Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Archive for May, 2009

Tipa (chapter 5)

Posted by Randolph Carter on May 31, 2009

MMO community connection:

West Karana

Chapter 5: Blogging

When did you first start blogging?

I started blogging October 2005, but I had been making blog-like posts on my EQ guild’s message boards for some time prior to that.

Why do you blog?

I can’t play every MMO, and I can’t play even the ones I have as much as I’d like. Blogging lets me experience games in a new way. I’ve always liked the metagaming that surrounds games — of which blogging is a part — as much as the games themselves.

Do you have a schedule or some sort of routine you try and follow when blogging?

I usually like to read my news feeds in the morning, take a show, then blog while my hair is getting dry enough to be manageable, before work.

Is there some grind involved in blogging? If so, what is it and how do you cope with it?

I mix up my blogging just like I mix up the games I play. If I feel like writing an opinion piece, I do it. If I feel like just making a silly comic instead, I do it. If I feel like writing up something that happened to me in game, I do it. Story to tell? I do it. Commercial blogs perhaps have to set a tone and be consistent, but blogging is for fun.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?

I like finding like people through blogging. Blogging is like being at a party where everyone is a friend, the ultimate social gathering. It doesn’t take high end graphics or the latest computer or a fast internet connection to do it, either. It’s just a bunch of friendly people, sharing stories, and everyone has their turn.

How many people offline know you blog?

My family (though mostly they aren’t MMO gamers and thus don’t read it), a couple people at work. Weird question, though. Who is offline these days?

What advice would you give someone who wanted to try their hand at blogging?

Do it on a schedule, do it every day if you can, and do it because it’s something you like to do. People will find you eventually — but you can help things along by commenting on other people’s blogs, or sending in voice mail to podcasts in the hopes it gets played.

What is something you know now that you wish you had known when you first started?

Don’t be a whiner.

Can you picture a future where you will hang up your keyboard and no longer blog?

Only if I find another creative outlet I like more.

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?

Requiem by Altan Urag.

My ashes swept up on the wind, and borne by the wind, fly over the frozen plains and embrace the earth.

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Jaye (Chapter 3)

Posted by Randolph Carter on May 29, 2009

MMO community connection:

Chapter 3: Online

Were you ever exposed to MUDs?

I played GlobalMUSH while in college. I was lucky enough to be friends with the person who ran the server, so I got to be a wizard. It was mostly a glorified chat room, although I had fun writing and creating some of the areas in the world.

What was your first MMO experience?

My first MMO was Everquest, and I started in the spring of 1999. What an amazing experience. Everquest had that “What is this all about?” feel to it. No one really knew what it actually *was* all about. We were armed with only a flimsy game manual that was somewhat inaccurate, and mainly filled with deity lore, and we were then dropped into the middle of this wonderful, blank slate.

If possible, list all the MMOs you’ve played extensively.

Ack, my first MMO resume! Nerd points to me!

  • Everquest – 1999-2004. Main was Jaye Wizziefingers, level 69 Ranger
  • WoW – 2005-2006. Main was Jeenie, level 60 Priest
  • Everquest 2 – On and off from 2005-today. Main originally was Erika Prexian, level 80 monk. It’s now Riske, level 80 swashbuckler.
  • Vanguard 2007-2008. Main was Jaye, level 50 Ranger

I’ve putzed around in Wizard 101, Fusion Fall, and Free Realms as well. I play those when the weather is lousy and the kids are bored.

What is your current MMO of choice, or perhaps, what are your current MMOs of choice?

My current MMO of choice is EQ2.

Which MMO have you spent the most time playing? How long would you say that has been?

I’ve spent the most time playing Everquest. I was there for about 5 years.

Have you reached level cap in any MMO? If so, which ones?

I reached the level cap in all of them, depending on how you look at it. I was level capped in Everquest through GoD, one level shy of reaching that cap before I left. I was capped in WoW when I left the game. Same for Vanguard. And both of my EQ2 toons are at the current level cap.

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?

It hasn’t been made yet. I think we’re about 10 years away from it.

Are there any MMOs currently in development that you are particularly interested in? Please explain.

I’m very interested in what the 38 Studios project “Copernicus” will be about. They seem to have a great team and a laser like focus on what they have in mind for their game. Usually it seems like MMOs are long on ideas and short on execution, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with 38 Studios, which is very exciting.

Feel free to share an interesting or amusing anecdote related to your MMO gaming experience.

