Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Improving the CRPG Addict


It's a new year, and my blog is about to turn three years old. Last year, my New Year's resolutions led me to abandoned "The CRPG Addict." This year, based on the principle that if you're going to devote dozens of hours per month to a pursuit, you might as well do it well, I want to make it better.

These are some of the ideas that I'm kicking around. But for each one, I have a counter-argument.

  • My own domain. I have this idea that "Blogspot" blogs feel amateurish by the URLs alone. With my own domain, I'd have more flexibility in page design and the inclusion of non-blog content. Counter: Plenty of people already read my site on blogspot, and using Blogger keeps me from having to learn page design, which I haven't done since I used FrontPage in the 1990s.
  • Micro-blogging through Twitter or some similar service in between main postings. This would allow me to share quick thoughts, joys, frustrations, and so forth that might lose their potency when I actually get around to writing a posting. Plus, I could ask for hints on immediate problems. Counter: I otherwise hate this technology and many of the people who use it.
  • Message boards to allow general discussion and better threaded discussion beyond what Blogger allows in the comments. Right now, someone who just has some news to share or wants to ask a general question doesn't have an obvious place to put it except in the comments to the latest posting. Counter: There are plenty of sites that already offer boards like this.
  •  A playing club, similar to a book club, in which you play along with me and offer fresh thoughts. (It would have to have message boards, as above.) This was suggested to me by a reader. Counter: Tough to manage, and I think most of you read my blog so you don't have to play them yourself.

I also have three strategic questions to which I want to find the answers:

1. Which is better: longer postings less frequently, or shorter postings more frequently? In other words, would your rather have 1,200 words every three days, or 800 words every two days?

2. How could I do video better? I don't have a strong sense of whether my readers prefer video with voice narration, video with text narration, or video with annotation-based narration (the latter of which I only did once, with Le Maitre des Ames, and even then not extensively).

3. In general, are there any problems with the current format, layout, and delivery of the blog that I could solve through some kind of better design?

In a couple of months, round about my third anniversary, I'm going to put out a survey to help get to the bottom of some of these questions, as well as some questions I'll have about the book I'll be announcing around the same time. But for now, I'd appreciate any comments on any of the above, or on anything that could make my blog more interesting and enjoyable.


121 comments:

  1. how about a Kickstarter for you to go full time?

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    1. Kickstarters have to be projects with clear deliverables. From the FAQs:

      "Everything on Kickstarter must be a project. A project has a clear goal, like making an album, a book, or a work of art. A project will eventually be completed, and something will be produced by it. Kickstarter does not allow charity, cause, or "fund my life" projects."

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    2. He is announcing a book (final paragraph), so could potentially kickstart that?

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    3. The problem is I don't really need money to produce a book. I just need time. I wish you could Kickstart time.

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    4. Kickstarter is strictly for funding/promotion(/presales), but if there's anything a third party would be able to help with in terms of the production, you could conceivably crowdsource labor (I'm almost certain there's venues for that online, I just don't know any).

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  2. I really don't like the new comment system in place here (and everywhere else online in recent years, for that matter). It's big and needlessly complicated and takes forever to load and likes to crash, and doesn't work with Safari. The only benefit it has is that I can log in with all kinds of existing sites, and I view that as completely unnecessary.

    All a comment system should have is a text box, a field to put in a username, and a CAPTCHA if necessary. No complex code, just plain HTML. Like it used to be.

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    1. Yeah. Blogger doesn't really allow that, unfortunately. I suppose that's one argument for switching to a different host.

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    2. The fact that I can't comment from my iPad drives me bonkers.

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  3. Domain: If you mean buying a hosting account with a domain name somewhere, this would not mean having to write raw HTML! Just use WordPress or some other blogging software, and it won't be any harder or less powerful than using Blogger. Before becoming pregnant with our daughter a few years ago, my wife started a weight loss / cooking blog on Blogger, then decided to buy a domain + hosting account to run a blog using WordPress; she did this all by herself, so I know you'd have no problem!

    Just stay away from GoDaddy. There are much better hosts out there, many of whom charge even less.

    Also, I'd highly recommend buying hosting services from someone rather than trying to run your own server from home. It's cheap, safer and faster.

    Lastly, if you go this route, please don't be one of those people that ditches or waters down RSS/Atom feeds in order to force people to visit the actual articles. I'm serious when I say that Google Reader is the best thing since sliced bread for keeping up with blogs and news sites. I no longer have to cycle through dozens of browser tabs, refreshing them every few minutes to check for new content; instead, I see postings as if they were emails.

    Twitter: Twitter is a waste of time. I can't understand why anyone would think otherwise, unless it's because they don't know about Google Reader and somehow think that Twitter is anything other than the most laughable of substitutes for an RSS feed as a result. It's just a bunch of people broadcasting noise, or trying to follow people in order to get follow-backs, or spamming links to their web sites.

    Message Boards: This is something that is also fairly easy to set up on your own domain. It would be a good idea to set up a simple forum software for ongoing and off-topic discussions. It might even be a better way to discuss games and/or postings (you could create a thread for each and then link to it from the article postings). Some forums even have built-in spoiler tags that hide text until you highlight it or click a button.

    Playing club: This might evolve naturally from having a forum.

    Questions:

    1. The posts are definitely long enough. I often delay reading them for days until I can find the reading time that they deserve.

    2. Can't speak to this, as I haven't really watched your videos. When I want to watch videos of old games, I generally prefer the "let's play" format, where someone narrates their way through the entire game in many installments (these are a great way to pass the time when I'm too sick to do anything other than lay on the couch!).

    3. For me, the biggest problem hands-down is Blogger. It requires access to too many other sites and third-party cookies under the hood, which makes it very hard to post comments at times. I'd love to see you on your own domain with a WordPress blog and maybe a forum on the side.

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    1. Case in point: I had to try 3 times to get my post to go through. I didn't even see the CAPTCHA until the last try.

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    2. Amen brother. Big Google hater here and although I use 'google' a lot as a verb, I actually use the privacy-aware but also powerful (zero-click info and !bang are 'killer apps' for me) DuckDuckGo search engine (see http://dontbubble.us, one of their ad campaigns). I avoid Google services as much as I can in general. Google killed my company, and that's my revenge.

      And absolutely, Atom and RSS are brilliant. Great you mentioned it here.

      As for Twitter, I agree too. I had an account there back in 2008 or 2009, before it became *really* huge (people *migrate* from Facebook to Twitter nowadays!), and I didn't see the point. I followed some 200 accounts and I really could not keep up with most of them. And besides, due to the 160-character restriction, you mostly see mindless rabble on there. But RSS, now, I may have some 150 feeds in my RSS reader (the RSS part of Kontact, the KDE PIM suite) but I actually read them. Reason? Lack of that restriction that leads to thoughtful posts.

      Anyway, the rest of my views (e.g. I reject Bulleting Boards as a necessity, however easy a phpBB installation is) are stated below. Great post. And Blogger is awful. WordPress is a much superior platform, and what's more - there are more publishing tools than blogging platforms in this world, like the excellent Ruby-based platform (Ruby is the best programming language in the universe) Nanoc, which I talked about in depth in my comment. Again, great comment.

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  4. I don't have a strong opinion on whether you should design your own site, but since it would keep you from playing and writing about it, I'm leaning against ;)

    I hate Twitter, but you starting to use it could make me start reading it.

    Not sure if a full-fledged message board is needed? I think the comments work fine overall and can't really see how it'd be possible to keep up with your play schedule.

    Definitely in favour of more short posts over few longer ones. I've never watched one of your videos, so can't really comment on that. Delivery works fine for me, I can always see when there's a new post in Google Reader to read and can jump over if I want to read or write comments.

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  5. Answers to your questions:

    1. I prefer shorter postings but mixed up with a few longer postings when needed (such as special topics or introductions to games etc.).

    2. I vastly prefer text with pictures. I mostly don't watch the videos. For the videos to be interesting to me they should be short and fairly focused.

    3. I would prefer it if it was possible to not have all pictures in a row when you have lots of pictures. Otherwise I think things work fairly well. Also it would be nice if there was a place to go to to find all the postings of specific games (especially when you mix them such as with Nethack and other games).

    Regarding the other topics:

    I think a forum is overkill really. If you actually want a forum you should probably try to get your own subforum at an RPG site such as GameBanshee or RPGCodex. Easier to manage I think.

