I’ve been trying to work out an interesting way I could support the New Blogger Initiative, taking into consideration that there are more sponsor blogs of Syp’s project than KiaSA has regular readers. Invariably any of our readers will read one or more of those bigger blogs, so what to do to show solidarity, other than post “YEAH! ME TOO!”, which seemed redundantly redundant.
I but briefly considered writing advice to new bloggers. There is, however, the inexorable fact that I am a terrible blogger as far as blogging goes, with infrequent updates, long unwieldy posts, and, as statistics clearly demonstrate, massively deficient marketing skills. Not to mention the fact that others have already written deeply splendid and detailed pieces, which I’d only be reiterating in part.
I did recall having once written something about blogging, however. After much protest and several kick starts, my two-stroke mind eventually clattered and thrummed into life, with a belch of smoke and just the one obstreperous backfiring. Back in the murky depths of time, in the year they later came to call ‘2009’, I wrote an interview piece for Randolph Carter’s Grinding to Valhalla where, amongst other topics, I discussed some thoughts about blogging. My one genuine piece of blogging advice can be found there, and is still true today.
One thought struck me, however, as I read ‘[in blogging] new members arrive, others leave’: I considered that it would be a shame if that blog and my interview disappeared, such that I was unable to view my piece of writing again in another three or more years, and see if it was still as applicable then as I find it to be today, three years after I wrote it.
So I’ve popped a copy here on the blog, and being that it has some modicum of advice about blogging, it gives me a good reason to tip my hat to the NBI, for whatever that’s worth. And if any of the few of you who read this have yet to hear of the initiative, do say so in the comments, and after I have regained consciousness, I’ll try to write up some sort of tutorial on how to use KiaSA’s blogroll.
Anyway: On with the show! As they’d say if this were a theatre, and not a blog.
Please take a minute and describe what your blog and podcast are about.
Killed in a Smiling Accident is a blog that myself and m’colleague Zoso decided to create because our own personal blogs were very MMO-centric and we weren’t sure we were going to be invested in MMOs for very much longer, but we were fairly sure we wanted to continue blogging. I’m also a terrible blogger with regards to frequency of updates and I feel the pressure of not providing content for the readers, so it’s very reassuring to have a reliable writer there to keep people coming back. I’d say my blogging style was akin to PvP: a huge burst of front-loaded effort, then nothing for ages because I’m all out of energy. The accusation that my posts are often deliberately verbose and lengthy in order to stun-lock the audience into not going anywhere are unfounded, however.
As you may gather from the title of the blog, we set out with a philosophy that we would try to inject humour into whatever we write, where possible, because there are plenty of serious pundits out there already. We favour the slightly surreal and peculiarly British styles of Fry and Laurie, Eddie Izzard and Monty Python, however, which is not to everyone’s taste but suits us just fine.
KiaSAcast is the pair of us generally being very silly and also discussing various topics mainly to do with gaming, a large part of which is dedicated to MMOs.
What was your first MMO and what was that experience like?
My first MMO was Dark Age of Camelot. I’d been eyeing-up Everquest for some time but wasn’t sure I wanted to make a financial commitment to these relatively new-fangled MMO things. When I saw the blurb for Dark Age of Camelot and saw the variety of races and classes on offer, I caved-in and subscribed. As to the experience? Looking back I probably didn’t get half of what I should have from the game. I certainly discovered my alt-a-holism pretty much straight away as I bounced around from class to class, race to race and faction to faction; I think my problem was that I wanted to experience everything at once, I suppose I was akin to the proverbial child in a sweetshop. I still have very fond feelings for that game, it treated me well, gave me some wonderful adventures and definitely fuelled my enthusiasm for MMOs.
For me the experience of my first MMO is very much like the experience of my first girlfriend; except that it wasn’t called Lisa, and it never confused the hell out of me by trying to touch tongues together while kissing when we were only seven years old.
Can you recall that first MMO “Wow!” moment?
