[Update 2: Got two shitty pistols. I hate my life.]
[Update: Decided to reward myself when I hit level 20. I'll let you know how it goes.]
I've made no attempt to hide my love for Borderlands 2. Even before the game was out and I was granted the opportunity to write my first ever Destructoid feature, my excitement for the title had already began bubbling up like a b-- wait, no. Not gonna make this blog about that.
Anyway, thanks to a few of the best friends a guy could ask for, I've been playing the game since day one, and after dozens of hours spent slaughtering swarms of psychos, murdering mobs of Bullymongs, and stockpiling more weaponry than an NRA member prior to January 19, 2009, I'm still giddy with excitement every time I boot up the game and grab my controller.
But what keeps me coming back for more? Is it the rock-solid shooter gameplay? The fantastic sense of "go-anywhere, do-anything" exploration? The phenomenal art direction and character design? The witty dialog? Nope, nope, nope, and nope. Sure, all those things add up to make Borderlands 2 one of the best games of 2012, but they're not the real reason I continue to happily hop around Pandora with a childlike smile on my face, long after that "new game glow" has faded.
Then what, you ask? This:
For those of you who've yet to tread the streets of Sanctuary, the game's main town, a little background: What you're looking at here is the Golden Loot Chest, unlockable via the Golden Key you get for either A) pre-ordering the game, or B) joining Gearbox's "Shift" club. The Chest (or, rather, the items inside it) levels up with you, so the longer you wait to pop its top, the better the weapons you'll receive.
As I was gifted my copy of the game and thus did not receive a pre-order bonus, I have only one Golden Key to my name, which means I'm allowed to open the Golden Loot Chest one time... and then it's gone forever.
AND HOLY SHIT THAT'S EXCITING.
There are so many ways to approach this situation that my mind is simply swirling into madness. Should I open it now and take advantage of the early boost in stats the weapons may offer? (I'm currently at level 17.) Should I wait until I'm a level 50 and hope for a goddamn BFG to pop out? What if the weapons suck? What if they're fucking awesome?WHAT THE FUCK DO I DO?!
No matter what I decide, the fun is truly in the not knowing; the excitement will be over as soon as I turn the key, and, regardless of the payout, I'll never again capture this feeling.
Talk about exhilarating.
I've never before experienced such a mind-breaking decision in a videogame. For all their choices and so-called moral dilemmas, Mass Effect, Fallout, BioShock -- you name it -- had nothing on the Golden god damn Loot Chest.
I haven't yet decided when I'll use my key, but no matter what ends up happening, I am absolutely reveling in the uncertainty. This, ladies and gentlemen, is choice done right in a videogame.
[Update: Some of this has been rendered moot now that our site redesign is live. However, everything under the big blue header at the bottom still stands!]
Promoting blogs is the best part of my job. It's also the most work. Even if your topic is unique, your grammar is impeccable, and you've remembered to italicize every name of every game, the process of moving a post from the cblogs to the front page can be cumbersome, even for a professional videogame journalist such as myself.
It came to my attention yesterday via conversation with dedicated community member PhilK3nS3bb3n that it might be helpful for the cblogging community to take a peek behind the curtain -- to see how the sausage is made, so to speak. Armed with a bit more knowledge about the steps we on the community team must take to migrate your blogs from cblog fapfest to front page fame might serve everyone's needs better in the end, we thought, and might be a welcome sight to those who endeavor to see their work garner more recognition.
Thus, this blog. After reading this, it is my hope that you gain a better understanding of what we do here, and maybe pick up a few blogging tips along the way. I'm not going to tell you how to write, because Kauza already did that better than I ever could. Instead, I'm going to give you a bit of insight into what it takes to get your blog on the front page from a technical standpoint. (JRo did a similar post a few years back, in case you need a second opinion!)
Remember, making our jobs easier means we're more likely to promote your work, which is a win-win if I've ever heard one!
Now, without further adieu, allow me to take you on a step-by-step process through the promotion of Dtoider Handy's latest blog.
(Note: Handy's blog was chosen because it was a great example of an excellent idea paired with a wonderful writing voice. It may have had a few grammatical, spelling, and structural errors, but the effort it took to promote it was worth the work. To skip the "sausage-fest" and go straight to the "best practices" part, scroll down a bit to the big blue text.)
IN THE BEGINNING, GOD CREATED THE BBCODE AND THE HTML
The way I see Dtoid is very similar to the way you see it. That is to say, having admin access doesn't allow me to see the Matrix or anything like that. However, there are two noticeable differences between my Dtoid and your Dtoid: the MOD button and the PROMOTE! button.
The MOD button is where I go to spank naughty cbloggers. You don't want me to have to push it. The PROMOTE! button, however, is where I go when you've written an exemplary essay deserving of front page attention.
For example, here's what I see when I look at Handy's blog:
See those buttons in the upper right? That's as deep as my rabbit hole goes, Matrix-wise.
So once I've decided that a blog is worthy of front page promotion like Handy's here, I simply right click and open the PROMOTE! button into a new tab (more on that later). Easy!
Then I'm given a page that looks like this:
Believe it or not, this is what Dtoid's news editors look at all day long.
Barf! See how Handy's once-beautiful blog has turned into a big, steaming pile of unformatted text?
Yeah, this is where the fun part starts.
To turn this hideous monster into something resembling its former glorious self, I cut the text, run it through a BBCode to HTML converter tool, and then paste it back in. That gives me this:
As you can see, it's not much different. However, if I scroll down a bit, I'll find that the BBCode tags have disappeared, and in their place is an image and an italicized caption, just like Handy intended. Progress!
