Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Archive for the ‘Podcaster’ Category

One shot: an interview with Rubi Bayer

Posted by Randolph Carter on September 2, 2010

Rubi Bayer is a staff writer for Massively.com as well as the co-host for the podcasts Massively Speaking and GuildCast. Here Rubi discusses her job at Massively, her podcasting endeavors, being a parent of online gamers and what in particular she’s most looking forward to with Guild Wars 2.

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Could you explain what you do at Massively.com and how you came to be working there?

I am the lead writer and columnist for Guild Wars/Guild Wars 2 and Dungeons and Dragons Online. I write about a huge range of games every day — whatever comes up that’s newsworthy, but my main focus is there. I also join Shawn on the Massively Speaking podcast most weeks.

Ooh, how I came to work there. That’s a story that is probably only exciting to me! In short, I waited until there was an open call for new writers on the site, and I applied, along with the rest of the free world. It felt like an endless process — due in large part to my impatience — but eventually I made it to the short list and had an interview with Shawn and Elizabeth Harper (who at the time was Editor-in-Chief of Massively). We covered a wide range of topics and questions, including “Here is a press release. Write up a news post about it including links. You have 20 minutes, we’ll wait. Go.”

Then they both thanked me nicely and said they’d be in touch. I held my breath for a few weeks, and on September 17, 2009, Shawn made the job offer. It was easily one of the most exciting things to happen to me in recent years. (Thanks, Liz and Shawn, for giving me the chance!)

Are you pleased with how your contributions there have been received?

I really am. There is the standard daily ration of internet anger, and some days some of it rebounds onto me, but in the end, I’m writing about something that I love and that is communicated to Massively’s readers.

Horror stories abound about working for Shawn “Satan” Schuster. Is working for this slave driver as horrible as it sounds?

I imagine he’ll read this, so I have to tread carefully. He hasn’t fed the attack dogs for three days now. No, seriously, he’s pretty good to work for. The guy has no patience with all of that standard office BS of blowing smoke and dancing around issues, so you never have any doubt about where you stand. If there’s an issue he pretty much will let you know immediately and work with you to fix it. So while it’s not always sunshine and rainbows, it’s honest and it’s made me a better writer. This of course, is on the rare occasion when there IS a problem. Most of the time he’s in there messing around and laughing with all of us, and it makes for a pretty good work environment, virtually speaking.

Plus, he’s very passionate about this job, and really encourages us to go for well-written, interesting pieces rather than “What will boost our numbers the most?” So you won’t find us posting pictures of a young woman in Pikachu underpants and pretending it’s news about cosplay, but you’ll find actual MMO news. Crazy, huh? He’s got a great vision for the site.

In anticipation of Guild Wars 2, the venerable GuildCast has been resurrected, and you’re now the co-host. How did this all come about?

It was an interesting process. I’d known for a while that Shawn was planning to resurrect GuildCast, but he originally had a different co-host in mind. With his schedule, finding time to edit and publish yet another podcast wasn’t in the cards, and I have exactly zero editing capabilities. He’s got a friend who does have those capabilities, and had planned to co-host it with that guy, with me as a guest on the show sometimes. That fell through due to the other guy’s lack of time, and I stepped in. I still can’t edit, so Shawn wound up doing it. :-( I think it’s not so bad, though. Hopefully.

How do you like podcasting?

Oh, it’s fun. It’s just an hour or two a week of sitting around chatting with a friend about something we’re both interested in, so it comes easily.

I take it this is not exactly new to you?

Well not any more, no. ;-) About a year and a half ago, Shawn asked me to be a guest on Massively Speaking. I was completely terrified, but it was all about Guild Wars/Guild Wars 2, so how could I refuse? That was my first podcasting experience (We do not count the wretched voice work I did once back on the old GuildCast.) I also do a very very infrequent podcast with my darling husband Kev — we keep trying to find the time to sit down together and do it more often — so I settled into podcasting in baby steps over the past two years.

What was your first MMO and what was that experience like?

