Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Archive for June, 2009

SmakenDahed (Chapter 5)

Posted by Randolph Carter on June 30, 2009

MMO community connection:

Random Ogre Thoughts

Chapter 5: Blogging

When did you first start blogging?

The blog started in October of 2006 with my first post being about boredom with currently available games. Surprisingly enough, I’ve lasted another three years and survived my boredom.

Why do you blog?

It’s an outlet. I vent about various things, talk about some interests or topics of interest or share things that just seem a little screwed up. I don’t guarantee quality, I don’t guarantee researched posts, but I do promise you’ll get my thoughts on things (often my thought process). My blog is my own, I don’t do it for anyone else but I do like arguing with commenters even if I agree with them.

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

Nope. I just blog when I get a moment and have something to unload or a thought on something.

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

If it took effort then I wouldn’t be doing it.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?

Just getting things out of my head and out there, whether people read it or not. I do get a kick out of how people react to it.

How many people offline know you blog or podcast?

Very few actually. There are three guys that also blog from my D&D group that read my blog from time to time and another one that doesn’t. There is an online friend (Chris) that reads it from time to time (I even posted a review of his for NWN2: Storm of Zehir which actually gets a bucketload of hits). Aside from that? No, I like to keep somewhat anonymous so I can rant and vent and be a jackass.

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

Focus on the goal of the blog or podcast but don’t be shocked if you never see any comments – any idiot with a computer and internet connection can blog (I’m living proof!). Do it for you, not for others.

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

I can’t really think of anything. I guess that means I know it all?

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

Blogging is so easy (and free therapy), I can’t imagine stopping. I could picture changing the content of my blog but I couldn’t imagine stopping.

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?

Say Hello 2 Heaven, Temple of the Dog. I love that song.

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Larísa

Posted by Randolph Carter on June 29, 2009

larisaMMO community connection:

The Pink Pigtail Inn

Chapter 1: Introduction

What is your name (your online persona/alter-ego, what have you)?

Larísa

What is your connection to the gaming/blogging/podcasting community (your chance to plug yourself here)?

I run a WoW blog since february 2008: The Pink Pigtail Inn.

Please take a minute and describe what your blog is about.

It’s about World of Warcraft the way I see it. Quite a lot of personal rantings, sharing thoughts and opinions. Not so much of guides, news and useful information, actually non of it.

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

I’m from Sweden, where I also live.

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

Turning 42 this year.

What do you do for a living?

I’m a trained journalist, but been working in PR/Information quite a few years now.

If you could reroll your career, what would you be?

Nah… I’m not the kind of person who walks around in life regretting things.

List five random things most people don’t know about you.

  • That I run a blog of my own.
  • How I WoW, what the gaming is like.
  • That I was a punk rocker when I was young.

Feel free to discuss any family you have here.

I’m married since 23 years and got two teenage daughters. Noone else in my family is a gamer, which is a problem, especially since this passion of mine turned up so late in life.

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?

Not much of gaming at all. What is a bit related though is that I’ve been reading science fiction and fantasy since I was a child and that I’ve been active in the so called science fiction fandom, giving out stencilized fanzines, which could be seen as a sort of equivalence to blogging.

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

Rock music and reading. I’ve never been much of a social or sporty person. More or less a typical geek I guess.

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

Not very much to be honest. But know quite a few role players. I could very well have ended up as one, I think I would have enjoyed it.

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.

Yeah… I’ve lost count how many times I’ve read Tolkien for instance. I still re-read it every three years or so. Asimov, Simak, Bradbury and Clarke were heroes of my childhood.

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.

Definitely. I come from the literature fantasy and sf movement and I feel very much at home in gaming now because of this. I find the same mentality among many players.

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

I had very little experience of video gaming before I started to play WoW in 2007.

I was introduced to it by my younger sister, who told me I should try it since she thought I’d love it. “I don’t have time for such a thing”, I told her. “There’s ALWAYS time for WoW”, she replied. So I bought the game in the Christmas 2006 and installed it a month later. That was a pain – it was basically my first computer game ever if you don’t count a few sessions of Lemmings and a little bit of Civilization. I was very proud when I finally entered the world.

I the beginning the idea was to have it as a project together with my teenage daughter. But she soon lost interest in it, while I got more and more caught. My sister who made me start in the first place stopped playing long ago.

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

nope

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

Civilization. Pretty early I had a gaming session when I completely lost track of time and that scared me a bit tbh. I didn’t touch it after that.

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

none

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

In the beginning of the 1970s my father worked at a laboratory where they had a huge computer, big as a room, with a brain smaller than a counting machine today. I was just 5 or 6 years old, but he made a small program to keep me occupied when he was at work during a weekend. It contained some kind of lottery and a few other things. Everything was printed out on a paper. And I remember how thrilled I was. It was a magic gaming experience, in all its simplicity.

Chapter 3 : Online

Were you ever exposed to MUDs? If so, when was this and what was the experience like?

nope

What was your first MMO experience? Again, when was this (a year please) and what was this like?

World of warcraft in the beginning of 2007. But to tell me about the experience… that’s a bit overwhelming. I’ve been doing that on my blog for about 350 post by now… I was the noobiest of the noobish when I started, didn’t know how to move my character at all, felt slightly sea sick, didn’t know about things as repairs, questing, what the game was about. The learning curve ever since has been huge and is still going on.

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

Easy question for me! I play World of Warcraft, where my main is a lvl 80 mage. I’ve also got a lvl 80 rogue and an upcoming little druid.

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

WoW

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

WoW

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

WoW

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?

Oh, I guess I’d been happy if WoW could remain for some while longer… J That’s where I have my character and my guild and everything I’ve invested in the game. I actually doubt that I’d bother to start another one.

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

Being an old Star Trek fan, I can’t help being a bit curious about what it will be like..

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

Read my blog!

Chapter 4: Preferences

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

Don’t want to think too much about that question… Too much time I would say. Maybe something like 20 hours a week or a little bit more?

When during the week are your regular play times?

Two out of three nights of tue-thur-sund 7.30 pm-00. Two or three extra nights from 10 pm and a few hours onwards. Sometimes a couple of hours daytime during the weekends, very irregular, depending on what’s up in rl.

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

I’m social. If it wasn’t for guild life, raiding etc, I would probably not be playing WoW anymore. The game in itself isn’t that interesting.

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

Don’t know yet! I have some friends in game, but if that will last when we’ve all moved on? I don’t know.

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?

I think I mostly have a pretty clear idea about what to do. Much of my playing, the raiding, is planned. And apart from that I’ve always got some projects I’m working on, such as achievements, levelling an alt etc.

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

Never played anything but WoW.

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

Nope.

Are you something of an altoholic?

Nope.

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)?