I have too many to list. I guess I’ll just share my first memorable experience. My first toon was a troll, and I ran her out of town into the swamp. I died a few times and started doing the newb wall walk, till I found an entrance. I zoned through, saw a group at the zone in (it was Guk btw), wearing really cool bronze and patchwork armor, did a /wave and a /dance, but got no reply. I decided to check things out, but about 10 feet in, I got smacked by a frog, ran like hell for the zone, and totally trained that group I just saw in all that hot armor.

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Ravious (Chapter 5)

Posted by Randolph Carter on May 29, 2009

MMO community connection:

Kill Ten Rats

Chapter 5: Blogging

When did you first start blogging?

Awhile ago. I started with a simple commentary blog on whatever I was thinking about. I felt it was lame. Then my friend and I created a blog devoted to vignettes, which we termed as stories less than 1000 words focusing on one scene. It was great, but fell flat due to lack of any other feedback. Before joining Kill Ten Rats, I finally moved from Blogger to WordPress, and I created Game Scribe, which had some success. I would have kept that up, but I joined Kill Ten Rats and my blog time went to the better blog.

Why do you blog?

Mostly because I like refining my ideas. Good blogging is not easy. You can’t just slap your opinion or rant down and expect an audience that sticks around to see what you say next. I think about MMO gaming a lot, and I come up with tons of ideas for blog posts. I would say less than half even get a mention in any post. They are just too hard to refine or they are not timely.

It also lets me be creative. My blog post up on May 26, 2009, for instance, compares the fast-food industry to MMO design. I like creating analogies like that. To try and push the thoughts of the blog-o-sphere. It can get addictive.

Do you have a schedule or some sort of routine you try and follow when blogging?

Kill Ten Rats is very much a post when you write style blog. There are no requirements for the contributors. That being said I try and push out two quality posts per week. Sometimes I get more, and sometimes I get less. The great thing about having multiple contributors on Kill Ten Rats is that if I slack off, the others seem to somehow know to fill the content holes. It’s weird that we seem to work usually very tightly without ever having background discussions.

Is there some grind involved in blogging? If so, what is it and how do you cope with it?

Usually idea formatting is the worst. Like I said above, you can’t just slap down your train of thoughts and expect it to be a good post. So many times I have to break the posts back and rearrange the parts in order to get it to flow. I also hate going back and linking a lot of times.

How many people offline know you blog?

Just a few close friends and my wife. I try to keep my online identity and real life identity separate. It’s not that I am ashamed or anything. Just I want to be accountable for my opinions in the arena I throw my opinions…. not outside of that.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to try their hand at blogging?

Don’t rush posts. Re-read what you write, and try and be your own devil’s advocate. My worst posts are by far the ones that I got excited about and wrote as a knee jerk reaction to some dev post or something. Your readers take the time to think things through, and you just can’t spoonfeed them your thoughts. If you have smart readers, you might have to stand behind your ideas.

What is something you know now that you wish you had known when you first started?

Don’t assume things about your audience. They won’t always agree with you, and if you write like they should you will get nailed to a plank. If you are positing something use phrases like “I think” and “in my opinion.” I know that it is always just “in my opinion,” but when a blog post makes a black and white statement that is fact… well this is the internet, where facts burn.

Can you picture a future where you will hang up your keyboard and no longer blog?

Sure. Blogs die. Contributors take breaks. I might slow down a bit from 1-2 posts/week to 1 post/2 weeks, but I doubt I will turn in my spurs until I no longer think about MMOs…. and that will be a banal, stark day indeed.

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?

Actually I have legally planned to be burnt on a funeral pyre… it’s going to take some more work and bending of “dead body” laws…. but, The Doors “Land Ho!”

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Patrick (Chapter 5)

Posted by Randolph Carter on May 28, 2009

MMO community connection:

How I WoW | Frenchspin

Chapter 5: Blogging/Podcasting

When did you first start blogging/podcasting?

I started in mid 2006 by sending a few segments to shows I enjoyed (The Instance was the first one I think).

A few weeks later I started my own Wow show in french called Azeroth.fr (there were none at the time) and have since then taken on a variety of podcasting projects: The Phileas Club (international politics and news), How I Wow with my friend Shawn Coons, Le rendez-vous Tech (french tech news show) and more recently The Movielicious, a movie review show I do with Mark “Turpster” Turpin and Nicole Spagnuolo. I also “produce” the webcomic “Noobz Online“, whatever that means. My friend PH is the artist on this one. And I have a blog that I occasionally write articles of the “TLDR” variety on.

I think that’s it. All this can be found on Frenchspin.com (there’s a french and an english version).

Why do you blog/podcast?

