Today is the last day of Blaugust, and everyone is starting to reflect on the month and what we’ve accomplished. Before I get to that, though, I want to thank Belghast for setting everything up this year. There’s a bunch of time and stress associated with getting a community project like this off the ground. I’m so very grateful that he made the effort to revive Blaugust, give us some guidance and our Discord, and be our biggest cheerleader during this month of nonsense.
I managed to get 29 posts written here this year (counting this one). I would have had a perfect 31 but I decided to take last weekend off to avoid burn-out. Luckily I also have my other blog, where I have faithfully posted every single day. So in fact I will have a total of 60 posts up for the month. That’s so much blogging!
One thing that really set this year apart for me was the amount of interaction I’ve had with my fellow bloggers. I had more than double the views and almost ten times the comments compared to this time last year! I definitely attribute that to being more active in the comments here and on the blogs I’m reading. There are always so many awesome things to read over Blaugust, but I really made an effort to try to comment more this year too, which led to some really fantastic conversations. Most years I feel so exhausted and burnt-out after posting every day for a month that I end up taking a big break in September. This year I’m really motivated to stay active because I don’t want to miss out on chatting with the new friends I’ve made.
Thank you, fellow bloggers, for making this the best Blaugust ever!
I’m stealing one of my own topic ideas here, and talking about how games left an impression on me from my earliest childhood.
I’ve been playing video games for as long as I can remember, really. My uncle bought an Atari and kept it at my grandmother’s house for all his nieces and nephews to play when they came to visit. I was quite young at the time, and my favorite game was the Smurfs. My fond memories of that console are tied up with family: The smell of my grandmother’s cooking, the sound of my uncles and aunts telling stories, the burning desire to be as cool as my older cousins. Even though I can barely remember the games themselves, the nostalgia I feel from just looking at this photo is strong.
Blaugust is off to a strong start! This week’s theme is Topic Brainstorming, to help generate some ideas that everyone can mine for posts for the rest of the month.
First I want to talk a bit about three categories of blog posts that it is useful to think about if you’re a newbie blogger. I like to mix and match different kinds of posts so I don’t burn out too much. The three main types are:
Diary: These are the easiest kind to start with. They’re the catalog of what you’ve been up to, in-game or irl. They can be as simple as a few screenshots with captions, or as detailed as the full RP write-up of what your character was thinking as they explored their world.
Dialog: The meat of most blogs. These are where you expound on a topic of interest, or respond to something you saw elsewhere in the blogosphere. Share those opinions and hopefully you’ll start a discussion.
Deep-Dive: Guides. We all love them. We should all show their creators a little love too. Writing guides and walkthroughs is time-consuming but it can be really rewarding. You don’t have to be an expert to write one, either. Your creative solution to a problem might be exactly what someone needed to help them succeed.
Now let’s brainstorm some topics for Dialog posts!
- Talk about the first game system you remember playing, or a favorite game from childhood.
- Single-player or multiplayer games? Why? What are the exceptions?
- What gets you hyped about an upcoming game?
- Do you have gaming insecurities? Something that makes you feel like a “fake gamer”?
- What is your gaming environment? A messy desk? A comfy sofa? What would your perfect gaming setup be?
Belghast kicked off Blaugust prep week with a discussion of what makes a good blog name. He talked about some regrets he had choosing his name and gave some advice to help folks choose a good one. I want to use this as an excuse to talk about my blog name too.
Bel’s advice boiled down to choosing a short, catchy name that vaguely connects to the blog theme, but isn’t so specific that you can’t change your direction later without changing the name. I’m not really sure whether I succeeded or failed.
Did you think I was kidding about the moonshine?
I created this blog just prior to the launch of WildStar. My goal was to talk about the game in general, and also emphasize the housing system, which I still enjoy the most of any MMO I have ever played. Fans of the game might remember that one of the default housing “plugs” you could place on your land gave you a mini-game that let you make moonshine. I thought the contrast between a fabulous hand-built plot with tons of decor and the moonshine still out back was amusing, so I tapped it for my name. Moonshine Mansion was born.