If I’m questing or grinding on my own I sometimes listen to a WoW related podcast. But apart from that I need to keep my focus on the game, I’m not skilled enough to do a lot of other things at the same time.

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

No, since they don’t like my WoW playing I avoid to bring it up much.

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

Well, if you ask my family I play too much. I try to negociate, compromize and make real life work as well as possible side by side with my gaming. But it is a challenge.

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

No.

Chapter 5: Blogging

When did you first start blogging? Please take us up to present with all of your projects.

February 2008.

Why do you blog?

I answered that when I once did an interview with myself.  I’ll cut in a reply from there:

Blogging has given me back the fun of writing. I’ve been writing professionally so long that it had lost some of its lustre. But this is done out of pleasure, without any pressure. It’s free and it’s fun and I can combine writing with my favourite hobby – WoW. But I also appreciate the social side of blogging, as well as I like the social side of the game. I didn’t have any knowledge about the Blogosphere when I started. Now I’ve grown into it and it feels like an extra guild to me. I love how we comment on each others blogs. It’s a wonderful network.

And of course I love my guests. The comments you give me, the support, the link love… It gives me daily inspiration to keep going. Lately I’ve got a few letters from people who say that I’ve inspired them to start blogs of their own. I can’t understand in what way, perhaps it’s that I’m an example of that you can blog even if you’re quite an ordinary player and not an expert in any sense. Anyway, it’s amazing to hear and makes me very happy.

Another great bonus of blogging is that it improves my English. I’m aware of that my readers have to put up with a lot of errors, but I feel that I’m developing. When I began I sort of translated my thoughts from Swedish. Now I switch over to thinking in English while writing right from the beginning. That’s a huge step forward.

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

Not really. But I try to have at least 3-4 posts a week.

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

No grinding. I’ve always said to myself and the readers that this is a day-to-day project. I’m not trying to make a living from it. I write for my pleasure and if I find one day that I’ve got nothing more to say I’ll stop.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?

I enjoy the freedom and I enjoy expressing myself. Doing it in English is a challenge, but it’s still fun. And I love the networking dimension of it.

How many people offline know you blog?

Hardly any at all. My sister knows about it, but that’s about it I think. My family doesn’t know.

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

Be patient. Don’t’ expect that you’ll get any feedback or many readers for long. It will probably take months before someone will find you. Write from your own pleasure and don’t worry about subscribers and such. Comment a lot on other blogs and be sure to take good care about the ones that come to your blog, writing replies to their comments. In this way you’ll slowly build an audience.

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

I wish I had started blogging in English, using one of the platforms right from the beginning. As it was now I started in Swedish using a bad, non-standard tool, and it took me a ton of work, actually grind, to translate the posts from the first months to English and move it to Blogger. I could have been without that.

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

Oh yes. When I stop playing I definitely will. Maybe before, it depends on for how long it remains fun.

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?

Hm… not entirely sure about that, pass.

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Reading the text: Dena K. Salmon

Posted by Randolph Carter on June 29, 2009

discordiaWebsite:

Discordia: The Eleventh Dimension

Could you take a minute and explain what Discordia: The Eleventh Dimension is about?

Two online friends are forced to join an RL quest in the world that inspired their favorite MOR.

Too short? How about this: a classic gamer/coming-of-age-in-a-parallel-world novel that traces the difficult and often monster-strewn path from boyhood to man/zombie hybrid–with additional, bonus sections featuring a fictitious game manual and a genuine glossary. (Gosh–that’s beautiful. Is it just me, or does anyone else see movie here?)

Forgive me here, but the author blurb from your book reads: “Dena K. Salmon lives and writes in Montclair, New Jersey, where she is locally renowned as the most inept gamer to have ever wielded a mouse. She enjoys going on solo quests, but rarely accepts an invitation to group unless there’s someone else at home to play her character during the tricky parts.”

You’ve obviously played MMOs before. What have you played and what has that experience been like for you?

The experience has been deeply humiliating. Here’s me–a person rich in years, mother of two extraordinary women, able to interpret road signs in six foreign languages–getting “u suxz” whispers from a random lvl 12 night-elf hunter (we’re talking WoW, obvs). It hurts, but does not surprise.

I have always been bad at games. When I was in graduate school, I spent many a quarter at the video arcade playing Star Wars, Pac Man, and some kind of auto racing game. My skill level never exceeded Truly Abysmal.

I did enjoy playing Zork on our first PC–so much easier to cheat. [Game aficionados have probably guessed my age from this line-up. It's like counting rings on a tree.]

So, who at home would be more adept at playing an MMO than yourself? And what has been their experience with MMOs?

Hmmm…more adept…tough one. Well, I’d have to say–all of them: husband, offspring, both dogs–all of them. That’s pretty much the size of it.

We’re primarily a WoW family, though I recall a brief dabble with Eve Online. The young people enjoy their platform games (Grand Theft Auto 4, Oblivion), and computer games such as Bioshock, God of War, Diablo, and Diablo 2 (back in the day).

The youth are highly skilled, but if eldest offspring offers you a ride home, take the bus. Please.

What kind of research did you end up doing for the book?

Lots: game design, game play, Celtic legends, medieval architecture, hunting, field dressing–the list goes on. In addition I’ve misunderstood vast quantities of theoretical physics.

Would you mind discussing what the process was like in getting Discordia published?

It all started when I was born. My parents knew at a glance that one day I would write: little squiggles at first, then actual letters. Before long, I learned to spell (never very well, unfortunately). Eventually I found an agent, and Hyperion bought my book. It was that easy.

On average, how much time per week would you say you spend writing?

Depends on how you define “writing.” If we can include character development (daydreaming), research (e.g., sewage systems through the ages, invasive plants of western Europe, the Amazon rankings of authors I know), dog walks/scene development al fresco, maintaining creative energy with nourishing meals, tapping into the collective unconscious for 6 to 7 hours per night–I’d say approximately 168 hours a week.

How do you keep your writing organized (plot threads, characters, etc.) when writing a book?

I ask myself this question all the time, generally in an aggrieved tone of voice. I use: a writing journal, index cards, legal pads, computer files, a cork board, post-its, maps–I’m all over the place. Lately, I discovered Scrivener, which is a great organizational tool in the right hands (probably not mine).

What writing projects are you currently working on?

Discordia: WorldsWithoutEnd. Coming soon…

Would you say there is grind involved in the writing process? Please explain.

Is there grind involved in life?

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

Learning new things, and hearing from readers.

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

People don’t have to like your book, and you don’t have to like their new couch.

You wake up to a world where Discordia has been made into an MMO (oh, the irony…). What race and class would you play and why?

I’d be a level 1 hobgoblin brigand, and would hang with MrsKeller in a Liander tavern.