I do podcasts because it’s a way to tell my oh-so important opinion to people without the hassle of actually having to write down entire articles. So I guess I podcast because I’m lazy. And also because I have a ton of fun doing it.

Do you have a schedule or some sort of routine you try and follow when blogging or podcasting?

Yes! Schedule and regularity is the key in those ventures. I always set a periodicity I think I can stick to (monthly/bi-monthly) and try to never miss an episode. If you start skipping shows it’s the beginning of the end. For you as well as your audience.

Is there some grind involved in blogging/podcasting? If so, what is it and how do you cope with it?

Yes, definitely. It’s like everything: once you get into the routine, it’s less of an “exciting adventure”. I still love doing it though, so it’s not like I feel I’m doing factory work or anything like that. That being said, sometimes I don’t want to do a show or I feel uninspired. But when I finally finish editing and get the show online I’m proud of the result. Most of the time. :)

I guess the way I cope with it is, as I said, setting up reasonable goals for myself. My first shows was monthly because I didn’t want to promise a weekly show and not be able to deliver. Then I started getting the hang of it. When I got enough experience to go from recording to online status in about an hour or so, I figured adding some bi-monthly shows wouldn’t be too much of a challenge.

I also do everything I can to rationalize my workflow: some people can’t cope with one show a month because they’re not using the proper tools or are attached to things that bring little to the product and consume a lot of time and effort. For me, if something is superfluous, it’s out. As long as the quality isn’t too greatly impacted of course. The point is, it’s better to be able to get a show out every time you’re supposed to than to make it a “job” and end up not doing it at all.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging/podcasting?

Everything! The community, the relationships with the other shows, the fact that you get to know and interact with incredible people you wouldn’t have known or heard of otherwise, the hours and hours and hours of entertainment I get out of the shows I listen to… I don’t think I could find a single negative side to this hobby of ours. Except maybe the fact that it takes too much time to listen to everything. :)

I haven’t watched TV in years though, so that cleared up a big chunk of time. And believe me, I don’t miss it in the slightest.

How many people offline know you blog or podcast?

Pretty much everyone I know. I’m very open about it, mostly because I’m proud of it I think.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to try their hand at blogging or podcasting?

Again: set reasonable goals you think you’ll be able to achieve. Start small, you can always expand later. And second: expect it to take more time and effort that you thought it would.

What is something you know now that you wish you had known when you first started?

A ton of things… Mostly tools that make my life easier today:

  • Feedburner to host the feed: it creates an alias so you can change the original feed later if you have to.
  • Podtrac: data collecting. They track your downloads and such.
  • Blip.tv to host the files: they are the only ones that allow access to the original.
  • Sony Vegas for sound editing: blows ANY other editing software out of the water; you’ll spend half the time editing if you’re doing anything remotely more complicated that simple mp3 encoding.
  • Powergramo: Skype recording utility.
  • WordPress is easier to manage that static HTML… Wow was I an idiot to go with that in the first place.

I think that’s most of it.

Can you picture a future where you will hang up your keyboard or microphone and no longer blog or podcast?

I guess I can; nothing’s forever. I couldn’t picture a time when I wasn’t in love with Anime and Manga when I was younger… Boy was I wrong, those things suck! But for podcasting it probably won’t be soon.

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?

Probabaly “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life”, by the Monthy Python. Smile! :)

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Brian (Chapter 5)

Posted by Randolph Carter on May 28, 2009

MMO community connection:

Blue Kae

Chapter 5: Blogging

When did you first start blogging?

I started blogging in September 2008 with Blue Kae. It’s my soap box for anything gaming related either PC or console. I may expand into comics, movies, etc. but so far gaming issues have been the only things that I felt a need to write about. I’ve recently started writing for QuillDragon, which is a new fantasy literature blog launched May 2009 by Regis from the Wizards & Wenches Warhammer blog.

Why do you blog?

I’d had been reading blogs (mostly gaming blogs) for quite a while, and then I discovered podcasts. I rarely commented on blogs, I was usually content to read the post and sometimes the comments, but almost never moved enough to comment myself. I finally started my own gaming blog because I had some rants related to DRM that I needed to get on “paper”.

Do you have a schedule or some sort of routine you try and follow when blogging?

I don’t have a regular schedule. I generally try to have at least one post a week, but if I don’t have something worth saying I’m fine with not posting. Sometimes a news story or a gaming experience will cause a flurry of activity and I might post two or three times in a day.

