A Thank You Post For Content Creators

Well, the time has come, various restrictions on our movements and daily lives are being removed after 3-4 months of what many of us have never experienced in our lifetimes.

Here’s a shout out and thanks to the many people within the WordPress community and further afield, who have helped me through this time, by creating amazing content. To be completely transparent, what follows is largely in chronological order.

Later Levels

For me, this is where it all started, with the 50-day challenge for Special Effect. Right at the start of 2020, I finalised the purchase of a house and had crazy fast broadband installed the day after. Going from 2.5Mbps to 350Mbps and finally being able to watch Twitch, I was hungry for live content. During the month-long DIY-fest, Kim and Pete were my constant companions. I didn’t catch every stream, but damn did I watch a lot of Twitch. I even joined in on several occasions, which was awesome after an 18-month hiatus from multiplayer gaming.

Once we’d moved into the house, this obsession continued, as Kim and Pete reached the end of their 50-day challenge and continued streaming. It was around this time I started streaming myself, with their help and encouragement.

I’m proud to call them my friends and always happy to cast their faces onto my TV!

Thanks, Kim and Pete ❤.

Gaming Diaries

Then something I could never have predicted happened. A global event, one which would see me thrust into my conservatory instead of a cosy office in Bristol. You know what I’m talking about…

I was faced with working from home for an unknown amount of time, a situation I had only just changed to my liking in November 2019, after changing job and working from home 2 days a week instead of 5.

While some of us changed location and tried to carry on working, others were furloughed and suddenly found themselves with time on their hands. Gaming Diaries was one of these people and I’m so glad she picked up the microphone and started streaming. I honestly don’t know whether my mental health could have survived in that conservatory without Gaming Diaries and Zoo Tycoon at in the drive time slot for company.

Not just that, but everyone in the chat too, as more people were sent home or furloughed, her audience grew and grew. In just a couple of months, affiliate status was reached, which was no surprise to me.

What Gaming Diaries did for me during this time is something I’ll never forget. I’m so glad to see from her own post on this subject that it was a huge positive in her life too. I hope the streams will continue, so we can continue to be a welcome relief for her, as she was for us. Thank you, Gaming Diaries ❤.

Athena from The Ambi Gamer

Somewhere in the middle of all this, Athena did a charity stream to raise money against The Thing I won’t mention by name, for fear of search engine robots.

The streams have continued long after the success of the charity drive, I’ve caught some Fable sessions and Dragon Age, which I’ve never seen before.

Athena also sings, very well in fact, I’ll always remember the first stream I managed to catch because it featured an interlude of the song from Portal. Thank you, Athena.

Jett from In Third Person

I forget the exact moment I discovered Jett’s blog and Twitch channel, but I know it was at exactly the right moment. Despite the time zone difference, on many a sleepless night or Sunday afternoon post/pre-roast dinner, Jett has always been very entertaining to watch when I’ve been able.

Not just this, but his attitude towards knowledge sharing is exemplary. One of his posts, in particular, helped me over the hurdle of microphone troubles in a matter of minutes, where I may have struggled for hours otherwise. I’ve seen him help so many others as well. Over on the Support Role Discord, he has often jumped into the #streaming-and-video-advice channel to share his expertise. Thank you, Jett.

Ian from Adventure Rules

Jett helped Adventure Rules on his journey into Twitch streaming, despite his limited access to technology to make this happen. A discussion about this tech in Twitch chat prompted requests for a blog post, which was recently published. This post outlines just how low the technology bar can be to get into this streaming business.

What Ian brings is a delightful window and insight into video games I’ve never really played myself, such as Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door and Undertale.

Within minutes of catching his first stream, I had to ask if he’s ever had acting lessons. Turns out he has and it really shows, as he is quite the showman! He’s also very good at keeping up with Twitch chat during his streams. Recently stepping up from one to two streams a week, I hope Ian’s channel continues to grow as it has been a wonderful late night delight for me. Thank you, Ian.

Frostilyte from Frostilyte Writes

I’m not sure when Frostilyte appeared on my radar, but he was definitely someone else suddenly thrust into the working from home situation, similar to myself. He was also often spotted in the chat during Gaming Diaries’ streams.