Does Legend of the Red Dragon count? Because that was FUN. I played my one-hour limit every single day, and eventually went to a meetup of local players. If it does not count, then it was Guild Wars. I was a Sims player for years, and Kev heard about GW on GuildCast, so he bought Prophecies for something to play while I was playing Sims. (Hey, don’t knock Sims, those are awesome games.) I actually still remember lying on the couch reading a book, and glancing over at Kev to see this beautiful scene on his screen. That was Pre-Searing. I asked him if I could give it a try and I never looked back.

Would you mind sharing a particularly enjoyable gaming experience?

Yes, I would. Oh, wait, no. Honestly, I’m pretty social, so the height of gaming fun for me isn’t one specific thing. Rather, it’s when I’ve got a full group of guild mates, and we’re tearing through content, laughing and having fun on Vent. If you want a specific example, last night I was playing Guild Wars with five guild mates, including a married couple I’ve known since my early GW days. We were working through the three primary War in Kryta bounties, but six of us wanted to participate, and none of us were healers. Six people in this area of the game is a full party. No more room.

We were doing this in hard mode. With no healers. We did not even care. One of the elementalists went monk secondary and filled her bar with heals, and off we went. About halfway through I remembered (the hard way) that the character I was using did not have infused armor. We were almost crying with laughter on Vent, dying right and left, but we got the job done. It’s all about the journey, and the company you take with you.

You’ve mentioned before that your family happen to be gamers. From a parent’s standpoint, how do you monitor your children’s game play?

The computers in our home are pretty much designed for a complete lack of privacy. Except for my work computer, they’re all in the main room of our house and Kev and I can see what they’re up to at a glance. My 13-year-old got a laptop of her own for Christmas last year, so we’re a little more vigilant. I’m less worried about the parenting psychobabble of giving her some space and allowing her to find herself and blah blah blah than I am about her getting into a bad situation, so I snoop. I keep a close eye on who she’s talking to, who she’s playing with, what they’re doing, and so on.

I guess that’s not a gameplay-specific thing. Guild Wars and Free Realms are their games of choice. In Guild Wars, the rule is they play in offline mode and they only group with family members. The 13 year old has been playing for several years now, and she’s older, so we’ve changed that rule for her in the past year or so to allow her to group with people we know, if one of us is also in the group. In Free Realms, the three of them have formed a guild together, and while they interact with the other players to a limited extent, they mostly keep to themselves.

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

Grow a thick skin. Seriously. If you take to heart all the stuff that readers say to and about you, you’re doomed. It’s easier said than done, because some of what shows up in my inbox still stings, but you’ve got to keep the source in mind. Much of the time, a little bit of digging will reveal that the worse the comment or email is, the more consistently bitter and trollish the person is. It’s usually a reflection of his or her own general anger or disappointment, and the sooner you realize that and learn to throw it off, the better off you’ll be.

Now. On the other hand, if you screw up and get called on it by these people, that does not apply. Take it graciously, acknowledge your mistake, thank them for setting you right, fix it, and learn from it going forward. (And you’re gonna screw up at some point. It just happens. You’re only human. Don’t beat yourself up.)

How about podcasting?

Find a subject you truly care about and are knowledgeable about. If I podcasted about… uh, I don’t know, the paper-making industry, it would suck. I don’t care about the paper-making industry and I know nothing about it, except that I’ve heard that paper mills smell bad. You’re only going to be good if you are passionate about your subject and you know what you’re talking about.

If you’re podcasting with a co-host or two, ideally you want to find someone you click with and are comfortable with. I hope I’m not giving away some sort of uber hush-hush trade secret when I say that Shawn and I have no script when we do Massively Speaking and GuildCast, nothing. We go over our subjects literally the same morning. We get a list of things we want to talk about (in the case of Massively Speaking Shawn pulls together the top news stories from the previous weeks), read through them, and go. It works because we’re not awkward with one another, and because we’re not thinking too hard about “Okay, now at 14:37 you need to mention TERA’s business model, and at 14:52 I will ask you a question about it…” Just have fun with it while being informative.

