The Newbie Blogger Initiative is BACK!

In some of the best news for the MMO community I’ve heard in ages, I’m very pleased to say that the Newbie Blogger Initiative is back!

Started by Syp, the Newbie Blogger Initiative started last year, aiming to get new blood into the MMO blogging community. It succeeded wildly, spawning a huge number of new blogs, many of whom are still updating.

This year it’s back, run by Doone of T.R.Redskies and Roger of Contains Moderate Peril. If it’s anything like last year, it’ll be a blast for readers, experienced bloggers, and new bloggers alike – definitely take the time to check it out and get involved!

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Is The EVE Online blogosphere dying?

You may have noticed that we haven’t seen or heard that much from the EVE Online blogosphere recently. And it turns out that there may be a reason for that.

Some EVE bloggers are concerned that the blogosphere around the unique space game is dying – killed, amongst other things, by the best-known EVE player of all, The Mittani, and his new site TheMittani.com.

Rixx at Evoganda is one of those people, and he explains what he believes has happened

“Heck, do we even need bloggers anymore? The fact is that The Mittani site has added weight to a side of the coin that didn’t really exist three years ago. More and more bloggers are joining the ranks of that news service, add that to EveNews24 and others and you have a very powerful brain drain that has been sucking the need for bloggers away for months now.

The Mittani has killed Eve Blogging. Why read thru dozens of sites when you can just visit one? You get features, news, opinion, and the unquestionable loyalty of the largest single block of players in-game, fed daily thru forum support that rivals none other.”

Of course, other games have professionally-run blogging/news sites that don’t strangle their blogospheres – notably WoW, of course, with WoW Insider and MMO Champion prominent as TheMittani equivalents. But EVE is both smaller and very different to other MMOs – and WoW Insider isn’t run by a guild that claims a massive percentage of the game’s players.

But that still doesn’t mean EVE blogging is doomed – or so Stan at Freebooted says, in a rebuttal post that looks at the other reasons things might be a bit quiet in the EVESphere right now

“I think TheMittani.com is a magnificent thing. There is regular, high-quality content to be found there and, as Rixx says, several bloggers are focusing the lion’s share of their efforts on providing content there, Marc Scaurus amongst them. EVE News 24 continues to deliver and has even had a facelift to keep up with the Joneses.

But that doesn’t mean that all that there is to say has been said. Far from it. Not every blogger will be producing material that fits a commercial news site. As new bloggers hone their craft, they may not feel ready for the challenge but may aim to contribute in the future. It’s all part of the same grand ecosystem. Bloggers are a unique breed and I’m sure a community of independent blogs will continue to thrive in the EVE metasphere.”

Stan has a great point, of course. Whilst there’s even one blogger writing about EVE – and I can’t imagine that ever not being the case whilst the game’s still active – there’s still an EVE blogosphere.

But what will happen now? Will The Mittani continue to dominate the EVE universe? Or will bloggers rise from the ashes and find ways to adapt to their new world?

What do you think?

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Wordtwit & Wordtwit Pro review – is this autoposting plugin for WordPress and Twitter worth the effort in 2012?

You’ve have thought that it would be very, very simple to post from WordPress to Twitter – but it’s anything but. For some arcane reason, as anyone who has looked into the problem will tell you, even in 2012 there are basically no solutions for autoposting from WP to Twitter. The only one out there is the WordTwit and WordTwit Pro plugin from Brave New Code – so, how do they stand up to testing?

I’ve been using WordTwit Pro for nine months now on the Melting Pot (this site), Tweeting three or more times a day. Before that, I’ve used WordTwit, the free version, on several sites. I’m pretty happy with them as solutions – but they’re not perfect. Read on to find out their pros, cons, and whether they’re useful for your website.

So What Does It Do?

Basic WordTwit does one thing: every time you publish a post on your WordPress blog, it Tweets the title of that post, plus a link, to your chosen Twitter account. If you’ve scheduled a post to publish at some point in the future, it’ll tweet when it’s published.

