Off-Topic: The best days

It’s good to be in something from the ground floor. I came too late for that and I know. But lately, I’m getting the feeling that I came in at the end. The best is over.

- Tony Soprano, The Sopranos “Pilot” (1999)

_____________________________________________________________________

This part was written on September 14th (with some measure of optimism)

The recent announcement by Darkbrew that Hunting Party Podcast co-host Euripides is done blogging about, talking about, and playing WoW was yet another in what has become a series of retirements/hiatuses by prominent members of the hunter community this year.

This marks the fourth time since the end of May that I’ve read an announcement like this. Tabana, Frostheim, Quelys, and now Euri. The Hunting Party Podcast has not just been decimated, it’s been seriously hurt, although Arth has been doing a tremendous job on the show.

In a game as long-running as this one, with such time commitments, there are several factors that can impact a player’s ability or desire to stay in the game. The number of “I’ve been here since Vanilla beta” players continues to dwindle, as people grow tired or disappointed with the game, or have less time due to family or work commitments, or a desire to use their talents differently. This is only natural, and completely understandable.

However, there’s a part of me that identifies with the above Tony Soprano quote every time someone like Euripides announces that he’s reached the end and is moving on: I came in at the end. The best is over. I missed the best ride, as a blogger and a part of the community.

It seemed like the best days were around the time of Wrath, heading toward Cataclysm. This is probably my perspective alone, but with Wrath seeing overall population numbers reach their zenith, there was also a boom of bloggers about the game itself: theorycrafters and class bloggers, explorers, levelers, raiders, achievers, PvPers, screenshotters, role players, fiction writers, and so on. That all continues today, but it seems at times that, like the subscription numbers, the number of great blogs is dwindling – not toward zero at any time soon, but dwindling nonetheless.

The truth is that we still have some great hunter bloggers, and there are new and rising bloggers out there all the time. However, they don’t always come to our collective attention, and so it feels like the community is shrinking, and some people do seem irreplaceable.

As a person who started blogging almost five years ago, but started blogging hunters 17 months ago, it’s easy to feel like I came in at the end. And perhaps I did miss the community’s zenith, or, at least, came in at the end of the tail end of it (WoW Hunters Hall was a pretty great hunter community site, after all!). But the game and the community are still going strong, and I have to remind myself of this at times like this, when it seems like what I knew to be constant is no longer so. It’s the nature of the game and the community, constantly changing and adapting and fluctuating.

Euripides doesn’t know me from Adam, but I’ve known his voice and writing for years as a hunter and podcast listener. I loved listening to him talk about PvP; I think that, in general, he played the game better than I could ever have the focus to do. I looked up to him, even when I disagreed with occasional points he made on the podcast. And while Darkbrew has long been the zen member of the podcast, and Frost the outspoken one, Euripides held his own in some fun and epic battles with the Frost-meister. I’m going to miss him, and I’ll always remember listening to him.

Take care, Euripides, and best wishes to you and your family!

_____________________________________________________________________

Today (with slightly less optimism)

It’s almost a month later, which means we’re a month further from experiencing the talents of all of the bloggers who have retired over the past year.

We do have a new bright spot in Scattered Shots columnist Adam Koebel, who is doing a fine job over at WoW Insider. After five months of dormancy on the hunter front at WI, there is finally someone there representing the class. This is very important, because WoW Insider has a large reader-base… and while the powers that be seemed to be disinterested for a long time in providing for class columns when previous columnists left, I personally think they provide a critical service to the community.

Beyond Scattered Shots, most of my hunter reading material – what I’d classify as commentary on raiding with the class and playing it well – comes from Kheldul (Hunter-DPS), The Grumpy Elf, Darkbrew (The Brew Hall/OutDPS! The Hunting Party Podcast), and Arth (and commenters at Warcraft Hunters Union). Jademcian (Jade’s Forest) has posted somewhat recently. Jasyla (Cannot Be Tamed) has switched her main from druid to hunter and has some nice posts. And of course there are various hunter guides at Icy Veins, the forums, Youtube, etc.

That’s about it.