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

The whole online thing is this generation’s rock ‘n roll, and a lot of people are upset and confused by the subsequent shift in social discourse. Change can be rough on those who came before you, so try to be kind–and if you happen to group with–say, a level 8 human pally who inexplicably sits down while descending a spiral staircase, do not berate her in party chat: she might be somebody’s mother.

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Hatch (Chapter 5)

Posted by Randolph Carter on June 28, 2009

MMO community connection:

Escape Hatch

Chapter 5: Blogging

When did you first start blogging?

I opened the Escape Hatch in February 08, but didn’t really take it seriously until October 08.

Why do you blog?

I hope to get some ideas out there while being at least marginally entertaining. Get people thinking, maybe help them learn the game. Practice writing and keeping on a schedule.

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

I post 3 days a week, Mon-Wed-Fri. Most Fridays I cheat with a low-content post. That’s why I call it Friday Laziness.

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

There is a bit of a grind when I’m trying to keep to a schedule. Some days you just don’t feel like writing, or don’t have the time, or don’t have any interesting ideas. If I don’t have time because of work or family, those things come first, so my posts get canceled (though I usually try to announce it so people don’t forget about me). If I just don’t feel like it, then I’ll push through anyway, and maybe adjust my expectations to write a smaller post, or a simple guide. Or, try something totally wild and different to spark my imagination or start hunting through announcements and news until I run across something that at least makes me mad enough to rant about it. Since part of the purpose of the blog is to improve my work ethic, pushing through these phases is important to me.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?

The number one thing is looking back at my own work, on the few times I get it right, and going “hey, look, I made that” and being proud of it. Close second is finding out other poeple read it and actually didn’t think it was terrible.

How many people offline know you blog?

Just my girlfriend, and she doesn’t read it because she wants to give me space.

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

There are three absolute most important things about blogging:

  1. Be interesting to your audience. Too many times you’ll see new blogs which blabber on and on in big walls of text about uninteresting subjects, or that are just boring diaries of what someone did today in WoW. The most popular blogs fall into 3 categories: useful info, entertainment, and ideas. WoWinsider and Matticus are mainly info sites. I’d say Jong is a good example of entertainment. Tobold, Tesh, Larisa, and Spinks are places to go for ideas and theory. Some sites, like Ixobelle, are particularly good at marrying entertainment with other types of content. The Greedy Goblin pretty much set the blogosphere on fire by combining ideas about highly volatile subjects with tutorials about something every player is interested in. If you want people to read your blog, you have to give them something worth reading. Always think first about what you think someone else would enjoy reading before you write about something that interests you.
  2. Keep working at it. The more you do it, the better you will get. The more consistent your schedule, the bigger your audience. You’ll need to build up some content before anyone notices you, so don’t feel bad if you go a month or two without any signs of recognition. If your content is good, people will catch on.
  3. Networking. It has to be genuine. Bloggers can smell self-promotion a mile away, so don’t bother. Instead, find blogs of people you like and try to make a genuine contribution to their commenting community. Do it because you find their content interesting, not because you are looking to promote yourself. Once you have a few weeks of content under your belt, make a blogroll with your favorite bloggers on it. Make sure you wait until you have some actual content before you do this.

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

It’s really, really difficult to get noticed. You need a bit of a thick skin, and you need to be prepared to step up your game when it comes to creating content people actually want to read.

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

Certainly. If I get a job that does not afford me as much free time at my desk (I’m quite busy, but there are a lot of “hurry up and wait” spaces in my day), then I’ll definitely hang it up. Or I might just get bored of WoW and not feel like blogging about other subjects.

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?

I’m debating between “I wanna rock!” and “You give love a bad name.”

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SmakenDahed (Chapter 4)

Posted by Randolph Carter on June 27, 2009

MMO community connection:

Random Ogre Thoughts

Chapter 4: Preferences

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

30-40 hours then, about 15-20 now – if I’m lucky and willing to sacrifice sleep (which I am).

When during the week are your regular play times?

I tend to be a weekend warrior; I play Friday night and usually weekend mornings. I do hop on after 9pm for a couple of hours when I feel up for it. That’s usually when I do my farming or tradeskilling. The guild I am in raids from about 8pm to 11pm Tuesday, Thursday and Friday so I try to make those when I can.

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

All of the above. If I’m tired, I tend to just fall into what ever I’m doing and run about solo. When I’m more awake I’ll group up or build groups to hit what ever or I’ll pop into some PVP, BGs or otherwise. When I’m in a guild, I do try to be social, though I tend to miss a lot of chat if I’m into a dungeon or raid.

(My gaming friend would say I miss tells too, and it’s true. I’ve had to use ChatAlert type mods to put certain chat channels right in my face – the little pings in games like EQ2 doesn’t always work)

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

Hell ya. One I’ve already babbled about (Frank: Airstrike, Damogoth, Kaldonar); met in Quake2 LMCTF when I was organizing my clan’s side and he was on the other team. We were in email contact setting up a time and date. I was a little nervous contacting people outside the clan because I was expecting to get some corpse-humping asshat but the guy was completely polite, understanding and pretty easy going.

The match came about and my side was horribly overmatched (being more in to RA2 and not really being organized for CTF). The end result of a 30 minute match was a 3-0 loss to my clan. It would have been worse but I held their flag through most of the match. They capped twice when they finally got me and a third time when another clanmate was carrying the flag. I got hold of it again and kept it for the remaining time (I think I had it for about 28 minutes).

They were good sports and good winners.

In the following weeks I’d occasionally end up on a LMCTF server (I didn’t play RA2) where he was playing sometimes on the same team and sometimes not. When we were on the same team we’d dominate with me on D and him nabbing their flag. When we were on opposing teams we sort of canceled each other out.

End result was we had a lot of fun and played really well together be it defense or offense. He ended up asking me if I wanted to join his clan and after some thought I did. Eventually we formed our own then went into EQ together.

In EQ I met up with another guy I’m still playing games with today (Chris: various names starting with Cel). Frank had actually met him and we all got along eventually tried other games together.

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?

I usually have some sort of plan. Farm, tradeskill, explore, PVP or do some instances. I’ve often planned what we’ll do for a session ahead of time and invited people by sign up.

When you have less time to play, you want to spend more time playing and less time waiting or trying to build a group so I like to get that sort of thing out of the way before hand.

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

Yes and no. I usually don’t subscribe to more than one MMO unless I’m starting to get bored of the one I’m playing in which case I’ll sub to another and play it at off times. I’d rather get somewhere in one game than halfway in a bunch of other games – that’s just me though, I don’t force my expectations on others.

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

Again, when I’m getting bored I’ll binge on some other PC game or console game. I play D&D with a group of friends (almost) every week for about 10 years now so my MMO gaming is on top of that.

