Something’s Different Here

The number of the day is 115. In that, this post is the 115th I’ve published here on Time to Loot. This makes it the most posts I’ve published on a single blog to date. Interestingly I thought this made Time to Loot by far my most published-to blog. When I started digging into it for this post, that turned out to be not entirely true.

Even though I was wrong about how close it was between one of my prior blogs and this one — it hasn’t shaken the feeling I have that something is different this time. Different better. That maybe I’ve found my forever-blog this time around.

My Ex-Blogs

  • Tank’n’Tree (Oct 2008 – Nov 2009, Unknown post count — I estimate ~30)
    Still has some content existing in the archive, but you need to scroll down to see any of it.
  • Fun in Games (Jun 2010 – Oct 2011, 97 posts)
  • Modicum of Gaming (May 2012 – Sep 2013, 16 posts)

I wonder if I knew at the time how close to 100 posts I was on Fun in Games. I feel like this is new information to me, but surely I must have?

Reading back over them now, it’s… I don’t even know that I have an adequate word for it. Some posts have stuck with me in memory across the years, others I recall fondly as old friends upon seeing them again. Still others again, it feels like I’m reading for the first time. I possess not even the dimmest memories of writing them.

For the most part — I enjoy my writing style from back then better. I wonder now if I’ll be able to recapture the vibrancy and sense of life found in the older posts.

But whether I can or not, the sense of lasting — of longer life — to this blog isn’t lessened. I’ve felt it for at least the last month or two, but couldn’t quite define what it was.

Until I realised I already had. In finding my ‘why‘ and grounding it on something a little bit less transient than ‘Blogs are cool, ergo I want one’ grants a sense of permanence I’ve never really had with a blog before. It was always top of mind that my interests could waver and change course at any moment.

And heck, who knows, I could be way off and that happens anyway.

No doubt someone will pull this out and show me should it. But I don’t think it will be necessary. By this stage of a blog for me I’ve typically hit my first break of a month or longer. The excitement turned to chore. A post feeling obligatory.

As I write this a little over the halfway mark of Blaugust, having lost the slight scheduled lead I had rolling for a while, I’m tired but no less motivated for that. I made sure to call out — mostly for my own benefit — at the start of August that I’d try to hit a post every day but that I wasn’t really expecting to and I wasn’t going to beat myself up too much if I didn’t.

I said it mostly as a ward against the risk of making posting here feel like a chore, like I’ve encountered in the past. But tired though I am — I’m in this. :D

Sunshine Blogger Award Nomination

Originally, this post was scheduled for tomorrow. I wanted to provide a little more spacing between this post and the last Q&A / tag post. I am fortunate though, that I prepared the answers for this one in advance. Because the post I had planned for today1… Well, I wasn’t able to complete it before bed time.

I thought about giving it the same experimental ‘Stream of Consciousness’ treatment that I gave yesterday’s Why Write About Games post, but it didn’t seem the right treatment for the subject matter.

So! With acknowledgement of this being so close in time to the last Q&A / tag post, I shall forgo a round of nominations and question raising of my own this time around.

Without further adieu — I was nominated by Frostilyte! (Thank-you!) and you can see their nomination post and questions answered here. Frosti has had a focus on review content but is branching out into more bloggy-style stuff too. Take a look! :)

Questions

You’ve become the leader of your country for a day. You have the power to make one item illegal for purchase for the rest of time. What do you choose and why?

Cigarettes, I think.

With the amount of harm they can cause which has at this stage been beyond proven, it in many respects amazes me that they are still for sale. It absolutely irks me the amount of ‘sin tax’ the Government puts on them ostensibly as a deterrent, but really as a revenue driver.

However I leave the ‘I think’ qualifier in there as the lessons of prohibition in the States would need to be more closely considered. Would such a move in actual fact only serve to further line the pockets of those willing to deal in drugs? How would the criminalisation of something once so widely accepted even work?

In short I’m under no illusion that it would be a simple matter.

You will receive five million dollars (USD), but for the next year you will always feel like you have to use the washroom and won’t be able to tell the difference between a false alarm and the real deal. Do you take the money? Why or why not?

