Ending a blog is heart-wrenching

I’m just about ready to end my former blog, Supreme Commander Talk. It focused exclusively on the PC game Supreme Commander (don’t get bent out of shape if you have never heard of it; the game didn’t become nearly as popular as we had hoped it would). I stopped updating the blog about a year ago when I stopped playing the game. Since then, I managed to get a few other players in for short writing stints, but none of them stayed very long, and the blog has now lapsed after several months of inactivity. And given the game’s gradual loss of popularity since its release, even largely unstemmed by the release of its expansion pack, I think it’s about time to end the blog.

But ending a blog is hard. I, along with my friend Grokmoo, put a lot of effort into that blog. We were writing substantive entries in it every day. I would find myself playing multiplayer games just for the sake of having something to write about. I checked the forums and the other fansites constantly, so that even if I missed being the first to report to report on something, I would still be far from the last. It was damn fun, and it’s a real rush to grow a community around you. Oh yes, the relative “fame” was addictive. At its peak, SupComTalk was getting thrice as many daily visits as this blog currently gets. And on the aggregate, I’ve put a lot more time into this blog as well.

Ending a blog is hard, but sometimes, necessary. I don’t want to leave those loose ends hanging around perpetually, and getting overrun with spam is always a problem on a comment-enabled site that is no longer actively moderated. Of course, I’m not simply going to take the blog offline; that would be a terrible fate for something we spent so much time on (and I do despise linkrot). The simplest amenable way to end it would be to turn off commenting across the whole site, effectively rendering it static. There must be a WordPress plugin out there somewhere to mothball a blog. I’ll have to put up one final, melancholic post, allow a few final days for comments on it, and then lock it all down permanently. “This is the blog that was.”

I will miss SupComTalk a lot; don’t think this will be easy for me. I really enjoyed the experience, and I would love to do it again with some other game. Writing that blog was the closest taste of Internet fame I’ve ever had (admittedly, just a taste; not even close to a mouthful). And there was a lesson there that I quickly learned, yet have still failed to follow: single-topic blogs that focus on specific subjects are, on the average, far more successful than personal blogs that focus on whatever smattering of topics the writer happens to be interested in. Some day yet I might finally apply that knowledge to this blog — or perhaps create a new one. I’m still thinking about it. But as I draw close to finally pulling the plug on SupComTalk, it weighs heavier and heavier still on my mind.

10 Responses to “Ending a blog is heart-wrenching”

  1. T2A` Says:

    Aww. SupComTalk was awesome back in the day. Makes you wonder, though… How would this blog be doing if SCT had never existed?

    Oddly enough I’ve only recently been getting into FA in any capacity since one of my UT buddies has taken a liking to it. FA’s doing better than UT3, at least. UT3 bombed hard. It’s seriously one of the worst blunders by a AAA developer ever, if not the worst.

    I’m fairly certain you don’t need a plugin to disallow further comments. Given all the features WordPress has, not allowing for easy comment turn-off would be ridiculously bad.

  2. Cyde Weys Says:

    I’d like to hear more about UT3. I remember playing UT way back in the day and having a blast with that, and I even played UT2K3 for awhile. That had some excellent 3rd party mods for it; I loved me some Red Orchestra and Alien Swarm. But then UT3 came out, I checked out the demo, and … meh. I don’t know how to describe it, but it just didn’t grab me at all, to the point that I didn’t even bother pirating a copy. It seemed like all of the aspects of UT that I had liked (which not-so-coincidentally were its Quake-like aspects) had been diminished, while other aspects were ramped up. In particular, I felt like its vehicle combat was loose to the point of being non-skill-deterministic.

    But I’d still like to hear your take on it!

  3. T2A` Says:

    Umm…

    It ultimately feels like a bad UT2004 mod to me. The scale and movement speed within the game’s scripts is all the same as UT2004, yet it’s like the game is trying very hard (and failing) to be like UT. Unfortunately, it does justice to neither and falls short in its UT- and UT2004-like parts. Like you I just wasn’t drawn in at all. After four years of playing UT2004 I simply couldn’t get myself to care about UT3.