Are you something of an altoholic?

Only when I’m first starting a game and when I first started playing a MMO. I’ll experiment with all sorts of classes to see what I enjoy. At the moment, I tend to focus on a character until it hits the cap then I might create an alt to play with. I currently have about five alts in WoW but I also have a max level Paladin (Ret/Prot) who raids.

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)?

I sometimes listen to a podcast or music but no, I usually focus on the game when I’m playing (spouse and children permitting). I might have online radio streaming a hockey game to me or I might have the TV on with hockey going in the background, but I’m not watching it (it’d hurt my neck to see the screen from where the computer is).

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

Not so much anymore. I talk about it with my son, in my blog but not so much with my friends.

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

Yup, I have felt that way but I don’t feel it ever goes on long enough to impact work or my social life (generally, I play a lot when I’m on vacation). I don’t? It’s a hobby I enjoy. It gets pushed aside if I need to do work or if I need to go to family events or if I need something more important than entertainment.

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

Yes, I’ve taken a few breaks here and there. The most notable was before the EQ Stromm server was released. I didn’t touch a MMO for several months until my bud got me thinking about it. I’ve taken a few other breaks but never really for any particular reason.

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Reading the text: Sharon Shinn

Posted by Randolph Carter on June 26, 2009

fortune and fateAuthor website:

http://sharonshinn.net/

Could you take a minute and explain what Fortune and Fate is about?

It’s the fifth book in the Twelve Houses series, but it’s about a character who played a very minor role in those books, so it’s a pretty self-contained story. It follows a King’s Rider named Wen, who can’t forgive herself for not being able to save the king’s life in the opening days of the war. So she wanders the countryside, trying to atone for that one great mistake by doing small deeds of kindness wherever she can. She ends up rescuing Karryn Fortunalt – the daughter of one of the rebel lords who fought against the king – and then training a guard unit to keep Karryn safe. She’s reluctant to be in any situation where someone wholly relies on her skill and loyalty again, but she gradually gets attached to Karryn, Karryn’s household, and Karryn’s scholarly, sexy uncle…and then it turns out Karryn needs to be rescued AGAIN…

Going back a bit, what was the process like in getting your first book published?

It took forever. I’d been writing about fifteen years before I sold my first book, so I have a pretty deep pile of “practice manuscripts” in the closet. I submitted books from time to time—one publishing house kept a manuscript for two years before finally rejecting it—but eventually I decided to concentrate on getting an agent. I mailed out a couple dozen query letters to agents whose names I’d found in Writer’s Digest; only one of them was really interested, and he didn’t like the first book I sent him. But he liked the second one, and we signed a contract. Still took three years to sell a book, but at that point he was doing all the work and I just sat back and looked at rejection slips! But all the hard work and all the patience paid off…once I sold the first book, I’ve managed to sell a book a year (sometimes two) every year since.

Where do you happen to find inspiration for your writing?

Everywhere. I’ll hear an item on the news and think, “Huh. How would that story be different if it had happened THIS way instead?” Or I’ll be cutting open a piece of fruit and I’ll think, “Would I eat this if the seeds were poisonous and I wasn’t sure I’d gotten them all out?” Or I’ll see a piece of artwork and wonder, “Where is she going, dressed like that?” Most often my first glimmerings of a story idea come from a conversation I sort of “overhear” between a couple of characters. I try to figure out who they are and why they’re arguing or what they think is so funny. Then I work backward and forward from there to figure out how they got to that point and where they’re going next. I do a lot of work in my head before I put the first words down on paper.

Were you a big reader as a child/young adult? What were some of your favorite books and/or authors growing up?

I read incessantly when I was a kid. I read everything, from “The Three Investigators” mysteries to Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series to the juvenile books by Robert Heinlein and Andre Norton. Some of my favorite books from this time were Carol Kendall’s The Gammage Cup, Jane Langton’s Diamond in the Window, Sylvia Louise Engdahl’s Enchantress from the Stars and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess. I still reread The Gammage Cup about once a year.

Would you mind sharing some of your literary influences?

Well, I read a lot of 19th-century fiction—Austen, the Brontës, Dickens, Trollope—and I think you can see some of those influences in my writing, particularly the passages that are fairly lush. But I really think I was influenced more by all the genre fiction I started reading as a teenager, from fantasy novels to Westerns and Regency romances. What they all have in common is detailed, believable world-building. (Georgette Heyer does kickass world-building in her romance novels.) Plus all the adventure books left me with a taste for action stories. I don’t know if that’s actually translated to my own writing, which is often fairly leisurely, but I like to READ fast-paced books with an exciting ending.

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.)?

Alas, about the only game I’ve ever played with any frequency is Scrabble. I’m sure I’m missing out on some pretty fascinating worlds, though.

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

There absolutely is grinding. At times writing feels like sheer drudgery. I usually write by the numbers—I try to get X number of pages written in a session, because this makes me feel like I’m making some tangible forward progress on the task of writing a book, which otherwise can feel endless. There are days I sit down at the computer and think, “I cannot write one word, let alone five pages.” I usually make myself do it anyway. You would think that, when you read them later, those pages would feel forced and uninteresting, but I have not found that to be the case. Some days I feel like I’m digging a grave with a teaspoon; other days I feel like I’m shoveling up loose spadefuls of dirt and pitching them over my shoulder with abandon. I can rarely see the difference in the finished product.

Reading through copyedited manuscripts and page proofs, checking for errors, is also a grind. A necessary part of the job, but it can be really tedious. And boring, since by this time I’ve read the story so many times that it barely holds my interest.

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

There are several distinct moments that can be absolutely dazzling.

There’s a kind of euphoria I feel sometimes when I’ve just finished writing a scene and I absolutely love it. Especially if I was working on it some night when I didn’t feel like writing to begin with, but I got sucked into the story and the scene just flowed. That’s one of my favorite parts about writing.

It’s also a thrill to see the cover for the first time. (People think writers have input into the cover art, but they almost never do…so, not until it shows up, already printed and stamped with their name, do they have any idea what it will look like.) I’ve been pretty lucky in the covers my editors have commissioned for me, so I’ve almost always been delighted with that first glimpse.

I also absolutely LOVE going to bookstores and finding my books on the shelves. Maybe because it took me so long to get published, but I don’t think I’ll ever get over the excitement of seeing my books in their natural habitat.

And finally, I always love hearing from readers who particularly liked a book. Every once in a while I’ll get an amazing letter—like the one from the woman who said she had been going through a long illness, but as she read the healing scenes in “Dark Moon Defender,” she could actually feel herself getting well. I mean, nothing’s better than that—learning that something you did had a powerful influence on someone else’s life.

