This one is going to be partially celebratory, but also just a fun lookback at the last 4 years of this site!
On February 16th, 2017, I decided to start a WoW blog. Thrilled with how much fun I was having in Legion, I decided to turn around and start writing about the game. It started slow, with guides and Fisher Price’s My First Theorycrafting, before expanding into more op-ed and general writing about the game, slowly adding in Final Fantasy XIV, my wrestling fandom, and then gaming technology of all sorts, before evolving into what it is today.
After some gaps in writing in 2017, since around the fall of 2017, I’ve been writing here semi-regularly, with at least 3 or so posts a week. My audience reach has grown a lot too – my whole first year’s worth of views are exceeded by the last 3 weeks on the site! What has been fun and interesting to watch is how people have stuck around even during slow periods in World of Warcraft – Battle for Azeroth brought a ton of views and the constant philosophical discussion over the ways in which many of us were met with disappointment by that expansion were some of the more interesting and involved discussions I’ve had in any gaming community.
As a fun, short lookback – I want to recap the top post of each year.
A Peek Behind the Veil of Shadows – This one was the post that sort of launched my blog, as it was linked on the dreaded MMO-Champion forums and NeoGAF prior to its self-destruction. Based on a leak, which ended up being pretty throughly wrong (but also had some elements that were right in BfA and right for Shadowlands), it was at least a fun bit of discussion to follow. I wanted it to be true, and I’d argue the stronger central theme would have been great compared to what we got in BfA, but it was a fun breakout post if nothing else!
A Non-Spoiler Post About A Technical Change in Battle For Azeroth – Will WoW Run Better? – This post was a chance for me to work in technical information, and as I was planning to buy my first new PC in around 7 years at that time, it was a chance to discuss all the research I had been doing. BfA did indeed add DirectX12 support, and while it took until patch 8.2 to really get the possible performance improvements, they did get there. Arguably, Shadowlands actually did a better job of this – no major API changes, but the implementation of Fidelity FX CACAO for ambient occlusion and some other tweaks under the hood have created better performance in the new content, at least as far as I can tell. Still, since BfA also brought new minimum system requirements including major API support changes (more so on Mac than Windows) this was a popular point of reference for what those changes meant.
Some Spoiler-Heavy Thoughts on the Shadowbringers Main Scenario Quest – The first real foray into FFXIV on my blog took until Shadowbringers. While Stormblood got me really into the game, I didn’t keep up with it and Legion definitely won for me. With my relative disappointment in Battle for Azeroth, Shadowbringers came right in at a great moment and snapped all of my attention up for weeks, helped by the fact that Shadowbringers had so much of that Final Fantasy flavor I want in FFXIV on display – an epic, heavily involved story with a great, emotionally moving plot line and a fantasy setting loaded with all sorts of layers of intrigue. Shadowbringers was definitely a great expansion and while my playtime with it has whittled in the current twilight of the content, I’m still engaging with the game pretty regularly and definitely stoked for Endwalker, which I’m sure the post of which will be the most popular of this year!
Raiding Difficulty – A Re-Evaluation of the Endgame Differences of WoW and Final Fantasy XIV – 2020 was a great year for the blog, which is a bright spot for me in the absolute dumpster fire that the year was overall.
The post in question, though – concerning the raid difficulty settings and differences between FFXIV and WoW endgame content – was more popular than nearly any other post I’ve ever written. I think it was intensely popular for a lot of reasons – it brought fans of both games together to analyze the content of the two games in question, but didn’t declare either one a winner, made what I thought were cogent and interesting points about the different ways in which both games attempt to increase the difficulty of their PvE content, and so there were 3 distinct audiences for it – fans of each game individually, and then fans of both games. It got a shocking amount of traction, and my series of posts on FFXIV raid participation and content were the first pieces of content that got me reader emails, which was very surprising to me.
So what are my plans here for the next several years? Well, the op-ed format I switched to relatively fast in year 1 has been great and I think that is my formula for success – I love deep-diving on the games I play and I think that provides so much stuff to get wrapped up in. I finally upgraded to WordPress premium a few weeks ago, so you may have noticed I went from a generic wordpress.com domain to an actual one at kaylriene.com (the old one still redirects, however!). I’ve also enabled ads because a lot of people who have been able to do so suggest it works to effectively pay for the premium upgrade, and I can continue to attach my high-resolution screenshots and also add videos like my leak test for my watercooling loop!
This year should be fascinating with Endwalker for FFXIV, the meat of the Shadowlands content forthcoming, and interesting PC technology as chip shortages should hopefully start to abate in the second half of the year and new competitive CPUs from Intel alongside expanded lineups from AMD and GPUs from AMD, Nvidia, and Intel should give a lot to discuss on that front! There may (may…) be a reason for me to change coverage coming down the pike, but I’m not going to jinx that (it would be a personal dream if this thing I’m hinting at comes to pass!) and there’s no need for me to cross that bridge until I get there.
In the meantime, the only thing left is to thank all of you for reading, following, and commenting. I’m super proud of the fact that in the cesspool online gaming communities can be and often end up being, that my commenters are thoughtful and everything here is pretty civil and cool. If I recall correctly, I’ve only ever deleted two comments (not counting spam) and they were so obviously non-contributive that it wasn’t worth engaging with, and that is a number that is shockingly low for how much audience growth the site has had!
So thank you all, I hope you continue to read, and happy adventures in all of the current Shadows or whatever your virtual world of choice may be!