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

I’d take my own advice more often. I learned fast because I was pretty much greeted at Massively from day one by angry readers, and to this day, my worst bouts of job burnout happen when I allow the negativity in my inbox to get to me. I have the all-too-human tendency to focus on the negativity. A hundred people could rant and rave in one day about how much they love my work, and one person could write a diatribe about how much they loathe me. I have to force myself not to focus on that one.

Ruby Bear...oh wait...

Otherwise, I don’t know. I’m extremely happy with the past year, and feel like I’ve done well. I’d maybe pull back a little bit. For a while there I was working 7 days a week, from 5AM until 11PM, racing back and forth between the computer and the family/household, and… man I was tired. It was too much. I still work a LOT, but it’s a better balance these days.

And last but certainly not least, what has got you most excited about Guild Wars 2?

The world of Tyria. More than classes, more than combat, more than anything, I want to explore every nook and cranny and see how this virtual world that I love so much has changed. Back in March I wrote an edition of Flameseeker Chronicles (my GW/GW2 column on Massively) speculating all about the world we’d see in Ghosts of Ascalon, and I had so much fun with that.

The developers recently mentioned “legacy” areas, and I was incredibly excited about that. The ruins of the Temple of the Ages and places like that will absolutely be my favorites.

Posted in Podcaster, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

One shot: Frank Sanchez

Posted by Randolph Carter on August 20, 2009

MMO community connection:

Overly Positive

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

If I was writing in the “voice” of Overly Positive, I’d say that people are just SO jaded and cynical these days. Genuine excitement and praise has long since been ridiculed as being as blind as a kid playing pin the tail on the jackass. At Overly Positive, we bring back the idea that being happy isn’t just a good thing, it’s a great and less stressful thing, too. Let the rest of the Internet have their “rants” and their “nerd rage” – at this blog, even the equivalent of nuclear fallout is actually a good thing from a certain perspective (hey look – real estate opportunities!).

In reality, I’m generally an optimist – or, that failing, I don’t really sweat the small stuff. Murphy has ruled with his Law for quite some time, and bad things will happen. Geeky society has moved from being socially outcast to being wry and quick-witted. When it comes to the geek media – things like sci-fi, gaming, comic books, and TV shows – geeks tend to be passionate, and in some cases, as angry and sarcastic as the worst mainstream sports fan or “normal” person. I’m basically filling a niche that basically says, “it’s not a big deal, and in fact there’s something good to be gotten out of anything.”.

Allow me to quote from your about page: “Ever wonder if bloggers sometimes have their cereal pissed in every day to have the hate they do.” I guess that would explain my hatred, but how do you manage to remain so “positive?”

Well, people have accused me of everything from having brain surgery to extract the hate to certain recreational drugs. The real key is just in attitude and seeing “the big picture”. Whether you’re talking about a game you play or the TV shows you watch or the tech things that you build, if you’re a geek you’re doing these things because they’re fun – because they provide you with some kind of entertainment and joy. Simply put, if you’re angry enough that you’re not having fun, or you’re not enjoying yourself, why waste effort and blood vessels being pissed about it? It’s just not practical, and the rather cathartic feeling you get from screaming, yelling, or typing a post on the Internet to someone insulting them and their progeny is simply short term.

I just don’t let a lot bother me. Years of being a moderator on various forums, where insults are as regular as a bathroom break, might have helped this, though.

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

I first technically got into MMOs before they were really “massive”, back when I played MUDs. Gemstone III and various free to play text-based adventures were my introduction to online role-playing games. Then when Ultima Online came out, I jumped on board that, and the rest is history.

You know, back in those days, the unforgiving nature of these kinds of games was simply a fact that you lived with. There was permanent loss of your loot, there was player-killing, and there was having to retrieve your naked corpse from the worst places, where possibly being eaten by a monster inspired by a grue was the least of your worries. These were the kinds of things that were expected when you played MMOs, so there wasn’t a huge culture shock or surprise at engaging in MMOs. Frankly, I experienced more of a shock when I realized that I could actually keep my hard-earned armor or that death was as meaningful as a walk in the park.