He took to streaming on Fridays after work, which soon became Frosti-Fridays and another institution in my schedule, as it was around 9pm in the UK. I haven’t been able to catch them all because it clashes with date night (when the wife is interested), but I’ve watched way more Hollow Knight than I’ll ever play 😂. Thank you, Frost.

Support Role Discord and Support Role TV

Join the server here. Just do it, here’s why.

Kim from Later Levels and Luke from Hundstrasse started this Discord community some time ago, but it has become my number one Discord server and home throughout this time.

An extension and amalgamation of the WordPress/Twitter community hubs and spokes stemming from Later Levels, it’s been wonderful chatting in real-time with these folks.

I’ve also discovered new blogs and streamers through this server who might otherwise have slipped through the net, thanks to WordPress Reader being awful and Twitter becoming a cesspit.

Support Role TV was short-lived as a broadcasting Twitch channel in its own right, but it was something to focus on for a time and helped me get to grips with Twitch’s various foibles, while I was getting ready to start my own channel.

Stream keys are available if you’d like to try streaming somewhere yourself, before going live on your own channel. We can help you configure and troubleshoot your setup. Head over to the Discord and ask!

It currently lives on as a place where I consolidate the various streaming schedules using the Twitch Schedule feature, giving an overview of the week’s streams coming from the community. I do this for myself mostly, planning my viewing for the week, but hopefully, this is useful for others too.

Other community mentions

As my obsession with Twitch has increased, I’ve ended up following quite a few streamers and bloggers within the WordPress community and beyond, but notable mentions are, in order of discovery:

I may have lurked in your streams, or I may have engaged to some extent and possibly played something with you, either way, I was there and so were you. Thank you for providing me with entertainment!

Beyond this community

When there were no streams or blog posts to read within this community, I ventured further afield with my newfound broadband capabilities, finally able to dive into the YouTube rabbit hole without fear of buffering.

Critical Role

I’m not into DnD at all, even a little bit, sorry not sorry. I just prefer video games. I discovered Critical Role because several of the members/players are prominent video game voice actors, such as Ashley Johnson and Laura Bailey. I’m slowly working my way through their Between the Sheets series, which is a wonderful insight into the lives of the people behind the video games.

Play, Watch, Listen.

You can find this podcast here on YouTube, but it’s also on the usual podcast channels.

Alanah crops up on my recommended videos from time to time, but with the release and subsequent obsession I had with The Last of Us Part II, this was happening every day.

One video in my watch history containing Troy Baker (the voice of Joel) caused the algorithm to point me towards this monthly podcast, started towards the end of last year.

During the current situation, they’ve stepped this up to weekly, which has been amazing for me. I binge-watched close to 16 episodes. The stories they have to tell about the industry are fascinating, covering voice acting, development, managing a studio, music and audio, journalism.

They’re the perfect blend of representation and I hope this continues for a while. If it doesn’t, there’s some great content about the development of indie games, The Last of Us, what working in video game journalism is like, so many topics.

noclip

I’ve mentioned Danny’s channel a few times over the years, but I need to call him out specifically here too. A former video game journalist, Danny creates awsome video game documentaries funded by Patreon.

During the last few months, he’s had to close down the physical studio space he was in the process of creating. It couldn’t be used for its intended collaborative purposes. This was heartbreaking, but I’m sure he’ll explore this again when he’s able to in the future.

Back at home then, like many of us, he’s continued editing and filming remotely for new documentaries and some archive footage. He’s continued to put out great content as a result, I’ve particularly enjoyed his series on The Outer Worlds.

nowisgames.com

Wait, isn’t this where you are now? Well yes, but along with consuming more content, I think I’ve been creating it more consistently as well. This has been a great comfort to me during this time.

Everything I’ve done, including the Twitch streaming, was going to happen regardless after the house move and broadband installation, but the current situation has allowed for increased focus on gaming, blogging and streaming thanks to the removal of my commute.

I’ve finished a few more games during this time than I otherwise would have, such as Dead Space, Spider-Man, SteamWorld Dig. I’ve chatted with many of you in your own streams as well as mine. I watched the PlayStation presentation with Gaming Diaries and Phil from Later Levels, something otherwise boring which was a blast with other people you know.

