(in response to Friendly's post):
Each day, without a new update to explore around in the Live Realm, the game does seem like a personal sandbox. Actually, KingsIsle does a great job with providing enough patches and features to continually spark interest and create new adventures. Though, after attaining optimal gear and pets, killing thousands of monsters for badges, and mastering features like PVP, Gardening, and Advanced Pets, room for more personal accomplishments runs dry. Thankfully, such a world like Celestia and dungeons like Briskbreeze and the Warehouse were released. Players are encouraged to step out of the realm of individuality and into the uniform shoes of teamwork, adding a new dimension to RPG gameplay: social interaction, and success by cooperation. In group play, each player is given the chance to contribute to a team goal, and the incentive given is the larger rewards and -- sometimes -- bragging rights. It feels exhilarating to help others, partly due to the fact that a playerbase has grown by means of increasing someone's interest in the game. That feeling broadens even further, as you mentioned, when one starts contributing to a community. The truth is: I realize that there's only so much that can be contributed.
Your blog -- which is miraculous to me (probably because my writing style is too skewed towards formality that I become more serious than fun, and forget to loosen up) since there's at least a blog post a day -- inspires creativity, both in the game and outside. You not only share achievements and news to hundreds of people, but also provoke creative thought via mind-opening ideas and suspicions. As readers' minds roll, there come the birth of many blogs detailing their own writer's adventures and ideas. The more that players can relate with one another, the more exciting that new players' goals seem. "Oh, I want what they have!" "I also want to achieve that!" Passion for the game is developed furthermore.
As you know, I happen to be one of those inspired readers, and I take those passions and dissect it a bit further, into information, tips, and explorations of detail. YouTube is the visual presentation of my thoughts; Blogger, a textual one. Petnome is the "physical, virtual" embodiment of a specific passion in pets, while Mistblood is the embodiment of my creativity in an alternative lore. Modding the Ravenwood Radio chatroom is an extension of the depth of commitment to the game and community, and transcribing is another active way of expanding that extension to another branch of our Wizard101 population. And finally, there are the PVP parties, along with writing and discussing about it, aimed to redeem the image of a widely notorious activity.
I admit, it's a lot, and I wouldn't be surprised if people looked at me and thought I was crazy or lost. Maybe "too addicted?" Perhaps. But, I think of these projects as more of a "higher plane" of what can be done in Wizard101. For example, in Guild Wars, I grew tired of the Post-Searing environment, and decided to create another character. Given how long it takes to complete that game, I decided on another route: get to max level before changing from Pre-Searing to Post-Searing. Perhaps this would bring some long lost entertainment. It did, but I ended up staying there forever, due to its peacefulness. Eventually, I began to give away free items and gold in exchange for correctly answered trivia questions, and that sparked more login activity as people participated in the quizzes and games. We all had an escape from the expected route of questing and bartering.
Overall, Wizard101 became very exciting to me, not just because of its content, but also because of the opportunities this game provides. I could wake up, head to work or school, and come back (due to a minimal budgeting plan, props to tuition fees and the college lifestyle) to any of the above mentioned projects, these "spiderwebs" of interest. They give me something to do after hitting Legendary, Warlord, Grandmaster Artisan and Gardener, etc.
Want to know the ironic twist? Even these projects can lose their effect overtime, not due to decreasing interest, but admittedly due to the small, overwhelming feeling. I used to blog every other day at least, and now it's around every other week. Sometimes I'll have something to write about, but I hesitate because I feel like working on something else. Mistblood has been neglected. YouTube projects are still pending and halfway complete and scattered all over my desktop in the elements of music files, pictures, movie clips, and movie project shortcuts. I'm still very active in moderating the chatroom, hosting and broadcasting the PVP parties, transcribing as soon as an iTunes episode is released, and updating the Petnome Project with the team. Basically, the environment of my projects have shifted from long-term to short-term; the projects mentioned in the previous sentence are usually done "on the spot," dependent on some other element other than my creativity. In other words, I've become more reactive than proactive, in terms of contributions.
Along with this interesting twist, I've been spending more time in-game. It's like I've boomeranged from questing, leveling, and accomplishing to contributing in an overdose, then returned to questing, leveling, and accomplishing. Nowadays, I've become more passionate in participating in the gaming itself, rather than expressing my excitement for it. It's as if the "sandbox" effect switched over sides of the fence.
So, my point -- based on personal reflection -- is to pursue deeply in contributing to the community, or finding a niche or project that can prolong one's interest to a specific aspect of the game. Indulge in that enjoyment, and try to keep a balance between gaming and maintaining something related to it. If there isn't a balance, perhaps someone will fall into the same pattern as I have, which, ultimately, recreates the excitement all around.
To Chase Skullmask: Based on the above "essay," dive into something that hasn't been done before, and try to carry it out to its fullest extent, with the attitude of a winner ("winners never quit"). Stephen Spiritcaller had many of us #twizards hooked on his fictional narrative "Courting Yeva." Looking back on those days, I now feel like hunting her down for the infamous hat. Cassandra Griffindreamer's Diapermancer comics (fictional, visual stories about Friendly's baby's surroundings) inspired me to create Mistblood. She is also expanding into a wider variety of stories, each of which I suspect to have some influence from the style of Anime. Alric Ravensinger created Fame at a Price, a story with reality -- for a well-known player and community member, Thomas Lionblood -- in a nutshell, mixed with a ficitional plot. I hear he's creating another "issue" very soon. Sometimes, relighting interest in the game requires thinking outside of the box, or looking at the game differently. Once you've got an idea, approach it. Take it head on, and I guarantee it'll be a new Spiral everyday.