Thursday, May 17, 2012

Entropy

In my last post I asked if there was a depletion of interest in the D&D blogosphere ... and I received a few responses saying the previous energy came out of the excitement for Original D&D.  In this hiatus before 5th edition, OD&D has established itself now, the conversation is beaten into submission, and in the calm before the storm we shall see if the 4th editioners will rise up and bring flames to the coming struggle.

You know, regarding 5th edition ... about this time in the Friday the 13th series, we had started to make jokes about what the later film titles would be:

Friday the 13th, Part 13: Jason Gets Unlucky
Friday the 13th, Part 22: Jason Gets a Job
Friday the 13th, Part 29: Jason Gets Married
Friday the 13th, Part 30: Jason Gets Divorced
Friday the 13th, Part 41: Jason Passes the Bar
Friday the 13th, Part 42: Jason Takes the Bench
Friday the 13th, Part 51: Look Who Jason's Marrying Now
Friday the 13th, Part 54: Viva Las Jason!
Friday the 13th, Part 57: It's a Merry Jason Christmas
Friday the 13th, Part 68: Jason Adopts Islam
Friday the 13th, Part 69: Jason and the 72 Virgins

And so on.  Not really relevant, but when do we start giving D&D editions tag lines?  I suggest:

D&D Edition V: The Wizards Get Desperate

Be that as it may.  It's nice to know I'm not alone in thinking something is down.  I don't quite agree with the advanced notions.  I would argue, instead, entropy in the system.  I watched another blogosphere crash and burn about three years ago.  People fought and fought for their beliefs.  In time it became evident no one was ever going to change their mind.  Posts arguing anything diminished; this led to less linking between posts and less general commentary all around.  Blogs began to drop off the net.  A few huge, long-time flamers quit, after years of banging the drum for their prejudices.  Suddenly, all that remained were a few neophyte bloggers who had little or no memory of the previous blog structure.

This feels like the beginning of that.

If I were to say when the high point of D&D blogging, I'd mark the decision of Cyclopeatron to rank all the blogs by the number of followers.  It was an immense task; he is to be commended for attempting it once - I believe he managed to do it four times.  By then, I'm sure it was ready to shoot himself.  Search 300+ blogs in the space of a few days so as to get the follower numbers in the tightest possible time?  Insane.

The effect immediately proliferated the number of D&D blogs, and multiplied the number of blogs most viewers took the time to read.  Zak's Porn Stars blog numbers soared with the notariety ... Zak had the benefit of a spicy blog title and actual porn stars to back up the marketing promise.  My offline party joked that I needed to put together a blog entitled "D&D Girls Who Like to Fuck" ... but the girl players were not willing to actually hump on camera while playing D&D, so the idea never quite got off the ground.  Perhaps someday I can afford escorts and we can give that a try.

If I were going to state when the community jumped the shark, that would probably be around the time YDIS got popular.  Not because YDIS did or wrote anything that affected the community, but rather, because at that time people were ready for something different, preferably irreverent, since SO much of what was being shouted eighteen months ago was "right vs. wrong."  I'm a firm proponent of that, so naturally I was one of the best targets.

People being what they are, levelling a gun against them - even a gun filled with kindergartenish language - causes them to drop and close their eyes.  Most weren't resolved to keep fighting while being shot full of poo, and certain high-profile bloggers pulled a long way back and out of range.  The community split for a time between those who acknowledged the right of morons and those who did not, debasing the conversation generally.

I don't think people are expressly ramping up to fight ed. 5.  I don't think they feel they've won the OD&D campaign.  I think they're exhausted with the idea of another bullshit edition, I think they've lost any sense that anything is EVER going to change, and I think they've simply laid down into a groove of discussing non-controversial subjects.  As such, not much to say about anything anyone writes anywhere else.  Result: discontinuity, isolation and reduced kenetic activity.  Technical term: entropy. 

9 comments:

Andrej said...

Interestingly, the entropy you describe in the online community has not creeped into my personal gaming. Quite the contrary, I've really been cooking lately.

Alexis said...

But it wouldn't, would it? What you describe are your personal activities, sustained by your personal relationships.

The "community" is an impersonal construct - more easily dismissed when it ceases to provide any immediate gratification.

Andrej said...

It would only if one were to equate interest in talking, reading and arguing ABOUT the game to interest in PLAYING the game. I'm not saying you or anybody did in this instance, just making the observation: While my personal interest in the online blogging community has clearly diminished and while this might be a result of that community's entropy my personal interest in playing the game is as high as ever.

In my experience the opposite has been true. That is, my real life interests generally dictate what I'm doing online. I usually drift away from a message board or blog or wiki when my interest in the subject matter wanes.

I suppose one could argue, though, that I haven't drifted away at all from the community, just focused my interest on playing within the online community via your game.

Extrapolating outward, prominent bloggers have drifted to Google+ and also seem to be focusing their energy on playing. Maybe the community, such as it is, is evolving rather than being snuffed out?

Alexis said...

I certainly get more gratification and sense of accomplishment by running the campaign well than I do from writing posts on this blog. For example, if I work up a table or a map to post here, I see little personal reward; but every word I write on the campaign is soaked in and answered.

Still, I feel what I do here MUST be written. This game CAN be better, and people CAN change and develop as dungeon masters and players. Whereas I do not find a sense of accomplishment, in advancing ideas that are not necessarily about me personally I obtain a kind of spiritual peace. I always feel that when I step outside myself.

The game is better played than talked about. I grant you that. It cannot, however, ONLY be played.

Andrej said...

Fair enough on your last point, but how much more? You can look back on and be rather proud of about 800+ posts. Do you intend 800 more? Take it day-by-day?

Your unique point of view has certainly caused me to rethink and change my practices as a DM. I've appreciated both this blog and the campaign blog and look forward to more of both.

Alexis said...

I like to think I'm a little old man thirty years from now, writing in an old age home, and finally listened to just because I've been doing this for soooooooo long.

But we'll see.

ckc said...

Look yon toward the far fields -
There the descent of the feeder comes,
Craving to sate a tiny hunger
With the grains of great labor

When the plows are laid to rest
Their hands the orange-dark glimmer
Forlorn quiet and peace after -
Nothing grows in the deep fodder

A new harvest takes with the new season,
When learned man gathers the new
He collects with it, the old and true
To tell again, the tale anew

Skydyr said...

I'm not sure that a decline in blogging activity is necessarily related to arguments, edition wars, etc.

For me, when I started reading d&d blogs heavily, it was like a breath of fresh air to have all these new ideas. Some of them I've incorporated into my own gaming, others I've decided aren't worth it. Either way, a great deal of the community has been a sharing of techniques and styles. Once those have all been shared, it's natural that the posting die down to give people time to assimilate what they have discussed. Soon enough, people will riff off of that in new directions and things will perk up. Until then, we will get a lot of rehashing that seems reflected in the sameness of different materials that seem to be coming out these days.

What do you mean who? said...

I think you are right a lot of the 3rd edition sites which people had invested a lot into are now abandoned. Like operating systems, game editions are foundational technologies. Change them too often and people have no time (or little will) to rebuild around the new premises.