How Many Words 2018

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Aug 7, 2019

Filed under: Landmarks 217 comments

In the past I’ve gone into the site database and generated some charts showing how much writing I did in the preceding year and what form it took. This is the third such post, which means I guess it’s a tradition now.

I was planning on doing this way back in January, but then it slipped my mind for 8 months. Oops.

Well, we’re overdue. I have a few announcements about upcoming content changes, and these charts will help illustrate the rationale behind these changes.

2018 in Review

We kicked off 2018 with that hosting nightmare, which put a dent in the content flow for a couple of weeks. Once things returned to normal, I published the final few weeks of my Borderlands retrospective. We also brought back the Diecast after a 10-month hiatus. Wolfenstein ran until April. Then I spent a month bitching about Black Desert Online for some reason. I spent June talking about E3 2018. After that I launched my Grand Theft Auto retrospective, which was followed by Mass Effect Andromeda. Andromeda actually overlapped with the start of Spider-Man, which is due to wrap up in 2 weeks. I also published a total of 35 columns. For the last half of the year, I was posting two retrospectives and a column every week.

I returned to writing Experienced Points columns in August. My goal was to create material for the Escapist without reducing my output here on the blog. How did that work out? The charts below have the answers.

The Charts

As a reminder of how this works: WordPress doesn’t have a wordcount feature. So to get the number of words I write in a year, I get a character count and divide by 6.6Based on random sampling, I’ve concluded that I average 6.6 letters per word on this site.. These charts only include my material, and not any of my distinguished guests. These charts are based on calendar years, not financial years or anything crazy like that. Read the original post if you want all the details.

Anyway, here is the count of total words per year:

Ouch. Despite my best efforts, it appears that my Escapist gig did somewhat cannibalize the blog. Maybe this explains the slow drop-off in Patreon support over the last 6 months or so?

The 2016 numbers were inflated by my re-posting of my World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings series.

One of the problems with my usual format is that my site is very good at entertaining people once they’re here, but I have no way to attract new readers. My hope for the Escapist column was that it would bring fresh readers to the blog. That didn’t really happen as much as I’d hoped. I got a small handful, but on the whole the Escapist readers were not eager to follow links to my site. Instead of growing the audience, it seemed to perhaps shrink a bit. The Escapist gig brought in some income, but a lot of that income was offset by the drop in Patreon backers. I was doing a lot more work but barely making more money, while also losing readers and putting less material on my site. So that was pretty much a disaster all around.

It didn’t seem like a disaster at the time. In fact, I sort of assumed everything was fine. These changes were gradual enough that I didn’t see the pattern. I was working hard, which is usually a pretty good indicator of success for me. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I ran the numbers and realized I was experiencing a very slow downward spiral.

I’ve put the Escapist column on hiatus. We’re still on good terms and the door is open for me to return later if it makes sense. In the meantime, I feel like I need to focus on the blog and keep my core audience happy.

The “New” Project

I have a project in the pipeline. I’m going to bring back my This Dumb Industry columns, but also release it concurrently with a video of the same material. Hopefully this will enable me to return the blog to its 2017 glory while also giving me a way to bring in new readers.

Will it work? Eh. I dunno. Readers at the Escapist might be reluctant to click through to the blog, but people on YouTube are reluctant to click on anything that isn’t a video. We’ll see.

I have a secondary motive for the video, which is that it will make for an educational experience for my son IssacHe also edits the podcast. He’s about to  turn 18, if you’re curious.. Video editing is a good job skill in a growing field. Wordsmiths like me have been sad about the fall of blogs and the rise of YouTube, but it’s good for people who work in video.

I’ll write the column, he’ll edit the video, and we’ll see how it goes. I’ll have more about this in a few weeks. The current plan is to re-launch the column / video in September.

Anyway, back to the charts…

More Charts

Post length isn’t a terribly important metric for the site, so this is mostly a curiosity. The re-launch of the podcast probably dragged this number down a bit, since those posts are always pretty short. For the record, my long-form retrospective posts aim for a word length of 1,500 to 2,500. My posts linking to the Escapist column were usually 800 to 1,000. The typical Diecast post might weigh in at 300 or so.

So let’s talk about how many posts I made in 2018:

Holding steady. That’s fine. As I’ve said before, the drop from 2016 to 2017 is due to Spoiler Warning moving off-site and no longer generating 3 posts a week.

Huh. That’s kind of surprising. Like I said in years past, I don’t have anything against coarse language. I’m just wary of getting a reputation for being, “That angry guy who’s always bitching about everything.” You can spend 2,000 words being analytical, but if you spike the article with phrases like “shitty gameplay” and “fucking ludicrous plot construction” then you’ll be accused of doing outrage as performance art and get dismissed as a crank.

Here are some charts I’ve never posted before…

You can see why I’m worried about audience retention. While comment count isn’t a full measure of audience size and engagement, it’s certainly a major indicator. According to this, we’re at a 10 year low. That’s mildly alarming.

We lost a few of our most prolific commenters in 2018In particular, Damien Lucifer vanished. He’d been around since 2007, and he made a lot of comments. I hope he just got sick of the site and isn’t, you know… not okay.. I’m not sure why those people left. We can’t blame the entire drop in engagement on this, but it’s certainly a contributing factor.

I’m not sure why comments dropped off like this. Maybe I wasn’t putting up enough material. Maybe the material was fine but it wasn’t interesting or controversial enough to generate discussion. Maybe my material was so brilliant and flawless that there was nothing for anyone to add or disagree withSince we don’t have any data, I’ll just go ahead and assume this one is true.?

Above is the count of all non-Shamus posts, by year. I expect this will jump up for 2019, since we have Bob Case and Paul Spooner putting up content.

Here we can see the site broken down into distinct eras. At the start we have the blue bars marking the DM of the Rings. Then the huge red bars show the Spoiler Warning era from 2010 to 2017. And now we have the green sections where the site is currently focused on long-form retrospectives.

The orange bars (programming) are pretty evenly distributed over the entire history of the site. For fans of programming content, I’m happy to announce some upcoming posts on programming theory. They’re going to start once the Spider-Man series ends, and they’ll run until nearly the end of the year.

Some other fun facts about the site:

So that’s how 2018 turned out. I’ll have more on the return of This Dumb Industry as the project comes together. If you have any suggestions or comments on what you’ve been missing on the site or what things you’d like to see return, please tell me about it.

Thanks for reading.



[1] Based on random sampling, I’ve concluded that I average 6.6 letters per word on this site.

[2] He also edits the podcast. He’s about to  turn 18, if you’re curious.

[3] In particular, Damien Lucifer vanished. He’d been around since 2007, and he made a lot of comments. I hope he just got sick of the site and isn’t, you know… not okay.

[4] Since we don’t have any data, I’ll just go ahead and assume this one is true.

From The Archives:

217 thoughts on “How Many Words 2018

  1. Yerushalmi says:

    I’m personally not a fan of video; I never watched Spoiler Warning even in its heyday. I’ve been on this site since 2006 because I’m interested in reading everything else you write. But I may not be representative.

    Okay, that’s not entirely true. At the beginning I watched some Spoiler Warnings if they were of games that I had myself played. But eventually I guess I just lost interest; your long-form analyses are in my opinion the site’s biggest draw.

    1. Joshua says:

      +1. There are really only a few videos I’ll watch on YouTube. I normally prefer written content I can read at work.

      1. Lino says:

        Yeah, me too. Video is mainly reserved after I come home from work/training, and I tend to favour stuff I can just turn my brain off and watch. Recently, though, I started watching more documentary-style videos on my phone at work.
        But I totally get why you prefer to text content to video at work – I work in an open office, and I simply hate the feeling of people being able to look at my monitor – it’s like walking around naked! What I wouldn’t give to work in a cubicle-style office (even though I’ve only seen them in movies – I have a feeling we don’t even have them here :D)

      2. Falcon02 says:

        Unfortunately, my office has taken to blocking “gaming websites” including TwentySided.

        Apparently is still accessible though…

        1. Nimrandir says:

          Well, obviously. Fantasy sports aren’t a game, after all — they’re a lifestyle.

      3. evileeyore says:

        Another +1. To the point that I didn’t follow Spoiler Warning when it left, despite having been a fan of Rutskarns since the original Chocolate Hammer days.

    2. Daimbert says:

      I tend to read faster than most people at least seem to talk, so video tends to drag out things for me. Also, I can easily start and stop reading something when something else draws my attention to it, and so reading is great for when I have periods where I have to wait for a while followed by periods where I need to buckle down. Plus, it’s very easy to stop and go back and hop around text if I happened to read something too quickly and missed something or don’t really get why a point is being made, which is impossible in text.

      Generally, for video I have to pay constant attention to it for a longer period of time, whereas with text I don’t. At work, I only ever watch videos as background noise — mostly SF Debris — when I either want to listen to them or else don’t want to listen to music. I read lots and lots of things while working in the dull periods. This is one of the sites that I read most consistently (I’ve read the Mass Effect series, for example, multiple times, likely five by now).

      1. Nimrandir says:

        In my case, I am embarrassingly incapable of multitasking. As such, if I watch a video, it needs to be the only thing I’m doing, or else I won’t absorb much of anything from the viewing.

        Also, if I leave off from a video, I feel weird leaving a browser window open so I can pick up where I left off (or making a note of a timestamp), whereas I seem to have an easier time remembering where I left off in a text format.

        1. Eric says:

          I’m a combination of both of you. If I’m watching a video, then I’m watching a video and nothing else, but I can also read faster than a video can play through the same amount of content, which is why I really am enjoying these long-form analytical pieces, even when they’re for games I’ve never played.

          1. Erik says:

            I’m both as well – I read 3-4x faster than talking pace, so…

            And the part of my brain that processes language turns out to be essential when I work (code developer), so I can either work *or* watch a video/listen to a podcast. Listening to non-vocal music, on the other hand, keeps the non-language part of my brain quite happy while I work so that’s my usual.

            1. Daimbert says:

              I used to use music more often, and it works best when I’m constantly engaged, but I’m finding that video and TV and the like work best when I get “off-periods”. It’s nice to be able to look up at a screen or flip to a window to see something when I don’t have to look at what I’m looking at anymore.

      2. Lino says:

        It sounds like a bit of a contradiction, but to me, video is kind of like a break from staring at a computer screen all day. My job involves a lot of looking at numbers and text, so I try to limit entertainment that involves staring at a screen intently. When I watch a video, I can relax my eyes, whereas text requires more strain on my part.

      3. Lanthanide says:

        I generally watch videos in 2x or at least 1.5x speed.

      4. Same. I don’t watch video because it is SO SLOW. I read really fast and am usually trying to do other things and video gets boring fast.

        That said, I really enjoy listening to Shamus talk and explain things (as do all three of our kids. I mean, seriously, how many dad’s can brag about their older teens willingly coming in just to listen to him rant about or explain some topic?) And watching him talk is super fun, because he is rather expressive. I have been bugging him to make video for…6 years? (Bought him a camera that was good for video 6 years ago. Of course now it is kind of outdated but still. :P) Not that these are likely to have him talking on camera (which I think people would enjoy) but still I think it will be a good experience for both of them.

    3. MaxEd says:

      Yep, there is too much video content already, everyone is moving to video. And I hate watching videos. Reading is so much easier.

    4. Mike P. says:

      I haven’t been around anywhere near as long as you, but this is largely in line with my preferences as well. Video is inconvenient for me a lot of the time, but I enjoy reading this place.

  2. Gresman says:

    I have one request:
    Please keep your content varied. Write about whatever you like but try to avoid catering to one small niche. I stopped watched Jim Sterling once it became the Loot Boxes and variants thereof channel.
    Furthermore please keep it balanced. By that I mean that there should not be only positive or only negative opinions. Otherwise it might lead to the creation of a stereotypical persona.

    I am one of those commenters on the sidelines. Mostly reading, seldomly writing. I have to admit I read the blog less than I used to due to change life circumstances. But I still enjoy it as much as earlier.

    Keep up the good work.

    1. Eric says:

      I agree with keeping your content varied, both in subject matter and tone. I like that I can come here for talk on video games, programming, and music.

  3. aunshi189 says:

    Speaking as a longtime reader but very infrequent commentor I do (sadly) have to admit to a loss of interest in the site. It remains in my favourites bar and I often click it but I skip over many articles.

    In terms of positives I always read your long form reviews of games such as the current Spiderman series. For me that is the main appeal of the site. I always enjoyed reading your game design and coding series (though I respect that those take a lot of time to produce).

    In terms of negatives or reasons for my loss of interest. The Spoiler Warning schism was the beginning for me, I no longer watch the show at all since it’s not hosted here but it was something dependable that bought me back to the site while I was here.
    I’ve never really developed any interest in the other writers on this site. Through a combination of their topics (I don’t are about GoT for instance) and a lack of investment in who they are compared to Shamus who I have been following for years,

    I don’t want this post to seem negative, I’m a big fan of your work (loved The Other Kind of Life) and will probably always pop into the site from time to time. It just (to me) does have not the same appeal as the ‘good old days’.

  4. Christopher Wolf says:

    Data. There I commented!

  5. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    I’m a bit concerned about you dropping the Escapist. We can’t be sure that those columns were the reasons for the drop in patrons, so you might end up with less patrons AND without the money brought by the Escapist…

    1. Joshua says:

      I concur. There may not be additional traffic coming here from The Escapist, but I view it as regular content here, especially since Shamus usually writes an additional column here to talk about his Escapist article. So, instead of cannibalism, it’s more like double-dipping: getting paid by the escapist to provide content that the Patreon supporters here are already paying for.

      1. Lino says:

        But in a way, the Escapist article was replacing his This Dumb Industry article which also talks about some current issue. The way I’m seeing it, we’ll just be getting a TDI and a video instead of an Escapist article.

    2. Mistwraithe says:

      It’s worth mentioning that I regarded the Escapist articles as written content by Shamus (which they are!), whereas it seems like Shamus has excluded them from his output totals by only counting posts on this website. So I was pretty happy with the Escapist gig, although it did create an uneven release schedule with two written articles by Shamus on one day (the Escapist one and the summary of it here – I realise the Escapist article actually went up first but I would usually go to it from this website).

      I understand the need to try to mix things up to generate more audience though – I hope it works, even tho I personally am very unlikely to watch any of the videos. I will read the articles of course.

  6. Gurgl says:

    if you spike the article with phrases like “shitty gameplay” and “fucking ludicrous plot construction” then you’ll be accused of doing outrage as performance art and get dismissed as a crank

    Considering the Internet landscape, no you probably wouldn’t. You described basically 95% of videogame commentary, starting with the granfather of them all (AVGN).

    1. Droid says:

      Which is exactly why you wouldn’t want to do that. “Go here for everything you can also get everywhere else!” is not the most appealing audience hook.

      1. Gresman says:

        Exactly my point.
        I am personally a bit fed up with perma-pseudo angry people complaining and zany commentary.

        Somewhat grounded analysis and discussion is something I could get more of. :)

        1. Lino says:

          Same here. I’ve lost complete interest for “outrage as performance art”-style content. When I was a teenager, I used to watch a lot of the Nostalgia Critic (like the AVGN, but for old films) and some of his partner channels, but after a time, I bounced off of him hard, to the point where I can’t stand even a minute of videos of his I used to love.

    2. King Marth says:

      Considering the internet landscape, with sufficient popularity Mr. Rogers would be accused of doing outrage as performance art. Of course, the goal here isn’t to appeal to literally everyone, but to pick an audience and make them happy.

      On that note, I personally find swear words to be indicative of poor vocabulary – if you have the time to proofread and edit your work, then you have the time to pick a word which describes your intent with more precision than the blunt instrument of profanity. Swear words are expressions of raw emotion devoid of meaning. When used for emphasis, selective use is even more important, or the emphasis is diluted. It’s possible for swearing to enhance content, but only if used correctly, as with all writing.

      I might be a weird example though, as I actually do find swearing unpleasant.

      1. Nimrandir says:

        If it makes you feel any better, I’m not a big fan of profanity either. I do get the feeling we’re a dying breed.

    3. Socks says:

      > if you spike the article with phrases like “shitty gameplay” and “fucking ludicrous plot construction” then you’ll be accused of doing outrage as performance art and get dismissed as a crank

      Ahaha meta-spiking your own swearing data :-)

      Some suggestions if you’re open to them…
      1. programming posts!
      2. consider beefing up the diecast with an increase in the number of games discussed/playing
      3. perhaps videos on your minecraft or factorio play?

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        That was my first thought as well “heh, that paragraph will bump this rating up for next year”.

  7. raifield says:

    I’ve been reading ever since the Elder Scrolls retrospective started with Daggerfall. I think that was on a different site originally before moving here. Chocolate Hammer or something like that. Anyway, I’ve been around awhile, but I never feel like I have anything constructive to say, so I don’t say anything. Weird, I know.

    I don’t care much for the D&D comic strip and my favorite regular content have been the programming posts, though I’ll go back and read the Elder Scrolls and Mass Effect retrospectives occasionally, they’re still a great re-read.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I might as well add to this thread, since I too, am a fan of the technical / programming content. Shamus notes that this content is fairly evenly distributed over the years, but looking at the charts myself, it seems like 2017 and 2018 had about half of the content of other years. On top of that, some of the earlier Spoiler Warning episodes were full of conversation between Shamus, Chris, and Josh, who all had some degree of technical / programming knowledge, which is not captured in the charts, since it’s not written content[1]. Later episodes simply discussed the surface-level of games, and didn’t discuss anything like narrative, plot, characters, etc on top of the technical discussions also lost; The shallowness of those later episodes / seasons is what made me stop caring about Spoiler Warning, even before the split.