I do most of my reading from Google Reader and I have about 70 gaming blog subscriptions, more with comment subscriptions. I do my reading from work during spare moments and in the evenings after my wife and baby are asleep. Sometimes during my reading I’ll get an idea for a post and I’ll stop and put together a draft, although I may just comment on author’s post instead. Which one I do depends on how much I have to say about it, I don’t like to do link outs in comments but I will link to the original post that prompted mine.

Is there some grind involved in blogging? If so, what is it and how do you cope with it?

Not for me. I felt a little pressure early on to try and make sure there was always something up on the site, but I got over that pretty quick. I’m passionate enough about gaming that I usually have something I need to post about in any given month. If I do start to feel a grind, I’ll probably step back for a bit.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?

I love the writing. It’s an opportunity to organize and clarify my thoughts. Sometimes I’ll start a post and delete it because I realized I didn’t have enough to say on a subject, and sometimes I’ll intend to put up a quick note and write a screen-full. I also like the conversational element, I’m still excited anytime I see comments on a post and so far I’ve always been able to respond.

How many people offline know you blog?

Only a few. I don’t generally bring it up and it doesn’t come up much in conversation. I talk about it occasionally to my wife and to a friend of mine whose an MMO gamer. Most of my friends and family are not gamers or geeks for the most part and very few of them listen to podcasts or read blogs.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to try their hand at blogging?

Writing is deeply personal, so my only advice would be to do it because you need to, not because you feel like you should or are trying for money or popularity. Don’t try to imitate anyone else. Pay attention to grammar and spelling. Find other blogs about the same subject matter and make constructive comments, but don’t include you’re site link in the comment, if people are interested they’ll click on you’re name and find your blog.

What is something you know now that you wish you had known when you first started?

I had been reading other blogs for so long before I started my own, that I had a pretty good handle on what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. The only thing I wish I had done differently was started sooner.

Can you picture a future where you will hang up your keyboard and no longer blog?

Nope. Anything is possible, but I can’t imagine coming to a point when I don’t want to write/blog. I may take a break at some point if it becomes a grind, but I’m sure I would always come back.

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?

The Overture from the Barber of Seville, it’s an excellent piece of classical music and the sound track from my favorite Looney Tunes episode.

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Wilhelm2451 (Chapter 3)

Posted by Randolph Carter on May 27, 2009

MMO community connection:

The Ancient Gaming Noob

Chapter 3: Online

Were you ever exposed to MUDs?

Yes, I have played a number of MUDs over the years. I think the first that would be recognized as a MUD was Gemstone. I was in the beta for it on GEnie back in 1988 or so. It was a lot of fun. Having played enough text games ala Zork, I was ready for the multi-player environment that MUDs brought to the table. From 1993 through to 2003 or so I played Sojourn/Toril MUD quite regularly. It is a Forgotten Realms based MUD, so had the advantage of being in my favorite D&D setting. I still play online games with people I met in that game.

What was your first MMO experience?

Does Island of Kesmai count? If so, 1986.

If, however, we’re going to stick with what we refer to today as MMOs, then EverQuest. I picked up the box on the afternoon of March 16th, 1999. I still have the receipt.

I had considered Ultima Online when it came out, having played some of the Ultima series. Unfortunately I had also gotten a bit tired of that series so never quite got around to the MMO iteration of the game.

EverQuest though… on day one it was buggy and slow and I got dropped a lot and it have high system requirements (a 3D card?!?) and I immediately felt at home. Part of the reason I felt at home was that many of the people who created EverQuest played Sojour/Toril MUD and sought to bring the fun of that MUD environment into a 3D world. There is an oft told tale that the city of Waterdeep in Sojourn/Toril MUD was the basis for the layout of Freeport in EverQuest.

If possible, list all the MMOs you’ve played extensively. Please start from the beginning and work your way up to the present. For extra bonus fun list your main (class & level) in each game as well.

Limiting myself to games I played for at least a year or more of calendar time, I get the following list:

  • EverQuest (1999)
  • EverQuest II (2004)
  • World of Warcraft (2005)
  • EVE Online (2006)
  • Lord of the Rings Online (2007)

There are other MMOs I have tried, such as:

  • City of Heroes
  • Guild Wars
  • Planetside
  • Runes of Magic
  • Star Wars Galaxies
  • The Matrix Online
  • Tabula Rasa
  • Vanguard
  • Warhammer Online

But I did not spend long enough playing them, for various reasons, to meet my own criteria for having actually really played the game to any great depth. I just played them long enough for me to decide they were not the game for me.

I tried to list my main characters, but that can be difficult. I have a serious pack of alts stored away, so it can be hard to decide who is the real me.

What is your current MMO of choice, or perhaps, what are your current MMOs of choice?

