Kill Ten Retrospective

This is my last post on Kill Ten Rats. I am not sure how to say good bye.

I have closed up shop on a lot of games. A great many of them ended on coasting status, limping along and skimming the cream off the top in case I decided to go back. I can think of few cases where I went back and fewer where I went back for very long. The last play sessions were generally clean up, again with the prospect of someday returning. Clean up inventory. Finish off some quests. Complete the event achievement.

I have lost touch with a great many people. I still have a few from Guild Wars 2, a few from City of Heroes. I miss a few from Asheron’s Call and wonder what happened to them. On the other hand, I still get together with people I met in Asheron’s Call. The New Year’s LAN party has been a tradition for more than a decade, even if some years there is not much LAN-liness.

I joined up with Kill Ten Rats as Ethic was expanding to a group blog around the time that I was considering starting or joining an MMO blog. I had been involved in a variety of forums over the years, and I wanted something more permanent, more “home.” I suppose now people would just use social media or an existing aggregated site.

Kill Ten Rats became a group blog. We played different games and talked about them. I started as the blogger for a game that no longer exists. We compared what we were seeing in different games. As time flowed, we swapped between games or maybe played together. There was not a guiding force behind that, just what we happened to be playing. Lord of the Rings Online is where we were most likely to overlap. We had great hopes for Warhammer Online and then greater for Guild Wars 2. Neither was a bad time, but neither was The One.

Kill Ten Rats was probably best known when Ravious made us essentially a Guild Wars 2 fan site, following the game throughout development. Our biggest exposure came from a brief time with World of Warcraft, because a small nod from the big dog is a lot more attention than several other games combined.

Most of our co-bloggers fell away quickly. People had a few ideas to post but not something consistently over time. Some made a half-dozen posts. Some blogged steadily for a few months then trailed off. For most of our time here, it was me, Ravious, and Ethic.

I knew Ravious from A Tale in the Desert. We were in Southren Star Guild, a early typo made permanent name. He stumbled over the chance to join KTR more or less the same way I did. His enthusiasm was always a better draw than my bloodless analysis, plus talking about the New Hotness has a better audience than my habit of discussing a random game from 10 years ago and how its mechanics relate to whatever. Zach was a good friend and a good writer to have around. We knew each other online and played together for about 15 years, only meeting once. He died of cancer in 2017.

I remember some fun stories from games. One about my wife was pretty popular. There was the occasional reach at social relevance and frequent inclusion of social science. There were fun reviews and fables. There were posts that no one liked where I tried to use songs as extended metaphors for gaming. We had a kerfuffle after one of our writers talked about having bought in-game gold, and others talked about having accounts hacked and looted by gold-sellers.

Kill Ten Rats has been my public face for gaming for most of my time online. If you’re reading this, there is a fair chance you are or were a gaming blogger and we met via gaming blogs. I don’t know how much people still read blogs. I don’t know how people still read blogs; I use Feedly, many people don’t seem to know what RSS is.

I could point back to Biting the Hand. The specifics have changed, but has the gaming landscape changed much? Battle Royale games are the flavor of the moment. MMOs remain a niche market dominated by World of Warcraft, which has held the crown for longer than any of us thought possible. The most interesting thing to me at this point is what is happening with the game shop platforms like Steam and its recent competitors, and whether Steam can survive under the weight of its expansion. We are seeing the same sort of refragmentation after accumulation that we are seeing in other markets like streaming video, and I should not let this trail off into another gaming economics post.

Ahem: I could point back to Biting the Hand. Jessica Mulligan closed up shop there with the note that she was repeating herself, watching others repeat themselves. I have had some repeating of myself, although I am more likely just to link back to myself yet again. The archives are still there, but I am not led to believe that people read back through archives much. I do, but I am weird. It is nothing new that “news” is what is new, and there is always more “new” coming in. I have perhaps a few more things I could say, but I have probably said most of it in some form.

Before MMO blogs became popular, similar content appeared on “rant sites.” Some folks have been around long enough to remember those. Tweety and Lum are in the industry now, and I occasionally see something from one of them, whether work-related or still ranting. I think a lot of early MMO blogging was inspired by that, where we had the idea we could help move the industry by shouting about it. I don’t know that we influenced much.

MMOs carry on, probably more than I know. We all still dream of The One, the game that will fulfill our dreams or at least its promises, or recapture that First MMO Feeling. I have lost track of them, which games are out or coming. I occasionally hear about them closing down. I want to make a Dawn joke here, but it seems neither important nor recognizable. But if you’re still reading, again there’s a good chance you were around for Dawn drama.