I’ve grown my blog followers by around 20, the biggest single leap its ever experienced, rookie numbers by some standards but a huge growth for this site!

We’ll never be huge, but we’re a small part of something much bigger now, something I never expected when I got into this video game blogging lark. The last few months have only been possible because we were part of this community.

I don’t know if I’ve ever taken the time to thank you, but here it is, a post dedicated to you, the readers, the WordPress community, those of you on Twitch, watching or broadcasting along with me.

All of you were there for me and others in the last several months. Content creation is not always easy, but for those of us who like to consume, a huge thank you for being there and doing what you do, we all really needed it.

On that note, I’ve spent over two hours writing a blog post when I should have been working, something I’m probably guilty of a little too often lately. This is almost as long as my The Last of Us Part II review 🤣.

I need to renew my focus on paid work, as exams and a new Chief Technical Officer joining my organisation loom ever closer. I also have a house to renovate, which costs money.

I’ll see you around on Twitch, Discord, Twitter, nowisgames.com a few times a month, and the comments sections of bloggers out there in the WordPress community.

Thank you video games, and thank you, everyone, who made it to the end of this post. Loves ya ❤.

Editorial: January 2018

We’re back, feels like we’ve been gone forever!

This is a little later than usual, the paid job has been keeping me very busy from day one this year; January is our busiest month, which is always nice to endure straight after the Christmas break! Two more weeks to go…

As I mentioned in the Creative Christmas New Years Gaming Resolution post, I’ve put my entire backlog on howlongtobeat.com, with the intention of finally culling it a little bit. I’m going for quality over quantity, although there are some great experiences to be had which are just a few hours long.

After being abandoned in Destiny 2 on PC, I went back to the first game on Xbox One. Very quickly (to my surprise) I completed the main campaign and the first two DLCs they released for free, back in the day. Now I’ve just got The Taken King and Rise of Iron to finish. If they’re as quick as the rest, I’ll be left with a slightly bitter taste, Destiny as a whole, so far, has been quite underwhelming to me, despite the initial rush. It’s a beautiful looking game though.

December picks

Heroes never die!

My growing fascination with Overwatch has continued, finally viewing each of the available character animated shorts, all of which were very enjoyable. I particularly enjoyed the whimsy of Bastion’s entry. That’s right I said whimsy!

Here’s a list of the ones Blizzard has made available so far, in case you’ve missed any of them.

I then found myself on YouTube watching the voice actors larking around, saying their lines from the game and ordering a Starbucks, among other things, while in character. At various points I think they start doing each others characters, just to make it extra confusing!

The Limited Edition Artbook has turned up, followed by the keyring, and The Overwatch Anthology just landed on my doorstep as I write this. There’s some free comics on Amazon… I’m losing too much sleep, I just can’t stop!

December hits

We spent most of December working on the Later Levels Creative Christmas collaboration, writing and managing our own contributions and reading posts from other sites. This was our first real effort at community involvement, we thoroughly enjoyed it! More than anything, it sparked many conversations within the team over WhatsApp and Discord, so we spent most of December talking about video games a little more than usual, as well as all playing together.

For the next few weeks we’ll be finishing up the stuff we dropped in December and getting started on those backlogs, catching up on missed reading and trying to get through January any way we can!

Editorial: December 2017

Not only has another month crept upon me but so has the end of another year, unbelievable! We’re now well into December folks. The Christmas decorations are up and the last minute shopping on Christmas Eve is already planned.

The Steam Autumn Sale came and went, for the first time I didn’t buy a single game. I own most of what I intend to play, for now. Thanks to Black Friday and rampant consumerism, there were also bargains galore on console too, which didn’t tempt me either; it seems everyone jumps on the bandwagon now.