This turns out to be a remarkable time-saver, particularly if you’re posting more often than a couple of times a week. I used to manually schedule Tweets from the Melting Pot using TweetDeck, but I noticed that what seems to be a pretty small task starts adding up fast. I’d estimate moving to WordTwit has saved me 10-15 minutes a day – which is pretty impressive over a month or so.

WordTwit Pro has more features, with the killer app for most users being its ability to tweet a single post multiple times. It also lets you hand-edit Tweets in the WordPress post dialogue before publishing, which was the reason I upgraded, and can publish to multiple Twitter accounts. It’s $39 for the non-free version – that might seem like quite a bit, but honestly I feel it’s paid off in time savings multiple times over.

Installation and Setup of WordTwit

If there’s one big Achilles heel for the WordTwit plugin, it’s installation, which is complex and can be pretty messy to set up. To be fair, it’s not really the developers’ fault that’s the case.

Because of the slightly strange way Twitter interacts with third-party software, setting up WordTwit involves registering yourself as a software developer – yes, a developer – on the Twitter site. This process is pretty arcane, and the WordTwit documentation doesn’t explain it as well as it could.

You’ll probably have to allocate an hour or so to faffing about back and forward setting up Twitter with WordTwit – and if you’ve got WordTwit Pro, you may be grateful of the support. However, it’s worth noting that the process is a lot less tiresome than the (vew) other Twitter-Wordpress integrated plugins out there, none of which I ever managed to get working at all! WordTwit is the only WP-Twitter plugin I’ve succeeded in running consistently.

There is a silver lining to this cloud – you’ll only have to set up WordTwit once. I’ve been running it for 9 months now and haven’t touched the setup screen for 8.75 of them.

WordTwit In Everyday Use

Once it’s set up, WordTwit isn’t rocket science. Simply write a post as normal, hit publish, and it auto-tweets the post for you.

WordTwit‘s interface is minimal, simple, and doesn’t get in the way.

If you don’t want a post Tweeted, the free version contains a menu item – its only menu item, actually – allowing you to set that post as non-Tweeted. I use this feature when I’m writing a big batch of new posts like our World of Warcraft class guides to avoid spamming my twitter feed!

The Pro version integrates nicely with the Post page in WordPress, and has one more option – you can edit your Tweet. I do that a lot, both to shout out to people I’ve mentioned in the article, to rewrite a bit for the specific Twitter audience, and to add a request for retweets to the end of important posts. If you’re serious about growing your blog, it’s worth reading about how to format a Tweet for maximum clickability and shareability – there’s a lot of info out there.

Should you buy WordTwit Pro?

WordTwit, the free version, is already a lot better than nothing, and for many people will probably be all you need.

For the Melting Pot, I had to upgrade to the Pro version because of the ability to edit Tweets – which is vital for a curation site where we’re featuring other people’s work, and hence I needed to add in “featuring @blah” to each Tweet.

However, in general, if you’re serious about blogging and growing your audience, and you’re actively using Twitter, you’ll probably find that the Pro version is worth the money. The ability to customise Tweets can be really handy for the time when you want to get the word out about a specific information resource post, for corporate bloggers the ability to post to multiple Twitter accounts may well be a no-brainer, and research has shown that Tweeting a post 2-3 times – which the Pro version can do automatically – massively increases the effectiveness of your Tweeting.

Get WordTwit Pro

Get the free version of WordTwit (bottom right of the page)

This post contains some affiliate links, which were added after the review was completed. We like WordTwit and use it every day, affiliate link or no – if you decide to click through one of the links, thanks very much!

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Killed By Facebook, Building Space and Unwritten Laws

From Facebook vs MMORPGs to Murphy’s Laws of MMOs, here’s the rest of the day’s fun links – plus, Cynwise announces a temporary retirement…