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

I think when the first MMOs that really started utilizing the ability of a graphics card came out, like Everquest, was when there were “wow” moments – small ones, like seeing a zone load the first time, or watching a ton of players killing mobs in a zone. But nothing beats your very first raid, where you come upon a boss monster so huge and epic it seems to dwarf your party. These are always “wow” moments for two reasons – one, because the encounter is likely to not be one that you’ve experienced before and two, because you almost certainly die in a matter of moments.

If possible, list all the MMOs you’ve played extensively. Please start from the beginning and work your way up to the present.

Well now you’re just asking for it. In order of appearance:

  • Gemstone III
  • Ultima Online
  • Everquest
  • Earth and Beyond
  • EVE
  • Final Fantasy XI
  • Dark Age of Camelot
  • City of Heroes/Villains
  • World of Warcraft
  • Warhammer Online

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

When I was a senior officer and co-raid leader for the guild Templar Knights on Archimonde/Mug’thol in WoW, that was probably the peak time of my play. There, I was spending at least 35 hours a week raiding, planning, dealing with logistics or drama, or farming.

These days, with a lot of different (and more important) things in my life, including being married, having a job, paying my mortgage, and generally being suckered into internet community projects, it’s more like 8-10 hours a week. Yep – I’ve become a casual player, and perhaps that might actually help me not be so mad at certain things.

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

Sure – mostly with console games, though. I was a console gamer long before I was a PC or MMO player, with the Atari 2600 to the 360/PS3/Wii generation progression under my belt. I favor RPGs because they tend to last longer for me at my current playtime per week.

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

Overly Positive has really only been around a little over a year, but I’ve been actually writing and putting my thoughts to the internet for maybe 7 years now. Like most people, I started out with more personal blogging on Live Journal, then moved to other, brief projects in writing that honestly aren’t worth mentioning until the advent of Overly Positive, where I felt I really found a voice that, despite being an exaggerated parody of myself, was one I was comfortable with.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t been tasked to write for other projects. For a few years I ran a 14,000 page site called AnimeInfo.org, which provided reviews, articles, and guides to the anime and manga industry. I also got into the wonderful and crazy world of convention planning, where I managed to provide significant roles (some of which involved me having to sound coherent on paper) through running departments and even chairing the events as a whole. Currently, I’ve put my community management experience to work as a contractor for Curse.com, where I serve as Assistant Site Manager for Warhammer Online fansite Warhammer Alliance. Among other things, I occasionally write OP-ED pieces about WAR under the name PhoenixRed for that site.

If you hadn’t noticed already, these kinds of things explain why I only play 8-10 hours a week now.

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

I enjoy writing positive articles and introducing a little bit of sun (even when it’s a bit purposefully overbearing and bombastic) into my corner of the Internet. I’ve honestly always enjoyed writing and blogging in general – this probably comes as no surprise considering my undergraduate degree is in English.

To be honest, if it became something more – and certain doors have been opened to that effect already – then I’d be quite happy. I see writing/blogging as more of a side project with side income, rather than a full-on job, per se, but finding a niche and a place that would be happy to have someone like me would definitely be exciting. Places like The Escapist and Destructoid feature passionate, prolific, and entertaining writers all the time, and someday, I wouldn’t mind joining their ranks.

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

The only hard and fast rule is at least one post a day. This is mostly to exercise my writing muscle, keep my pen sharp, and keep my content on Overly Positive fresh, of course. Typically on a day when I post, I’ll scour Google Reader for the blogs and sites that I keep up with. If I see something that strikes my fancy and could use a bit of sunny optimism, I write about it. The most times I post in a day usually doesn’t exceed three – once in the morning, once at lunch, and once in the evening. In the midst of that, I also take the time out to visit the various blogs I follow and leave comments for them. You’d be surprised at how having someone care enough to leave a comment can energize them to write more – and how they can reciprocate in kind by reading and leaving one for yours.

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

There’s only a grind when you feel constricted, or have writer’s block about blogging. There’ve been times during Overly Positive when I just couldn’t inspire myself to write about something positive for the day. Sometimes it’s a mental thing, other times it’s other priorities, but blogging can become a real chore when that happens.

