Well, 2016 is now officially done and dusted, which makes it a good time to sit back and reflect on what happened on The Collaborative Gamer during the year. What happened in 2016, gaming-wise? How did the blog do? What kind of stuff did I put out there on the web, and what kind of a response did it get?
I started this blog on January 9th, 2016. In my first post (“Hello World!“) I said:
I fully expect this blog to last a few months, tops, with quite irregular posting. But we shall see.
Well, the blog will soon be a year old, so I’ve exceeded my initial expectations by quite a bit. Take that, January 2016 me!
What kind of stuff did I publish on the blog in 2016? How regularly did I post it? And what was the response like? Well, let’s see.
In the first month (January), I published a ridiculous array of tables. Specifically, I published my systems for creating:
In total, that was more that 191 brand-new GURPS-related tables. So it was a big month! Of course, I wasn’t creating all that material from scratch – rather, it was stuff I’d been working on for a while, and had decided to post. But it was great to get it out there.
My WordPress “post” count for January is a staggering 101, which means I averaged more than 3 “posts” a day – though honestly, that number is pretty misleading, since WordPress counts new pages as “posts” – and of course my blog posts almost all linked off to multiple pages, containing all my random generation tables. Still, it was a big month – the month in which I laid down the foundation of the site.
In February, I shifted gears. Instead of posting vast new systems of tables, I decided to create a new fantasy world as a worked example of my world creation system. (Having said that, I did post one big new set of tables: tables for naming fantasy locations). Creating the world took me the whole month – and since I was creating new material, rather than posting existing material, my posting rate slowed: just 33 posts that month. Still, that’s a post a day, so I was churning out a lot of stuff.
At the start of March, I announced a new series: solo GURPS adventures, using the huge system of tables I’d already posted, set in the fantasy world I’d just used some of those tables to create. In effect, I was trying to demonstrate that you could use all the tables I’d posted in January to roll up a whole GM-less campaign out of thin air: using nothing but the tables, you could roll yourself up a whole world, and then roll yourself up some exciting adventures in it.
I created my PC, Temian Fell, on March 7th and 8th. Then he began exploring the world the system had created. From then on it was pretty much all-Temian, all the time, through March and April (though I did continue adding to the GM-less play system itself, adding the first rudiments of my Monsters system).
March and April were my best months for traffic – especially April. I think this was because a surprisingly large number of people who stopped by ended up enjoying reading about Temian’s adventures. (I wonder if this, in turn, was perhaps partly because Temian’s adventures showed that the ridiculous systems of tables I’d already posted really was functional, rather than entirely crazy. Or maybe I’m just a master storyteller! Or, much more likely, maybe GURPS fans just like session reports…).
In any case, the leap in traffic was quite striking. It was especially striking in April, when traffic really spiked in a huge way, despite the fact that I published a mere 11 posts (compared to March’s 30). Of course, this might have been a statistical fluke; or it might just have been a sign that the 4-month old blog was starting to come to the attention of more people, and thus building up a bit of steam. Yet I’m not sure either of these explanations really accounts for the massive increase in readers. When I think about all the feedback I received via email, I’m tempted to conclude that the spike in traffic was largely a result of the popularity of the Temian adventures. Folks just seemed to like them, for whatever reason. Needless to say, this was great news at my end – I was doing them for my own fun, but it was lovely to find that some other people were enjoying them too.
The Long Night
Of course, as luck would have it, just as things were starting to take off, my work life got crazy, making it very difficult indeed for me to devote any time whatsoever to the blog. Crushing news! (Actually, for the record, it wasn’t really crushing news in any bigger sense, in my own life – the work stuff was good, really. But still, from the perspective of the blog – crushing news!)
I managed just one post at the start of May, and then… silence. No posts for the rest of May. No posts in June. No posts in July. No posts in August.
The thing I most regret about this is that there were people who had become invested in The Adventures of Temian Fell, and were hanging out for the next installment, and not getting it. Poor storytelling on my part!
In passing: I mentioned this to a friend of mine, who said words to the effect of “Bah! People think they’re entitled to everything nowadays…. You’re writing free stuff! No-one has a right to complain when free stuff doesn’t show up! Suck it up, people!”
It was nice of him to say that, as an offer of reassurance to a friend. Sadly for my conscience, though, I find I don’t really agree – surely money isn’t the only thing that creates social obligations? An example: let’s say you call a whole bunch of people together, ask them for their attention, and start telling a story… and then, half-way through the story, you just walk out. Surely that’s impolite, at least? Surely, at a minimum, you’re expected to say “Damn, sorry, it turns out I have to go – but I’ll be back continue this story later”?
Whatever the case, that’s my regret about my down-time from May-August – it left people hanging – many of them people who had been nice enough to contact me, via various means, to express their enthusiasm for the Temian series, and who were now contacting me again to wonder, always very politely, when the next episode might appear… Sorry, folks!
