Age of Wonders: Planetfall Modernises TBS Multiplayer

I played a ridiculous amount of Age of Wonders: Planetfall yesterday. Like… Stupid crazy amounts given it was also a work day, and a work day today. Sleep took a bit of a backseat unfortunately. Which might explain why I’m not quite up to doing another full impressions post today ala the Fire Emblem: Three Houses impressions of a few days ago.

Discovering the multiplayer improvement in question was a bit of a process though. One full of consternation to start with, actually.

Planetfall made. Time to let the locals know everything the light touches will soon be mine.

“Alright, it’s definitely time for sleep now. And by now, I mean – it was a couple of hours ago.” I say, only half-heartedly meaning it.
“…Yeah, OK. Let’s save then.” Someone eventually replies, equally reluctant.
Silence passes again for a few moments. Then, “Where is the save button? Can anyone find it?” I ask, puzzled.
Another voice, “You’re the host, right? Should just be there on the menu…”

But it isn’t. There is no save button to be found anywhere. Given the <redacted> number of hours we’d just put into the game on the ‘Enormous’ map setting with a full 12-player spread (4 of us humans, rest AI) this was absolutely cause for consternation.

And one that in the moment, I thought was going to result in a very different sort of post today.

But as it turns out, there isn’t a need to save. The game persists in the cloud. You can drop in and drop out as players as you see fit. You can even leave it in ‘simultaneous’ turn mode so that anyone can drop in and finish up their turn in any order. Steam can provide you with a notification (if you allow it) to let you know when the turn has progressed and play is ready for you again.

Battle lines are drawn. But they needn’t have bothered. The opposing army over there is made up entirely of those two units. Yep. Just the two. (Spoiler: They didn’t win this one.)

If you’d like to go a little more traditional, you can switch the turn mode from simultaneous to sequential and again, you can be notified when its your turn to play.

This is very reminiscent of some of the best early era Turn Based Strategy games (including Age of Wonders 1, 2 and 3 incidentally) in allowing ‘PBEM’ or Play By EMail. Except in those days the save file would literally be sent from person to person in the chain.

Eyeing up the next potential conquest.

If you’re wondering the main advantage of this — it can be hard to get people together all at the same time for the type of time demanded of you from a multiplayer turn based strategy game. Really hard.

Asynchronous play with the game in the cloud allows everyone to drop in and out as their time allows to play their turn. But unlike the old solution to this problem of PBEM, if you do get the gang together for an hour or two (or more <cough>) you can seamlessly within the same game flip back to that mode for a while.

For all I know, this extension to the multiplayer capability was part of the Age of Wonders: Planetfall marketing and hype. But I’d kept fairly clear of it all and have come in fairly cold — already knowing I’d want it as a long-term fan of the series. So this was a surprise, and an awesome one at that. :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. :)

Newb’s Impressions of Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Here’s a confession: I’ve never played a Fire Emblem game before now. I have been vaguely aware of their existence. I knew that people who had played them liked them, even. But not really being a Nintendo person they’ve never before crossed my path in any meaningful way. In fact, the Switch is the first Nintendo console I’ve ever owned.1

Even with now owning a Switch, buying Fire Emblem: Three Houses wasn’t really something I’d planned on. I’d not crossed paths with any of the advertising materials or E3 releases about it. It was only through frequent expressions of excitement from others, particularly on Twitter, that I even started to consider it.

And… Well, here we are.

Now 10 hours in, on a scrublord Normal / Casual playthrough.

I did consider bumping the difficulty to hard and allowing permadeath — I’m familiar playing this way in the XCOM series after all. XCOM 2 perhaps being my favourite TBS of all.

But I’m glad I didn’t.

There is… A lot going on here. And much of it different from what I was expecting.

What do you mean they get to ‘counterattack’? It’s my turn!

Yes, I know I should get Edelgard a Steel Axe. Might’ve cleanly one-shot that Rogue. But… The iron one isn’t broken yet!

The first time I saw and recognised a counterattack in action for what it was, it was with an enemy attacking me. My character wasn’t having a bar of that and gave them a mighty wallop in return. Naturally I was all, ‘F- Yeah! Woo! Beat his ass!