      Additionally, some of the articles on this site invited discussion that would break the No Politics rule, such as working conditions in the industry, the power dynamics between CEOs and their companies, etc. I look forward to reading more of This Dumb Industry, but I won’t be able to participate in those discussions.

      So I basically come to this website sporadically and don’t participate in the discussions.

      [1] If Google’s auto-transcribed the episodes, Shamus, you could grab the transcriptions of Spoiler Warning, to compare it to your written content from this site.

      1. Richard says:

        I’ve read a fair bit of the YouTube automatic subtitling – they’re hilariously bad.

        So I don’t know whether the numbers would actually be sufficiently near reality to be interesting.

      2. Steve C says:

        Ditto on the Spoiler Warning stuff. I really liked how there was overlap in the hosts knowledge and expertise. Allowing them to bounce ideas off each other. Same with the Diecast. Now there’s less overlap and less bounce. That started to be true before the split too. Shallow and off topic discussion is good, entertaining and necessary. It gives breadth. Problem is, breadth is all that is left. The impromptu depth is lacking.

    2. Fon says:

      The Elder Scroll stuff are written by Rutskarn, I believe. I have always liked his works, even though I have NEVER commented back then.

      Funnily enough, I like D&D comic strips (though the current ones are reruns), but only skim through programming posts, if I read that at all. I do like retrospective posts too though. Shamus has many different audiences and I think variety is a good idea.

  8. tmtvl says:

    Seeing 2005 in those charts reminds me of when you posted about your D&D campaign. That was a happy coincidence, you had a blog called “Twenty Sided” and you also had a tabletop RPG going on.

    1. Lino says:

      Oh yeah, when I was binging through the old content, that and Mass Effect were my favourite series.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        I’d love to read another table-top RPG story transcript like the D&D campaign.

        1. Nimrandir says:

          On the off chance Shamus decides to spin up a Second Edition Pathfinder campaign on Roll20, I call dibs on the rogue.

        2. Hal says:

          Reminds me I should probably write one up for the game I’m running these days.

    2. Boobah says:

      ‘Happy coincidence?’ Maybe I’m misremembering, but I could’ve sworn Shamus mentioned that the D&D is the original purpose of the blog. It’s everything else that’s kinda off-topic.

      Or that was sarcasm and I failed my Sense Motive check.

  9. Kincajou says:

    As someone who works on graphs for a living i think there is more to be pulled out of your data: (where / means “divided by”)

    – comments / post (removing the “reposted” content as this would introduce a bias) vs time and in telation to “type of post”
    is probably the most important factor here. It would be able to let you understand which topics generate more “engagement” and if there are some topics that particularly don’t work.
    This is important as your output is varied enough that with about 3 posts/ week you’ll be touching on very different interests, but if only one of the three is doing the heavy lifting… well that’ only one serious interaction/week for you

    -comments/words vs time
    how has your ability to drive engagement changed over time? does it take you more words to generate comments than it did 5 years ago?

    – comments vs time (as an absolute number, from 0 to X days of posting) for retrospectives (or just all “series”) would be interesting, it would tell us the effects of longer retrospectives vs shorter retrospectives (is there more reader retention when you post on spiderman for 10 weeks or when you spend 2 weeks on something else?) it would also help understand if there is particular engagement for specific types of games (as an addendum, probably factoring in absolute sales numbers to take into account for “popularity” would be worthwhile in such a scenario)

    – commenters vs time (this might be hard to get the data from)
    are you pulling in lots of new people who are still too “shy” to comment?
    are the “oldies” changing habits and lives so just commenting less?

    – recurring commenters vs time
    do you have a retention of commenters or does an escapist article (for example) just feed “one off” traffic?

    These are off the top of my head, i think there are probably interesting things to do by looking at the evolution of numbers in relation to things other than time (like the number of escapist posts) and the data you have here should probably be correlated to some of your patreon data (but of course that’s much more private and really shouldn’t be shared with us… i’m thinking of “absolute earning per month”, “one off donations”, and such other info …)

    anyways, best of luck with things as they evolve.

  10. Asdasd says:

    I’ve heard that BTL commenting in general is on a downwards trend, and although I don’t know how true that is I’ve noticed other sites I visit such as RPS have lost a lot of comments, like, by a factor as high 10 a lot, to the point where a typical article is lucky to make double digits. It could be that people have just become less engaged as they changed staff and content strategy, but it could also be that more people consume websites via phones or tablets where leaving comments is less convenient. Or maybe people find discourse of 2019’s algo-driven internet too fractious and unwelcoming. Who knows?

    1. Hal says:

      Given the popularity of social media, I think it could be a combination of mobile-friendly formats, and the drawing of everyone into the social media space. That is, people are doing all of their commentary on Twitter (or wherever) so posting a comment on a blog post feels superfluous.

    2. Ancillary says:

      I’m one of those people you mention you became less engaged, so naturally I think RPS is a bit of a special case. I followed their content pretty religiously from about 2010 until a couple of years ago when the site underwent major transformations. They leaned really hard into the woke-ness. Of the original four founders, John Walker might be the only one still kicking around, but I’m not sure; I can’t find a personnel page on the site. My favorite writer, Adam Smith, took off to work for Larian. They stopped posting multi-part AARs (like the excellent Solium Infernum series) reminiscent of Shamus’s best content. Most of their articles these days seem to be re-worded press releases posted by faceless interns. When they do offer unique content, well…you get the Cyberpunk E3 kerfuffle.

      If I am in any way representative, then RPS comment decline is more due to a general exodus than a switch to tablets.

      1. CloverMan-88 says:

        Just FYI, John Walker left this year, he only posts Steam Charts articles as a running joke.

    3. BlueHorus says:

      maybe people find discourse of 2019’s algo-driven internet too fractious and unwelcoming.

      I was going to say something similar. There are sites that have a lot of comments…but so many of those comments are flame wars and arguments. Judging by my brief forays into the Escapist comments sections, that’s what at least half of the comments there are.
      It’s even true here, to an extent – usually a Chainmail Bikini repost will get 10-20 comments, but the ZOMGRAPEGATE episode gathered 200+.

      So, on the one hand, you could get more comments by abandoning the No Politics rule and posting divisive clickbait… ;-P
      (Please don’t)

      It makes me wonder if there’s a larger effect here as Asdasd suggested. I can’t be the only person who just gets tired seeing the same pointless ‘debates’ almost everywhere I go from people who aren’t really listening to each other.
      This site is one of the few places I bother to post on because it doesn’t feel pointless.

      1. Thomas says:

        I’ve tried to cut down how much I write and read comments on the internet, because I find it hard not to be a worse person when I do.

  11. Droid says:

    I can’t really say what it was that made me drift away from the site, but I never really got into Spoiler Warning much, so that wasn’t it. I guess you posted more retrospectives of games I hadn’t played and wasn’t all that interested in, and the Diecast also only occasionally holds my interest. I had subscribed to the ‘All Comments’ RSS feed for a while, but when most of the discussion was about posts that did not interest me, I unsubscribed from that to make my RSS reader not 95% ‘noise’. I’m still subscribed to your ‘All Posts’ RSS and read your posts occasionally, but unlike a year or two ago (when I’ve read everything you posted because it was fun to read no matter what it was about) now I’ve become pickier and only read the stuff that actually interests me.

    That’s not to say your articles have become stale, your articles still make me chuckle or laugh frequently, and your footnotes especially always spice up the article in question. I guess I just have less time to spend on articles or the internet in general, and more and more YouTubers also contend with you for my limited entertainment/procrastination time, so something (or everything, in my case) had to give.

  12. Ander says:

    The long-form retrospectives blur together for me. The same kinds of criticism come up repeatedly, and this has been noticeable with Spider-Man especially. TIM Island was my favorite post in this category. I never much enjoyed the CB comic. I miss Ruts.
    I think my favorite content on this site is narrative. The story of a programming challenge and solution (somehow a post mostly about triangles feels narrative when you’re the one talking), your fiction, biographical stories, that odd late night TV post, even the D&D campaign notes. You’re a good writer, and I wish there had been more variety over the past year.

    1. Lino says:

      I haven’t read his Spider-Man articles, but I remember noticing the recurring criticisms problem with Wolfenstein, but to me it was like comfort food – I followed the series when it was active, so I had a week to “rest” between the different parts, and it didn’t bother me that some points were repeated several times. That, and I just really liked the articles.
      I think Shamus himself once said he had the same problem with the Andromeda retrospective, although I didn’t notice it there…

      1. Asdasd says:

        The thing that puzzles me most about the Spiderman series is that Shamus repeatedly states it’s a game he loves, but the impression I get of it from the articles is terrible. The game comes across as a mishmash of borrowed systems that other games do better, confused storytelling where nobody’s motivation makes sense, hard-to-like characters (who don’t seem to like each other) and enough tonal whiplash to put a hydra out of commission. Normally I enjoy reading Shamus tear into a game with conviction, but here the dissonance is kind of off-putting.

        1. Lino says:

          Yeah, that is kind of strange, isn’t it? Especially given how it was one of his top 10 games of the year! I think it’s mostly due to the fact that you can say a lot more about a game’s flaws than about its strengths. Most of the praise you have for a game boils down to “Yeah, that part’s awesome!”, “That feels great!”, “This character is so well written!”, etc.
          However, when you’re critiquing a game, there are many avenues you can take – you can compare it to other games, films, and books, you can deconstruct it, and say how they could have done it better. You can speculate on why it’s so bad – maybe they didn’t have time to develop it, or maybe their whole design concept was flawed from the start…
          Couple that with the way people tend to remember negative experiences and comments more than positive ones, and you get these weird situations where some critics seemingly spend a great chunk of time laying into things that they’ve praised.

          1. Daimbert says:

            I got hit with that on my own blog by a regular reader. He explicitly commented at one point that he found my commentaries amusing because I’d spend a lot of time talking about all the flaws in a work and then at the end say “I liked it and would probably read it again”. A big part of the reason, though, is that if you don’t love a work — or don’t love parts of the work in something that you still enjoy — the flaws are the things that are going to most stand out to you and so are the things that you want to talk about. Especially things that are just “good” aren’t things to comment on. So aside from the wonderful parts or things that really make you think, you aren’t that likely to notice simple good parts in a good work, while even minor flaws will be noticeable. So you’ll just have more flaws to talk about than really good parts. The longer the post or series, the more time you’ll spent talking about flaws vs talking about the wonderful things.

            And you aren’t likely to have a lot of things to say about a work that you simply loved, so you won’t get long series out of those.

            That being said, for this one Shamus might have wanted to balance complaints with praise a bit more, as the long runs of comments on the story are mostly negative and so inserting gameplay posts in-between might have worked to forestall that impression. But he mainly did it in chronological — in-game — order, which led to parts where there wasn’t really much new about the gameplay and what was added wasn’t all that great while the story was more prominent and also had its worst parts.

        2. Ninety-Three says:

          I think it’s because most of his articles are tearing apart the shoddy story, but most of the game is, well, gameplay. He seems to enjoy the 80% of it that earns 20% of his wordcount.

          On the one hand I understand why this happens: If you want to write twenty thousand words to feed the content mill, it’s easier to do a scene-by-scene teardown of a game’s story than to talk at length about why the punching in Batman feels good. On the other hand, I feel like it’s sometimes missing the point. Sure, write a novel on the Mass Effect games because those are centrally about the story, but it’s weird to get twenty articles on plot vs two and a half on gameplay for games whose central draw is not the plot.

        3. Christopher says:

          I feel him, ’cause I’d probably say Spidey was my GOTY that year and I still wrote a ton of negative stuff when I wrote about it on my own. It’s just easier to talk about the things that annoyed you, and Spidey in particular is definitely a game that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Is Sable a bit frustrating and Mr. Negative sorta poorly explained? Yes. Does that take away from the joy of the freeform movement combined with the pretty fun combat and top-dollar presentation? Not at all, or at least, not very much.

          I agree that it’s a flaw to be actually super positive on a game and that not being reflected in the critique, but I get it since I do the same thing.

      2. Baron Tanks says:

        Guess a couple of similar responses cropped up while I was drafting my wall of text, I agree with the points here!

  13. Lars says:

    The number of article dropped from short of 300 in 2016 to little more than 200 in 2017 and 2018. Naturally the number of comments will drop too. Plus the loss of longtime commentators like Damien Lucifer, TheWideAndNerdy or MichaelC. Even Paul rarely comments outside of his own articles.

    1. Henson says:

      Wide and Nerdy commented on Monday’s diecast. He’s not left.

      1. Lino says:

        Yeah, he said he just had had a break from the site for some time.

    2. Nimrandir says:

      I’m genuinely curious how much of the comment reduction is specifically due to Daemian Lucifer. They were usually one of the first few comments on everything, and would respond to just about everybody else’s thoughts as well.

      1. kincajou says:

        yeah, i feel he might have inflated the statistics a bit there…

        on a related note, i wonder if having one person comment multiple times is any better worse than multiple people commenting a few times

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          The thing about Daemian wasn’t just that they commented a lot, but they often commented with either their own opinions or engaging other commenters. Even when I didn’t engage with their comments directly it was often interesting to read the discussion they sparked.

      2. Exasperation says:

        On the topic of his departure, I think he posted an “I’m leaving and here’s why” comment. I feel like it was in connection with the circumstances surrounding Spoiler Warning leaving the site, but I’m not sure and I don’t feel like looking for it right now.

        1. Nimrandir says:

          He did? I don’t remember that. He was around for a while after the Spoiler Warning split, or so I thought.

        2. Steve C says:

          No. I don’t believe he did. He was posting for a long time after that happened. And he was posting on the forums. He simply stopped.

          1. Exasperation says:

            Hmmm… now I’m wondering just who it was that I saw a post like that from.

            1. Steve C says:

              I believe Krellen made a post like that on the forums. Which was around the timeframe you mentioned.

              1. Supah Ewok says:

                Krellen’s post wasn’t about Spoiler Warning. He had a misunderstanding with the guy updating the forums at the time in regards to new theme options and said he wouldn’t be going on them anymore. I thought the whole thing was overblown; Krellen may have just been having a bad week.

        3. Grimwear says:

          My memory may be foggy but I believe when the Spoiler Warning event went down Daemian offered to leave the site if that would make things better to which Shamus et al. replied “No, it’s not your fault that it happened and we appreciate you being here. Any person can create conflict and we deal with it as it comes (also Shamus is good at jumping on stuff). This is a place for you regardless of this event.” And he stuck around and continued commenting until he suddenly stopped leading people to worry about the worst.

    3. Paul Spooner says:

      Yeah. Sadly I only have limited time to devote to hobbies like this. I was commenting extensively for the past few years because the job I was working wasn’t very challenging, and left me with a lot of free time. These days I’m working harder than I ever have before, plus trying to engage with my family a bit more, so my days and evenings are pretty well consumed. I’m lucky if I have some time during lunch when I can read the article.

      All that to say, I wish I could be more present. And yeah DL is missed.

  14. Rod says:

    Likewise I’ve been reading for… an embarrassingly long time now. I almost never watch the videos and the only audio I’ve listened to was the song work you did, but I read almost every single article all the way through and enjoy them. Programming, long form, game reviews, Let’s Plays, you name it and it’s more than interesting enough for me to read. Even the topics that I don’t know much about (musical composition!) are interesting to read.

    I wish I knew what was drawing down Patreon Subscribers. I’ve been one since I really discovered what that Patreon thing was.

  15. Lino says:

    I love these kinds of posts, and I hope traffic picks up for you! I couldn’t be more excited about the return of TDI, and for the new retrospective!
    As for the drop in readers, I think one of the main problems with traffic to text-based content is that the majority of people only go for the most inflammatory, clickbaity content they can get their dumb, bored, happiness-deprived hands on. And your “problem” is that you’re just too moderate for mainstream audiences like the ones the Escapist is aiming at (not that their audience is described by any of the adjectives I used above – I just really hate clickbait). At a time when most of the money is made from doing hot takes, it’s detrimental to growth when your hot take is basically “Hmm… Interesting… Let me do some proper research, and get back to you in a week!”, because by the time you’ve researched the topic and written your article, the majority of the mainstream audience are already busy getting riled up over the next WORST THING EVER OMG!!!!
    Don’t get me wrong – I love the community you’ve fostered here, and the fact that you’re one of the very few voices of reason in a sea of chaos and vitriol, but I never expected the Escapist to bring in a lot of new readers for you.
    I think a contributing factor for the drop-off in interest is the fact that one of your retrospectives is for a console game, and being a PC-only gamer, I personally don’t have much interest in reading how great a game I’m never going to play is. And I’m sure there’s at least a portion of your audience that feels the same way. If this was offset by people who only came here to read about console titles, then that would be OK, but somehow I don’t think that’s the case.
    Another interesting thing is that, going by the number of comments on your most recent posts, the biggest interest is generated by your articles about current issues in the gaming world (i.e. your Escapist articles). However, they are less frequent than your Spider-Man retrospective (which used to be published twice a week), which – in addition to being a console exclusive on a site focused on PC gaming – is additionally hurt by the fact that retrospectives that are underway are less appealing to passers-by.
    But at the end of the day, those are just my two cents. I love your retrospectives, the way you deep-dive into various topics, and your writing style in general. This is what keeps me coming here, and it’s safe to assume that’s the case for most people. Although traffic data is important, as is keeping traffic up, what’s more important is for you to write about things you think are important. I strongly believe that chasing trends and turning away from long-form content would be a recipe for disaster, and I’m happy you’re not planning to do that. I can only hope things turn out well for you.