World of Warcraft is probably the one I play the most of late. I have a regular group that plays on Saturday nights. I also play with my daughter and mother on the weekends. And then I have a solo career. EVE Online is the other MMO to which I am currently subscribed, which I think defines it as an “MMO of choice.” It offers a different experience in that I spend at least as much time trying figure out how to do things as I spend actually doing them.

Which MMO have you spent the most time playing? How long would you say that has been?

In terms of total hours played, probably EverQuest II. I couldn’t tell you an exact number, but there were many hours of concentrated daily play for me in post-cataclysm Norrath.

Have you reached level cap in any MMO? If so, which ones?

Because of the alt situation, I have not reached the level cap very often. In fact, I think World of Warcraft may be the only MMO where I have stopped levelling because I hit the then current level cap of 70 during the Burning Crusade expansion.

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?

Loki is always pulling this sort of crap too. Hrmm, that is tough. I would probably pick World of Warcraft, but then try to convince Loki that EVE is really just a multi-player sandbox and really doesn’t count. But if you had asked me a year ago I might have said EverQuest II. And next year I might say something else. But for the moment I would choose WoW because it is the game where I spend the most time playing with other people.

Are there any MMOs currently in development that you are particularly interested in? Please explain.

I have an odd personality quirk where I try to avoid something I know I will be interested in when released so as to not dilute the experience in advance or get my expectations set to high. So I avoid trailers for movies I know I’ll want to see or reviews for books I know I am going to pick up.

With that in mind, I am diligently ignoring Star Trek Online. Star Trek is deep in my psyche. The first game I ever played on a computer was Star Trek. I spent much of my youth playing Star Fleet Battles. And I have consistently been disappointed by Star Trek games on the computer. The best so far for me has been the Star Fleet Command, which was based off of Star Fleet battles. So I live in hope that maybe Star Trek Online can deliver.

Feel free to share an interesting or amusing anecdote related to your MMO gaming experience.

There is a quest in WoW called “Mudrock Soup and Bugs” that sends you out to collect some “Forked Mudrock Tongues.” I mis-read this as “Forked Murloc Tongues,” an error compounded by the fact that there are Murlocs running around not too far from the turtles that actually drop the tongues. I spent ages slaughtering Murlocs to no avail and eventually just abandoned the quest. Later, I picked it up with an alt, groaned in memory of my futile effort, the decided to read the quest closely as I was obviously killing the wrong Murlocs. And, of course, I figured out what it really said. The odd part is that almost anybody I mention this story to says that they too thought it said “Murlocs.” Not all that amusing or interesting once I wrote it down I suppose. Way to close on a down note Wilhelm!

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Sente (Chapter 4)

Posted by Randolph Carter on May 26, 2009

MMO community connection:

A Ding World

Chapter 4: Preferences

At your peak, how much time per week would you say you spent gaming? How about now?

I have had the occasional peak where I have played perhaps 30 hours per week for a brief period (1-2 weeks). Normally it can vary quite a bit, probably something between 8 and 25 hours per week. Most play sessions tend to be no longer than 2 hours.

When during the week are your regular play times?

On weekdays it would be in the evening, exact times varies a bit.

Generally speaking, are you more of a social creature in MMOs (grouping to quest, joining guilds, etc.) or something of a lone wolf?

That depends really. If I already know some people that are playing or going to play I will probably join a guild more or less right away. If I do not know any people I will usually not join a guild directly, but may join later.

I like teaming with others because teaming with others can be fun. The actual tasks do not matter so much. Thus whether I play in a team or solo depends on the convenience for it provided by the game and team invites (if I am not inviting myself).

Games that may require a lot of time to set up a team for various reasons (long travel to a certain point, certain combination of archetypes/classes/whatever, certain number of players etc) I will probably team less in. Exception will be with people I know and if it is some planned activity.

Team invites also affect whether I will team or not. I generally turn down blind invites. Depending on the game I may also consider how they phrase the invite; if they can form words or even sentences. Games with long set-up, running and get-out times for teams will have more such considerations.

Have you made any lasting friendships through your MMO experience? Please explain.

Yes, this mainly started when I joined The Older Gamers. The major reason I joined there was to be able to have som continuity across games and not just in games; before that I typically lost contact with most people I played with in a game when either I or them moved on. Also many people I had contact with in the early days were in entirely different time zones, which made in-game contact more difficult. Today with more communication options that a lot of people use, it is easier.

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?

Yes :)

It really varies; some games lend themselves to be more task oriented than others. But often I just jump in and figure out something to do depending on who is online at that time or start thinking what I may be in the mood for once I have logged in.