Over the years I’ve drifted away from WildStar and turned this into a more general gaming blog. The name Moonshine Mansion wasn’t explicitly tied to WildStar, so it survived the transition just fine. On the one hand, I sometimes wish I had chosen a name that had more to do with gaming. On the other hand, this way I feel free to talk about other geeky things I love when I feel the urge. At this point I think of Moonshine Mansion as my digital home. It’s a welcoming place where I keep all my stuff and can invite my friends over to talk about games and things. If someone offered me the chance to go back in time and pick a different name, I would decline. There’s way cooler things to do with a time machine anyway.
Today marks the start of “prep week” for Blaugust. This is the time for everyone to start preparing for the long month of blogging. As a Blaugust mentor I’m supposed to give some blogging advice this week to help you get ready. My advice is pretty basic but it has served me well so far.
1. Plan what you can. My most successful Blaugust was one where I took the time to plan ahead. Having a set schedule for the month really helps, especially if you are not used to posting every single day. Choose a couple days of the week to have a regular feature. This helps you plan your posts, and also just helps with writer’s block. It’s especially useful on days when you know you won’t have much time or energy to devote to writing. For example I tend to schedule a “screenie saturday” for a quick and easy post on the weekend.
2. But leave yourself some wiggle room in your schedule. Even if you’re the type of person who really needs a schedule to stay organized, you should leave some space for the unexpected. Whether it is a bit of news, something you tried recently that you fell in love with, or responding to a blogging discussion that’s going around, you want to be flexible enough to react.
3. It’s okay to write and schedule posts early. This lets you keep up your schedule even if you’ll be out of town or just have a break for a day or two when you need it. When inspiration strikes, just start writing! Worry about when it will get posted once you’ve gotten your words out of your head and onto the screen. Given the choice between missing a day or scheduling ahead of time, I’ll always opt for scheduling.
4. Have fun. Remember why you started blogging in the first place. If you are starting to feel burnt out, it’s okay to take a break. Or even better, you can switch up what you are writing about for a change of pace. Not excited about games today? Talk about your favorite recipes instead. These excursions into other things you enjoy can help you recharge, and they help your personality shine through to your readers.
I hope some of this advice is helpful! And if you are interested in Blaugust but still haven’t signed up, what are you waiting for? Come join us!
Even though I completed the entire season journey, I am still very engaged in Diablo 3 for the time being. Maybe it has something to do with the joy of double treasure goblins. It’s given me some time to work on achievements. You can see I’ve maxed out a few categories, like the set dungeons and campaign mode. I am sorely lacking in hardcore mode achievements though. I’m considering leveling a hardcore character this season just to knock out a few of the easier ones and bring that 31% up to something more respectable.
In other news, Blaugust is back! I’ll be joining in all the fun and games, with posts here and on my Creative Thing blog. If you are a blogger, or are thinking about becoming one, come join us!
As usual I had a silly idea one day and decided to put it into action and see what happened. I wanted to do something in the spirit of Blaugust this year, but without the stress of having to come up with a complete, coherent post every day. I also wanted to get back into some of my creative hobbies that I’ve dabbled in over the years. Thus Daily Creative Thing was born.
The idea is very simple. Do something creative every day, and stay positive. The part that makes it work is that the bar for “do something creative” is set intentionally low. Did you doodle something cute on a post-it at work today? That counts. Did you sing in the shower for 15 minutes straight and annoy your roommate? That counts. Did you add a row or two of stitches to a bigger project? That counts. This endeavor is about recognizing all the little creative things we do, in addition to encouraging spending a bit more dedicated time on whole projects. The creative thing doesn’t have to be completed, finishing a whole project every day would be exhausting, and wouldn’t leave room for things like writing a story or knitting a blanket. It also doesn’t matter what kind of creative thing you do, as long as you consider it creative. Drawing some fan art, writing a blog post, baking a cake… you get the idea. It all counts!