  • Yes, Cynwise, winner of the 2011 Piggies award for best blog post, is taking a break from blogging – but leaves us with a comprehensive index of all his best work“Since this weblog is pretty big – I write a lot, okay – I thought putting a map for new visitors up at the very top of the front page was the best way for me to leave the store unattended for a while.”
  • Spinks has been assembling a list of the unwritten rules of MMORPG play“Whining actually does help. The more you whine about not getting that rare drop you want or never being able to get a group to some location, the more likely it is that the thing you want will actually happen immediately afterwards, thus making you look like a miserable whiner with no grip on reality.”
  • Tobold ponders the question of whether MMORPGs are being killed by social networking“MMORPGs don’t make for a very stable social network. There are workarounds, for example I am in a multi-game guild, but even those rely on most people playing whatever game is in vogue at the moment. “
  • And Ardwulf writes an interesting piece pondering how to generate planets in a space-based MMO that are realistically large, but also interesting“I’m a big believer in procedural generation and think it ought to be used more widely than it is in MMOs. At the same time, though, it can give you a lot of empty places that look the same.”

Found today’s posts interesting? Please consider sharing them!

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WoW in Iran, TSW Marketing, Namechecked in WoW and more

Yep, just because a massive MMO launches, doesn’t mean the rest of the MMO world stops in its tracks!

So here’s a roundup of some really interesting posts that didn’t focus on either Guild Wars or WoW 5.04 over the last few days!

  • Ren Reynolds at Terra Nova asks why Blizzard won’t refund Iranian players who are no longer able to play“One thing I don’t get is how “prohibit Blizzard from doing business with residents of certain nations, including Iran” and “this also prevents us from providing any refunds” work together. “
  • Tobold takes issue with the idea that The Secret World deserved more success than it got“I do not think that The Secret World “deserves” a larger following. It isn’t as if by some error of marketing the potential customers failed to notice the game.”
  • The Straw Fellow would like to see more honesty about the MMORPG lifecycle“I titled this post “Turning Lies into Marketing” because I felt that companies always lie about going F2P, due to the stigma it attaches to their game.”
  • Perculia discovered that she now has an in-game item named after her, and blogs about having this suddenly-permanent memorial to her in-game“The thought must pass through everyone’s mind how cool it would be to have a tangible reminder of their time spent in Azeroth, a place where so many things are transient yet wrapped up in memories. And well, that happened.”
  • And Eric Dekker issues a call for gold bloggers to get out of their niche and become more involved in the wider WoW blogging community“Something about gold blogging seems to have an effect of keeping our interactions within the gold making community while most of the other WoW Bloggers out there enjoy the the benefits of cross pollination”

So, who’s been playing an MMO other than Guild Wars or WoW lately, then? Still enjoying it?

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Guild Wars 2 – the MAAAASIVE Blogger Reactions Roundup

So yeah, this MMO came out this weekend. Indie thing. You’ve probably not heard of it.

Or then again, maybe you have.

Guild Wars 2 has indeed turned out to be the juggernaut it promised to be, and it’s knocking down all other MMO writing in its path. So, since I’ve spent the last two days with my head up WoW Patch 5.04’s particulars, to balance things out here’s a MASSIVE roundup of all the fascinating posts on Guild Wars 2 and how, after this long, long wait, it finally turned out.

Long and Detailed

  • Ardwulf sums up his experience from beta to live in extensive bullet point form“The game overall is very strong. Barring the occasional bug or borked event, all of the essential progression elements (tasks, events and other means of gaining XP) work great.”
  • Anjin was expecting to dislike Guild Wars 2 – but turned out to love it“For all the time I spent adventuring, I spent equally as much time exploring Divinity’s Reach. That city is amazing.”
  • Matt Daniel at Massively is loving Guld Wars 2, but writes a lengthy post looking at the things he believes it could be doing better“I’m also not a fan of how large of a role these static-quests-that-occur-at-random-times (doesn’t quite have the same ring to it) play in overall progression, and the reason for this is simple: They occur at random times.”
  • Paeroka has been a Guild Wars fan for a while, but writes a really detailed pro-and-con post about her first five days’ experience“There is no “queuing” to kill a named quest mob. There is no kill stealing in general. And no stealing of resource nodes either! I do not feel that I have to go from quest hub to quest hub and check off the available quests in each of them.”
  • The Mighty Viking Hamster, who was skeptical about GW2, writes of his complete conversion to this new way of building MMOs“ArenaNet have definitely raised the bar with this one and now I understand the frequent talk of ‘changing the genre’ that seemed to come up whenever someone was discussing the game pre-release. “
  • Jeromai writes about Guild Wars 2 in detail – but apparently only managed to tear himself away because the servers went down“I truly don’t understand how people are having a problem with gaining experience. I suspect they’re just running from heart to heart and not doing anything else”
  • Psynister writes a HUUUUUUUUUGE review of the game – when I say this review covers all aspects, it really, really does – but it’s still very interesting“GW2 uses a semi-horizontal leveling system, where-in your effective character level is reduced when you go to zones that are lower level than you actually are. “
  • Chris at Game by Night enthuses about the game, which he says captured him even though as a newbie, he started out overwhelmed“You know that whole “me posting more” thing? Yeah, GW2 wants wants to end that. That should be a testament to how good I’ve found this game.”
  • Rohan shares his impressions of GW2 in a lengthy, interesting point-by-point discussion“So changing weapons means something, it actually changes your gameplay. It’s not just cosmetic. This also allows GW2 to make weapons feel appropriate.”