    1. Ancillary says:

      I’m in the same boat re: PC gaming, but to be fair, the data being examined only goes to the end of 2018 when the Spiderman series was just starting.

  16. Dave Rolsky says:

    For the record, I was reading your blog before The Escapist.

    So with that said, I will say that I really like the content you posted there, and I hope you’ll continue with similar content here. I do enjoy the long-form retrospectives, but only if it’s either a game I’ve played (GTA V) or that I definitely will not play (Mass Effect: Andromeda). I don’t want to read 20+ posts of spoilers for games I’m interested in playing (Spiderman).

    As far as programming content, this isn’t of great interest to me. This is a bit ironic since I am a developer myself and post about this on my own blog. But game programming is really far away from my own programming interests.

    I most enjoy the variety of different essays you’ve written about the industry and other related topics.

  17. doran says:

    Apart from DM of the Rings, I enjoyed your earliest tabletop campaign posts the most – it was interesting seeing what went into a campaign. Have you ever though of livestreaming tabletop and giving notes and game design?

    1. Lino says:

      Actually, I really like the livestream idea – there are so many tools for online tabletop gaming that Shamus’ allergy problems won’t be a factor (I remember him saying that’s was a big problem for organizing games). There’s only the issue of getting 4 or more adults to free up their schedules for a few hours each week so they can actually play.

  18. Hector says:

    I favor more videos. I wish you could also a static image over your Monday mailbag and put that on YouTube. I have more chances to listen to videos than watch them, per se.

  19. mookers says:

    I came here for the comics way back when, and stayed for the writing, and for the commenters. I don’t even play computer or video games.

    My favourite topics by far are the programming posts, but I also enjoy the rants about the industry, and the personal posts. I have never bothered watching any video content and I think I listened to one audio podcast once, which was fun but takes too much of my time.

    I really appreciate the community here and think something like this should definitely be nurtured as it is a rare, beautiful thing.

  20. Trevor says:

    Well now I feel bad for not commenting.

    But I think that has more to do with the internet and social media in general than your content. As time and this year in particular has gone on, I’ve felt less and less inclined to chime in. Arguing with strangers on the internet just doesn’t have the same appeal as it once did.

    I love your longform critiques of games and that’s why I keep coming back. But I have an XBox and a PC for gaming, so the Spider-man game is inaccessible to me, so I’ll admit that I don’t really engage with those posts much. I think that just comes with the territory of those. If a reader is really passionate about a game, they are going to love a longform series on that game. If they are not, they won’t.

    I, personally, would love to see you do something on Prey.

  21. Hal says:

    As a long time reader, I know my own participation in the comments has dwindled; this is largely in part because I don’t play a lot of video games anymore, so on a goodly number of the posts, I don’t have much of interest to contribute.

    This is actually worth dwelling on. Since dropping the escapist article, you generally have ~4 posts a week: The podcast, the retrospective, and the Chainmail Bikini reposting, and something from a contributor (and occasionally another post on some random topic.) This is varied content, but can be very specific to interests; if you don’t listen to the podcast, you don’t have much to comment on there. If you don’t like the comic, you don’t have much to comment on there (or if you’re like me, you’ve already commented on the comic several times already over the last decade.) If you haven’t played the retrospective game, you probably don’t have anything useful to say on the post. And if you aren’t interested in the contributor’s post (i.e. I never watched Game of Thrones so had nothing to say about Bob’s posts), then you probably aren’t commenting there.

    I’m not sure what to say for a solution here. Homogenization of the content may not going to grow the audience, and expanding your content even further might just dilute your efforts on existing project.

    As far as practical suggestions? I’d say, “More table top content!” like the some of the others, because that’s what brought me here in the first place, but I recognize that era has passed. But if you wanted something different, perhaps you might bring back some shorter posts. I know we all love your 2000 word essays, but they’re probably hard to get out there the way 500 words isn’t.

    Here’s an idea: I’ll bet you have a huge library of unplayed games on Steam. How easy would it be to spend an hour with a random game from your library and then throw up a few hundred words about it? You could even call it, An Hour with [Game]. It’d be introduce a new variety of content, and introduce people to games they may never have heard of.

    1. kincajou says:

      i like the 1 hour of a game… could be something like an analysis to game introductions and how different genres do it differently.

      It would also have the added advantage of allowing shamus to play games of genres he might not enjoy without needing to commit to them.

      Only good can come from it

    2. RFS-81 says:

      +1 for the One Hour with [Game] idea

      (this is not spam but valuable and extremely scientific data for Shamus)

      1. Lino says:

        I also really like the One Hour with [Game] idea. TotalBiscuit used to do something like this, so for me it’s a niche that’s remained unfilled, since all the people I’ve seen do it since are ones I’m not very interested in following.

    3. baud says:

      Shamus already did a series of video game reviews, with games from his Steam backlog, called “Steam backlog”. They were interesting, I bought the Room, a pretty slick point-&-click after it was covered there ( But I don’t know why there weren’t more of those, perhaps too much effort compared to the result: I mean to write a good review, Shamus would have to play between a few and a dozen hours + writing, for a short article. It could be fixed by doing what you propose, by limiting to one hour, or splitting the review in an handful of articles (3-5 short articles), like Shamus was doing a decade ago.

      1. Hal says:

        Huh, I’d forgotten about the Steam Backlog series. Understandable, given that he started it two years ago and only seems to have done a handful of those posts.

        Looks like Shamus has revived it, too. Neat.

  22. Baron Tanks says:

    One bit of personal feedback on the long form analysis, is that it could perhaps do with a bit more outlining or editing to guard the overall structure. What’s killing my interest in the Spider-Man retrospective is that the analysis part is getting very repetitive. The feedback you have about the narrative and what works and doesn’t work about it has been thoroughly established in roughly the first 10 posts. Points you’ve made in the back half of the series (lets say the recent 10 entries) consist mostly entirely of points that have been raised before. And this doesn’t happen just once, but repeatedly. The root cause here seems to be that you give a comprehensive overview of the main story line, it’s basically a full text let’s play with analysis on top. Added to this is that as a longtime (at least 5 years I think?) reader I recognize many of your points from earlier series. So then it really just becomes beating an old drum. It looks like Spider-Man will wrap up in roughly 25 episodes, but when it comes to your insights (the reason I’m reading these), it feels there is a good series of 10 or perhaps 7-8 posts in there, by cutting a lot of the repetition and summarizing the narrative more succinctly, at least for the parts where you have nothing to say. In the end it is all about questioning if the material supports the form you’ve taken, because during the mass effect series (at least 1-3), this was not an issue at all, most likely because you had a lot more to say about these games and their context. Don’t let yourself be pigeonholed into the longest form of long-form analysis, just because you did this before. You’ve repeatedly said that there is quite a large gap between writing these and the posting, so perhaps an alternative would be to keep writing them the same way, but then as the first draft of the series is done, start asking yourself if there is not a lot of fat to be trimmed. I know from personal experience that it’s way harder to put something succinctly and to the point rather than generating lots of volume*, but I feel that your current retrospective really suffered from this and has become quite long in the tooth. Perhaps an editor could help with this, as it’s easy to get stuck in tunnelvision. Unfortunately there is a high cost associated with this (monetary and/or time wise), so I’m not sure how viable and or valuable it would be to have your wife or son evaluate your retrospective as whole before posting is, assuming paying someone is not an optiom. And that’s only if you have the whole thing written up, which isn’t nearly always the case. Perhaps you can still steer the ship in the right direction as you’re writing future ones.

    *just look at the stupid length of this comment

    I’m writing all this because, if you ask me what kind of content I want out of the site I’ll say long-form analysis and it is true, but if it looks more like Spider-Man than for example Mass Effect, I feel my interest is falling off. Again, this might not even be that the two series are necessarily written differently, but perhaps because the source material does not support the form you’ve chosen for this. Also, I could be one of the few people that experiences this. You could perhaps test this hypothesis by evaluating if the engagement for this series dropped off more severely than that of other ones, of similar length. Which makes me wonder if you have enough data for this… Anyway, I’m going to stop typing now (on my phone no less) before I’m stuck here all day.

    Oh one last thing, while I don’t know if putting the Escapist on hiatus is a good move or not (to me it felt those posts were of a lower quality), I do think it is important to have some form of visibility out there. I really doubt video will be a good way to drive traffic to the blog or patreon, but it’s better than nothing, especially since your social media presence went from bare minimum to absolute 0 this year. I personally dislike social media myself too, but you need some form of discoverabilty if you don’t want to have an ever shrinking audience. Maybe Issac would be interested to run a twenty sided Twitter or whatever. That is if he likes that in any way at all and you’re willing to expose him to the vileness of the platform,you definitely shouldn’t force anything. That said, those things affect people differently from person to person. I feel a total lack of presence outside the blog is also what really hindered your latest book release….

    1. Nimrandir says:

      I concur with the last paragraph here. I found Twenty Sided specifically through links in Shamus’ Escapist content. I get that the Escapist’s goal is to keep visitors on its own site, but I feel like some sort of traffic-driver would be necessary.

      1. Bloodsquirrel says:

        I don’t have any insider knowledge about what’s going on with the Escapist, but part of the problem may be that the Escapist relaunch itself was sort of a flop. In order for the Escapist to drive traffic to the blog, the Escapist has to, you know, have its own traffic first.

        Shamus might want to consider running a column somewhere else, if he can.

        1. Nimrandir says:

          That’s totally possible; I don’t follow Internet traffic numbers. Also, other than the new layout, the Escapist is more or less how I remember it. Yahtzee does his one/two things per week, half the other content is from MovieBob, and Shamus was writing the only column I followed.

          1. Bloodsquirrel says:

            There was a time, many moons ago, when the Escapist had a lot more than that going on. They were already well into their decline when they became the “Movie Bob and Yahtzee” website.

            1. Nimrandir says:

              Probably my favorite comedic series on there was Unskippable. I still have its archive bookmarked.

        2. Baron Tanks says:

          Right, that’s a good point. Perhaps the mechanism is actually working, but there is not enough traffic to drive in the first place. I don’t get the impression that the Escapist is doing well, but have no numbers to back it up. Another site would perhaps work. I wonder what sites would be a good fit? I don’t really frequent any except occasionally RPS, which I’m not sure would fit, although they’re at least more varied than just rehashing news and reviews*. Although they’re basically the polar opposite of the no politics rule, to the point it’s seeping into everything and it’s driving me away from visiting, even if I agree on most points. I just don’t enjoy someone shoving their viewpoint down my throat at every opportunity. But that’s neither here nor there for this discussion.

          *they have a great ongoing Dwarf Fortress let’s play called the basement of curiosity, definite recommendation!

          1. Nimrandir says:

            Honest question: what other sites are left? Rock Paper Shotgun is listed above, but it sounds like Shamus’ politics-neutral stance doesn’t fit there. I haven’t been to Polygon in a couple of years, but I recall the same thing about it’s content.

            Is Kotaku looking for freelance critique? Is Destructoid still a thing?

            1. Baron Tanks says:

              You’re right, I don’t think there’s much room for published deeper dive background stuff. All that seems to have disappeared to video, rather than written form. Perhaps there is no right answer here.

          2. Bloodsquirrel says:

            It’s more than an impression- about a month ago the EiC was laid off and the company behind the site was sold/merged, and decided to “take the site in a new direction”.

            1. Baron Tanks says:

              Right and not for the first time. Even in the rebooted format they apparently already switched course 3-4 times in what, a bit more than a year, less than two? Yikes… Sounds like Shamus decided to take a break from a sinking (or as someone put it, already sunk) ship.

        3. Lino says:

          According to Alexa, it’s not doing very well. As the OP said, social media is where text-based media get the vast majority of their traffic. So maybe Shamus should really consider going back into the swamp. Maybe he could try something like Medium…

          1. Baron Tanks says:

            Wow, those graphs (if accurate) are quite damning. Things are going from a steady decline into a rapid descent. Thanks for sharing.

          2. baud says:

            I don’t think Medium is a good idea as Shamus already has his own site, so he don’t really needs the main feature of Medium, which is long-form written content hosting.

            1. Lino says:

              Well, it could serve the same purpose as the Escapist – driving traffic to this site.

    2. Misamoto says:

      “+1” tells all :) Agree about repetitiveness.

  23. Infinitron says:

    I feel like the controversies of the current gaming landscape might be less suitable to the blogging format than they were in the past.

    This blog has a long history, but in recent memory it was best known for analyzing controversial sequels and spiritual successors to beloved story-driven properties. BioShock, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Mass Effect 3. There aren’t that many high profile titles like that anymore, and even when they do come out, their drama doesn’t seem to become as big of a deal. You can only be shocked so many times by the fact that video game writers often don’t know what they’re doing.

    1. Lino says:

      Not to mention that these types of games don’t get made very often. Add to that the fact that Shamus isn’t interested in all of them (or he just doesn’t know much about all of them), and you get a pretty small pool of possible titles for a retrospective.

  24. Ancillary says:

    New reader here, so I don’t show up in this data at all. I stumbled on the site a few months ago when someone linked the Mass Effect retrospective from a Reddit thread. I’ve stuck around because the long-form commentary is uniformly excellent, and the author manages the rare feat of closely mirroring my own preferences about what games could and should achieve, while still pointing out problems and opportunities I’d never considered. I wish I’d been around to contribute to some of the more incisive, engaging comment threads.

    If the focus is on retention, then all I can say is–more long-form analysis, please! It’s especially nice to see commentary that examines games in a wider context and tries to identify long-term trends. It might be preferable to take a look at slightly older games that have a clearer position in the gaming firmament and that more people have had time to play and think about.

    1. Lino says:

      Welcome! I hope you continue to enjoy your stay!

  25. Radagast says:

    I also visit the site regularly but skip most posts. I have no interest in video or audio, I’m usually reading because I want quiet time.

    Speaking of things that might bring in (Back?) new audience, have you considered bringing back DMotR but for the Hobbit?

  26. Winfield says:

    I’ve been reading your blog since 2008, I think, and I don’t know if I have anything to contribute. But here are my thoughts:

    • I didn’t initially expect to like Spoiler Warning but ended up enjoying it. I didn’t follow it when it moved offsite, so it’s undeniably given me one less thing to do here.
    • I was never a prolific commenter, and when I did I used a few different pseudonyms, but it’s been a couple years since I commented before this. I don’t really comment on anything these days, though.
    • I also play way less video games and my career in software has sucked some of the joy out of reading about programming. I’m still looking forward to your upcoming programming series, though! But maybe this (along with the previous point) is part of a miserable trend: maybe your core audience is aging and disengaging with everything as I find myself doing.
    • I don’t read anything from Bob Case or Paul Spooner. Nothing against either of them, but I tend to read a blog for the author’s “voice” and don’t tend to read content just because it’s on the same domain as something I’m already reading. (I do miss Rutskarn, though.)

    In any event, I hope you can solve the problem and that my feedback helps in some small way.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Yeah, I miss Rutskarn as well. He had several neat series going.

      1. DGM says:

        Question for Shamus: Is there any reason Rutskarn can’t just keep writing here independently from Spoiler Warning? Based on the glacial pace of updates on Chocolate Hammer he doesn’t really seem interested in maintaining his own blog, so I get the impression that just doing occasional guest posts on someone else’s would suit him better anyway.

        1. Shamus says:

          He posted here for a little while after the SW crew left, but then he decided to stop. That’s all I know.

        2. DM Dusk says:

          You can get more Rutskarn content if you don’t mind paying him $5 a month through his Patreon, which is mostly tabletop RPG-focussed stuff. He does some solo video content too, which goes out via the SpoilerWarning youtube channel.

  27. Lee says:

    I originally came for the programming posts. (Well, I think I did binge DMotR some time after it was finished, but that was a one-time thing.) Procedural cities, I think it was. I listen to the Diecast when I have time, which used to be every week, but is less so with my current job.

    RE: Patreon decline. Hopefully you will see a resurgence. Make sure to put patreon links on your Youtube videos once they come out. Others are saying that the Escapist wasn’t the problem, but I tend to disagree. First, I couldn’t read escapist articles from work, so I would frequently miss that content. Not sure how many are in that boat. On top of that, though. There’s a large psychological part to Patreon. I support a handful of creators, and at least some of the decision I make on who to support comes from who I feel needs it more. There are large creators that I watch a lot, but don’t support; but also small creators with only a handful of patrons that I support every month. Having your name as a byline on another site might be encouraging people to think you don’t need patreon as much, because you are getting paid for those articles.

    In any case, I hope things turn around for you, and I look forward to more programming posts.

  28. Decius says:

    Viral content is a way to attract new readers- things that people can post links to on social media, like one-page-at-a-time comics that result in archive binges.

    I’d bet that a significant fraction of your new readers come via Darths and Droids and DMotR via their TVtropes pages.

    1. Bloodsquirrel says:

      It was DM of the Rings that brought me. I’ve been saying for a long time that I’d love another comic series, and that comics might be a good way to draw in new readers, on account of how reading a comic is a much lower time investment than reading a blog post.

      Another series like his WoW or Champions Online one would be good, although I’m not sure that MMOs are getting enough attention nowadays to make them worth it. Maybe a Cyberpunk 2077 series would be a good idea. The game is getting a lot of attention, it’s already in Shamus’ wheelhouse, so it’s not like he would be forcing it, and I’m sure they’ll be plenty of material in the game to work with.

