Six Years of Writing – A Look Back on 2022

This week marked 6 full years of writing here on this blog. I started writing back in February 2017 because I was having an absolute blast in World of Warcraft’s Legion expansion playing Demon Hunter – a thrill I wanted to share with more people. Last year was the first (almost) full year since I started writing here where I didn’t play much WoW, and it reflected in the posts I wrote, the types of analysis I did, and in the metrics.

Overall, I think 2022 was actually kind of a good year, in spite of some of those issues. Shortly after I started this blog, I had considered broadening focus to FFXIV, and mentioned as much within my first few months, but that took until 2021/2022 to materialize in a big way! My writing about WoW last year is stuff I’m generally pretty proud of – I think that being able to step away from the game for a minute and look at it from the outside gave me some much-needed perspective on the game, my play within it, and the issues facing the game’s community and my own community within it, and I think that doing that kind of reflection enabled me to make some tough choices that have been hugely beneficial for my enjoyment of the game. I certainly would not have reconnected with Dragonflight as I have if it had not been for that time away and that reflection. I think playing FFXIV heavily in that window also gave me insight into how other MMO communities are in general, and there were definitely some lessons learned there that I am applying to my WoW time now as well.

In terms of metrics, last year was a falloff, and I expected as much. I spent 5 years building a WoW-first audience and then spent nearly a full year not talking about the game much except in abstract and often critically, so it was to be expected and was something I understood easily enough. I’ve embraced that my metrics will fluctuate and change both up and down as my blog hits saturation, and I have come to terms with the idea of writing what I want, when I want, metrics be damned, an approach mostly taken by the blogging community around Blaugust (except for the way some folks love the “don’t write on weekends” rule, haha). I think that my experiences in FFXIV were a lot of fun and worth documenting for an audience that was less familiar with the game, and for me personally, this experience helped me to contextualize the fun I was having and better understand the role both FFXIV and WoW could play for me in a balanced MMO diet. Crucially, I think I got a slightly better understanding of the different types of MMO experiences out there and an appreciation for some of the anti-WoW viewpoints I used to not quite comprehend, and all of that learning definitely informed my approach to returning to WoW and what I wanted to get from it as entertainment.

The most interesting thing about last year for me was definitely how writing a bit more selectively also enabled me to genuinely learn and approach things differently. Writing about FFXIV meant not having two decades of accumulated knowledge, and so there was a lot of researching and investigation into how things work, the historical events and trends in stuff like raid difficulty and balance, and doing more to understand the game deeply, things that have all enhanced my enjoyment of the actual game, which is why I started writing in the first place. Reconnecting with WoW and considering the choices I had to make in order to do that also gave me a newfound appreciation for the game and for the community I have built over the years and the friends I’ve made within the game, and even engaging with bad faith criticism of my writing and perspective also helped me by letting me know when I was on the correct path with my analysis. It wasn’t always the easiest process, to be sure, but it was always bound to happen and I think engaging with it (and knowing when it was pure bad faith and thus to not engage) has helped shape and sharpen my outlook on my writing.

While I engaged less with writing in 2022 for a few reasons (going back to school, moving, a trip, and playing some games), I definitely got better about holding drafts and cooking in the quiet for a little while before posting new writeups. I’ve typically been a one-draft writer, doing only a light editing pass before sharing much here, and that has changed a lot in the last year as I’ve tried more to preplan posts and get ahead of things. That came out more in stuff like patch prep guides for Final Fantasy XIV and my more analytical posts about WoW, where I would often work on them for a month or more from concept to publicly available. I’ve been focused a lot about trying to be more skillful with writing, including more edit passes and actual drafts to even sometimes just choosing to not write about a given topic because I have little to say or add to what is already being said publicly. While it was very early into my time writing here that I realized that I was not cut out for theorycrafting, this year I did write some guides for how gear works in FFXIV that got a lot of traction.