Absolutely take the money.

Even if we assumed the absolute worst and ‘Not be able to tell the difference’ somehow extends beyond just the physical sensations to prohibiting the use of logic and reason as well. Even if we were to assume an even worse case that the use of adult diapers was prohibited essentially rendering you homebound.

Still take the money.

One could comfortably live off the interest without eating into the principal amount in that year, even with no further income. Assuming even an incredibly modest 2.40% p/a interest rate, you would accrue $120k on the principal.

You could go on sabbatical or career break for the 12 month period and return to the work force (if you wished) the following year.

You remove the existence of an entire genre from video games | film | music | anime | television (pick one). What genre do you ax out of existence and why?

OK, I typically get frustrated by non-answers to things like this — but here goes a bit of a non-answer.

I probably wouldn’t. Just because something isn’t for me doesn’t mean I want to get rid of it. At least not within the common realm of genres anyway.

If we were to extend this into being a slightly heavier question — which I’m reasonably sure wasn’t the intent — then if it was within my power to axe out of existence any exploitative material of unwilling participants I would do it in a heartbeat.

What superpower do you want to help solve your mundane everyday problems?

Telekinesis was the first that popped into my head. But there are so many ways a super power could help with mundane every day problems. Super speed. Future sight.

I think super speed would be my ultimate pick.

Many of us would like to go back in time to give our younger selves advice. Instead of doing that, what skill would you trick yourself into thinking you had so the younger you would actively pursue learning said skill?

Oh man. I’m not sure my younger self would work like that.

But for the sake of the question, assuming he did — Super Speed. … What? ;)

More seriously, how young are we talking? If quite, then likely a musical instrument. Although drawing, painting or more generally ‘visual art’ would be quite a close second.

But then there’s also writing. Maybe I could trick younger me into thinking I’d already become a published author and get him hard at work on that?

Toilet paper roll over, under, or pine cone?

Hol’upaminnit. Frosti — I can only assume we have a breakdown in communication here somewhere.

A- A- A pine cone?

One of these suckers?

Nuh-uh. No way. Not sure why even an option. One of those is never getting anywhere near my-

You know what, let’s just all agree that we’re not savages and the paper needs to go over. ;)

If you could take credit for any invention and have everyone believe that you indeed created it, what would you choose and why?

The wheel. The confusion would be priceless.

Or fire, for much the same reason.

Plus neither of those things steals credit from people still living or with close relatives still living.

Although I suppose there is a question here in just how far that belief ran and whether it could be utilised for a greater good. Hmm. Like, could I claim credit for a life saving drug of some kind, win the patent back and ensure it isn’t priced beyond the reach of people who need it?

What is your favourite beverage with alcohol in it? If you don’t drink booze, same question sans the alcohol.

I don’t drink a great deal — but when I do go out for the odd big night, at a certain point Espresso Martini’s become a feature. ;)

You wake up in a cold sweat. What a terrible nightmare. You were surrounded by that thing you have an irrational fear of. Then you hear a noise in the looming darkness. You turn on the lights. OH NO! IT WASN’T A DREAM!? What thing, that you have an irrational fear of, is in the room with you?

Oh hell. I actually don’t know.

There are a great many things I’m uncomfortable with irrationally, but not quite sure they extend fully into the realm of ‘fear’ since I will deal with them when necessary. This includes things like spiders and large insects of which when they trespass into our domain — I’m the designated remover.

Heights? But I’ve done sky diving and have bungee jumping on my pretend-I’m-a-tourist-in-my-own-country todo list.

Otherwise I think the things I’m afraid of a perfectly rational, thank-you very much. Hah. Armed intruders, for instance.

Without looking up the answer, which of the following headlines do you think is false and why?

  • Aspen man hires stuffed owl as his defense attorney
  • Man allegedly assaults homeless man over cheeseburger
  • Woman missing, since she got lost
  • Woman allegedly assaults sandwich maker over ‘Too Many Pickles’

I could absolutely believe any of these as being a real headline. I would hope that that man in Aspen only attempted to hire a stuffed owl as his defense attorney and so I wonder if that might be the fake one.

