Let’s do this!

I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time. What “this” means exactly is still coming into focus. The gist of it is that I want to start focusing on growing our blog again. I feel like over the years this blog has been nothing but reactive, and though we have evolved, it has been because we are acted upon by outside forces rather than taking the reins. As a result, things haven’t been as great as I would have liked.

When we first started, MMORPGs were still in their hyping heyday. All we had to do was mention a game and we would have thousands of readers, instant first-page Google rankings, and developers banging down our door.  Things started to unravel a bit from there. The hype machine died, people matured (we matured), RSS feed readers went away, video killed the radio blogger star (Youtube and Twitch), Graev got busy doing other stuff leaving me to blog alone, and the MMORPG industry tanked hard. The environment has undoubtedly changed.

I still believe in blogging as a medium people enjoy and seek after. The internet is full of sh…tuff. When people have questions about games or want to learn more, I have always believed bloggers can provide that personalized touch. I love Googling, “How to make Money in WoD 6.2” and having lots of personal blogs come up with people’s strategies. I’m even okay seeing the websites like Icy-veins or WoWhead with guides. I love seeing people create original, helpful content. I get nerdchills from this stuff.

A few months ago you guys got me thinking about focusing on work and careers. Some of you mentioned how you put time into your careers and suddenly skyrocketed. I recently did the same. I not only got a promotion with more income, but I also started my own company on the side and partnered to start an additional side venture. I feel the need to justify why I’ve been neglecting my writing and gaming like I have, and that’s the best I can do.

Here’s how we’re going to get things going again.

You’re going to start seeing something new like this at the end of each post just about the comments:

Subscribe for Gaming Updates

I’m growing my email list. No, scratch that. I’m STARTING my email list. I know what you’re thinking: Keen has been blogging for almost a decade, he’s a marketer, and he hasn’t been building an email list? Yeah, don’t get me started. Look guys, subscribe will you? You’ll be notified each morning if I posted a new post the previous day. If I didn’t post something the previous day (shame on me) then you won’t get an email. I’ll never spam you. What I’m also going to do is give those people who subscribe first dibs on Beta key, game keys, and just about any goodies we get. I get so much crap to give away, and I want to use it to bribe entice you to give me your email. Once you give me your email, you won’t see that box anymore.

You’re also going to see more videos. Stop laughing. No seriously, you’re hurting my feelings. Yes, I’ve said it a dozen times. I know. You’re laughing again. I’ve upgraded my internet now and I can actually stream. I can also actually record my iPhone/iPad/etc now. That means lots of videos regardless of the platform.

I’m ramping up my coverage of new games. I need to do a better job of getting you guys TIMELY information. None of this reviews 2-3 months after a game launches. I also need to cover older games, weird games, odd games, etc. I need your help. Tell me what you’re interested in. Comment. Start a conversation. Stop lurking — there are 600 of you return visitors lurking every single day.

There will also be some technology changes around here. Just like my email opt in stuff, I’m going to start cranking out some pretty cool things to grow the blog. I’ll reserve those reveals for later.

Lastly, I’m bringing Graev back. I’m going to tie one of those elvish ropes around his ankle and drag his smeagol arse back here kicking and screaming. He plays 100x more games than I do. He’s also 100x better at most of them. I need him. You need him. Email him: graev@keenandgraev.com and tell him to come back. I think I’ve almost got him, and you can help.

There’s more to come, guys. I’m going to have the best Legion coverage I can provide. I’ll be cranking out the iOS game coverage — In fact, I have a few developers pushing me beta versions that they’re going to let me share. I want to start writing more tips and useful info like I used to. Remember that LOTRO guide? That thing brought in THOUSANDS of people every month, and my data shows a 25% conversion of those visitors into regular monthly readers. That’s insane, and proves I need to do that more. Time to stop being lazy, and time to put into practice here what I help others do on a daily basis.

Let’s do this!

Gambling Isn’t Quite Like Gaming

I’m back from Vegas! Sorry for a slow few days around here. While in Vegas on a 4 day business trip I was able to try my hand at gambling for the first time. I looked for some fun slot machines, took my 5 dollars, and tried my luck.

The one I found had pirates on it and it made cannon sounds. I cautiously put in a dollar. Hit the button. And lost my whole dollar. I then went to the PENNY slots, put in my dollar, and lost 75 cents. It was then that I figured out a penny slot could still bet 75 cents at a time. So I found a true penny slot that let me literally play 1 cent at a time. I ended up playing for 30 minutes betting anywhere between 1 and 10 cents per bet.

At one point I thought I won the jackpot. I got 3 skull and crossbones and the thing started making all sorts of sounds. Nope, I just won 40 free plays. I was a little sad that I wouldn’t be starting up my own gaming studio.