      1. Nimrandir says:

        I was a fan of Stolen Pixels, but I guess Shamus doesn’t own the rights to the IP.

        1. Bloodsquirrel says:

          Well, that hardly matters. The only IP to it was the name, and he can post comics under a new one just like he did with “This Dumb Industry”.

          1. Nimrandir says:

            True enough, and Shamus is sufficiently creative to come up with another clever name if he were so inclined. I just liked Stolen Pixels, for some reason.

  29. CountAccountant says:

    I have never commented here before, but it sounds like you are struggling to identify the needs of your readers. I will describe how I found your site, why I read your work, and what I am looking for in hopes that a “customer profile” proves useful for your needs. I realize that I do not represent every reader, but there is probably a segment of your viewership that is similar to me in some way.

    I found your site via DM of the Rings through TV Tropes a few years ago. Afterwards, I went to your main page to see if you had written anything else and discovered your Mass Effect series.

    Your series impressed me because you had genuine insight into something I thought I knew well. I was floored by your analysis and the way you made me consider perspectives that had never occurred to me.

    After I finished the series, I went to your archives and devoured what I could find. I have now followed you silently for years.

    You didn’t capture me as follower by doing several things pretty well. You captured me because you do one thing REALLY REALLY WELL – in this case, insightful, long form analysis. On the internet, I tend to go to the specific people who are outstanding at what they do, as opposed to one person for several different needs.

    I am not 100% sure that you know why you are outstanding – your core competency, in business jargon. If so, it becomes challenging to replicate your past success and you get pulled in many different directions that don’t advance your needs. I don’t know if that’s relevant to you, but it is something I see in my line of work.

    Your articles for the Escapist tended to bring the same genuine insight that your mass effect series did. I will sorely miss them. I noticed they hadn’t appeared for a few weeks and I was hoping you were just on a break.

    I am less likely to comment on anything in 2019 than I was five to ten years ago. You have described your frustrations with Twitter and the energy suck it creates. I am very cautious about opening a Pandora’s box that brings no opportunity to benefit me. While I just speak for myself, I would not be surprised if many of the people who appreciate your work the most comment the least. I realize you need to make decisions based on the data you have. Part of me feels a pang of guilt for not posting comments on your work. I guess I just don’t see why anyone would care what I have to say.

    I will probably never watch a video. It’s easier for me to read an article for a minute to clear my head at work than it is to carve out a specific amount of time to something that has audio and video. Video is a crowded space – there are a lot of talented people competing for those eyeballs. But if you bring something special that others lack, perhaps it will work.

    Again, this is intended as a customer profile to provide you with an extra data point. I hope it provides some benefit. Regardless, thanks for reading and for producing the outstanding work that you do.

    1. RandomInternetCommenter says:

      This is an excellent comment, I couldn’t agree more.

      Shamus, you’re the only voice (or keyboard, the distinction matters greatly here) in video games doing insightful analysis; and the “video games” part is superfluous. Your series on programming are just as entertaining, likewise with your comics and your personal life retrospectives.

      I would read just about anything you write regardless of the topic. It’s your perspective and your ability to articulate it in words that is interesting, not a shared geekdom or what have you. I suspect other readers may feel the same way.

    2. Lino says:

      Your articles for the Escapist tended to bring the same genuine insight that your mass effect series did. I will sorely miss them.

      What do you think of his This Dumb Industry articles? To me, they were basically the same as his Escapist column, but I’m interested to see if others share my opinion.

      When it comes to commenting, I’m in the same boat as you – I hadn’t left comments on social media or YouTube in about a decade. However, a while back I noticed how cool the community here is, and decided to start commenting here. I noticed that this has bled into me commenting on the odd YouTube video. I hope it doesn’t last, though, because YouTube comments suck :D

  30. vexus80 says:

    Another long-time reader, infrequent commenter here.

    Like many of your audience, I found you via DM of the Rings a good decade and a bit ago, and have persisted with reading your blog as much out of habit as a genuine love of your analytical content.

    To support what others have said, with far more eloquence than I- I think you are at your best when you are delivering thought-out analysis and insight into stories. I have enjoyed a little of what the other contributors have made, but my main draw has been and will remain your gift for analysis, deconstruction, and personal insight.

    If I may be so bold, part of what makes what you have to say so relatable, and why I think you have so many long-time readers but perhaps not as many newer ones, is that you have been remarkably sincere and open about your background, your thought processes, and your family. While I’m not saying you should write more on personal matters, the fact that you have been so candid has developed a stronger connection with your readers, who can relate to you and understand where you are coming from a lot better.

    Anyway, I’m not as good at this sort of feedback thing as others, but so long as you continue to want to put out writing like you have, I’m confident youll retain a core of likeminded readers.

    As to how to go about attracting newer ones- to be painfully blunt, I’m not sure you can. Blogs themselves seem to me to be in a very slow downward spiral. Maybe thats just selection bias on my part, but my perception is that the newer generation prefers more audiovisual content to the purely textual.

    It might be possible to attract a new audience if you diversify into “hot” areas, but I personally think that its better to keep being the best at what you’ve been doing these past many years than to take a very risky and uncertain gamble on a dying media for an unknown audience.

  31. Christopher says:

    Video is the right idea. I like reading your post, but video is where the views are. Making more people aware of what you’ve got to say is totally the way to go, and if you dip into the retrospectives and articles of old you’re sitting on a ton of stuff to adapt or compress into videos.

    Personally I think a Prey video would be great. There’s lots of different video game essays out there covering all sorts of topics, and the ones recommending a game the youtuber loves are among my favorite. If you can deep dive into what makes a game special and pace that out in a video, I think fans and nonfans alike are gonna enjoy it. And you’ve basically, unfortunately, got a monopoly on loving Prey. Not a lot of people can make that sorta video on it.

    Obviously the blog-only crowd won’t care, but if you post the scripts on the blog then that’s no skin off their back.

  32. shoeboxjeddy says:

    As a semi-frequent commenter, my notes about the last year and change.
    -I enjoy the comic posts, as I didn’t read them the first time, but only seldom have anything that rises to the level of a comment to say about them. Only the really gross strips at the beginning really got a rise out of me. At this point, I would never comment just to say “Heh… this one’s pretty funny.” I don’t think that’s a comment worth making.
    -The podcast topics sound interesting, but I honestly don’t have time to listen to the full thing and therefore just try to join or start discussion about what the topic sounds like it is about. Often this does not work as it seems other commenters are in the same boat of not listening to the full details.
    -Spider-Man is a game I own and fully plan to playthrough, but have not gotten to yet. For this reason, I only read the first 5 posts or so and then stopped to avoid spoiling the whole game for myself. Since it’s a slightly more recent game, perhaps many other commenters are in the same boat.
    -Any and all posts about coding or very technical web design stuff I read, but don’t have any ability to comment about. It’s all Greek to me.
    -Honestly, the Escapist posts were some of my favorite because the articles were good and then you’d add like a second, smaller article here too.

  33. Michael Anderson says:

    Very much enjoying the comments – and that is true in general and often keeps me from bothering to comment. But while I am not sure I am really adding anything ‘new’, I think you getting repeated feedback that is somewhat nuanced might actually be helpful:
    – I use Feedly for RSS and that is how I see your posts – your site is blocked for me at work so I will either ‘mark read’ or ‘read later’ based on the topic. I will ALWAYS check out new series or ‘one off’ posts, but if I am ‘checked out’ for a series you won’t see a click
    – I love the long-form work, and am generally pretty tolerant of the ‘copy & past criticism’ so many have noted here.
    – I didn’t ‘click’ with Chainmail Bikini last time … so while I tried it again, I stopped before #10.
    – Games like Spider-Man that I really don’t care about .. I can only read a couple of articles before I glaze over, so as a result I have skipped about 90% of that series.
    – Agree with others on the depth and breadth of the podcast … thought maybe it was just me, but I haven’t listened to more than 5% of it this year.
    – Somehow I read every word of the Mass Effect Andromeda series … not sure if that is a badge of honor or shame? But considering early on you stated that you wouldn’t retreat the same stuff too much from the other Mass Effect series – and then proceeded to not just do that, but week after week give us what felt like mostly the same stuff in a new area over and over again. If I can pinpoint a place where my brain said ‘ok Shamus, you really need to work harder to earn my time’ … THAT was it.

    So as I look at 2019 compared to 2018, I would say I went from clicking through >80% of stuff down to ~25%. No podcasts, 5% of Spidey, 7% of CB, ALL of your one-offs, ALL of ME:A … and this.

    Like others, not sure the answer – I do like the idea of dropping in on more games, and doing a single post on them. However, I fear that you will instead do a 25000 word series on Wolfenstein Youngblood, a game with few virtues that could be properly eviscerated in fewer than 2500 words.

  34. Ramsus says:

    As a long time reader and very infrequent commenter, here are my thoughts for whatever they might be worth.

    I’m sure some people left to follow Spoiler Warning or just have less to say because it was easy to comment along with that content and there were more people on your side of the creation process to be directly addressing or responding to us giving that nice warm fuzzy feeling of being able to converse with our entertainers.
    (I still do follow Spoiler Warning but the show was certainly better for having you and I dislike they don’t seem at all committed to following games the whole way through anymore as for me part of the draw was either seeing how other people thought about all the things in a game I’ve played or being able to experience one I’ll probably never play. I know there’s probably very little you can get out of that information but *shrug* maybe it’ll be useful for future projects?)

    I’m one of the people who don’t read the programming stuff, but that’s perfectly fine. Not everything here has to be for me.

    I’ve enjoyed the stuff by the special guests and your own long form analysis of games personally. I’m mostly here for that kind of content about games or shows or whatever.

    Having Chainmail Bikini back does remind me of something the blog has maybe been missing a bit. Which is comedic content. Your webcomics gave that, anything Rutskarn posted usually did as well, Spoiler Warning was a source for it of course, and your MMO articles were also comedic.
    Since Chainmail Bikini is repeat content for me, while I’m still enjoying it again, it doesn’t quite do enough to fully satisfy my desired comedic content intake. So maybe, if it wouldn’t be entirely outside of anything you actually want to do, you might want to consider a project that will bring some more levity? (Though I mean, I’m sure it’s not actually easy to find MMOs or games that you’re both interested in playing and you have a way to comment on in comedic fashion and it’s also not easy to just start up another webcomic.)

    I will note I’ve never been interested in the Diecast because podcasts are just not a thing my life so far has currently easily facilitated. I’m sure it’d probably be entertaining (and maybe fill in the comedy I’ve been missing), but my only real option is to listen while I stare at nothing on my monitor for an extended period of time which isn’t ideal.
    Still, I may be something of an anomaly there. *shrug*

  35. Bloodsquirrel says:

    I’ve been commenting less for two reasons: The first is that I haven’t really been reading the Spider-Man posts, since the game doesn’t really interest me, and there have been fewer independent columns to comment on. Chainmail Bikini isn’t new to me, so I’m also less likely to comment on that.

    The second is that my podcast listening habits have been changing in ways that ultimately meant that I wasn’t listening to the Diecast until the conversation about it had already died down. I used to tend to listen to the Diecast while at work or while playing Minecraft, which made it easy to pop off a quick comment, but now I’m more likely to listen to it on Thursday-Sunday while on a distance run or while biking, so I’m much less likely to have something I want to say so strongly that I remember to come back to the site to say it.

  36. Abnaxis says:

    For my part, I’ll read a retrospective for a game I haven’t played because I like the deconstruction, but I’m much less likely to comment. IIRC I don’t think you’ve had a retrospective of a game I’ve played since Final Fantasy X, so a greater focus on retrospectives means less comments from me.

    Also, I have a 2 month old son now, and much less time to refresh and follow a comment thread than back when I was a college student when I started following you. Since your core audience has been so steady,I wonder how many other people have kind of “lifed out”of having time to comment similar to me.

  37. avenger337 says:

    Want to add another datapoint: I’m a long-time reader (found you back in the original DMotR days) and a Patreon supporter, but infrequent commenter. I still check your blog every day and read most things you write but I have noticed a loss of things I’m interested in, so I’ll provide my observations in case it’s useful. I’m genuinely not trying to be critical or rude so hopefully these don’t come across that way:

    Stuff I like:

    * you are a great writer: the long-form analysis is really well-done and is still my favorite content on the site; however, many of your critiques are now very predictable. You complain about the same things in Spiderman + Wolfenstein + Andromeda, and eventually it’s “a new game, same ol’ complaints”
    * the short-form articles (TDI, the escapist articles) commenting on “recent trends in the industry” are also fun to read, and a good way to learn about things I maybe didn’t know about in the past.
    * As an aspiring fiction writer, I also love your fiction, and thought processes behind writing are always really interesting to me

    Stuff I don’t like:

    * re-runs are not interesting to me. I’ll read them, sometimes, but I don’t really care. I’m certainly not invested in commenting on them (especially for chainmail bikini, which has been re-run three times now… is there really anything else to say about it?)
    * I occasionally listened to the DieCast back in the day, and I never listen to it now. I’m not interested in audio content.
    * video content is sometimes OK but I never watched any of your streaming stuff.
    * I don’t really like the content from other contributors appearing on your blog: Bob Case, Paul Spooner, etc are good writers but they’re not the content I come here to read. I skip over most things they write, and I’d prefer they posted on their own blogs.

    Stuff I miss/wish would come back:

    * Really I think the biggest complaint I have now is that most of your old content _types_ have vanished. There hasn’t been any interesting programming projects; there aren’t any new comics or let’s plays (which are hilarious, btw); there’s not a lot of autoblography-type-posts; there’s no role-playing content; etc.

    I think the short version is, if I had to summarize what your blog has turned into this year, it would be “One long-form article a week which is interesting but starting to get repetitive, plus a bunch of re-runs and content from other people”. If I had to summarize what your blog was 2-3 years ago, it would be “Lots of varied, engaging, and funny content about mostly technical/nerdy things.”

    I don’t have any plans to stop supporting you on Patreon, because I still check your site every day and I like the content that you put out… but I definitely don’t feel the same level of excitement when you post a new article that I did 2-3 years ago.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      I can’t speak for Bob (as he has an established audience) but the reward for me is audience feedback. I DO occasionally post on my other blogs (there are a couple) but I don’t think anyone reads them. Certainly, there’s probably a lot of reasons for that. Self-deprecation aside, I feel like the exposure of posting here is sufficient compensation for the effort on my end, which is why I post here more often than on my personal or gaming blog. I would prefer for Shamus to gear up his writing to the point where he was posting something every day, making the guest authors superfluous. Until that happens, though, occasional guest content seems like it isn’t hurting anything.

  38. Retsam says:

    I don’t think my browsing habits have changed much but I do feel somewhat less engaged with the blog nowadays, and I think, personally, there are a few reasons:

    1. “Nu Diecast” is quite a bit less interesting to me. I like Shamus, and I have any issues with Paul, but I don’t love the two person format and especially when the two people have fairly similar views and interests. I felt there was a lot of “Paul or Shamus says something and Shamus or Paul agrees and reiterates the point”.

    The original diecast wasn’t filled with fierce debate or anything, but from Campster’s critical perspective (and tendency to play niche indie games), to Rutskarn’s more literary perspective, to Mumble’s general enthusiasm about whatever she happened to be playing, to Josh’s… I dunno, plumbing anecdotes… each member brought a more distinctive voice and perspective.

    I remember it being said that the old format was kind of chaotic on the hosts – a lot of talking over each other that needed to be edited, etc – but I think the (edited) chaos was sort of the charm, it gave it a natural feeling.

    I know personally the Diecast was one of the big anchors of this site for me, regardless of whether I was interested in the currently airing columns, I’d almost always come to listen to the new diecast.

    2. I’m not hugely interested in the “This Dumb Industry” (or the Escapist columns which were often the equivalent). A large part of that is just oversaturation: it feels like the entire internet (maybe it’s just Reddit/Imgur) is one big “this Dumb Industry” column, where it obsesses over whatever the current controversy of the week is, and I’m just kind of tired of hearing about whatever bad thing some big company did.

    Plus, as Echo Tango said, it often conflicts with the “no politics” rule, which can make for discussions that are either heated if people tread or cross the line of “no politics” or stilted if they don’t.

    And other than the retrospectives, which naturally are hit-and-miss on an individual basis (e.g. I’m skipping Spider-Man as I still want to play it first), that seems to be the most consistent content on the site.

    1. Bloodsquirrel says:

      I agree about the Diecast. I still listen to it, but it is less engaging, and it does need a little bit more of the energy that the old crew had.

      In the other podcast circles I listen to having frequent guests (often guys with their own podcasts) and being a guest yourself seems to be a very important tool for building an audience and become more well-known. Someone like Joseph Anderson, for example, would make a really good one-time guest. Bob’s material is good, but since he isn’t posting on his own channel anymore he’s not really bringing in new exposure.

    2. Nimrandir says:

      I’m actually in the exact opposite position. I haven’t listened to a single episode of the Diecast. It’s in good company, though, as I don’t listen to any podcasts whatsoever. I browse the comments of each one, in case there’s an interesting conversation I can follow without the episode’s lead-in.

      On the other hand, my exposure to the Internet at large is pretty low, so I greatly appreciate Shamus’ coverage of big happenings in the game industry.

    3. Lino says:

      I actually really like his This Dumb Industry column, because they’re much less emotional and much better researched than the majority of the content I see online. I follow only a couple of subreddits, and I’ve deliberately cut on my exposure to inflammatory content, so to me Shamus’s columns are always a breath of fresh air for me.