But I’m going to go with the ‘Woman missing, since she got lost’ option as it seems grammatically at least to be the least like a headline. Also from a logical perspective they probably wouldn’t have known what happened to the woman unless she was found again.

Still. It might be real. You have to let me know Frosti, you must! :D

You’ve decided to help combat the inevitable global climate change that will kill us all by eating vegetarian once a week. What is one new meal you’re excited to prepare and consume?

*makes a face*

Although honestly, I’m probably eating vegetarian at least once a week already. But once you put a label on it like that… *makes a face again*

I would say though pan fried couscous with feta (I assume this is allowed, since not full on vegan being requested) and raisins, alongside a helping of steamed vegetables such as broccoli and carrot.


Thank-you again very much for the nomination, Frostilyte, and for the questions that I know you put a lot of thought and effort into!

Seriously though, you have to say which headline was the fake one. Or wait, were they all real? All fake? xD

Given proximity to the last round of questions I’m not going to carry this one on unless there is a particular demand for more questions — I’m happy to oblige in that case. ;)

Why Write About Games?

It’s been a while since I busted out an Anthem screenshot for anything, but I suppose it’s only fair given it is what brought me back to the blogging fold earlier this year. If you go alllll the way back to my initial ‘Hello!‘ post you can see the barely constrained (and ultimately undeserved) optimism I held for the game.

Initially, this blog had been envisioned as being Anthem only. I had a different domain registered and had started down the path of setting things up there.

I already knew in the back my mind that such a narrow path was a mistake. But with just how broken down my normally quite dense armour of jaded cynicism was, I was in no mood to listen. Fortunately, before I publicly unveiled anything I came to my senses and went with the compromise position you see before you today — Time to Loot.

One of these days I’m going to get around to doing the long overdue version 2.0 of my About page. But if you look there at the moment you can still see traces of the original vision there. I was going to be a useful site. Packed with guides and in-depth coverage of game systems and optimised builds.

While I have no aversion to that style of content and have done a few pieces of that nature, it turned out not to be what most excited me about coming back to game blogging again. What did most excite me came as an epiphany a month or so after my initial return.

It was far less about writing technical, practical material — and far more about keeping a personal history. A place to reflect on who I had been vs. where I will end up in the years to come, perhaps. Memory alone is a fickle beast, so having this sort of journal could be very enlightening.

I credit making this discovery of what motivates me to blog to Wilhelm. I read his about page and simply gasped when I realised that what he talked about was precisely what I wanted. Needed, possibly. That it should take someone else to spell it out though, in hindsight, is a little baffling. How many times had I lamented to myself at the loss of history, of connections?

Many. I’ve even run several blogs before, but all (clearly) lacked any sense of permanence. And so the connection between the blogging platform and this personal history wasn’t one I’d ever consciously made.

This isn’t my only reason. But it lies at the heart of it. For the others, you can actually jump over and read Kluwes’ post. He essentially wrote the rest of this post already. I agree with everything he included. :)


As a side note — I wrote this post a little differently than usual. Differently even than what I’d outlined in the changing approach to writing post. I was struggling to get words to the page for this one starting out, I’d write a paragraph and then delete, dissatisfied.

So! To bust through that wall I went full stream of consciousness, NaNo-mode ‘Sprint’ on it. Just started writing, banning myself from editing other than typos or grievous grammatical errors (that I saw, I make no promises that none remain)!

It turned out to be a very different post from how I first imagined it, but this might be a style I play around with a bit more in future. I think there might be something to it, especially for helping specifically with uncovering my own writer’s voice.

Taking the Elementor Pro Plunge

Along with GeneratePress Premium. And er, OceanWP Premium. Look, I’m a little indecisive. It wasn’t that long ago after all, that I ran through the rigamarole of setting up OceanWP in what I thought was my liking.

