Looking Back at 15 Years of Odd

Warning: This post brings up the subjects of depression, anxiety, mental illness and death. They are not the central focus of the post, but reader discretion is advised.

This fall will mark the 15th anniversary of this blog. That’s right. I’ve been writing on this thing in one form or another for FIFTEEN years. Can you even imagine? When I started writing this blog, I was a college student trying to expand his online presence with something that he loved. YouTube was barely a thing. The Hat – my own iconic hat – was not a thing I even owned yet. My name? It wasn’t even Vrykerion. When I started writing my name was “K-OSS the Harlequin” (Pronounced ‘Chaos’), an edgelord moniker that I had clung to since middle school. Vrykerion wouldn’t become the name I would use until well after I first came up the name for a Death Knight in World of Warcraft’s ‘Wrath of the Lich King’ moniker. It was a different time, and yet – a not so different one.

The Beginning

When I started this blog, it was dedicated to World of Warcraft. Something college-aged Vry had a lot of time to play, a lot of passion for, and not a lot of people to share it with. My friends pretty much all fell in to the camp of “money is too tight to pay for a subscription to a video game” and yeah, I don’t blame them. I was fortunate that I had enough disposable income from my work study job that I could do things like play WoW. But the lack of outlet left me with a question of what to do with all my excess excitement about the game? Well, how about a blog? They were easy enough to set up. For the most part, you only needed words. As a student of “Creative Writing” I had that in abundance.

But what to write about? I originally had figured that no one would want to read a personal blog. “I had fun doing this”, “Here’s my opinion on the new event”, etc. But I wasn’t really good at theorycraft or keeping up with the news cycle. That’s when I stumbled upon something that I hadn’t seen anyone else do – a niche that I could fill and call my own: a humorous look at all the random and weird things in World of Warcraft.

It’s even more unusual now in a world that’s become saturated with MMO’s, but the developers at Blizzard love to fill their world with easter eggs, references, and sometimes just random bits and pieces that serve no real purpose but to take up space in the massive world. Be it a bunch of NPCs throwing a barbecue in an area that you can only reach with flight, to a massive rabbit skull half sunk into a lake bed. I dubbed these “Oddities” and decided to mix in my own wit and humor to catalogue them. Thus ODDCRAFT was born. My own slice of the internet.

During that time I had a blast. I got to be part of the community. I would get on Twitter and have dozens of people who actually knew who I was and loved chatting with me and joking about the game. Some of them I’m still in contact with, and it is always nice to see them pop up in my feed. I created some works like the Warchief Election (that coincidentally had Sylvanas running for Warchief WAY before Legion debuted) or the Stormwind Tour that I can still go back and laugh at.

Which is important I think. The ability to go back and enjoy one’s own work, even years later. They say if you wince at your old work, it means you’ve improved. Maybe that means I haven’t but I think being able to laugh at your own dumb jokes after 10 years means you may have gotten something right as well. I got to incorporate my other big passion – video – as time went on, including making the only video left online right now that you can see my big goofy face that I made for my 100th oddity post.

Apparently, that video also made its rounds on Reddit as a peak example of “cringe.” A fairly new vocabulary word for me at the time, but one I’ve become fairly familiar with as the years have gone on. Is it cringe? Yeah, probably. But it was also meant to celebrate a milestone in my blogging career at the time. I figure I’m allowed to be bit cringe after 100 posts of content. Oh, and yes the joke there is I’m implying it’s Godzilla off the coast of Northrend. People have corrected me with the actual name of the ‘bigger than the biggest dragon’ but I don’t think that was canon at the time Wrath came out?

Ultimately however was my little corner – my niche – may have been a bit too niche. See, the only time the blog ever got any decent traffic was when I would post something USEFUL. A guide or walkthrough or instructions on how to get an achievement. Those would actually get visits to the site. My usual content? Much less so. I still got some regular readers though, and they would chime in with a comment here or there. My own history of depression and anxiety would creep in and whisper things like ‘this niche was vacant for a reason’.

However, The real biggest regret I probably have from that era was not putting my face out front when one of the things I was instrumental in creating became a internet wide phenomenon for a short time. The WoW Ironman Challenge.

It was six months before the official World of Warcraft blog posted about the challenge. We had made the rules they used TO THE LETTER except we didn’t include “No deaths” because the goal was to see how HARD it got without anything more than the most bare bones equipment and skills. We assumed you would die. A LOT. But when this whole thing blew up and neither my name nor Psynister’s appeared anywhere in attachment to it – I won’t lie to you, friend – there was resentment and hurt.

I finally made an impact on the community, just like all the other bloggers I looked up to, and my name was just left off of it. It was a “community challenge” started by a forum on the EU servers. Pay no mind that they didn’t start there site until months after we created the challenge, or that other than no deaths rule their official rules were verbatim with the ones I had posted on OddCraft.

I was so angry.

I still feeling hurt when I see the subject pop up.

Maybe that was part of the reason I moved away from Warcraft and started looking at other content to write about.

Just Odd

I knew I couldn’t keep the name “OddCraft” when writing about non-Warcraft things. I tried a myriad of names until I found one that just fit: “The Land of Odd”. I started writing about movies, anime, comic books, other games – anything that I found interesting. It pretty much all fell on deaf ears. Those cold whispers of doubt, depression and anxiety began to creep back in and turn every post into a life or death struggle for the soul of the blog and not just… another post. Coupled by the fact that I was working a downright abusive job that illegally paid me as a 1099 to cut costs and had me run their entire online half of the business for them for minimum wage, I ended up investing way too much of my self worth into this site in hopes that it was a way out – even for the moment.