On The Bans

  • Ravious comments on Arena.net’s ballsy decision to publically air the reasons people were banned“ArenaNet decided that it would be better to air some dirty laundry. The effect? It appears that they are reinforcing how they want their community to be, and people appear to be rallying behind them in force.”
  • Timothy Burke also comments on this particularly interesting, and apparently really successful decision“Basically it breaks down into two major causes: first, that the account has been hacked by gold sellers and second, because the player was saying racist, homophobic, or grossly offensive things in public chat. “
  • And the thread where Arena.net actually aired the dirty laundry is really interesting reading“If you think you were unfairly suspended, or if you’d like to know the specific chat or character name that got you suspended, post your character name and we’ll reply in graphic detail with the reason for the block”

Other Specific Topics

  • The Nozy Gamer reports that the most-played MMO of the weekend was NOT World of Warcraft“Despite the gaudy numbers, the scary thing for other game developers and publishers is that this weekend was just the early launch for those who pre-ordered GW2. “
  • Green Armadillo wonders if the real MMO under threat from Guild Wars might not be WoW, but RIFT“When you look at what distinguishes the remaining MMO’s – and in particular the surviving subscription games – I’m much more worried for Rift. “
  • Syncaine wonders if the game will actually stand the test of time“The point remains that if killing boars or whatever did not lead to something, most would not spend hours killing boars for the ‘gameplay’ factor. “
  • Keen considers what it means for both the game and the player who did it that the first level 80 got there before the game was even officially launched“Guild Wars 2 officially launches today, yet many players are already max level… What does that say about the game? What does that say about the player?.”
  • Ironically enough given the game’s name, Azuriel is having real trouble with guilds in Guild Wars 2“Some random guy in Wisconsin six servers away claimed ownership first, now and forever, leaving me with choices like The Invictus, XxInvictusxX, Invictus 2: First Blood, and a cavalcade of increasingly poor choices.”
  • Syp loves the crafting aspect of Guild Wars 2, and explains why he’s just that taken with it“God bless ArenaNet for making crafting nodes non-exclusive. I hated that feeling of rushing toward a node while seeing someone else doing the same, worried that they’d get it first and feeling resentment toward them either way. “
  • Tobold wrote a post about the first boss of Guild Wars 2 – the login server“I’d love to tell you how much fun I had playing Guild Wars 2, but in reality I haven’t even beaten the first enemy of the game yet: The login server.”
  • Moxie didn’t buy the Collector’s Edition – but decided to buy a bunch of extra items for the game instead“Total: $300, the same price as two GW2 CEs, and we’ll certainly get a lot more use out of the gems, slots, soundtrack, and guide than we would the figurine or the in-game items”

