Monetize Everything! and Some Catchy Music

Yeah, those are ads
So if you’re not using an ad blocker you might see an ad or two on this page! I know, weird. Sorry. I tried to make them as unobtrusive as possible while still functioning as ads. I’m currently in an “every penny counts” phase while I transition from my old job to a new one, and frankly I’d be stupid to not to use all of my available resources and that includes this site. The ads will disappear again when life gets a little more stable.

If you run something like AdBlock and want to help, it would be kind of you to whitelist the domain.

Coming to a Kindle near you…
You’ll be hearing more about this over the coming weeks, but I’m writing an ebook! It’s called How to Create and Grow Your Rockin’ Hobby Blog and it’s about half-written now with a goal of having it edited and looking pretty in May. The book covers everything from planning your blog to the technical aspects of setting up a website to promoting yourself on social media.

I was inspired to write it during the planning for May’s Newbie Blogger Initiative. There are a ton of books out there on how to make a blog for your business or how to make a blog with the goal of making some money off of it, but few if any that talk about creating a blog just for the sheer darn joy of writing about something you like and meeting people with similar interests.

So now there will be one. :)

Okay last thing…
Also I’m freelancin’ it for April so if your organization happens to need some writing (marketing writing in particular) done I have actual Professional Experience so hit me up and I can send you a link to my portfolio.

Enough of that, let’s dance
It’s Friday, so let’s close this post with some rocking out.

My favorite track from the new Hotline Miami 2 soundtrack is by M.O.O.N.. This makes me want to drive a big convertible down the Las Vegas Strip at night.

Does everyone else who has played Transistor get chills when listening to the soundtrack? At this rate I’m going to end up playing the game again already…

Should Danny B. just do every game soundtrack forever? Well, maybe not all of them but probably most.

Identifying with a Brand, or Blizzcon Sass

So I was looking at today’s Blizzcon announcement and noticed that tickets are US$199. Two hundred dollars!

I mean, it’s not like Blizzcon makes a ton of profit and as Wilhelm said to me on Twitter the tickets will still sell out in minutes, proving that Blizzard could charge even more (and probably should). And to be fair I’ve been to Blizzcon before in 2010 and it was a lot of fun, but the best parts were meeting my WoW friends. The con itself was kind of incidental to that.

But $200! For two days. For a single game publisher. And you can see everything from home for a $40 virtual ticket. Maybe I’m just super frugal but daaaaamn.

While I was thinking about this something occurred to me, and I’m going to share it here even though I suspect it will irritate a good number of you reading (sorry):

Blizzard fans are the Apple disciples of MMOs.

Think about it — a core of followers who see it as more of a lifestyle than a brand, revering founders and key thinkers in the company, spending more money than anyone else would for similar products, fighting people who speak ill even when it’s deserved. During Blizzcon a couple of years ago I saw a few people talking about how they were literally crying on the convention floor at the grand majesty of.. seeing a trailer on a giant screen.

I don’t mean to be dismissive of everyone who enjoys WoW or Blizzcon, because it’s a fun game and meeting your guildies and online friends in person is always a blast. But man, I will never stop being kind of squicked out by that core of folks who have adopted a brand as their own identity.

Heavensward: hat watch 2015

Heavensward: hat watch 2015

Final Fantasy XIV had a panel at PAX East this past Saturday morning, and along with assorted details about the upcoming expansion attendees also got their first look at some of the class/job outfits awaiting them at the new level cap of 60. A ton of blogger people have already written about Heavensward in general since then, but here at Herding Cats we like to skip over the fluff and get right to the core issues of news updates.

So in no particular order, here are the best game hats we saw in the PAX presentation. (Thanks to this Kotaku article for cataloging the outfits. I believe the images are screenshots from the presentation video, so they are a bit fuzzy.)

drag hat Heavensward: hat watch 2015
So I am but a wee lowbie in FFXIV, but my understanding is that Dragoons are the “WoW hunters” of Eorzia. However, this is a nice hat! I know it’s a play on Dragoon sounding like dragon, and in general I find the “x monster is eating your head” design to be ill-advised, but together with the shoulders this looks like serious business.

scholar hat Heavensward: hat watch 2015
Is this a clockwork top hat? I know that steampunk is sooo 2013 but I don’t care — this is a very fancy hat and it would look great on my character’s very fancy head.