It was a mistake. One I’m still paying for today. But we’ll get there.

Things finally turned around when I started writing about Star Wars: The Old Republic. I noticed many people on the official forums asking if there was any place they could find out about the various classes’ storylines before investing the time it would take to level them to max level. Again, here I thought that was a niche I could fill. One that actually had demand this time. I would write ‘reviews’ of my experiences playing through the story. After all, I really liked how every class in SWTOR got its own storyline to experience, and I could definitely write about things I enjoy to no end. In the end I wrote a NOVEL’S word count on just the class storylines in the vanilla game.

I also ended up doing “spoiler free summaries” which some people complained read like cheesy trailers or promos, but that’s kinda what a spoiler free summary would look like. Any more detail, and it wouldn’t be spoiler free. It was stuff like those complaints that really helped me toughen my skin and learn to ignore the negative feedback from random people online. After all, if the numbers were any indication, a LOT of people found them more helpful than not. I think my links still get passed around on the official forums and the subredit to this day.

As I moved on to Final Fantasy XIV, the Heavensward expansion had not yet been released. It was set to come out that summer. Again, I found opportunity in those who decided to skip the story of A Realm Reborn – because it is very, very long – and get into Heavensward, which was much more critically acclaimed. I realized that I could fill that gap. After all, I don’t skip cutscenes. Ever. I am a lore junkie. The kind of guy who keeps track of ever reoccurring NPCs.

After I began the Story Summaries for FFXIV, I once thought to construct a wiki to act as a concordance for all the NPCs and where they pop up throughout the various storylines. Luckily, I realized that task would be too much for one man alone and would likely be the death of me if I tried.

But people loved the story summaries. Each day, this blog gets more hits than people I have met in my life solely off of those handful of pages (granted, those web ‘pages’ total up to several dozen pages of written text).

Again, it helped me feel proud of what I created. People found something I made useful. But there’s that word again – useful. Not entertaining, not exciting, not ‘worth looking forward to the next installment’ but useful. At this point, I should maybe have just taken the win, but I did say I had invested a lot of my self-worth into this site, didn’t I? And it ate at me that while people found my content useful, no one knew who wrote it. It’s not like anyone has ever seen my character in game – all named Vrykerion – and recognized it from the blog or anything.

Those icy claws dug in once more and pushed me to demand more of myself. To do more to make myself known. After all, what was the point of all of this if I remained anonymous, even if my content was enjoyed?

Pride. It’s a deadly sin for a reason.

In 2021, as I wrapped up the actually anticipated Shadowbringers storyline summary, I rebranded the site and the blog once more: VRYKERION.COM. I was streaming now, posting content on YouTube, creating my own thumbnails and editing my own videos. I had successfully expanded the blog into incorporating every talent and hobby I had, and figured that it was time to turn my name into a unified brand that all my content could sit under. This was my moment. Vrykerion was ready to take center stage.

To an empty theater.

The streams average one or two viewers. The Youtube videos garnish a handful of views. And I sat here trying to figure out how to make it all work. What else could I do? How do I do self promotion in this day and age. The net is so very different then when I started out, I found myself lost.

It’s been 15 years. I was in college when I began. Now? I’m nearly forty.

Top it off with dealing with the death of my grandfather and the very unexpected passing of my father after that. In the middle of a global pandemic that left us all separated and more. The voices calling me a failure, that I had run out of time, that it was all over – they pushed me down, piled brick after brick and sealing me away without even a cask of red cream soda to keep me satisfied.

I was born bipolar. An unusual case, yes. Most people develop the illness in their late teens or early 20s but I have dealt with that mental illness since I was a child. These past few years have been the hardest I’ve ever had. The number of times I’ve wanted to shutter this site, delete all the story summaries, and just walk away from the longest surviving project I’ve ever worked on… well, that number is higher than I would like.

But you know what? I didn’t. I did not. I’m still here. I’m still streaming EVERY WEEK. I’m editing videos for release EVERY WEEK. I’m writing posts, and scripts, and story summaries.

I will not let doubt control me. I will not let anxiety or depression dictate the direction I choose. I sat down with myself and needed to decide that I make content for ME. And if anyone else out there wants to join in, go for it.

That’s when I remember a little voice in the back of my mind saying, “There’s an audience out there for everything. Just create and they’ll find you eventually.”

That was me. In college. Back when I started this blog. Fifteen years ago.

This whole thing got me so twisted up, I had lost sight of why I did it. Because I had fun with it, and hoped others would find it fun as well.

What Now?

Well, after 15 years, I’m back to just doing what I think is fun. Even if I’m doing it for an empty theater. Because some day, someone might walk in to that theater and like what they see. That won’t happen if the stage is empty too.

So yeah, I’m using a vTuber avatar of a little rabbit wearing my iconic hat. I gave them a little story about a sentient hat who wants to show the bunny all the great games of the world, and the curious silly bunny who wants to play them. I do little skits of them on Twitter. I do bits with them on stream. It matches my personality and keeps that grotesque mug that you saw in the earlier video off of the camera.

You also might be struggling out there. You might also feel that no one cares about your content or cares about you. Just remember, you are putting something out into the world. You are making it a little bit more colorful and interesting. And you never know when something is going to catch someone’s eye. There’s 8 billion people on this rock, that’s 16 billion eyes that might see that color. No one’s gonna see it at all if you don’t make it first though.

So yeah, I keep hoping to see more people in my streams, or watching my videos. I haven’t given up that they might find an audience.

But I also know it’s important for me to have fun too.

So that’s what I’m gonna do.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s