Adventure Rules February 2018 Update: Let’s Bust a Rut

In January I updated the blog (as I tend to do each new year) and I stated that, in addition to my standing blog goals of Consistency and Community, I am adding Quality to the mix. I want to amp up the quality of the content that I am bringing to the table on this website. It’s not just about eliminating errors – it’s about putting my energy and self into posts in a more meaningful way rather than just shelling out whatever comes to mind so that I “meet a schedule.” I think January was a strong example of where I can be when I’m at the top of my game – and where I fall when my energy is low and my motivation spent.

I wrote quite a few articles in January that got a pretty decent reception in the form of views, likes, and comments (which I think are a better indicator of “quality” when taken together than any one of them standing on its own). It was fun talking to people about their thoughts on Breath of the Wild and the future direction of the Zelda series – that game had a fantastic positive reception but at the end of the day, it wasn’t perfect and I think many of us want to see what worked about it incorporated into a more traditional Zelda title. I shared my initial negative reaction about the Nintendo Labo as well as how I had to remind myself that this reaction served no one – just because I don’t want to buy a thing doesn’t mean that thing isn’t valuable to someone else. These articles were fun to write and fun to discuss with my fellow bloggers, who got very active in the comments.

Nintendo Labo

However, I also wrote a lot of articles that did not receive a strong positive reception, and that when I look back at them I have negative feelings about. A lot of this honestly revolves around my MC prep work with City of Mist – practicing making characters, posing burning questions, and working on my operation iceberg are were topics of discussion in January, but I don’t think I presented those topics according to my usual standard of quality. I made a decision to post about the game during my most early experimentation with it, which I did partly out of excitement and partly out of time management. It was hard for me to think of other things to write about because ALL I could think about was City of Mist, yet I still needed to create articles for the blog to keep up with my posting schedule. On top of that, there were some nights where the only way I was going to be able to finish the prep that I needed to do and to also post on the blog was to make the prep the blog post.

Naturally, none of this is a good way to create content for a website.

Part of what makes an article of good quality (from my perspective and in my own personal writing experience) is for that article to come from a place of drive and motivation, and for that article to be crafted with no time constraints which force the writer to make sacrifices in order to put that article out on time. Just like with video games, a rushed game is nearly always flawed while a delayed game is often worth the delay. To improve the quality of my blog – a stated goal – I need to be able to write articles when I really care about writing them, with no constrictions on how long I need in order to craft them well.

However, consistency is also a goal on Adventure Rules. I want to post on a consistent basis, so that those who follow me always know when content is coming. By steadily increasing the number of articles present on the site, I increase the amount of content available to those who have never visited before. Each post has the chance to draw in an audience that I haven’t reached yet, and a steady stream of content keeps the site relevant. Each day without a post is going to have views a bit lower than the days which do have posts. It is a trend I have seen over time as a blogger and if I had the time or the manpower, I’d have a post here every day. Three days a week is the most realistic schedule I have been able to keep, so for the foreseeable future I run with that.

Adventure Rules Blog Goals 2017

In this way, Consistency and Quality can butt heads with each other. What I saw in January was that sometimes in order to maintain my goal of consistency, my goal of quality fell to the wayside. It’s a tricky balance – consistently bad posts are bad for the site in the long run, right? But one good post every two weeks is not going to be good for maintaining a solid audience. I as a viewer drift away from watching/reading creators who only put their art out into the world sporadically. I need both consistency and quality to be maintained at a high level in order to meet my goals and to create the successful blog that I want to have (sidenote: when I refer to my blog’s success, I mean in my own eyes and in the eyes of the community that I interact with, not in the “making loads of cash” sense).

So where’s the line? How do I find the balance of posting quality articles on a consistent basis? I think it ultimately falls down to priorities – setting aside the proper time to do the kind of work I strive to do. Writing a post for Wednesday on Monday night (or, let’s be honest, Tuesday night at like 10 PM), is not setting me up to write something worth reading. I am not putting myself in a position to write at a high quality when I wait too long to get started.

