The curious consequences of a header

Blaugust 2019 is in full swing, and according to Belghast’s schedule it’s Topic Brainstorming Week right now.

Blaugust_Brainstorming

I’ve not signed up to Blaugust as a mentor since I don’t feel experienced enough yet to give advice to other bloggers. There is one thing I have put some thought into lately though, and that is the art of choosing a good header for your posts. That’s what I’ll talk about today, and maybe it’s an interesting topic for you too.

To be honest, I’ve never put much thought into choosing a title for my blog posts other than what’s a servicable header for the post’s contents and also suits my overall style of writing?

In my opinion that’s a good approach, but it has its drawbacks, as I’ve had to realize. More on that later.

The first of those two intents is a no-brainer. A post’s header should give readers at least a broad idea of what the post is about. It doesn’t need to outline its whole contents though, after all it shouldn’t be too long. If the post is about one specific game, for example, I often exclude its name from the title and introduce it in the post’s first paragraph instead.

It’s also totally ok when a header doesn’t give away too much and instead tries to provoke curiosity, as long as the post itself does actually satisfy that curiosity.

The second bit, infusing the header with your personal style, is also an approach I highly recommend, at least if it’s your personal blog and you’re not writing for a site where your style might not be appropriate for some reason.

Pretty much all bloggers I follow do exactly that. Bhagpuss, for example, likes to use musical references in his headers, which I really like (although I admittedly don’t get many of them).

Personally, I like alliterations. I don’t forcibly try to think of one every time, as that would most likely get old pretty soon, but if one comes to mind naturally I’ll gladly use it.

Header1
In hindsight this one might have been a bit too much

However little or much thought you put into a post’s header, it can have entirely unforseen consequences. One of my own posts made me realize this, which is why I’ve started to think about the topic at all.

Moon mining for fun and profit

This post of mine, published on January 22nd, 2018, has had by far the most views of all my posts, more than twice the amount of the next highest. I’d noticed its appearance in daily statistics every now and then, but didn’t think much of it. Only when I had a look at my overall statistics a while back I grasped the scope of it.

The thing is, the post is nothing special. Just a little recap of my first experience with moon mining in EVE Online. Hence I didn’t understand why it had so many klicks at first.

Thinking about it I then realized that the reason for the unusually high amount of views is without a doubt the post’s header. Not because it’s particularly witty or anything, but because it contains a combination of words that I’m sure many an EVE player has googled at some point: “moon mining” and “profit”.

To all EVE players who came here in hopes to find specific instructions for making lots of ISK by mining moon goo: I apologize.

Now, I have to admit that I still don’t always scrutinize my headers for Google-misunderstanding-safety – Is that a thing? I think it should be – but if I intend to use words like profit, money, rich or something along those lines I’ll at the very least think it through one more time before actually using it from now on.

So yeah, a post’s header can have more to it than meets the eye on first glance, more even than the author themselves realizes. One more reason to put some thought into it before hitting the publish-button, isn’t it?

Advertisements

Blaugust 2019 kicks off

The game, as Sherlock Holmes likes to say, is on.

Blaugust-2019-1000px-wide

This year’s festival of blogging is now officially underway. I’m pretty excited to be a part of it even though it’s my second time already. Time flies.

Fortunately it’s not mandatory for participants to publish a post each and every day because I’m not sure if I’ll be able to this time around.

We’ll be on vacation from 20th to 30th and have no internet connection most of the time, so there’s that.

What’s more though, writing feels…kinda hard at the moment. There’s no particular reason for it – at least none that I’m consciously aware of – but for the last couple of months I’ve needed substantially more time to finish each piece. Some I’ve tinkered with for a whole week until I was finally satisfied enough to publish them.

On the occasion of this blog’s first birthday I talked about my rather high threshold for topics I deem ‘worthy’ to write about, which hasn’t really changed. After many a fleet op in EVE or playing any other game I wonder if I want or should write a post about it, and very often I’m like nah, too boring.

Right now there’s something else though. Even if I have a topic that I really want to talk about I can’t just sit down, start to type whatever comes to mind, and boom, a couple hundred or even a thousand words have appeared just like that. For a while it worked like this, at the moment not so much.

Writersblock

I don’t really think it’s something serious like writer’s block, I guess sometimes my mind is just too occupied with other stuff lately.

Anyhow, until we board the train to offline-land I’ll at least try to indulge you all with something new to read every day.

Should you find yourself wondering what is this Blaugust everyone’s talking about anyway, here’s everything you need to know. You can still sign up, too. The more the merrier.

Another round of Blaugust incoming

It’s that time of the year…

Blaugust-2019-1000px-wide

Once again we gather to celebrate our hobby and show the world that blogging is not, in fact, dead.

