Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Few Minor Changes

I know, the blog looks out of date.

If that wasn't obvious before now, a short glance at the redesign that Navimie did for The Daily Frostwolf - Druid Edition shows just how ancient that this circa 2009 design is.*
There goes Navi, raising the bar for the rest of us.
(Just teasing, Navi. This is really a great redesign!)

However, I have added one item on the sidebar that I wanted to highlight: The YouTube Channels list.

Unfortunately, Blogger doesn't yet have the ability to provide the latest entry in a YouTube channel,** but I can provide the channel link itself. And while the list is small, I really want to highlight the list because I enjoy seeing the content from all of the entries.

Sure, Geek and Sundry is the only major channel present at the time of this post, but some of my fellow blogger friends have channels that need more visibility. Given that I'm not a big fan of streaming or posting my own videos, I really admire my friends for their efforts and their professionalism in their work.


That does bring up for me a topic that has been simmering in the background for quite a while: the evolution of how gamers share their love of gaming.***

When Souldat and I started PC back in 2009, blogging was one of the primary methods of communicating about MMOs. There were YouTube channels/videos by fans, of course, but beyond blogging and podcasting there were more commercial websites (such as Kotaku or Polygon) and software company forums. But while blogging as a primary source of gamer activity has declined, streaming and other more modern forms of social media have taken over.

Another way of looking at this is how we obtain PC games these days. The last game I had on a physical disk that didn't require me to have an online presence to either login or obtain updates (or even the game itself, even though I'd bought a copy) was Civilization IV Complete, circa 2010 or 2011. All of my other games I've purchased I had to be online to download via either the company site or a service such as Steam, or to even use the game (such as Diablo 3 or the most recent Sim City). What happened over this time? Bandwidth happened, to the tune of a big expansion of both the download speeds as well as upload speeds. That bandwidth not only makes software downloads more practical but also makes personal streaming (uploads) more practical.

However, bandwidth wasn't the only technical hurdle, it's also about the computing and graphics power a computer has. Given the leaps and bounds that processors, motherboards, and even storage has made over the past 8 years, the capacity of computers to not only handle a game and a livestream but also maintain both for a minimal drop in framerate is pretty amazing. When I started playing WoW, it was on what was then a middle of the road 32-bit Intel Core Duo that ran Vista. I could play WoW with mediocre graphics****, but playing WoW and connecting to Vent proved a bit of a stretch. I ended up pressing my work laptop into service with Vent while I played WoW on the main machine.

And automated backups.... Oh boy, would they tank your machine.*****

But within five years Intel and AMD were putting out processors that could handle all of that, plus run Chrome with a full load of tabs and extensions as well as MS Office in the background, and not blink an eye.#

Software has taken advantage of the increased power as well, with gaming/streaming built into operating systems such as Win 10 as well as other software packages.
When THAT showed up in Win 10, you know
that streaming while gaming had gone mainstream.

Finally, the rise of eSports, popularity of Netflix and Hulu, and a new generation of gamers thinking nothing of sharing and competing while streaming --a tacit acceptance of voyeurism, I suppose-- has pushed streaming completely into the mainstream.

I can check Facebook during the week and watch a FB livestream of the devs from Standing Stone playing LOTRO. Hell, just about all MMO development houses have their own regular livestreams to handle all sorts of activities from connecting with players to showing off upcoming patches.
They're everywhere. Here, on GW2's loading screen.
I guess that's another question to ask prospective
employees: "How do you feel about putting yourself
on Twitch and livestream you playing a game for hours?"

This is an entirely new environment from when I started playing WoW, and if you'd have asked me how long it would take to get to this point I'd have said --especially after the economic meltdown in 2008-- likely 2020 at minimum.

Yet here we are.


In all of this video oriented and immediate gratification (read: Twitter) material, blogs like this one still have a part to play. For starters, they don't take up network bandwidth at work, where employers tend to frown on a single employee hogging a lot of the bandwidth to watch whatever is on Twitch. They are also quieter and less visually distracting, unless you have a ton of GIFs on your site like some mid 90s website designs. Finally, blogs allow a blogger to take their time to put together a post.## Sure, you can write an entire vlog entry and then stand in front of a camera and recite that, but if you're like me you're constantly going back and editing even after the point when you thought you were done. And yes, I see the editing that goes on with vlogs, and it drives me bananas. Vlogging simply doesn't mesh well with my thought processes.

Neither do my thoughts mesh well with Twitter.

Who knew that Munch captured my brain on Twitter so well?

I have an unfortunate tendency to shoot my mouth off when I get agitated or otherwise emotional###, and an app such as Twitter or Snapchat is a disaster waiting to happen. So for those denizens of Twitter who can keep themselves under control at all times, more power to ya.