When playing MMOs do you tend to just play one at a time or do you take more of the smorgasbord approach?

I pretty much always play multiple MMOs nowadays and I do like smörgåsbord. There may be one MMO that gets more play time than the others at any given time, but I enjoy the variation that multiple MMOs may provide.

Do you tend to supplement your MMO gaming with other PC, console or tabletop games?

The number of PC games I have played this millenia probably can be counted on my fingers, so that would be a no answer.

Console games I play a bit more often, but not often on my own. This may become the choice if there are a few people in the same location who wants to play something. The latter would also fit for tabletop games, depending on the people.

Are you something of an altoholic?

Yes, absolutely. Although when I play more MMOs at the same time I do not create so many alts in each game.

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)?

No, I might be listening to a podcast sometimes on my internet radio at the same time, but in most cases I do not do anything else. If there are long times where I do not need to focus on the game play while playing, I probably just switch to do something else entirely instead.

Do you find yourself having much MMO discussion off-line, perhaps with friends or family?

No, not really.

Have you ever felt that you game too much? If so, how did you cope with that?

Yes, that has happened. I have set up some entirely different task and goal and focused on that. Important real life activities always comes first also.

Since you started playing MMOs, have you ever taken a break from the genre? If so, please explain.

My first break was after almost a year (playing in the weekends) with Anarchy Online. I did not play anything for close to 3 months. After that I have had some other breaks also, but nowadays I do not really get to the point where would need to take any longer break. It tends to get adjusted before that with less play time and perhaps rotate between a few MMOs. It rarely gets to the point where I am sick and tired of the genre as a whole.

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Crookshankz (Chapter 2)

Posted by Randolph Carter on May 26, 2009

MMO community connection:

The Gaming Goob

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?

Pre 4th grade I was all about some baseball. I either played with my cousin who was quite a bit older or my dad. We had to use “ghost men” to stay on the bases for us. 4th-7th was 4 square at school and High School I could be found every day at the local basketball courts.

What other hobbies and/or activities did you have as a child (sports, music, etc)?

As a child? hmmm. I played video games back then quite a bit. I was an avid comic book reader, collected baseball, basketball cards. I’d also wrote and drew quite a bit.

Were you ever exposed to pen and paper role playing games? What was that experience like?

I tried quite a few times to play D&D. Back in my High School though I had a hard time finding people to play with. So trying to play usually consisted of me and 1 other person and we spent the time just rolling random characters.

Did you read much as a child? If so, what did you like to read (books, comic books, etc?)

As a child I read quite a bit. Hardy Boys, Encyclopedia Brown and A Wrinkle In Time. I was also an avid comic book reader. (I was taught to read by Spiderman).

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.

I guess in an off way. Reading when I was younger taught me an appreciation of the Fantasy Genre. I read a lot now and they are pretty much all either Fantasy or Sci Fi. On the same note, all the games I play are either Fantasy or Sci Fi.

How were you first introduced to video games? How old were you? What was the platform?

When I was very young, my uncle had the original Pong. He would let me play it when I would go over and visit. I must have been maybe 4 or 5ish and still vaguely remember it. I also remember being a bit upset when I was 6 because my Dad was willing to pay $275 for an Atari 2600 but wouldn’t buy me a $7 toy (my priorities were confused back then).

Did you ever play coin-op games at the arcade? What was that experience like?

I use to play coin-op games like crazy. My dad use to work late night at a resort at Disney World. When I hit 15 or 16 he would get me into Disney and I would run around there until it closed. Then I would go over to his hotel and he would give me a roll of quarters. I’d play until he got off work. I did that once a week for a few months. Even when I was 20, and working at the local mall. I knew a guy who worked in the mall’s arcade and he would give me free games. So I’d go in there and play Street Fighter II during my lunch breaks.

What was the first video game you can remember playing that really made an impression on you? Please explain.

If I can still remember playing Pong at pre-5, I would think that counts.

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

Atari 2600, Commodore 64 (if that counts), NES64, Game Cube and the Wii.

Feel free to share a story related to your gaming experience as a child.

I when we first got our Commodore 64. We would go and buy Compute! Magazine (I think that was the name of it). And in these magazines you’d get pages of code for games to type in. You’d type it by hand, then go through and recheck it, save it too cassette tape and then execute the program. That was how we first started gaming on it. The process took days.

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Reading the text: Camille Alexa

Posted by Randolph Carter on May 26, 2009

push of the sky coverAuthor website:

http://camillealexa.wordpress.com/

Could you take a minute and explain what Push of the Sky is about?

