I just read an amazing book and while I am saving that for another entire post one part stuck out to me. That part was in regards to the explanation behind how, and what rate, new technologies spread throughout societies. That explanation is called the "Diffusion of Innovations" and was written back in 1962. It was recently updated in the 2000s and it is popularized by a Professor of Communications, Everett Rogers. It's a pretty cool theory in our tech driven world and it makes sense.
The author used it to prove a point for a business argument. I immediately thought of paid beta/alpha tests. The theory goes like this (basic format) for adopting new technologies.
The theory goes that new technologies are best picked up by Innovators, who evangelize to Early Adopters (who purchase on their recommendation) - and then it gets a bit of steam for the Early Majority to pick up, and the Late Majority now sees a lot of people using it and they don't want to be left out. The Laggards never buy but only adopt when it's been standardized, cheaper than their current option (etc.). I may have bastardized the whole Theory - but that is the way it was explained in the book I read.
The argument goes that for new tech its best to solely target the Innovators and the rest sorts itself out. If you target the Majorities (Early, Late) they don't understand why they need the tech as they would if it had gone through Innovators and Early Adopters. It makes sense - who knew we needed DVRs until TIVO? Now they are a standard cable box. (for the record, TIVO is an example of a failed new tech - they went straight to the mass market and people weren't ready / didn't understand)
Of course, with my love of gaming, after reading this theory in a business book I wanted to try and apply it to what we see in gaming.
Applying the theory makes sense with the "pay for betas" trend we have been seeing - and in which I have participated. This makes sense - if you get the early innovators and they start blogging, podcasting, and sharing their experiences with others you may be able to get Early Adopters involved. This has actually created a revenue stream for SOE. This has been working really well for Archeage as well - I have been reading great blogs and stories around blognation. While that particular one isn't my cup of tea (I'll be a Late Majority for AA - if at all) I'm still reading and thinking about it.
For early Betas the theory doesn't work as cleanly for two reasons - one is because characters get wiped because its software and not new tech - this causes people (like me) to not invest as much time or evangelize as much to other people. I spent more time in Landmark than I did in WildStar and if I knew my efforts would exist, I would still be playing. If I was still playing, I'd still be blogging and posting pictures about it. It's fun, it's a grown up Minecraft. If it can be as commercially successful and trendy as Minecraft remains to be seen. The second way the theory is a stretch for gaming is that MMOs in themselves aren't really new anymore and the curve is meant to represent the adoption of new tech.
Despite that I still think it makes sense that gaming companies reach out and engage their best players and potential players as early as possible and get them talking about it - good or bad. Conversations and top of mind - the buzz - is always important.
The other way to look at that curve and apply to gaming is possibly the population curve of a MMO.
Innovators = Alpha
Early Adopter = Beta
Early Majority = Pre-orders
Late Majority = Launch
Laggards = Post-launch purchasers
Looking at it that way works with the overplayed market share % as well - and isn't it true that at launch most new games peak anyway? This doesn't replace the Gartner Hype Curve but fits along with it. For all NEW MMO launches (post-Wow) it seems that every game except for WoW, and EVE, had peak subscriber base at launch. That is a sobering thought to the importance of launch to developers. SWTOR, AOC, WAR - are there any that ended up with more subscribers than boxes they sold at launch?
If that is indeed the case and we can apply it directly then a MMO has ~90% of it's maximum player base at launch.
Since I read about the theory through a second hand source I am going to get to the source material and read the actual applications. I have a habit of looking at a lot of my experiences through a gaming lens (service, loyalty, math, experiences, heck, even family!) and I suppose that in itself could be a measuring stick of my passion for this pastime.
At the midpoint of Blaugust I am taking a breather. It's been a flurry for 16 days but a LOT of fun - I find the daily posting isn't too tough even though I had a couple travel days for work AND a couple travel days with family last week. It has been fun because I have been getting more traffic - I am not sure if that has to do with Anook or the posting frequency. I know not all of the posts have been my strongest but the effort has been there. Consider this post a half time Blaugust post.
My blog has been around for quite some time - my first post was August 27, 2008 - coming up on an anniversary! I'll probably forget about it on that actual day - it was top of mind right now for an odd reason. 6 years, a few patches where I didn't post much, a TON of life changes as well. Interesting to look back on where I was then, and where I am now.