To be honest, if you are struggling with blogging, it’s usually best to take a break – clear your head, try to find that creative muse, and come back to it when you feel you can do it without really thinking about it. There are times I look at posts I make and don’t realize that I’ve posted 3 times in a day. When you can crank out articles, it’s a good sign for your future writing inspiration.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?

Blogging is a permanent marker of your thoughts and ideas, committed to virtual ink and placed on the Internet for all to see. I think that a lot of times, we verbalize or think about something really profound, or really exciting, or really funny, and the really crappy thing is, it’s gone within hours, or sometimes minutes. When you blog, you’re creating an archive of your ideas and things that strike you, for reference or for simply getting it off of your chest. The experience is cathartic for a lot of people, which is why rant blogs are so popular and well-read – they’re an explosion of thought and ideas that many people can identify with when reading.

While massive readership is not needed to feel good about blogging, the fact that you have an audience of sorts is nice, because it validates that people find what you write meaningful. I have extremely limited readership for Overly Positive right now – but even for the 25 or so readers that hit up my feed, I find pleasure in making their day a bit more interesting with my quirky and thoughtful posting style.

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

Whenever someone actually attempts to insult me on Overly Positive, I always respond with a kind of unnerving, perhaps even annoying kindness that fits with the voice of my writing. There was an article I wrote about what happened in Final Fantasy XI with a certain boss that one guild attempted for 18 hours. No, that’s not a typo – they were really raiding for 18 hours, to the point that some of them were physically getting ill from the effort. Now, I wrote on this particular issue in my own way, which is to say that I heaped unnatural praise for neglecting basic health needs and being generally insane. Well, apparently my bright attitude didn’t go over well with the FFXI community, who proceeded to roast me over the coals for being so sarcastically taunting. Thing is, every hate-filled comment I got was responded to with a blinding ray of sunshine and a huge virtual grin, and in some cases, it was disarming. I even got a comment from an FFXI GM. It was great.

Ever since then, I’ve had an Overly Positive Thoughts feature on Thursdays, where I provide the same kind of all-caps “THIS IS AWESOME” optimism to some of the worst pieces of news on the Net. Most people get the joke. Most.

Have you had any experience with podcasting? If so, what has that been like?

Over at Warhammer Alliance, we have a regular biweekly podcast. We’ve just passed 16 episodes and don’t seem to be in any danger of stopping anytime soon. I love podcasting, to be honest, and so do my co-hosts, who’ve also never done podcasting prior to this endeavor. Podcasting has been a challenge to overcome technical issues, features that didn’t work out, and commentary that has been a backlash to certain topics, but it has also been fulfilling and fun. Podcasting is sort of like blogging on steroids – the most interesting podcasts are a stream of shared consciousness from individuals with unique and interesting personalities. Even with a talented editor or producer, when you’re podcasting you’re kind of “blogging” without a safety net, because writing at least gives you the opportunity to better edit your own content. By contrast, your brain may cause your mouth to say something that might get you in trouble later (I didn’t mean to imply Halflings were only good for stew, honest).

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

There’s a Japanese saying that says “There’s always someone better”. Seems pessimistic, sure, but the real message is that you should never be satisfied with the status quo. I like my humble little readership, but I’d love to reach out to more people, collaborate with them, and promote their projects too, which is why I’m more than happy to do this interview for this particular blog. Honestly, I’m not quite 100% with how I’ve been writing, but the constant comments and well wishes really are an encouragement to keep tuning under the hood.

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

Probably not. Maybe I would have picked a wittier name, but boy, searching for the right domains has gotten so troublesome these days.

