Posted by Randolph Carter on March 5, 2009
MMO community connection:
Chapter 1: Introduction
What is your name (your online persona/alter-ego, what have you)?
Openedge1. I also have gone by Amatheon. My saying is “It is as simple and complex as that”.
What is your connection to the gaming/blogging/podcasting community (your chance to plug yourself here)?
I started blogging about a year ago after being interested in what others had to say. In particular I have enjoyed West Karana, Tobolds Blogspot, and many more. My main connection and how I came to be know is how I am slightly rigid in my belief that if something stinks, I am going to tell people. It started with LOTRO and blossomed to other mistakes like Warhammer Online. Due to the WAR blogging and particularly my commenting on blogs who were in “love” with the game with all of my criticisms, I got reamed by several known bloggers. Heartless_, Hudson, Keen and Graev and Bildo all took offense to my comments and told me to stop what I was doing. I took this as feeling like I was living within a communist society (only say what others want you to say and be happy). I converted my blog into a Russian speaking blog, and only posted stories from other bloggers about WAR and how excellent it was and referred to these bloggers as “Comrades” in the MMO Communist Bloc. I then was noted on the podcast “Channel Massive” with their own little reward system about my shenanigans. There was a lot of controversy over this. Some understood the reasons I did it, others did not. Basically, it led to my latest blog after I blew up my previous blog and re birthed as The Dichotomy of the Gamers Blogosphere.
Please take a minute and describe what your blog/podcast is about.
Basically I do cover subjects of what games I am playing. I do discuss the industry to an extent, as I feel the MMO genre has grown stale, and needs a reboot. I discuss 360 games, TV and Movies (in particular Sci-Fi and Horror), and of course some personal stuff. Just like a good bloggie should.
Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
I was born in Kentucky, but lived most of my life in Michigan. I moved to North Carolina about 9 years ago, and married my current gamer wife (I was slightly odd in that I had never been married, and waited until I was 40 years old and found me a “Southern Belle”.)
Where do you live now?
Western North Carolina, in the area called the “Smoky Mountains”.
Your level (age) is somewhere in the range of (pick one): 10-20,
21-30, 31-40, 41-50, 51-60, 61-70, 71-80, 81-90
What do you do for a living?
From Research, Web Development, Computer Systems. I own my own Computer business and do servers and systems. I also work for a Non-profit religious group with Web research, Drupal development under contract.
If you could reroll your career, what would you be?
A musician (again) I played drums for 3 years, but let others ruin my development in that arena, especially as we had one hit that was regional. But, dope heads ruined that course of my life…ah well.
List five random things most people don’t know about you.
- I went to art school for 1 year before having to leave due to credit concerns (this was when they started to deny loans due to bad credit for schooling)
- I dated a stripper for a year, who went Psycho, and thought she was another person (she kept swapping her personalities of at home and the stripper, and got messed up. Her family ended up putting her in an institution…)
- I still write my own music, and I am working on some quick “30 second” commercial style pieces
- When I go to an amusement park and do the “How old are you”, they always miss it between 15-20 years,.,..(whole family on my fathers side looks young)
- I hate some technologies, like Blackberries, Twitter, Facebook and Myspace.
Feel free to discuss any family you have here.
I have a wife who is 11 years younger than me, the “Southern Belle” who is a great Fantasy gamer herself. I also have a son who is 10 this year! He is also a gamer. I am also working on raising him by being aware of what the real world is like. We discuss today’s issues with him, and other taboo subjects that some parents balk at. He is quite intelligent, and is working on making Halo videos to upload to Youtube!
Chapter 2: Origins
What kind of games (if any) did you play as a child before you got into video gaming? Did you play with family, friends or was it more of a solo activity?
I liked playing as the superhero or war games with my friends from my neighborhood. At a young age though I started to get moved around a bit and started to play more on my own until High School. (More on that later)
What other hobbies and/or activities did you have as a child (sports, music,etc)?
I played only a little sports, like football. I was musically inclined and at around 13 I hit my stride and started out playing drums, this then became a career for a bit from 18 until I was 26.
Were you ever exposed to pen and paper role playing games? What was that experience like?