Black Mage
blk hat Heavensward: hat watch 2015
I wasn’t sure if I liked this or not at first but it’s kind of grown on me. The “harlequin-meets-the-inquisition” look is a nice niche for black mages, and I am a big fan of hats of size. Giant hats are the best hats, and this one looks particularly large and possibly pointy.

chef hat Heavensward: hat watch 2015
I have witnessed many chef hats in MMOs and this is a great one. With the right dye, I think this could top off a number of different outfit ideas. Also it’s sooooo floofy.

weaver hat Heavensward: hat watch 2015
Okay FINE Square Enix, if that is your real name, I’ll guess level crafting now. I hope you’re happy, you monsters.


I woke up this morning to discover that I was prodded by two excellent bloggers — Contains Moderate Peril and Braxwolf — to answer their questions as part of “The Liebster Awards”. As Brax put it, these are “the blogging equivalent of a 1970’s chain letter” that caters (good naturedly) to “a particular brand of narcissism”.

As you well know, dear reader, I do enjoy talking about myself.

Both Roger and Brax presented 10 questions, so in the interest of fairness I’ll just randomly choose 5 from each. (Sure, I could answer all 20 questions, but who am I, Belghast?!).

1. How did you get started blogging? (Brax)
So, I was reading a copy of Wired magazine way back in 1999 and they had a tiny little article about this thing called weblogs where people “logged the web”. I was fascinated and decided to make one of my own, named Pith and Vinegar. Back then weblogs were less long form writing and more about finding weird corners of the internet and sharing links along with a bit of commentary. And there weren’t very many of us — you seriously knew EVERYONE who had one. We had to code our own comment systems. People would get in passionate fights over whether “blog” was appropriate shorthand for weblog, and also whether you pronounced it “web-log” or “wee-blog”. It was pretty old school.

2. Do you have faith in your countries political institutions? (Roger)
I do, actually! (Well, I do about Canada. The US is pretty messed up.) We’re coming up on a decade under a terrible conservative government in Canada who has been doing their best to ruin everything (selling off public institutions, removing rights and freedoms) but change is coming and I have faith in the Canadian people’s sense of good. We believe in socialized medicine, we believe in gay rights, we believe in protecting the environment. We believe in being polite! We’re not perfect by any stretch — we have a disgusting history of racism against First Nations people, for example — but I believe in Canadians.

3. Do you regret anything that you’ve written or said on a podcast? (Brax AND Roger)
A friend asked me this for a podcast retrospective not long ago (hi Corr) and .. honestly no. I realize that’s not the most humble answer, but there you go! I’m actually really careful about what I post on my blog, which is not to say that everything I write is correct or even smart but that I try to be honest and factual when facts are available. I’m super picky about accurate word choice. The only thing I really regret on podcasts is any moment where I start to blather. Oh, and every time I start to talk I open with “Yeeeeah”. STOP SAYING YEAH.

4. What is the origin of your blogging name? (Brax)
“Liore” is just a name I made up for Everquest that I liked. But allow me to talk about the name of my blog for a second. You see, back when I created this site in 2008 I was the guild leader of a semi-hardcore raiding guild named Machiavellis Cat. (Why Machiavellis Cat? That’s a story for another day.) I wanted to write a blog about my experiences as a guild leader, so the name Herding Cats seemed perfect. In actual fact, Herding Cats is a terrible name for a blog. It has nothing to do with what I write about now in my post-WoW years, it doesn’t indicate gaming in any way, and it’s such a popular phrase that it doesn’t stand out on a page or in search engines.

To compound the issue I decided to start a podcast that was initially going to feature a rotating cast of guesthosts from my guild, aka Cats, and so we went with the clever name Cat Context. Cat Context. Sigh. At least it’s unique I suppose but it still makes no damn sense to most people.

Long story short, don’t let me name your blog.

6. Do you find common place social conventions, such as going for a drink after work, or inviting colleagues round to dinner, a pleasure or a chore? (Roger)
So, I have been diagnosed with strong social anxiety and much more mild ADHD (hyperactivity rather than inattention) which means that making boring small talk with awkward strangers is pretty much my worst nightmare. I enjoy very much hanging out in person with friends but I have spent my entire professional career mastering the ability to weasel out of “work retreats” or other torturous concepts. I do. not. like. being. bored.

7. Which blogger would you like to meet in real life and why? (Brax) / Is there a blogger or podcaster who has quit the scene or retired that you would like to see make a return? (Roger)
I want to meet Syl because she seems like a lovely person with a curious mind who I would get along with like gangbusters. I also have never met my Cat Context co-host Arolaide in person and oh my god we are so overdue for that. Aro and I joke that she is the bad twin and I am the good one, and I know we could get into so much trouble in person.