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

Sure – when I’m in my grave and dead. My own geeky tendencies, combined with my current online project responsibilities and my chosen profession in Information Technology, mean that I’m always going to be near a keyboard, which means I might as well do something worthwhile with it. No one can really predict the future, but for now, me and my optimism aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Posted in Blogger, Podcaster, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

One shot: Mike Schramm

Posted by Randolph Carter on August 10, 2009

MMO community connection:

mikeschramm.com | WoW.com | WoW Insider Show

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

That’s a long list. I first started writing online with a review site that I put together with a few of my friends, where we’d review anything and everything, from games to movies to food. After a while, my friends stopped doing it, but I was still interested in it, so I switched over to my own site, mikeschramm.com. But I used clips from there to get a job at a newspaper here in Chicago, and then used that reputation to work at a PR firm, and then expanded that into my current freelance status. Right now, I blog and write for whoever will take me, but the majority of my work comes from a few blogs with AOL, including WoW.com, Joystiq, and TUAW. And I still blog for myself about just random things at mikeschramm.com, as well as working on a podcast over there called The Modern World, about technology, modern society, and whatever else I find interesting.

It appears you’re no stranger to podcasting either. Would you care to discuss all the the projects you’ve been involved in here as well?

Right. Well The Modern World is a pretty new invention, just something to keep me busy with all of the interesting stuff I hear about from elsewhere on the Internet. A friend of mine named Luke Lindberg and I used to do a podcast called Happy Time, which more or less just ended up being something for our friends to listen to — we did 25 episodes of it, and then found we didn’t really have the time in common to do it regularly any more. More recently I’ve been involved in podcasting on most of the blogs I’ve worked for, so I developed and co-host the WoW.com podcast (called The WoW Insider Show), and I will often show up and sometimes host on the TUAW podcast (called the TUAW Talkcast, as they run the podcast through talkshoe.com). Other than that, I enjoy showing up as a guest on other shows, and have recently worked with a radio station here in Chicago to provide them with some videogame-related interviews.

And so, where do you find the time to do all of this and I assume live a life along with it?

Good question. I don’t know where I find the time — for better or worse, I’m the kind of person that isn’t ever satisfied with just sitting there. If I find myself with regular free time, I usually plan something else or try to take on another project that I’ve been meaning to do. In the long run, it’s probably a bad idea — I often find myself committed to what’s probably more than I can handle, and there are many days when I work late nights and have to get up the next morning to do something else. But on the other hand, I’m most happy when I’m busy. And I do really try to balance things out, scheduling in some actual game playing (rather than just writing or podcasting about games), or getting out of the house to exercise or go out with friends.

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

My first MMO was actually Dark Age of Camelot. It was a strange experience — I was instantly hooked, both overwhelmed with how big the game world was (and how many different things you could do with one character), and astounded by the fact that just walking around in the game could lead you to see and interact with other people playing right alongside you. It was a little awkward, both because the game had major issues (this was back when, after each fight, you had to sit and wait for your health and mana to regen, remember), and because the people I played with were almost just as confused about what they were doing as I was. But I got the idea of it, the idea of interacting in a game world with all these other people, and I was sold on that right away.

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

The first real “wow!” moment was probably in one of Dark Age’s battlegrounds (at least I think that’s what they were called, I can’t remember all that terminology any more). There was a center keep that you had to claim, and I was in there with a random group of people and suddenly just took charge of the group — I started assigning people to targets and telling people when to push forward and when to stick together and heal up. And people actually listened to me, and within a matter of minutes, we had actually conquered the battleground, all because we’d worked together as a team and stuck to a strategy. That was pretty amazing to me — after the battle was done, I had to stand up and go out into my apartment’s kitchen just to tell my roommate what happened. He didn’t exactly understand (“There’s this castle, see? And we worked together to take it over!”), but it was pretty thrilling for me, having worked together and accomplished something as a team.

Of course, nowadays, almost every game has some form of online co-op, and you can play with people all over the world, doing almost anything you want. But before DAoC, it had basically been Counterstrike and Quake for me — team deathmatch was the most complicated that team gameplay had gotten. Joining up with a bunch of people and using all of these spells and skills to conquer a castle was a big deal.