Alternatively, after a glance at (the also dormant) WoW Hunters Hall’s blog list, the number of bloggers who have gone dark from that resource list alone in the past year or so is kind of staggering:

  • Loronar
  • Zanbons
  • Garwulf (for the most part)
  • Morynne
  • Euripides
  • Quelys
  • Gavendo
  • Frostheim
  • Mehtomiel
  • And, of course, both Tabana and Kalliope at WHH

And Laeleiweyn is a monk now. Just sayin’. :)

Additionally, there are some signs that the Hunting Party Podcast could be close to having run its course. In a post this past week, Darkbrew hinted that this could be the case. And Arth has also said previously that he doesn’t know how long he’ll be there, or at the WHU for that matter. It’s certainly understandable – both the podcast and the WHU are big commitments and popular hunter gathering places, and also stand as two of the last bastions of the hunter community we have come to love over the years. A lot of work goes into them, and that can be difficult to sustain.

This morning, out of curiosity, I went over to Blog Azeroth to see if there was anything new there. What I found was that participation on that site has dropped precipitously as well. The first page of new blogs, for instance, has 48 blog introductions since the beginning of December, 2012.

I was stunned. Just 18 months ago, I stuck the business card for Mushan, Etc. on there and hoped it wouldn’t be drowned out by other blog introductions. In retrospect, it sort of was and sort of wasn’t; close inspection shows that use of that site has been dwindling for some time now. I think it helped a tad, but it’s not the resource it used to be.

One thing I need to do is take some time on Twitter, to browse through the lists of people who follow me, and people I follow, and check out the people who follow them, and who they follow. There has to be a new (or new-to-me) hunter blog in there somewhere, right?

Before this post gets too long, I should cut it. The purpose isn’t really to whine and complain about people leaving the community of hunter bloggers; rather, it has been sparked by a feeling that the pool is much smaller, and a bit lonelier, than it was a year ago.

Sometimes it seems like there is little to read for days. And as someone who enjoys back-and-forth inter-blog discussions about the class, I’m starting to miss that. And I’m starting to feel like the hunter blog is becoming a “legacy” thing, where there actually isn’t renewal or new birth in the community because of changing technology or due to lack of interest. I’m fine with blogs themselves being “old hat” – I just blog, when I have the time, because it satisfies an interest of mine. So if this is the way it’s going to go down, I’ll accept it. It’s just sad to see so many old friends saying goodbye. The community really is a gift.

o/

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!

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7 Comments on “Off-Topic: The best days”

  1. Jaeger says:

    I definitely agree, Mushan.

    There are a lot of blogs left but they aren’t as hunter-specific as they used to be or have infrequent posts. For example, Grumpy talks about a lot of general topics more than he talks about hunters, which is fine; I still enjoy his blog, but I don’t really consider it a hunter blog.

    I haven’t found a new source for hunter theorycrafting since Frost left though. The blogs also seem to be a lot like the news where it’s just a rehash of other information sources.

    The WHH made things seem much more lively since there was usually something new each day from one or two of the bloggers, but it also needed someone to curate the site.

    I’ve considered stepping up into the hunter blogosphere, but as some of the others who have been playing for a while, my personal enjoyment of the game has been dwindling a lot. The amount of time I’m investing in the game keeps dropping and as such, I don’t feel that I’d be able to invest appropriate time in the larger community to do any good.

    • Mushan says:

      Thanks Jaeger! I appreciate your comment.

      Yeah, I think you and I feel the same way. The past several months seem to be more about subtraction than addition. In addition to the theorycrafting and such being absent, there’s also the fact that I came into the hunter world, in part, because of Frost and other bloggers. When so many people you enjoy and look up to move on, a void is created. In the case of hunters, the general void is still there – while we do have Arth, and Adam, doing great things – and there are the “class resource” sites – it seems undeniable that we’ve lost a lot this year. Like I said in slightly different words, we were blessed with the culture for a few years, and that’s very difficult to replace.

      We may see new people come along, when the spirit moves them, or when they are able. But if they don’t, I’ll still enjoy the game itself as long as it entertains me; I’ll still miss those days, though.