The Housecleaning aspect is that IN THE PAST ALL OF MY TITLES WERE IN CAPS - I don't know why I made that decision, but I did it for years - so I have been going back and fixing that. Also, all of my posts back then had a "break" in it at some point in the text forcing click-throughs to read it. Again, not sure why I did that either. No reason to inconvenience visitors. I have been taking those out too.
I've gone through various iterations of Categorizations and tags - I now categorize by the publisher or developer (Blizzard for Wow, for example) instead of each game individually - I don't know if they serve any value in the internets besides having people click through and I am guessing that they are rarely used - so I have kept it simple. The tag cloud is now my last sarcastic, attempted wit or parting remark instead of an actual tag - again, not sure if tags have any functional use outside of the blog.
If categories or tags are important, please let me know. If they are helpful somewhere out there, I'll adjust accordingly. I've been blogging for 6 years and I still don't know why some things are the way they are, or even best practices.
Linking still isn't working but my webmaster is an old guildmate friend of mine who has never billed me for the URL www.ihaspc.com and he is a family man, and its summer (and he is a boater) so I don't like to pester. I do feel bad if people are linking and I can't thank them for it, respond, or become a part of any side conversations but I am sure blognation will go on fine without my track/piggybacks (for now!) hopefully when we get it fixed they will back-update.
I am going to play around with some new themes. I have had this one since day one - and while I like it because it is the same one I have had, I am curious if a fresh look would be better for readers. Besides, TAGN seems to change annually and he is one of those gold standards of bloggers that I respect and admire (him, Bhagpuss, and Zubon) - those are blog-titans of course though, so no surprises there. My Blogroll on the right is all blogs I love reading which is why they are there - makes it easier for me to track my favorites! I added some links on my Blogroll - found some great articles through this initiative and Anook.
Is there anyway to make Blogger and WordPress be more friendly? I love commenting on WordPress sites (it keeps track of who I am so simply!) I figure they should be better friends.
There is my Blaugust half time. I still have 15 drafts in the bank and finding inspiration everyday. At bare minimum, even if I don't manage to finish Blaugust, I think I am a better writer for working a bit harder on finding/fleshing out topics and being consistent with posting.
Bare minimum, I appreciate the support from everyone else out there who HAS PC.
I understand the mindset behind the Steam sales - a lot of times they are games that have been out for months - if not years, so getting $1.99 for a $19.99 game past it's prime has some sense behind it - because normally, you would just get zero.
What I don't understand as much is why prime games are discounting before they even launch. It is creating a culture (that is probably already created) of discounting that once you go down, you can't get away from. This is why Subway now sells $3 meal deals where once they were $10. They discounted to $8, then to $6, then to $5, and now $3. Soon they will have to give you money for you to eat their "food".
This first happened when Green Man Gaming discounted WildStar, arguably one of the biggest MMO launches this year (or even the past two years) offered me a 25% discount. Now they are at it again, with 25% off Civilization: Beyond Earth. A game I was happily going to pay full price for.
Yes, sure, perhaps the only thing getting hurt is the retail price of new games but all this is proving is that the base price of new releases is based on nothing anyway, and that we are just getting fleeced from the get go. As an industry this launch discount is a bad practice and hurts the industry overall.
Save the discounts for Steam sales after the game has had it's run, not at the point where there should be the most excitement and most willingness to pay full price and support the game. I have zero loyalty to GMG for this and if the only reason why you are buying from a company is because of price discounting that company probably won't have a long run at things - if pricing is your only advantage, anyone can easily copy that.
For an industry that has been around for so long, it still feels like it is making young industry mistakes.
Murf and I chatted about baseball not too long ago, and I was recently treated to a 19 inning, walk off win marathon from my home team Toronto Blue Jays, against our dreaded rivals, the Detroit Tigers. It had a lot. A lot of intentional walks (the Jays lineup is down 3 starters so once you get past Cabrera and Bautista your pitcher is generally safe.) a lot of bases loaded let downs (Jays had them loaded 3 times (often thanks to the walks - intentional or not)) and still couldn't win until the 19th frame. Spectacular defensive saves (looking at you, Rasmus in centre field. you and your .219 average!) and all in all, a great way to spend 6 and a half hours.
Yup, you heard me. 6 glorious hours of baseball. And 37 minutes. Glorious. or something. On Baseball Canada Day.
After 17 innings the Tigers were out of pitchers and had to put in their starter for the NEXT day. How did the game end? What lead to the victory? Was it a clutch hit, or defensive error - what was it?
