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State of The Blog 2008 (mostly) and early resolutions

December 9th, 2008 by Troy Goodfellow · 11 Comments · Blogs, Me

As we near the end of yet another year, it’s time to look back at Flash of Steel from December 9, 2007 to now.

The state of the blog is strong. Traffic is slowly growing and there have been a few big hits over the year. The five top 2008 posts were my series on ancient games, my opening thoughts on In Nomine, my rebuttal to a Gamasutra post on the future of the RTS (which was itself subsequently published on Gamasutra), last year’s end of the year awards and my recent comments on Elliott’s review symposium idea. (This isn’t counting the main page or my bio.)

As always, search terms reveal something about gamers. My old reviews of Pox Nora and Punic Wars are still big draws, evidence that consumers of this type of independent game seek out reviews. They can’t rely on Metacritic to give them a snapshot, after all. I think that a gaming site somewhere needs to find a way to serve these people, integrating them into the larger gaming environment and also exposing their current readers to a more varied diet. This is free traffic, people. You can’t cover everything, though, since this costs money. And I was in negotiation with one major site to cover wargames for them in a more sustained way before things started imploding over there, so there are sympathetic ears.

A lot of the search terms are for pretty basic information about games. How to play as a particular country in a specific game. Whether an RTS works in TCP/IP. How to disable a particular feature in Civilization IV. Civilization Revolution tips. A surprising number of searches about playing Centurion: Defender of Rome. General tips on how not to suck at real time strategy games. People seem to have a lot of trouble stopping scythed chariots in Rome: Total War. And there are concerns about the minimum system requirements for Empire: Total War.

Lots of homework searches. Five features of Civilization. What was the turning point of the Civil War? History of colonization. Summary of Guns, Germs and Steel. Who did Kennedy beat in 1960?

A steep drop in perversion searches, though. Thank God. People do want to know how to assemble a magazine or why no one likes them. (I can help with the latter.)

In a year which saw me make more money than I usually do at this job (thanks John!), I also spent a lot less time playing and writing about wargames, which is a reflection of both how many wargames there have been (and learning each one is a challenge) and of how no one will pay me to write about them. When you can make more money writing about books than you can about war games, then that’s where your time goes. I hope to change that in 2009.

I regret not finishing my AAR of the Kennedy/Nixon game I was playing with Bruce. My memory failed me. I do enjoy writing these, though, so maybe we’ll pick up something in the New Year. Or I’ll find another opponent for another game. They don’t draw a lot of readers, but I have to do things for me. And for my regulars, all of whom like (and hate) different things about the blog.

Plans for the New Year will also include getting some more guest contributors. There a lot of really smart people in my comments, I should hit one or two of them up for a post or two. Maybe for when I’m on holiday or at a conference.

I also want to get my old CGM reviews up somewhere I can link them. I know that they are being digitized somewhere, but that’s taking longer than I hoped it would.

I want to thank all you guys and gals who read regularly. An audience means I can’t just punt, even though I’m often tempted to do so. Please feel free to make suggestions in the comments.


11 Comments so far ↓

  • Darius K.

    It’s been a great year to be a reader of your blog: keep up the good work.

  • andrei.dumitrescu

    One of the most interesting sources when it comes to wargames and strategy. Keep it up!

  • Sexpansion Pack

    Your blog rules.

  • Scott

    I sit at my browser hitting F5 every minute waiting for new entries…

    And I will continue until the day Tom Chick allows me to post over on QT3.

  • Troy


    If you registered at Qt3 in the last six months or so, you should be activated – Tom had to open the floodgates because he was so bad about activating accounts individually.

  • Scott

    I saw that post, but although I registered awhile back (1 year ago) somehow I didn’t get included… the forum had not record of my email address, either. I rejoined a few days ago but no luck yet.

  • Alan Au

    Congratulations on another year! I’m glad to see that the comment-spammers seem to have been thwarted for the most part. I wonder which Google search terms will lead people here next year?

  • Matt

    Love your site, Troy.

  • JonathanStrange

    Under-rated, under-appreciated, and under-known: Flash of Steel.

    Under-known? It’s a perfectly cromulent word.

  • Troy

    I appreciate all the kudos, guys, but I’m mostly angling for reflections and suggestions. Do I have get Chris Nahr in here to do it right?

  • JonathanStrange

    Ok, ok: continue posting regularly, add some relevant pix (screenshots, people, books, places,etc) – they liven up a blog and can be pique interest dramatically. Say you talked to Soren Johnson, Sid Meier, Will Wright,etc. – a photo may be more eye-catching then a solid wall of text. Quick AARs illustrating some aspect of a game you hated/loved might not be so time-consuming to report: you’d not be documenting every detail but zeroing in on some details. Compare/contrast tactics in say Age of Wonders Shadow Magic to Kohan 2 to King’s Bounty. That sort of thing.