More details below but the headline is: Changes ahoy again! And in fact, shortly after I publish this post, I’ll be flicking the site over into an out-of-the-box style of GeneratePress. Many of the plugins, hooks and Elementor previews for it require it to be the active theme to work with.

For posterity — the before shot (desktop).

I think it’s worth calling out though, that OceanWP even in it’s free version is an amazing theme. The flexibility it offers beats the pants off some of the other highly recommended Elementor (free or pro) friendly themes like Neve or Astra.

OceanWP lets you modify which order the Elementor hooks show up in, or whether they show up at all.

So why change theme entirely, rather than customise further?

Good question.

The answer being that OceanWP — possibly as a result of just how much flexibility it offers, and possibly entirely down to some quirk of my own site — has a few issues that I couldn’t easily seem to override or fix.

None of them on their own were deal breaking, but in combination they’ve got to me enough to retrigger taking a look around at what else is out there.

Example? Well, if you were a mobile or tablet user (or even just narrowed the horizontal width enough on desktop) the responsive version of the menu had the error text ‘undefined’ sitting below the menu options.

I also didn’t much like the fact that the main archive page used the tagline in such a huge title font. But configuration of how that appeared was tied to archive titles more generally. I looked into playing around with a CSS override, but of course it uses the same class descriptors as well (which makes sense given the configuration tie-in).

There were are few other smaller bits and pieces too, but the long and the short of it is — I’d still recommend OceanWP to someone looking for a great out-of-the-box free theme that ties in to the WordPress customiser to a frankly amazing degree.

So if you’re switching OFF OceanWP, why buy the premium edition?

Another good question!

The answer lies pretty much 100% in the Elementor extensions it provides. I did enable a bunch of the theme specific plugins too, to see if I might be able to work with OceanWP around some of the bugs and issues noted above with them.

But nooope. Turned most of them off again almost straight away. I have no doubt they’re useful for certain WP powered websites. Just… not mine.

So with having discovered that, I’ll need to make an assessment on whether or not it’s worth paying for to keep these extensions updated beyond the year. My prediction is: Probably not. But guess we’ll come back and revisit that later. ;)

And Elementor? Why go Pro?

The ThemeBuilder power of it, primarily.

The free version of Elementor lets you design fantastic standalone pages, and a few other bits and bobs. But Elementor Pro lets you go in and fully redesign how things like the Archive pages are put together. Search pages. Individual blog page templates. Headers. Footers.

Things that were previously tied 100% into a theme and you had no means of customising (beyond what the Theme allowed you to) without diving into the code.

If you’re curious.. Er. Here’s a 28m tutorial. This tutorial works from essentially a blank state, but Elementor friendly themes like OceanWP, GeneratePress, Astra, etc can be used to fill in the bits you don’t especially need or want to build by hand.

Jump to ~3m 30s if not interested in the grabbing and installing of the blank slate ‘Hello’ theme.

I had a bit of a play last night with a custom header. It’s an incredibly powerful tool, but one that I have a lot to learn about yet!

My first priority will be to configure what I can from GeneratePress alone, then it’ll be time to dive in here crack my knuckles a bit. :)

Final Note: None of this is necessary!

I just wanted to acknowledge this. Especially for any of our new joiners for Blaugust 2019.

As long as you’re not making your readers eyes bleed. As long as you’re not causing them strain by too small or too tightly packed text. As long as you’re not getting your readers lost on an unnavigable site…

Then all the rest of this is fluff. Don’t worry about it until you’re happy you’ve settled into a content creation rhythm which is comfortable for you. Or at all.

And if you do start poking around at custom themes and all that — there are plenty of utterly free options to look through first, including many of the ones I’ve mentioned today!

Finding a Topic #2 & Real Neat Blog Award

The other day when I was talking about finding a topic I neglected one other means that might occasionally come your way. When you’re lucky enough to literally have a post thrust your way, essentially ready to go. My feelings about these things are a bit mixed, as much of the time they carry at least some of the marks of a chain letter.

Where I’ve landed is essentially to consider each on a case by case basis. Take a look at the rules and the flexibility they offer. The two main things I’m looking for are:

  • The rules allow for discretion around tagging other people. Anything with a hard requirement to tag x other people I’ll pass on.
  • The questions themselves — do I think they might result in somewhat interesting answers?