The game was dragging, and then the camera pans and we see journeyman and underground fan favourite Steve Tolleson walking around the dugout physically turning around everyone's caps. He's doing it all by himself. That is the stuff of legends! He walks around, spinning caps, a tried and true baseball tradition. The Rally Cap. Not asking, not suggesting, just doing. The straight-back rally cap - a veteran move, compared to the less fashionable inside out rally cap.
And then they win.
Sometimes superstition works.
I know players put on their rally caps (save Vanguard petition) often when games are going to be shuttered and while and I pulled my pitcher (metaphorically) with my yesterday cancel of WildStar sub - I do wish it well, and hope to enjoy it again someday. I think it will be just fine with the subs they do keep and hopefully that is enough for NCSOFT to keep the F2P calls at bay.
Zero surprise to anyone that reads hear semi-regularly that I was headed down this path. WildStar has some potential and the business model is pushing me away further than the game itself. IF it was buy to play +expansions or free-to-play I'd be exploring Nexus. It's neither and I don't feel right paying for a game I am barely playing. Another time I'd be there. Just not in the cards.
I was looking forward to unsubscribing for the sole sake that perhaps because I am voting with my wallet they would take my feedback seriously. No, I'm not faking it with a "I'm quitting post" on the forums, I'm not bluffing. I actually did - look!
They didn't even care. Not even a "hey, why are you leaving?" exit survey. Just a click, and I'm gone. I mean, I'm sure they liked my money, but I guess they really don't need it - or don't want to know the reasons why. I find this shocking in the digital age (and I often do) that there is no cheap and simple to implement improvement survey so the devs understand what, if anything, is driving players away. Maybe they already know, or *think* they know, but another missed opportunity!
Money is why these games are made. However, until MMOs become less transactional, and more relationship based this industry is going to continue to pump out the same thing. Kickstarter is a nice start due to niche support options but you have things such as Star Citizen (which seems more like a professional money raising company, not a gaming company), Camelot Unchained, and the like. The best of the best when it comes to businesses and brands in general build a bond of trust and a relationship with their customers who become evangelists for their brands. They take the time to build that relationship through their messaging, their support, and their connections with their customers. Want a simple and cheap example?
This company Grovemade makes iPhone cases out of reclaimed skateboards and other recycled materials. No two are alike. My wife bought one. It cost $100 and shipping to Canada. When it arrived, there was a hand written note in it - that said "This one has an extra cool design in it - enjoy! I loved packing it for you - Steve". It made her feel individualistic (extra cool design) and personal (I loved packing it for you) and guess what happened one year later, when it started chipping? She bought another one. I suggested she spend $30 like my SURVIVOR case for my Galaxy s5 but no, it's $100 bucks because she connected with that company.
Relationships are hard to build between a company and user in a game with millions of "customers" - I get it - but let's put in some effort. The best thing going for MMOs is that the relationships don't need to be that way, they can exist solely between gamers - and that will carry a lot of subscriptions a long way - but at some point the company needs to matter to the person as well. People love Blizzard and go to Blizzcon. People love SOE and go to (SOEfest? What is that called?) You need that dedication to survive. WildStar, by all accounts, does a good job of reaching out to the crowd (weekly podcasts, posts on forums, etc.) so kudos there where it is due. I just am boggled that after 8 years of development and a huge launch, with apparent Gartner Hype Cycle crashes that you wouldn't want to ask people leaving exactly why.
For me, I could have chosen several.
I don't get the same value out of a subscription fee payment
I can't put in enough hours to earn CREDD instead
I didn't find a guild or make bonds (my friends on my friends lists - guilds I were considering - outright vanished)
The game world left me behind - felt empty in the sub 20 areas I was adventuring in
The Dominion side seemed to have even larger population issues, but I enjoyed that side more
Not much they can do about that list, but if enough chose the first bullet point maybe they could use that when strategizing about a F2P strategy. The second through fourth points would point to server mergers (or transfers). Maybe they wouldn't act on that information but at least they would have it - and with information you can make decisions with more clarity instead of guessing or hoping you know the answer.
I picked up Dead Space a while ago (for free, thank you EA) and have been picking away at it. Throughout the first hour of Dead Space I realized something. I haven't said a single word. Actually, my character hasn't even made a sound. I don't even think he grunts or groans.
I can assure you, that if I was an Engineer-turned self-savior on a ship infested with rebuilt zombie-like human corpses of killing rampage with only a laser cutter and two other humans alive on board with low chance of survival or hope on a behemoth of a futuristic mining ship that I'd say something about it.