Personal Experience

  • Stargrace checks in at level 30 to discuss the experience she’s had – which has been almost deleriously positive“How to tell I’m REALLY enjoying a game? I stop playing alts.”
  • Healing The Masses has been getting fully ADD on Guild Wars 2, and presents the experience of doing a little bit of everything“The world feels absolutely wonderful and makes you feel like some wandering adventurer out to help (or make mischief) where and how you please. “
  • Syncaine gives Guild Wars 2 the thumbs-up in typically cynical style“Overall though a good start for Anet and GW2, even with that stupid baseball cap they gave out to everyone that instantly kicks immersion in the nuts.”
  • MMO Gamer Chick shares her experience of playing GW2 over the weekend, both solo and attempting to play with friends“Alas, out of the many hours we spent in GW2 this weekend, our characters were only able to spend a small fraction of that time in-game adventuring with each other.”
  • Lorehound’s Mike explains why he’s in the minority as someone who didn’t like GW2 and won’t be keeping playing“Making all the quests public is nice, but it doesn’t solve the problem of having boring quests and I have no interest in completing hundreds of them before I get to some good ones.”

Enjoyed this massive list of blog posts? Please consider sharing them!

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Definitely about Guild Wars 2

The Pot is being stirred by Johnnie while Hugh takes a short break.

There doesn’t seem to be any really dominating GUILD over-arching GUILD WARS theme in the blogosphere right now OHMYGOD GUILD WARS. I’ve picked out a few IT’S NEARLY HERE IT’S NEARLY HERE disparate posts for you, nevertheless.

So, being slightly less facetious for a second, let’s take a look at some of our favorite bloggers’ takes on Arena.net’s new flagship game.

Chris at Game By Night is excited, despite having missed a lot of the hype so far:

“I missed out on the rising tide of excitement and was left with only myself to hype with. For what I gain in mystery, I lack in the infectious giddiness that’s come to typify launches up to this point. I am excited, there is no doubt about that, but I also recognize that Guild Wars is just a game like any other; it will be fun, I’ll make and play with friends, and I’ll feel satisfaction having spent my time there. Strangely, even knowing so little, it’s like going into Christmas morning already knowing what presents await you under the tree.”

Syl at Raging Monkeys is trying to manage expectations:

“How long will it all last us? I don’t know and frankly don’t care. GW2 doesn’t have to fascinate me for 5 years straight, I am no longer that gamer. Neither did I ever consider this the big, all-changing MMO revolution but as The Cynical Brit rightfully points out towards the end of his final beta conclusion, “a next evolutionary step”. A very important step at that – one that may impact on much to come. I care for this genre, I care for GW2 to be a solid success which I’m confident it will be.”

At ScaryWorlds, Scary gives a full Guild Wars 2 review (based on the beta), arriving at a very positive conclusion:

“I’ve spent months and months playing Guild Wars 2 and it’s fair to say I am ready to review it properly. I understand it was in beta, but I’m not reviewing the condition of the game, I’m reviewing the overall feel of it. Even with an unfinished product and it changing builds rapidly every week, I’ve nailed down every aspect of the game perfectly to get a perfect score that quantifies GW2 at launch and beyond.”

So there we go. It’s time. The most significant MMO launch for many moons is finally upon. Let’s hope it lives up to all our expectations. We’ll see you, blurry-eyed and sleep-deprived and grinning like maniacs, in a few days’ time.

Let us know your early experiences of Guild Wars 2 in the comments!

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Definitely not about Guild Wars 2, honest

Hugh is taking a few day’s break, so instead of the Potmeister you know and love, the Pot is being curated by Johnnie, who you vaguely recognise and just about tolerate.

I have some tremendously exciting, Pot-exclusive, breaking news for you all today. Apparantly, there’s this new MMO called Guild Wars 2 and it’s going to launch in a matter of days! Why we’ve not heard anything about this until now is beyond me, but I’m breaking the silence and bringing it to your attention now. MMO Melting Pot: First for news!

Yes, the GW2 anticipation has been dialed up to 11, with many bloggers barely able to contain their excitement (the Pot staff not least amongst them, we must confess). Unsurprisingly, GW2 has been the topic of conversation across the blogosphere recently, but I thought I’d buck the trend slightly by drawing your attention to a couple of non-Guild Wars topics.

First of all, Beruthiel at Falling Leaves And Wings writes a funny and telling piece about how hard it is to move on to a new game before finishing a game in progress. This will ring true for a lot of us, I think. A lot of gamers have a completionist/perfectionist streak, and this is one of the times when it can be a hinderance rather than a help.