If the answers are good on both of those things — then it’s time to remember the community aspect of Blogging. :)

Real Neat Blog Award

Right! So the idea behind this one is to peel back the curtain a little and let readers perhaps find out a little more about the person behind the keyboard.

It follows a theme of 7’s — answer 7 questions, create 7 of your own, tag 7 people to answer your questions and carry it on. Most important to me is that this isn’t mandatory. If you don’t feel comfortable tagging people — don’t. Make it an open invite, or do less. There is no threat upon your luck or the love life should you choose to ignore it. ;)

I was just tagged by Lothari of the Games & Stories blog — a fairly brand new blog looking at critical analysis of game stories. Lothari has just recently finished up her series on the first Assassin’s Creed game, and it makes for a great read.

But you see, a little while ago I’d also been tagged by Angie over at Backlog Crusader! I’m not quite sure how I missed it, since I remember clearly reading her answers at the time. I found out now I’d been tagged in it via revisiting the post from Lothari’s link. Hah.

Anywho!

My Answers!

Since I’ve been tagged twice, I figure I can choose which question to answer. The rule I’ll set myself is that I can only choose between the options of the same numeral. i.e., Answer one option from ‘Question 1’, one option from ‘Question 2’ etc. Not just willy nilly any question anywhere.

That would be madness!

1. What was the origin of your most long term geeky interest?

When I was younger I used to go on holiday and stay with another family in Waihi Beach. A beautiful area with natural bushwalks, diving points and even caves. Caves where I had my first (and so far only) encounter with a wild penguin.

Waihi Beach — Cave Bay

One year when we went — something was different. There was a box that showed moving pictures. But unlike TV, these pictures were being controlled! By us! Using things called a Mouse and Keyboard.

That summer we still spent a bunch of time outside. At the beach, going eeling in nearby creeks under bridges. But come the evenings, we’d find our way around this strange device called a PC, taking turns to fail horribly in Dangerous Dave, Sneakers and other titles of the time.

I didn’t think overmuch of it at the time — I was fascinated for sure, but the days were still the more exciting parts to me. But the seed was planted, and shortly after that visit we had one of our own in the house. A state of the art 386SX, running at a whopping 33MHz with ‘Turbo’ turned on. Commander Keen, and Duke before he went 3D were my main games starting out. :)

2. Who wins — pirates of ninjas?

If we put aside for the moment the question of why they’re fighting instead of joining forces against the Samurai — and also any questions on why they might be in each other’s territory?

Image result for pirate vs ninja

Then Ninjas, hands down. Pirates just don’t the necessary discipline or training to take out even a half-decent Ninja.

3. If you were going to live forever on an isolated island and could only have access to three types of food, what would you choose?

Forever? Holy shiz. Well then, If we’re talking ‘types’ as in a category of food, then I think I’d want to make sure it offered me some degree of variety over the many, many years to come.

So! First then, Garden Vegetables — ship me off with a wide array of seeds, please. I’ll build some trellising for tomatoes, bean and pea vines. Setup areas for potatoes, pumpkins. Heaps more ideally.

Second, following a similar vein — Orchard Fruits — saplings for oranges, apples, peaches (mmm, peaches), even lemons please!

Finally — and apologies to any vegetarian friends out there who until now might’ve been happy with me — I’d like some array of edible livestock. Ideally quite a range, but if I was to narrow it down to a single type then Cows. Beef, milk and possibly cheese if I had the chance to research how to make it before leaving. Although I guess with an infinite number of years could probably eventually work it out. ;)

I was going to put a picture of a cow in here, but just couldn’t do it.

4. What language, real or fictional, would you most like to learn?

Japanese, I think.