Even just a "yes sir" or a "holy $h*t!" (probably a lot of the latter).
But nope, I just plod along, carving up the beasties and building hope.
DS 2 and DS 3 the same way?
I get why gaming companies don't give a voice to their protagonists because they want it to be you - but really, there is nothing less human than a character who doesn't even say "Yes sir!" when given an order or even mumbling things to themselves about "just my luck". Especially in harrowing circumstances.
Even more odd is that because he has a full face shield on you could completely hollow it out and digitize the sound so it isn't that far off what someone would expect. Certainly, it wouldn't feel like too much work for the extra immersion that would provide.
I normally don't play games with sound - when I get the chance to play games sometimes its when my wife is watching TV. If I don't have a headset on its on mute anyway - FPS's (especially survival horrors) kind of require sound so you can hear things sneaking up on you so I am extra dialed in on the sound aspect. I keep waiting for my character to say something - anything.
So far, me yelling at the screen isn't having the same effect.
Like many bitter exes (that keep going back) I have done my fair share of beating up WoW on this blog although it always came from a place of "tough love".
This looks like fun and I decided to do it - for Science! (or something). I am making a blog post about it (although there are plenty of ways to participate - email, Google docs, etc.) so go check it out!
1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?
I had a friend, Lorendous, who was a good friend of mine and guildmate from DAOC. He left DAOC for Wow but I held strong. After the Pendragon community was trashed by Mythic I had enough, and finally followed my friend there. My history of MMOs started with EQ, to DAOC and then to WoW and while I have beta tested, bought, and played everything in between EQ was #1a and WoW was #1b. I could actually reverse that if you count personal impact - they are very similar in shaping my gaming life.
2. What was the first ever character you rolled?
Hunter. Sadly. To be fair though, I only got him to level 20. I recently did a post about his LBRS solo runs but to be more honest my first "main" character was (is?) a Night Elf druid. Couchon. He was the one I found my first guild with, the first I got to max level, raided with, etc. Oh, the stories. My old guildies still call me "Couch" no matter what game, what toon, or what class/name.
I switched mains years later to a Shaman (needed the heals, chain heal was king and we were in SSC) and I LOVED enhancement and the unique nature of totems and what Shaman brought to a raid group. I also have a top level Paladin so I can do 5 mans in LFGs while tanking and a rogue too.
3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?
Solely my friends. Same with server choice. I was Alliance and did not have a choice in the matter. Later, I did roll Horde but I new everything about the Alliance in and out and had such a comfort level with that side that it made more sense for me to keep rolling there. I did join a Horde guild with some friends once but I only got to level 70(ish) and really, I have so much going on Alliance side I just stayed there.
4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?
Not beating A'lar. It was a roadblock for our guild. We could always get under 5% but never won. A guildie was last man standing when he was at 1% (Greenteabag) and that sticks out. It tested us time and time again but we all showed up and did our best. I did, by myself at level 90, long after the guild was gone. It was still satisfying, but I wish we got him. I think its odd that I chose a failure moment as one of my most memorable but the hours we spent together there was bond-building.
Most other memories are around raiding and progression. We were a family, casual guild (that at one point had 13+ kids BORN into the game..) and we were a top 10 progression guild on our server at one point. That was fun.
5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?
5 mans. It wasn't always the case - first it was raiding, but I can't take the required time to raid anymore (work, life, family, kids) but I love 5 mans. The Dungeons, the lore, the teamwork - it's how I learned to love tanking because its the fastest way to 5 man glory, progression, and gear to do all of that. It's actually why I quit Wow in Pandaria - they took away the ability to grind rep through tabards in dungeons and I absolutely HATE dailies - my whole end game was a series of dailies. If I would have been able to grind rep through dungeons I'd probably still be playing.
6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?
UBRS. It was the first tryout guild run I did with the Grey Rangers, and I was accepted into the guild. That one decision changed my entire gaming career from that point. Druids back then were OK for healing but absolutely essential for Innervate. I was good at Innervating. (yes, its one button. That was tongue in cheek!).
Grey Rangers was a 40 man guild, and it was hard because to field that large of a team we had people in our guild that didn't really fit. With the announcement of the next expansion going to 25 mans, we broke apart the guild and made our own. Still, in GR I was able to experience all of Molten Core and BlackWing Lair. Our 25 man guild was a blast and some of the most fun I ever had in gaming.
It all started in UBRS.
7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?