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

Keep reading, to see what has worked for other writers. Keep writing, because it’s like any skill; it gets better the more you practice it. Find good friends or other writers who will give you an honest critique of your work so that you can improve it; revising is an essential part of writing. Don’t get discouraged, even if it takes a few years to sell your first book. Love what you write, because you’re going to spend way too much time with these characters, in this world, to just produce something that you think will sell to a particular market.

You wake up to a world where your Twelve Houses series has been made into an MMO. What class would you play and why?

Wow, this is a really cool question and I had to think about it awhile. In fact, I like it so much that I want to have my webmaster set up a message board on my site (sharonshinn.net) to ask my readers the exact same question. They can respond to my response, too. He thinks he can get it set up by early July.

I’d be a mystic, probably a reader. Not a noblewoman—maybe an innkeeper’s daughter. Why? Because I think the mystics who are readers have the most interesting lives—they get glimpses of other people’s souls.

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

If they’ve never been to a science fiction convention, particularly a big one like WorldCon, they should go! They can hang out with other gamers, meet some of their favorite authors, and buy really neat stuff in the dealer room. Most cities of any size also have local conventions that can be a lot of fun. I blow my spending budget for the year on jewelry and books in the dealer’s room—but the real fun is meeting people who like the same kinds of stuff I do.

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One shot: Euripedes

Posted by Randolph Carter on June 26, 2009

MMO community connection:

Critical QQ

Please take a minute and describe what your blog is about.

CriticalQQ is intended to be a blog focusing on mages and/or PvP, and any issues that relates to one of those two. Naturally, every post is not going to be specifically about mages or PvP, but the majority of them are.

Sometimes there’ll be posts up that have nothing at all do with my core focus, and in some cases, not even WoW itself. Those types of posts tend to be very rare, as I think most of my readers want to read about… well, Warcraft things, not the latest odd thing involving a bagel to happen in the men’s washroom.

But basically, my blog is the same as all the other WoW blogs out there. It’s my take on the World… of Warcraft, and as I primarily play a mage and focus my game play on PvP, that tends to be the subject matter of all my posts.

Your blog covers a very specific subject. How do you manage to keep coming up with meaningful content that others, obviously, find interesting?

It does take some brainstorming. Almost every post was inspired somehow either by a comment left on another post, something I thought of while playing, or something I thought of while thinking about the game.

I expend nearly no effort whatsoever to actually come up with new posts from scratch (this is probably pretty obvious to my critics). I just do my thing, play the game, live life, and inspiration strikes where it may.

This is why you’ll see things like a comedy post followed by an angry rant, followed by a philosophical musing, and so on.

Most of my posts are spontaneous. I know some bloggers like to plan what they blog; but for me, that takes away from the enjoyment of blogging in the first place.

I do have planned posts from time to time, and these are always guides to something. All my talent guides, the raiding guides, all those are posts planned way in advance, and usually take about a month from initial conception and preliminary writing to it actually being posted.

These types of posts are posted infrequently and take so long because I do not enjoy writing them. They are arduous, tedious, and boring to write.

I still write them, though, as I consider it my part in the battle to fight wiztards.

But I digress.

I’d guess about half of my posts are directly because of something Blizzard has done in the game. Either with new patches, new mechanics that need to be explained, and so on. I’m pretty sure if you really wanted to, you could trend the frequency of my blog posts, and see a marked increase of posts right around the time new patches come out, and a corresponding slow down when nothing new is being released.

What was your introduction to MMOs and what was that experience like?

Technically, WoW is my first MMO. I had played Neverwinter Nights online before WoW, but I’d hardly consider it an MMO.

NWN Online was, in retrospect, very dull. It featured a hopelessly long grind to level cap completely devoid of humor, both in the game and amongst the small player base.

The most fun I had in that game was venturing off to explore the “inefficient leveling” zones, just to see what was there.

WoW, by contrast, was bright, fun, filled with interesting quests, and highly entertaining.

And that was before I left Durotar. :)

When did you first start playing WoW?

I’ve been playing WoW since November 29th, 2005, at 7:20 PM. Sometimes I regret having started at all, sometimes I wish I had started earlier. Early enough to play a dwarf mage. Holy crap, I wish dwarfs could still be mages. I’d play one without hesitation.

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

Per week? Well… I’d guess about 70 hours a week, at my peak. I know it’s a lot, but when I play, I really play. None of this pansy ass log in, play for an hour or two, log out business. When I log in, I’m in for hours and hours of quality gaming. Some of you are probably aware of my recent (successful) effort to play WoW for 24 hours straight. That’s just how I play.

And yes, it is quality gaming. If I’m not enjoying something, I don’t do it. I never, for instance, grind for the sake of grinding, and never have.

If I grind, it’s because I’m enjoying it for some strange reason. For instance, way back in my late twenties, there was this field filled with gnolls in Hillsbrad Foothills (the place you go for the huge blue mushrooms). I grinded those gnolls for three levels. It was incredibly fun, I don’t know why.

Usually, though, with these hours of gaming, I mostly just PvP. I wonder how many people can say they’ve had two toons at the honor cap simultaneously… good god, I need a girlfriend.

Nowadays, my WoW time usually clocks in at about… ohh, twenty, thirty hours a week? Something like that.

How exactly did you end up focusing on the mage class?

The friend who got me into WoW played a mage. So I rolled one too, eventually. I had a bunch of other toons that I tried out right at the beginning, like a warrior, shadow priest, hunter, druid, rogue, that kind of thing. Leveled most of them up to about, oh, somewhere in the 14-20 area, then deleted them. (The hunter is the only one who survived, and today is sitting pretty at level 73).

The mage was the only one to stick, at the time. Right from the start, it was a hard class to play. Compare to, say, a warrior back then.

A warrior leveled by selecting a target, pressing charge, pressing Rend, waiting a while, pressing Heroic Strike, then waiting some more.

There was no strategy, no deeper element, no tactical game play or positioning that had to be used.

Back when I played NWN, I had intentionally played builds that were difficult to play. I had created characters that demanded perfect timing of multiple abilities in order to be effective.

So when I came to WoW, I was looking for a class that did the same.

Enter the mage class, a squishy, cloth-wearing class with no pet to tank for it and no heals or shields of any sort. What it had instead were things like snares and roots.

It was a hard class to play, especially for a keyboard turning noob who’s best friend advised leveling mages should spec into Arcane.

Yeah, that didn’t last long. By level 20, I decided arcane was stupid and specced fire instead. My mage has been fire for the majority of it’s life, and is still a fire mage at heart even if it is specced arcane and frost at the moment.

Have you ever experienced burnout in WoW? If so, how have you dealt with that?