” “Well, if you aren’t having fun with that game anymore, you’ve finished it to the extent you wanted, you played through the fun, and you can move on. There’s no rule that says you have to complete it”.

But, but…I’m not DONE. I have a couple of more levels in the upside down world, and I haven’t BEATEN it yet. How can I be FINISHED?! What about Luigi? What about Peach? WHAT ABOUT TOAD?!?! How can I simply leave them to their peril and not complete the game?”

Secondly, if you haven’t been following the shared topic of ‘collectivism versus individualism’ that’s made its way around the blogosphere recently, I’d strongly suggest you take the time. The topic was originally proposed by Stubborn at Sheep The Diamond, who provides a good list of the different bloggers who have so far responded. We already featured Apple Cider‘s article, but this shared topic has prompted many other great posts as well.

Spinks discusses the topic from a sociologist’s point of view:

“I have always enjoyed the frontiersman, independent playing style in a virtual world. But actual interdependence with real people also makes for a very exciting gaming experience. Your social skills will matter. And having other people being dependent on something that you can do does a lot to make a player feel ‘needed’. A lot of players enjoy this; for example I know I get a kick from being one of the few players in the guild who has some desirable craftskill recipe”

Over at Raging Monkeys, meanwhile, Syl gives a detailed post examining the extent to which cooperation is incentivised by the game itself:

“Back in vanilla WoW, we didn’t just group up because of some notion of social altruism, curiosity or friendliness; at first, we grouped up because we needed each other in rather existential ways. We grouped up in order to survive or to progress faster, to access better loot or more content. There’s a common purpose of many individuals come together and each of them wants something – and that isn’t even a bad thing. What it certainly is not though, is some chapter in a romantic novel on social bonding and making friends for life. In fact, the classic MMO standard is the most incentivized realization of cooperation I can think of”

I really love shared blogger topics like this, and seeing the community engage in discussion that spans several blogs and covers several different viewpoints. Kudos to Stubborn for starting this latest round!

Have you heard anything about this exciting new Guild Wars 2 thing? Let us know in the comments!

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CALL FOR GUEST POSTS: Post From The Future!

Hey, everyone!

So, I’m taking some time off next week to prepare for the MMOcalypse ahead (not to mention crunch time on my new film), and whilst Johnnie will be covering some of that time, it’d still be cool to feature some guest posts whilst I’m away!

And in light of how fast things are changing, I’ve got a really fun topic in mind for this one.

We’re looking for posts. About MMOs. From the future.

Yep – what I’d love to do next week is to feature some MMO futurism! So, if you fancy channeling your future self and writing us a post about the challenges, joys, trials and tribulations they’re experiencing – whether in MMOs in 2017 or 2070 – let me know!

We’d need posts for their publication time next week – ideally by the end of this weekend, but failing that by midweek at the latest.

This will be first-come, first served, so if you’re interested, let me know now, either by email at mmo melting pot at gmail dot com or via the comments!

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Ratshag Dies, F2P is WTF, and more – Saturday Links

It’s been a great, busy week in the MMOSphere – and so we couldn’t contain it all in five days. Here’s your weekend goodness – and we’re beginning on a sad note.

  • One of the most prominent Orcish voices is no more. That’s right – Michael, the man behind the curtain of inimitable Orcish blogger Ratshag of Need More Rage, is lowering the curtain on Ratshag’s writing, and the Orc himself went out in style. The entire MMO Melting Pot community will miss him – but we’re looking forward to seeing what Michael does next.
  • Syp looks at the definition of “Free To Play”, and is quite frankly overwhelmed by all the things it can mean“Should one term be used to cover such a varied blanket of business models? Should we be coming up with better terms for these different categories, and if so, what should they be?”
  • And Green Armadillo goes looking for evidence for or against the theory that subscription is irrelevant – gameplay is all“What if the truth is that every MMO that has succeeded under the subscription model has done so because that game – at the time – offered a compelling experience that was not available elsewhere? “

Enjoyed this week’s posts? Please consider sharing them!

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