Thursday, May 3, 2012

Blogging tip 1: Screenshots make your blog interesting

Disclaimer: In May, I will provide some tips for new blogs as part of Newbie Blogger Initiative. If you have recently started your blog and have any question, don't hesitate to ask!

New Blogger Initiative is directed at MMO blogs, so game screenshots will be a part of your blog for sure. I'd like to give some tips on how to use them to make your blog more attractive, along with examples of good & bad layout.

#1: Use them!
I've seen so many gaming blogs with almost no screenshots. I have to admit I almost never stay too long on them, even though the text might be interesting. Even if you're blogging about text MMO, include ASCII art! Pictures spice up the posts, keep the reader interested and in fact help the message you wanted to give the reader stand out.

Bad vs. good:

#2: Use common sense!
Use the pictures so that they help readers keep attention on the article - don't overload! This advice of course doesn't apply to posts where screenshots are the main focus.

You don't have to include a screenshot for one liner saying you will be afk from your blog for some time. You also shouldn't include too many pictures which will make the text within the post disappear. There should always be at least one paragraph (3 rows or more) between two pictures. Preview your posts before publishing and use common sense to judge if it looks good and eye catching.
Bad vs. good:

#3: Use high quality screenshots!

Try to squeeze the max out of your graphic card and tune ingame details to maximum your PC can handle when taking screenshots for your blog. My blog is heavily dependent on screenshots as it's about presenting LOTRO clothing in an attractive way. I litteraly see hundreds of views difference between posts with high quality screenshots and low quality ones.

I'm sometimes sad because of this, because I see a good outfit presented in a bad way (dark, undynamic screenshots) and it gets almost no hits. I'd bet my head the same outfit would be very popular, if presented appropriately.

Bad vs. good:

#4: Master taking the screenshots further!
Once you achieve all the above, try to master your skills when taking screenshots even further. Basically, if you enjoy it at least a bit, learn the art of ingame photography :) Some brief tips:

Background: anytime possible, try to take a screenshot against fitting background. It's not possible, of course, for specific situations such as boss fights etc., but especially for static pictures of characters, you should never take a picture against white wall. For really spectacular screenshots, some people might even want to use them as desktop wallpapers - link full-size version if you consider it appropriate.

Light: good lightning can do miracles. Use ingame sources of light to your benefit - make the main focus of your screenshot well lit. Some games (e.g. LOTRO) even offer built-in torch tools, which will lighten up your character and its small radius - use them!

Composition: always think of rule of thirds when taking a screenshot. There are many examples on the internet - rule of thirds is your best friend!

Angle: learn to rotate that ingame camera. Pictures from non-standard angles are much more interesting than standard front, back and side view.

Action: wanna show how awesome your new character is? Don't present him or her planking vertically. Do an emote, make the dude run, do a skill - whatever, just avoid being completely static.
Bad vs. good:

I hope you found at least some of this information useful - please let me know your feedback and ask questions! It's exactly the right time and place to ask :)


  1. Nice post! I think it's going to take some practice (for my own cosmetic items blog) to learn how to very quickly type a command, push f12, and start spamming print-screen. I keep ending up with closed eyes. ;)

    1. hi Laenlis and welcome to LOTRO outfitting blogosphere :) you're right, it needs practice, but even after more than a year I sometimes have to take 100+ screenshots to get the good ones :) it also took me some time to get overview of emotes, I used to repeat the same ones all over again. it forced me to look up the less frequently used ones, and they are worth it :)

    2. Gooood idea. I need to stand in a character's house (so I won't drive everyone nutty) and take a good long look at all the emotes.

  2. Very nice! Screenshots is something I am trying to get better at. It is not easy but as you pointed out it makes the posts more interesting. My biggest problem so far is (besides making interesting screenshots!) has been getting the size of the screenshot right. I know WordPress allows to rescale the images but that can get broken when changing the blog theme. Returning to old posts to fix that manually is a pain... Although at least on that point I think I am getting slightly better. Anyway, going to bookmark this one and return every time I need a refresher on the topic. :)


    One thing that you could do to not worry about typing the emote command: if your game allows it make a macro for the emote then put it on your hotbar. This way you can just hide the UI, press the hotkey and press print screen.

    1. honestly, i still resize my screenshots manually, even though it's pain in the butt. i don't like relying on blogger in this, i don't trust they won't change something that will make me go back to hundreds of old posts.

      good tip about the macros btw, i used to use them but then my "menu" of emotes became so big it wasn't maintainable for characters with plenty of skills. but it's certainly great tip for the most frequent emotes.

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