  39. Mark says:

    Long time reader here, since the mid-2000s at least, and not planning to leave — this has always been one of my favorite sites on the Internet. If I had a request, it would be for more series on programming and more of your thoughts on writing fiction. I don’t dislike any of the current features on the site but those are the things that I looked forward to the most when they were in progress, and there hasn’t been much content in those areas lately.

    On another note the current DieCast is way better than the previous one. More focused and smooth, fewer forty-minute digressions about professional wrestling. (Not that there’s anything wrong with professional wrestling but it ain’t my bag.)

  40. Alberek says:

    I have visited the site from the time of DMotR, but I mostly stayed for the comics as programing is not my thing (ironically I’ve been doing a lot of it lately)
    I end up knowig about Shamus from that episode in Errant Signal when he talked about that game Rutskarn was writting for… and I end up watching Spoiler Warning (the Skyrim series)
    But posting on the comment section is something I’ve been doing just the last year
    I have to say, I enjoy the new long form retrospective thing (probably next year we might be seeing Cyberpunk in the site?). And I most of the time enjoy the podcasts (what can I say, I rather have videos… it helps me to focus on what they are saying)
    Oh and I don’t normally visit the Escapist… the articles there are mostly for those that want a bite size approach to the subject

    1. Lino says:

      What episode was that? I think I’ve watched all of Errant Signal’s old episodes, but I don’t remember Shamus being mentioned in any of them.

  41. Attercap says:

    Personally, I visit mainly for the long-form game analysis. My site visitation is largely based on my overall interest/interaction with the given game. The Spider-Man retrospective has been interesting, but more due to my interest in the character rather than the game itself (I don’t have a PS4). I’m usually on the site in between calls and other soundcard-required duties so I ignore the DieCast posts unless there might be something in the liner notes. …And I’ve never been that prolific of a commenter.

  42. Between often not having much to say, knowing too often I post something likely to get replies and then forgetting to check back to address them, the little I posted has been less as if I wasn’t sure I’d remember to check back I decided against posting. And besides, it’s not like my posts are big quality for the other readers.
    I watched Spoiler Warning irregularly, mostly checking old chapters. Then I dropped it when I felt miffed by some pet peeve happening. Nothing wrong with anyone or anything, just personal rarity that isn’t justified objectively.
    The current podcast I only listen to the fractions about stuff I’m interested. I’ve listened now and then to some full even if not in principle interested, but a few of them have felt sorely lacking. I believe it’s because it’s just two of you, so inevitably there’ll be stuff that you only one of you knows of, so when that happens it feels very dead, like one is there to speak about stuff and the other is just there for meaningless replies feigning it’s not a monologue. When you both know of the thing talked about it’s fine. I think that needs a third and possibly some fourth participant to make unlikely to come across something only one has had any experience or interest about the matter being talked about so there’s a stronger chance for a proper dialogue completing, balancing or enriching each other’s points. I’m sure you’re aware and it’s not like you can click your fingers and you got the third or fourth that’ll achieve that, but I think better saying that’s what I get from them.

  43. Liessa says:

    I prefer text articles myself, but I’m all in favour of you doing some videos to attract more traffic to the blog – unfortunately that seems to be where most of the interest and attention is these days. The loss of Spoiler Warning was a great shame, and I wouldn’t mind seeing you try out your own series of snarky LP videos if it wouldn’t be too much work. More text LPs like LotR Online would also be welcome.

    As for the things I like best: Like many other people here, the long-form analysis is my favourite, followed by your articles on the games industry. The programming and coding stuff is officially Not My Bag, Baby, but I realise a lot of other people enjoy it (and I do appreciate your ability to explain programming concepts simply for people like me, with no knowledge of the subject). I struggle with the Diecast because I really don’t like audio-only content very much, although you and Paul often have some interesting things to say; in an ideal world I’d rather just read a transcript, although I realise it would probably take quite a lot of effort to produce one.

    A couple more ideas for a regular post series:
    – I used to love ‘Stolen Pixels’, your old comic series from the Escapist. Would it be possible to bring that back in some form?
    – This one came to me while re-reading your ME: Andromeda retrospective, specifically the sections where you describe how you’d change the story to make more sense. I couldn’t help thinking that even these small snippets sounded way more interesting than the actual plot of the game. Have you ever considered writing your own space-opera story, even just as an outline or proof-of-concept? I know from reading The Other Kind of Life that you’re a a good writer and you can do fiction.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Maybe Issac could just upload the diecast file here?
      Anyone know how good Google’s transcription is? Even if it’s garbage, seems like an easy improvement to the podcast.

      1. I have used google transcript multiple times for a news site I worked for, it works pretty well but does depend on the accent a bit.

  44. Zagzag says:

    I’ve been here for a decade now and I hardly ever comment (I’m sure I’m not the only one). A big part of the reason for that is the nested comments structure. I can’t tell at a glance what comments are new since my last visit (unless the post is old and the conversation is already over before I got there), which makes it hard to follow what’s going on without spending time rereading every thread to see if anything was added. It also gets cubersome refreshing the page and ctrl+f-ing my name to see if anyone replied to me, which is at least something you avoid in places like reddit (which I also tend to read rather than comment on for the same reasons).

    As for the content, while I’m certainly not planning on leaving the site there does seem to be something a little lacking right now. I’ve been really enjoying Bob’s articles since he started posting more regularly, but I think part of it is just the lack of interest in the two most recent retrospectives and the fact there’s not much else going on aside from that (I already read the comic back in the day). I avoided reading Andromeda since I had some idea I might get around to playing it, (though that probably won’t happen at this point so I should go back to it), and the Spiderman series got a bit repetetive for someone who hasn’t played the game and has no particular interest in the character.

    The thing I’ve enjoyed on the site the most in recent times was your series of posts on Warframe (which actually got me to try the game and stick with it until now). I think the site may be missing some shorter form discussion of a variety of titles, which helps keep interest with readers who aren’t too into the current retrospective for whatever reason. Some of your older shortform series also come to mind as content I’ve particularly enjoyed (e.g. your STALKER posts back in the day, before I’d ever heard of the series). Right now it can feel like there is almost no point checking the site for weeks at a time because there’s often nothing much going on aside from the same few things. A few years ago that wasn’t the case, and you’d often find something shorter and unexpected.

    As for the Escapist articles, I will admit that I was typically only reading the post on your site and skipping the actual Escapist article entirely. They almost all felt overly simplistic compared to the more interesting analysis you posted here that would usually summarise the article and go into more detail, and I found that reading the original article was rarely ever necessary if I just read your accompanying blog post and the comments.

    I’m sorry for being so negative, since that wasn’t really what I was hoping to achieve here. I’m still enjoying your content and don’t plan to stop reading the site, so I’ll be interested to see what effect your proposed new format has.

    1. Lino says:

      I’ve been here for a decade now and I hardly ever comment (I’m sure I’m not the only one). A big part of the reason for that is the nested comments structure.

      Yes, this is indeed very annoying – it’s the only thing I dislike about this site (that and the fact that my active commenting time coincides with the majority of the other commenters’ sleeping time).

  45. Richard says:

    Maybe my material was so brilliant and flawless that there was nothing for anyone to add or disagree with

    Yes, indubitably.

    More seriously, I’m reasonably sure that I found your site via DM of the Rings, however I have no idea how I found that.

    I love your programming series and “This Dumb Industry”
    Even when I thoroughly disagree with everything you’ve written, I still learn something interesting.

    I like most of the long-form game retrospectives, but for some reason I’ve found the Spiderman one… boring. It never grabbed my attention, and I’ve just skipped the last ‘few’.
    I can’t quite put my finger on why though, so this isn’t very useful critique and for that I apologise profusely.

    Please, continue!

  46. GoStu says:

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but here’s a couple things that contributed to my own lessening interest/disengagement:

    – The main focus of the Thursday series is a platform-exclusive title I can’t and likely never will play. Mass Effect, Borderlands, and Batman were three of my favorite long-form analysis series and I was thrilled to see the Mass Effect series extend through Andromeda. My enjoyment was helped by the fact that these were all games I’d played and enjoyed. Spiderman being exclusive to a platform I don’t own has reduced my interest from “oh yeah I felt that too” down towards an abstract “oh I guess that would be un-fun”.

    – This Dumb Industry has historically been my favorite content; its hiatus has left me with less to read here. I’m very interested to see its return.

    – Chainmail Bikini just isn’t clicking for me. Sorry. I like D&D but a comic based around truly awful D&D just isn’t pushing my buttons in a good way.

    – The Proc-gen Starship content never caught my interest.

    – The Escapist stuff was fine content but I’d honestly just rather read here; as far as I’m concerned the Escapist is a sunk ship (not sinking but already underwater) and I’d rather just get your content direct here than stick around the jetsam of that site. It also seems like they were tossing your articles straight into the back so that other columnists could have the spotlight. Perhaps few Escapist-readers ever saw your column at all.

    You’re still one of my absolute favorite authors on the internet, with a talent for analysis and some very insightful things to say. I’ll stick with you; it’s just the recent material has caused my enthusiasm to ebb a bit.

    1. Nimrandir says:

      Yeah . . . I have no idea what is driving the Escapist’s display priorities. Experienced Points articles were a devil to find on the main page, but Shamus’ article on the Xbox Game Pass was the top entry for a month if you clicked on ‘Columns.’

      Maybe they’ve over-categorized their content?

      1. Grimwear says:

        For pretty much Shamus’ entire run, the Escapist was broken for me. It’s now finally been fixed with their new site but at the time I had to depend on Shamus posting a link on his site to get to the article. As for the Escapist itself…when it crashed it crashed hard. I fully expected it to fold but it didn’t. But honestly aside from Zero Punctuation I don’t think they get much readership. I know they got Bob back and I’m sure he’s second popular but if Yahtzee weren’t there the site would have no traffic at all. Just looking at their “latest” section on the main page there are a total of 133 comments across 10 pieces. 117 of them are Zero Punctuation. I think Escapist spent too long dead in the water. People will come for ZP but nothing else, and once the video is done playing they leave, they don’t click or engage with the site in any other way.

  47. Alecw says:

    Hi shamus
    Just some thoughts on this from me.
    I’m a very long time reader, and did in fact come from The Escapist many years ago.

    With Patreon support, my ability to support content providers has waxed and waned over the years. So it’s important that you sometimes put out your hand and remind your readers that you rely on Patreon IN BIG LETTERS – I’d forgotten really.

    However, that isn’t the only reason you may have lost Patreon support.

    I would not be able to support you in this way any longer, even though my income has increased, as I will no longer use Patreon for any reason due to its decision to interfere with the personal views of its creators. That particular sort of economic censorship is extremely dangerous, and it just goes against my belief in human rights. Not going to get into that subject in depth.

    But suffice to say you have a different means of supporting you, please let us know.

    1. Moridin says:

      Speaking of alternatives to patreon, apparently Paypal offers the option for monthly payments now. You might want to look into that, since you already have a paypal link anyway, and Paypal takes a smaller cut.

  48. Daniil says:

    For what it is worth, I discovered your blog earlier this year quite by accident and binged on quite a lot of it. So even if you lose some, you still gain… well, me, but hopefully some others too? Anyway, I find your video game retrospectives and plot commentaries to be particularly interesting and thought-provoking (the Mass Effect series is brought me here in the first place), so that’s what I’d like to see more of. Conversely, videos and podcasts are really not my thing; like some commenters above, I just like to read.

    EDIT: Tell a lie, I think I did read DMotR ages ago, then forgot all about this, then accidentally discovered and binged on the Mass Effect series this year and proceeded to read everything else that seemed to be remotely in the same vein.

  49. Dreadjaws says:

    The 2016 numbers were inflated by my re-posting of my World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings series.

    You can always repost the Champions Online series to add to this year’s word count.

    I’m not sure why comments dropped off like this. Maybe I wasn’t putting up enough material. Maybe the material was fine but it wasn’t interesting or controversial enough to generate discussion. Maybe my material was so brilliant and flawless that there was nothing for anyone to add or disagree with?

    Want that comment count to reach an all-time high? Publish that TLJ analysis you once suggested. Seriously, though, remember that two of the weekly entries are a comic now, and those tend to garner less comments. Granted, it wasn’t the case in 2018, but don’t expect things to get much higher with this format.

    Now honestly, here’s my two cents:

    I discovered your website way back then through the old Escapist, well before it collapsed on itself, by your column and your comic. I started coming here for the extra comment on them and then stayed for the rest of the content. Here are the things I enjoyed the most:
    Articles regarding your issues PC gaming. Not to be one who enjoys others’ suffering, but I found your troubles with DRM, picking hardware pieces and trying to use insane software very relatable. Plus, everyone talks about consoles and the only popular dedicated website to PC gaming (PC Gamer) is currently a hotbed of idiocy. Today this kind of thing only shows up from time to time for a couple of minutes in the Diecast, and it’s not the same.
    Your Let’s Plays. I’m really not much for LPs. Watching other people play a game for long periods of time needs a hook to keep me engaged, like really fun or insightful commentary, and that’s very rarely a thing. Your very particular style is what I’ve found the most appealing: a satirical first-person account from the perspective of the main characters that provides interesting and detailed explanation of the games and their mechanics while poking fun at their silly storytelling or bad gameplay choices.
    Your retrospectives. These are the most detailed explorations of certain games I’ve ever seen, and I love them. I will, though, echo what others think and say that you’re maybe going too long for your own good. It’s good to spend weeks discussing a game like Mass Effect, for which the story is a main component, but in a game like Spider-Man that mostly relies on gameplay you do repeat the same observations over and over (personally, I’m honestly a bit sick of the whole “Hey, it’s my evil arch-nemesis, Martin” joke, particularly when the game does show his real supervillain name in at least three different places – one of which can be accessed at all times – and many more if you use subtitles) to the point where you could easily throw away a dozen entries and no content would feel lost. I’ll still read the whole thing, but I understand if people get bored of it. I think that for games that aren’t so dependent on story an analysis style like the one you had for Batman: Arkham Origins would be the best way to go.
    Your game reviews. These are a shorter form of the long-term retrospective, simply explaining what’s good, bad, interesting or annoying about a game. These are a rarity here these days, however.
    The “This Dumb Industry” column. This is something for which material is likely to never run out, so I’m glad it’s coming back. I never liked that it was gone. The column at The Escapist is fine, but it’s not the same.
    The autobiography. I’m not one who likes to pry in other people’s lives, but I really enjoy your narrative in these stories. You make something that would otherwise be entirely mundane sound fascinating.

    Stuff that I don’t care about:
    Articles written by other people. With all due respect to the other writers, they’re not the reason I’m here. I’m sure their hamburgers are good, but I’m in this pizza shop for a reason.
    Musical stuff. I’m not saying I don’t like your stuff, it’s just something that doesn’t strike my fancy in general, so if I see a post about some new music you made I’m going to ignore it. Again, no hard feelings, just a personal preference.
    Programming stuff. I know I’m in the minority here (particularly since this is, you know, your career). My interest in programming is tangential. I’d like to give it a go someday but for the time being most of your stuff is way too advanced for someone with such basic knowledge as me to be entertained by it instead of confused. Some day in the future if I get more into it I’ll be sure to give all your articles on the subject a read.

    I’m still a Patreon supporter (not a fan of the platform, but as far as I know it’s the only one you use), and I have no intentions to stop being one, unless, I don’t know, you go all “Ooblets dev” on us or something like that. Please don’t do that.

    1. Ander says:

      “go all “Ooblets dev” on us or something like that”
      I dunno, you say that, but Shamus is much snarkier than the dev in question and writes to a larger audience.
      And as part of the anti-hate squad, here’s a follow-up the dev wrote:
      I imagine if, like, this site had been outraged at Shamus’s initial Patreon announcement. “He shouldn’t make fun of people overflowing with money in a world of so many poor people, including readers of this site.” It’s not a perfect parallel, but I can respect that the dev thought he was writing to a very small audience who was already used to his style.

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        Shamus might use snark, but he never outright insults his audience like they did. And their response, just like their original post outright ignores every legitimate criticism while only focusing on the bad apples, which are the people that
        a) exist in every community, so there’s no sense pretending they’re exclusive to gaming, like they did,
        b) are the minority, so there’s no sense pretending they’re proliferate, like they did, and
        c) no one likes because they’re irrational and their opinion should be discarded instead of being the only one to address, like they did.

        I have no respect or sympathy for these developers. They knew they were going to get backlash, and I’m in fact convinced they counted on it. They simply didn’t think they couldn’t handle it because, as they’ve shown, they have massive egos. And then, of course, they’ve used these attacks that, I reiterate, exist everywhere (I’ve never published a game in my life and I’ve received hundreds of “go kill yourself” responses to my comments in my life) to try to garner pity without, again, taking even a moment to address any legitimate complaint.

        Shamus is nothing like them. Even when directly addressing strawman commenters in his articles he never tries to pretend their complaints are baseless.

        1. Ander says:

          “he never outright insults his audience”
          Yes, you’re absolutely right. I don’t know enough about the devs’ small community (their primary audience for the initial post) to know if there were people there who felt insulted by the flippancy and cherry picked argument points, but taking that to be the case, no, Shamus has never done that. The dev brushed off the broader internet community’s Epic objections with “I don’t care and don’t feel beholden to you,” which is more clearly an insult (one I happen to think is fair in concept, though), and Shamus also doesn’t do that, at least not from a position of smug security.