    With your own domain you don't necessairly have to use HTML directly. There are lots of good blogging software (such as wordpress etc.) to use. There is also the question of migrating all posts and comments so far. If you are going to switch I think you need a good migration plan. Also, it probably is more work for you than it is currently with blogspot.

    Conclusion: I think the quality of the posts are already astounding. The format don't really matter for me as long as the quality of the posts are this good.

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    1. Right, as other have said. Twitter is a waste of time (I wouldn't read it at least).

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  6. This is a much more cheerful posting than 2012! Hopefully you're at a happier place :)

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  7. In short, IMHO: No, No, No, and No. :)

    Longer form:

    On the domain: I think the content is far more important than the presentation, and blogspot does a good-enough job of presenting it that the effort involved in porting it to a new system isn't worth it. Spend that time playing games instead. :)

    Twitter: If you hate it, don't use it. Forcing yourself to do something you hate is just going to make the whole experience less pleasant for you. This is a hobby, and hobbies are supposed to be fun, right?

    Message boards: Again, seems like a lot of work for not a lot of gain.

    Playing club: Hard to avoid spoilers in that model.


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  8. I think shorter postings are better. The content you post is really high quality, but even I, who regularly reads enormous featurettes all over the web can find them too much at times. I think you need to make shorter posts and probably less for each game. By less, I mean 1 or 2 less.

    I don't think a message board would be appropriate. You need to interact with the community a lot or it will go nowhere. And it generally won't go nowhere to be honest, I think comments facilitate great discussion as it is.

    You should get a blog on the WordPress platform! WordPress is much better, and unlike Blogspot, less amateurish and OPEN SOURCE. Granted, I'm a big open source fan, I even worked for an open source company once. You should check out the Theme Foundry, they are the best company to go to for themes (I don't work for these guys). Part of the showcase is sixgun.org, which is my favourite podcast.

    If you want to remove the community aspect completely, you can try Nanoc. It is a static site generator, and as it doesn't depend on established platforms that crackers and spammers target, it is much better for security. Here's a great post on it: http://www.h3rald.com/articles/take-back-your-site-with-nanoc/

    Note: you do NOT need prior programming experience to use Nanoc. You can write in Markdown, which is basically BBCode done right. Trust me, you will never want to go back to WYSIWYG again. MediaWiki markup (used for editing Wikipaedia) is close, but not quite there. With Nanoc's markup support, having a beautiful site will never have been so easy. If you are not excited enough about Nanoc yet - do listen to an interview with the creator here:
    http://twit.tv/show/floss-weekly/207

    Another note on Nanoc: you need a web host for this. WordPress.com is what we call SaaS ('Software as a Service') that offers free blog hosting (no premium crap either, full access to all functionality and plugins et al). But Nanoc creates static, not dynamic hypertext pages. Hence, it's for serious content creators. Like you! You are most committed to what you do. But yeah, you need to pay for web hosting. Many web hosts (and there are loads of great cheap ones, just Google aroud) offer domains free with the subscription, by the way.

    You can add comment sections with external services such as Intense Debate (Disqus is AWFUL on mobile devices, please don't use that), by the way.

    On to videos. I think you should generally avoid videos and "let's plays". You should only use videos for demonstration purporses, e.g. when a game is so badly bugged that it blows your mind (type in 'Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing' into YouTube, what a laugh). I think videos are hence best left very short, and silent, maybe with some annotation at the bottom (do NOT use Windows Movie Maker).

    Okay, current design? Remove the top comments section and maybe the Google+ followers section too, unless it actually gets users talking. To be honest, I would not talk about my guilty pleasure on any social network, but maybe that's just me. But the top comments section is just ugly and doesn't even format things correctly.

    Whew. Long post. I wish you a great, CRPG-filled 2013! You are a bit like me, I never really enjoyed tabletop RPGs, maybe they are just too geeky for me even though I love a game of Diplomacy or Settlers of Catan with some friends.

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  9. I think doing live video on something like Twitch.tv would be awesome. I don't see very many people playing retro games on there.

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    1. I'd love to see more on Twitch.TV, Justin.TV or whatever. There are lots of them. Zenic streams a lot of NES games, but there are usually only a few of us there, so you can't get much of a conversation going.
      I think the Addicts community is large enough to get a commentary going, but not large enough to be pointless to try and follow what is going on.

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  10. Domain: It would be nice. You can start by transferring just the blog and then later add forums and whatever else you want. You wouldn't have to program for the basic setup with WordPress or something. Also, if you stumble, I'm sure there are more than enough tech savvy folk here willing to help.

    Twitter: Not a fan. IMO people either "get" twitter or don't. If you're not already into tweeting, there are probably better things you can do with your time...

    Forums: Meh. I guess it's a good setup for what you need. Unfortunately, most forums devolve over time; crud piles up, meta discussions take over, social stratification/elitism leads to group thinking etc. And, of course, someone has to manage all that crap, so you'd waste your time policing things or find underlings to do it for you... Nope, I'm not a big fan of forums :-)

    Strategic questions:

    1. No preference. Just don't force it. Write according to how much material/inspiration you have.

    2. Narration is good for me. Annotations are for meta information (eg. if you forget to mention something during the video).

    3. One quick fix comes to mind. Can you set some kind of avatar for your account, instead of using Blogger's default? That would make your comments easier to follow in the discussion thread (still struggling with my own, btw :-))

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    1. He already has an avatar (he got that about a month ago I think).

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    2. You're right. Don't know how I missed it. It was a long standing peeve of mine... :-)

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    3. I don't know why it took me so long. It's not like it wasn't obvious what I'd choose.

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    4. What on earth IS it? A green trashcan with eyes?

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    5. Seriously? YOU'RE giving me grief about the decipherability of my avatar?

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  11. Happy New Year!

    My main suggestion would be: If it isn't broken, why fix it? I'd also follow Codrus is saying that it's the content I come for, rather than the presentation. Blogger is functional and easy to access for me (via Firefox or on my phone), and I'd hate for you to be spending more time and money on sorting out a new website rather than actually playing and blogging!

    Twitter: from the sounds of the comments so far I might be the only one here using it! I mainly tend to use it for gaming-related friends and news, with a few others thrown in for good measure. I wouldn't suggest forcing yourself to use it if you don't want to though.

    Forums: Might be more hassle than it's worth? It's not something I'd be keen for, The only forum I check regularly is on Abandonia.

    Playing club: Perhaps not that difficult to organise, as Trickster sort-of does this. Maybe adventure games are a better fit due to their shorter gameplay length though. I know I try to play along occasionally (and now have a blog of my own to chart my progress).

    1. The less regulation you put on your posting times and post lengths the better I think. Posting as often as you feel like is better, perhaps with smaller updates if it's been a longer time between posts (or there isn't much to say!).

    2. I think I've only watched two of the videos, I prefer to read your posts! It was nice to see how the Gold Box combat was (the most recent video I watched) since I haven't played any of them. So long as they don't replace the text, I'm happy.

    3. I'm happy with the layout, format and so on. Even the comment system! (although I do dislike Captcha).

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    1. Pretty much agree with everything Andy_Panthro said here. I think the current format is terrific. I use Twitter, but your insight could get lost in the flood of info there.

      I'm also very war of any more work you put on yourself (such as moderating a forum). As a game developer, I appreciate the headache of having to balance playing games with paying work. I'd say the less you have to mess around with stuff, and the more focus you put on playing games and sharing insight, the better.

      Anyway, looking forward to reading your posts in 2013! :)

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    2. I also use twitter. Um, a lot. 68,000 tweets since October, 31st, 2008. I um, for a while I was at over 100 tweets a day. >.> https://twitter.com/Canageek

      Anyway, think of twitter less as a blog or social network as a delayed time chatroom. You can join or leave a discussion at any time, and you don't 'miss' discussions, as you can reply to things said 8 hours before. I can help you get set up if you decide to try it.

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  12. 1. A new post is a highlight of my day, so I'd love more frequent posts, BUT I think your writing style and work schedule need to dictate the actual frequency. Your posts are cohesive. I wouldn't want them to become fragmented due to an artifially imposed need for frequent posts.
    2. I seldom watch the videos. I would rather that you rely on your written words to communicate. There are many sites with video blogs for the ADD generation; I hope you won't go that direction.
    3. It's great that you're looking for opportunities to improve! I just wouldn't change much!