Push of the Sky is a collection of short stories about things that didn’t happen, probably couldn’t happen, or haven’t happened yet. I snuck a couple poems in there, but I don’t usually tell people in case it scares them.

What was the process like in getting your book published?

My boyfriend bought me a laptop for my birthday a few years ago. We both just sort of expected it to streamline my Icewind Dale, Torment, and Age of Empires binges. But I stumbled on this weird thing called writing, and it was like somebody — lots of somebodies — had been keeping this amazing secret: Writing is *awesome*.

I wrote novels. I wrote essays. I wrote short stories, some of them so short they’re called poems. I tossed all those puppies out into the universe, and to my incredible good fortune and delight, someone (besides me) liked them enough to eventually put them all in one place.

Where do you happen to find inspiration for your writing?

I do what’s called “writing by the headlights.” I get an image or idea or even just a string of words in my head, and I drive in that direction until the story’s done.

I’m mainly an anthologist, so if I hear someone’s putting together, say, a collection of stories about a machine that predicts the mode of a person’s death, and the first thing that pops to my brain is, “Huh. That would be interesting if when you turned sixteen, the Big Deal is to get your Cause-of-Death slip instead of your driver’s license . . . ” — well, I sit down and write that story.

(Machine of Death is a real anthology, by the way, inspired by Ryan North’s Dinosaur Comics. The story I sold to them, “Flaming Marshmallow and Other Deaths,” also appears in audio at Escape Pod, and in Push of the Sky.)

Are you or have you ever been a gamer? What has your gaming experience been like (board games, pen & paper RPGs, console & computer games, etc.)?

Board and card games were huge for me as a kid. Risk, Monopoly, Stratego, more obscure stuff like Pit, Waterworks (I loved those freaking wrenches!), and 3M Bookshelf games. Like many children of the 70s and 80s, my siblings and I were latchkey kids, so we had plenty of unsupervised home time. Almost before we could read we were making up rules using various game boards and pieces from the games cupboard, sometimes mix-n-match.

Then the Atari showed up. We got so good, we’d handicap our play to make it more challenging; like, we could only play moving the joystick or paddle with our feet instead of hands. Playing Kaboom! using only your toes is a pretty wild ride at the faster speeds.

So I’ve always been a casual gamer (though it doesn’t feel so casual when you’ve played Baldur’s Gate so long, you suddenly realize you’ve been wearing pajamas for three days and the dog is really sad from not getting walks) but I live with a very NON-casual gamer (the entire lower level of our house is dedicated to a massive gaming table, scores of board games and thousands of RPG minis). I’ve never been a live RPG gamer, but I get far too easily addicted to single-player computer RPGs (my boyfriend’s correcting me over my shoulder, saying I play computer RPGs “in single player mode”).

Living with a game enthusiast, I get to play lots of fabulous German-style board and card games: Lost Cities, Kahuna, Citadels, Settlers of Catan . . . tons of others. Most recently we’ve been playing Small World, though I’m generally more into exploration and resource management than conquest.

Have you ever ventured into online worlds? If so, please explain what that experience has been like.

My childhood home was not exactly tech-embracing: we never used the air conditioner (and in Texas, that can be brutal!); I’d never seen MTV; I thought the trash compactor (do houses even have trash compacters anymore? How EPISODE IV !) was for storing dog food.

But my mother got into CAD drafting years ahead of the curve (I played Zork on her work computer), and my father, a folklore professor at UT Austin, brought us home a . . .what? Apple IIe? Commodore 64? I don’t even remember. Nice foresight, though! I was raised virtually without television, but my parents bought a computer pretty early on. Not bad, Mom & Dad! I don’t think I truly appreciated that before. Typical.

camille alexa2My dad hoped I’d play the no-doubt-useful typing shark game, but I completely ignored learning to type (still can’t) in order to play countless hours of Ultima II (all monotone green characters difficult to tell apart). Much later — way after college — came console games: Final Fantasy, Chrono Cross, Lost Vikings, Zelda. I’m not so much an online gamer. I prefer going at my own pace. I’m a binge player just as I am a binge writer: I’ll do nothing else for days if I get sucked in, but I have to be able to set it aside then and do other stuff, like bathe and sleep. If my game universe kept going without me after I flipped the off switch, I’d go crazy. Real life goes by fast enough and is already pretty hard.

Would you say that your experience as a gamer has had any effect on you as a writer? Please explain.