        2. shoeboxjeddy says:

          This post is a lot of bunk dude. They are receiving “tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands” of messages. The dev would know, because they are receiving them! Your response of “these are a minority and not worth addressing” sounds like a total denial of reality. What volume of racially motivated death threats is enough to focus on, in your opinion? You have no sympathy that complete strangers are hounding him because of the indy video game he made and an ill advised blog post? Maybe you should like… grow some human empathy. Making a rude blog post is not a crime and is NOT deserving of even 1% of this insane hate. I’m kind of curious what communities you participate in to receive “hundreds” of death threats or suicide suggestions yourself. Those communities sound awful and it seems like they have completely warped your perception of what is normal and acceptable human behavior!

          1. Dreadjaws says:

            We only have their word that they’re receiving “tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands” of messages, and I’m sorry if I don’t trust the word of people whose introductory message to the larger community is the dismissal of their legitimate concerns as childish behavior. Plus, sure, they’re receiving a lot of messages, but how many of those are actually legitimate threats and not just civil responses (of which we’ve already seen many in their original discord discussion, which they proceeded to dismiss as “toxic behavior” anyway) or claims about pirating their game?

            Don’t come to me with the whole “grow some human empathy”. I have empathy. They don’t have it, yet at the very first sign of trouble suddenly they feel themselves with the need to request it. Plus, I need to reiterate this: they went looking for it. You cannot live in 2019 and expect a post of that kind not to receive a negative response, specially after every single “we’ve gone Epic exclusive” post has been met with backlash, and particularly since they deliberately chose to antagonize the community.

            They knew it was going to happen. They just expected it to work as publicity and they thought it was nothing they couldn’t handle. So no, they don’t deserve my sympathy. They’re just playing the victim card and you’re playing right into their hand.

          2. DavidJCobb says:

            Making a rude blog post is not a crime and is NOT deserving of even 1% of this insane hate.

            It wasn’t even a rude blog post. Every single remark about the Epic Game Store was made in the exact same tone as an obvious joke about Fortnite. The developers knew that EGS exclusivity announcements tend to receive an intense backlash, and they thought they could ease that by setting a humorous tone right out of the gate. What they missed is that there are a lot of gamers out there who just want someone to blame without caring to look at anything deeper: it’s quick, easy, and effortless to blame developers for taking these deals, whereas it’s more challenging to try and look at the conditions that allow companies like Epic to enter this part of the industry and use raw starting capital as a substitute for making a quality product. Humor, especially in text where things can be more ambiguous, can fail badly when it encounters an audience that’s already strongly motivated to condemn and attack.

            Given Deadjaws’ harassment apologia in this thread, with such well-worn tropes as “it’s slightly bad for me; therefore no one should complain about things being bad” and “they’re probably lying about it anyway, just like all the other ‘victims,'” I’m sure they’re one of the folks who takes the easy route.

            1. Shamus says:

              Since this thread began by contrasting how I behave to the Ooblets devs, I suppose I should weigh in.

              The first problem is that it’s dangerous to mix joking around with controversy. In a one-on-one conversation, making a joke in a tense situation might lighten the mood. This does not work in the context of a company announcement to a displeased public. People who are angry are not in the mood for jokes, and it makes them feel like you’re not taking things seriously. It’s like when Ajit Pai joked about the incredibly controversial decision to end Net Neutrality. It didn’t humanize him, it made him seem arrogant and tone-deaf.

              The other problem is that the humor was aimed outward, at the fans, instead of inward, at the developers themselves or at the Epic Platform. It was inherently antagonistic because it trivialized the legitimate concerns of their customers / fans.

              If I added pop-up auto-play max-volume advertisement videos to this site, people would have a good reason to be annoyed. Even if I really need the money, I have to be very careful how I announce it.

              If I say, “I trust in your ability to press pause”, that comes off as dismissive and condescending. I’m making it sound like the only problem is that they have to hit pause, thus trivializing the many real issues with this sort of advertising. If I follow that up with, “I’m sure the people on this site are too nice to complain because they’re not toxic assholes”, then I’ve framed it so that everyone who disagrees with the decision is a toxic asshole.

              I do feel for the devs. I’m sure they intended to be playful. PR is hard. As I understand it, this is a two-person team of an artist and a programmer. I can understand a couple of creatives whiffing on something like this. But the initial message was indeed antagonistic because it trivialized concerns and preemptively insulted anyone who might object. Then they doubled down and implied the complainers were all toxic harassers. Again, this leaves no room for reasonable discourse. Rhetorically it says: You either agree with me or you’re a horrible person. It fails to draw a distinction between actual harassers and people who are just angry and want their concerns taken seriously.

              This behavior attracts bad press, and you end up with a destructive feedback loop where insulting the public leads to backlash and the backlash is used to justify the insults, while using the behavior of the bad actors to further insult the masses.

              It’s not random that this game got so much more backlash than other Epic exclusives. Their entire posture has – intentionally or not – been incredibly antagonistic.

              I’m not perfect and I’ve had my own PR disasters, but I don’t think I’d make this *particular* kind of blunder. I knew it was going to be bad when I read the statement, before the backlash really took off.

    2. AndrewCC says:

      Champions Online is dead, reposting that series would only fatigue readers.

      1. GoStu says:

        Was thinking the same thing. I’m pretty sure that game was on the verge of death even as Shamus started writing about it: poking fun at it now would be both picking on something comparatively obscure for a second time AND recycling jokes.

        1. Dreadjaws says:

          Yeah, somehow this game has been “on the verge of death” for over a decade. Amazing how reality doesn’t care about people’s ill-informed opinions.

          Hell, City of Heroes is actually dead and somehow still around. Funny how that works.

          1. AndrewCC says:

            140 concurent players on Steam, as I’m writing this, 120 players average in the last 30 days. It’s not dead-dead, but it’s mostly dead, and definitely not worth for Shamus to spend time on it.

    3. Lino says:

      You can always repost the Champions Online series to add to this year’s word count.

      Wouldn’t it be better to repost the Mass Effect series? Not only is it much longer than the Champions Online series, but people seem to like it a lot more. It would also take about two years which would increase the word count for next year as well. Then he could repost it again, thus maintaining a steady word count over time.

      I see absolutely no downside to this!

  50. ngthagg says:

    I’ll miss the escapist content. I like reading your commentary on (semi-) current events. Hopefully This Dumb Industry will scratch that itch.

    I’m interested in seeing how a regular video series will work out. I know I have a sweet spot of 5 to 10 minutes in length when I will watch something without worrying about how long it will take. (This applies even if I’m in a 2 hour session of watching random YouTube videos.) Can you break up longer videos into smaller chunks to keep them in easily digestible chunks?

  51. Ibbathon says:

    Hooray! More programming content! That’s why I’m on this site. The critiques are a nice side-entertainment, but I really love the semi-professional procedural content work. The city at night series is still one of my favorites to re-read.

  52. Duncan Snowden says:

    Well, I’ve been reading for years and if this isn’t my first comment, I’m pretty sure it’s only my second. I’ve linked to your articles from comments elsewhere, mind you (if you ever see traffic incoming from Gaming On Linux, that could be my doing). But it’s weird: when you build up a strong community around a blog, as you have, while that’s great, commendable, and much to be desired, it can make it slightly intimidating for newcomers to dive in. Then when your stalwarts inevitably drift away, the whole thing just dwindles.

    So this seems as good a time as any to start making a point of actually posting my comments instead of writing them, hovering over the button, and then thinking, “Naaah”.

  53. Mistwraithe says:

    I’ve done a bit of thinking about what has most interested me about TwentySided in 2019.

    Unfortunately for me, by far my favourite Shamus content has been the Escapist content and associated summary post here (unfortunate as they have ended). Quite often these are about an issue I haven’t heard much about and failing that they are usually an interesting take on the issue anyway. No doubt as a result I also have the most interest in the comments on those posts.

    Regarding the other content:
    – I don’t listen to the podcast so I’m just reading Shamus’s summary and some of the comments.
    – I look at Chainmail Bikini but I’ve seen it before so interest levels are lowish.
    – I have really enjoyed some of the contributor posts – I really enjoyed the Game of Thrones series and I’m also really looking forward to the Baldur’s Gate series (so big thumbs up for Bob Cast). I’m not so into the Procgen Flag-Ship but it’s still entertaining.
    – I have had declining interest in the retrospectives for a while. Not entirely sure why, but I think some of the other comments about them being a bit too repetitive (which equally you could state as them being too long) apply. I enjoyed the start of the Spiderman posts and occasional later posts made points which really sparked my interest but in general I’ve had a slow slide in enthusiasm for the Spiderman series (and likewise for Andromeda before that).

    Then there are posts like this one or the one about your new computer. I actually find those *very* entertaining. Fundamentally you are a very entertaining writer and these posts tend to be one offs about something new which feels fresh. That contrasts with say the later Spiderman posts which might be just as well written but seem somewhat repetitive of the last 10 Spiderman posts and just don’t have the same interest level as a result.

    Hopefully that helps somewhat! Looking at the comments above you have a lot of feedback already!

  54. AndrewCC says:

    Shamus, I don’t wanna diss The Escapist since I’ve been a fan of it for a long long time (even before I found your website) but I don’t think it’s a good platform to get new readers, since I’m suspecting their own numbers are not that great.

  55. krellen says:

    I’ve stopped commenting much in the past few years because I’ve stopped having a day job, so I no longer have long stints of time when I am left with only text-based webpages to entertain myself with, so I no longer read all the comments.

    Just in case you were curious, Shamus.

  56. Aaron Nowack says:

    Long time reader (I think since before DM of the Rings even? But memory has turned to legend that turned to myth, etc.), rare commenter, current Patreon subscriber.

    I’ll admit that I’ve been feeling less connected with the site the past couple years, and had actually considered dropping the Patreon to keep within my self-imposed Patreon budget when adding another creator to support. I don’t think the Escapist really matters to me; I certainly didn’t consciously consider it, and while I’ve always enjoyed reading the posts here about your articles there, I can’t think of more than once or twice I’ve actually clicked the link over to the Escapist.

    It’s hard to put my finger on why I’m no longer as excited about this site; the only thing that I can point at and say that I used to love it and no longer look at it is the Diecast. I’ll admit I only listened to the first couple episodes in the “new” format so I should maybe give it another shot, but at the time it just didn’t really click and I now basically ignore it.

    I think part of it is that while I enjoy the long-form retrospectives, they now seem to be a bigger proportion of the content on this site, and so when one leaves me lukewarm there’s not a lot going on to excite me. I think the Spiderman series in particular has been relatively weak; some of it may be that I haven’t played the game, but I hadn’t played GTA or the Arkham games either and I think I enjoyed those two series more? Largely it feels like it is a long form retrospective just because that’s your thing and it was the best game you had to fill that slot, not because you actually have enough to say to fill a long form retrospective on it. It seems like it could have easily been a 2-5 article series instead. (As others have mentioned, it also feels oddly negative for a game that apparently you really enjoyed, probably because of the way the beat-by-beat journey through the game focuses on the story, which seems like the weakest link.)

    Others have pointed at not enjoying the guest content; I’ve liked quite a bit of it, but it is definitely an extra rather than an attraction. Chainmail Bikini reposts do leave me cold; I’d seen it before the first time and it doesn’t really do much for me.

    With full admission that the rosy glasses of nostalgia are in full force, my memory of the “glory days” is that there were a lot of different things going on at this site at once, with something that interested me most days. Now the site feels largely about one thing at a time for months at a time, and there’s one or two posts a week that are of interest to me.

    Another factor is probably just that I’m less connected to video games and video gaming culture than in the past, and the games I do play don’t tend to be the ones that come up here nowadays. Not really anything that can be done about that.

    I hope some of this helps you.

    1. ThaneofFife says:

      I second most of this. I started reading the blog very shortly after DM of the Rings concluded, and have really enjoyed my time here. That said, I don’t comment as much as I used to (and I never did much anyway) for several reasons: (1) I’m just not particularly engaged what’s being discussed (e.g., GoT, Spiderman); (2) I always arrive a day or two after something has been posted, and commenting feels futile; and/or (3) the discussion seems less welcoming and less lively than it used to.

      I want to talk about that third point a little bit more. [Shamus: This is not meant to be political, but I realize that this next paragraph veers in that direction, so I understand if you decide to nuke it.]

      I never really watched Spoiler Warning (except for the one about the fireman and Mayan temples–that was hilarious), but their explanation of why they left really struck a chord with me. The comments section doesn’t feel as safe as it used to, and the diversity of voices is down as a result. I particularly noticed that fewer people who identify themselves as women are commenting. This blog has started to feel like an entirely white, male endeavor with the departure of Mumbles (and I say this as a white male). We haven’t discussed Gamer Gate in a long time, but it feels like a very large number of the more prolific commenters were pro-Gamer Gate, which just turns me off. I’m not calling anyone in particular out, just giving what my overall impression has been the last couple of years.

      This isn’t related to the above points, but I also found myself disagreeing with your commentary rather strongly a couple of times–particularly on Wolfenstein II (an admittedly flawed game, but I disagreed with your conclusions about which parts were flawed).

      What I’d like to see:
      – more diverse voices writing posts–particularly women
      – an adjustment to moderation policies to address the criticisms that Spoiler Warning made when they left (I don’t seriously expect you to do this, but it’s a wish list)
      – fewer discussions of TV shows
      – more D&D content
      – another comic strip

      Thanks for listening to me vent!

      1. Cuthalion says:

        I’m very late catching up on Twenty Sided, in part because I have slowly lost interest over the past year or two, but I wanted to comment to explain why that is. (Since I believe Shamus sees the comments even when they’re late.) Thane’s comment is pretty close to my feelings, so this seemed like a good spot to reply.

        Despite the Spoiler Warning split being described as amicable by both Josh and Shamus, it still left an awkward feeling for me. Especially after the fiasco that led to Mumbles’s departure (which I know Shamus already mentioned he feels bad about, so this isn’t meant as a guilt trip). I only watched SW sometimes, when they were playing something I was interested in, but I enjoyed the crew, and my sentiments were more in line with theirs when the split happened.

        The Diecast was probably my favorite thing, and the hosting and style change hasn’t clicked as well for me. It’s pleasant enough, so I still listen to it (but not as urgently), but I really miss the very distinct personalities of the larger cast and the lively conversation the larger cast brought. It’s certainly more smooth and on-topic now, but — and sorry about this, Paul — it mostly feels like, “Shamus says something, Paul agrees.” And, during the SW split, Paul expressed a, “Yeah, we don’t need them! Shamus chose us!” attitude that I never got over, even if he might very well have changed his thoughts in the meantime. (I mean, it’s been a couple years. Sorry, Paul, you genuinely seem super nice regardless, and this is probably really unfair of me to be bothered about.)

        That said, there’s nothing really _wrong_ with the new Diecast, and the occasional guest hosts are a great feature I think the old version lacked.

        I’ve gotten less interested in reading long stuff about games I’m unlikely to play (I basically only play indie games on PC now), too. And with the concerns Thane expressed about diverse voices and the leaning of the comments, reading the site just feels a little weird to me now.

        – I’ll echo Thane’s wishlist on voices, moderation (although I understand your stance), D&D, and comics.
        – I’m fine with TV show discussion though — it let me get the amount of GoT I cared about without having to watch the show.
        – I’ll add that I really enjoy the programming and music posts and would love more stuff on indie games.
        – If Paul ever feels like disagreeing more strongly on the Diecast, he should feel free to :D

        That said, I’ve never been a Patron despite having followed since 2007ish, so my opinion hasn’t gained or cost you any money! :P

  57. Clive Howlitzer says:

    I should comment more. I tend to just read and lurk. I love the website and its basically the only blog I follow to the point I refresh the damn things a few times a day for new content.(Or I could just, you know, follow the schedule)

    It is harder and harder nowadays to find well done text blogs. Everything is video now and I just don’t want it. I prefer to read. I find I have much more engagement with what the person is saying through text than listening to them ramble on. I also find video causes me to have bias against what they are saying over simple things like their voice grating on me.

    I don’t know if it might explain any reader drop but perhaps sometimes you start writing a long haul series and it might not always appeal to everyone? I know that I don’t give a crap about Spiderman and so I have skipped almost every one of those articles(Did try to read a few, but just don’t care about the character or the game). That has sometimes led to weeks going by without any content that I want to read.

    I do love reading your insight in games in the long haul article series you tend to write, so here is hoping you don’t pack it in. Maybe I should comment more and stop lurking.

  58. Fon says:

    I was going to post a comment earlier today, but there was some technical issue with the comments?

    Anyway, I’m kind of an anti-engagement person. I usually don’t comment because I don’t want to end up saying something that would trigger an argument. For people like me, we really don’t want to debate or argue. Even though “discussion” is nicer than arguing, all it takes is one wrong word to turn the whole thing into an argument.

    Some people really love exchanging ideas, as long as it’s not hostile, but some of us don’t have the energy or desire for that, so perhaps some of the people who have stopped commenting could be like me.

    Though on the other hand, I do want people to pay attention to me, so if no one pays attention to me, I also don’t feel like commenting. (But to be fair, I don’t usually check back either, because I don’t want to come back and find that I’ve started an argument.) So yeah, my desires are contradictory. In the end, I just decide not to comment at all. So as far as I’m concerned, it’s not Shamus’ content that is preventing me from commenting, but rather my own psychology.

    (Also, I admit– I can’t go through everyone’s comment, especially if there are more than 100 of them, but I imagine it’s the same for other people. That also stops me from commenting.)

    But I do have one suggestion for Shamus: If you want comment, you should just ask for it. I’m only commenting right now because it seems like Shamus wants it.