    Domain: The URL doesn't matter to readers; you may be the only one who even notices it. Blogspot is fine, and your readers know where to find you.
    Twitter: No. Very few people will have the time to really follow all your tweets. If you were tweeting, then there would be thoughts you felt had been shared, which wouldn't actually have been seen by blog readers. I think it would dilute your blog posts and your connection to your reader base.
    Message Board: No. Even though this comment system sucks, it is better than splitting user involvement between two different sites. Having your own website would allow you to implement a better comment system, but I still don't recommend it.
    Playing club: Better in theory than in reality. Would take substantial time and be minimally utilized (imo).

    I love the blog, and am always excited to see new posts. Thanks for such a well-written, clever, insightful, entertaining blog. I hope you won't lose sight of the fact that your writing (not videos or tweets or comments) is your core competency.

    Reading what you write in this blog is enjoyable. That is a gift. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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  13. Speaking as just one (1) dedicated reader of your blog, I think the move from blogspot to something like a Wordpress blog under your own domain name would be a smart move on your part, thinking longer term. You could get your domain and your hosting both through Dreamhost and then install Wordpress with a simple click of a button. You'd more or less have to learn Wordpress as a piece of software, rather than dick around much with HTML, unless you wanted to style a Wordpress theme yourself. Read up on Wordpress. It's quite easy these days and while the options for themes and plug-ins can seem overwhelming, you can make your blog as simple as you like.

    Also, word of advice from a web designer: If you go with WordPress, do consider the look of it. Get yourself a nicer header image and pick a colour scheme. You don't have to go nuts, but try to make it look modern, non-generic. Tweak the theme at least enough so it doesn't look like a new shirt you just bought with the tags still on it.

    I'd agree with Panta82 that either people get Twitter or they don't, and a lot of the commentators here don't, apparently. It's not a dumb medium, though of course it is limited in a number of ways. If you're not in love with it, I'd suggest following a bunch of people who interest you, from a variety of backgrounds, and just checking in on it now and then rather than trying to be religious about it. If you still don't like it, don't waste your time, but I could honestly see it suiting you. I'd love to get a blurb now and then from you as you play through a game. You're a witty guy and wit is really something Twitter does very well.

    Agree with others who say that forums would be a waste of time for you. They are a lot of effort, are often targets for hackers unless you update the sofware regularly. They can just as often dilute and kill an active community. I think comments serve you well enough.

    The idea of the videos isn't a bad one, but I personally would rather read about the game than watch it, especially when the videos are quite long spans of you just playing the game. Shorter videos highlighting important events or facets of gameplay would be more attractive. And when I say short, I mean like closer to a minute in length. I will say that I liked the animated gifs you created for Drakkhen! I know they can be a pain in the ass to make, but they gave a nice glimpse of the weird monster animations.

    I think the post lengths as they have been are fine. Occasionally they feel a bit long, but I don't generally mind. I think you have a good grip on chunking content for posts, although I think sometimes you rely on bullet points a bit heavily when natural paragraphs would serve you better. That can interrupt the flow of reading.

    Whatever you do, just don't make things more difficult for you than they already are, upkeepwise. I mean, the whole blog illustrates what a glutton for punishment you are, but don't burn yourself out on petty administration! I love the blog. It's like dorky comfort food for me.

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  14. Two sayings come to mind. "Keep it simple, stupid" (no offense intended), and, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

    A) Your own domain. Meh. It doesn't matter to me one way or the other, with this one exception: Please don't go Wordpress, as others have suggested! As a reader, I can't stand Wordpress, or at least, I've never seen a Wordpress blog that I enjoyed. I've always wanted the content, but wished they were on Blogger.

    B) Twitter. Meh. If you do use it, please have the Twitter feed as a widget on your blog. I do have a Twitter account, but the last time I went there was over two years ago, and I don't want to log in just to read a sentence or two from you. I'm just not into Twitter.

    C) Message boards. Meh. I think many are right that it would waste time that could otherwise be spent playing the games. If message board administration sounds like fun to you, go for it... but it probably doesn't. From a personal standpoint, I really like coming here to see everything. I don't want to have to check all over for CRPG Addict goodness.

    D) Playing club. See C.

    1. I prefer shorter postings more frequently, but it's not that big a deal. I know that sometimes you rack up a lot of playtime and plot advancement in a relatively short amount of time, thus necessitating the need for a longer post. I don't really mind either way.

    2. Needless to say, I prefer video with narration. It's what I do, after all.

    3. I think everything is just dandy here. I really can't think of any improvements needed. I really enjoy this blog and the capcha is only a minor annoyance. If this were a perfect world, you wouldn't need it. In any case, I like coming here to see all the content and comments in one place. I think you've already set up quite a challenge in your mission statement. Why add to it?

    And, finally: A book?

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  15. I don't care about the URL. It's a blog, why shouldn't it be on blogger?

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  16. Yeah man, switching to your own domain and using Wordpress would be a huge improvement. I also think MyBB is the best of the free forum scripts, but the choice is up to you. Good luck, love the site. :)

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  17. This blog functions exactly as it should. None of these things you're suggesting are going to benefit the prime function of the blog. They can get you more readers but should that be an end in itself?

    I prefer shorter posts more frequently, also.
    The only way to make your videos better would be to actually do editing, but that's a lot of work and it will end up resembling a video review. Do we need more of these?
    The target audience of this blog has no problem with reading words.

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  18. I've followed this blog for a long time -- it's got top billing in my RSS feed, and is my favorite read over my morning coffee or tea. I don't comment much, but since you're soliciting opinions, I thought I'd chip in.

    Domains: There are really two questions, here: a custom domain, and a custom site. You can easily purchase a specific domain name (www.crpgaddict.com or similar) and have it redirect to this very site on blogspot; the setup is very fast, and the cost would be on the order of twenty bucks a year. The Wordpress and HTML stuff is for creating a custom website (that you would probably also want a custom domain for), and would require hosting, which would cost a little bit more -- ten bucks a month, depending on traffic. In other words, if it's just the web address that bothers you, you can create a redirect for it at a custom domain for low cost and little work. None of this really matters to me; I'd read this blog if it was hosted in North Korea.

    Micro-blogging: PLEASE don't do this. Something I love about this blog and its format is if I get behind, it's very easy for me to just start at my first unread posting and read along until I'm caught up. It's a completionist thing, like getting your quest log clear. So long as I read all the posts (and the comments) I can be sure I'm not missing anything. If there were a parallel stream of tweets going constantly, it would become much more difficult -- perhaps impossible -- to have the whole experience if I fall a few weeks behind. I think your interactions in the comment sections of each post already capture the real-time update flavor you talk about Twitter having, and with the benefit of not living somewhere outside the blog.

    Message boards: I don't think it'd be worth the trouble. About the only real use case not covered by post comments is for general, non-game-specific questions, but you have a sidebar that you use to excellent effect to present additional context and information, and the odd question that needs clarified can be done so there (or in a FAQ, or what have you) keeping these kinds of questions to only occasional interludes. And really, how often are people going to have a comment not relevant, somehow, to a game, that also isn't covered by your overview?

    Playalong: This sounds interesting, but I would be afraid that it would interfere with the current content. What's interesting to me is "discovering" unknown games by reading about your expert perspective on them, and reliving old nostalgia (and fact-checking it with reality) when you come across a fondly-remembered game. Already several readers start games simultaneously with you, even documenting their exploits; I would posit that that is sufficient.

    Long posts vs. short posts: if you wanted to make me happy you wouldn't worry about it, only making posts when it seemed to make thematic, structural, or logistic sense.

    Video: Honestly, in a lot of circumstances (work, crowded room, reading on my smartphone, etc.) I don't watch the videos, because sound is not something I have access to. A policy of at least providing a comment-based or subtitle-based commentary would make them more attractive to me. They are, in my mind, still supplementary, though -- I don't miss them when they aren't there, and I would be saddened were they to replace more of the main text.

    Format: This is one of the best blogs I've seen in my entire life in terms of presentation, layout, writing, and content. You want to make me happy? Don't change a thing. You're a talented writer and have a knack for presenting these games with flair and wit; I wouldn't worry, were I you, about trying to improve things.

    I hope that helps. It's your blog, of course, and I'll likely be here regardless of what you choose to do with it; best of luck in 2013.