Yes, multiple times. Burnout is actually a really easy thing to deal with. Are you burnt out on a specific class? A specific spec? Specific area of the game? The game itself? Guild politics?

Just identify what is causing the burn out, and then cut oneself off completely from it. The easiest way is to simply play an alt. It’s a very serious change of pace from whatever you’re normally used to doing.

For instance, last expansion, I had burnt out on playing my mage, raiding, PvP, the whole thing. It was frustrating to do.

So I played my hunter instead. The poor girl was level 30, so I decided to rectify that. Two weeks later, my hunter walks into Outland, and I hadn’t even touched my mage for those two weeks.

Within a month of burning out as a mage, I was back, and loving it just as much as I was before.

If it’s the game itself I’m burning out on (which has happened thrice), you just gotta quit. Log out, exit WoW, and do NOT start it up again until you really want to play it again.

If my attitude is “well, I really should log in, and do some dailies…” I don’t log in. I’m still burnt out, playing more WoW will be detrimental.

I don’t log back in until my attitude is “I WANT TO PLAY SOOO BAAAD OMG I GOTTA HAVE MY FIX”.

The hard part of Burnout is recognizing when you’re burning out. Burnout has to be caught early, “nipped in the bud”, so to speak, to avoid a burnout that lasts months. Just consider what you’re thinking as you’re playing.

Let’s say the guild raid is forming up. Do you say “Hazzah Ulduar!” or “Ugh…”?

You’re looking at your character login screen. You bring up your main character. Is your gut reaction something positive like “Naxx run today WOOO” or something negative like “Uurgh… do I really want to deal with guild drama today?”?

Identify when you are burning it, then identify what is causing you to burn out, then excise it.

If you have to leave the guild or go play an alt with the chat log turned off for a few weeks, so be it. You are not beholden to anyone else.

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

Yes, yes, and yes. I’ve played D&D, Cybergen and am actually designing my own tabletop style game entitled, imaginatively, “Sky Pirates”, which is basically exactly what it sounds like. Picture a weird amalgamation of Skies of Arcadia and Treasure Planet and you’ve about got it.

I haven’t been a major console gamer since the N64. Starcraft was the catalyst that started my jump from console gaming to PC gaming, and I’ve never really considered going back. I do still play some console games, like Rock Band, when I hang out with friends.

PC gaming, however, is where I make my home. I play a lot more games than WoW. For instance, here is a list of games I’ve played in the last 30 days, not including WoW:

  • Team Fortress 2
  • Left4Dead
  • Half Life 2: Episode One
  • Psychonauts
  • Tomb Raider Anniversary
  • Sins of a Solar Empire
  • Knights of the Old Republic
  • The Sims 3
  • Overlord
  • Audiosurf
  • Command&Conquer: Generals: Zero Hour

“So I created this blog, so I can rant and rave in public, and in peace.” This is a comment you ended your very first blog post with. Would you say this still holds true today?

To a point. The “in peace” part is a up for debate, but the rest definitely still holds true. I still rant and rave just as much now as I did then, though there are those who wish I’d didn’t. The only real difference to my rants now as compared to before is that I cuss less now than I used to.

Some see using a cuss/curse/swear a sign of a lack of intelligence, or perhaps an inability to correctly communicate ideas.

I disagree, of course. The odd swear word here and there carries a lot of emotional weight. If it’s used casually, all the time, it’s just a word. But used sparingly… it has a huge impact.

I honestly never expected anyone to read the blog. It was, really, just an outlet.

And now I have an audience of thousands, ranging from rabid fans and stalkers to mortal enemies and those who think I’m the Antichrist (seriously weird e-mail, that one. I never knew a cucumber was a satanic symbol).

Do you see blogging as just a hobby or perhaps something more?

At this point, it is still a hobby. It’s something I do because it’s fun. I enjoy it, so I keep doing it.

I don’t know if I could handle it as something more. Getting paid for it, it’s then kinda expected to treat it as a job and update regularly. Seems strange to do something I’m paid for which is entirely based on another hobby, where my interest could wane at any time.

I’m not doing this for money, and have never even considered transforming CQQ into something that makes money. I don’t have adds on the site, never will, and I just delete any of those “affiliate opportunities!” things I get in the inbox.

As with quite a few bloggers, I am hoping to use the skills I’ve learned as a blogger to try and become a professional writer at some point. I’ll see, I suppose. I still have about four years of University to head through before I’ll deem myself mature enough to come up with story ideas and characters that are not fundamentally retarded.

Obviously anything I write will be infused with my strange form of humor. I’ve tried writing serious things, it rarely works. Serious is boring.

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

Not even sort of. I’ve tried in the past to have scheduled updates, or even something simple like “a new post every day”. They all fail within a week or two.

Setting expectations and then failing to meet them is far worse than simply not having specific expectations in the first place. You can say “I’ll update monday!”, then your readers will expect an update monday. And if there isn’t one, you’ve just disappointed a whole ton of people.

I follow a system of “I’ll update on someday!” that way nobody gets disappointed! Except, I guess, all the people who get mad when you don’t update, or even worse, update with stuff they don’t want to read.

Again, though, my blogging is very spur of the moment. If I blog, I blog, if I don’t, I don’t. It’s a very simple system that stays fun, fresh, and only frustrates half the readers.

Would you say there is some grind involved in blogging? If so, what is it and how do you tend to cope with it?

I suppose there might be, if you try and set goals that you can’t meet. Say you try to get out a new post every day. You keep it up for a week, but then by week two, when it comes time to get a new post out, and you have nothing to post and no idea what to write.

Of course, because you made the promise to put out a new post every day, now there’s that obligation you think you have to meet.

If you blog when and what you want to, there is no grind involved. It’s fun, and remains that way.

Guides, of course, have a significant amount of “grind” to them. They’re long posts, filled with tons of information, massive amounts of formatting and copy/paste, especially those with gear lists. Those take FOREVER.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?

Nearly everything. Writing posts is fun. It’s a subject matter I’m very passionate about, and I really like writing. And if that’s not enough, the fact that it’s a blog means other people can come by and leave comments. Discussions and debates spring up out of nowhere, and if there’s one thing I like almost as much as writing, it’s an argument.

This hearkens back to my trolling days.

Intellectual conflict is extremely stimulating and probably more fun than it should be.

Stupid arguments are trying and dull, but fortunately my blog sees relatively few of those. Instead, it seems to become the focus of opinionated, intelligent discourse, which is something I deeply enjoy.

If my high school had a debate club, I totally would have joined.

Would you care to share a particularly memorable moment from your days of blogging?

There are a few really awesome things. When I got a link from BigRedKitty, for instance, that was awesome. The first time I got linked by WoWInsider (when it was still called that) was also pretty neat.

A couple other really big things.

