they are both opportunities to find rest in the Lord but often require overcoming the barrier of getting started and I’ve failed more often than not to do so in the last two weeks. It reminds me of physical exercise in that regard. I do plan on picking these writings back up again soon as they are some of my favorites to publish; hopefully you’ll see something posted this weekend.

Where do I go from here?

I’d like to continue writing more or less as I have been, however I do think creating a little structure might help me continue writing for the next three months. To start, I’d like to continue setting goals each month for the games that I’m playing, although I am going to tweak that a little bit because as March has illustrated, I bit off way more than I could chew and I need to be a little less specific with the side games I’m playing. Nevertheless, it’s a good way to have a focus for how I spend my time gaming in general and I’ve certainly appreciated the outline I set for The Secret World, even if I didn’t accomplish everything on the list.

Using the monthly goals as a starting point, I’d like to write regularly on the games I’m playing from that list; perhaps once weekly on each game. That will give me at least two to three posts that I can count on each week and will leave me a couple days for writing about anything else that comes to mind. This isn’t a rule set and stone, just a springboard for weekly ideas that I can use so that I’m not staring down five posts a week and wondering whether or not I’ll have an idea for each day. This month you’ll probably continue to see a lot on The Secret World with the addition of Stardew Valley and Tree of Savior. I also plan on playing The Deadly Tower of Monsters once a week or so until I’ve completed that game and I finally started Life is Strange so I have that to look forward to as well.

Beyond using a monthly list of goals as a regular source for topics, my other blogging goal is to write one or two of these posts each evening either before or after I’ve been in game and to keep them at about 500-700 words (not this one of course, it’s already at 1200…) Basically I want to continue with what I’ve been doing but refine the process a little more and make sure I have enough source material to keep going. It’s been a lot of fun getting back into the blogging scene during the first quarter of 2016 and if I can keep at it for the rest of this year I’m really looking forward to seeing how I grow as a writer.

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Waiting For Rez: 100 Posts

This will be the 100th post on Waiting For Rez. I had completely different plans on what I was going to post today (another impressions piece for Black Desert) however realizing this post will be a kind of mile marker for the blog, I thought I would go a different direction. A little over a year ago Massively was shut down and Massively OP was born and in the middle of those two events I decided to start blogging. I was already considering it having discovered Bio Break and other popular MMO blogs but the threat of Massively going away for good was the catalyst to get me started; I wanted to continue conversing with the community surrounding MMOs.

While there was certainly a period of silence I am still blogging today and I’m proud of reaching the 100 post marker. So I thought I would provide a few links to some of my favorite posts over the last year. Most of them I like because they’re funny (or at least I think they are) but a few are significant for other reasons.

Crafting in ESO: Writ Certification Part 1

This is by far the most popular post on my blog; with the launch of ESO on consoles my daily views skyrocketed because of this post. And while I have no reason to believe that everyone who visited the site read through the post let alone anything else on my blog, I think I did a good job with this guide. If I remember correctly it was also the first post I had featured on Global Chat, a column produced by Justin Olivetti at Massively OP. Sadly there was never a part two. I meant to follow it up with a similar post on the other half of writ certification but I never did. Now I would have to read my own guide to remember how the process works!

Welcome to Coldharbour

Another post on The Elder Scrolls Online. This was just something silly I put together using some screenshots I took during a return to Coldharbour after the revamp. It really was an improvement on the tutorial experience but rather than a standard impressions piece I decided to do something a little different.

Invariably Variable

You can probably skip through most of this one. It was one of the “here’s what’s going on in my gaming life right now” posts that I referred to as the “State of the Rez.” But definitely get to the part about the Sandbocolypse and sending my grandson back in time. And the Bree-800 series cyber-economist. I should turn this stuff into a popular film series.

Movement Progression in Trove and the Value of Flight in Draenor

I think this post sums up why I loved Trove so much last year and it was also one of those moments when I really started thinking that, despite my enjoyment of the theme park model of MMOs (see Invariably Variable), there really was a lot of stagnation in the way they were designed without enough innovation that fundamentally affected gameplay rather than changes that were nothing more than grafted on mini-games.