Indeed. A friend of mine from school (who ended up having the same last name as me…weird) introduced me with the original rules, dungeon crawling, the whole 9 yards. I played all through high school (and sometimes with a little help from my friend mary jane…yea, did that too), and played until my mid 30′s. Experienced many games from D&D to the I.C.E rulesets, Shadowrun and Vampire the masquerade (and variants).
Did you read much as a child? If so, what did you like to read (books, comic books, etc?) Please list some favorite authors, titles, etc.
I liked comics when I was still very young (about 8 or 9)..until high school, and one class had me read the Hobbit. Then it was all over, and I read full blown. A novel a day type of reading. I started with Tolkien, went to Roger Zelazny, Stephen R Donaldson to name a few.
Would you say that any of these games or books had an effect on your later appreciation of computer gaming and ultimately MMOs? Please explain.
110%. I think starting with video games when I was very young helped. From Pong and Nintendo, to an Amiga computer and my first PC being a Windows 95 machine…I was definitely there, and knew it would be an easy progression to MMO’s.
How were you fist introduced to video games? How old were you? What was the platform?
As stated above…Pong, Nintendo…and even before that with arcade titles, bar games (like Pac man, etc…). I would say my first video game was when I was 13. Owned a Commodore 64 when I hit 18.
Did you ever play coin-op games at the arcade? What was that experience like?
Again,stated above. My Mom worked for a short while at a local bar as a Waitress/ Bar-tender, and they had games like Pac man, Dig Dug, Tempest. I really loved pinball machines as well.
What was the first video game you can remember playing that really made an impression on you? Please explain.
The first game was Pools of Radiance, part of the TSR gold series. The group dungeon adventures, with the real time combat was a joy. I even had some friends that we would invite Mary Jane again (hehe) and sit around and each take a character and decide their options, just like a D&D game. I already started to see options for for computers and Pen and Paper RPG’s at that time.
What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?
Pong, Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Playstation 2, Xbox, Gamecube, 360.
Feel free to share a story related to your gaming experience as a child.
I think the most important gaming experience when I was very young were the games of D&D. We went all out heading to far spots in our town in the woods or in the park to camp out, and bringing our books and doing the game. Long sessions, overnight fun, we could play for hours on end. I still have the most fond memories of these times.
Chapter 3: Online
Were you ever exposed to MUDs?
My first ever MuD was Nethack/Rogue. And this was quite brief. I had an Amiga with a 2600 baud modem. I also remember the extremely high phone bills after. I had my phone shut off after that period…lol.
What was your first MMO experience?
I usually call my access to NWN Persistent World my first taste, I played for about an hour or two, and thought I would never do this kind of stuff again. But, then I followed up when Guild Wars was released. This I consider my “true” entry due to the complete package. A huge guild, vent server, the whole nine yards.
If possible, list all the MMOs you’ve played extensively.
WoW. I am to old to have that much of a memory. I can tell you the extensive MMO’s. Guild Wars for around 2 years worth of play, WoW almost a year, LOTRO for almost a year (including Closed Beta 1 and 2) EQ2 was 8 months. Age of Conan is going on 6 months, Lineage 2 was 2 months, and the rest were always under 2 months. I can say I always was a spellcaster or healer…GW was on and off, but WoW was my first true all heal game. Age of Conan is the first game where I have totally loved melee classes, and play them extensively.
What is your current MMO of choice, or perhaps, what are your current MMOs of choice?
There is no doubt that Age of Conan has really shone for me, and made me realize that I may not like the High Fantasy games like WoW, LOTRO, etc. Guild Wars still calls me back once in a while, and Guild Wars 2 would have me totally!
Which MMO have you spent the most time playing? How long would you say that has been?
Guild Wars for sure. The fact it is free really makes it the easiest to return to.
Have you reached level cap in any MMO? If so, which ones?
NEVER. I may be unique in that. Age of Conan is looking to be the game for this to happen though.
Loki taps you on the shoulder one day to inform you that you have fallen victim to one of his elaborate pranks. The world you’ve been inhabiting of countless MMOs to choose from and play has merely been a dream. In reality only one MMO exists. After laughing at you for a bit he decides to take pity on you and allows you to choose which MMO will remain. Which one would you choose and why?
Guild Wars. If I was FORCED to choose. I mean, c’mon…FREE! oh, and way fun.
Are there any MMOs currently in development that you are particularly interested in? Please explain.