Then, with sinking heart I noted that enemies could counterattack too. That just isn’t cricket. Boo.

Combat in in Fire Emblem: Three Houses has put me in the mind of Chess and Magic the Gathering (or other CCG of choice) having offspring. You can see elements of the parents throughout. Positioning matters, attack order matters and there are skills and modifiers to consider too. There is even a layer of strategy to consider over the top of the moment-to-moment tactics, too.

Unmodified by class, skill (or possibly hero items later on) the aggressor gets the CCG equivalent of ‘First Strike’. If your opponent happens to be… You know… Dead, after your attack happens then there is no fear of reprisal. Although if you have a sufficient ‘Speed’ stat advantage to attack twice, the counterattack will come between your swings.

Otherwise you can endeavour to manipulate the limitations of their attack patterns.

Ah Ferdinand… You’ll never rival Edelgard at this rate. She’s level 10 or 11 already!

Melee by and large can only attack horizontally or vertically one square adjacent to their position. You can walk right up next to a hostile sword user — albeit in a diagonal position — and give them a really bad day with a light showering of acid2.

Or you can use an archer to attack that same sword-fellow with impunity from two squares away. Although if your archer is not in turn well protected and the enemy survives, on their turn they can come invade your personal space with a swift chop. Your archer cannot attack into immediately adjacent squares, and so no counter attack for you.

Then there are your attached battalion units. They can be used to attack (often with additional affects, depending on the unit type) without triggering a counterattack. Although your battalion’s can be exhausted and will flee the field if overused.

Then there is the longer term strategic elements that will carry on having an impact outside the current battle. Adjacent fighting units will build relationships and learn to support one another better. You also need to consider how best to provide opportunity for units falling behind in XP to catch-up without putting them at undue risk.

I mean, sure it’s great having a few super units.

But lose even one of these because your healers were one-shot and you’re going to be in a great deal of trouble. Especially if you’re playing the more traditional ‘intended’ experience with potential for permanent character loss.3

The teaching and social elements might just be my favourite parts though

Which is good, because outside an initial battle or two it’s what you’ll almost exclusively do for the first couple of hours.

Practicing the art of small talk over tea with Claude.

Fire Emblem will throw a lot at you over this time. And at first, in combination with learning the layout of the monastery and all the ins and outs of where people might be hiding around the main areas highlighted on the map, it can feel a tad overwhelming.

You’re asked to make a choice between the three houses very early on as well. Which terrified me. Thankfully this wasn’t your ‘final answer’ so to speak. When you’re again asked shortly after this — you are given opportunity to better learn about each group.

The overwhelmed feeling comes back in short order though. Namely when you start looking at the skills you want to teach your students with respect to lining them up to particular classes. Classes that span across a range of tiers, no less. As someone completely unfamiliar with the Fire Emblem classes and what I might even need in the future, hoo boy.

Teach, showing how it’s done.

Fortunately, your students will occasionally come to you with suggestions for their skill goals. You’re absolutely free to ignore them and shoehorn them down a path of your choosing ‘teacher knows best’ style — but if you’re floundering along like I was, this is very helpful.

But their needs extend beyond the purely academic. You need to ensure you’re caring for them as a whole person. Watching out for their motivation, ensuring they get along with not only you but their classmates too.

Fire Emblem offers any number of ways to approach this from Tea Parties (as above) to cooking, group meals, rest days and more. But each tends to have an opportunity cost. Often in expenditure of your rather limited ‘Professor Points’ which dictate how many facilities or major actions you can take.

Also? If you’re doing those things instead of bettering your own skills, how can you maintain top efficiency in teaching your own class?

I feel like with 10 hours in, I’m starting to get a firmer grasp on managing and balancing these aspects. I have no illusions as to being anywhere near close to complete mastery and being able to optimise the crap out of everything I’m doing. But I’m comfortable. There is no longer a need to second guess every action I’m taking as somehow potentially screwing up my game.