At some point, KTR and other MMO blogs mostly drifted from being MMO blogs. Some have remained pure, I am sure, but we became online gaming blogs, gaming blogs, online culture blogs, general blogs. And we gradually trailed off.

Kill Ten Rats has long since trailed off. Occasionally something will spur a stream of posts. By our numbers, I know that several thousand of you are still out there. I have seen too many blogs where the last post is “not dead yet,” six months after the previous post. So I am hanging up my digital pen. Ethic opened the gates on the rat hunt, and he gets to close them.

I have seen myself change over time. I was more conflict-prone in my youth. Back in college, I explicitly belonged to a gladiatorial combat theory of dialectic: pit two ideas against each other and see which was left standing. You have probably noticed that my style has less conflict, more analysis and detail. I recently saw a college-age friend write that their preferred style of working out ideas was to confidently assert a position and hold it against similarly adversarial arguments from others. I saw myself and smiled wistfully like old people do.

I have noticed my mistakes and typos over time and wondered whether I am slipping or just more aware and conscientious now. I have a couple million words here, and I occasionally look at an old post and fix old typos. We acquire new frailties over time and realize we may have always had others, just balanced by youthful energy and resilience.

I have reached the point of looking back at a lot of decisions in life. Some of them have worked better than others. There are some that I would have done differently had I known then. There are some I can correct now, others where the time has passed. The return on investment proposition has changed on some. I still dream of making it to Disney as a next career path, and hey, I’m open to any interesting opportunities in project management and technical development. Call me.

We have had a lot of good discussions. We have had fun. We have sometimes met and played together. I am still Zubon on Steam, if you want to find me for a game sometime.

If you are still reading, you have been reading Zubon at Kill Ten Rats for the past 14 years. Thanks for reading. See you around.

: Zubon

29 thoughts on “Kill Ten Retrospective”

  1. I am one of those MMO bloggers which turned gaming bloggers and eventually turned no bloggers at all. KTR was one of my favourites back in the heyday – but you are right, the space has changed: if you want to record your own opinions you’d better start a YT channel (in 2010) or better yet a twitch channel (in 2015), I suppose now you have to condense your opinions down into the comment on an instagram photo or overlain on a snapchat (2017?).

    I swore I would never post a “in my day” comment.

    When I was writing my blog I was at university, playing GW1 every day (and looking forward to GW2) and the community was massive. I haven’t played an MMO in a couple of years now – I just don’t have the energy to get back into the headspace of the genre – like you say, maybe I’m just waiting for that game to recapture that magic.

    Best of luck to you, Zubon.

  2. Mine has long since become a blog about me marking the days and charting the way things don’t really change. I worry a topic over and over, linking back and repeating, wondering if I have actually found anything new. But I still enjoy looking back at what has happened over the years, so I’ll carry on. It is like I really need something for those year/five year/ten year ago sections of my month in review posts.

    I will miss even the occasional posts here, though I miss the heyday of the site more. I hope it stays up, and not just because of all the links on my own blog that will go bad if it disappears. I do tend to show up and dig around in old posts now and again. I was sifting through some of Ethic’s posts about EVE Online and Ascendant Frontier not too long ago.

    But nothing lasts forever. And there are days when I feel so very tired of the same thing. I’ll walk away some day. I just don’t have the exact date yet.

    I hope you find something fun wherever you head, and that you’ll still stop by every so often to chide me when I am getting overly pedantic about something.

  3. The time is long overdue to be honest. I’m glad you were able to continue on as long as you have. I’ve missed Ravious dearly. I’ll write something eventually, to close this quest down, but not yet. I’m just not ready to say goodbye. Don’t expect a post from me until that time, but then it will be done. Godspeed Zubon. I hope we can greet each other face to face once again soon. Thank you to all of you, this has been a really nice part of my life. Oh and here is my Steam link too.

  4. This has been the last bastion of gaming blogs in my RSS feed. Thank you for writing; I’ve appreciated the divergence in content and certainly benefited from the shift to interesting single-player and board games. Special mentions for exposing me to Hexcells, Slay the Spire, and Spirit Island.