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

I get distracted pretty easily, so I tend to visit MMOs in cycles. If I’m not really into them for whatever reason, I probably only play about four or five hours a week, usually just a few daily quests, an auction house check, or an instance run grabbed on the weekend. But every couple of months, I hit on something that really interests me (either a new content patch, or a big milestone for one of my characters), and then I really get back into it and play obsessively. At that point, I’m maybe playing about twenty hours a week, maybe a few hours a night and then lots of hours on the weekends. But it’s very cyclical — even when I’m really into it, and grinding out the levels or getting all of the pieces together for something that I really want to craft, there’s no guarantee that a week or two later, I won’t have found something else to play and obsess about, and at that point the MMO goes on the back burner in terms of playtime.

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

I don’t know that I’ve experienced “burnout” — I’ve never played so much that I don’t want to play any more. Usually, it’s a factor of time (work picks up and I don’t have any time to play) or getting distracted into something else (a new console game or a new project that I’m really into). I think WoW in particular (and the MMO genre in general) is so big, though, that it’s really tough to get burned out on it. Even if you’re burned out on raiding, then PvP can be a nice change from that, and if you’re burned out playing one class, there are many more to try out and level up, and if you’re burned out on fighting, then cooking or fishing or any of the professions might interest you. And by the time you’ve done all of that and conquered everything in the game, then odds are that a new patch has come out and added in more content, or changed a bunch of the things you thought you knew. It’s tough to burn out on a game that’s so complex — behind every corner, there’s another mechanic to get invested in and max out.

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

Yes, all of the above. I’m always interested in new games — I have an Xbox and a Wii, and I’m usually playing one or two of the latest games on each. Lately, it’s mostly MMOs on the PC for me, though I’ve really enjoyed Demigod lately, and Civ always has a place on my harddrive. And yes, I like tabletop gaming as well — my D&D group has fallen off lately, but I have a few boardgaming friends who are always aiming to try out new things they’ve found on Boardgamegeek, or just play a good old Settlers game.

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

At this point, blogging is really my job, though I’ve always maintained that I’m a writer rather than a blogger. I’m not into the whole blogger/journalist comparison at all — I believe that each site, each outlet has its own voice and audience, and that when you sit down to write words for a specific audience, you’re talking to them, not succumbing to some role that’s been traditionally laid out for you. People argue whether bloggers are formal or informal, or whether there’s some objectivity they don’t have to follow that journalists do. But I don’t think that’s a valid or worthwhile comparison — when you’re talking to an audience, they expect certain things of you (formality, objectivity, the ability to be clear and concise, and so on), and it’s your job to meet those expectations.

Not to mention that “blogging” comes from the original term “weblog,” which was actually just a list of links to interesting sites on the Internet, with little or no commentary at all. So yes, I’d say blogging is more than a hobby, but really it’s all just writing. Other than the medium, I don’t think there’s any major difference between what writers are doing right now or at any other time in human history — you consider your audience, and you try to say things that are interesting and applicable and true and important to them. If you can pull that off, you’re doing it right.

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

I get up, I find things to write about, I eat breakfast, and then I write about most of them. I take a break for lunch (and go work out if I have the time), and then I come back for more writing. On good, easy days, I am done by dinner, and can find some other useful way to enjoy my evening (usually doing my own personal writing and/or extra podcasting), and on busy days, I spend even more time writing after dinner. That’s really general — it seems more varied and interesting than that as I’m doing it.

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

Well there’s really a grind to everything we do: I always say that even the guy whose job it is to test rollercoasters gets up in the morning and says, “Aww man, I can’t believe I have to ride the Batman ride again.” No matter how enjoyable your job is, it’s still work. But my job is really enjoyable, and that makes all of the little job things that everyone deals with that much easier to handle.

Plus, if things just aren’t working for the day, that’s when it’s time to go for a walk or get some exercise. Getting away and coming back to things later usually helps.

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

Well obviously that I get to tell people what I think. There’s never any guarantee they’ll listen or care, but as you can probably tell from how long this interview has become already, I get a lot of pleasure out of just speaking my mind. That, and more often than not, people send along good feedback. Not necessarily positive feedback, but even the well-constructed criticism is kind of fun to get — it means people are at least consuming and digesting what you’re putting out there.