    About the only truly good things I found are that the maps look cool and adrenaline and the shield gun were removed. The first point obviously has no lasting value, though, so there wasn’t a whole lot to enjoy for me. The map layouts themselves are fucking bad for DM. Like, seriously bad. CTF is better, but if you can’t even support a proper FFA, why even bother? The movement is “sludgy” (I guess that describes it well enough) and very grounded — nearly nothing happens in the air because gravity is extra strong and air control is way too high to the point that you can completely reverse your direction whilst in the air. Being in the air is supposed to be dangerous due to predictability, but this isn’t the case with UT3.

    The weapon balance is supposed to be better but I don’t buy it nor do I get a UT feel from the guns themselves. Rockets are too good because of the nerfed dodge, flak does way too much damage (max of 186+ or so), goo has nearly zero chance of self-damage now even when fully charged and does 210 damage when charged, etc. Armor balance is also iffy because the shield belt alone provides the same damage absorption as getting all the other three pieces together. This really fucked up 1v1 play since most of the emphasis was suddenly on the belt, and it made things really campy and defensive even without the shield belt. Also, the goo’s inability to kill its user took a lot of the strategy of map lock out of the equation because it could be used as a way to take down a stacked opponent far too easily and with no worry of suicide.

    Then there’s the vehakal gametypes. The vehakals themselves feel alright for the most part, and some are even better than in UT2004. The gametypes, however, suck in comparison. VCTF became a terrible stalemate festival while Warfare (ONS v2.0) loses all its cool points because the orb completely fucks up the gameplay. Like the belt in 1v1, all emphasis and game flow centers around this stupid thing, and on most maps it’s the aggressors who have it spawn in a more convenient location, making it very, very difficult for the losing team to mount a comeback. The whole point of ONS v2.0 was to fix this positive feedback loop because it existed in UT2004 by way of the winning team having access to 5x the vehakals compared to the losers.

    Then there’s the technical issues. The UI sucks for obvious reasons, not the least of which are the server browser and the 60 MB map file that gets loaded every time you want to go to the main menu. The mouse input system is ever so slightly fucked to the point that I (and many others) could never get it to feel natural. That makes UT3 the only game in recent years in which the input system is inherently flawed and incapable of normalcy. The tracers for the sniper and shock are completely unreliable (sniper especially), and the game has code in it such that the headshot box of your enemies gets larger when you stand still. How fucking retarded is that? The netcode is some of the worst crap I’ve played on. It’s fucking archaic. Epic netcode has never been good, but all the optimizations they’ve been adding to support large player amounts and new features have made UT3’s the most inaccurate yet. Past UT’s had inaccurate client-side projectile interpolation; UT3 has that and inaccurate hitscan. Job well fucking done. UT2003 actually had the best netcode (relative to Epic’s work, not others’).

    And then (yes, more!) there’s the fact that absolutely no one gives a shit about the game and it was essentially dead in the water upon release. There are more people playing UT2004 and FA than UT3 by far. It’s a little more popular in Europe, but over here there are more people playing fucking Crysis than UT3. Why its player counts are so low we can never truly know, but there are many possibilities — system requirements are too high and it looks terrible on lower settings, the demo was fucking bad, it had no Linux server support for months, it was released at the same time as Crysis, CoD4, and TF2 (brilliant marketing decision by Midway), the single-player campaign was utter crap, etc., etc., etc. The problem therein is that there’s a circular parade of failure in that a game that very little people play doesn’t draw anyone in, so very little people continue to play it. Even people who like UT3 are abandoning it for other games, including UT2004. I went to CoD4, and when that one gets old I’ll move somewhere else.