  2. I know this isn’t really a Hunter-topic reply, but I’d like to mention the NBI, or Newbie Blogger Initiative. Not sure if you’re familiar with it or not, as it’s rather new to me and was recently brought to my attention by Stubborn over at Sheep the Diamond. It’s a group of veteran bloggers who are there to help newer bloggers not only get their feet wet, but to stay afloat and keep the blogging medium alive.

    http://newbiebloggerinitiative.com/forums/

    I’ve been blogging since the TBC era of WoW, back when there were only a few WoW blogs out there that everyone knew about. Mine was a small space that I never really advertised, rather I just posted about my goings on in-game and the current state of the Demonology Warlock. In the Wrath era, my reader base skyrocketed due to the increased number of players, so I completely agree with you that Wrath was the pinnacle of blog exposure.

    However, most recently, I think a lot of new players are a part of the Twitch/YouTube generation and would rather watch videos or live-streams rather than read.. well, anything.

    I’ve recently gotten back in to blogging with more of a WoW-focus, albeit mostly Moonkin related, and I’ve found a nice string of WoW-related blogs to follow (yours included). But I have yet to find more than 1 or 2 fellow Moonkin blogs. I’m like you where I blog when I can because I enjoy writing, especially about things I enjoy talking about.

    I don’t feel that blogging is becoming a dying medium, really, but I do think that as more people get in to the game they are jumping in to the newer formats of live-streams and podcasts rather than the written format of class-focused blogs.

    • Mushan says:

      I love this comment – lots of win here.

      (Sorry it’s taken a while to Approve/respond: I just got out of work! :D)

      That’s what I meant toward the end of my post. There’s a ton of stuff on YT, lots of conversation (of varying quality/effectiveness) on Twitter, and lots of streaming. Times are changing; while I don’t think blogging is ‘dying’ per se, I think there’s been a definite shift in medium, as far as where the content is being presented.

      I could write a lot more, but I wrote a long post. :) I just wanted to say I agree with / like what you have to say here!

      • Thanks =)

        I think a topic about blogging as a dying medium or if we should be trying to transition to a more visual presentation via video/live-streams would be pretty interesting. I’m curious as to how other bloggers feel about it.

  3. Bruce Baugh says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot of this set of issues too, and since Mushan Etc. has recently become one of my favorite reads, let’s see if I have anything constructive to add.

    First of all, Cheap Boss Attack is surely right about the importance of Twitch and Youtube. When it comes to masses of detail, I personally almost always prefer to read than watch/listen, but then I’m 47 and grew up in a different set of assumptions.

    Second, I notice most enthusiasm among my fellow WoW-playing friends from folks in two categories: relatively new players, and veterans who’ve had extensive time off (say, six months or more, at least once). Both these groups get more opportunities for discovery, which as you’ve been saying in other posts lately is good for enjoyment.

    But there’s something else at work too: the hardcore scene in both PVE and PVP is anti-fun in some joy-killing ways. There’s pressure to dismiss things as easy, to downplay the real work of achievement except insofar as it can be used to belittle others. There’s a general neglect of good practice for mediocre and average players for whom the last bit of performance for world’s-first pursuers (and those trying act just like them) genuinely doesn’t matter, while some serious discussion about macros to help play more one-handed because you’ve got arthritis, or a baby, in the other would, or what content you can genuinely do in half an hour from login to logout, and so on. Ditto, say, how to raid successfully when you don’t want to or simply cannot maintain a legion of alts to support a two-crafting-skills main.

    Really serious raiders and arena junkies easily lose sight (just like the rest of us, gosh, you’d think human beings play these game) of how small a chunk of the WoW universe they occupy. And then when that chunk proves too tiring, they’re faced with the real risk of simple burnout. There are people who can thrive on the cutting edge year after year. But many really need some diversity. And if they’re part of a scene that excludes most or all of the alternatives, then they’re hosed.

    Which sucks. :( Burnout is a drag. I’d like it to be more fun for them.

  4. Valerie says:

    I know as a new blogger to the hunter/pets/wow-screenshots set I find myself at a loss at where to start searching for other blogs like mine. :/ So happy to have found yours!


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