In the end, I lost my $5 but had 30 minutes of trying to figure out the most effective way to maximize my bets. While sitting in the gross, smoke filled casino gambling away my pennies I was thinking about how this could relate to video games. It really didn’t. I wasn’t “playing” anything here. I was pushing one button and hoping. But the business model felt akin to some games monetize. Hearthstone, for example, is essentially gambling. You put down your money and hope good cards come out. Many games are the exact same way.

I walked away still feeling the same way: I like to know that the money I spend on entertainment is guaranteed, or at leave highly likely, to entertain me. Sure, I take a “gamble” on seeing a movie every now and again that I may not know a lot about, but I still do my best to do my homework. For example, I love Disney so I knew I would enjoy Zootopia (I did, best movie I’ve seen in a long, long time.) I was skeptical about Batman vs. Superman, and sure enough the reviews were scathing — I skipped it.

Video games are the same way, though I do take more gambles in order to give you guys my thoughts. I tend toward buying games I know I will enjoy.

Google Glitches, WoW Leveling, and Clash Royale

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Today was a crazy 14 hours work day, and I didn’t accomplish any of the gaming things I wanted to do.

Google glitched out and their Google My Business Knowledge Panel disappeared for half of my clients. I had to figure out my own fix while Google gets their act together. If yours disappeared, simply go into your Google My Business profile, Manage Location, Edit (red button) your profile, click the Edit button (pencil) in the address section, then Edit marker location. Then simply move the map marker a tad. In five minutes your Knowledge Panel will be back, your reviews restored, your local listings back, etc. April Fools turned into a nightmare.

I did end up playing WoW for about 40 minutes with my friends. We went into a couple of dungeons, I gained a few levels, and we got a little bit closer to getting out of Burning Crusade. Oh yeah, didn’t I tell you? I’m playing again while waiting for Legion. ::shrug:: Whatever, it’s fun enough.

My friend who has always kept the faith with WoW and never stopped playing (I don’t know how you do it man…) gave me a really neat Gronnling mount. Awesome looking thing! Very cool.

As for Clash Royale, the only rock in my life of gaming right now, I think I have a deck that works 75% of the time. I’m bouncing between 1300 and 1400 trophies. The key is Giant Skeleton and dual pushing. If I get overrun and forced to play defense I lose pretty fast. Still no Baby Dragon or Skeleton Army. Bleh.

Hope you all had a relatively good tongue-in-cheek-no-funny-at-all day!

The Legend of Zelda Main Theme Piano Cover (Arranged by My Wife!)

My wife arranged more video game music! I suggested she give Zelda a try and she decided to go with the original theme as it’s now the 30th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda. She put her own twist on it that I think has an interesting feel, both dark and then brighter like there’s the hope of a hero. She’s never played a Zelda game in her life, either. I think I’ll have her check out and watch me play Twilight Princess on the Wii U which arrives tomorrow.

Next up: The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind theme.

 

“I haven’t seen that in a decade…”

Had an interesting experience in EverQuest last night. I was healing the Unrest Fireplace on my Halfling Cleric and everything was going as you might expect. We had two rangers, a rogue, a mage, a shaman and me. Obviously with no tank things can get dicey, but being EverQuest people are typically a little more careful. Bad pulls still happen like the one we had last night. Puller brought in way too many ghouls and skeletons from the top floor and we ended being being rooted all over the place with no CC.

I found myself having to take a few hits, which is typically not a problem for a plate-wearing healer, but it can only last so long. I noticed the tank (the ranger with better gear) was rooted, so I ran over to him for him to be able to peel the mobs off me. He did, we lived, and all was well. I then received quite a shock: The tank was praising me for how well the fight went saying he hasn’t seen a healer run to the tank for over 10 years, and how I managed to maintain my mana pool with no gear (my cleric’s gear sucks) was a shock to him. I received a few other praises and we continued on for a few more hours.

Nothing I did was particularly worthy of praise. I used the right heals on the right people at the right time. I knew the mobs and what they were capable of, so I wasn’t healing people who had a mob I knew they could tank on them while someone else was risking death. I moved where I needed to be to let the classes do their job. I played correctly.

Their reaction stuck with me. I think they reacted the way they did because people, for the most part, aren’t used to games where people need to think. Modern games tell us where to move (out of the red circles) and UI mods tell us what to heal — or we have infinite mana and just mass heal everyone. Most groups in most games can just AOE everything down and death is unheard of while leveling up.

Playing my class well mattered last night. I liked that feeling. The praise was nice too, but it was knowing I was good at what I did and that very fact influenced what we were capable of doing as a team. I’d like to see that matter more these days.