Rise and Shiny: Looking back on two years and making changes

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This column will turn two years old on May 8th, 2012. I'm proud of not only the fact that I have been able keep up the column with a decent amount of content and writing that has slowly gotten better over that time but also the fact that I have introduced the readers of Massively to so many games that they wouldn't otherwise have known about. Recently, I have increased my efforts by streaming odd and indie games as well as writing about the relatively new world of mobile MMOs.

This might all seem like I am attempting to build some sort of indie hipster street cred, but the totally honest truth is that nothing thrills me more than exposing a new game to the world or giving an older game some much-needed sunlight. If someone posts, "This game is still around?" in the comments section, I call that a win.

From now on, I am going to tweak how I do things for Rise and Shiny in order to raise the quality of coverage. Let me explain how as well as give you a few figures to illustrate just how many titles I have covered.

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This column started off with the idea that I would pick an MMO at random, play it for around 10-12 hours during the week, and then report on what I found. I also asked the readers to come along with me during the week and dreamed of a static group of dozens of readers adventuring together with me so that we all experience the new game together.

I hate to say this, but unfortunately many of Massively's readers are far from adventurous. They can't simply jump into a random title; they need to know the stats of each possible class, weigh all of those stats against each other, understand the endgame (I still hate that words), and figure out exactly how any microtransactions in the game might work. Despite the fact that most of the games I cover are entirely free to download and mostly free-to-play, I just can't force readers to try something out until my impressions have already been released, and even then it is dangerous to base a decision on my writing. Since the beginning, I have been telling the readers that my writing is based entirely on my impressions of a game, not the exact information that one finds out by reading a game's wiki. I don't write guides; I tell you my opinion. That has always been the case because I find guides generally boring.

I adapted, though, and have been enjoying the fact that my livestreams get a decent number of viewers. I receive quite a bit of email thanking me for introducing people to new games or to different areas of their favorite titles. That makes me proud, and I have fantastic readers.

But now I want to vet the games I play more. Here's my point of reference: I have covered roughly 100 games over the last two years. Of those, roughly 65 were independent titles. Some of the games I covered had players that numbered under a few hundred. That makes me proud as well. The problems have set in because of the fact that I am now truly running into games that need to be vetted. I can easily find a new title every week, even a few titles that I might need for my other columns (there are that many MMOs out there, and more coming), but many of those titles are unusual or require a player to understand some very specific systems. I love covering the MMORTS genre, for example, but within that normal eight to 12 hours of play, I will barely get off the ground. If the game is an indie MUD or something similar, I will spend most of the time just trying to figure out how to operate the darned thing. This is just how it goes when you deal with indie games or games that do not have the budget of a small city.

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To remedy this, and to hopefully bring my previews and first impressions up a notch in quality, I need to play these games for longer. I need to vet them more. So I will simply schedule them ahead of time and stagger the games. During a typical week, I might need to play three hours of four different titles each on top of streaming different games and writing columns. I'm not complaining, but I want to explain so that everyone knows my process. I hope to cover the games properly by spreading the time out over a slightly longer period.

I also want to make these next two years awash with independent gaming. I plan on concentrating in large part on browser-based MMOs because I believe that browser technology is the future. Streaming browser content will help us all game more easily and will increase accessibility. In my opinion, independent gaming, like independent music, is the last place to find true innovation. AAA, massive-budget MMOs will rarely take a chance with investor money. Sure, the newest title will look fantastic, but I can assure you that within under a year, those same eager players will be talking about the next game that "will change everything." I'm sure that sort of talk has already started with the announcement of Elder Scrolls Online.

We have a lot of fantastic writers here at Massively who can and will cover the larger games. I plan on giving a chance to all indie MMOs out there that offer a dev team of three people, the games that have never received exposure on a major gaming site before. I will criticize them as hard as I can when they deserve it, but I will at least give them a few new players and my feedback from my time as a newbie.

Rise and Shiny has also included nearly 100 hours of videos. Granted, many of my favorite early ones were deleted by Livestream back when we first started streaming Rise and Shiny, but I have pretty much kept the rest from then on, and they can all be found on my YouTube page. Don't forget our Twitch.tv page as well! Many MMOs go away, and I would hate it if they disappeared without ever being captured on video. Keep an eye on the livestream schedule for the schedule of events.

From now on, I will hopefully have more information about a game than a simple week or 10 hours of play can provide. I have enjoyed providing literal first impressions to my readers, but now I am finding games that need, and deserve, more of an explanation. Wish me luck because there are a lot of titles to cover. Many thanks to all of those readers who have continually left comments on my articles, criticized me in contructive ways, and helped me figure out how to cover this wonderful genre.

Next week, everything is back to normal, starting with a look at Dark Legends. This new vampire title from Spacetime Studios has already stirred up some controversy, so let's see if we can make some sense of it together.

Each week, Rise and Shiny asks you to download and try a different free-to-play, indie or unusual game, chosen by me, Beau Hindman. I welcome any suggestions for games -- drop me a note in the comments or email! You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook!

This article was originally published on Massively.