Slowly Growing Deaf: The Struggles of a Small Indie Game Blogger

Slowly Growing Deaf: The Struggles of a Small Indie Game Blogger

What follows is more reminiscent of my personal blogs in the past, so no gaming news or analysis here.

As I grow older and closer to the age of 28, I’ve been able to accept a lot about myself. One of them is that I am very prone to ennui, apathy, boredom, all of the above. I’ve been simmering for a little while, but I couldn’t really put my finger on it. I can tell that my Twitter account isn’t providing the source of excitement that it had afforded me in the past. I can tell that a lot of things in the world are falling apart around us. I can tell that there has been change in myself.

In this blog post, my 210th for this site, I shall explore the past, present, and future of I Can Taste the Mana, and my general experiences in gaming since I started doing this. Hopefully this introspection can help myself (and maybe others) have some clarity about the future.

Beginnings

My @GreenRangerHS Twitter account first tweeted on August 31, 2015, and this blog first posted not long after on September 10, 2015. In my introductory post, I do the basics, like state my name, why I am called GreenRanger, and my intentions. Back then I was a worse Hearthstone player in general, stating that I hadn’t gone past Rank 10 in Ranked, and had only 3 12-win Arena runs. The takeaway is that in the introductory post, I wasn’t sure where the blog would take me. I honestly didn’t think I had aspirations of anything other than “it being fun to do.” Also, I was extremely enthused playing Hearthstone during The Grand Tournament, and enjoying the heck out of Arena, something that hasn’t really changed since.

The Past 2 Years

My blog eventually picked up steam in 2016. Just by sheer volume of blog posts, the higher view averages came by October 2016. But my most successful day was April 1, 2016, when I posted the first “Hearthstone Evolve Chart” on Reddit, and it was a big day.

My Twitter account also grew a lot during this time. I followed more people, got followed by some, and interacted with even more people. Additionally, I lifted my initial reservations of tweeting outside of Hearthstone. I notoriously only interacted with people on Twitter for Hearthstone purposes to discuss Hearthstone. Eventually, this stopped, but I will get back to this point later. Anyways, a great time was had by all.

A lot of other stuff happened of course. Hearthstone grew a bit in their team, and a lot of cards were released. The Hearthstone Arena actually changed since I started blogging. The community has grown tremendously, with podcasts sprouting all over. I showed up on a few podcasts. I played Hearthstone with other people in co-ops and tournaments.

At some point, I thought my blogging would take me to somewhere further up. The gaming industry and esports has grown exponentially since I started blogging. Having played games forever, the idea of having gainful employment in gaming just seemed like a great fit. Of course, the flaw was that I expected the blogging to do all the heavy lifting towards this desire, and there is much more to it than the work.

Present

2017 has not been a high point for me regarding Hearthstone. While I was playing Ranked at a decent rate to begin the year, I definitely have become an Arena-only player nowadays. Ranked play doesn’t appeal to me at all anymore, and I am playing minimal games each month in that mode. I seem to get a 12-win run monthly now, which is great, but I have also had to take breaks from the game due to frustration.

On Twitter, my timeline has become more difficult to follow with enthusiasm. While I blame a lot of this to Twitter modeling themselves into Facebook, people change. People are making Twitter a surrogate for Facebook they formerly used. Basically, the talk about Hearthstone has gone down considerably, and people are using Twitter for other means. It’s not a stretch to put some blame on politics; had the US presidential election had another outcome (or better candidates), Twitter would be a lot less politically inclined as it is now. So it’s hard to sift through my timeline for worthy Hearthstone stuff.

And even when I find worthy Hearthstone stuff, my own problems come in the way. I lack enthusiasm upon seeing Hearthstone content. Content creators need to find ways to prevent themselves from being stale. But frankly with Hearthstone being a slow game in terms of releasing new stuff, it is hard to do that. Further, the Hearthstone network I have been part of doesn’t have much an Arena focus. I definitely still am a fan of Arena, and that is preventing this blog from dying completely. But given how hard it is to find actual Hearthstone stuff on my timeline, coupled with no Arena information, it is hard to stay engaged nowadays.

Future

I’ve gone full circle to my September 10, 2015 introductory post in that I don’t know where I will go with this blog. It is almost safe to say that any aspirations I had in moving up in Hearthstone beyond this blog is gone. There is just a lot of saturation in the game, and it will take real dedication to separate yourself in order to move up. Kudos to those who are trying, but I am not in the same class.

It is possible that something changes, and I completely fall in love with the next expansion. It is possible that I suddenly become an Arena savant. It is possible I start enjoying myself more often. I am not betting on any of it.

For now, this blog will continue to exist as it is, with my infrequent blogging about Hearthstone Arena. I’ve recently just been writing with numbers from HSreplay.net, and that won’t likely change, given my lack of knowledge outside of Arena.