Outside of Latin it was the language I got on the most with at school. It’s a country I’d really like to visit — and that besides, who wouldn’t like to be able to appreciate anime without subtitles? :D

(Don’t even come at me with that ‘dub’ stuff either. Urgh. My youngest recent discovered Naruto, but is watching it with the English VO. *sobs*)

5. What is your favorite blog post you’ve written and why?

Narrowing this one down to a few options wasn’t hard — picking the overall and final favourite was much more difficult. But in the end I settled with:

Changing Times, Changing Gamer

This started with a post of Pete’s talking to how over time he had found himself needing more from games to stay interested. Bhagpuss recounted a tale in a similar vein on how he learnt to appreciate games for what they were and just have fun.

It made me finally reflect on how my own preferences as a gamer had changed over time — and not always in a conscious manner. There was a certain internal discord created when elements once seen as an absolute core piece of your gamer identity are no longer what you consciously believed them to be.

It’s a topic that fascinated me, and this one even resulted in a bit of a follow-up post. I suspect there may be more in this idea well to emerge over time, too.

6. What is your biggest content creation dream?

I’m still very much in a process of discovery and learning.

I don’t yet know where the overlap on the Venn diagram of ‘topics I enjoy covering’ and ‘topics this community are interested in reading about’ lies. I’m also still experimenting with layout and visual style a fair bit.

Hell, most importantly of all?

I don’t yet know what my written voice sounds like.

I still need to find it. Do I want to include more humour? What style, if so? Many hundreds of thousands of words of experimentation and discovery lie before me til I know, I reckon.

So my biggest content creation dream, is getting there. To a place where I understand what my written voice is. Not only that, but also liking that voice. If I can get there, alongside understanding that venn diagram of content — I’ll be at the place of my dreams.

From there? Who knows. :)

7. What’s something your readers wouldn’t be able to guess about you?

Exact height and weight in one try. Ooh, or hair style! Um… … …

Seriously, I struggled with this one quite a bit.

Then I remembered a post I read and commented on today, from The Well-Red Mage on the topic of guilty pleasure games.

Short of reading that comment, it might be hard to guess that I have a goodly number of guilty-pleasure shows. I love me some trashy Supernatural-esque shows from time to time. (Currently watching Wynonna Earp on Netflix, for example.)

They don’t form the sum total of what I enjoy watching, thankfully. That would probably drive me quite insane. But when the mood strikes, sure. I’ll sit down to a round of some CW-ish show for a bit. (*Recalls Smallville* Somebodeh saaaaaaave meeeeee.)

My Questions and Nominations

First to be clear — the ‘nomination’ is up for anyone at all who cares to participate. But I’m going to specifically tag the Blaugust folk who are ‘new’ to this whole thing (and appear to be ready for guests. There are a few still blogs at the time of writing this that are in the works of getting setup and writing a first post). :)

On the flip side — no-one should feel any obligation to partake if they’d rather not, or to tag anyone in turn if they do if they’d rather not. :)

NameBlog
TeaCooler on the Internet
TheRoyalFamilyDating Sims on the Holodeck
Serum7sixEnjoying Overload
EverwakeEverwake’s Internet Journey
MagimosIndiecator
QuinWhere The Monsters Are
ezBreezyPlay Casually

If you’re not on this list, but are ready to participate when you see this, please consider yourself there! :D

Now, onto the questions:

  1. What hobbies or interests do you have that you might not regularly include on your blog?
  2. Are you learning any skills at the moment? If not, what would you like to learn?
  3. If you were invited on a one-way trip to Mars to establish a new colony, would you go?
  4. What is the one thing that you most want readers to come away from your blog with? A feeling, thought, or understanding.
  5. What excites you most about having a blog?
  6. If you could make one thing from a book, TV show or movie real, and in your possession, what would it be?
  7. They say everyone has at least one book in them — if you were to write a book, what would it be about?

Enjoy! And thank-you again to both Angie and Lothari for the lovely tag! :D

Blaugust Day #7: Finding a Topic

Technically, this week of Blaugust is all about Topic Brainstorming. Other than a sort of topic-adjacent post on regular features I’ve struggled with this one. In large part because I don’t really have a structured means of sitting down and coming up with post ideas. SDWeasel sounds to be in a similar position.