So, as is tradition, my top 3 posts of 2022:

A Guide To Gearing In Final Fantasy XIV Patch 6.1 You Can Start On Now: This post and the next entry on the list both were me working on longer-form guides and taking advantage of the (relative) predictability of FFXIV content releases at the same time. To a lot of FFXIV players who are new to the game, and even to me up until the very end of Shadowbringers, FFXIV’s gear system can feel very confusing with a lot of different sources of loot and few of them signposted in-game to give you a sense of what can be done. Odd-numbered patches are especially popular for this because they’re catch-up patches by nature, allowing players to get near to the level of current-Savage content for the sake of increasing clear rates through the content. There’s Alliance Raid gear, Augmented crafted gear, easier access to augments for Tomestone gear, and an EX trial with weapon catchups, and all of that rests on top of the normal content structure that most players engage with. The tradeskill side has even more, since there are a couple of crafted gear upgrades per expansion and new gathering nodes to hit, all of which falls into a predictable cycle that, once you’re aware of it, can be planned for.

What You Can Do Now To Prepare for Final Fantasy XIV Patch 6.2 (Yes, Really): The second such post I wrote in this trend addressed the start of a new standard raid chapter and how that works. For players new to FFXIV, there’s an interesting weirdness to gearing for raid – you can do normal difficulty and farm tokens for gear over weeks (610 item level here!), but you can also just get a fully crafted set at the same item level near to patch day and be ready for Savage or just powering through Normal! Couple that with a new dungeon, new EX trial, the eventual mid-patch start of relic weapons, and there’s a lot going on, which, in a theme, is not really conveyed easily in the game itself. This post ended up being exceptionally popular since it was out before the patch was even discussed in any detail, so I got a lot of early search traffic off of it.

A Look At All Four Healing Jobs In Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker: Remember that window prior to full Savage play when people thought Scholar was going to be the worst healer in EW? Yeah…about that.

This post was fun because it was the first time I took a more analytical, gameplay-oriented look at FFXIV, through the lens of the role I’ve played the most in FFXIV. I wasn’t quite as aware or skilled of the endgame play of FFXIV yet at the Savage level, so I spent a lot of time talking about the healing kits, which, while they do matter, also matter less than most anything else about the kit of these jobs. Indeed, over time, what has set apart the healers in Endwalker has been how these jobs play into the two-minute burst meta and what offers the best sustained DPS, including and especially at the party level (which is why Astrologian and Scholar are often the “meta” healer play outside of Ultimate, where fight cadence, downtime, and healing requirements can sometimes bring the other two into the meta). The good thing about FFXIV, however, is that balance is often good enough that any jobs filling a standard comp work, and so I can remain a Sage main healer without having obnoxious pressure to move to a different job (Scholar would be the obvious shift to make).

Looking Ahead

For 2023, a year already in progress, it’s hard to say fully what my plans look like. One thing I want to do better generally is to post more than I did last year (125 total posts) but not as much as 2021 (227 posts), and to find a happy medium between being absorbed into my gaming experiences (I’ve been playing a lot and having a good time) and sharing them more broadly. I also have a desire to get back into side projects more regularly, and also writing about them, since I did a fair bit of 3D modeling and art and spent a good amount of time in Unreal Engine 5 working on some very basic game building. I like writing analytical pieces and I think that they are where a lot of my talents as a writer shine brightest, but I think I also want to do some more off-the-cuff gameplay experience sharing and get back to roots on that side of things a bit more. It should be an interesting year to do all of this, as with both an in-person Final Fantasy XIV Fan Fest and Blizzcon this year, we are likely to have new expansion announcements falling out of the woodwork in the coming months, and my intention is to be in-person at both events (already in the ticket lottery for FFXIV Fan Fest and waiting to see!).

Overall, though, I don’t necessarily see a need to change too much for the sake of metrics. 2022 was a down year because I shifted what I talked about and wrote less, but when I did write, I felt it was more in-line with what I really wanted to talk about at a given point and I think the writing I did, the responses I got, and the continued support were great and I feel a sense of fulfillment from sharing my adventures in gaming and everything else online through the dead medium of blogging. I appreciate everyone who continues to read, comment, and support, and I’m thankful that in the world of the last few years, where distance has been put between all of us, that there is still a community of people just having a conversation about the stuff that brings them joy and where they hope to see more joy. The last year has been tough in some ways for me, but I think I learned a lot of really good lessons that have let me focus on what is important to me and find some way forward that allows me to enjoy the games that brought me here in the first place.


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