It is possible that I shift my focus more on Duel Links, the game that I am honestly more invested in now. With some modest success from the podcast and Twitter account, I feel like I’ve had a bigger impact in that community.

Despite the depressing nature of this post, I am proud of this blog. As said, this will be post #210, so the volume is something to be proud of. In a couple months, I should be hitting a 30k view milestone, which is okay I guess for an independent blog such as this. Also, it just gave me an outlet to write stuff and share my passion for Hearthstone.

Thanks to everyone who has visited the blog!

 

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Stream of Consciousness: Hearthstone HCT Disconnects

Stream of Consciousness: Hearthstone HCT Disconnects

I’ve always been a skeptic regarding the sustainability and success of esports. It sounded really cool for a while, and I often joked that I should “drop everything and play games for a living.” Reality sank in, and continues to when you see esports teams disbanding all the time, or dropping their teams. Esports teams remind me of old automakers. Did you know there used to be hundreds of automakers? Now you can mostly name them in minutes. They don’t make Mercury and Oldsmobiles anymore!

A couple days ago, I went to an ASUS Republic of Gamers event to try to win free stuff. Notable esports host Rachel “Seltzer” Quirico was there, playing Overwatch and announcing the raffle. It was cool, I got to play Overwatch on a really fancy gaming rig. I got to sit on a gaming chair. I won a pillow. But in the middle of a busy electronics store, not a lot of people stopped by. Even the raffle itself was like 10 people vying for the grand prize. Which makes my not winning it feel worse… But even the ASUS employee asked if I was going to the ESL at Barclays Center, and my response was, “what game are they playing?” Is esports here in New York? Not sure.

In the realm of Hearthstone esports, my views have always been colored by RNG, not other problems. Once Yogg-Saron decided a game, all bets were off. The “anything can happen” aspect of Hearthstone isn’t the best vehicle for something important. It could be fun and spectacular, but fairly back-breaking to those who ultimately work for nothing.

The focus of this weekend, the 2017 Americas Summer Playoffs were mainly disconnects. This one is a doozie.

Here is something from Twitter:

Capture.PNG

Here is something from Reddit:

Capture2.PNG

Blizzard at least acknowledged the problems:

Capture3.PNG

If the internet gets everyone riled up enough, this seems like a big disaster. There could be some fixes down the line, but what if it isn’t enough.

Some practical ideas on how to fix it:

  • In-game tournament mode.

I’m just being a troll by mentioning this, and I don’t know if it will come. I don’t know if the game is built for it. I don’t know if it is worth the money to develop. I’m just going to assume this isn’t coming, and look for other solutions.

  • Scrap the current Innkeeper system and hold them at bigger venues.

The Innkeeper makes the tournament experience seem grassroots and is definitely very flavorful. It helps build human relationships in a digital game. But in the end, is it worth it? The problems associated with this weekend in Hearthstone esports could likely have been avoided. I mentioned the Barclays Center earlier, where they are playing CS:GO at ESL. They have concerts there. It will definitely have the capacity for an esports tournament. Internet problems seem to be an issue of 1) not having strong enough wireless fidelity and capacity (sorry I don’t know the tech words), 2) not having enough manpower to build/strategize/create better, 3) not having enough money to build something better.

Remember when Buffalo Wild Wings was a bit of a meme? That actually turned out quite decently, and people at those venues didn’t have disconnection issues. I don’t think it was luck that Buffalo Wild Wings had good enough internet. They have standards for quality, and can afford it.

  • Force everyone to play on a wired connection.

Earlier in the year when I had a job, I had college student interns. Once when trying to connect a printer, I asked her where the ethernet port was on the printer. She didn’t know what it was, responding, “I’ve had WiFi all my life.” I was shocked and the moment will likely remain with me forever.

I don’t trust WiFi. I’m not sure if it is because I literally can’t see it or what, but I just don’t believe in it. Not only are your speeds slower, but interference can come from anywhere. Background applications and programs can hog bandwidth. A train could be passing outside and cause a disturbance. I just had to install a WiFi extender, since my room can’t get connect right.

A trusty ethernet cord will eliminate most disconnect problems. Sure, you could have issues with the router/modem. Sure, you could mess up with ethernet in other ways. But having a tenable connection is better than something floating in the air.

The dark truth (NA Internet)

It’s also possible that the problems can never be resolved. Not unlike our healthcare system, the internet in America sucks. Anyone who has paid for internet here knows they aren’t getting a good deal. You have to pay an arm and a leg for internet (and no, I don’t want phone in this day and age), and have to pay a lot after the contract year. Disconnections happen, and they may not resolve for a while. Internet companies are greedy and can do whatever they want. They aren’t regulated too much by the FCC, and the consumer has very little say at all.