PSA: Avoid the official trailers if you don’t want to have a significant story spoiler.

I won’t spoil it again here if you’ve been so far free of it. I’m told it was even in a lot of the promotional material, but my spoiler for this came from the pre-edit version of the Kotaku review. Their defense (I guess somewhat understandably) was that clearly Nintendo didn’t intend it to be a major secret, having included it in their own promotional material.

Nonetheless, I would’ve preferred being shocked and amazed by it when it happened.

I feel that how I’m approaching the game has been at least minutely adjusted just by the knowledge of what is coming — even though I don’t know when or how far off it might yet be.

In any case, final thoughts?

Well, not final final. There is still a huge amount more to do and see in the game.

But I can tell you at the very least I intend to do and see those things. I am really enjoying my first Fire Emblem experience. I can’t wait to see what else the game has to throw at me. (*Chants* hero items, hero items, hero items). The overwhelmed feeling I spoke to was relatively fleeting and just something to push through initially.

It’s also a title that will certainly invite replay. Not only by way of choosing an entirely different choice in from the titular ‘three houses’. But even in how you approach training and class paths for your team. This is a bit of a mixed bag though. The core storyline is expected to run 35-50ish hours. At that sort of length I’m not sure I’d want to go through it all again from the beginning. At least not any time soon.

Dorothea bringing the thunder.

But that’s me — I’m very much a one and done style gamer with anything of this length. I’m the same way about books, too. Even the ones I really love tend to get only a single reading. And its for much the same reason as with games: There are too many more yet to explore!

Ultimately, If you love turn based battles with a side of Persona-esque time management, and already own a Switch? I think this title is certainly one to grab. Reviews elsewhere have been positive and my own experience so far would back this up.

But if you’re after a second opinion — especially if you’re already experienced with the series? Angie from Backlog Crusader has a fantastic full review up written from that perspective.

And whether you’re experienced or not, Robert from Adventure Rules has put up an amazing set of Fire Emblem: Three Houses beginner tips.

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.

Blaugust Day #2 — It’s a Knock Out

Currently I’m not allowed to drive, operate heavy machinery or sign legal documents. Going on Social Media and certainly writing a blog post is probably not wise either. The somewhat amusing aspect of this, is that the draft I was preparing for today had an element of talking about planning in it.

Haaah. Planning. We don’t see eye to eye, planning and I. Not most of the time, at least. But this time I had at least a modicum of planning in place. I did! But…

I had my endoscopy appointment today. That part I knew and had accounted for. What I didn’t at all appreciate is that I would be going under general anesthesia for it. I for some reason was very much under the impression it would be local only.

I’m back home now, but still really quite groggy. The number of typos in this thing has been impressive. But I think I’m at least catching them all. (When I read this tomorrow, I am expecting for some disappointment on this front though.)

In any case. The news was… Good? But also not yet fully conclusive. My esophagus was clear of any growths or cancer indicators. That’s very good. But it also isn’t quite the end of the story yet. I’ll be back in another few weeks for a colonoscopy, and if that also fails to find the source of bleeding, to swallow a tiny capsule camera of some sort for an investigation of the small intestine as well.

These extra tests being on the cards was news to me though. I just wanted them to sort why it hurt to swallow. On that, as it turns out there is a part down there nearer the stomach end of things which is supposed to be generally closed — and isn’t. This has allowed some acid to get higher than it should and cause some scarring.

But this didn’t appear to overly worry the Dr performing the procedure today, far more worried about sorting out the source of iron supplies (ferritin) being so incredibly low. So… Yup! More stuff to go yet.

For now, I shall sign off for the day and retreat back to the sanctum of bed for a little bit.

Time to Loot Journal: July 2019

Looking back over the past month I’m left wondering… What happened? Where did the time go and what did I do? It seems like a lifetime ago that the health scare raised its head, and yet it was only a handful of weeks. The endoscopy is the end of this week and all going well will put this concern to rest.

Other unrelated sickness in the household has meant I’ve spent a week working from home, which I think lent itself to time blurring with the removal of a regular cadence of work and back, work and back to mark out the days.