When I was contacted by Bre, then of Gun Lovin’ Dwarf Chick, and was asked if I wanted to be interviewed at the Twisted Nether Blogcast. That was HUGE, to me. At that point, I still thought I was living in obscurity, just this little corner blog that nobody really read. I still felt like a second-class blogger, if that makes sense. Just the little guy, hiding in a corner while all the big bloggers drank punch and joked around the chocolate fountain.

There was also this one post that I put very shortly after Lich King launched. It was a quick guide, hastily thrown together with a couple screenshots, about how mages could go about getting to Dalaran.

It turned out to be, at the time, the hugest post in the history of the blog. It drew tens of thousands of hits, was linked to everywhere, popped me into the top 100 blog posts of the day, raked in dozens of comments (positive, negative, and troll alike), and “how to get to Dalaran” is STILL one of the top five searches for my blog.

And all for something that took me all of seven minutes to put together.

More recently, my “On Elitism and Free T8″ post has drawn the most comments of any post in my history. I really struck a nerve, and struck it hard, though I think a lot of people misunderstood me. I’ve tried to clarify my position, but at this point I’m basically throwing rocks at bee hives.

Controversial bloggerdom, here I come!

Are you pleased with how your blog has been received in the MMO blogosphere?

Hah, I suppose. I’m not being actively shunned by anyone yet, I think, so that’s good, right?

Maybe it’s a little presumptuous of me, but I’m not all that concerned with how my blog is received in general. I rarely check the hard numbers of the blog, I have no idea what my lifetime views are, and I haven’t the slightest idea how many subscribers I have.

Honestly, I’m still a little bit in disbelief. I don’t really think I’m all that interesting, but the blogosphere in general seems to disagree.

Hmm… I wouldn’t really say I’m pleased with the reception my blog has received, more that I’m befuddled by it.

If you had a chance to do it all over again, would you do anything different?

I’d totally play a dwarf mage. That’s… about it really. Everything else is pretty damn peachy keen.

Maybe I would’ve gotten an editor from day one. I do make grammar mistakes and things, which people absolutely love to rag on me for, and due to my blogging being so spontaneous, usually quite a few mistakes get through.

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

Do what you want, when you want. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, don’t set expectations you can’t meet. Ignore the trolls. Accept criticism gracefully. Don’t be a copy-cat. And for the love of all that is frijole, have fun!

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

I’ve actually nearly hung up ye olde keyboard four times now. The blog keeps dragging me back, though.

I suspect CQQ is going to keep going until WoW finally dies. Even if I feel close to quitting, I know now, from experience, that it’s just a slump, and I’ll be over it in, at most, a few weeks.

Usually it’s just a particularly exacerbated case of blogger’s block.

At this point, I don’t know if I could stop writing. It’s become such a part of me, that even if I didn’t blog, I’d still have to write something.

When I try to picture myself not blogging about WoW… all I end up doing is picturing myself blogging about some other game.

I’m just as addicted to this whole writing thing as I am WoW itself. But this, at least, is a good addiction. I’m addicted to flexing creative muscles and wringing understanding and entertainment from the typed word.

Much healthier than, say, being addicted to snorting ants.

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Andras (Chapter 4)

Posted by Randolph Carter on June 25, 2009

MMO community connection:

Free Play Podcast

Chapter 4: Preferences

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

I probably spent 45 – 50 hours a week gaming. Now that the rest of the “busy” world has caught up with me, I usually get about 5 – 10. I’m not sure if this is a bad thing or a good thing.

When during the week are your regular play times?

I wish I had them, its usually whenever I get some free time. I guess it would typically be early weekends and late weekdays

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

I’m a shy wolf, I would say. I don’t like meeting and grouping with random people in MMOs, but I think I’m usually pretty sociable once I’m introduced by a more extroverted friend like Riknas here. It’s a weird dichotomy since I absolutely hate soloing.

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

I’m not sure if the friendship was made through the MMO or through other mediums, but to be safe, I will say yes.

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?

I typically forget where I was when signing into the MMO, so I usually do whatever I feel like in the game, unless there’s a pressing auction item or something which requires previous planning.

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

Definitely one at a time, but only for fiscal reasons.

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

I usually have the other games ready for my breaks in between MMOs, but when I have one that I’m subscribed to, I feel I won’t be getting my money’s worth unless I play it in all my free time. Which kinda ends up killing the game a bit. I should probably stop that.

Are you something of an altoholic?

I wish I knew what that me- oh! Like alternate characters! Then, yes, since in most games (most notably City of Heroes) I love the character creation and set-up, and it usually takes me a few run throughs before I create a character I feel like investing considerable time into.

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)?

I feel like if I do that, the game I’m playing probably isn’t worth the money involved. That said, in F2P games, I will often do it. The one I can remember most clearly was playing runescape on my laptop, grinding for runes, while watching the Twilight Zone marathon.

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

YES! I would adjust the font and make it larger, but I fear that adjustment might not make it into the final product. As a note, larger fonts are typically used to add emphasis, what I’m trying to achieve here. I find myself talking about MMO comparisons, rumors, opinions, theories, and anything else you can think of to anyone with the slightest care for MMOs, and a few that do not.

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

There was a time when I felt a gamed too much, particularly during those 45- 50 weeks. I eventually decided that I would immediately stop gaming given the slightest opportunity to do anything else. This actually helped quite a bit, as I took more walks, hung out with more friends, and played more boardgames. In my current situation, I feel like I could stand to play games a bit more. Ah well.

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

Yes, I take fairly frequent breaks. Usually I get tired of the MMO I’m playing and stop until Riknas “drags” me into the next one. I daresay these stints are longer than the time I actually play MMOs, with the exception of when we review the F2P ones. I don’t really count those.

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Hatch (Chapter 4)

Posted by Randolph Carter on June 25, 2009

MMO community connection:

Escape Hatch

Chapter 4: Preferences

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

Oh dear god don’t make me think about this. At my peak? I was in grad school, living alone in a strange city across the country from all of my friends? 25-35 hours per week. Now, it’s more like 15-20, depending on if we do a full-clear of Naxx 25 that week, or if I’m trying to fit in time with a beta.

When during the week are your regular play times?

A few weeknights. Weekends it’s variable. Sometimes raid Sunday evening, sometimes spend a Saturday afternoon in BGs or doing instances.

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

I’m a lone wolf. I just prefer it that way, but I also enjoy running instances with those in my circle of friends.

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

Yes. One of my guildies happened to live only a short subway ride from me. We became friends in real life. I was reluctant to meet him at first, but he had no qualms because he actually met his wife in Everquest. Turned out to be a really cool guy. Aside from that, I’d consider most of my guildies to be friends, but I’ve learned not to get too attached as people quit, change goals, or leave because of drama. You can have real friendships in MMOs, but they tend to be much more easily broken than real-life friendships. I tend to not get very close to online friends.

