I’ve been itching to blog about something, anything, for over a month now but couldn’t really find a worthy topic to do it on. Today I decided I had a decent enough topic to talk about that it would be worth my time to go ahead and write it down and send it out to the masses, so here it goes.
Today I’m going to cover a little bit of what’s been going on lately in my own gaming world and how that has impacted the blog, and I wanted to address some of the issues that I see right now that will impact my gaming (and by extension my blogging) in the near future.
State of the Blog
When I was playing WoW it was easy to come up with a new topic because there was always a new class, spec or playstyle that I could write about and by the time I got through all of the choices there would be a new expansion or patch that would change things enough that I needed to start all over again. Then SWTOR came along and stole my heart away from WoW and I found myself in a world where people no longer cared about reading leveling guides or getting ideas about how to play a certain class.
It has really blown my mind how large of a difference there is in the mindset of WoW players vs. SWTOR players as a general playerbase. I never would have suspected that people playing SWTOR would have so little desire to read about things like leveling guides and theorycrafting after spending years playing WoW where that was so prevalent.
I love writing leveling guides, but when you put so much effort into writing something that nobody uses, it’s hard to keep that fire burning. In the last 30 days, I’ve had ten times as many people look at a WoW leveling guide that I wrote over 2 years ago that is completely outdated than I do my most popular SWTOR post. I was not expecting so large a difference to be there, and I was not prepared for it from a blogging perspective.
Blogging about SWTOR has left me very unsure of how to proceed. Though I certainly still have readers who come for information on SWTOR, WoW remains by far the more popular topic for blogging. I have some ideas for other topics that I can write about, but writing guides is what I enjoy the most and it has left me in an odd position.
Word of Warcraft
The game that started the blogging for me is now a thing of the past. My wife and I are going to give Mists one more shot to see if it can rekindle our interest, but after seeing our reactions when we first tried out the beta, I have very low expectations.
In December 2011, my wife and I were both having fun with WoW. I was enjoying it more than my wife was, but we were both still having fun playing our characters and hanging out with the guild. We stopped playing once we tried the SWTOR beta and were unexpectedly blown away.
After a few months we made an attempt to get back into WoW, but there was such a huge contrast between WoW and SWTOR that leveling up in WoW felt incredibly static and boring. It was like someone flipped a light switch but instead seeing a whole new world open up before our eyes, the light was turned off and the world felt cold and lonely. Questing suddenly lost all of its appeal when you saw that there was nothing but a little window filled with text and a little button at the bottom to accept it. After playing SWTOR for just a few months there was such a drastic difference in the questing that WoW just couldn’t hold up.
As you likely are aware, I play these games because I love to level all kinds of different characters, and when one of the primary sources of experience lost all of its appeal it had a really negative impact on how I view the game as a whole.
If that one last shot at MoP still fails to impress us, then we’re going to be done with WoW for good.
Since it is by far my most frequently read post, I will keep the Heirloom Guide up to date through the releases of MoP, but that’s probably where I will stop updating it and hand it over to someone else.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Right now SWTOR is still incredibly fun, and my wife and I are both having a blast with the game. For the most part, players are still having a good time. Players who focus on endgame, both PvE and PvP, have their complaints but overall it’s still going on strong. I think that SWTOR still has a bright future and will be around for years to come with a decent playerbase.
However, there’s a lot of controversy going on right now in the social and development side of the game. The biggest problem right now is all of the layoffs that have happened with EA/Bioware which has caused a lot of discussion all across the board. Even people who aren’t connected to social sites and news outlets all day long know about these layoffs and it has a lot of people worried about the future of the game, enough so that many people are starting to look at other games to flock (back) to.
There’s also the whole Free to Play issue that makes me want to smash my head into a brick wall every time it comes up. This might even be a bigger issue than the layoffs since going F2P would have a direct impact on how the game proceeds in the future and people are either for or against F2P as a concept that such a move would have an immediate result on the number of players. Layoffs will have a potential impact when/if we see a SWTOR expansion, but until then they could fire 90% of their staff and it would have no impact on the play experience.