Eleven Years, Dancing Cheek to Cheek

I wrote this post for my wife last year for our eleventh anniversary. I wanted to write down our story like my Grandpa had for his wife, kids and grandkids. The longer we’re married the more remarkable I realize she is and how blessed I am to be married to such a strong, gracious woman.

Beard and Soul

I enjoyed writing this post even more than I did making those bearded characters in the game. And while I was being a little tongue and cheek  I really was impressed with the facial hair options and the character creator in general in Blade and Soul. This was one of those MMOs I never expected to try let alone to enjoy as much as I did but it really is a great title and the more bearded men we get balancing out the number of busty women and fluffy tailed children the better.

Revisiting My Plans for 2016

It’s been a month and already my MMO plans for 2016 have changed so I wanted to revisit my gaming goals for the year and adjust them a little. And since I wasn’t sure what was going on with Waiting For Rez at the start of January, I’ll also include my plans for the blog. There’s a good chance this “revisiting of goals” will end up being a monthly review (and possibly a running joke) because as the year progresses some plans will work out while others will prove to be the wrong direction for me. Honestly, iterating on plans made for a causal hobby is not a bad thing. While I want to accomplish some goals, I also want to be flexible because it is after all just for fun!

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The Secret World

First of all, I did decide to go ahead and purchase the Grand Master pack. While I have some concerns about long term gameplay (like what I’ll do once I’ve finished all the current issues) I still believe I’ll get plenty of use out of the subscription perks and bonus points. As for my goals in The Secret World, I’d like to complete the current story content such that I end the year up to date. I’d also like to complete the skill wheel by the end of the year; not the one for auxiliary weapons but the primary wheel. For the sake of staying invested in the game long term I’d like to find a good Cabal to join and to participate in group activities like dungeons, raids, or whatever else TSW offers.

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Black Desert Online

In my previous post I had mentioned The Elder Scrolls Online as a secondary MMO, one that would provide similar skill-point progression but in a fantasy setting. Once again, by no fault of its own (I really do enjoy the game) I’ve taken ESO off the table in favor of Black Desert. BDO was on my “games to watch” list but has rapidly moved into something I am genuinely excited about and definitely going to be playing. I pre-ordered the game so that I could participate in the second beta and now with the announcement of a March 3rd launch, I’m only a month away from playing the live game.

Assuming I enjoy Black Desert as much as I think I’m going to, my plans are to level a Tamer to 50 and then work on a few low level alts (Wizard, Sorceress, and Warrior or Valkyrie) to help create infrastructure for crafting and trade. I don’t know what kind of time commitment any of this will require, but I would like to focus on ship building and fishing first, and then farming and horse breeding second. All in all I think Black Desert will make a nice companion to The Secret World, each one offering what the other lacks.

Blogging

My plans for the blog are to continue writing 4-5 posts on MMOs to publish during the weekdays, each around 500 words (or less). Then on Sundays I would like to publish another 500 word post on something I’ve been reading in the Bible lately. It was always my goal with this blog to have some kind of reflection on scripture on a regular basis but while these are often my favorite pieces to write they can be the hardest to get started. Still, I have a lot of ideas written down already that I want to pursue so even if it means cutting back during the week, I want to make this a priority. There’s a reason why “Waiting For Rez” has two implied meanings after all.

Single Player Games

I’m actually backing away from my goal of working through single player games as a part of my schedule. First of all, between The Secret World and Black Desert, I have plenty to keep me busy. In addition to a full plate already, I haven’t really enjoyed my time playing through the single player games on my steam acount. Sure, it could be the particular titles I’ve tried thus far, but I think what it comes down to is that I’m not a gamer, I’m an MMO player. Of the games on my list, I definitely want to complete Life is Strange but the rest may end up as a loss.

 

So that’s it for 2016, The Secret World will still take top priority while Black Desert will be a solid secondary MMO and a strong companion for TSW. The Elder Scrolls Online and single player games are off the menu (with the exception of Life is Strange) and my blog will focus on regular, 500 word posts. I think that’s plenty to keep me busy for the year; here’s to a productive (and enjoyable) 2016!