I'd have to resub to pull that. But I'd almost be afraid to. I was a 4x a week raider, 3-4 hours, 6-7 days a week. I also had top level crafters of almost every profession. I roll 4-5 max level characters (Rogue, Paladin, Shaman, Druid, Hunter) so to add it all up would be tough. I'm genuinely curious though, if I ever sub again (or get a 7 day pass...) I'll check it out!
8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?
Shit no. Wait - does skimming count as reading?
9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?
When I bailed on the guild I founded. It had changed a lot (I had stepped down from GM) but still a LOT of good people there. My gaming life started changing and a few of my closer friends left to a separate server. I still have a guildbank alt in my old guild and my hunter, and when I sub I go in to see who is still in the guild. I stay pretty quiet though, I bailed on those people. I am still amazed at the number of people still playing in that guild. The commitment is amazing.
10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?
Almost got divorced! A pregnant non-gaming wife will have that effect on your marriage when you are 4+ hours a night, plus constantly on the guild boards, etc. etc. While that is true, it also gave me the confidence and leadership skills. I run a rapidly growing business and it actually helped teach me how to manage people, competing interests, many personalities.
On the whole, WoW added more to my life than it took away - I still have a bunch of Facebook friends from those days and I sneak back in during expansions to poke my head around. It's not a home anymore for me, more like a cottage - go there for the odd season, evening, or weekend and it's familiar and fun. The same neighbors are on the same lake and its nice to say hi and rekindle friendships.
And 5 mans. Fun to run those new 5 mans.
Blaugust has been fun and I am surprised I made it this long. I already have made more posts in August than all of July. I find myself writing a bit quicker, and leaving it all on the page. My old style was write most of it, leave it, revisit, edit edit edit... now It's just write, re-read, feel good, publish. Kind of liberating.
I have 16 drafts already done. Some of those are older drafts but most are things that I have sorted out in my daily routines - I find little inspirations and start a draft post so I have the seeds to revisit and post away. Most have still been in and around gaming but this one is not. A little social experiment, shall we?
I have two dogs. One is a boy and one is a girl. Which is which? I'm going to describe some traits, personalities and things about them and want you to guess which is the boy and which is the girl. For each descriptor, the one dog is the first description, the second description is about the second.
A is black and white, B is red and white
A is smaller (half the size), B is bigger.
Both are crate changed - A keeps its blankets rolled and organized, B's are scattered and strewn about.
A prances, B struts
A is smarter than B
A is older, B younger.
A is obedient, B is a rebel
Both are loving companions.
So, which do you think is which?
The reason why I even wrote this post was because when I was observing them I thought "wow, that's crazy". There are two ways to look at this - one, the obvious one, that A is a girl and B is a boy because the traditional traits and descriptions provided tend to lean that way. That a smaller, tidy, prancing, smarter, polite and obedient dog is the female. The pink blanket in for good measure.
The second way to look at it is because it is so obvious perhaps I am writing this to "throw you off". To show that while certain things are obvious and "typical", that I am sharing them in that way so start to get you to think the obvious and its a twist of some sort - because we have preconceived notions.
If this was a chapter in a Malcolm Gladwell book (it would be a bad chapter, to be fair...) he would quote a psychological study that would explain how people's brains absorb that information and their preconceived notions come into play. That given only specific - and limited - information, people tend to think a certain way. This isn't a well written Malcolm Gladwell book (unfortunately) and you are left with my thoughts.
A is a girl, B is the boy. I caught myself remarking how their personalities (the first is 5 years older than the second) were so perfectly suited to their sex. He's the goofy, clumsy, "dumb" but loveable pup and she is the pretty princess - both the same breed with different pedigrees. I wasn't messing around. My own self check after thinking that was that none of those traits are actually suited to specific genders and it was something for me to be mindful of in the future.
Brief programming note: this doesn't count as my Blaugust post (obviously) but I am having a tech problem.
Pingbacks stopped working. My last pingback was May 21, 2o13 (when sorting through comments on the menu).
I don't recall what (if anything) I changed then. I did notice that a few people HAVE tried to ping me back, but there is no notification for me and it just doesn't work. I had always just assumed no one was tracking back, or pinging back.
This is a self-hosted WordPress blog with JetPack installed.
I am not good at these things, and I do have a friend who hosted this for me but I also figured I'd reach out to the community to see if anyone had any ideas. I tried everything I could (right boxes are checked on my end) for my non-technical expertise. My Google-fu wasn't very helpful either.
If you have any suggestions or ideas would love to hear them!