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Comparing Video Game Blogs: What Makes a Good Blog

December 8, 2011 1 comment

There are literally millions of blogs out there and thousands of them are created everyday.  While many are abandoned, there are also many who regularly post and are sincerely committed to crafting a successful blog.  Unfortunately, when there are millions to choose from, hard work and determination might not be enough to build a loyal fan base.  I look at video game blogs daily but for this post I wanted to focus on the smaller, independent video game blogs that seem to be headed in the right direction of building a loyal fan base and acquiring enough hits daily to receive advertisement deals. I want to point out the pros and cons of each blog and explain how simple tweaks can make a world of difference.  Analyzing a handful will allow you to see what works or doesn’t work with each and compare.  These blogs represent the individual who worked hard enough at what they love to do and was successful at it. I hope to be as successful or more so with my online journalism.

The blogs I chose for this comparison are titled as follows: The Lone Gamer,  That VideoGame Blog and Video Game Blogger.  I will begin by talking about The Lone Gamer.  It is a blog about video games started and authored by a single soul named Marco Dimaano. I found this blog on more than one web site containing a top video game blog list.  It has a unique sense of character and without a doubt favors some game/topics more than others.  The blog is powered by WordPress and was recently upgraded to a premium WordPress site by the creator (Premium users receive better benefits, more options and most importantly get the “wordpress” lopped off their web address). The content of the blog aren’t updated daily and posts seems to come in spurts. I happen to even post more than this author,  still the blog has seen its fair share of success and continues to thrive.  The blog’s design theme and colors as well as the banner image at the top seems to match the authors personality (based on site content. I don’t know the guy) and I enjoy that.  Dimaano has all the essential sidebar tools including Twitter, search bar, tag cloud, monthly archive, blog roll and top posts. There are more but that is a good amount to have because you don’t want to over do it like he did with his categories.  The categories on this site are too specific.  These categories are basically another set of tags.  I also like that the ads are outside of the sites content.  A good blog if the Lone Gamer’s style is your style.

http://www.thelonegamer.net/

The Lone Gamer

The second blog I wanted to talk about was That VideoGame Blog.  This is a blog that shares little information about its origin but I really like it. It has minimal clutter, it’s easy to navigate and has a clean, simple layout. It lists posts from most recent to older with images to support each one. The four hottest posts are posted across the top of the page with enlarged images. The ads are seamless with the sites design. It has a search bar that returns easy to comprehend results and sports a virtual calendar that serves as an archive of past posts.  The sites content is updated very frequently with a up to 15 posts or more each day.  The blog currently has 16 authors on its “Staff” page, which makes a world of difference when trying to remain current with your posts and content.  It also gives the impression of professionalism.  These are reasonable expectations I have for my own blog one day.  However, this blog has minor imperfections.   It could use categories to easily sort past posts into relevant information to what the user is looking for.  I would also like to see an “About Us” page to give a little background information about how the site got started and what its goal is.  Other than those minor gripes this is the most complete blog out of the three I am comparing

That VideoGame Blog

The last blog I chose for this comparison is Video Game Blogger.  At first I was thoroughly impressed with this blog. It has an impressive interactive layout that, for the lack of a better term, provides a preview window (shows a picture related to the post) that rolls through the top 5 posts like a slide show.  As it cycles through the top posts you can jump to one by clicking in the preview window.  This is a feature that has been adopted by many top sites and one I would like to implement into mine.  There are categories lined across the top of the page that allow the user to reach the material he/she is interested in with a click.  There is also a search bar that basically serves as a custom category of your choosing though it is surrounded by ads.  At first I was impressed with the all the ads because ads mean money.  Then I started to notice how many of them there were crammed into the side bar distracting the reader from the content.  It is hard to differentiate between the ads and the useful sidebar tools like the search and the “Daily Gaming Update.”  I am all for ads to make some extra cash (Isn’t that what life is all about?) but that is just careless design that in a weird way shows disrespect to your readers. Still it is an easy fix but I honestly don’t see any maintenance in this sites near future as I there hasn’t been a post since January 2011. At first when I was looking at this sites posts I thought they were from November and December of this year.  Though it proved useful for this comparison the blog has most likely been abandoned.

Video Game Blogger

By comparing these blogs it is easy to see what does and doesn’t work.  Though it differs depending on the blogs content some of the hards and fast rules like posting regularly and readability without distraction are well, hard and fast.  Over all I give mad props to all the creators of these blogs because making one that is successful with fan base and all is way, way, way harder than it sounds.

 

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Downloadable Game Content: Is it the best or is it the worst?

November 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Video games have came a long way since the introduction of the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972.  In fact they have made the transition to the digital age almost seamlessly with the exception of Sega which seemed to jump the gun with the Dreamcast.  It was the first console shipped with internet capability. No one used it. Sega never made a console again.

Anyway as time went on the internet was utilized more and more until now. Funny enough it seems hard to remember a time when there was no such thing as a downloadable game.  With the implementation of the internet into game consoles you can now stream or download videos, download games, download game demos and, the topic of this article, download game add-on content.

What is downloadable game add-on content, you say? Well it works like this: a game developer releases a game then after its release (sometimes very shortly after its release which we will come back to)  the dev will produce more content for the game whether it’s something small like a skin (or a costume) for an in-game character, something medium sized like a multiplayer map pack or it’s something big like a continuation or spinoff of the campaign/single player story.