Oh! Blaugust is coming though! Over the latter part of July I’ve been in a sort of warm-up exercise mode for it, posting if not every day then every other. It isn’t too late to sign up and jump into the Discord though. :)

Blog this Month

Published 18 posts this month. Up 8 from last. Second most posts in a month since I started Time to Loot (with first place going to February). My Blaugust goal is to hit a post all 31 days though.

I think I can do it — but we’ll see.

Life often has a way of sneaking up and inappropriately pinching your behind when you’re not looking after all. Someone should tell Life it’s 2019 and we don’t stand for that sort of carry on any more.

As for totals? This will make for 98 published posts. Almost broke 100 a month ahead of prediction! I have to say, quite chuffed with getting this far.

Most Viewed Posts

  1. Transport Fever: Things I Wish I Knew When I Started
  2. Heart of Rage: Tips for The Monitor
  3. Blaugust 2019 is Coming!
  4. Starting The Horrible Hundred
  5. Humble Monthly: July 2019

I was right! The Heart of Rage post at last falls out of top spot. That was a pretty impressive run for it though I suppose. But now the Transport Fever starter guide has taken over with almost 4x the views this month than HoR.

Games this Month

RankGameHours% Gaming TimeChange
1Final Fantasy XIV29.938.5%↑2
2Lost Ark29.838.3%New
3Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey4.55.8%Returning
4Stellaris4.15.3%New
5Warframe2.83.6%New
6Astroneer2.53.2%New
7Devil May Cry 51.82.3%Returning
8Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice0.91.1%New
9Celeste0.81.1%New
10Parkasaurus0.70.9%New

July saw a total of 77.7 gaming hours, down 2.9 hours from June.

And in an almost complete flip from last month where the total active hours were way down from watching shows on devices other than the main desktop, this month saw an unprecedented high of 317.2 total active hours. This is up 141.1 hours over last month.

Much of the increase to total active hours comes from spending a little over a week working from home, plus some return to this device as a TV/Movie watching device.

For July, this means gaming made up 24.4% of the active hours, down 21.2% from last month.

Final Fantasy XIV

Talk about juuuuust eking it out for top spot. Less than 6 minutes difference between it and Lost Ark.

Final Fantasy will certainly still hold strong next month. But whether it will be #1 or #2 is anyone’s guess at this stage.

I’m still looking down the barrel of the vast majority of The Horrible Hundred to complete. But I’ll get there. I’ve just been horribly distracted by Lost Ark, and it’s all Mailvaltar’s fault. Don’t look at me like that, it is! ;)

Lost Ark

Perhaps rather cruelly, I first found out about Lost Ark some 4 or 5 years ago.

I’ve finally got a chance to dive in and try most of the base classes. And Oh my God, where has this game been my entire life?

The blend of MMORPG and ARPG is just so perfect. I’ve leveled two of the Warrior classes — Berserker and Warlord to nearly 30, and with a friend just joining decided to take a look at Bard alongside them.

Easy contender for top spot next month, but as I called out in the sneak peek — it’s by no means certain. Technically you cannot play this outside of Korea, so my account could be terminated at any point. It is going to be difficult in the extreme though to keep my mindset as one of testing and experimenting rather than dedicated though.

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey

The last episode of the Fate of Atlantis DLC dropped this month, spurring me back into AC’s rendition of Greece where the myths are real.

I’ve started my way into chapter 2 of the First Blade DLC.

I’ve almost finished annihilating the Order of the Storm — Chapter 2’s addition to the Persian Cult — but I’m endeavouring to hunt a few final clues before the final engagement of the chapter. It is my hope that I can save this person rather than slaughter them. I don’t know if it’s possible, but it has been elsewhere in the story. So… Here’s to hoping!

The Others

Quite a hodgepodge here, as is my way. :)

Stellaris made a bit of a surprise return visit in the form of a 4 player game set in a small galaxy size, so that we could test out the recently released Ancient Relics Story pack which added archaeological dig sites that you could have your scientists work on.