Writing, like reading and gaming, is world-immersion. You plunge headfirst into another world, you learn its rules and you play by them until things reach a resting point. The truly amazing part is when other people read your stuff and immerse themselves in your worlds as well. Too cool for words.

Grind is a term used frequently in gaming vernacular referring to something that is rather repetitive or unpleasant that one engages in order to progress in the game. Would you say there is grinding in the writing process? Please explain.

Writing’s such an individual experience, a deeply personal process, different for everyone. But most people find rejections hard. You sometimes have to send a story out again and again (and again and again) before you find the right editor at the right time for the right market for the right story. That part wears on a lot of writers.

By contrast, what would you say is one of the most rewarding things about being a writer?

Writing. Clear and simple, no doubt about it.

What . . . You expected fame and fortune? From writing fiction? From writing Science Fiction? You’re thinking of those game development guys. They get all the gold and the women.

Would you have any words of advice for the would-be-writers out there?

I’m a proponent of doing things one’s own way, not just following the herd. I’ve not followed conventional wisdom about how to write, or how to get published. I still don’t. There’s no wrong way — just lots of right ways, depending on your goals and situation. Commit to finding ways that work for you, while remaining reasonable and fair to yourself and others. Don’t listen too much to people telling you how you’re “supposed to” be a writer. Or, listen respectfully and nod your head (I’m still working on this), and then go do what works for you. If it doesn’t work, you’ll try something different next time. Or the next. Or the next. Just keep producing new stuff, and keep trying to get it out there.

You wake up to a world where one of your short stories has been made into an MMO. Which story would you pick and why?

My favorite question EVAR. I was going to say “Shades of White and Road” right off the bat, because that world is so unusual, infinite, and populated with endless sentient objects you can cultivate on towering vines, all vying for attention (read the story free online in Fantasy Magazine), but I can’t help thinking “The Clone Wrangler’s Bride” would be tons of fun, too (free online at SpaceWesterns.com. Wandering the Twelve Domed Cities of Mars, fighting giant Martian prairie squid and evil Pinkerton mandroids, avoiding seduction by cancandroids and drinking nanobot whiskey. . . Actually, those last couple things are from the sequel, “Droidtown Blues,” which I wrote as a Christmas gift for my gamer boyfriend.

Oo! Oo! I’ve got it! “Four Jerks of the Apocalypse”! That should show up at Revolution SF any day now. A short piece, but with lots of good chaos.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with this gamer/reader audience?

I’ll be reading in Austin, Texas June 4th at Book Woman, and also at the Beaverton Powell’s in the Portland, Oregon area June 18th @7pm. I’d love your readers to come say hi.

Also, thank you for reading! Anything. Anywhere. But most particularly this. Also Push of the Sky. Come visit me at camillealexa.wordpress.com!camille alexa

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David (Chapter 5)

Posted by Randolph Carter on May 25, 2009

MMO community connection:

Timesink

Chapter 5: Blogging

When did you first start blogging?

My first post on Timesink is dated Wednesday, March 21, 2007. Previous to that I had a personal blog, mostly just for family and close friends to read which I still post to today, albeit infrequently.

Why do you blog?

I like to write, and I like discussing games. Mainly it?s just another hobby for me, and I collect hobbies like they?re going out of style.

Do you have a schedule or some sort of routine you try and follow when blogging?

I blog whenever the mood strikes me and when I feel like I’ve got something to say. Sometimes that means several posts in one week (rare), but for the most part I’ve sort of settled on one or two a week these days.

Is there some grind involved in blogging? If so, what is it and how do you cope with it?

I simply don’t let it become a grind for me. If I don’t feel like posting, I don’t.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?

I just enjoy sharing my gaming experiences and opinions. Also, the realization that complete strangers have read something I wrote is pretty darn cool. I was on cloud nine after receiving the first comment that wasn?t from someone I knew.

How many people offline know you blog?

My core group of friends, which is about six or seven people.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to try their hand at blogging?

I’d point them towards one of the free blogging sites and tell them to go give it a shot. They’ll find out fairly quickly if It’s something they enjoy doing or not.

What is something you know now that you wish you had known when you first started?

I can’t think of anything actually. Part of the fun in starting the blog for me was taking the leap without really thinking about it. If anything I wish I knew back then how much fun I was going to have doing it, because I would have started blogging about games even sooner.

Can you picture a future where you will hang up your keyboard and no longer blog?

Absolutely, although that time hasn’t come yet. I imagine I’ll just get bored of it one day.

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?

Amazing Grace, played by a hundred bagpipers as a thousand F-18s streak overhead through the worlds largest fireworks display. You know, something simple and modest.

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