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  19. Domains: www.thirdhosting.com is a company I have used for a few years now. They have nice prices for hosting and have customer support that extends to helping you get certain things done.

    "1. Which is better: longer postings less frequently, or shorter postings more frequently? In other words, would your rather have 1,200 words every three days, or 800 words every two days?"

    I'm not sure. I like to have postings everyday truthfully, but I know that's unreasonable. If I have to pick I would pick the higher volume posts every 3 days.

    "2. How could I do video better? I don't have a strong sense of whether my readers prefer video with voice narration, video with text narration, or video with annotation-based narration (the latter of which I only did once, with Le Maitre des Ames, and even then not extensively)."

    I love the narration. I wish you had more videos like that. It's a better glimpse into your experience of the games in question.

    "3. In general, are there any problems with the current format, layout, and delivery of the blog that I could solve through some kind of better design?"

    You should have accounts and a forum attached to your domain. So discussion of articles can be more in-depth. People would still comment on the actual article, but those who are actually registered in the forum can communicate further through there. If you don't feel like managing it I'm sure there are more than enough people who would leap at the opportunity (not myself though) to moderate a forum.

    Other than that you should manage your postsings better. Create an archive with sub groupings in it. Articles would be grouped by game and would be easily accessible.

    ReplyDelete
  20. None of the proposed changes seem like they'd improve my enjoyment of this blog, although it's vaguely possible moving to your own domain w/ attendant software change could make improvements I just don't know to expect. I think you're good - just keep it coming. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, one thing: an easy-to-use index of postings by game rather than date would be neat for people catching up or only interested in reading about specific games.

      Delete
  21. 1. Less posts, more frequently. I really love your posts, and when the RSS feed notifies me you have a new one, I jump to it. So I would prefer them more frequently.
    Adding to that, I never feel current posts are too long, but when it's a game I'm not familiar with, I find it takes a long time to process all the information in a post, so shorter posts would make sense for me.

    2. I like the videos as they are but I'm not into gaming videos in general. I really like the animated gifs.

    3. I like the blog just as it is. I agree with removing the captchas, as long as the user has signed in to a service (Google/Wordpress/OpenID/etc)

    Just my 2c :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wordpress lets you do 3, though it has other downsides. Mine is on Wordpress.

      Delete
  22. The website is perfect the way it is. Managing your own domain is just another hassle that will eventually become another burden to upkeep (been there). I like screenshots interspaced with text. Animations or videos are nice, but for retro games it really isn't that critical. Shorter more frequent posts would be better.

    In short, keep up exactly what you're doing!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I don't really see much room for improvement to be honest. Moving to Wordpress...how do you carry over your previous posts? Is there a way?

    The form and function you've been using works perfectly fine, I wouldn't try to fix something that doesn't require fixing.

    "I have this idea that 'Blogspot' blogs feel amateurish by the URLs alone."

    But the effort you've put into this blog makes it as far away from amateurish as you could be. I have Blogger as my homepage just to stay up to date with your blog. The URL never enters my mind as a Thing and I would hope that my own blog and my own effort isn't judged as amateurish just because I use Blogger over Wordpress due to Blogger simply being quicker to utilize.

    I have no opinion of Twitter, I don't use it in any way.

    The message board idea could work though, we're all here for a common interest and the 'playing clubs' could evolve from that, should anyone want to. Having a group of people playing an older game, like say, Koei's Bandit Kings of Ancient China, could generate fun and interesting discussion.

    As for the posting frequency, I feel its best to post when you feel like you're going to write a quality post, be it every two days or every five or once a week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Blogger gives you a xml with all your posts, I think. CMSs like Drupal have plugins that allow you to import those.

      Delete
  24. I like "Shorter, more often". I don't really watch videos with any interest. I have no problems whatsoever with the way the blog is run.

    I still pop in daily just to see if anything's updated, though! Still really enjoying your writing and your site.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I seem to be going against the grain by saying longer posts less often, but really, it all depends on how much you have to say... no point forcing a dissertation when a game doesn't deserve it.

    Can't you still use Blogger with your own domain? Otherwise, hacking, upkeep, etc. of WordPress are a real pain (there are upside, but mostly of you're just starting).

    No Thanks to Twitter - RSS is good for me (I always click through for the comments).

    Unfortunately I usually visit your blog where I can't watch videos, so I actually prefer animations (sparingly). Content is king.

    Forum? Nice to have, but not a need. Regular site-related posts could be done for general comments.

    Love the blog, especially now that you're hitting my jumping off point for CRPGs.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I think you could split the difference with your question about twitter and article length. You screen caps with funny captions could be shared easily on twitter, to fill in the longer gaps between writing longer article entries. Those are my preferences.

    Also, I'd rather a vocal commentary for videos.

    No matter what, your site is wonderful the way that it is. It brings me great enjoyment!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Twitter? No thanks.
    Forum? Could be nice, but I can understand the arguments against.
    Writing vs Video? I prefer the current style. Use video only for key battles in a game, or other things that take too long to explain in words.

    Things that could be improved:

    Is it really needed to use CAPTCHA every time posting "unregistered"? Can't cookies be used to keep track of posters who already have passed the first CAPTCHA test?

    Links under "Top Comments" don't work.
    Example:
    http://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/2013/01/improving-crpg-addict.html?showComment=1357182677147#comment-c4771439783857761369
    leads to the top of the page.
    To get directly to the post you need to cut the "comment-" part of the URL, after the "#".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are ways to prevent bots from posting in forums. Look up "honeypot": basically, add dummy fields that should be empty, and use styles to make them invisible to humans but visible to bots (they end up filling them and get booted).

      I read somewhere that they're like 90% effective, while captchas are like 95% effective, but 100x more annoying to users.

      Delete
  28. I would rather wait an extra day or two for more words :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Don't bother with Twitter-- unless you specifically want to do it, it will only pull your attention away from the blog.

    I don't mind blogspot, but it likely matters more to newcomers than regular readers.

    Finally, and most importantly, for #3:

    If possible it would be great if you added a link to the TOP of the comments of a given entry. Currently, pressing the comments link takes you to the bottom. Given how prolific your commenters are and how lengthy your posts are, this means I have to scroll through a half dozen pages or more just to start reading the comments in order. A link would be great.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Eh, blogspot blogs are OK for single-purpose blogs like yours. However, don't forget blogspot is blocked by many, if I didn't have a VPN I couldn't read your blog.

    Don't use twitter. I want all of the experience here. I hate when I read a blog entry that starts "for those of you who have been following me on Twitter..."

    Nah, you don't need your own message board. It would drag you away from the games, and make the website more about you than the games.

    No idea about the playing club. Sounds like work. Something fans should organize for themselves if it's that important.

    I'd prefer longer articles to more frequent updates. Reasoning: most people will read the archives instead of following along day by day. Longer articles make for better reading.

    For videos, just remember to move your mouse to the corner of the screen when you're not using it, so it's invisible.

    ReplyDelete
  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1. Domain: You should seriously consider getting your own domain and use WordPress or whatever package you prefer on it. This is for your benefit though, not ours. You'd have more control over the structure of the content, you'd have an archive of everything, and you might even get some ad revenue.

      2.Twitter: Twitter is great for timely activities (like news reporting) and poor for composition. I view the best aspect of this blog the composition. So Twitter doesn't fit.

      3. Message boards could be interesting, but only if you have a concept to focus them and you or a lackey has the time and interest to police them.

      4. Playing club: I could never keep up with you; I'm lucky to get 10 hours a week of gaming. So it wouldn't help me.

      5. Videos: I never watch the ones on this site.

      6. Posting frequency: I slightly prefer longer less frequent posts because you do such a great job constructing the narrative within each post. The separate shorter posts are a little choppier than the more integrated ones.

      Delete
  32. I enjoy the occasional voice narrated videos of the Boss battles, or the more interesting bits of the games, when they are in addition to a full blog posting. The text narration is nice as well, but it must be time consuming for you. Some things are hard or just too lengthy to put into words. However, it seems videos longer than 3-5 min would be pushing it for most people.
    I love the use of the GIF's. In particular you had one on Drakkhen that showed the water guy destroying your party in seconds. That simple stuff adds a lot of effect to the posting without being obtrusive or taking anything away from it.
    The players club sounds like a great idea to me, although I would rarely join in. It would be nice to have a separate thread for that stuff.
    LOVE to hear your going to make a book. GREAT news :)

    Basically your doing a wonderful job, and not much needs to be changed.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Interesting discussion:
    For setting up your own website, why not call on your resources? You have lots of people following you. I'm sure there would be someone that'd be willing to do the website for the cost of being able to put it on their resume. (Yes it is a professional service, and yes it is worth money. But pay-it-forward. Chet asks for nothing from us really, so why not give him something?) Just don't look at me. If he needed cabling done or an electronic circuit built, fine. Not website design though.