  59. Fon says:

    As for the content I miss… I really like Shamus’ Let’s Play. Or is it Let’s Read? Shamus Plays? Yeah, I like those. You know, Star on Chest, Lulzy? Or even stuff like going though Silent Hill Origins.

    Analysis is good too, and retrospectives are pretty close to those Let’s Play, in a sense? But there’s something fun about narrating/analyzing while somewhat in-character. I get that those aren’t easy to write though.

  60. TLN says:

    Regarding the graph for comments, I think for me personally I might be more willing to engage in some sort of discussion about the article if there was an option to send en email notification when someone posts a reply to my comment. As it is, if I post a new comment or reply to someone or ask a question or anything, the only way to follow up on that (as far as I know?) is to just remember what article it was and search through the comments for my own name. This also means that it feels completely pointless to reply to someone if I’m a few days late reading an article because like, what’s the point? They’re not going to see it anyway.

    Email is required for comments right now but I’m not sure if it’s used for anything except fetching avatar from Gravatar?

    1. Fon says:

      That’s a pretty good idea. I only see this because I’m doing exactly what you said– searching my name and your comment happens to be right below mine.

      I’m also gonna stop checking this thread soon enough, so email notification will really help with encouraging actual discussion.

  61. Karthik says:

    I went from read-write to read-only (and only above the line) in the past year across the board because the average comment section was becoming too toxic for me. That’s not the case here, but the general behavior kinda spilled over.

    Two other things happened. It’s inconvenient to comment when reading on a smartphone, and I read almost exclusively on my phone these days. Also, my interest in gaming ebbs and flows with the seasons, and this year it’s been at an all time low, so I’ve been skipping many of the posts on twenty sided.

    I still greatly enjoy reading your break-downs and analyses, though, and this is one of the few websites I still frequent every week. I don’t think that’ll change any time soon.

  62. Zaxares says:

    I’m one of those readers who used to comment quite a bit, but has dropped off in recent years. Based on my understanding of events, I used to comment a lot on gaming articles that I had personal experience with; back then, this was when you guys were doing a lot of Spoiler Warning videos about games that I had played myself, such as the ME series, KotOR etc. More recent entries addressed games that I myself hadn’t played (such as the latest Wolfenstein games), so while I still read the articles, I felt that I didn’t really have much to contribute to the actual discussion and so left it at that.

    I’m still around; I check this site daily in fact! It’s just that between the stuff mentioned above and adjustments to my own working life and relationships has meant that I haven’t really had as much time to comment on stuff as I did back in my mid-late twenties.

  63. @Shamus tell Isaac to try Black Magic Design’s DaVinci Resolve
    Their free version is amazingly full featured and used by pros (it’s been used with the Deadpool movie among others).

    Free, professional, quality is a rare combo.

    Here is my “newbie” efforts using Davinci
    Davinci Resolve is much better and easier to use than other NLE’s I’ve used/tried.

  64. Hey Shamus, maybe consider ? They’ve started to open the door for creators now.

    Those who wish to support you financially pay a subscription (you set the price), and they get access to your gated videos, then a week or so later you could put the video on youtube (and link/embed it in a blog post) to attract new eyeballs.

    By the looks of it you need a video series of content to replace Spoiler Warning.

  65. Leviathan902 says:

    There’s a LOT of comments here and I think that speaks to the passion that the core fan base has and their desire to support to Shamus. I’m hesitant to add more data to what is looking to be a pretty large data set, but as someone who has been checking the blog pretty much daily since at least 2008, but who has found my enthusiasm waning somewhat recently, I’m hoping my thoughts have some value.

    1) I, like many people, love the long form analysis. It’s what hooked me on this site (the saints row vs. GTA comparison, the Fable 2 goldun writr award) and pretty much all of my favorite content is this type. HOWEVER, given it’s nature (long), and the fact that 1 game’s analysis represents the majority of Shamus’ output on the site for several months, if you’re not interested in that particular game, or that particular analysis is running out of steam/falls flat, the site has very little for you for a substantial period of time.

    2) Variety is the spice of life. I know we all like the long form analysis, but as I mentioned above, it has some serious downsides. There have been times when this site had not just more content than it does now, but different kinds. You had Experienced Points/This Dumb Industry, Stolen Pixels (this is how I found the site), Long Form Analysis, Programming Posts (not my bag, personally), Spoiler Warning, Diecast, Autoblography, and there’s probably more I’m forgetting. Now these didn’t all exist at the same time, but a lot of them did and so if one type of content wasn’t for you, there might be something else. If the site was all programming posts (kind of like it’s nearly-all long-form Spider-Man posts now), I would tune out as well.

    3) More content: I don’t want Shamus to be sort of like one of those youtube personalities who has to create 80 hours of content a week or they lose “subscribers” but I do feel like the blog has fallen off in content a bit recently. We have Spider-Man, Diecast, and the Chainmail Bikini re-post. I don’t listen to the diecast (I do my podcast listening in the car/away from the computer so if it’s not on Stitcher, it’s a no-go for me). CB is ok, but not as strong a comic series as DMotR or Stolen Pixels was (for me. I think because I don’t do tabletop gaming and SP and DMotR were satirizing things I’m familiar with). And Spider-Man is good, but only once a week, and it’s been flagging a bit because the problems the game has are the same throughout so Shamus’s analysis has been repeating itself (fault of the game, not him). Also, I didn’t play Spiderman (not owning a PS4) so my interest is lower by default (which like I posted above in point 2, compounds an issue).

    Anyway, I hope this helps, best of luck to you and your family Shamus and I look forward to the return of This Dumb Industry and am excited to see the video output as well!

  66. Groo the Wanderer says:

    I don’t often comment, but certainly have in the past. Heck I even managed to spawn a column with a question I emailed Shamus with, it was about his progressive learning mini-game ( which I am proud to say I have adopted in several different RPG systems and games I GM.

    In general I came here for DMotR originally and stuck around primarily for the Programming and rant posts. For me most of the game retrospectives / playthroughs are, in general, not what I am here for. Fallout was interesting, Half-Life as well but GTA, Spiderman, Mass Effect .. all were passes for me. I know they were popular with others though so I am more than happy to share. I should also note that several of the games I have purchased had that decision heavily influenced by posts here (Galactic Civs, Shogun total war, Tharsis, NeverWinter Nights 2, etc).

    Long and short, I’m still around. I still check nearly every day but I will admit I consume less of the content now than I did in years past. Still there’s enough for me to keep coming back so I will continue to do so!

    If it’s a game I have played and really liked / hated then maybe I’ll be interested but for the most part when they are done in the Shamus Plays style (Star on Chest, Lulzy) I am engaged and interested otherwise I generally pan them, which does account for a fair bit of the content.

    Right now, I find myself listening to about 1/2 of the diecasts, it kinda depends on if anything in the “Synopsis” part of the post tweaks my interest. I am REALLY enjoying the re-post of chainmail bikini it’s really too bad it didn’t work out / run longer but I am happy to have access to what there is and excited for more “This dumb industry” posts. As for the Escapist, I would read both that article and the blog post here (a la double dipping).

  67. MelTorefas says:

    I like your Escapist columns but honestly I would rather read them here than there. I don’t read anything else at the Escapist so it is just an extra click with no real upside, and the downside of not having the comments here to engage with/enjoy. Regardless, I am sad the results were not better for you. Thanks for keeping this site going; it has been a source of enjoyment for many many years.

    Interesting news with the video content you are planning. It sounded like you will have text and video both, which I appreciate since I don’t really like video content as much. Hope all this results in improved financials for you going forward.

  68. unit3000-21 says:

    I wanted to write that the game retrospectives are my favourite type of content here, but then I realised what I like the most are random posts/columns about a topic I wouldn’t find interesting on my own. Somehow Shamus’ usual (high) quality of writing, and interesting analysis seems even better when coupled with a surprising (to me) topic.
    The retrospectives are easily in the second place though.

  69. rabs says:

    I’m a long time follower (DMoTR) and Patreon supporter, rare commenter.
    Like other people, I’m a bit worried about you dropping the Escapist column. I didn’t mind clicking on it.
    Don’t know why some people stopped reading/supporting you though. I hope it’s not because content volume lowered, because for me it’s still a bit overwhelming.
    I also like Bob and Paul content and the new DieCast. And the re-run of Chainmail Bikini, I’ve never fully read it.
    Hope you’ll find a way to get more readers/patrons.

  70. DavidJCobb says:

    Ah, I was feeling like something’s been missing. I hadn’t fully picked up on it but there definitely has been very little programming content, with even the latest articles (procedurally generated spaceships, by a guest contributor — Paul, I believe) seeming to focus almost entirely on design. It’s good to hear that you’ll be sharing more of that content soon. I’ve never yet had the chance to apply the ideas you’ve talked about in past programming series, yet with each one I’ve read, I’ve felt like I’ll be better-prepared for whatever comes my way. It’s like reading Sherlock Holmes: you’ll probably never do any of the specific things you’re reading about, but you feel smarter for having read them.

    I feel like it’s been a while since you’ve posted any music stuff, too. It was never something I needed a ton of, but it added some variety and memorability. It’s good to see you branch out, and in this case, you were branching out to something that I want to do but never seem to be able to make the time for. Made for the occasional fun read and chill listen.

    I skimmed some of the comments here, since I’m a “frog in slow-boiling water” guy and sometimes I need help knowing what I think, and I definitely have to echo the idea that a lot of your recent retrospective content has felt repetitive, especially for Spiderman. I feel like that’s put a major damper on my willingness to check in. Sometimes less is more: you only wrote, what, three? articles on Skyrim’s narrative, and those have stuck with me to this day. I actually want to make content for that game inspired by some of your observations in that series.

    I definitely like your articles best when it feels like I’m learning something new, though I understand that sometimes, a game repeats the same problems over and over and you have to touch on them when recounting the game’s events. Mass Effect was how I found the site, and it was definitely a perfect situation for you: a game whose every feature and flaw felt varied, in stories executed just competently enough that even the disasters are instructive.

    Bob Case’s articles on Game of Thrones were excellent — the same high standard of quality that your own content has met. I’d love to read more of his work, and I should get around to checking out his content elsewhere sometime. Paul, IIRC, is the newer contributor doing the procedural ships; that content hasn’t quite reached out and grabbed me, but he has a great sense of humor and there were some interesting ship designs and worldbuilding ideas in there. I’m interested in seeing more of his writing. Whereas your creative articles were often recaps of recent events, and felt planned, his seem to be more real-time, which is a valid approach but carries the trade-off that there isn’t always as much to say.

    The comics don’t interest me, and I generally scroll past them. They don’t make me less inclined to visit. They do make me feel as if I have to dig a bit deeper to get to the stuff I enjoy. Other people like them, so more digging doesn’t bother me.

    Anyway, I don’t comment much — I rarely have anything to say; that’s what your writing is for! — but other people are giving their impressions in an attempt to provide you with some data, so I hope this is of use.

    1. “Bob Case’s articles on Game of Thrones were excellent — the same high standard of quality that your own content has met”

      I’d like to second that, even though I vehemently disagreed with a lot of what he said (as my comment on those posts show) I still enjoyed reading them.

  71. Supah Ewok says:

    Heya Shamus. I don’t think I’ve got much to say that others haven’t said, but I have an attachment to this place as one of my longest internet watering holes (over 10 years, I think; the only other site that I think I have followed for as long is Irregular Webcomic), so I may as well toss in my two cents.

    I don’t comment much because I usually feel the need for long replies to thoughtful posts, and am usually unwilling to expend the energy (also a reason I dropped to being a lurker on the forums). Also, I think the audience to interact with was at my favorite around 2013-2017, and a lot of those folks don’t seem to be around anymore.

    I have thought for some time that the site was in a rut of some kind. I hesitate to say a creative rut, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it has the variety it used to. Your retrospectives tend to mainly serve to point out the same writing flaws in AAA gaming, over and over and over. It’s valid every time because AAA writing isn’t improving any, but they’re points I’m quite thoroughly grounded in now.

    I don’t listen to the Diecast since the Spoiler Warning split. I was an infrequent listener in the first place, and I can’t be bothered to listen to just a 2 man back and forth conversation. Funny thing is that I tried to listen to a few of the Spoiler Warning podcasts after the split, and I didn’t like those either without you there to add structure.

    Besides those and your Escapist column (more on that below), I have a hard time remembering what else you’ve posted regularly for the past while.

    I like Bob Case’s stuff, but he takes long breaks.

    Chainmail Bikini has been a breath of fresh air for me. I enjoyed it when it first ran, and I enjoy re-reading it now. It adds variety, in presentation and in tone. I agree with whoever it was up there that said that levity on the site has dried up. Some comedy would add a splash of color to the tone of the site. It’s been really dry in here since SW left.

    There’s more than that, though. Ever since Patreon became your main source of income, it feels like you’ve been trying a lot harder to identify a “core” audience and tailor content accordingly, and I think that’s against what built the blog up in the first place. It began as just that, a blog. Whatever was on your mind. Whatever creative you were doing at the moment. Your thoughts on things (although always mostly videogames). Your core audience were just people who liked to hear and see that. It was… I suppose more of a family atmosphere? Like a neighborhood. One of those ones in TV where people actually know each other, anyway.

    I dunno. These are more feelings and less thoughts, and thus more difficult to express for me. It feels less like you’re trying to be a blogger and more like you’re trying to be a provider to an audience. And I understand why, when something becomes your livelihood you can’t look at it the same way, especially if you have to provide for a family. But it feels like some of the old magic is gone.

    I’ll still be around. After 7 years, I’m finally graduating with my 4 year degree, and I’m engaged in entering a graduate program and I’ve got a job in a drone research lab. I don’t have time to read the blog much. But I always check in. I probably always will. Even if the neighbors change and the old lots get bought and developed and the public pool got torn out and replaced with a swingset, it’s still the old neighborhood to me, and I’ll always check in.

    As for the Escapist… I’d say you picked a very poor time to stop the column. The Escapist you’ve been writing for the past 12ish months had a poor site design, and I never saw your column on the front page. You seem to think people on the Escapist weren’t following your column to your blog. I don’t think they ever saw your column much at all. The new ownership that came in a month ago has done another new site design, and although I’m too busy to be checking in on it, I would say it’s still worth giving it 3 months and seeing if it makes a difference to your traffic. The new guy in charge is very engaged with the site design, and he’s promising to give features their proper spotlight.

    As for your Patreon, I myself closed out my account for personal reasons: when I took on financial independence in my last shot at my undergrad a year and a half ago, I couldn’t afford what to me had been more of a charitable gift rather than a business transaction. Going into my master’s now, I still am trying to keep tightly to a limited income. It’ll be a couple of years before I get on a career and have enough income that I can help support others.

    1. Drathnoxis says:

      The timing of it makes me kind of suspicious. His columns seemed to stop the moment the new guys took over the Escapist. It’s also strange to drop the Escapist gig and then continue to write the same kind of articles only for this site. It doesn’t make sense not to double dip on that if you have the opportunity. I mean, I’m sure everybody here went over to the Escapist to read the articles even if there wasn’t much back flow.

      1. Bloodsquirrel says:

        Keep in mind that the Escapist articles have different requirements than the blog posts. They often have to be aimed at more of a general audience, for example. Shamus has a much freer hand with TDI.

    2. Baron Tanks says:

      Thank you for your insightful post, I’m leaving this comment here for posterity as I doubt many people are checking in, but maybe Shamus sees this as he still ponders past:

      There’s more than that, though. Ever since Patreon became your main source of income, it feels like you’ve been trying a lot harder to identify a “core” audience and tailor content accordingly, and I think that’s against what built the blog up in the first place. It began as just that, a blog.

      I think this hits very close to what may be the source of some of the things we are all naming as symptoms. While I know Shamus is aware of his reputation as the ‘rant guy’, which he actively works to keep in check where necessary, such as with the no swear rule, the same seems to be happening with ‘longform analysis guy’. A little bit of variety will go a long way, even as the recurring content keeps insisting. The community seems to be happy to read more ‘random’ topics, as long as it has Shamus’ insight and voice, or provides a good jumping off point for a discussion. So maybe a bit more rapid fire smaller posts to spice up the variety.

      Also another thing you pointed out. While this thread was basically an invite to feedback, which means a lot of people (myself included!) provided a lot of points they don’t gel with or perhaps less than before, I want to point out the overwhelming amount of people that took the time to respond with thoughtful insights means there is still a lot of good out here. This is about keeping those people onboard and thinking of how you can reach out to keep fresh people coming in to supplement this wonderful community.

      1. pseudonym says:

        I wrote this yesterday and I know see that something in the same vein is already posted by Baron Tanks and Supah Ewok. Thanks guys! Still I want to post what’s been on my mind for the last two days:

        Hi Shamus. I have binged your site the last two years. I came here because of the mass effect retrospective, but I also loved the autoblogography, dmotr, stolen pixels, the twelve year mistake, the programming stuff etc.
        The content I like best is the content you love writing. DMOTR and Mass Effect retrospective, for example, seemed like you really enjoyed writing them. It is not necessarily related to some form. Long-form analysis, short posts, webcomics, you can do it all. TDI and focusing long-form analysis may have worked well for you in the past, but why shackle your self to some form? Why not post about the things that interest you at the moment? It does not have to be gaming-related or programming-related. I would be equally interested if it was botany or stamp collecting. Ultimately it is your writing skills that makes me refresh this site almost every day. Focus on the stuff you love to write, not on the stuff you think the readers love to read. I love to read the stuff you love writing!