One hint….it has a G a W and a 2. ‘Nuff said.
Feel free to share an interesting or amusing anecdote related to your MMO gaming experience.
When my wife and I started in Guild Wars, we had one player who was slightly naive about the situation of the MMO’s. He could not comprehend that one player was maybe NOT a woman. When the woman kept making “guy like” remarks, and this friend kept giving “her” gold, we finally told him. When he confronted this “woman”, she quit the guild, and went on silence mode so we could not whisper… This was our first run in with this special “contingent”.
Chapter 4: Preferences
At your peak, how much time per week would you say you spent gaming? How about now?
Peak times could be 4-6 hours a night. I remember my wife and myself skipping work to play through some quests, and then on the weekends, we could play for 10-12 hours straight with foodie breaks between while we chatted over vent. Now though I cannot play more than 4 hours without needing a break. I have a new routine of 1-2 hours in the mornings and 3-4 hours on the weekends. Good casual play.
When during the week are your regular play times?
Oops…stated above. I have a M-F from 6-8am play schedule, and a little longer on Weekends. I have not played in the evenings for a long time now. Maybe I need to get on an Aussie server?
Generally speaking, are you more of a social creature in MMOs (grouping to quest, joining guilds, etc.) or something of a lone wolf?
Lately a lone wolf due to my weird schedule. Weekends I try to find groups though…but, I am not chatty. I use to be back in my heyday, as it seemed we played more for the friendship than the game itself. But, this friendships created quite a few issues in those relationships, like arguments, control issues, etc.
Have you made any lasting friendships through your MMO experience? Please explain.
My wife an myself have two people we still speak with. One gentleman joined us for every game. But, then we reached a divide when it came to LOTRO. This game broke up our gaming friendship for a year and we all hated LOTRO with a passion. We have started speaking with him again, who btw is playing LOTRO again…but we will not. Thus we just chat.
Before logging into a game, do you already have a course of action planned out in your head, or do you just sort of do whatever you feel like once in game?
Recently I have had a course of action. I have NEVER finished an MMO (even though you really can never finish an MMO)..i.e: I have never max leveled and raided or done any endgame. I am currently on the war path to do this. Otherwise, the only other game that we ever had a plan with was Guild Wars, which is really an entertaining game to focus on their missions and progression. The game really condones that planned gamestyle, and works. MMO’s just do not feel like they have a plan though…so I never had one myself.
When playing MMOs do you tend to just play one at a time or do you take more of the smorgasbord approach?
I have tried to play multiple games, and it never works. One always wins out, and I focus on that one.
Do you tend to supplement your MMO gaming with other PC, console or tabletop games?
Yes. We have an Xbox 360, and I have played several other single player games on my PC (The Witcher was a true winner)
Are you something of an altoholic?
Naw. I like to try some classes out to see if I like them, but I just cannot focus on more than 2 or 3 at most. Usually only 2 win.
Do you find yourself multitasking while gaming (perhaps watching TV, talking on the phone, out of game instant messaging, playing another game, or even listening to a podcast)?
Big time. I always like to break after some quests, and will scan some sites, do some Twittering or Facebook action. I even paused a game once or twice to watch a show on Hulu.
Do you find yourself having much MMO discussion off-line, perhaps with friends or family?
Just on my blog. I use to chat with the one friend 3-4 times a week on games over cell or vent. I will troll forums sometimes, or visit other blogs to talk about games..but not really too much lately…too busy.
Have you ever felt that you game too much? If so, how did you cope with that?
Not anymore. I really have a good schedule. I always worried about it in the past, but life is real good, thus no reason to involve myself too deeply in games when I have other things to do.
Since you started playing MMOs, have you ever taken a break from the genre? If so, please explain.
I had a major break after the launch of Age of Conan, No other game interested me. The game really broke down the parameters I associated with the MMO genre, and when I tried to play older games, they failed to me. I was able to play Guild Wars for a couple of months with my wife, and we had a blast. But, we finally left that genre for over 6 months. AoC’s failure to perform well was disappointing… But, when the game was taken over by Craig Morrison, I got an itch, and went back, and was quite pleased, and learned how to enjoy this MMO again. But, I am still leery of other slow style global cooldown MMO’s, and may never play those again… stay tuned!!