    Twitter. I use it. And its most useful function? Advising me when an update is available or an outage is occuring (eg. Blizzard CS notifying when D3 servers going down/coming up)

    Forums: Fun. But not necessary, and not why we are here.

    Frequency: I'd prefer 1 top quality 400 word post than 3 x rushed 400 word posts. Work to 'the job' not the clock on that one.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Shorter posts would be much better. It feels (perhaps inaccurately?) like the posting length has gone up over time, and they are now too long for me to get through; I end up skimming a lot more. Shorter and more frequent would be great.

    I don't think microblogging would help much, but I'm just not that into twitter.

    I don't watch the videos at all. Generally speaking, I would think that narration would work best though, especially for older games where the audio is poor.

    Getting your own URL would probably help from a branding standpoint, but I'm not sure it matters. Blogger seems like a nice set-up.

    I do think that having boards might be nice.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I think I would be a fan of shorter, more frequent posts, but don't cut a post short if you are focusing on something though.

    There seems to be a lot of dislike for Twitter in the posts here, but Twitter is a tool, like any other, that can be useful if you don't abuse it. I think if you use it correctly it could be a valuable addition to your blog.

    Example of bad tweet: "Just fought the beholders. It was tough LOL"

    Example of useful tweets:
    "I'm currently stuck on Drahkken, can't get the ending to trigger. Anyone have any suggestions?"
    "New post on the blog: Curse of the Azure Bonds - Behold!"
    "Looking for a console RPG to play with Irene that is heavily dialogue/story based. Suggestions?"
    "Sorry for lack of posts, busy with work at the moment."

    One of the strengths of your blog is your excellent writing and narrative, which twitter is not at all suited too, but it could be great for other, more "admin" type things that you want to communicate with your followers.

    Echoing another user above, one thing I would like to see on the site is a list of all the games with their ratings and links to the posts for that game, in addition to the date based menu that exists at the moment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you were one of the few people to understand what I was getting at with the tweet idea. But I suppose when things like that come up, I can just offer very short blog postings. I don't know why I'm so averse to that.

      Delete
    2. Mikrakov's examples are exactly what I envisioned; I just don't find any value in Twitter in general.

      I also have no problem with short posts to the blog that go off on tangents, although a forum is really the best place to have random conversations with readers.

      Delete
    3. Repeat after me: Twitter is a discussion platform, not a blogging platform or RSS replacement.

      Twitter is where I talk with people in the RPG blogging community, and where I meet other people in science and chat with them and such.

      For example, I read an article on benchmarks on Techreport, and had a suggestion based on reading scientific papers. I messaged the author asking him to include standard deviations of the runs they do, since they say they are quite similar and repeatable, and that would prove it. He tweeted back that it was a good idea. No email, easier to filter out spam, etc.

      If you want to see a good use, check out http://tweetchat.com/room/rpgchat

      I have livetweeted games in past, and got some good response to that, as people commented back on things they had enjoyed/hated/opinions, etc. In real time.

      Here is someone I quite enjoy reading; https://twitter.com/AngryPlays

      Delete
  36. Domain: No. It depend if you want some very precise features you knew you could do only with your own domain. But if you're stuck in 90 era webdesign I doubt it will be painless.

    Micro Blog: No. Have a feed here, if you like to write funny 140 characters once in a while. But beside that ...

    Forum: No. Forum mean, spam and stuff and so administrators and a lot of time loss to manage trolls.

    Club: Dont know. I probably wont read other crpg-player posts. But you just can have a sort of blogroll with people doing the same thing as you.

    Video: No. I dont watch them. May be just to show some original gameplay for 2 minutes once in a while when words failed you.

    Length: Even 200 word once a week is better if it's thoughtful, or fun or informative. Better that just a 1000 word per day bland narration of your characters journey.

    What's missing:
    You have one unique feature: You played hundred of game for a lot of time. So you give us a stable, coherent comparative view on multiple different game.

    I know we have the "All game ranking" but I would like something more usable. May be, a way to search for certain games (top down, 3D, single character, turn based, top rating, top economy rating, etc) , their rating and a link to your different posts about it, and may be a link to other walkthrough, download site, and practical stuff.
    May be you plan to do it in the book. Or you need your Own Domain for that. Or may be it could be done by followers here, with some time and your authorization. Or you can manage to use tags, search tool, and pages building of blogger to do it.

    Anyway everything is good as it is.



    ReplyDelete
  37. ad1 imho longer postings less frequently is the way to go

    ad2 video with voice narration is your best option – your experience, your opinion is the important thing. You could also try a screen in screen solution – so that we could see your face while you are narrating the video. In my opinion a better video often means a more personal video.

    ad3 I like the current design

    ad social media I am not a fan of twitter et al, but if you want to grow your blog you`ll need it. Facebook, twitter, youtube and whatever should always link back to your blog. (a link in your video description is a good idea for example: people who found your video can quickly find your blog)

    ReplyDelete
  38. Answering your questions.

    1. I prefer to read this bog as closer to everyday as possible, so my vote goes for shorter posts.

    2. I prefer pictures than videos, wich to be honest I never see them.

    3.Sure you can improve this blog someway, but I don't find any big problem with the current format, I just love to read it.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I vote for shorter posts more frequently. Apart from that, nothing needs to change; the blog as present is as good as it gets.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I prefer the longer and less frequent posts myself. It allows you to be more in-depth on the material at hand.

    I am neutral on the video versus picture; I can see both fine.

    Your blog is fine by me. I don't use twitter and my experience with message boards has been lackluster. Also, I cannot play all the games you play, only a few. That is one reason I am infrequent with my comments.

    Last point, up until I started reading your blog, my interest in CRPGs had gone into the doldrums. Right now I am trying Wizardry VI again and look forward your blog. Thank you for making the day a little brighter.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Coo Looks like my opinions are mostly shared here. Never got into twitter, too short too spammy too frivolous. I do prefer shorter frequent posts, this would help keep gaming content fresh in your mind and selfishly, means less days where I have one less thing to pass the time :D
    Play-along gaming thingy, great in theory, not sure it would work so flawlessly in practice. Many of us play/have played lots of the games on your blog, but finding more than a handful to play them at the same general time would be tough (some games feasible, some games no chance).

    ReplyDelete
  42. I don't think any of these things are necessary, the core aspect is the game playing articles, and the screenshots. These are done perfectly fine now, why divert yourself installing third party blogging/content management software on your own webspace when what you have is working perfectly fine already!

    As for post length, that depends on the game and incidents you have gone through. You might do a short single-thing post, or long multi-thing posts. Do it as you feel fit.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Chet,

    Love the site. Discovered it about a month ago, and have finally caught up reading all of your posts, and I think this one is an appropriate one for my first comment.

    I wouldn't change the site, quite honestly, other than more posts, of whatever length you want. I am not a fan of message boards or Twitter or any of that stuff, so count me as a "nay" vote for those features. As far as the videos go, I only watch them occasionally, but I do enjoy them. I prefer videos narrated as opposed to annotated.

    Whatever you do, the site will be great, and I'll keep reading. Your unique voice and determination to play all of these game to completion is the biggest draw. Keep it up!

    ReplyDelete
  44. You sure you can't use a custom domain with blogspot? If not, don't bother hosting yourself - with the amount of traffic you get, it's likely to be more trouble / money than it's worth. I'd just migrate from here to Wordpress if, and maybe only if, their migrator could migrate your comments along with your posts.

    Just use wordpress.com and pay the paltry annual fee to use a custom domain - done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just found out that one of those vulture domain-buying companies purchased crpgaddict.com. Jackasses.

      Delete
    2. What about thecrpgaddict.com?

      Delete
    3. Or use crpgaddict.net or .info or similar?

      Delete
    4. My problem isn't that there aren't other possibilities. I'm just annoyed that some pathetic vulture of a company decided to register the name in the cynical hope that I'd care enough to purchase it.