  72. Scerro says:

    Did you include anything about your book? Income to time ratio-wise, I’d guess that it was your weakest point.

    You definitely should have talked about your book more on the site, and gotten us warmed up to the idea of buying it. It would have been great to get an idea of why we should buy the book, rather than just dropping it on us way later. You didn’t do any marketing to your core audience!

  73. Rosseloh says:

    I guess this is a good enough post to drop my yearly comment on….since I rarely do so otherwise.

    Anyway, I’ve actually noticed my visits have dropped off as well. I used to click on the site once in the morning and once in the evening (it’s still got my number one slot on my bookmarks bar).

    Now, I maybe check once a week. And it’s not because I dislike the place….I just….don’t think to do it.

    1. Rosseloh says:

      I just thought of a reason my visits have dropped off (note that it has been 10 days since I wrote the original comment and the first time since then that I thought to come back by).

      I don’t play many games any more.

      That is, I DO. But….not like I did ten and a half years ago when I started visiting the site. Back then I was spending most of my free time in LotRO and occasionally hitting up another RPG or new shooter…and that’s the stuff you wrote about, so I had something I was somewhat familiar with. You also got me into older series like Thief (with your Thief 3 posts)…but that doesn’t happen nowadays. I do a bunch of flight simming (the thing I’ve actually spent the most hours doing for the last year or so). I play things along the lines of Factorio and Stormworks…but only for a few hours before getting bored and moving on to just watching youtube or something. I occasionally try to pick an old game back up because I remember them being super fun, but then, again, I put them down after a bit. I wish I knew why.

      I just checked the Retrospective and Game Reviews categories, and I didn’t see a single one that I was actually *interested* in from the last like four years, barring one or two. Yes, sure, I played GTAV, and that was an interesting retrospective, but even then I wasn’t visiting every day. And it has been the same for most of them. It’s come down to “yep, that’s a game I haven’t played….yep, Shamus’ opinion on it matches what mine would be if I played it….”, and I eventually roll off and don’t even read the rest of a series.

      And that’s unfortunate, because that sort of writing is what I originally enjoyed, here. Spoiler Warning was OK sometimes (the earlier series were far better than the later ones), but I’m all about the written content. I don’t listen to the podcast, at all.

      Oh well.

  74. kincajou says:

    In case someone like e is still going through these comments (and maybe Shamus as well) i thought i’ put down a thought that’s been crystallising in my head as i thought og this blog in general and it’ interactions:

    For me your games analysis is at it’s best when it’s insightful and teaches me new things about how to approach a game. It seems the standard approach these days (both on this blog and in other “reviewers” ) is to pick a game that does things wrong and say “don’t do this, this doesn’t work because XYZ”

    And whilst that is valid and can sometimes be interesting i would like to suggest a little shift which would change the focus from negqtive to positive whilst retaining the core messages.
    (god i’m bad at expressing myself! forgive me lone stragglers who are still reading this… i’ll get to the point!)

    I think if you were to pick a game that did something you care about particularly “right” it would make for a more interesting read, switch up your schtik and maybe even yuor approach. For example, i have heard (i have yet to play) that “return of the obra dinn” does some really cool stuff with storytelling. Why did it click so well with people? How does Lucas pope get his claws in and keep people interested for the game?
    (maybe a series on how the hell lucas pope has managed to make a bureaucrat’s life appealing through his games?)

    In short, i think i want to read long on short form analyses on what games have done right and how. To make a cinema analogy, yeah i like a good bashing of birdemic and the room but help me understand why citizen Kane, Casablanca, or Primer are special and you’ve really got me interested.

    I don’t know, it might be harder to achieve? But i would love some of this, analysis from a positive perspective. ME andromeda was a dud story wise, but that was aknowledged… was there a game that did storytelling/mechanics right? How?

    What are the tools we need to analyse the videogame medium and how do we apply them? (and who uses them particularly well?)

    of course this may not bring people in ( don’t know) but it sure would make me more interested, and maybe some of the commenters above, if i judge by what’s been said

    1. Scerro says:

      It would be very interesting to see more things about games, especially stories done right. As much as Shamus deconstructs everything, it would be awesome to see something like Undertale – a huge story over gameplay/graphics game and see how he reacts to it. Shamus analyzing more games that aren’t his jam would be great. Undertale would also bring in a younger crowd.

      More variation would definitely help.

  75. Misamoto says:

    Some input:
    First of all, I don’t care about video and/or podcasts, not my type of content. I’m here for the text (and maybe pictures). I kinda wish to see what’s going on on the diecast because summaries sometimes mention interesting things, but I would need that in text form. I never listen to audiobooks too.

    I was really disappointed when your learning of Unity posts fizzled out, that was the type of content I don’t get enough. I’m a software developer myself, but I’m not “cool” at all, so your posts on how graphics work and stuff like that from years ago were really interesting – this is the stuff that I know nothing about, would like to know, but not strongly enough to research myself and understand well enough to follow your thoughts.

    Escapist was my least favorite content. It wasn’t original enough, mostly just a rehash of earlier posts, and their site is a mess and was painful to read from a phone.

    I’m not sure how I will proceed with the site – in February I’ve moved from Moscow, Russia to Ottawa, Canada. I was mostly reading your stuff on the way to work in subway, and I haven’t found a job yet, and there’s no subway here, so I’ve failed to visit as often. But I am interested enough that I’ve read all the content that have been posted in the last month today.

    I think the comments need some work to be more engaging. I definitely wish there were notifications when someone answers my comments, because watching that manually is a pain and I don’t have enough time to read ALL THE COMMENTS, there’s too much.

    Also, while the site’s design is good enough, it still looks very Web 1.0-ish and might scare away new users – you might want to upgrade to a newer engine and design despite the pain of that process. I would be open to help some in the free time, and you might get a post series out of the process, maybe.

    I also share a lot of the feelings of the people who commented above me.

  76. Simplex says:

    I think better comment system would increase engagement. It sorely lacks notifications of new post and highlighting of new post sinc last visit. Perhaps a comment system like disqus would work?

    1. Ben Matthews says:

      Disqus has the same issue as the likes of Twitter: Shamus doesn’t own it. If the site goes down, or you get banned for some reason, there go years worth of comments. Having them on your own site in your own database means they’re YOURS (technically owned by the commenter, but Shamus doesn’t have to worry about losing them to bureaucracy or political idiocy by some huge company that doesn’t care about him).

  77. kdansky says:

    I’m one of the ex-patreons. After I got into an argument in the comments where I complained that I do not like something about the current content, I got told in no unclear terms (by another fan) to bugger off. So I had a look at the last couple pages of posts, and realized I’m barely interested in one post every couple weeks.

    The Escapist articles are paid for by the escapist.
    I like Chainmail Bikini, but I have read it every time it got re-posted, and as you notice yourself: It’s not that good.
    I do not enjoy the podcast for a multitude of reasons, and on top of that I prefer text (here) to video and audio.
    I do not enjoy Paul’s posts.
    That leaves me with one post per week about a game I do not care much about, Spiderman, which is this weird combination of someone pointing out all the problems in that game (and modern AAA games in general) while still insisting that the game is worth playing which completely contradicts every sentence. Good gamefeel does not excuse shoddy game design! Errant Signal’s most recent video points that out very well. That game is not really worth that much text, because it’s just not that special.

    I have a $20 monthly Patreon budget, and I move it around when I feel whomever I give the money to is not producing the content that I like. You’re not losing out on a massive sum (I subscribe to 10-20 people with $1 to $2 each), but this is why I changed my subscription.

    1. Syal says:

      Ooh, Errant Signal tangent!

      There’s a lot of branching paths from that argument (especially when talking about a long-form criticism like Shamus’), but I think that part of the video was pretty off-point. It’s a philosophical statement about things feeling good not being enough to overcome other issues, but you can say the same thing about the ability to logically explain the game’s strengths; why is an aspect of the game that’s understandable enough to put into words more important than the player’s overall impression? There was a book review on meditation over at SlateStarCodex where the book ended with some variation of “highly recommended, can’t tell you why.”

      I’ve told the story about talking myself out of a good mood because my logical understanding of the situation wouldn’t result in feeling good about it. If your measurements would result in a different result than you’ve experienced, the measuring tools are probably the problem.

      1. Ander says:

        He seemed focused on the critical validity of the game feel, and fair enough I say. That a critic might accurately say, “You would enjoy this” without being able to explain way is helpful but not as much so as being able to explain why. However, the question of critical ability does not touch the quality of the original work. Campster seems to recognize this. Most of the video isn’t about “game feel doesn’t excuse an otherwise bad game”, and thus the video doesn’t argue that point well. Instead, the video argues that a critic’s (his own) subjective feelings are a poor substitute for critical analysis. Only watched it once, so I might be reading it wrong.
        In light of the video, I’d say game feel is valid as a personal experience and value proposition, but it is so ephemeral and subjective that it shouldn’t dictate a critic’s more objective statements about the game. If Campster is saying that “Good gamefeel does not excuse shoddy game design,” then I have to agree with Syal that he’s making a broader philosophical judgment – an unsubstantiated one at that.

        1. kdansky says:

          If I understand Campster’s argument correct, it was that gamefeel is just one part of the whole. Having a game feel good is important, but taking a horrible game and adding good game-feel does not turn it into a great game. We need to look at all the aspects of a game, and not let our monkey brains get distracted by the shiny graphics, big numbers and juicy sounds to the point where everything else is excused.

          Because if we disregard everything except for gamefeel and dopamine shots, we might as well just play Slots.

          And in that regard, I think Spiderman is not a good game to talk about at length: Its only redeeming quality is gamefeel, something that’s hard to describe in text (and also somewhat subjective) – and everything else is not worth talking about. It’s the video game equivalent of a summer Hollywood action blockbuster: Looks and sounds (and feels) great, but is completely shallow and forgettable otherwise.

          The series about it falls flat because there’s just not much to talk about, except possibly the contradiction of why an objectively bad game is subjectively so much fun to play.

  78. Nikolay Mitev says:

    It’s midnight here and i write from the phone. I am reading the site from about 2011/2012 (maybe, really dont remember). Not on Patreon. Frankly, i am about 32 now and am stadily loosing interest in the gaming scene – been there, done that and it was great and new at 20 something. Thre are few games i care about – base builders and rpgs, which are rarety here. The last two years, i read 1/10 article and mostly skim the rest. I really miss the Spoiler Warning seriaes, because you had good chemistry and the podcasts were something i looked for. About the last two years, i just remember finding articles that really peak my interest. I like the podcast with Paul, but that is about it. I am no more following escapeist and rock paper shotgun, too. What i can say I really enjoyed was the novel about the novel from the hacker’s point of view fro System shock. Have you thought about tring to write more novels? I know you wrote a second one in 2018/2019 but i postponed it after release and never cought up.

  79. Sleeping Dragon says:

    Heh, we’re probably not helping much seeing how everyone seems to enjoy different aspects of your content. Also I understand that even when meant as helpful so many people offering this kind of advice may actually feel like dogpiling so I’m going to drop some bullet points on my reading habits, hopefully trying to put them in a bit more positive light.

    -I mostly associate the site with written content* and I mostly visit at work during nightshifts, I can’t watch video or listen audio here but I can go through the comments. The downside is I tend to come late to the party (as ilustrated here) and don’t always have time to write in the comments;
    -I mentioned it some time earlier during the poll post but because of the above I often actually forget to schedule time to listen to the Diecast while at home, when I did manage to listen to it I mostly enjoyed it but I generally like this sort of casual talk about video games and related;
    -I probably like the retrospectives the most, industry articles coming second, not particularly interested in programming myself so I can’t always follow your posts but I like it when they result in something practical, like Good Robot or that city generator from way back;
    -I have generally enjoyed guest posts and don’t mind you sharing the site with other people. Learned a lot about GoT that I have no interest in watching myself.

    If I were to mention one thing that I miss is that you no longer write “the funnies”. Your comics, your in-character series where you poked fun at MMOs, Witch Watch… but I understand your tone of writing has shifted as is likely to happen over the years.

    *This is not to say that I’m not interested in potential video content, just after SW left and Diecast went on hiatus the site has sort of nested itself as primarily text in my consciousness.

  80. DGM says:

    You would have to post this while I’m in the middle of a temporary move to another state. :P

    But assuming it’s not too late for my input to matter:

    While I’m not a frequent commenter, I’ve been here a LONG time. I think I found this place via Rampant Coyote (Jay Barnson’s site) even before the DMotR era.

    My favorite material is the let’s play stuff and related game mockery like Stolen Pixels. I also like the programming stuff and TDI. I think TDI works better than splitting such material between here and the Escapist, as you can write in whatever length and style you think fits the subject best.

    I haven’t been interested in guest posts since Ruts left. I’ve nothing to say either way about the quality of their writing, but I’m just not interested in the subject matter that Paul and Bob are writing about. Ruts doesn’t seem that interested in putting stuff on his own blog so maybe he’d be happier being a guest poster for you again.

    The new Diecast is okay – you and Paul play reasonably well off of each other – but I don’t think it’s as good as it was with the old crew and I don’t find myself listening to every episode the way I used to. Another voice/viewpoint or two might help.

    I think the Spoiler Warning era was the heyday for the site and I think the split diminished both sides. Since you can’t comment and play at the same time I would suggest getting another video LP crew to work with, but this time make sure they’re cool with your moderation style first so you don’t get a repeat of what happened before.

    On that note: I’m fine with the moderation style here and would be willing to play SS2 for you while you (and Paul/SoldierHawk/whoever) comment. I’ve never streamed before but I do know the game and was disappointed that you never got the chance to play it for SW.

    Finally, I agree with what others have said about not depending exclusively on Patreon (or Youtube, for that matter). There are assholes out there who LOOK for things to be offended by and don’t care about your innocence or intent, so relying on platforms that will oblige them is dangerous. I’m not saying you need to ditch Patreon right now but getting set up on an alternative that doesn’t engage in viewpoint censorship might save you a lot of pain down the road.

    Most of all, though, I still like this site and hope it continues to pay off for you. Keep up the good work. :)

    1. DGM says:

      Followup thought on the Diecast: I think a lot of the fun of that and SW was the friendly trolling you guys inflicted on each other. Maybe you and Paul aren’t clicking for some the way the old crew did because that dynamic isn’t there between the two of you.

  81. Joe says:

    I love ‘This Dumb Industry’ and I enjoy video content, so I’m enjoying where this site’s heading. That being said, I think the Retrospectives series will always be my favourite, so long as those are being posted I’m gonna be a regular visitor to this site :)

  82. Duoae says:

    So, I’ll admit upfront, I didn’t read any of the comments prior to mine. I’m feeling lazy and it’s a long time since this post went live. I didn’t used to comment so much because there usually isn’t much to say – most of what you write is agreeable… which is a problem when it comes to having a discussion :).

    One thing I could maybe associate with, Damien. I hope he’s fine too but he was quite often at odds with the general understanding and/or sentiment of posts and comments. I had that on a previous haunt of my own and eventually I got tired of posting. Their front-page content wasn’t interesting enough to keep me hanging around so I left. (Though I still have mostly fond memories of the place).

    Another thing that can affect all this is the decision on which retrospectives you choose to perform. One of the things with Spoiler Warning was that it brought in quite a few different artistic choices in terms of games covered and, at the time (so there’s some unentanglable things going on there) you had your Mass Effect retrospective – one of the biggest franchises with one of the most divisive endings of all time in the gaming sphere.

    Recently, you did Spiderman. Whilst I’ve really enjoyed the retrospective, it’s a recent release with very little controversy (puddlegate?) that I didn’t play initially because I had a lot of other games on my plate but then more recently, your retrospective has disuaded me from playing it because the gameplay sounds very dull, repetitive, uninspired and boring. You can say the same thing about the Wolfenstein 2 retrospective.

    In short, you’ve become my litmus test critique of games that I might want to play but am sitting on the fence about.

    On the other side of the table, the games I’ve hugely enjoyed (or hated), you’ve had nothing (or very little) to say about and sometimes it’s just 5-10 minutes in the diecast. There’s not a lot for me to comment on there (personally speaking).

    I think, from my own perspective, I would like to see a mini-series here on TwentySided. Something, I myself tried to do back in the day (though I only had three readers who didn’t comment :) ). Something like a current-thoughts/currentospective(?) of a game you’re playing now, with all the gripes and recommendations or “hold-offs” as you experience them. That’s currently folded into the diecast… but maybe a 300-500 word blog post would also be a good accompaniment…

    You play way more hours of games than I manage to a week but we rarely see that develop into blog posts (at least recently).

  83. Xiaur says:

    Dear Shamus!

    I’ve been an avid reader since many years ago, so I hope that the down blip in your Patreon and comments is only temporary in nature. Similarly to you, I miss written materials now that most people have switched to video. I really enjoy your retrospectives and industry commentaries. I’ve made several games purchasing decisions based on your writing. Thank you :).

    I also have a request. I’ve played Mafia II recently for a third time and I’d love it if you did a retrospective on that game. I haven’t played other entries in the franchise, but there is something magical in this one for me. If you were wondering what game to take on next, that’s my vote.

    Whatever it is, thank you for the years of great work!

  84. Kenny says:

    Here’s a comment! Thanks for all the words!

    I really like the site – your writing really. I don’t listen to podcasts – too slow versus reading. I do watch videos sometimes, but very few about any of the subjects I’ve ever seen you cover.

    The Escapist posts were good but my favorites are the long-form posts here.

    I’ll consider Patreonizing you!

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