I’ve managed to finish DOOM (2016), which was glorious, thanks to Jon for the recommendation. I’m one DLC away (Nuka-World) from finishing Fallout 4. I’m genuinely surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed Fallout 4, my first in the series. I was on the fence for a long time about buying it, but what a joy it has been. More games in the series have been purchased…

Aside from that, I’m ashamed to say I’ve been playing a fair bit of Destiny 2 on PC, ashamed because playing Destiny 2 is very much about doing the same thing over and over and over again, which is a waste of time, isn’t it? The first DLC, Curse of Osiris, landed today. Purchase is likely.

Curse you Bungie! All that time spent grinding away at nothing could have been spent finishing games in my backlog…

November picks

Athena over at AmbiGaming wrote a wonderful piece about Endgame: The First Game You Ever Beat. For me, that was probably Half-Life, until that point, I’d never bothered to finish games. This is something I’m trying to do more of these days, not least because I want to write about some of them, but because I am well known for starting things and never seeing them through. We’re all surprised nowisgames.com launched at all.

Amidst the hype of Destiny 2 launching on PC, Kim over at Later Levels discussed why she doesn’t like the game, but also why that’s absolutely fine. It is absolutely, definitely fine Kim, it’s not for everyone. Just because something is popular, doesn’t mean we should all be playing it! Pick it up when it’s cheap and enjoy the story, don’t get dragged into the loot grind. It is a genuinely beautiful game, I stop all the time to take in the views.

I didn’t read much else throughout November, so I’m still very behind. The old fashioned paper magazines are piling up too. There was one subject I mostly kept up with, however…

Loot box controversy

The amusement surrounding loot boxes continued throughout November, amplified during the release of EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II, but now seemingly encompassing anything related, such as any kind of microtransaction, DLC and free-to-play in general.

Shelby over at Falcon Game Reviews continued to wage war against loot boxes by updating existing reviews to cover the subject and writing about why he thinks they’re here to stay.

Developers and publishers chimed in across the internet, answering questions posed directly from gamers, preemptively before they were (inevitably) asked, or outright announcing ditching things like free-to-play.

Some believe charging more for games could negate the need for additional revenue streams in modern video games, I’m not so sure about that myself, neither is this writer over on Forbes.

It was a little disturbing to read about the 19 year old who was addicted to microtransactions from the age of 13. The internet as we know it today was in its infancy when I first ventured online at 15, it was probably another 10 years before I had it in my pocket, with the first iPhone. The App Store wasn’t even a thing then, let alone mobile gaming and all the microtransactions and in-app purchases to the extent we see them now. The horror.

There’s no denying, people are wilfully spending money on this stuff, supply and demand and all that, it’s all here to stay, in some form. Our limits as consumers are being tested. There was a lot of grief about DLC when that first became a thing, but that hasn’t gone anywhere.

Homegrown

On this site, we’ve had a very quiet month or so in terms of new content, but what we did publish was viewed by many more people than I expected. I received some lovely feedback about the first editorial and quite enjoyed writing it if I’m honest.

I published a short article about difficulty levels, after I was forced out of my comfort zone into “Expert” in a game where I usually play on Easy. This has changed my entire outlook on challenge and progress.

Woop is still diving into PUBG regularly. This will drop on Xbox One soon and is due to leave Early Access on PC in the near future. It’s a blast to watch, but I don’t think it’s for me. 

Jon is currently womping his way through The Witcher, recently finishing the first and now several hours into the second. The end goal, I believe, is to spend quality time on the series’ final instalment, The Witcher 3. I’ve purchased them all myself, earlier this year, with the same intention, but I don’t think I’ve got Jon’s dedication!

As I write this, the two of them are playing Tabletop Simulator, which I’m still trying to understand. I don’t really get along with board games and the like, so the idea of a video game that simulates them boggles me. Could this be another “fun to watch” game?

2018

For nowisgames.com in 2018, I’m hoping to continue doing what we’ve been doing over the last six months or so, but ramp things up and get more involved with the WordPress community and gaming culture in general.

We’ll continue to build up content with reviews and previews, opinion pieces and so on. I’d love to collaborate with other blogs at some point, which is something I really enjoying seeing out there. After the joy of attending EGX this year, I’ll be making the effort to attend Rezzed in April.

Thanks for reading and thanks so much for your support in 2017, blogging has turned out to be as much fun as I’d hoped, so long may it continue.