It’s going to be tough to shake off my method of procrastination, partly because I’ve done it for years but also partly because my writing is so based on motivation. I have to want to write to create good work. For some people that may not be the case, but for me in this stage of my life in the way I am wired currently, I only create good articles when I care about writing those articles. In order to stop procrastinating, I have to start writing earlier, but if I don’t have any ideas and I start writing anyway then the product that comes out of it will be subpar.

Undertale Determination
For me, the word “motivation” drips with this level of significance.

Ultimately, this all boils down to motivation for me. Even when I wait until the last minute, if I have a strong vision for the article I want to write it still turns out pretty okay. But what’s been happening to me lately is that I have no motivation, and I don’t give myself the amount of time I would need to write a decent article without that motivation driving me. So instead I post ideas that are half-formed and ill-suited for an audience.

“Uh, Ian, isn’t this supposed to be an update? It sounds like you’re just venting again.”

Don’t worry adventurers, I’m getting to that part. For me writing all this stuff down provides a catharsis of sorts – it’s being transparent about how I’ve been feeling recently not just with you, but with myself. When I write something I’m not proud of, I need to gain an understanding of where that came from and try to fix it. When I trash half of the articles I start, I need to examine why I don’t want to put my fingers on the keyboard. This has been me doing that. Now, it’s time to talk about how to move forward past it.

City of Mist

The first thing I am addressing in February is how I handle Tabletop Tuesday. I have been trying to do Tabletop Tuesday once a week, but the past few weeks I’ve mainly been posting about my personal preparations for an upcoming City of Mist campaign. I’ve played my first session now and what that session taught me is that I need to prepare for my games very differently than what I attempted before dice hit the table. Part of my prepping problem is that I was trying to ready myself in advance for something I hadn’t experienced yet, and this same problem is what has been wrong with my articles. While I didn’t explicitly call my City of Mist materials this past month “guides,” I tried to position them that way and the honest truth is that I don’t know anything about the game. I got cocky – I thought I understood what I was doing conceptually well enough that I could just go ahead and post advice by sharing my own experience. Heck, not even my real own experience – my anticipated one.

You can’t give advice for something you haven’t experienced for yourself. It’s very difficult to understand a situation you have not been in the thick of. And my decision to write about City of Mist with any sort of authority based only on the Starter Set and some vague preparations for my first session of the full game was honestly a stupid mistake. I think it hit me when I saw in an online forum that some folks were using my Starter Set review to make decisions about whether they wanted to check out the full game. That article is not a fair assessment of the full City of Mist book – it’s based on a beta. Someone reading that review may be making judgment calls about the game that are based on very preliminary versions of it, things that have been playtested and fixed by the creators who worked really hard to make this product. Since seeing this, I’ve edited that review to state at both the beginning and end that it should not be utilized as an estimation of what the full game will be like.

I’m not going to cancel Tabletop Tuesday or anything, but I do want to be more careful about how I position myself when I write articles about this game which I am only just now beginning to experience. This Wednesday I will probably share my experiences from during the first session, experiences that redefined my expectations and showed me which aspects of my preparation were useful and which ones were worthless. I’ll talk about which mechanics I need to get to know better and the things that my player really enjoyed at the table. I might split all of those conversations into multiple Tabletop Tuesday posts throughout the month, as my next session won’t be until the beginning of March. This will give me the chance to dive really deeply into the things I still need to work on.

Super Mario Odyssey Cover

Friday I have a post coming about Super Mario Odyssey – or rather, a post inspired by it. It’ll focus more on game design stuff than anything, but it’s a subject I find interesting and Odyssey is a strong example of a concept that I haven’t necessarily had words for before this point. I don’t want to spoil the article for those who might be interested in reading, so for now I’ll just say that I plan to talk a lot about why certain kingdoms appealed strongly to me while others fell by the wayside.

The other gaming-related thing happening Friday that I am very excited for is the release of the Switch version of Dragon Quest Builders. I’ve been excited for this game since trying out the demo and now I finally get to play the full version. It’ll be fun to build bases, gather materials, and hear those good old classic DQ tunes and sound effects as I battle slimes and drackies. I don’t know how great Builders will be for article fodder since it’s not a particularly new game, but I imagine I’ll find something to say about it!