I’d say Roger for the podcaster who quit, but we know CMP is returning. Umm, How to Murder Time? No wait, they came back too. Pink Pigtail Inn? No, she writes a great movie blog now. Does anyone ever quit blogging or podcasting for good? :)

8. What is the thing you like most about yourself? (Brax)
I think I’m smart, and I think I write well. But beyond that, I’m incredibly loyal. Once I’ve mentally sorted you as one of “my people” — and that can be a dear close friend or just my favorite barista — I will go to great lengths to help you and, well, pardon the language but I will totally fuck shit up if I think someone is picking on you or being a jerk. I’m not great at sticking up for myself, but do not mess with my people.

9. Do you ever find that your own personal values, principles and ethics put at odds with the wider gaming community? (Roger)
Ah hahahahahahahaha. Hahahahahahah! … Yes.

Look, I operate under the very simple rule of “Be Excellent To Each Other”. Sometimes people are having a crappy day and just need someone to be nice to them. The general wider gaming community, on the other hand, seems to think that everyone is a terrible scrub who needs to die in a fire. We are indeed “at odds”.

10. If you were to start up a video game company, what would you name it? (Brax)
Totally Legit Games! (My freelance company is called Totally Legit Publishing.)

11. You are standing behind someone who is unaware of your presence. Armed only with a seven inch filleting knife, what is the most efficient way to kill them? (Roger)


Okay, so according to tradition I have to tag in more victims and share some questions of my own. To wit:

1. What was your very first MMO character and why did you choose that race?
2. Would you rather have a tiny elephant as a pet, or a tiny kangaroo?
3. Do you overuse any figures of speech in your writing or speaking?
4. You can snap your fingers and visit any city in the world. Where are you?
5. What was your first (real life) pet? Who is your favorite pet?
6. You’re on a desert island and only have one album, one movie, and one book. What are they?
7. Why did you start a blog?
8. What’s your favorite video game soundtrack?
9. Which writers have been the most influential in your own writing?
10. What is your favorite virtual hat in any game?

And I tag in … Arolaide and Ellyndrial, Party Business, Clockwork, and Azuriel.

Thanks for all the fun, Maxis

Thanks for all the fun, Maxis

Back when I was a kid, my parents would occasionally let me rent a Nintendo from the local video store. (Yes children, we had to go to a store to rent videos.) There were a few games that I would rent over and over again, like Super Mario Bros. 2 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but one of my all-time favorites was SimCity. I can remember plenty of nights where I would actually fall asleep on the living room floor next to the warm wood stove after my parents went to bed, controller in hand and visions of skyscrapers in my head. Just one more year. One more. Okay, one more.

Somewhere around that time I picked up the cheat code for infinite cash. (I’m not even sure how I learned that — it’s hard to remember how this stuff got passed around in the days before the internet.) I quickly gave myself as much money as I could use and built and built.. and realized that I wasn’t having as much fun as usual. It was SimCity that taught me that games aren’t just about winning, they’re about the journey along the way to the finish line.

oldsimcity 500x333 Thanks for all the fun, Maxis

And that wasn’t even my first SimCity experience: I remember playing it in black and white on the Apple ][ in elementary school. Nor would it be my last! Last year I got SimCity 4 Thanks for all the fun, Maxis (affiliate link) going with a bunch of cool mods and just like when I was 12 I stayed up almost all night building and waiting to see what my loyal citizens would think of the changes. Just one more year. One more.

Today EA shut down Maxis Emeryville, the main Maxis studio and the one responsible for SimCity among other titles. I know that SimCity 2013 and The Sims 4 didn’t do very well, I suspect in large part due to the dumb specifications created by EA like being always-online and DLC-ready but honestly I don’t know the behind the scenes details. It doesn’t really matter.

For all of their recent missteps, this blog would probably not exist if it wasn’t for Maxis. I wouldn’t have fallen in love with games as much as I did as a kid. Those hours I put into the various versions of SimCity all through my life became hours I put into Tropico 4 and Roller Coaster Simulator and .. pretty much all sim games.

So thank you, Maxis. Thanks for creating a series of games that inspired me, entertained me, kept me up all night, and in a small way helped shape me into the person I am today.

But seriously, how do you reticulate splines?

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