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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!