The challenge Belghast, the event’s inventor and host, has laid out before us is the same as last year: to post at least once every single day during the month of August. I we feel like it, that is. Nobody is forced to do anything.

I’ve already signed up as a participant, meaning that I don’t quite feel like a newbie anymore, but not experienced enough to perform the role of a mentor either.

Last year I was up to the task and published a total of 31 posts, exactly one per day. I’m not sure if I will be able to hit that target this time around though, as we’ll be on an internet-free vacation from August 20th to 30th. Some timing, huh?

Anyway, Bel has all the info you might need and the application form here. If you’ve ever thought about starting a blog but never did, now’s the time. You can also join the Discord channel and ask any questions you might have about blogs or blogging, we don’t bite (usually).

I had much fun and also learned a lot last time around, so I’m looking forward to what this year will bring. At the very least there will be many, many great posts to read, and for that alone the event is a blessing for our community as well as every reading- and gaming-enthusiast out there.

Lighting the second candle

I started this blog two years ago today.

TwoyearsCake
Have another piece of cake. It’s been a year, you must be starving

As is tradition for such an occasion I’ll now look back upon the past year and also throw some statistics at you.

I published 83 posts since the blog’s first birthday, which is quite an uptick from the first year’s 34. The main contributing factor was Blaugust Reborn of course, which ‘made’ me publish 31 pieces during August alone. At the end of that month I had gained a lot of experience and also made a resolution: to post at least once a week going forward. Except for rare exceptions I managed to do that.

The wordcount per post went up from 691 in 2018 to 1061 in 2019, but I assume that’s mainly because I published a couple pretty short posts last year, especially during Blaugust, while more or less maintaining my usual post length this year up to now. We’ll see what happens if/when Blaugust comes around again.

Since I also wrote the obligatory end-of-the-year-review on December 31rd I’ll only include posts from 2019 in the following overview of topics.

TwoyearsBDO
I love how she almost looks like a pirate ship with the advanced crafted gear

From December to April I mainly played Black Desert Online. Building an Epheria frigate was a huge goal I pursued and eventually accomplished, which also prompted me to muse about long term goals in MMOs in general.

Another topic that occupied my mind was combat in MMORPGs, specifically how it needs to be designed to be enjoyable for me personally.

TwoyearsEA
Just one of about five billion memes making the rounds

An article on Kotaku about Anthem’s development was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me regarding the sorry state the AAA gaming industry is in right now, and I felt the need to vent some steam in two posts about those issues.

It’s not all bad though, as a couple of new non-MMO releases managed to entertain and delight me a lot. There’s still hope that the big guns of the industry – looking at you, ActiBlizz and EA – won’t manage to fuck up our beloved hobby completely after all.

EVE_NC6
Can you spot the swarm of tiny specks that is our fleet?

A couple weeks ago my EVE Online corporation joined the nullsec alliance NC Dot, which rekindled my love for that game once more. I’ve played it a lot since then, and also utilized that newfound enthusiasm by finally starting to write down my whole history with the game. Parts one, two and three are published by now with more to come.

TwoyearsStellaris
Even more spaceships. What can I say, I like spaceships

After reading a lot of good things about it I decided to make use of the currently running discount and bought Stellaris. A very long time ago I played a little shareware game called Planets with a couple of friends, and Stellaris kind of reminds me of it. Well, except that it’s like 500 times more complex. I still meet up with some of those guys online from time to time, mainly to play a few rounds of Battlefield or some other shooter. I hope to get them on board (no pun intended) and try out Stellaris with me. Could be fun. I’ll probably write about it too once I’ve digged a bit deeper into it.

And that’s all I have for you today. Keep blogging and keep reading, good folks. I know I will.

2018 in review

My only gaming-related resolution for this year was to stop playing stuff when it isn’t fun anymore, and I adhered to that. Looking back I can say that, yes, I indeed had more fun and less headaches with gaming overall due to that, so mission accomplished.

One consequence was that I alternated between games even more than I did in the past. While that’s not an inherently bad thing it means that I still haven’t found a proper home game.

That being said, for the last two and a half weeks I’ve played the heck out of Black Desert Online again after shelving it in April, and I’m having tremendous fun right now.

2019_BD1
To boldly go…where I hadn’t gone before. More on that soonish.

But let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

From January to April I played mostly Black Desert and EVE Online. In BDO I was very excited about the adventures that I had, and also about gathering, cooking and crafting. In EVE we had some great fights and participated in moon mining for the first time.

2019_EVE
But mostly we just kept shooting stuff

I also mused about randomness, player made music  and non-consensual PvP in MMOs.

In April I started to play Path of Exile again, which absolutely dominated my playtime until mid-August. I talked about how much fun I have playing summoner characters, playing the Incursion challenge league and things that I love about the game in general.

