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Content is King: Thoughts on 2007

January 1st, 2008 by Troy Goodfellow · 10 Comments · Blogs, Me

Looking back on 2007 at Flash of Steel, it became apparent how important a steady stream of content is for minor blogs like mine. I took a couple of short (a week or so) breaks and traffic dipped. December was an especially bad month since I had deadlines to make plus holiday travel that got in the way of constant updates.

Plus, the demise of CGM had a huge effect. Not only was there less money coming in, but I had fewer opportunities to play games I otherwise would not have, and less incentive to keep at the ones that I acquired but didn’t have a review spot for. Once you start getting paid for writing, there’s not a lot pushing you to play “fair” games for free. I hope to fix that in the New Year, though, by focusing my time a little better. Expect some new on-site reviews in the next couple of weeks.

I spent quite a bit of the summer scrambling to get more writing opportunities. I managed to get low-paying but respectable opportunities at Played to Death Magazine (now also on a hiatus) and Gameshark (so long as Bill Abner edits there, I’m happy.) I’ll soon be updating my portfolio to reflect my recent work. My two Escapist pieces brought some new eyeballs, of course, though I’m jealous that I have none of the skills or accents that make Zero Punctuation the breakout game commentary of the year. Fun fact: I knew Yahtzee when he was just another forum member at Home of the Underdogs, a site I was once very active on.

I’ve also been hired by a new site that will launch in the next week or so. I’m really excited about it, but I can’t say much more until it goes live. It’s clear that I will be the least talented writer on staff. The editor has really high expectations, so I hope it’s a huge success for him.

Traffic to Flash of Steel was heaviest when I spoke too curmudgeonly about a game, irritating certain fanbases, or when a respected game designer links and responds to something I wrote. Interestingly, a post that was picked up by major newsblogs like Kotaku and Game, Set, Watch led to a lot fewer hits relative to their daily readership, confirming my suspicion that a lot of people who read those sites never follow the links.

The Twilight Struggle AAR I ran with my board game tutor Bruce Geryk was a huge success, so we may be doing another one sometime soon. I’d like to do something like that continually, but some games just don’t work so well for that set up because of lack of time or commentary options. Still, if any one wants to recommend a game or opponent, that would be swell.

In fact, I like taking suggestions in general. My contact info is up top, so drop me a line if there’s something you want to see. Some readers are more comfortable just emailing instead of commenting, so don’t worry about bothering me.

I’m skipping the usual run down of how people got here list, except to note a few highlights.

1) A lot of people are curious about why Beyond the Sword doesn’t have Hitler. People want mods, portraits, explanations, and all kinds of other stuff. No one seems to be interested in why Hirohito isn’t there.

2) I mention my friends and advisors Bruce Geryk and Tom Chick too often, because readers end up here looking for them. 95 searches for Geryk, for example, and just over 50 for me. I guess he’s still the star of the strategy/wargaming universe.

3) Reviewing games that no one else does leads to traffic. My reviews of HPS Punic Wars and Pox Nora and links to reviews of Forge of Freedom were very popular. Why? Because people need to use search engines to find coverage.

4) People like lists. “Top 100 RTS” or “Best Games of 2006”.

5) Entitling a post “Gamespot Scandal” was the best idea ever, since that’s one of the top search results for those keywords. People love a good scandal.

6) Some people don’t use bookmarks or their address bars. They just search “Flash of Steel” or “flashofsteel.com” to get here.

7) The most popular homework topic that leads people here is the Age of Exploration. Native/European conflict, colonization of the New World, etc.

8 ) Over half of my visits are from the USA. The top non-English nation was France, placing 5th. Probably related to my AGEod love.

Time to get back to killing some foozles. More proper strategy related stuff in a day or two.


10 Comments so far ↓

  • Taranis

    I hope you’re new writing opportunities are a success for you in the new year. And more on-site reviews are always welcome!

    On a personal preference I would love to see more articles involving Strategic Board Games and Tactical Wargames.

    Keep up the great work!

  • jonathanstrange

    I enjoy AARs that intermix gameplay mechanics, humor, the occasional brief off-topic remark, with a heavy dose of “why I’m doing this and not that” explanations. Even if the game is one I’ve never heard of or (dare I say it?) don’t much care for – I’ll read it. I don’t think I’m alone on this. I hope I’m not anyway. I like AARs so much I don’t even mind that most never are finished; check out those Dominions AARs or Forge of Freedom AARs. If all wars could be resolved due to lack of time and little positive feedback besides “great AAR.”

    p.s. I always google Flash of Steel rather than bookmark it ’cause I don’t want my work to know I do anything other than collect pollen.

  • Justin Fletcher

    What is this super secret new website already? I assume it’s the one to which Tom keeps alluding, and I get the feeling it’s going to have a lot of my CGM faves on board. Looks like I’ll have something other than MLK Day to look forward to in mid-January.

    Congratulations on the new gig and on another year of great blogging. I’m not much of a wargamer, but your posts on the subject are so interesting and well-written that I read them anyway. As a result, I’m more curious about the genre than I’ve ever been before. If that isn’t a measure of success, Troy, I don’t know what is.

  • Scott R. Krol

    Wait, Tom and a bunch of the old CGM folks are forming some sort of unstoppable gaming juggernaut site that will crush all false pretenders and deliver us from the mainstream bile that so infects the web?

    I am intrigued. Let us hear more about this…

  • Troy

    No, no. This is not a CGM successor. Beyond that, I can’t say anything until the site goes live.

  • Justin Fletcher

    Oops. The one thing I
    *do* know about http://www.supersecretnewwebsite.com is that is isn’t an official “CGM reborn” site. Sorry if I got anyone’s hopes up.

  • Scott R. Krol

    ::sniff:: I am now sad.

    But hey, obviously there’s at least one CGM alumnus (Troy), and maybe we’ll find out there are a couple more, so we can at least pretend that it’s a CGM successor, right?

    Unless the new website has nothing to do with gaming and Troy is finally getting an outlet for all his Farscape bondage fanfic. ;)

  • Alan Au

    I completely understand the problem of not wanting to play “fair” games for free anymore. Also, congratulations on the new gig!

  • Scott R. Krol

    Any chance this upcoming site you’ll be writing for is called ‘Crispy Gamer’?

  • Troy

    Looks like the cat is out of the bag, thanks to Harold Goldberg at VH1.

    Yes, it is called Crispy Gamer, and, yes, I am one of the freelancers that John Keefer didn’t reject.