      I'm going through the same thing with my professional association. Imagine that my profession is called "Gimlet mixer" and I belong to the World Association of Gimlet Mixers. Well, some company went and registered gimletmixers.com about six years ago and won't let go of it. Sure, we can use gimletmixers.net and whatnot, but the one they own is the most obvious domain. They're doing nothing with it but hosting random ads, and every time we approach them about buying it, they want like $6,000. It makes my blood boil that this is even legal.

      Delete
    5. I understand your frustration. Luckily I think most people find the site they want to go to through Google (or similar) instead of typing the URL directly. And Google almost never list the sites of the domain nappers.

      Delete
    6. If it is a US company you can use legal recourse. Check out the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. If the company is in a different country there may also be legal recourse that you could check into. If you need help tracking down where they are based out of, ask us and we can help.

      Delete
    7. I just looked them up and you may be able to use legal action if they do not give up the domain. Try to ask nicely first.


      Organization: Oversee Domain Management, LLC

      Email: admin@overseedomainmanagement.com
      Address: 515 S. Flower Street

      Suite 4400

      City, Province, Post Code: Los Angeles, California, 90071
      Country: US
      Phone: 1.2132653191

      Delete
    8. Also you mentioned a book, YAY! If you are going through a publisher they can put some muscle behind you to get the domain. But really you should get the domain and register it yourself even if you are not building a brand new website, you can link it to here. I would recommend using your domain homepage for your book and have a prominent link to the blog.

      Delete
  45. I like the videos with narration and the GIF's (risky business in Drakkhen :D)

    The only thing that could be improved is this comment system. When I look at the latest comments feed and I want to expand the comment to read the whole thing...

    It just sends me to the blog post and i have to search for the comment.

    If wordpress has a better comment system maybe it would be a good move.

    ReplyDelete
  46. This blog is the best thing I have ever found randomly surfing the Internet, and I really think it is perfect as it is.

    That being said, I will read you no matter what so I don't mind if you feel the need to set up your own domain or create a forum (though this will take a time that might be better spent playing or blogging, IMO). Just please, oh please, dont't start tweeting (or else I'll be forced to register myself, even though I deeply hate that blue bird).

    1. Long or short posts, both are fine. If you ask me, what I most like is the regularity in your posting you have kept these last weeks. I love to log into Google Reader and find a new post so often.

    2. I prefer narrated videos; I know it is weird to hear your own recorded voice, but you sound cool. Short videos with annotation or narrated text to highlight or show something is fine as well.

    3. It might seem conservative, but as others have said: if it ain't broken, don't fix it. Your blog is interesting and enjoyable, and no eye-candy-design is going to make it better. The quality of the content here is king, and you are doing a great job in delivering this content to your readers. That said, if you want to toy around making some changes and looking for feedback, go ahead, we will help you.

    Best blog ever, Chet. Seriously.

    PS: Tweeter is chaotic evil ground, don't go there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, I wanted to say "chaotic neutral" :S

      Delete
    2. Thanks a lot for your comments, Caron. I guess I've been worrying about things that aren't really problems. You're right that any more "features" would likely detract from the time I spend actually playing and writing.

      Delete
    3. "Twitter" (facepalm)

      Delete
  47. A few thoughts:

    Personal domain - it's a good idea, particularly if you want to expand the scope of what you're doing beyond blogging about the games you play. On the other hand I can tell you from personal experience that you will lose a lot of traffic on the short run.

    Twitter - I don't use it, I had an account once, but I hated that site. However many people do use it, so you might actually gain a few... followers. Of course, you can use Facebook as a micro-blogging platform too. In fact I'd probably recommend a Facebook page, instead of Twitter, for quick status updates and questions pertaining to your current gaming activities. However you could accomplish the same thing simply by interacting with readers via a message board.

    Message board - there are indeed plenty of message boards that deal with gaming in general and CRPGs in particular. However you could use a message board if you're interested in creating a broader community around your website. Just keep in mind that once the message board grows, you'll probably will need moderators.

    Also, again from personal experience, there is the possibility (or risk, depends on how you look at it) that the message board will create two relatively independent communities that don't really interact with each other, with many users that only (or mostly) use the message board and others that only (or mostly) use the blog comments section to interact with you and each other.

    A playing club - sounds like a cool idea, but honestly I doubt there are many people willing to that, particularly on any sort of regular basis. Me, I might do it, when it comes to a few titles that I love, but that would only be a handful of games and I'd only do it if I had the time and if I felt in the mood to go back to those games. Basically, this is an idea that's better in thought than in practice.

    As for your 3 questions:
    1. Shorter and more frequent is better. I prefer it that way and my experience tells me that blog posts that are too long will feel tedious and some readers will lose interest. Personally I feel that many of your posts are clearly rather on the long side, and that's fine by me, because you already have me hooked and coming back for more and because I'm very interested in the subject of CRPGs. It might not be so good for you, if you're interested in attracting more casual readers.

    2. The best videos are voice narrated, scripted videos (unless you have great improv skills). As far as I'm concerned that's a fact. I also believe you do have a good voice for doing videos, so you've got that part covered. It all depends on how much effort you're willing to put into these videos and what purpose you want these videos to have. Simple gameplay footage with some commentary on the side shouldn't take too much effort, but I doubt they're going to win you too many new visitors. On the other hand, it is very well possible to create 10-15 minute game reviews as a conclusion to CRPGs that you particularly feel deserve it. Such reviews can become an attraction in themselves; a couple of good examples of what can be achieved with scripted video reviews here and here. I'm not saying you should go for something like this, but it is something to keep in mind.

    3. Beyond your somewhat wordy posts, I enjoy your style of writing and the overall delivery. I can't really recommend any particular technical improvements to the blog, because I'm not exactly familiar with blogpost, though I do have a feeling that HunterZ is right in saying that your biggest problem is Blogger itself. If you do decide to go for your own domain, I'd recommend Wordpress as a blogging platform.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Facebook is an interesting (but ultimately bad) idea. I get the concept that you would be creating an additional place for interaction and mini-updates. But you would be diffusing your site hits by spreading content across channels. Either 1) stay the same, or 2) register your own domain and use a threaded, collapsible comment system.

      Delete
    2. I particularly appreciate your thoughts on videos. I feel that since these games are in motion, still images don't fully capture the essence of gameplay, and I do like to have at least one video that highlights the various gameplay elements. But on the other hand, it doesn't sound like a lot of my readers use them. I could probably do a better job with scripting them.

      Delete
    3. You're welcome.

      Regarding the videos, it took me forever to actually decide to click on one and watch it and, yeah... judging by the comments, most people probably haven't even given them a try. I'm not sure why this happens, but I think it has something to do with the fact that, when I read one of your posts, it feels like the inclusion of a video was just an afterthought; it just comes across as something rather superfluous.

      What's worse is that you, yourself, seem to encourage this attitude towards the videos. I may not have a good recollection of things, but as far as I can remember, every time you post of a video, you basically say "... and here's a video I made. It's really no big deal, so... well, you can just skip ahead if you want." From a marketing perspective this practically as bad as saying "... and here's a video you might as well skip".

      So, you're not "selling" your videos to the readers, there's very little incentive to watch the video, so, naturally, most people don't do it.

      Don't get me wrong, I understand that you probably have reasons why you don't want to make a big deal about the videos you record. Maybe you're not comfortable with the medium yet, or maybe you're not sure of the quality of the content that you can produce in this medium. I don't know, it's just an assumption on my part, a seemingly sensible one.

      In the end, the two major things that I would do right now, in your place, regarding videos, would be (a) to try my hand at making some scripted videos, at the very least because it's definitely easier to talk "on camera/mic" when you already know what you want to say. And (b) I would try to create a bit of a buzz around these videos; make them feel like they're some sort of special, bonus content that you don't want to miss, rather than merely something optional, and rather unnecessary.

      Anyway, best of luck with whatever you decide.

      Delete
    4. I'll admit, I generally skip your vids for this reason. I tried an early one or two, and they felt long, unfocused, and kinda droning. If you scripted them, picked shorter clips, etc, I'd probably start watching. I do enjoy watching Game Informer vids, despite the often mindnumblingly stupid commentary.

      Delete
  48. I think the domain thing would be beneficial to you if you want to make more money from the blog. I think SEO is much better on your own domain. Not positive though. I do agree with the commenters that say please keep an RSS feed. It makes it so easy for me to read your posts.