As far as community stuff, I’m gonna try to be more active on that front in February. I feel like I didn’t do a lot of reading in January and it has risen partly from the lack of motivation I’ve been feeling. I need to catch up on the works created by my fellow bloggers and get more involved in what they are doing. I’ll very likely be participating in Question of the Month again (thanks as always to Later Levels for hosting, and to the excellent Overthinker Y for choosing me as January’s victor!) and if the Well-Red Mage poses another big question, I will certainly seize that opportunity as well. I’m also planning my own small community event, sort of a promotional thing to say thank you to all of you amazing adventurers for helping January ’18 to be the best month on the blog yet (from a traffic perspective).

Charming and Open
Then again, my last “small” event didn’t end up being as small as I thought…

I’ll be announcing this event as tomorrow’s post – that’s Monday, February 5th, at 9 AM EST. If you like community events and you want to get involved, come check it out!

That’s all for me today, adventurers. I hope you enjoyed this update and that you’re excited for what’s coming to the blog in February. For those of you who checked out any of my articles in January (even the lousy ones), I appreciate you taking the time to read and I hope you’ve found reason to keep coming back to visit Adventure Rules. I’ve got big plans for February, so if you haven’t followed me here on WordPress or on Twitter or Facebook, I highly recommend you do so in order to avoid missing out on any of the exciting developments here. Thanks for reading!

10 thoughts on “Adventure Rules February 2018 Update: Let’s Bust a Rut

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  1. It can be difficult to get motivated to write. One thing I found that helps is to try to write in a public area such as at work during breaks/slow periods or at the library. I tend to be less focused at home because there I usually just want to relax. Once you’ve found a system that works, you’ll be impressed with what you can accomplish.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I definitely get where you’re coming from with being less focused at home. I tend to get a lot more done when I get opportunities to write from another place where I couldn’t be doing something else instead. I’ve often found myself wishing I had a way to write or perhaps create other content while driving, because I spend a lot of time in my vehicle for work and it would be great to use that time for something productive.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello! New follower here. I could relate to a lot of what you wrote there. Getting decent quality stuff out the door on a regular basis can be a challenge, but for me, it’s all about planning ahead and setting good habits.

    My blog focuses on video games entirely (and a specific subset of video games, at that) and the main thing I do when I am not blogging is playing games. I’ve reached a point now where I won’t start playing a new game unless I know I’m likely to be writing about it at some point in the near future. Far from making playing that game feel like “work”, it motivates me to focus on it rather than getting distracted, and also means that by the time I come to write about it, I have a very in-depth knowledge of what it’s all about.

    In terms of habits, I set aside time every day to write — specifically, when I get home from work, or sometimes even at work during quiet periods, as Red Metal suggests above. I write my post for the day (I post every weekday) before I do anything else in the evening. Again, this doesn’t feel like “work” because it’s something I enjoy, but prioritising the writing like this helps ensure I can get something out of the door every day. And if I know that’s not going to happen for whatever reason, I make sure to let my followers know on Twitter (since that is where the majority of my traffic comes from) so there’s no chance of disappointment.