  5. Oh, dear, I feel the closing of the curtains. Thank you for the years of cozy and insightful lurking you’ve given me.

  6. I am actually sad. Happy for you, but just sad. Visiting here with every post has become comfort food.

    I actually started blogging because of this site, and I am going 10 years on. I can’t say 10 years strong, but still writing a post or two a week about whatever I care to. When I started blogging I dreamed of getting invited to contribute here. I never earned it or would have deserved the honour but it’s best that way anyway. I am a better visitor than anything.

    I was honestly about to write you an email (Zubon, or Ethic) to see if you still had any contact with Oz. He is still the guild leader of our our original EQ guild on the testserver and I wanted to see if he would pass that on to me, for safe keeping. Heck, I still keep those guild boards alive. He hasn’t logged in there since 2006 or something.

    I suppose I am the nostalgic one here, in Blognation (as I call it. Only me.It’s a terrible nickname for the blogosphere, but one of the rare things I have coined!), the games do drive emotion for me from the memories. I used to comment a lot here when I was younger, usually eager to debate and discuss, but now it’s that coffee shop I sit in, enjoying the scenery, and making small talk. My third space, so to speak.

    I will miss the insights and casual conversation here. I have missed Ravious too, funny it seems like forever ago but it has only been two years. Time is funny on blogs.

    Meh, rambling. I suppose I just have one thing to say.

    Thank you. Truly.

    (does that count as two?)

  7. Well.. shit.

    I’ve been following KTR for years. It was a sad day when Zach passed and this feels nearly as bad.

    I’ll miss the insights, which always seemed to make me think harder after reading.

    Best of luck in the future and thanks for all the great stories.

  8. The shouting and ranting has moved on to Youtube and Twitch; the torch passed to a younger generation of gamers with their own hangouts. And so it goes.

    Being as much a fan of the written word as I am, Kill Ten Rats and all its posts have been a comfortable bastion of games insight for a long time now. /salute to all of you and whatever you choose to do next.

    And do excuse me if I nurse the small flame of hope that the writing and commentary bug will hit again at some point in the future and provoke another thoughtful post from you. There will be people around eager to read it.

  9. I learned a lot about blogging from Kill Ten Rats but nothing so much as the time you banned me for making inappropriate comments. I came to blogging via MMORPG forums but long before that I was a very active participant in printed fanzines and, especially, the apazine scene. In that cuture it was considered actively impolite *not* to comment on oter people’s work. We even had an acronym to use when we had nothing to say but didn’t want to be rude – RAEBNCH – meaning “Read and enjoyed but no comment hooks”.

    Consequently I believed that it was my duty to comment on every single blog post I read. Even when I had nothing to say. To do otherwise would be rude. I learned from you that blogging has different rules of engagement and different standards of politeness. Ever since the ban, which you were gracious enough to discuss with me by email and which you fairly quickly rescinded, I have managed to restrict my (still prolific and prolix) comments to posts about which I feel I actually have something to say, both at KTR and everywhere else. Thanks for that!

    My favorite time with KTR was when Ravious was deeply involved with the upcoming GW2 project. It’s largely because of KTR that I ended up playing that game, which has been my main MMO for seven years and the one I’ve played with my wife for all that time. I was so sorry to hear about Ravious’s illness, much more so his death. He was far, far too young for anything like that. I’m nearly twice his age and I’ll be going into hospital for a fairly major operation in a week or so for something that will eventually kill me if I son’t do something about it and I think I’m far too young so I can’t imagine what he must have felt when he got his prognosis. Well, I can. That’s the worst part.

    As for KTR, the blog itself, it’s drifted over the last few years. I still read everything but very little is about anything I’d ever play or even think of playing. I’m one of the few bloggers who still writes only about MMORPGs. Well, occasionally I’ll pop in a post on something else and often I’ll slip in some other cultural references but in essence it’s all about the MMORPGs. I still play MMOs every day, often several of them. My wife plays most days. We talk about them at home, I write about them several times a week. I still have the same passion for the genre I had when I discovered it almost 20 years ago. The fire is banked and glowing now, rather than blazing and roaring, but I’m confident it will burn steadily for a long, long time (well, as long as I do… let’s not tempt fate).

    The key thing about blogging, for me, is writing. If I ever did lose faith with MMORPGs I’d just write about something else. I’ve been writing all my life. In many ways I do other things I enjoy mostly so i can write about having done it. After two million words, I imagine you must have something of that same drive. Perhaps you’ll direct it to another subject than gaming in the future. If so, I hope you’ll let us all know. I’d like to go on reading.

  10. I’ve found this site too late, when GW2 added Ravious memorial collection, but I still loved going through the archives and reading so much funny and thoughtful posts. It’s truly sad that this quest finally ended after 15 years.