Innkeepers may never have the capability to have decent internet, given the poor built environment for it. No matter what upgrades you can make, it will always be shaky footing. While a big venue like the Barclays Center can shoulder the load, costs are costs. I don’t think it is in the cards to borrow a big venue for these Hearthstone esports events.

 

Stream of Consciousness: Hype Should Not Be Fixing Something Broken

It’s 12:30pm here in East Coast, USA, and big news is coming shortly in the world of Hearthstone.

celestial.JPG

To those unaware, or not currently playing Hearthstone, there has been a big Druid problem (and Jade Druid, and Aggro Druid). This probably refers to what Ben Brode teased recently:

brode druid.JPG

The news will break some time in the next few hours, and something will be announced. Something regarding Druid, and perhaps more. Let’s state some things are mostly true:

  1. Druid is busted in it’s current state, for many different reasons.
  2. There are other problems in Hearthstone, with other classes.
  3. The Arena synergy draft system is a disaster.

There’s no denying Druid is a problem in Ranked, and other problems exist. Let’s get to point 2, I think Ice Block is an example of a card that has existed far too long, as it reneges on the “fun and interactive” promise of the game. Some Arena players don’t think 3 is much of an issue, but most are on the train that it sucks. Nobody has to draft Blubber Baron. There’s no reason Frost Lich Jaina appears in 10% of Arenas.

Let me state some other things that are mostly true:

  1. Hearthstone is an amazing game that has kept a lot of players playing it for years.
  2. Hearthstone hype is hyped very well.

Here’s my thought, one that may not be all that original:

Hype should not be invested on things that shouldn’t have been broken to begin with.

I’m really excited about these upcoming announcements today (or announcements of announcements). Even if I have no interest in playing Ranked right now, the news excites me as a Hearthstone player. I want lots of change in a game mode I don’t really play.

But these things shouldn’t be hyped about it. These Druid cards shouldn’t have been allowed to hit the factory floor like they are now. The Arena synergy system shouldn’t have been put in live in it’s current state, without more thought or testing.

I don’t want to be excited about these changes. But there is, for a lack of a better phrase, a hypnotic attraction that Hearthstone has on me that built the hype automatically.

Hype in this game should be spent on announcing new things and content. If this announcement bundles Druid patch changes with a new Ranked laddering system, I take some of it back.

I’m not happy that I will be routinely checking Twitter and Reddit to get on the news today. But I will!

 

Stream of Consciousness: You Play to Win the Game

Stream of Consciousness: You Play to Win the Game

Card game expansions are supposed to be about trying out new decks and theorycrafting new stuff. Maybe. If that’s fun for you.

In the past, I would do seemingly only do this in Ranked Hearthstone games. I’m not sure if I didn’t care about winning back then. I remember a lot of Reno Rogue games, where I was greedy with fitting in legendaries like Anub’arak. I remember playing a Miracle Mill Rogue. I remember playing a lot of Mech Rogue for Voltron.

Today, a couple weeks after the release of Knights of the Frozen Throne, I found myself playing Pirate Warrior. A Pirate Warrior who never plays the deck, and trades a little more than he ought to. Thanks to hsreplay.net, below is a graphic of my last Ranked Warrior games. I basically started the playing the deck for the first time in 4 months, and seem to take month-long intervals. Yes, I play very little Ranked, and only play Rogue.

pirate warrior.PNG

I guess a switch went off and I decided to hustle some wins. Here were my Ranked games prior to today.

losing.PNG

Besides the meta Evolve Shaman that eats it to Druid, my Rogue games consisted of offbeat stuff like Burgle Rogue, C’Thun Rogue, etc. Besides the low volume and low wins, I just wasn’t digging the “explore fun decks” process. I wasn’t going to keep playing unless I won some games. Prior to touching Pirate Warrior, my Ranked win rate this month was less than 50%. I deleted the Burgle Rogue list I made myself.

I’m not here to complain about Druids. I’m just noting that at some point, I stopped caring about exploring fun decks. The expansion is still young, heck the adventure still has Week 3 to go. Just saying that at some point the concentration of winning took over, and nothing else mattered. And I’m not much of a Ranked player to begin with.

I’ll keep playing Pirate Warrior in Ranked for now. Maybe I’ll be content when I get to Ranked 10. I’m not really enjoying it I would a Rogue deck, but I’ll take the wins.

I can blame the “Information Meta” we can’t leave, and how everyone has access to every single decklist. I can blame pro players from being too good and figuring it out so fast. I can blame my own inability to keep composure after losing. It’s probably some recipe of all of it, and it is loosening my already tepid desire to play Ranked Hearthstone at all.