2019_PoE
I also killed Queen Atziri for the first time…only 4 1/2 years late

In June I celebrated my blog’s first birthday.

In August two things happened. One: the venerable Belghast revived Blaugust, and I signed up intending to reach the goal of posting every day during that month, which I managed to do. Two: I returned to Everquest II after a break of almost seven years. I fell in love with it again and wrote quite a bunch of posts about it since then.

2019_EQ2
The terrific ‘Crafting Epic 2.0’ netted me this sweet mount a couple weeks ago

During Blaugust I also talked about playing American Football, our participation in EVE’s Alliance Tournament and some more MMO-related stuff like level scaling, soloing and faction grinds.

In November International Picture Posting Month came along, and I posted a couple of themed screenshot collections.

During the year I also expanded my fledgeling columns Memorable Moments, where I share gaming related adventures I had that are special to me, and Stay awhile and listen, thoughts about music that I like.

As I said in the beginning I recently picked up Black Desert again, but I also still play EQII and EVE regularly.

The gaming industry in general and MMO industry in particular gave us a crapton of headscratchers and serious fuckups this year, I think more so than in any other year before. I don’t want to talk about that though, this is supposed to be a positive post after all.

Ok, well, I’ll just say this: yes, Blizzard, I indeed do have a phone, but that’s none of your goddamn business because in my opinion quality games and fucking phones don’t have anything to do with each other!

Anyway. I don’t really have any resolutions for 2019 except continuing to have fun doing what I love, and I feel exceptionally blessed that, barring any disasters happening to me, I’ll be able to do just that.

I wish you all a happy and above all healthy year 2019!

Participating in IntPiPoMo 2018

My first full calendar year of blogging sure is a busy one. First there was Blaugust reborn, now International Picture Posting Month, or IntPiPoMo for short, has started.

IntPiPoMo2018

Chestnut over at Gamer Girl Confessions is again hosting the event, which has the goal of posting fifty images of one’s own creation during the month of November. These can be anything from photos to drawn pictures or game screenshots.

As I’ve said before I’m a big screenshot buff, so I shouldn’t have a hard time picking 50 nice ones to share. I might even throw in a couple vacation pictures, who knows.

So, yes, I’ve signed up to participate. Should you be interested to join in on the fun, here’s all you need to know.

Thanks to Chestnut for hosting the event! I’m looking forward to see lots of great pictures, and also anxious to get home and start sifting through my archives.

Blaugust Reborn comes to an end

BlaugustReborn

Today is the last day of Blaugust Reborn and assuming that nothing went wrong with scheduling I’ve met the goal of publishing a post every day. Yay!

It was a very interesting, fun and also challenging experience. Until July 31st I had published one post every 9,5 days on average. Going from there to one per day was a steep slope, and I had to leave my comfort zone in more than one regard.

I once said that I deem most things happening to me not worthy to be written about. This hasn’t really changed, so I had to overcome the fear of writing something completely trivial that’s just wasting my and any potential reader’s time more than once. When I look back at those 31 posts I luckily can’t find one that I feel wasted at least my time. I don’t know about yours of course. Not all posts quite meet my standards though (had I had the time I’d thought of a better title for some posts for example), so the pressure of having to meet the deadlines was indeed noticable.

Another thing I had to learn was to refrain from writing until I’m ’empty’, cramming everything I have to say about a certain topic into one post.

In this post of his Bhagpuss said “This is what Blaugust does to you. I’m already wishing I’d split the Bless First Impressions posts into four chapters instead of just two.”

Indeed it does, and it’s actually a good thing. Not only does it leave something to write about for another time, I feel it also makes for posts that are much easier to read and digest (I wish I had already known this when I wrote this 3,400 word extravaganza).

Now, where do I go from here?

I know that I’ll continue to write, and of course I’ll also continue to read the blogs of many fellow Blaugustans, some of which I probably wouldn’t have discovered without this event.

I won’t keep posting every day though. While it obviously isn’t impossible it was quite a strain sometimes, and writing is supposed to relax and not stress me out.

I will start to post with some kind of regularity, something I didn’t do before Blaugust, so that readers will know what to expect. I’ll make it my goal to post at least once a week, twice if I have more to talk about.

The first post after this one will appear on September 10th at the earliest though, because we’re still on internet-free vacation until the 9th.

In closing I’d like to say Thank You to all of you once more. Thank you for reading my stuff, for commenting, liking and for coming back. Thank you for writing so many wonderful, insightful, delightful and awesome(ful) posts.

Above all thank you Belghast for reviving this great event and doing the heavy lifting for all of us.

See you folks around.

EQ2_SeeYou