Ideas are plentiful. They’re all around. In other words:

Ideas Can Come from Anywhere

The trick is to capture the ideas as they occur. You can’t trust that they’ll still be rattling around your brain later when you come to write. Or at least, I certainly can’t.

SDWeasel uses a physical notebook. Rambling Redshirt uses Evernote (along with a bunch of other incredible tools, check out his entire Blaugust range of posts so far!)

Myself? I tend to make drafts directly in WordPress. The draft might contain as little as a title to jog my memory on the idea or it might have bulletpoints on thoughts that I intend to cover. Ideas can age though, and depending on how long a draft sits around — it may end up never being used, or more commonly — morph into an almost entirely different idea by the time the post is published.

In any case, the point is — capture your ideas somehow. If they morph or even if they end up being thrown into the trashcan by choice, that’s still better than having lost one to the tip of your tongue forever.

Some things that might get you started though, and the wellsprings eternal that I constantly dip my idea-ladle into:

The Game(s) You’re Playing / The Projects You’re Working On

Image links through to one of my ESO play session write-ups. … I really need to get back to ESO one of these days.

This is a bit of an obvious one perhaps, but I have heard concern raised that their gameplay just really isn’t that interesting, or that no-one would care.

But do iiiiit. Everyone has different experiences and takeaways from what they’re doing. What one person notices right away as important might take another entirely by surprise. This can be an excellent way of learning more about you as a person, and what you value, too.

If you already know you’re going to do a post on a particular play session, then this would be a time I’d highly recommend taking bulletpoint notes! They help a lot when it comes to recounting the story. :)

Other Bloggers

This one links through to a post spawned from ideas across multiple blogs and posts. It talks to how we evolve as gamers over time, and how our preferences can sometimes unconsciously run away from us!

Blogging is a team sport. You may not think so at first and make no mistake — I’m not saying there isn’t a huge amount of individual effort required. There is.

But communication in the community is like a constantly fertile garden of ideas. However that communication occurs: Other’s blog posts, direct conversation in the likes of the Blaugust Discord or the resulting discussion in the comments it can spark fantastic work of your own.

Absolutely spend the time you need to, to ensure you’re happy with your own blog and your own work output. But wherever at all possible, allow for time to support — and in turn be supported by — the wider blogging community around you.

News & Events

A brief (non-spoilery) look at TennoCon 2019, and my love for the New Player Experience cinematic.

This isn’t an area I delve into terribly often myself.

I figure for the actual news itself from an informational perspective, there are far better sources for it than I. Sources who are often time the firsthand or primary in the news, and can get it out there faster.

Occasionally though, there is enough impact, thoughts or feelings around a piece of news that it feels appropriate to share a take on it. That take or impression becomes the focus of the post, rather than the news itself.

On the events front — these can be big or small. Upcoming holiday style events in your MMO of choice, perhaps. Or the much bigger events — BlizzCon, TennoCon, etc — if it’s a game or thing you’re passionate about, then sharing your passion on what you discovered or learned can be really engaging both to write about and for others to read about.

Capture Your Ideas as and When They Come

That really should be the key takeaway message. It doesn’t really matter how you do it. Find something that works for you and your lifestyle.

Ideas are everywhere. It’s retaining them beyond the initial pop-in to your mind that can be tricky. :)

Regular Features as a Form of Content

Whether new to the scene or an old hand, from time to time it can feel like your post ideas have dried up. There’s no handy news to respond to. Your games have become a series of dailies with all the engagement of a wet paper bag. Well shiz. What to do?

Sorry. This post probably won’t help with that directly. Roger Edwards has just written something which might though. Instead, Regular Features can help by giving you some reliable content to ensure the gaps between posts never get too large. That you don’t get yourself into a position of feeling like you can’t come back now.1

Regular features can help. But there are some pitfalls watch out for too.

You can make a feature out of essentially anything.

A round up of your favourite posts from around the community perhaps. Or a look at your month in review — what games you played or projects you worked on. Although you could just as easily pick a different cadence. Weekly, fortnightly, quarterly and/or even a mega wrap-up yearly.