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?

I’m the planning type. It can sometimes be difficult to convince me to deviate from that plan. :)

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

I tend to get deeply into one rather than playing a few at once. I find that the type of activities I enjoy are better served by focusing just on one game. If you play a lot of different games, you tend to fall behind the curve. I also haven’t really liked most of the other MMOs I’ve tried lately. I may need to revise my answer once Champion’s Online or APB come out.

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

Yes. I console it up with my Playstations (mainly skateboarding games, brawlers, and story-driven RPGs), my Wii (basically anything with “Mario” in its name) and my PC (story-driven shooters like Half Life and CoD4, strategy games like SC, WC3, Sins of a Solar Empire)

Are you something of an altoholic?

Yes. This is mostly because I want to try out and master all of the different classes to enjoy new playstyles and perspectives on the game. I’m weird in that I find exploring the different class abilities more interesting than exploring the game world.

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)?

Yes, all the time. Raiding is the only time I don’t also pay attention to something else. If I’m alone, I PvP with music on and watch TV or listen to a podcast while grinding and leveling. Otherwise I’m talking to my girlfriend in person or on the phone with family/friends while playing. All this is mostly a function of my brain constantly needing stimulation. One part of my brain needs something else to do while I’m talking to someone, and the other part needs something else to do while I’m playing.

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

I constantly talk about WoW with my girlfriend. She’s my GM and co-raid-leader. Online gaming made a short period of time when we were long-distance a lot more bearable, so it’s become something we share quite heavily.

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

I do often feel that way. My response is usually to take a night off to read a book or go out to a bar/restaurant/movie/store, or watch a movie or TV show from home. The other thing I do when I feel like I’m gaming too much is take time out to exercise. I can do this pretty much any time because we have exercise machines and weights in our home. And guys, remember: if you feel like you are playing too much, take a break and go give your significant other some real attention. If you think you’re playing to much, then they probably think you are playing WAY too much.

The absolute best is pure detox. I take a trip to visit my family and or friends out of town, where I won’t have time or connection to play. I find that as soon as I get on the train or plane, I don’t even miss the game, and that’s comforting. It’s more something I do recreationally, and not something I feel dependent on.

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

Nope, not since I started. I only stopped playing CoH because I had already gotten into WoW, and my subscription hasn’t lapsed in all these years. Why haven’t they sent me some sort of “thank you”? I’ll take it in the form of cookies, please.

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SmakenDahed (Chapter 3)

Posted by Randolph Carter on June 24, 2009

MMO community connection:

Random Ogre Thoughts

Chapter 3: Online

Were you ever exposed to MUDs?

I heard of them from the brother of a girl I was dating. He was pretty into them though his sister was telling me he was getting too into them at the expense of his school work. I thought it was sort of weird that people could get so into something like that when it was just text. Marriages? Politics? Weirdos…

What was your first MMO experience?

EverQuest. It was the year it came out, though several months later. I couldn’t tell you the year. I was previously playing online Quake 2 in a clan organized by someone who became a really good online gaming friend (over 11 years now). We were a little frustrated by a mishap during a tourney and felt the clan we competed against took advantage of their position as organizers to turn what should have been a win into a loss. Some other folks had been talking to my friend about EQ and we decided to give it a shot.

Man, the subscription fee was a big hurdle for me to over come. I wasn’t used to buying a game then having to continue to pay monthly to play.

We started Erudites, he insisted on playing an Erudite because it was the best caster race and he wanted to play a Wizard. I was easy going so I made an Erudite Paladin (ouch). We played for several hours and go hooked pretty quickly after figuring out how to do stuff. Toxx Forest was a load of fun especially given the darkness and lack of nightvision. We had all sorts of fun doing some quests, exploring, dying, trying to find our corpses.

I’ve been hooked ever since.

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

  • EverQuest
  • Asheron’s Call
  • Anarchy Online
  • Dark Age of Camelot
  • Planetside
  • City of Heroes (Villains)
  • Star Wars: Galaxies
  • Asheron’s Call 2
  • Guild Wars
  • EverQuest 2
  • World of Warcraft
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online
  • Vanguard
  • Tabula Rasa
  • Age of Conan
  • Warhammer
  • Lord of the Rings Online

I think I’m forgetting one or two.

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

I am currently playing World of Warcraft where I have a level 80 Ret/Prot Paladin in mostly T7 (or T7.5) gear. I’ve started an alt to play along side my five year old son (refer-a-friend).

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

Everquest. It’s hard to say how long, but probably a couple of years in total.

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

I don’t look at hitting level caps as all that big a deal because I know it’s a matter of time, however, I have hit the level cap in EverQuest, EverQuest 2, World of Warcraft and I was really close in VG before I threw in the towel.

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?

At the moment, I’d have to say World of Warcraft simply because I’m playing it with my son and I’m having a lot of fun watching what he does and has fun doing. I’ve recently bounced around trying out some of the older MMOs I left behind and they were fun for a bit, but not something my son is interested in; while WoW has him hooked (at least as hooked as we allow him to be).

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

I’m curious about Champions Online and DC Universe, but those will probably just be a distraction. One in development would be Copernicus (38 Studios). I enjoy a lot of what the people involved in its development enjoyed or created so I’m hopeful about that one. Star Wars: The Old Republic is another one I’m interested in but I don’t think I’ll be swept up by it.

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

I mentioned a long time gaming buddy, we started in Quake2 but moved into EQ. We bounced around from game to game for a bit until we heard SOE was releasing a brand new server that did not allow transfers – enter Stromm. He convinced me to give it another go – a real go at it this time because it was going to be the last time we ever played that game.

With that in mind, I created an Erudite Cleric named Fabinusar (the same name that was randomly generated for my very first character; an Erudite Paladin). I figured it’d be the first name I used in EQ and the last. He created an Ogre Shadowknight named Conflict. We duoed a lot of the content, adding the odd person into the group here and there. It was the first time I played a Cleric, usually I played the tank role, so it was a lot of fun. I was excited for every spell and every time I got a new one I had to try it out to see what I could do with it which meant rearranging my spell bar every time.

That added a little chaos to our sessions.

Before he was able to Feign Death, I used to use Lull/Pacify type spells to single out a target which he’d pull. It worked so well we’d hit dungeons with just the two of us.

We were in Upper Guk working our way into the Jail area. We were setting up to Lull and pull each one of the five or six mobs in the center of the Jail room. Now I just had access to Stun so I put it on my spell bar wondering what sort of use I could get out it.

Guess which spell I cast instead of Lull?

A lovely train ensued. The corpse recovery run was pretty fun too (I never carried a second set of gear).

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