Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

One shot: Julian

Posted by Randolph Carter on August 4, 2009

MMO community connection:

Kill Ten Rats

Please take a minute and describe what Kill Ten Rats is about and how you came to be involved with the project.

KTR is a gaming blog where seven guys and one lovely lady basically pool together to comment on what’s going on with their gaming lives. But it’s very loose; sometimes it’s not even about gaming. Sometimes it could be tangentially related, or not related at all. But those posts are few – we got together because of gaming, and that’s what it’s largely about. One day it could be comments on some patch notes, the next day musings on design, the next day a post about gold farming and so on. It’s a pretty eclectic mix of very eclectic people. We’re spread all over the place, we have different interests, different tastes in games (heck, in most cases we don’t even play the games together) but we do share a love for gaming in general and MMO gaming in particular.

I came aboard because Ethic invited me over. I had my own personal gaming blog at the time, where I mused a lot, but I wasn’t really feeling it much. I was a KTR reader, I enjoyed reading it, so I jumped at the chance to collaborate and it’s been great so far.

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

I started vicariously. I had a small close group of gaming friends and we got together for LAN parties and such. I was very close with two of them, and they were the ones who started playing them. I didn’t have much interest in the genre at the time (I was more of a FPS/Strategy guy back then, this is late 90′s, early 00′s).

I remember the first MMO I experienced vicariously sitting next to one of my friends like this was Everquest. The first thing I thought was why couldn’t the graphics be better. I know, not a very glamorous first experience, but it’s an honest answer. I liked the genre, and I learned a lot about it, but my first hands-on experience came years later. It just wasn’t something that grabbed me at the time.

Can you recall that first MMO “wow!” moment?

Not only I remember it, I can give you the exact date even. December 21st., 2004. I was a games reviewer for Ars Technica and I was given World of Warcraft to review. I got very much hooked on it while I was reviewing it. But my first “wow!” moment came there.

I had rolled a Night Elf and had spent a few hours in the starter area of Teldrassil, doing all the quests, seeing the sights, taking notes for the review. Business as usual. Then it got to the point where you’re sent out of Teldrassil to Darkshore, via hyppogryph, and I remember pulling the map up just to see where this Darkshore was and I realize all that I had done so far, all the time spent in Teldrassil, all the nooks and crannies explored, all the quests completed… were just a very small fraction of the whole game world. Not only was I being sent to a new area which was bigger than Teldrassil, but also the realization that this area was in turn just a small part of the huge continent of Kalimdor. And Kalimdor itself was just a continent, the Eastern Kindgoms awaited on the other side of the ocean.

That realization right there, of all that there is yet to do, yet to see and yet to experience, hit me like a ton of bricks and sold me on the game right there. Not as a reviewer, but as a player – I remained playing it after I was done with the review. Since then I’m a sucker for expansive worlds with lots of content and -variety- in that content.

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

At my peak? An insane amount. I was quite the hardcore gamer during my teens and before I got married. I’d say during that time it’d have been between 60-70 hours a week. Sometimes more and sometimes less, but not much.

Now it’s less. I’d say now I’m ranging 40-50 a week, which is still quite a bunch of time, but I have other obligations and other things to attend to.

This is actual factual playtime figures. Time spent doing things -related- to gaming, well that’s most of my free time. Blogging, reading blogs, going over design documents, writing material, consulting websites, etc.

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

On the console side, yes, we have a 360 at home for the family. The only game I usually play is Rock Band 2, but I played a lot of Fable 2 and Street Fighter IV.

On the PC side, yep. I built a nice collection of good games over the years which I try to revisit every now and then if the gods of Vista and DirectX smile on those old titles.

Tabletop, no. Not anymore. I used to have a lot of tabletop and board games when I was a kid though.

When did you first start blogging? Would you mind taking us up to present with all of your projects?

I don’t really remember but it must have been around 2005-2006 with my original gaming blog (which should still be up there) and my personal blog (which I never update and has now been replaced by Facebook).

The “other” main project I have going right now is working on creating and establishing a video game developing studio here in town. It’s tough and uphill, but there’s nothing else I’d truly like to do.

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

I don’t think I devote blogging nearly enough time for it to be a hobby. I enjoy it, but I wouldn’t call it a hobby. I’m not that passionate about blogging in itself. I do enjoy the interaction with readers, commenters and other fellow bloggers. I think it’s a great vehicle for that. But that’s about it for me – a means of two-way communication, not a hobby and certainly not the holy grail of anything to be honest.

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

Not at all. I have the gift/curse of being able to put down on “paper” whatever is on my mind in a readable, passable form, so it’s pretty much get an idea of something that would be nice to post, go ahead and put it up. No revisions. I know some (most?) of my fellow rat killers are much more organized in terms of routine and such, but I’m pretty much the “spur of the moment” guy when it comes to blogging.

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 don’t think so, personally, and if there is I’ve never experienced it. I know there is a lot of grind involved in -writing-, but like I said I’m not nearly organized enough, nor do I have a strong routine about blogging for any “blogging grind” to affect me.

Sure there are times where you just don’t know what to post, so you don’t post. But that’s a problem of writer’s block, not so much with the process of blogging.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?

I like the direct connection to people, and the ease with which you can get a discussion going with many participants. I also like that it’s a very streamlined process. As in, log in, write what you want, click “Publish”, done. No hoops to jump through. I dislike complicated and convoluted procedures, so this streamlining is a godsend to people like me who would much rater focus on the writing than how to put what you wrote actually up.

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

I don’t know if I’d call it memorable, but it’s always very nice to me when we can get a good discussion going at KTR or elsewhere in another blog. Seeing “0 comments”, in my posts or someone else’s, makes me sad. I’m a discussion forum veteran, so I’m very used to posts and discussions going for tens of pages.

Don’t think I could point to a memorable moment in particular. I’d say all meaningful discussions, those discussions from which people could extract something of value, are memorable.

Have you ever considered branching into podcasting?

No, because one, I don’t have a mic to record anything. Two, I have a kinda thick accent when I speak English (not my first language). And three, with the kids in the house running around, people would hear them more than they’d hear me.

I would consider it more seriously if we got a bunch of good guys/girls with nice things to say and they’d offer me to join up to collaborate. But me? Alone? Talking about games and stuff? No. My wife gets enough of that. No need to subject the Internet to it.

Are you pleased with how your contribution to Kill Ten Rats has been received in the blogosphere?

To be perfectly honest I have NFC how my contribution to KTR has been received in the blogosphere. :) To me, any comments that are not “What you wrote is a crock of **** ” mean that my contribution was well received.

So I guess it’s been more or less well received, overall. Every a broken clock gives the right time twice a day.

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

You better believe it. Lots of things.

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

Nothing but to just go ahead and do it, because it’s fun, enjoyable and there’s not a thing to lose. If there’s something the Internet has proven is that anyone can have an audience, not matter how simple or inane you think what you have to say is, or how niche the interests you want to talk about might be. There’s always an audience.

The second advice would be not to expect that said audience will be big, or that you’ll somehow, remotely be in contact with any sort of money because of blogging. Don’t count on it.

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

Yes, definitely.

No, wait…

Hell yes, definitely.

You wake up to a world where you are the head of a company developing an MMO. You have unlimited funds and resources available to you. Please describe the kind of game you would make.

If I told you it would totally spoil the surprise when we actually go ahead and do it. So, pass on this one. No spoilers.

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One Response to “One shot: Julian”

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