The other key here is the “and stay positive” bit. It’s okay to be critical of your own work sometimes. That’s how we improve. But when sharing things for this project, I’m taking the stance of “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. Especially when posting half-finished things, the temptation is to apologize for it. Instead I want to celebrate that I made an effort and made something new in the world, and look for the things I like about it so I can keep doing those next time around. The internet is full of places where people tear themselves and each other down. I want this project to be focused on building things up. Stay positive.
That’s all there is to it. Keeping it simple means there’s at least a chance that I’ll follow through on it but making it daily means it is still a challenge and a change for the better in my habits.
If you’ve made it this far, I hope you’ll join me on this journey. I would love to have a network of people sharing their progress and cheering each other on. I also selfishly just want to see all the amazing things that you all will create when you get in the habit. Try it for the month of Blaugust and see if it sticks. Let’s create some things!
Blaugust is finally over. That means I don’t even need to be posting today. Why am I here? Partially due to habit. I managed to post almost every day, only missing a few due to health issues. The relaxed version of Blaugust this year meant I didn’t have to stress out about skipping a few mornings, and that weirdly made it less of a chore for me to post every day. Without that pressure hanging over me I was happier to keep writing!
In Legion news, my play time has also remained pretty chill. I think the same principle applies. I don’t have any pressure to keep up or race to be raid ready, and it is making me much happier to log in every day and keep playing. Last night I ran a dungeon with my friends, unlocked the other 2 artifact weapons for my class, and even unlocked my monk’s healer weapon. It turns out that running a dungeon as a fire mage made me miss healing intensely, even though I’m sure my friends’ bad behavior in dungeons would have me pulling my hair out in no time. Anyway at least now the option is available if we need a healer.
The mistweaver weapon quest drove home just how much of a healer I really am at heart. At the last part of the quest you get to choose how the NPC allies in your group behave. You can ask them to be mindful and watch themselves, or you can ask them to go all out on damage with the understanding that they will totally stand in all the fire to do this. Given this choice I told each and every one of them to stand in the fire and laughed about it in voice chat with my friends. It turns out I would rather heal idiot DPS and complain about it than have a slow steady fight and have to help DPS as a healer. This worked out spectacularly, the boss died quickly and the game taught me something about myself. Bravo Blizzard.
On the Aggrochat podcast this week we all talked a bit about our various histories with World of Warcraft and why it sometimes sounds like it physically pains us to speak about that game today. One of the things I didn’t go into on the show was a huge part of my relationship with WoW. Not too long after I started playing I was struggling with medical issues and in particular chronic pain. WoW was a source of comfort and companionship no matter what weird hour of the night I found myself needing it. I even found folks who were going through the same thing as me, and had a bit of a support group of blood elves with medical problems. When I was stuck home on medical leave and recovering from surgery, WoW helped me feel like I was still connected with the outside world. To this day it is still a comfortable refuge when life is crappy, even though the game itself has changed dramatically, and even though I lost touch with most of the people I was friends with in that painful past. It also means I can’t think or talk critically about WoW and its history without remembering what I was going through back then, and all the friends I gained and lost.
Oh no! I’ve missed a couple of days worth of posts! Good thing this year is the super chill version of Blaugust, and there’s no repercussions of a few missed days. I’ve had some medical stuff come up (don’t worry, I’m fine!) that makes sitting at my desk for long stretches a problem. Thus I haven’t done much gaming to speak of the past few days and don’t have much to say here.
I have found that Diablo 3 is pretty great for squeezing a little gaming into small doses. I can pop in and run a rift in 15 minutes or so and then take a break. I’ve even managed to get myself through GR69 and do a T12 rift in under 6 minutes for the season journey, so I’m almost finished the Destroyer rank. D3 isn’t as fun solo, but playing solo means I can walk away and pause the game at any time so it has been working out for my needs this week. At this stage I believe the only things I have left to do for the stash tab are 2 conquests and a T13 rift in under 5 minutes. Maybe I will get it this season after all. It is definitely looking like there’s more D3 in my future than I had planned, anyway.