Chapter 5: Blogging
When did you first start blogging?
Originally I started just lurking on forums and other bloggers blogs, commenting away. I noted about a little over a year ago that my comments became quite stream of consciousness, and of course took up too much space in their comment sections. I then took it to the blogs.
When I first started, it was a little about my guilds in the games I enjoyed, then it became commentary on the MMO industry. But, at one point, the commentary became a war of words with other select bloggers. A disagreement became a battle of the blogs. My commentary ruffled some feathers, and I got a little ticked at the comments taking place. Felt like a forum troll war.
I took my blog, and converted it into a Russian Bloc, complete with paraphernalia, imagery and Russian alphabet being combined with Communist like news stories. All other bloggers who “kissed the butts” of the games and developers they enjoyed were taken to task as “Comrades” of the Blog Regime…hiding how bad some games were behind a Russian like rhetoric. Especially after the Age of Conan, WAR releases, there became quite a continuity in the blogosphere. Dousing their game with love even though the game was not that great. It was the shiny new smell that still had them enthralled. From Keen and Graevs praise of WAR, Heartless_ meanderings on how it will be THE game and Bildo’s personal attacks all because of WAR love, this really got me fed up with this group of bloggers. I wrote articles about their blog posts, having fun, and making them look like Communists. But, after this brief stint, I destroyed my blog…i.e: Russia finally nuked itself!
I recreated what my blog is today, and I am more focused on the games I am playing and discussing those games in particular, and avoiding the blogosphere itself as my posting regimen.
Quite a story. Head to Channel Massive’s podcasts, and find their archives there of how this played out.
Why do you blog?
It is a good outlet to me to tell a story of what is happening in my game of choice, and a way for me to write my thoughts. I am not an overly social person outside of my blog (yet, I play social games)…and that is a personal preference. I will not get into that story. But, by blogging (and Twitter now) I can communicate with a world who may wish to read what these games are doing…or not. It is up to them. I am not in it for the money…that’s for sure…lol
Do you have a schedule or some sort of routine you try and follow when blogging?
I am trying to stick to a post a day. But, it can be random. No set day of “this is what I will write”. Like I said, I wanted a stream of consciousness way of discussing whats going on. And it is a way to share with anyone who has an interest in my game of choice to see what is happening in that title, and if it may be right for them. Maybe it is a “rants for free” service if anything.
Is there some grind involved in blogging? If so, what is it and how do you cope with it?
If I want to write a big article, I have to feel it. Like sharing a post on a major quest I completed or something…but, it is not grindy to me (it was before the Bloc exploded though…and maybe that is why that happened..I needed an outlet to destroy this need of my own to force blog each day)
By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?
That stream I discussed. I want to write what I am thinking and sometimes it may have typos, or be confusing to some people. But, it is an outlet for me, not meant to be news..I also think that is what the Bloc meant to expose. Some of the bloggers think they are news, paparazzi, and they are just another person with an opinion…I have even noted some of those bloggers who blew up with me seem to not write anymore. Maybe realized their words were falling on deaf ears?
But, the blog is a personal outlet to discuss what I am feeling…It truly is my own diary of gaming and stuff.
How many people offline know you blog?
A few…not a lot. Wife who has discussed stuff with me in the past. Several gaming friends…that is about it.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to try their hand at blogging?
Don’t…unless you know that you are doing it for yourself. A lot of the bloggers from last year all died in their blogging and blew up themselves. Due to the fact the game they chose maybe died, or they felt they were reporting something important. Just know that the blog is for you…not anyone else. If you wish others to read it…share it…but don’t expect a major audience…and who knows..
What is something you know now that you wish you had known when you first started?
Be careful of how you discuss things with others. Some do not understand how to take the written word and disconnect. Some still have “feelings” hurt when words are used. Even though those words may not be harmful. I guess you just need to learn to control some language and I am trying my best to deal with that.
Can you picture a future where you will hang up your keyboard and no longer blog?
Yup…but, as Conan says “In the year 3000…..”
At your funeral, what song(s) would you have played as your corpse is set alight and cast out to sea on a funeral barge?
Sorry…burning taking place here. We do not need to be ruining our oceans with strange objects like myself. But, hey, if some bagpipers wanna play something as my body turns to smoke…cool!