Yes, that was in City of Heroes. If I can cheat a little, there were actually two ‘wow!’ moments in pretty quick succession. The first was the character creator, I was frankly astonished by the flexibility and scope for creating your hero. The second was a slightly strange thing: being able to jump above average height from the ground. I’m not talking about the Super Jump travel power here (that was more ‘giggle like a school kid in a whoopee cushion factory’ than ‘wow!’), I’m talking about the basic jump any character can perform as soon as you enter the game. I was so used to MMOs where jumping was either not allowed or was very restricted, yet here I was able to leap huge fences in a single bound, land in the middle of a bunch of street thugs and start pummelling them. It felt so comic-booky. I think that with City of Heroes Cryptic perfectly realised the idea of what it is to be heroic; I think I’ve spent more time grinning from ear-to-ear in that game than any other MMO.
At your peak, how much time per week would you say you spent gaming? How about now?
Let’s see, at my very peak possibly five hours a night each week night, and then ten hours over the weekend. I think in mathematical terms that is generally referred to as ‘a fair bit’. These days it’s slightly more modest, probably a couple of hours each week night and maybe five hours over the weekend, if I’m really into a game.
Do you tend to supplement your MMO gaming with other PC, console, or tabletop games?
I used to play pen and paper RPGs a great deal but have lost contact with my regular groups of yore. I play console games when I can, especially most Tuesdays when I get together with some fellow bloggers and online ne’er-do-wells to have fun in various co-operative games. I tend to buy PC and console games with every intention of playing them, and then go back to an MMO shortly afterwards. I blame the Internet, credit cards, and the fact that I didn’t take the Impulse Purchase Immunity feat at third level.
When did you first start blogging? How about podcasting? Please take us up to present with all of your projects.
My first blog post was in January 2007, on my old blog Melmoth’s Inferno. My first post on KiaSA was in March 2008. So if you link the two I’ve been blogging pretty consistently for about two and a half years. The first podcast was January 2009. So far those are my only projects, I’m always looking to expand my horizons but in all honesty I have enough trouble keeping up with just those two.
Did you find it difficult to go from blogging into podcasting?
Only in the fact that I’m quite a nervous person in real life, and it’s much easier to hide such traits behind text than audio. I’ve certainly enjoyed learning about how to put a podcast together, however, and we’re getting more adventurous with what we do with each successive show.
Do you have a schedule or some sort of routine you try and follow?
I understand that conventional wisdom states that a regular posting schedule is the only way to blog, otherwise you’re a terrible person akin to someone who waves a bag of sweets in front of small children and then eats them all yourself, but I’ve never been particularly fond of conventional wisdom, sitting there in the corner of the room, puffing on a pipe and looking all smug in its velvet smoking jacket. I couldn’t stick to a schedule even if I wanted to, however, because life is always getting under foot, tripping me up and making me spill my plans all over the kitchen floor such that they’re ruined, and the only thing to do is mop them up and throw them in the bin.
I do very much believe that I have a muse; when I write some of my posts I have no idea where they came from and so I attribute them to her, but she is very temperamental. In fact, I’m pretty sure that when they were giving out careers advice they got her mixed up with someone else, and in fact she should have been one of those gremlins that stops your TV remote control from working for no apparent reason, until you get off the sofa and walk up to the TV, at which point it starts working again even back where you were originally trying to use it, without you having touched a thing.
Would you say there is some grind involved in the process? If so, what is it and how do you cope with it?
I used to find it a bit of a grind when I was trying to post on a regular basis, because if inspiration hadn’t struck by the time I was due to post I felt I had to churn something out, and that made the whole thing unpleasant. Believe it or not, but I’m not one to talk for the sake of talking. If I don’t have something to say that I feel passionately about, or that I think is funny, then I really don’t enjoy the writing process. On the other hand, when I find something that inspires me I’m like Isaac Mendez from the TV show Heroes. Dead. No, hang on, before the dead bit – I just zone out for an hour or two, and when I come back to reality there’s a post ready and waiting for me that just needs checking for spelling, grammar and untoward predictions of the future.