Here is the problem that I believe many people have with downloadable content: It has been taken advantage of by devs and producers, even more so undoubtably, to make a profit well beyond necessary. Take Little Big Planet for example.  For months after release and even currently, though not as frequently, the devs release costumes and costume packs for the characters in the game. Each costume cost $0.99 or when buying a pack they usually give a discount of a dollar or two. Think about 300,000 people downloading one costume a week and those numbers are most likely generous.  It has become increasingly popular with multiplayer games, especially first person shooters, to release a map pack a month or less after the game’s release.  It is hard to believe that they couldn’t have shipped those maps with the copy of the game that consumers pay $60.00 for.  That is a lot of money.  That much money will pay my DirectTV bill or my internet connection for an entire month.  The part that gets me is it seems the devs and producers purposely ship newer games with less and less content so you are almost forced to buy the downloadable content to justify buying the game in the first place.  Granted these are extreme conditions.

To be honest, if I like a video game enough to want the experience to continue I will purchase the downloadable content the devs will supply me.  Especially if it’s a personal favorite dev of mine like Bungie.  Some devs are even kind of enough to drop a freebie for their fans every now and then.  I love video games and I probably would be pissed off if downloadable game-add on content went the way of the dinosaurs. But I don’t know, maybe they can lower the prices?

Do you think downloadable game add-on content is a rip off or do you think these devs deserve every dime? Tell me in the comment section.

An Interesting Visualization: Video Game Sales in First Week of Release

October 30, 2011 3 comments

For video game fans it is interesting to see what games are most popular and compare that information to their own beliefs about what games are the best.  This visualization from Many Eyes shows video game sales during first week of the biggest titles in the last decade. As you can see the Call of Duty franchise has taken the crown with Call of Duty: Black Ops for Xbox 360 but surprisingly Pokemon Black and White for Nintendo DS took a close second place. Another interesting aspect of this visulaization that video game fans will recognize is that video game sales have increased with newer releases demonstrating the growing popularity and interest in video games worldwide.

Gamestop Employee Interview: Hottest Upcoming Games

October 16, 2011 1 comment

Most people have a pretty damn good idea what upcoming games are on their must play list. However I think it’s important to get outside your comfort zone once in awhile and try something new. A great way to accomplish this is by getting someone else’s perspective on what they think is a must play. I decided to start by talking to someone with some implied experience, a Gamestop employee. Here is the interview(audio):

Categories: PC, Playstation 3, PSP, Wii, Xbox 360 Tags:

Top Video Game Providers in Fairbanks, AK

September 26, 2011 3 comments

I have created a map ranking the video game providers here in Fairbanks, Alaska.  Each location has a rank and details on why it received that rank. These ranks are based on personal experiences however I do believe they are accurate. If you feel differently please speak up in the comments section below!

Categories: PC, Playstation 3, PSP, Wii, Xbox 360

New Smashbros. Title for Wii U Leaked?

September 21, 2011 Leave a comment

A rumor circling the internet today claims that the name of the next game in the Super Smashbros. franchise has been leaked in an internal Nintendo document which is pictured below.  The image and rumor both come from the social news website Reddit where registered users submit news via links or posts.

CLASSIFIED: Read at your own risk.

The document shows that the new game may be entitled Super Smashbros. Universe and will be released for the Wii U.  Nintendo already revealed earlier this year at E3 that new Smashbros. games were in the making both for the Wii U and the 3DS. What is interesting is that this title not only strays away from the usual reiteration of the word fight as the variable word but also suggests either a different type of game or quite possibly just a much larger one . Either way I think any SmashBros. fan could get used to the sound of Smashbros. Universe. Imagine the possibilities…

Does the document seem legit to you? If it is, maybe it signifies something else. Tell me what you think in the comments section!

Categories: Wii Tags: , , , ,

Why Zelda: Skyward Sword Shouldn’t Be Exclusively Motion Controlled

September 16, 2011 1 comment

Game Title

Every time Nintendo announces that Shigeru Miyamoto is releasing a new Zelda to add on to the long running franchise, fanboys across the world begin to crawl out of their skin with excitement. For these loyal Zelda nerds (I’m one of them) the emotion that comes along with news of a new Zelda release is similar to that of a woman finding out she is pregnant.  However when I found out that the newest addition to the Zelda franchise, Skyward Sword, can only be played with a motion controller I was thoroughly disappointed. Here’s why.

Games in the Zelda franchise are notoriously long role playing games. When I say long I mean 70-100 hours of gameplay time which includes discovering a huge sand box world, exploring caves, dungeons and temples, finding items and solving hundreds of mind games and puzzles. These activities are the majority of the gameplay and using a motion controller to do it all is more of a chore than a good time. Don’t get me wrong, during the adventure in most Zelda games there is plenty of sword swinging, bow and arrow blasting, hook shot hanging, boomerang throwing action that the motion controller will be useful for and most likely entertaining. Still I don’t believe it was necessary to make Skyward Sword motion controlled exclusively. While it might be entertaining for the first 35 hours there is a good chance swinging an imaginary sword, AKA motion controller, in front of your TV for the next 35 could become very stale. Sure it’s good exercise (at least for one arm) but if I wanted exercise I would go snowboarding or play football with my friends. When I play a immersive  70 hour RPG classic I want to be confined to a dark room in which I can sit/lay back in a comfortable position with the blinds pulled shut, a good monitor, surround sound and enough booze and snacks to last me until I emerge. In other words I like to relax when I play video games, especially RPGs, as I’m sure many others of the Zelda generation do. Were getting old dammit!

All in all the Wii motion controller is obviously a great innovation and I believe its capability should be implemented in every Wii game. However for a classic RPG that has always been played on a classic controller scheme that takes more than 70 hours to complete Shigeru Miyamoto should have made the decision to at least make the OG controller an option for the OG fans. That is what the classic controller was created for, right?