    I also never really watch your videos. The pictures and the wording bring back the nostalgia for me... so I do not feel a need to watch you play the game real time.

    Twitter is alright. Like others I probably would not use it much. I can wait in between posts. I like both your smaller and larger posts.. although if they get too large I tend to skim towards the end.

    Forums I personally would not use. I just like reading your posts.





    ReplyDelete
  49. Everyone,

    These comments have been very helpful, and I appreciate everyone who took the time to respond.

    The average reaction seems to be forget about all of these ideas except perhaps switching to WordPress to improve the comment system. Those of you asking to be linked to the top comment rather than to the bottom have given me exactly what I was looking for: a problem that I didn't know was a problem. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how to fix it. Blogger gives very limited options for that sort of thing, and this doesn't seem to be one of them. I can edit the HTML for the template, but I don't see any obvious way to adjust this setting. I'll research it. I suppose at worst, I could immediately post a comment to my own posting, then link to it from the bottom of the entry.

    Other issues with the comment system are likely unchangeable without moving to a different platform. For those of you complaining about the captcha: without it, I get a ton of comment spam. I either need to keep it or disallow anonymous comments; I figured captcha was the better of the two options.

    I think I have what I need for now. Don't look for any major changes soon or anything, but I'll explore a few options as we move in to 2013.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you made the right decision in using captcha but allow anonymous comments. The captcha is irritating but I seem to get through it the majority of times now. :-)

      Also, remember that there are plenty of people here who would gladly help you if you want.

      Delete
    2. The Captcha doesnt prevent ME from commenting so its not a perfect solution.

      Delete
  50. All in all, I like the current format. I like the videos as well, and I appreciate the gifs. Regarding many of the questions you raise, I have no definite opinion, except for the Twitter point: I wouldn't follow that, I think. Anyway, thank you again for your excellent work, and I have to say I look forward to your book!

    ReplyDelete
  51. If you are keeping a tally:
    I prefer shorter, more frequent posts.
    I don't watch the videos.
    I like the current layout.

    Microblogs: Twitter doesn't sound like a great idea.... doesn't sound like there would be a LOT of followers. Although, Mikrakov had a good comment on how it could work...

    Although I like the current format, I feel that a companion site would be very interesting. Links to find the games you are playing/have played, your maps, maybe "Special posts" every once in a while (that are about CRPGs in general, rather than the specific game you are playing), etc. Pack it full of interesting information (you seem to do a lot of research on the games you play that could be interesting for this type of site), game hints, links to other resources, etc. and I think you could have an interesting hub for those nostalgia seekers. A forums board could naturally follow in another phase and the player's club could naturally follow by the participants on their own (and no effort on your part).

    ReplyDelete
  52. Reviewing all the comments to this post so far, I find very interesting the general aversion to the microblogging and Twitter idea.

    It is funny to discover you share something more with the other readers in addition to our love for CRPG's.

    ReplyDelete
  53. 1. Which is better: longer postings less frequently, or shorter postings more frequently? In other words, would your rather have 1,200 words every three days, or 800 words every two days?

    - I'd prefer 800 words every three days, but honestly I was you to post whatever feels to you like a decent post. Rather than thinking about what your audience wants, I feel like you're best off just doing whatever seems to best express what you want to say.

    2. How could I do video better?

    Definitely prefer the vids with narration. I actually don't watch the videos without narration, unless it' s just to skip through 2-second segments. The narrated ones I'll watch at least once in full! Probably twice!


    3. In general, are there any problems with the current format, layout, and delivery of the blog that I could solve through some kind of better design?

    I find the comment system to be bad, but aside from that, you have a much more organized blog than most.

    ReplyDelete
  54. I'm quite content with the state of your blog right now. That said, if you feel that you can reach a bigger audience with relatively simple adjustments and a bigger audience is what you want, I can stomach any changes you make.

    The microblogging idea sounds worth a shot, though; and if it doesn't work out, you can always scrap it (or let the messaging slowly die away). I would like to see how you would tackle it.

    ReplyDelete
  55. No videos please, I can read text at any speed I want, I can read on my cellphone where I want. Videos take too much time to see.

    For me, shorter posting would be nice, I never read the entire posting because they are too long.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Enough people seem to like the videos that I'm going to continue making them. But I won't offer anything exclusively by video.

      Delete
  56. Long-time reader, second-time commenter. Love the blog! A few thoughts off the top of my head:

    Frequency: I like more frequent posts, even if they're shorter, so long as you don't hold back on the info and insight as a result. :) If you went to more frequent posts, would you be planning to cut the content, or just spread it out?

    Video: I much prefer your descriptions and I'm not always reading where video's available. The animated GIFs were nice, though!

    Hosting: How about getting your own domain and hosting the Blogger blog on it? Less up-front work, but you'd get the increased professionalism of the domain name. http://www.leangains.com is an example, and there's some info here: http://support.google.com/blogger/bin/static.py?hl=en&ts=1233381&page=ts.cs

    Playing club: while I'm often eager to play these games, I know I don't have the time, so I'm definitely one of those people who's reading so he doesn't have to play and/or wants to relive some old favorites.

    My main vote is for whatever keeps you happy and posting--thanks for a great blog!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I posted more often, I'd be spreading it out. I don't actually have time to play or write more. I appreciate your insights.

      Delete
  57. Regarding: 1:

    Your own domain doesn't automatically mean you need to learn web design. Use a CMS (content management system). If you were using wordpress.com, I'd tell you to install WordPress (the software) and pretty much nothing changes (except that you can download whatever theme you want instead of whatever the site feeds you). Since you're on blogspot... well, I don't even know if that is available as software.
    (just kidding about WordPress, it's awful and I would never recommend it). I would recommend you a specific CMS software but I don't want to seem biased. The point is that, whatever you use, you end up managing plugins and pages and articles and blog posts, instead of HTML :)
    Oh and while you're at it, some CMS have even forum modules and galleries and all that so you'd have everything in one nifty package.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Domain: it doesn't matter to me. If you're happy with the audience you have now, it seems like there's no reason to change.

    Micro-blogging: no interest whatsoever.

    Message boards: I like them in general, especially compared to this commenting system, but I doubt I'd bother using a new one.

    A playing club: also not for me. While I really enjoy reading your blog, it's never made me want to play these games again. I salute your ability to deal with the UIs of yesteryear.

    Longer vs. shorter posts: I enjoy the longer posts, but I don't feel too strongly about it.

    Video: I think I've watched maybe one video. Your descriptions and screenshots are generally enough for me. Also, I can't go to most video sites at work, and I don't want to watch them on my phone either. Static pictures or gifs are best for me. (When I get home I don't want to sit around watching videos.)

    Blog design: no complaints here. I like simplicity.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Long time reader, likely first time poster (I may have posted back when I was a crpgaddict-addict reading two years of posts in two days) and I'd first like to point out that
    http://crpgaddict.blogpsot.com/ rather amusingly takes you to a "mega site of Bible studies". Perhaps, if the vultures are willing, that would be a good enough reason to consider your own domain.

    I actually watch your videos, well listen, to them while I continue reading the article periodically looking back to the videos to see if anything interesting is going on. I'm certainly here for the prose more than anything. Although so long as the videos aren't to terribly long I do enjoy them. One of the lessons of film that is lost on a lot of web reviewers is that of brevity... even people I enjoy will frequently have 20 plus minute videos on a game or topic that only deserved 5.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Alright, finally getting caught up on your blog. This is all speaking as your most obsessive reader.

    Twitter: I like twitter, a lot. It is a good discussion platform, as I can respond to things you tweeted the night before in the morning when I get up, then you can respond after you get home from work, and we can have a slow discussion over hours. Anyway, if you want to get started I can help you out, get setup with tweetdeck or Seesmic and such.

    Domain name: Eh? Whatever. I vote you move to Canada and get a .ca name.

    Forum: oh HELL no. Therein lies the way to flame wars, management headaches, time spent wasted on spam and community fragmentation. The type of posts you get on a blog comment vs a forum tend to have a very different flavour, despite the fact they SHOULD be the same thing.

    Generally I like longer posts, but a couple of your latest ones are so long they feel unfocused. Perhappes you could write them as long as you want, then reread them and go 'what is my main idea here' and split them up based on what idea you are trying to get across? If you talk about your playthrough for the whole thing, sure, one long post. If you talk about general game comments, then spend a long time talking about one battle, doing a little editing to make two posts might be a good idea.