Having said all of that, I’m not sure I can really regret the posting gap too much, in the grander scheme of things. I really needed to do the work stuff, and obviously it had to take precedence (partly because my other work is my real passion, rather than just a (wonderful) hobby!). But naturally, traffic plummeted – and just when it had really been taking off. But then, I’m certainly not writing the blog for the sake of traffic – that’s just silly. And as it turned out, better days were just around the corner…
In September, the long posting hiatus came to an end. I was still very busy at work, but everyone in the GURPSosphere had just got some news that I just had to put on the blog: the launch of the Kickstarter for the new GURPS-based Dungeon Fantasy RPG BOXED SET. Astounding!
The following clip perfectly encapsulates my feelings about this development. In this scenario, I’m the madman in the white coat. (Make sure you watch all the way to the end, to catch the last two lines! Fabulous schlock).
Basically, this was just the best news to arrive in the GURPSosphere in quite a while (though even more such news was to come later in the year!). The launch of the DFRPG Kickstarter was especially wonderful news for those of us who had been waiting ever so patiently (and sometimes not entirely patiently…) for SJ Games to direct some serious attention to GURPS again, after a long time during which it felt like all the love was going to Munchkin, and then also to the massive Ogre Kickstarter (quite understandably, from a commercial perspective! But still, a fan waits hopefully…)
The fact that SJGames were now showing their willingness to invest serious staff time in brand-new, hard-copy GURPS product was therefore thrilling, thrilling, thrilling, and it really put a fire under me (and hardly just me!) to get the word out. Thus on this blog, September was pretty much all-DFRPG Kickstarter, all the time. It was very exciting to watch a GURPS-based Kickstarter succeed, and then knock down stretch goal after stretch goal. Man, that was good!
All in all, it was a brilliant, hectic month for GURPS. Great stuff.
On October 1st, I finally ran the next episode of Temian Fell (“The Adventures of Temian Fell, Episode 7: Into the Wistwilds“), and was really thrilled to find that, even after so long, so many people contacted me, via various means, to say that they were really happy to see Temian back again. So that was gratifying! October also saw another full Temian episode, plus a bonus half episode, as well as an assortment of other things: systems for auto-generating orcs and spiders as monsters, a big collection of the GURPS Blogospheres’ various Halloween-themed posts, plus a review of some fun stuff being done by other GURPS bloggers. The last of these inspired me to launch a new series of posts about how GURPS gaming actually happens, which I named “How We Play“.
Through October and November, some of the posts I like most were in that “How We Play” series: firstly my old, simple hex boards, then my new-and-improved full-color hex battlemaps, and lastly my new-and-grassy outdoor battlemap. I’m looking forward to posting more of that sort of thing in future – we’ll see.
In addition to the terrain battlemaps and a bit more Temian stuff, November and December saw my first foray into a new territory: Town building.
I posted my big system for creating fantasy settlements, and then I put it through its paces three times, to show that it’s actually useful. First I used it to create the little Haunted Hamlet of Grimwych, (complete with Hamlet references, of course); then I used it create huge-and-horrible Nar Xevor, the Voiceless City, and lastly I put it to work for my solo campaign, creating Dunmoss, Temian’s home town.
And recently, in December, I also posted another fairly big system of tables: my Treasure generation system.
My posting stats for the last four months of the year tell me that I’ve been posting once every 2-3 days, on average. It appears that about 13-15 posts per month is my sweet spot at the moment (13 posts in September, 12 in October, 14 in November, and 19 in December).
I strongly suspect that many more people would make The Collaborative Gamer part of their daily round if I managed to put something up every day – even something small – but again, maintaining traffic stats isn’t really the goal here; I do this in my spare time, to relax, damn it! And I have many , many other things to do during each day – so I’m probably not going to do that. But in 2017, I’ll aim to maintain something like that 13-15 posts per month average. We’ll see if I succeed!
Cool Stuff That Happened This Year
Well, obviously the best thing to happen in GURPS this year was the beginnings of what seems like it could well be a GURPS Renaissance – but I talked about that last time. But what about for me personally?
- I started the blog, and found it was fun to do.
- My name appeared on the world’s oldest continually-running blog, SJGames’ Daily llluminator (and the wonders of alphabetical order put me first in the list!). That was silly, but fun.
- The blog itself started up a whole bunch of interesting discussions for me, largely due to the enthusiasm and intelligence of the people who stopped by to read it. Thanks folks! Part of this was in the comments section – big thanks in particular to regular readers, “likers” and/or commenters (in alphabetical order!) Benjamin Gauronskas, BlindMapmaker, discworldadventures, Felix Magister, formergamer, GMjasongurps, mailanka, newyorkgwythaint, Jacob Marley, and Jason (A.K.A swordtart). I’m sure I’ve forgotten some important people – my apologies to them. Plus obviously much of the discussion was also via other channels; thanks to everyone who contacted me via other means. It was great to see some of the regular writers for SJGames stop by the blog, too.
- It was also very exciting for me when other bloggers called attention to the work I was doing here. In particular, I remember that wonderful week early on when Eric the Red, Justin Aquino, and Mailanka all said very nice things about me – Eric the Red even going to so far as to develop a program to automate my world creation system. That was amazing fun for me!
Well, that’s it for The Collaborative Gamer’s 2016 retrospective. Thanks to everyone who has stopped by, and thanks particularly to those who have offered their thoughts on all the many and various things we’ve talked about this year.
Bring on 2017 – when the GURPS Renaissance (hopefully) gets into full swing!