    I enjoyed this post and look forward to seeing more from you 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Pete, thanks for the follow and the comment! Sorry I’m getting back to you so late, I’ve been busy with work and fell behind on my comments.
      It sounds like you have a very organized approach to blogging, which is something I am working on developing for myself. In real life I am not an organized person and I tend to procrastinate on everything, so this has been a learning experience for me. As you’ve said, it’s all about developing good habits!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well this article spoke to me. It’s so hard to post and be present when there’s no motivation. I don’t know why, but even though I continue to love making my recipe posts I’m really struggling being involved in the community and being involved in the social media. I know it’s taken my blog on a downturn and I hate that I can’t seem to care. I’m not really sure how to pull up from this but it’s nice to know that I’m not alone in my lack of motivation and involvement. Thanks for sharing and I hope February makes things a little bit better and easier for you! Keep up the good work. As always, I love reading your content and enjoy the humor you bring to gaming!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Teri Mae! I’m glad you are continuing to enjoy my posts and I’m always excited to see a comment from you.
      As fun as community involvement can be, it’s definitely the hardest part of keeping a blog going. It is so much easier to just write your posts real quick, put them out there, and then spend your energy on other stuff. Even though the socializing is virtual rather than in person, my introvert self definitely gets burnt out from time to time and I have to back off. But when I’m in the zone and really engaging with the others in the community, that’s also when I love blogging the most. There’s definitely a balance, and I think the toughest part is learning to find where your lines are.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s very hard! I’m a total introvert, too, and would rather be home in my pajamas playing Pandemic Legacy than out making friends or doing anything with new people. But I love interacting with this community. It feels like I’ve found ‘my people’ if you know what I mean. I just never feel like I have intelligent enough feedback for how deeply everyone thinks and talks about things. I need to figure out that balance between never interacting and enjoying myself without feeling like it’s a chore or that I’ve lost my interaction with my kid and husband. I’m not sure how to find it. Any tips from someone in the same situation?

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Well in my experience, the first thing I did was start at my bare minimum and work up to my sweet spot of blogging. For a month at the beginning of 2017, I only wrote once a week. After that I moved up to two and then finally to three. I tried out four for a bit, discovered that was too much, and then went back down to three and stayed there.
        Another thing I do is take breaks when I need them. There’s this mindset that is really easy to get in to where I’m like “if I stop people will be disappointed, my views will go down, etc” but in reality the other bloggers in our community completely understand that life and adult responsibilities come first. I’ve never taken time off from blogging and been met with anything less than understanding. So if I ever need to be a dad or a husband more than a blogger, I just go ahead and do what I need to do. Everyone will still be here when I get back, and usually it only takes a day or two to recharge my batteries. I don’t think since I started a consistent schedule that I have ever needed a longer break than a week.
        As far as the commenting thing, that’s something I am still working on. I have definitely started to write comments on posts and then just deleted them because I felt like what I was going to say wasn’t relevant or didn’t fit with the rest of the discussion. But when I think about it, it’s not often that I leave a comment and it’s just met with a bland “gee, thanks.” It’s a fear that originates with me and my own social discomfort rather than being something that was reinforced by a real experience. Plus I try to remember that I as a blogger am always excited for comments, and so the people whose posts I want to comment on are probably just as excited as I would be.
        It’s definitely tough, and I think it’s always a work in progress. I’m doing better than I used to but I still could be doing better than I do right now. I try to think of the bloggers I look up to – people like Later Levels, AmbiGaming Corner, and The Well-Red Mage – and let my desire to be that good drive me to work harder rather than discourage me from trying.
        I hope something in that is helpful for you. And for what it’s worth, I think the fact that this community is talking about you and your content even when you aren’t here – during the Christmas feast question back when Creative Christmas was going on, for example – is a testament to the fact that the work you put out is interesting/intelligent and that folks admire what you do here.

        Like

  4. Man, thanks so much for writing this. It pretty much encapsulated everything I’d been feeling lately as well, and was weirdly therapeutic seeing I’m not alone!

    I totally feel you on the “wanting to put out more stuff than you can while keeping up quality” front – WordPress is not unlike the rest of the internet, wherein if you aren’t putting out content all the time, new followers and even any sort of traffic plummet almost immediately. The viewer drop-off really is huge and immediate – usually a single post spikes the traffic for two days, presumably from our oversees friends who wake up as we’re going to sleep. After that? 90% drop in traffic. But like you said, you want to keep it consistent and keep aiming for that balance.

    I’m just realizing now that the stuff I want to write about now has historically done the poorest, but ya know, gotta write about what you’re passionate about. Keep that up and everything will go as planned!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There was a huge switch for me when I went from numerically-focused goals to personal goals for my blog. When I wrote for SEO and views and all that garbage, I wasn’t really getting them. Conversely, they jumped when I focused more on just writing what I care about. Now that’s just my personal experience, but I think there is something to be said about prioritizing what you’re passionate about. If you love what you create and proudly promote it, people will take notice!

      Liked by 1 person

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