And while I realize that blogging isn't quite as immediate as Twitter, it is far quicker --and more relevant-- than print magazines. The nature of print means that the news is already out of date by the time it makes it to a monthly print magazine, so print magazines have not only expanded into digital formats but also focused on longer feature pieces that don't strictly fall into the news arena.

And while it's not the same for everyone, blogging feeds my addition to writing without demanding too much from me. One of these days I'd love to sit down and finish a novel --NaNoWriMo or not-- but while my chaotic life isn't helping me out at the moment I can blog.


Relevance or not, I still need to look into more of a major design revamp of PC.

I think the basic design orientation, having a main section for articles with side areas for other information, works fairly well. However, I think it can be done better, and in an easier to read format than what it presently is.

And yes, I need to replace the Cataclysm-era graphics with something a bit more reflective of the times. That's actually a sticking point for me, because I'd love to have newer graphics without relying upon the gif format to cycle through images like what Rades does with Orcish Army Knife. There's something appealing with what Ravanel Griffon does in Ravalation, where a different header graphic shows up every time you select a link, but I'll have to think about whether I really want to implement that. (And what graphics to choose, naturally.)
After all, what else will I do with all of these
ArcheAge screenshots?
Anyway, I think I need to solicit some ideas for improvements to the blog. (Sorry, deleting the blog won't happen.) What do you, the reader, want to see in a blog design?

*If internet years is akin to dog years, the design is 56 years old. Hell, it's older than me!

**In the officially supported widgets, at least.

***I started writing a blog post on this at least twice, only to shelve it for later. I guess later means now.

****I eventually had to replace the graphics card due to the Abominations in the Undercity proving too much to handle for our machine.

*****I discovered that much to my chagrin when I was interviewed on the Twisted Nether Blogcast. I had no idea that the automated backup that kicked in after midnight was wreaking havoc to my connection until I listened to the podcast afterward. Fimlys, Hydra, if you're reading this I'm still sorry about that.

#The popularity of smartphones --and their social media and streaming capabilities-- shouldn't be overlooked either. Sure, you don't play WoW on an Android tablet, but people livestream all the time now.

##For example, I've worked on this particular post over the course of about 10 days. I've tightened things up a bit, added some graphics, and rewrote significant portions of the body. While I try to post once a week and about 6 times a month, sometimes I have to slow down to make things just the way I like them. This also means letting other posts go ahead of posts like these.

###I used to avoid going to my oldest's track and field meets when she was in middle school precisely because I didn't want to be "that parent" in the stands. I ran track for three years in high school --yes, I know, you'd never guess it now-- and I didn't want to be the parent who tried to usurp the coaches' authority or simply be obnoxious throughout the meet. Even now, watching the high school (American) football team lose week in and week out --hey, I go to watch my kids in the marching band play at halftime-- it is really hard on me to not go bananas and bitch about all the things the kids are doing wrong. I can handle that they're physically outclassed, but not using proper technique drives me nuts.


  1. Thanks for the shout-out to my YouTube channel!

    While I've been enjoying dabbling in video-making, I have to admit that the medium itself remains a bit of a mystery to me. Most of all: Where do people find the time to watch all those hour-long streams every day? Are all those viewers kids or students? I already struggle to find time to both play and keep up with blogging as it is, and reading a blog post doesn't take more than a couple of minutes.

    As for your blog layout... well, I really just want that Cata banner to go away because it feels so outdated, and stuff like the about section could do with an update since you've been the only one writing on here for years now.

    If it were up to me, I'd keep it old-school otherwise. The text should remain front and centre. Layouts like Navi's - while her header image is adorable - are actually the sort I don't like at all, as you can hardly even find the subject lines among all those pictures and can't even see snippets of the actual posts on the front page. I know that my preferences are old-fashioned though. ;_;

    1. You're welcome! I've been meaning to do it once Blogger had an active link that works with HTTPS, but since that hasn't happened I decided I'd better do something.

      As for who has the time, I've no idea. I livestream BGG's GenCon livecast, but that's typically on in the background while I'm working. If something interesting comes up I'll watch, but for the most part it's just noise. Livestreaming a "let's play" or a dev chat is a bit much for me, because it's akin to watching a television show and I don't typically have time for that unless it's late in the evening and I'll replay certain parts.

      But constant watching is beyond me. I don't see how any but the most rabid fans will watch the livestream an eSports player getting in some casual games of League or DOTA2 as it happens.

      Yeah, that header is the biggest problem, and I'm not very fond of the native Windows Paint program to edit a graphic. But on the flip side, I don't want to drop a lot of money on Adobe Photoshop either.

      I'd thought about asking Vidyala if she was interested in a commission to draw some of my MMO toons for a header, but I know she's extremely busy right now, and I don't want to put Rav on the spot either since she's very busy with her grad work. I guess I'll have to mull it over.