Warframe saw a little bit of a revisit too after Tennocon. I still have much to do here, as even in this return I didn’t set foot onto Venus/Fortuna. I think I’m holding out for The New War and Empyrean to download into our hot little waiting hands.

Although I did discover today that there has been a little more added to the story of space mother (aka Natah)! It came alongside the Jupiter / Gas City revamp, and it is apparently quite telling of things to come in the New War story. I may not be able to resist doing that soon.

The rest on the list also make some degree of sense for me I suppose, but if you quirked a brow at Parkasaurus… Well. It’s a tycoon game for a start. I do also love those after all. But mostly, I have an 8-year old boy who still adores Dinosaurs. So this thing was about the best thing ever. For… *looks* …A bit under an hour. ;D

Finding your Motivation to Blog

Blaugust 2019 is almost upon us! The Annual Blogging event to welcome brand new blogger blood into the fold and revitalise the old with a month of focused posting. You can still sign-up to participate and jump into the Blaugust Discord!

If you’re considering starting a blog — and you want it to last more than the average of 100 days — then I think it important to discover your motivation. Not because there are necessarily any right or wrong answers. But rather so that when the going gets tough you have something a little more concrete to pull out and examine — and hopefully — see you through the other side.

It’s OK to start on a whim and discover your motivation though. Or to start with one motivation and discover another.

That’s essentially what I did with Time to Loot. I thought I’d returned for the reason of covering a singular title that had somehow busted through my armor of jaded cynicism and turned my hype dial to 11.

Anthem: It’s a bit over 6 months on now. Maybe time for a re-review? … Nah. Let’s give it a year.

I’d initially registered a very Anthem specific domain. But even if we had found Anthem to be everything we hoped for — going with such a specific name would have been a mistake. And also? Anthem would have been my ‘what’, and not a longer term motivation or ‘why’.

Incidentally, Belghast has a whole post on finding a blog name and blog purpose (from a content type perspective) now. But that is a bit of a different discussion from the one I want to follow.

Namely:

The Content You Cover Isn’t Your Motivation

Or at least, for most of us it won’t be. If you’re blogging about environmental issues or for political activism, then it might be. But for those of us covering gaming, general geekery or even writing and the like — the content we cover is just a vehicle.

Our ‘why’ might be to improve our own writing. Or to document a learning journey. Or in the cases of social issues and similar — perhaps the ‘why’ is to inform and affect change.

My own motivation I didn’t discover until I’d been back at blogging for a month or so.

First — the elephant in the room: I’d be a giant pants on fire liar if for a moment I tried to claim I didn’t want to build a readership. Of course I do. But I feel pretty strongly that this needs to be a background reason and not the primary driver.

For me discovering my motivation was akin to an epiphany. I’ve been on the internet a long time, and have been playing games for the vast majority of it. I have memories of amazing events going back to Asheron’s Call, or heck — even perhaps playing as a clan in QuakeWorld: Team Fortress.

But that history is nebulous and undocumented.

There are people I have lost touch with that I valued a great deal but are now lost forever to me.

I don’t want to look back in 10, 15, 20 years from now and feel the same pain, having made the same mistakes as I have over the last 20 or so. That’s my motivation. That, I think, is the key difference between this blogging effort and my past efforts.

I can’t predict the games or content I will cover, but I can be confident in my motivation and desire to keep a record of it to live on throughout.

So that’s mine. It might be yours as well. It might not be. There’s nothing wrong with having a dream of one day being able to monetise your blog and have it supplement or even replace your income. There’s nothing wrong with simply wanting to become internet-famous, either. But will that see you through the tough times of getting started when it feels like such goals are a million miles away?

If there’s one takeaway from this:

Your motivation for doing this crazy blogging thing is a ‘Why’ not your ‘What’.

Your content can change. You should pretty much count on it changing.

Ask any long term blogger and most of them will tell you their blog has been repurposed or reimagined to some extent over the years it has been alive.

This isn’t to say your ‘Why’ can or never will change, over the long term we tend to shift and change as people after all. But they’re not the same and understanding your why, is something I firmly believe to be required to create a blog that lasts.