  11. Realizing you’re done is painful, and freeing. Thank all of you for running this space as long as you did.

  12. A lot of what you wrote will make it into my eventual Goodbye post, which hurts but is also comforting in a way. We all grew up, both in how we play games, and how we write/discuss them. I think that’s overall good for the person writing, but not as entertaining from the perspective of the blog and the volume of posts/comments.

    This blog was one of the few I still checked almost daily (RSS feeds are for nerds!), and has been one of the oldest blogs I’ve followed. I always enjoyed it, so thank you for that.

  13. I don’t remember when I started reading this blog. I suppose it’s been between 5 and 10 years ago, but who knows? Knowing myself one could probably dig for my earliest comment, pointing out how wrong people are on the internet ;)

    I have to admit I was skimming more than reading everything lately, with the focus more on stuff that’s not so interesting to me (even though I love playing board games, I have not so much interest in reading about them) – but people change, be they writers or readers.

    Thanks for keeping this running for so long, because even though that maybe just sounded meaner that it was intended to… I was still reading. (via RSS, of course).

    Good luck in whatever you plan to do next, and don’t lose the fun in games :)

  14. I can’t say I’ve been here for full 14-year run, but I have been around for more than half of it. I started my own blog in 2011, after having read others for a year or a bit more.

    Many of those things that you mentioned happened to me, just at a much accelerated pace. I made it for about 18 months, posting regularly, then fell off. Managed to come back half a year later and go another year or so at much lower frequency. A handful of posts in 2015, a few more in 2016, and that was that. I never really said goodbye. I just lost my words in a way. Whenever I thought of writing something, it felt trite or years too late. I even comment very little these days, though I still read a handful of blogs.

    My reading has also become less over the years, but that just follows the pattern of more and more lights going out. Whenever a blog falls silent, I eventually move it over in my feed reader to the “inactive” section that only checks the feed every week or so. For a long time by now, that section has had many more entries than the active one. Occasionally, a feed springs back to life. Never for long though. Other times, a name goes red: the feed isn’t reachable any more, the site has gone, and all its history and thoughts with it.

    Don’t let this site go red. And thank you for all the good reads over the years.

  15. Sad to see you go! I am a longtime reader, found the blog when Ravious was still alive and blogging a lot. I was a silent follower, but a follower nonetheless. Best wishes!

  16. I’ve enjoyed reading this blog and learned a bit from it. (Backed Tang Garden and Iwari on your recommendation) If you decide to share your thoughts about games some other way in the future, I’d love to see them.

  17. I’m sad to say that I only found this blog a few months ago, while discussing a game review that Zubon did on Steam and he mentioned KTR.
    I got the privilege of playing some Guild Wars 2 with you, and trying to play some RoboCraft as well.
    I’ll keep reading your reviews on Steam if you continue to do them.

    I wish you all the best Zubon.

  18. I don’t comment often, but I’ve been reading for about 7 years and have seen some of the change in direction that you mention in the site. I’ve never minded that (here, or elsewhere in the blogosphere) because it’s changed in interesting ways and that change has come alongside my own changing tastes in gaming as well. I don’t play WoW anymore, and I don’t expect that I’ll ever be going back to it, but it’s nice to read a bit on it and see how people feel about it. Reading about board games here even though I don’t play them often (we’ve picked up some, including a couple you’ve reviewed here) was still fun and worthwhile in the same way, keeping me aware of a larger scope of things than I would have otherwise paid attention to.

    I’ll add you on Steam, and I’ll miss reading your work. Enjoy your retirement!

    (And I just now found from there that you’re also from the mitten! I knew there was a reason I enjoyed your stuff.)

  19. Goodbye.

    I read archives too. Usually it’s because I find a blog talking about a game I just started playing, so I want to check all of their thoughts, their journey, and their frequency by doing so before I add them on my RSS. Or they may already be on my RSS reader.

    That’s how I came to this site too. With GW2. Surprisingly, I think I’m going to miss you more than Ravious. I think because it signals how soon this blog will be mothballed.

    Thank you.

  20. Thank you for all the writing, Zubon. I don’t know that I’ve ever commented, but I’ve read everything here for years. Hope your next things bring you joy! Thank you for sharing so much with us.

  21. Thanks all for the kind words. I was thinking about what I wanted to say in individual replies, but that would be another post of itself, and we’re past that now.

    All the best. Keep writing. Keep thinking.

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