These two issues, along with others that aren’t big enough to speak of here, are having a profound impact on the social aspect of this game. No matter how much you might enjoy playing the game, if you’re active in social networks where a large number of players are present or if you’re active in the bloggosphere then you’re constantly surrounded by negativity towards the game. Even when you’re having a blast playing it, there’s so much negativity surrounding it that it’s almost hard to still enjoy it. You almost have to escape into the game to get away from all the negativity being directed at it. It’s a bit ridiculous, honestly.
Though we’re still enjoying SWTOR a great deal, I have to be honest her in stating that I fear for the longevity of my guilds, at least in so far as SWTOR itself is concerned. I have no doubt that my guilds will maintain their bonds from one game to another, but I do worry that either the aura of negativity or possible changes such as going F2P will ware away on the membership overtime enough that people will leave the game. I’ve seen it in guild leadership in every SWTOR guild that I’ve been in, and once the leaders start to fall away it’s only a matter of time before the flock starts to drift apart. I don’t mention it to encourage or justify such behavior, but rather to bring up the point that it is a personal concern.
I have every intention of continuing to play SWTOR. At the very least, I hope to be in it until I’ve seen every class’s story from the perspective of both genders and both light and dark alignments. I think the writers of SWTOR have done a fantastic job with the game, and I am eager to see the extent of their work.
Guild Wars 2
Until last night I had almost no interest in Guild Wars 2. Though people have been talking about the game for months, literally everything that I had seen on twitter or in blog posts about the game said that this game was focused on PvP. While I happen to love PvP, my wife hates it; and since I mostly play with her I had pretty well written this game off.
As the thoughts I just shared in the SWTOR section above started to occur to me yesterday, I decided to take a closer look at GW2 and see what PvE content it had to offer. Some of the folks on Twitter rallied to the cause and shared information about the game’s PvE content, and I was very surprised to see how much PvE content existed in the game after hearing so much about the game’s PvP and absolutely nothing on the PvE side.
There was one person in particular on twitter, @Manglehaft who shared a lot of really great information with us. In particular he shared CaraEmm‘s profile which has six great videos discussing the PvE content and things about the game in general. He also shared these two videos: ArenaNet’s MMO Manifest and Guild Wars 2: 60 Reasons. I found the videos from CaraEmm to be the most informative and useful overall, though I will warn you that he has quite an accent and can be a bit hard to understand at times.
We also found another video that was fairly good for the sake of comparison if you’ve played WoW: GW2 vs WoW. It doesn’t bash the two together to tell you why one is better than the other, it gives an actual comparison of how some things work in one game versus how they work in the other.
From what I’ve seen and read over the last 24 hours looks like GW2 offers most (not all) of the features that I love about SWTOR, takes my favorite concepts from Rift, and combines that with bits and pieces of what I loved about WoW and then smashed them all into one. They also removed the concept of grinding, removed race/class combination restrictions, did away with the monthly subscription fee, and did all of that without sacrificing graphics. Actual gameplay will be the true test, but in less than a day I’ve gone from completely dismissing to anxiously awaiting.
We haven’t played GW2 yet, but I did get a key for the beta weekend starting in a couple of days. If we find that we do enjoy playing this game, then there’s a good chance that I’ll do at least some blogging about GW2. Whether or not there turns out to be a solid reader base for it will determine how frequently I write about it, similar to what has happened with SWTOR.
Where to Next?
To recap (tl;dr):
WoW: MoP gets one more chance to impress, or we’re finished w/ WoW
SWTOR: I love it, but community/social aspects have me worried
GW2: out of the blue, excited and looking forward to the upcoming beta weekend
The readership for SWTOR blogs really surprised me, so I’m anxious to see how the Guild Wars 2 community is going to look at blogging. Maybe my writing style and chosen topics weren’t a good fit for SWTOR and it was just an odd duck in the gaming world, or maybe times are just changing and it’s time for me to get with the program.
I’ve also had a lot of fun playing Diablo III and Starcraft 2 lately, so maybe I’ll venture into writing about those a bit as well. Who knows, maybe I’m meant to be a general gaming blogger rather than a specific game. I’m not sure what the future holds for me just yet, but I hope to keep you along for the ride wherever it might take me.