Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

One shot: Zoso

Posted by Randolph Carter on August 6, 2009

MMO community connection:

Killed in a smiling accident

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

At the risk of going a bit Bernard Shaw, to quote myself: “… at KiaSA we cover the whole gamut of human experience. MMORPGs, MMOFPSs, other MMOGs, online (but not massively multiplayer) games, offline games, generally offline games with an online component, generally online games but with an offline mode, you name it, every facet of life on the planet. Books (game novelisations, or books about gaming), television programmes (that ideally feature games), films (so long as someone plays a game at some point), music (in games), comedy (why did the chicken cross the road? Because it was a tier 3 player in a tier 1 zone and wanted to get to the other side, *badum tish*), I could go on. Though don’t ask me to.”

Basically whatever we fancy posting about, which usually seems to involve games somewhere along the line.

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

It was City of Heroes fairly soon after launch in 2004; I’d been vaguely aware of MMOGs before that, but hadn’t had a broadband connection. I’m not really sure why it was City of Heroes, it hadn’t even been properly released in the UK. I remember it was mentioned in a Slashdot comment, I Googled around a bit, found that you could purchase an account online and download the client, and that was it.

It was quite a disorienting experience; the introductory tutorial covered movement, combat and the like, which was simple enough, but on being turned out into the brave new world of the game proper it was apparent there was plenty it hadn’t included, like multiple chat channels and the difference between Local/Broadcast/Tells, strange concepts such as “aggro” and “tanking”, and a new vocabulary (I’d never seen “grats” before, and conversations didn’t make much sense until I figured out it was a contraction of “congratulations” rather than some variant of “gratitude”).

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

Probably coming out of that tutorial and pitching up in Atlas Park, the starter zone, when it twigged that all these other characters running around were controlled by actual humans.

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

Yup, definitely. I periodically burn out on game genres, MMOGs being no exception. I’m on something of an MMO break at the moment, keeping busy with Empire: Total War, Grand Theft Auto IV and various incarnations of Guitar Hero.

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

I suppose technically I started blogging on LiveJournal around 2002; I kept in touch with someone on there who went to “friends only” mode after some slightly creepy cyberstalking, and sorted out a sign-up to keep up with their posts. Seeing as I had the account I figured I might as well write a diary/journal/blog but ran out of steam pretty quickly, it never really occurred to me to post about games.

It was late 2006 that I started MMOG blogging, I was searching for information on jewel crafting in the then-in-beta Burning Crusade and Google threw up a post on Tobold’s blog; like I said, it had never occurred to me that you could blog all about games, so that was a bit of a road-to-Damascus moment. I followed Tobold and some other MMO bloggers for a while, made the odd comment here and there, and one day I was on paragraph seven of a particularly lengthy reply to another comment when I figured there was enough in there for a blog post of its own, so I signed up at Blogspot and started “MMOG Musings”, where I mused, about MMOGs.

That lasted until 2008 when I was going through one of my MMOG burnout phases and realised that “MMOG Musings” was a bit of a restrictive title; I was thinking of retitling the blog, or setting up a non-gaming blog in parallel, and talking things over with Melmoth who’d also been on a bit of a break from his Inferno blog. He suggested a joint, non-subject-specific blog, a bit of brainstorming came up with “Killed in a Smiling Accident” as a title from a Fry & Laurie sketch and we’ve never looked back since, which has made reversing into traffic somewhat hazardous.

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

Realistically, just a hobby. In odd moments of daydream I like to imagine the BBC on the phone wanting to turn the KiaSACast into a Radio 4 comedy series while a Hollywood mogul proffers a massive briefcase stuffed with cash for the film rights, but I’m usually to busy to talk to them what with playing drums at the next Led Zeppelin live show (thanks to those vital skills learned in Guitar Hero World Tour) and entertaining Angelina Jolie and Olivia Wilde who’d just turned up with 30 litres of custard, a feather duster and… *ahem*, sorry, got slightly distracted there.

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

Not really, just to blog when inspiration strikes, and real life allows.

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

If you’re blogging as a hobby and it feels like a grind then I believe the expression in the vernacular to be “ur doing it wrong”. There’s no sense in chuntering out posts just for the sake of it; being a multi-author blog is particularly helpful for when inspiration seems to naff off on holiday to Bognor Regis as the other guy usually steps in (unless our collective inspiration hired a mini-bus for the holiday).

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?

A lot of it is just writing, I enjoyed writing from back at school, but you don’t need to do so much of when working in software (user instructions don’t count), so blogging fills a gap there. Course, if it was just the writing there’d be no need to publish any of it on the web, so I guess there’s an element of wanting validation or approval, I reckon most (all?) bloggers get a nice warm feeling when someone leaves a nice comment or links to your posts (so long as the link isn’t “Look what this moron vomited onto a blog!”)

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

There isn’t really anything that sticks out from the blogging itself, there’s quite a few posts I’m fairly pleased with, but not a single, defining moment. Broadening it slightly to “stuff tangentially connected with blogging”, probably meeting up with Van Hemlock and Jon from the Van Hemlock Podcast, and realising they actually lived close enough to make regular pub visits practical.

Did you find it difficult to go from blogging into podcasting?

Not in the slightest, easiest thing in the world, I just fired up Skype and burbled away for a while. This might have something to do with Melmoth putting in all the hard work of reading the guides, setting up the recording software, recording the burblings, spending much time editing them into something listenable, setting up a libsyn account to distribute it, designing the logo and getting it onto iTunes.

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

Absolutely, the lovely people who take the time to link or drop by and comment, both bloggers and non-bloggers, generally seem to enjoy it, though of course we DELETE DISSENTING OPINION AND BAN THEIR IP ADDRESS which helps. (Course not, just kidding; we actually block-ban the whole IP range. Whole countries sometime. Nobody from Albania is allowed to comment any more after someone pointed out a split infinitive in an early post.)

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

I really can’t think of anything I’d change, which I suspect is either a sign of stupendous genius in making exactly the right decisions at every step, or rather more likely that the whole business is pretty inconsequential and it wouldn’t really matter.

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

Go for it! What’s the worst that can happen? (Bearing in mind any laws relating to defamation or libel, natch.) It’s all of five minutes to set up a site in Blogger or WordPress or similar; if it works out, great, if not, never mind.

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

Certainly; there’s the future where I’m scavenging for food in the wasteland while avoiding hunter-killer robots, for example, I don’t think I’d have much time for blogging in that one.

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.

Hrm. Solutions aren’t really my forte, I’m more of a problems guy (“don’t give me solutions, give me problems!”), so I’ll steal Melmoth’s idea of a Battletech MMO: the cockpit controls from the old Mechwarrior games with big chunks of EVE (the skill system, wide range of ship/vehicles with different roles and being able to tinker with their configuration, a “safe” area that’s generally PvE-centric, PvP-centric “contested” areas with territory that can be claimed by player organisations), and the customisation of APB for your pilot and vehicle. With unlimited funds, though, I might get slightly distracted as the first round of developer hiring would bring in Angelina Jolie, Olivia Wilde, 30 litres of custard and a feather duster…

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4 Responses to “One shot: Zoso”

  1. [...] Zoso [...]

  2. [...] the transition to podcasting and 30 litres of custard and a feather duster, take a look at my One Shot. And if you want to understand just how bloggers will destroy the world, Melmoth explains all in [...]

  3. [...] Zoso [...]

  4. [...] in a Smiling Accident is a blog that myself and m’colleague Zoso decided to create because our own personal blogs were very MMO-centric and we weren’t sure we [...]

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