You might even set yourself some gaming goals for the period ahead and discuss how you did at the end. Aywren does a great series of this kind. So does Syp. Although this is far too structured for me. I can’t even guarantee any given game will carry on being played one month to the next. ;)

Got a massive backlog? Endgame Viable for Blaugust is posting every day after running through a title for about an hour. It’s not a review, just impressions generated during that dedicated chunk of time. You could adapt this idea to into a weekly or fortnightly feature, perhaps.

Or maybe you’re just looking to supplement your regular posts with something a little lower in effort, but still nice for your readers. Possibly as a weekend cover piece. The Nerdy Bookahs have this covered with Screenshot Saturdays.

Myself, I run two features at the moment. Maybe two and a half if we’re being generous. The core two being the monthly Journal and another on the Humble Monthly inclusions.2 Unfortunately for me, these both land at fairly similar times which is one of the potential issues you may need to watch out for.

Namely, not overloading yourself with too much at any one point in time. Or even just overall.

But if that does happen? If you’re starting to feel too pressured by the number of features you’ve got setup, or if you feel that you’re now posting nothing but these things — let your least favourite ones go.

There’s nothing wrong with that. It isn’t a failure. If they’ve stopped being fun to do as an overall experience then something has to give.

Don’t let it be your entire blog.

Blaugust Day #4 — Stop Letting Jetpack Post to Twitter For You

Important Note: The original post remains below unedited — but Belghast has run the same experiment (with a much larger userbase, likely to be more representative of Twitter at large) and found engagement levels dropped when using the below method.

As noted down in the comments, he found that while what I’ve posted looks great to Twitter.com users — users with a third party app will not have the image pulled through. So they end up with a plain text tweet with zero image of any kind.

So! While it might be worth some experimentation for a few days to see how this works for you, in general? Might just be best off trusting it to WordPress and Jetpack attaching an image for you after all, rather than relying on a meta data pull.

The Jetpack plugin — core to your site if using WordPress.com — has a number of helpful Social Media connection options. And as it turns out, perhaps one that is less than helpful. The general idea of these connectors being that when you publish a post, you write a small written blurb to go along with a link to your post. Then that, along with your featured (or first used) image will be published to any or all of Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook or LinkedIn.

The Jetpack plugin — core to your site if using WordPress.com — has a number of helpful Social Media connection options. And as it turns out, perhaps one that is less than helpful. The general idea of these connectors being that when you publish a post, you write a small written blurb to go along with a link to your post. Then that, along with your featured (or first used) image will be published to any or all of Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook or LinkedIn.

While I’ve not tried LinkedIn — this isn’t the sort of blog where I’d like to share content there — for the most part this auto publish functionality is excellent.

But steer clear of the Twitter one! Don’t use it if you can help it!1

Why? What’s Wrong with the Publish to Twitter Connector?

The tweet on the left was posted manually. The one on the right came from the Jetpack plugin.

The difference at first glance is subtle but it can cost you in post clickthroughs.

I’m not talking about any difference in tag or text content of the Tweet’s either. Although those are important too and Syp has some great general tips for game blogging which can help here.

The problem is how difficult the Jetpack plugin makes it for readers to actually get to your post via Twitter.

The highlights show clickable area that will take someone to your post.

With Jetpack powered tweets, I found a high degree of ‘Media engagements’ — or clicks on the images. But Jetpack is uploading these images as attachments, so clicks on the images will not bring anyone through to your post.

If you publish a tweet manually however — and don’t upload an image attachment — Twitter will convert your link to what you see on the left. The text-only link disappears and your featured image will be pulled and used automatically as part of the clickable area that will take people to your post.

The difference now is anyone clicking the image, or any of the text below it, will be brought through to your post. Much easier for them.

In my limited experimentation so far I’ve seen very positive results by manually tweeting over using Jetpack for Twitter. To the order of 250-400% increase in Link clicks over what was typical previously.

My sample size in both tweets and followers is small though — so I’d be curious to find whether ‘bigger bloggers’ can replicate these results.

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