Now that everything is coded correctly, I begin the process of reformatting the paragraph breaks, which, depending on the length of the blog, could involve quite a bit of going back and forth between the original blog (still open in that other tab -- see, told you I would bring that up again) and the new one. Regardless of how well-written a blog is, this part is always arduous.
(Side note: I could technically skip the whole BBCode conversion and paragraph reformatting steps by just copying and pasting the text of the original blog over this new word soup, but that produces so much junk HTML code that it isn't worth the trouble it would cause me later.)
Once I'm happy with the overall format, I then begin the process of editing. This includes:
-Editing the header down to 620x350 (or adding my own header if the blogger neglected to).
-Italicizing all game names.
-Making sure that Xbox is spelled Xbox (not XBox, XBOX, X-Box, etc.), PlayStation is spelled PlayStation (note the capitalized S), and so on.
-General proofreading for spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, etc.
-Making sure all images are uploaded to Dtoid and not linked from some outside source.
You get the idea.
Finally, I change the title if necessary, add it to the schedule, write up a little intro, and tag it with the Promoted Stories tag so that that cool "free beer" banner shows up.
Here's what it'll look like when it hits the front page tonight:
And with that, ladies and gentlemen: SAUSAGE.
Now, for dessert.
THE TL;DR VERSION: HOW TO MAKE OUR JOBS EASIER
I won't go into too much detail here, as most of this should be obvious. But in case it isn't:
1. Proofread your shit! Think of it like this: every misspelled word, run-on sentence, etc. that you leave in your final draft is working against you.
2. Italicize the names of videogames! We even make Jim Sterling do this. And he gets to do pretty much anything he wants.
3. Upload your images to Dtoid! As sexy as Imgur and Photobucket are, if they ever go down or you decide to rearrange your images into albums, your blog loses all its shit. At least if you put them on Dtoid the whole thing falls together! (The only exception to this rule is animated gifs.)
4. Give your blog a header! If you don't pick one yourself I'll have to pick one for you, and nobody wants that. (A lesson Handy just learned the hard way.) Nothing can go up on the front page without a header, and it needs to be 620 pixels wide, 350 pixels tall, and safe for work to make the cut.
5. Use an appropriate title! When we promote a blog, we're going to add the words "Promoted blog:" to the front of your title. Please take this into consideration when naming your blogs! If our little add-on doesn't fit, we'll have to shorten your title using our best judgement.
And that's it! I hope this guide is read the way I intended; I can't stress enough how damn fun it is to promote a blog when the writer has taken the time to craft a quality piece. If you're ever in doubt, click here and browse through the blogs we've promoted in the past; each is a wonderful example of cblogging done right.
Now get back to work! You've got blogs to write :)
We get a lot of questions regarding PAX avatar adoption about this time every year -- namely, "What the fuck is PAX avatar adoption?!" -- so I decided to put together a quick FAQ for those of you unfamiliar with this long-standing Dtoid tradition. This literally affects EVERY Dtoider -- yes, even you! -- so please read on to see how you can get involved!
What the fuck is PAX avatar adoption?!
Sadly, not every Dtoider gets to attend PAX. Whether they live too far away, don't have the funds for the trip, or simply can't escape for the weekend, hundreds (maybe millions!) of your internet friends will never know the joy of playing videogames in the rain (because Seattle).
For these poor souls, we have the PAX Adopt-an-Avatar program! By harnessing the power of paper and ink, adoptees' avatars are able to enjoy the glory that is PAX no matter what their situation!
They'll mingle with internet celebrities, wrap their thin, paper hands around the hottest new releases and upcoming games, and drown their pulpy livers in drink with their fellow Dtoiders (avatars must be 21-or-older to imbibe alcohol). All without ever leaving the comfort of their own homes!
So how does it work? It's pretty simple, really...
I can't make it to PAX. How do I get my avatar adopted?
All you have to do is ask! If you're unable to attend but love the idea of living vicariously through one of your Dtoid compatriots, just post a blog here in the Cblogs or start a thread over in the Forums detailing why yours is an avatar worth adopting! Herearesomeexamples of what other Dtoiders did last year. Copy them!
Then, assuming a loving parent-to-be comes along and offers you a new home, you'll provide them with a high-resolution copy of your avatar (something that will look good printed out) and cross your fingers that they'll love you like their own!
What can I expect if my avatar is adopted?
The level of involvement and creativity is different for each "parent", but here are some possibilities:
You'll be in a lot of pictures.
This one is pretty much a given. Adopting an avatar is a great excuse for people to bug internet celebrities for their picture. "Hey, you're famous internet celebrity Max Scoville! Could I take my picture with you? You know... for the avatar?" Or something like that :)
You'll see said pictures in a recap blog or forum post.
Again, this one is pretty much a given. Half the fun of adopting an avatar comes with recapping the events of the weekend in a post-PAX post for all of Dtoid to see. (Here's an example of one done very, very well. Individual results may vary!)
Other things might happen.
WHO KNOWS?! The only guarantee is that everyone involved will have a blast!
I'm going to PAX, and I really want to adopt so-and-so's avatar. What do I do?
Tell them! Just send them a PM and work out the details! Then, once you're both on the same page, simply print out a copy of their avatar and bring it with you to PAX! Take them with you everywhere you go, and try to be as creative as possible... but most of all, HAVE FUN!
And that's all there is to it! If you have any further questions just ask here in the comments. And for those of you unable to attend PAX and want your avatar adopted... WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! Your would-be-parent is waiting!