That’s it for now, if you have any thoughts on board games and whether you’d like us to write about them, I’d be interested to hear from you in the comments below. There’s been talk amongst us about expanding into that subject!

Editorial: November 2017

I thought I’d give this whole editorial thing a try, as you’ve probably noticed we’ve been a bit quiet over the last couple of weeks. It’s not a shortage of things to say, as such, sometimes real life just takes over for a while. Real life being Destiny 2, yes?

At the moment, I’m off work for a week, a much needed break before the next one at Christmas shutdown. I’m spending a little time finishing off some posts and scheduling others that are already finished, it also gives me time to catch up on other peoples posts 🙂

October picks

Speaking of which, here’s a few which caught our eye last month…

We inspired Kim over at Later Levels to write an excellent three part series of posts called “Beginners guide to indie” (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). My already busy gaming backlog will probably grow by a few entries when the next Steam sale arrives. Indie games have a lot to give, if you’ve been gorging on a diet of mostly AAA titles for the last 10 years, like me. We got together at Jon’s in October, ate way too many sweets/cake and played some SpeedRunners and Gang Beasts, a lot of fun!

The Dragon’s Tea Party published a superb post about “Adulting and Gaming” and her struggle to do both, which probably hits home with many of us. This post had a lively comments section. A few of us tried to convince her a Nintendo Switch was probably the answer, I don’t own one, but I’m thinking about it, once developers get their act together and make some more games for it.

LighteningEllen’s Release made the case for Niko Belic in their answer to the Later Levels Question of the Month for October, would you hire Niko as a mercenary? Inspired by this post, I’ve re-installed and will finally finish the single player campaign for GTA IV, which I’ve tried twice before. Something always gets in the way of finishing it, but not this time, after many hours of GTA V, I’m ready for this!

Shelby over at Falcon Game Reviews published an excellent review of Forza Motorsport 7, making me want to spend more of my money on another driving game. This is despite the “loot box” controversy, which he also addressed here with regards to Forza 7, then here more generally. I do love driving games! Having taken part briefly in the Overwatch Halloween event and diving deeper into the Destiny 2 loot grind, I can see why people get obsessed with loot boxes and ultimately, spend money on them. Someone clearly is, because it’s huge business. I guess if video games are your main hobby and you have that kind of disposable income…

The loot box chatter went on beyond the WordPress community, Alanah Pearce from IGN published a short video on the subject, which is well worth a watch. I think a fine line is currently being danced around, while publishers work out what they can get away with. Some will push it too far, others will get it right and make a lot of money. Perhaps we’ll get lucky and they’ll invest that money in new games? 🙂

On our own site, we published a number of posts in October we’re all pretty proud of! My personal favourites are my post about Tracks – The Train Set Game, Jon’s post about 14 years of Steam, and Woops (first) post, about the very popular PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.

October hits

We’re not doing this for page views and followers (you’ll never see adverts), but October was our best month, so far, in terms of traffic – just over double the previous best month. We owe most of that surge to Later Levels, graciously crediting us with the inspiration behind their previously mentioned Beginners guide to Indie series. Thanks Kim!

Over the last few months, I’ve found myself enjoying writing more than I thought I would, it also helps that WordPress provide apps for just about every available platform, so even when I’m out with just my phone and inspiration strikes, I’m able to get it out there. The community is pretty great too 🙂

November bits

Through the rest of November, we’ll have a couple of posts which have been in the making for a while, finally seeing the light of day, as well as the usual opinions and a couple of game reviews. As the nights are longer and it’s bloomin’ freezing outside now, I expect you’ll see more from us over the next few months.

Maybe we’ll have a new console to review too? Yesterday, the Xbox One X was released. The worlds most powerful console, this many cores, that many teraflops *makes hand gestures* yawn! I’m having a great time reading the comments sections of review/opinion posts like this one from Eurogamer. I’m on the fence at the moment, but I do already own an Xbox One and a PS4 Pro. I intend to get a 4K TV this year during a sale. A big selling point for me is the inclusion of a 4K Blu-ray player, a feature sadly missing from the PS4 Pro.

That’s all for now, thanks for joining us!