    UT3 is seriously the biggest failure ever. It’s hilariously flawed and its player counts are abysmal. No one — fucking no one — cares about the game. Its taken four months for this mysterious v1.3 patch to show up and it still hasn’t. Not that I can blame Epic for that, as I’d drop support for UT3 immediately in favor of their 360 cash cow known as GoW2. But the problem is that I got so little enjoyment from the game that I actually want my money back. That’s never happened before with a game as far as I can remember. Usually any somewhat crappy games ended up very cheap before I got my hands on them, so it’s no big deal. But I paid $50 for UT3! Fuck that! Perhaps the reason I want my money back is due to the fact that I had really high expectations for it. UT2004 had obvious problems that could have easily been fixed and turned into a really good game, but Epic is obviously incompetent. I uninstalled UT3 awhile back — my first UT uninstall ever. Evar!

    It appears that the original UT was nothing more than a fluke.

    /end rant

  4. Cyde Weys Says:

    I’m just looking at all of the raving reviews in disbelief. How did they all manage to get it so wrong like that?

    Is “vehakal” a UT way of spelling “vehicle”? The spelling in the rest of your post was consistently correct, so I’m assuming that’s not a repeated typo.

  5. T2A` Says:

    There’s no point in trusting big-name review sites. They are generally bought and paid for and will never, ever tell the truth about a big AAA company/game. I recall reading some of the reviews and they read like a 5 or 6 yet the score at the end was 7.5 or 8.5 or something. Additionally, to a random reviewer guy who likes The Sims and Halo, UT3 might seem interesting enough.

    Most true FPS and UT fans saw it for the crap that it is, however. And the game has zero draw for the average gamer which is actually its biggest problem. Arena-style FPS games simply aren’t “cool” anymore. They’re much harder to excel in compared to something like CS or CoD4 because the learning curve is so steep, so anyone who sucks will suck hard to the point they can’t do anything. The curve was steeper in UT2004 but the vehakal craze was just getting started, so that was actually good timing from Epic.

    Yes, “vehakal” is correct. It stems from the group I played UT2004 with back in the day. Actually, before I get on another typing spree, here’s a link that should explain it well enough: http://hyru.ath.cx:60080/fbuwiki/index.php/Lolol

  6. Cyde Weys Says:

    Yes, I agree with you there. Reviews of AAA titles are notoriously biased in favor; just look at the whole Kane & Lynch debacle for evidence. That’s why I’ve found that, more and more often, I go to my friends for opinion on games before trying them out myself. I’ve avoided some real stinkers that way, and also found some real gems that didn’t receive the accolades they deserve.

    Have you seen a general PC gaming community blog? That’d be awesome. I’m envisioning a group of close-knit players sharing their recommendations on a variety of games and offering completely non-biased reviews. I’ve actually thought of doing such a thing before. Hrmm, maybe I should look into it. I just don’t quite know enough players with good-blog-caliber writing skills :-P

  7. William Says:

    Have you heard of Penny Arcade?
    I’m largely joking, but I really like it, and they take avoidance of conflict of interest very seriously.

  8. Cyde Weys Says:

    Yeah, I read Penny-Arcade all the time. I think what makes it stand out above all the rest is that it has a two man team, with one focusing exclusively on the writing. The writing in that strip is really top notch (as are the news posts), and it’s something that really appeals to me. Just as an example of excellent writing, check out this strip, which is one of the best web comic strips I’ve read in recent memory. “Without bones, these ten gnarled hooves cannot support its weight.”

    Bwahahahaha!

    And yeah, I trust their game opinions better than most, but I still trust friends’ recommendations most of all. The Penny-Arcade folks are earning a tidy sum of advertising revenue from videogame publishers; my friends aren’t earning anything.

  9. Yes, I’m still around | Cyde Weys Musings Says:

    […] thinking about refocusing this blog somewhat (though this is far from the first time I’ve said those words without following through on it, so who knows what’ll happen). The general topic format just […]

  10. Stin Says:

    Just to let you know I’ve only just found this blog. A few mates and I are really getting into Supcom (We’ve played since launch but RL issues obviously take priority). Anyway right now we run closed VPN games once a week, and this blog has some fantastic information.

    Many thanks for your efforts and I hope Supcom develops a stealth underground of players, and makes a little comeback. It really is a great game. Everything I ever wanted from an RTS. (Apart from the ability to save a multiplayer game).

    Thanks again.

    Stin