    A play club: Great idea. Trickster has been running one for ages and ages. Why don't you have a look at how his is working out and talk to him about how he runs it for ideas?

    ReplyDelete
  61. Wow, this one got some comments!

    So I am just waaaaaay down here at the bottom to post my 2 cents: Don't do video. Video is bad. I follow your blog from work, which makes it hard to watch videos, especially since my work is keeping us at IE7 and nothing is compatible.

    Don't ask me why.

    ReplyDelete
  62. One thing I just thought of that would be really great if you could manage it would be to see if you can track down & interview some of the makers of some of these games (obviously only the good games!). I got the idea after both reading the Dark Heart of Uukrul interview you linked, which was a fascinating read, and seeing Corey Cole's comments and insights around Hero's Quest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good suggestion. I have been trying to do that more than I let on, but generally I can't find the person, or I get no reply, or it turns out the developer has died, or something like that. But I've still done it inconsistently and I could make a better effort.

      Delete
  63. I'd love an archive list. Just names of posts and links. Navigating is a bit of a drag currently.

    I'd also like a longer "recent comments" list. It'd achieve a lot of the community building aspect of a message board without additional work.

    Other than that, everything's great as is!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have it on my list to get it together and make an index of games with links to the associated postings. But how does an "archive list" like the one you mention differ from the "Blog Archive" tree in the right-hand pane? Do you just want something where you can scan it without having to expand individual years and months?

      Delete
  64. "I otherwise hate this technology and many of the people who use it."

    ... then we are already two!

    ReplyDelete
  65. I am new here and just want to say thank you so much for the wonderful sharing, excellent writing and fun reading your blog has to offer. I will be a regular going forward.

    Someone I know had linked to an article here on Quest for Glory which I read and then sharing your love for role playing games, I had to go looking for the Ultimas and read about your playing 1, 2 and 3. Then I read about last January and February and just have to say I am very glad you decided to continue to spend time on this versus other things.

    I have a lot of catching up to do here but it is going to make for some enjoyable reading over morning coffee in the coming days. I also look forward to what is ahead.

    With all that said, I think you already do a great service to your readers and this medium for your writing is just fine. It might be nice for you to just enjoy playing and writing this year without any other burden added. Perhaps down the road further you might want to consider improvements, one at a time, over a long period of time so they are manageable and do not become major time consuming projects. Honestly though, I'd recommend tossing those ideas on the back burner for a year and just have some fun with this as it is, which is already excellent.

    Thank you again for all the work you've been doing here and continue to do in sharing your love for crpgs and the fun of playing them. I'm glad to have found you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Michael. It's good to have you as a reader. Based on the feedback I got here, I doubt I'll be making any big changes very soon.

      Delete
  66. OK read all the comments and finally ready to put in my 2 bits.

    My own domain: Yes you should do this for your book and to keep others from using your work for their own profit. You can link directly to this site and jump into the more advanced stuff when you are ready.

    Micro-blogging, Message board: I worry that if you do these I will miss out on some of the good content and discussion that goes on here.

    A playing club: I think your readers who do this already and post on here are enough. If you wanted some kind of meta game with it you would have to track the progress somewhere.

    1. Which is better: longer postings less frequently, or shorter postings more frequently?

    Concentrate on quality over any of these considerations.

    2. How could I do video better?

    I don't watch the videos because I mostly read at work. I would check them out if they were on the very short side.

    3. In general, are there any problems with the current format, layout, and delivery of the blog that I could solve through some kind of better design?

    Yours is one of 2 blogs I follow so I really dont know. If you do change just make sure you can port all your content and comments over.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh forgot to say, "Yes to the book" but you know where I stand on that issue.

      The book is one of the primary reasons why you should take control of the domains associated with your name. That way you can have your marketing and sales not get in the way of the blog.

      Delete
  67. I'm commenting on this thread and hope it will be read...
    Please make the screenshots/pictures larger. Not in the blog entries itself, but when you click on them.
    On a larger monitor (anything over 20") and the fitting screen resolution, the pics are so small that you can't read anything from a comforting distance, Please make them at least thrice the current size.

    And if you want to encourage some surfing around the blog, put all your played games as clickable tags in the sidebar. I tried starting to read from the beginning, but well... it's not exactly convenient. If I could browse by games, I would read more of the old entries. I've got 20 minutes, let's read your posts about (whatever your game #43 is for instance).

    Otherwise, thanks for the blog. Consider your book bought from me. (If you want to make more money out of your hobby, consider doing a kickstarter or try to sell some articles to magazines like Retro-Gamer, they would probably be very interested.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have been working on an index of games, but I'm not sure there's much I can do about the screenshot sizes. I'd have to take them from a much bigger game window or deliberately use some image editor to up the size of each one, and not enough people have complained that it's something I'm willing to do for each shot. If I'm overlooking something obvious, let me know.

      Delete
  68. If you were interested, there is an SVN (i.e. extended) build of dosbox that lets you change scalers on the fly, so you could change to a 2x scaler for a screen shot and then back to normal to continue playing. The version I am thinking of also has save states though, which you said you wanted to avoid. I searched the dosbox wiki for svn save states and found the build with on-the-fly scaler changes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure if that will help. I've scaled DOSBox to several times its size already. The problem is that it insists on taking screenshots in the original game resolution rather than the resolution of whatever the DOSBox window is using.

      I don't know a lot about graphics, but my impression is that these games simply aren't DESIGNED to be viewed at resolutions of "thrice the current size," and that attempting to blow them up so much will just pixelate and distort them, and not necessarily result in anything more readable than what Luithan is already experiencing.

      Delete
    2. Another way to get larger images besides trying to scale in DOSBox could be a batch image resizer program. I can't recommend one specifically (because I didn't have a need for them), but there should be a few dozens available for free with a Google search.
      The amount of additional work wouldn't be very large. Just open the program, give it your screenshot folder and resize them all. Probably done in under a minute.

      And yes, bigger screenshots would look better. Compare these two screenshots. One from your Hero Quests blogentries, one from another blog.

      http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-UgGp9OFCqcY/UK8wC9ns8wI/AAAAAAAAJuA/DUlh-gFq3uE/s1600/sciv_162.png

      http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-IFepm1Ct9q4/ULdD73DhGYI/AAAAAAAAEUM/ytFaeXD9bZU/s1600/163+Gave+Ring.JPG

      One I can read from half a meter away and for one I must get uncomfortably close to the screen (and no, I don't need glasses, atleast I hope so..., and no again, my screen resolution isn't out of the norm, it's 1920x1080 and pretty standard at the moment).

      Thanks for considering my wishes.

      Delete
    3. CRPG Addict: I assume you are simply resizing the window? Yeah, that won't work. You need to go into the settings and set a scaling algorithm.

      http://www.dosbox.com/wiki/Scaler has details and a comparison. These will make the screen either 2x or 3x the size of the original.

      normal2x and normal3x are what purists prefer: They just make each pixel larger. Now, what purists don't get, is that since the image is on an LCD instead of a CRT you'll have a much more pixelly image anyway.

      Then there are a series of images based on different algorithms that blur things a bit, but make things look a lot smoother.
      Just open your Dosbox.conf file and find this line:
      http://www.dosbox.com/wiki/Dosbox.conf#scaler_.3D_none_.7C_normal2x_.7C_normal3x_.7C_tv2x_.7C_tv3x_.7C_rgb2x_.7C_rgb3x_.7C_scan2x_.7C_scan3x_.7C_advmame2x_.7C_advmame3x_.7C_advinterp2x_.7C_advinterp3x_.7C_2xsai_.7C_super2xsai_.7C_supereagle_.7C_hq2x_.7C_hq3x
      then try out one of the larger ones (anything with 3x in the name, or 2x if none is selected for some reason). Then just keep switching them until you find one that you like. This should get the screenshots to a reasonable size (and make the game look a lot better).

      Delete
    4. No, I've messed with the scaler, too. I've tried just about every combination of windowresolution, output, and scaler, and all insist on taking screenshots at the original size. Some other commenter explained why in a comment I can no longer find.

      I mean, I could just stop using DOSBox's internal screen capture command and start using SnagIt or something. It would mess up my traditional workflow a bit, but not enough to really matter.

      Delete

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