By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging and/or podcasting?
Hmm, that’s a tricky one. I’m not sure whether it’s the money or the incredibly attractive members of both sexes throwing their underwear at me. Ah wait, you see what I’ve done there is to confuse blogging with being a member of Take That. There are lots of pleasures to be had from blogging, it’s always a delight when someone leaves a comment saying that they enjoyed a post, and yet there’s also pleasure when someone rails against what you wrote, because then you know that you’ve touched a nerve, and written something that made people think, and that perhaps you stirred a little passion in them. Not the underwear throwing passion though, more’s the pity. Also I’ve met some genuinely fantastic people through blogging, and there are many others who I would like to meet one day.
At the end of the day, blogging is like being part of a huge family: new members arrive, others leave, there’s a strong bond between members and also the occasional bust-up, but generally it’s a good family. Of course there’re always a few strange cousins who live out in the countryside and are perhaps slightly too friendly with each other and their livestock but we try to ignore them as best we can.
Would you care to share a particularly memorable moment from your blogging days?
No one particular thing comes to mind, just lots of little moments. Those comments and posts where people have had kind things to say about my efforts are always a high point, of course.
Are you pleased with where your blog is in the blogosphere?
I’m slightly disappointed if I’m honest, because according to the schedule that we set out when we started the blog we should be ‘kings of the world’ by now, but perhaps that was slightly ambitious. Next year, maybe.
If you had a chance to do it all over again, would you do anything different?
I’d start blogging earlier in my life. Certainly with respect to MMOs I feel that I missed the golden age of blogging. Other than that, I’m pretty happy with the way things are. Apart from not being king of the world, of course.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to try their hand at blogging and podcasting?
What’s the worst that could happen?
Well ok, you could be so intensely in to your blogging that you forget you left a pan of chip oil on the stove, which subsequently catches fire and burns down your apartment building, killing fifty seven people including five children. At your trial you find out that because the fire department was busy putting out your blazing building and its neighbours, they couldn’t spare the resources to put out the fire at the local puppy, kitten and baby dolphin sanctuary. Due to the death of these cute creatures, animal rights protestors call for the death penalty to be applied to your sentence. The government cracks down heavily on the civil unrest, but the general populace, fraught and angry from the current pressures of the global economic climate, rise up and eventually attempt a coup. With the country weakened due to the government utilising all available military personnel to instate martial law, the enemies of the state take the opportunity to exploit the situation and launch thermonuclear strikes against the nation’s major cities. Scared that the fall of the country would inevitably lead to an attack on they themselves, various allied nations retaliate with nuclear strikes of their own, beginning the Third Great War and shepherding in the apocalypse of mankind.
But really, that’s probably the worst that could happen, so I shouldn’t worry too much, just give it a try.
Can you picture a future where you will hang up your keyboard and microphone and no longer blog or podcast?
Possibly the one where I cause the end of mankind due to letting a chip pan catch fire whilst I was busy blogging.
I’m certain there will come a time where I won’t be blogging any more, for any number of reasons. The one I’m most excited about is where I won’t need to blog anymore because technology will have advanced to such a state that there will be much more interesting ways to communicate with the global hive mind. Dream blogging perhaps, or Drogging as we’ll know it, which I’m now off to patent and trademark.
You wake up to a world where you are the head of a company developing an MMO. You have unlimited funds and resources available to you. Please describe the kind of game you would make.
I imagine I would make a really cheap 2.5D grindfest with graphics ripped-off from various other games, all the meanwhile siphoning off the majority of the company’s cash reserves into offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands.
Well, it serves them right for putting someone like me in charge of a company with unlimited funds.
So there you have it. I get to keep my interview post for posterity, and you get to receive the one tiny and infinitely pointless piece of wisdom I have to dispense with respect to blogging.
Just remember: blogging isn’t so terribly bad, and worse things happen at sea. So don’t update your blog while you’re on a boat, and I’m sure you’ll do just fine.