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

We’ve had quite a few meetups with the various sites now, and every one of them has been a real pleasure. I probably freak out readers who come, because I’m almost more interested than they are in what they have to say — I always actively ask them how they use the sites, what they think of what we’re doing, and if there are things we could do better. I’m always amazed, too, by the different types of people who read our work. And the quality of who they are — you might not be able to tell from our comments section all of the time, but in my experience, our readers are the cream of the crop in terms of how extraordinarily nice and intelligent they are. They come from all different jobs and backgrounds, but everyone I’ve met, to a person, always seems to know very well what they’re doing and who they are.

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

This will be a “yes, but” answer: Yes. But then again, we’re not really writing for the blogosphere, we’re writing for the people who are reading the blogosphere. Some might say that’s the same crowd, but I don’t think it necessarily is. A well-known blogger who’s very vocal about one part of our sites will not necessarily agree with the majority of our audience, and in fact that’s usually what makes them a well-known blogger, in that they have their own long-held opinions and are good at putting them into words. In general, especially with WoW.com and the WoW community, I’m very pleased with how we’ve worked with those bloggers and how we, as one of the largest sites out there, have been able to go above and beyond even what Blizzard has done in terms of connecting — in that community, we’re almost taking the place of an official blog in terms of spotlighting content and reporting on what’s happening around the blogosphere. So yes, I am pleased with how the blogosphere has received my work, but then again, I wrote it for the audience, not necessarily for them. And obviously, they’re a part of it, but they’re definitely not the whole thing or even the majority.

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

I can’t think of anything I’d do differently. That’s not to say that I haven’t made mistakes, I’ve made plenty, but all of the mistakes I’ve made have been pretty helpful. Making a big mistake is like having a big alarm go off in your head, and it alerts you to something you really shouldn’t have done. Sure, if I’d done things differently, I might be able to silence that alarm, but then who knows if whatever it was warning me about would have gone unchecked?

Actually, thinking about it, I never did go to my high school prom. I probably should have done that — I think it would have been embarrassing (the same reason I didn’t bother to go in the first place), but I probably should have done it anyway.

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

Don’t worry about getting an audience — the first thing I learned when I got on the radio was that no matter how much I bugged them and emailed them and reminded them, my friends and family really didn’t tune in to listen to me. Some of them did, but I learned right away that you can’t count on an audience, no matter how close they are to you. You just have to do good work, and do it for a long time, and then an audience will eventually come. Worrying about your hits or about whether an audience is watching or not will only drive you nuts. It takes a long time on even the best projects to build up a significant audience, so you just have to trust in the work you’re doing, keep it consistent and strong, and eventually all of the other things will take care of themselves.

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

One of my goals is to start writing books, so if by some weird stroke of the infinite, I’m blessed enough to become a published author and get a publishing deal where I no longer have to work on daily content, then I might back off of the daily posting and go back to three or four days a week. But no, I’m a writer, and writers write, and that’s what I expect to do for a long time. I love to podcast, too, so I’m as likely to quit that (even if I ever quit getting paid for it) as I am eating.

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.

Oh man. This I have to think about.

*After about a day of thinking.* Try this on for size: the biggest draw, to my mind, of an MMO is just the sheer amount of things to do in it. So I’d try to put together an MMO like Spore (but, you know, good, of course), in that each stage of the game has its own fully-formed game system. When you start out, you’re just a soldier — you can tour the countryside fighting monsters or other enemies, and claiming ground for your “nation.” Or you can be a farmer, taking ownership of some of that claimed ground, and producing crops and resources from it, in a sort of a Harvest Moon-style system. Once you’ve made enough money farming, you can become a merchant, buying and trading and traveling, moving virtual goods around the kingdom (very EVE Online, lots of spreadsheets, etc.). And merchants can use that money to sponsor bureaucrats, who get a big picture view in a kind of Civ-style game of what lands soldiers have recently conquered, what kinds of farms and mines and buildings should go where in the kingdom, and where more forces are needed to fight other player kingdoms. Bureaucrats build farms on land recently claimed by soldiers, which farmers can then move into and cultivate, making money for merchants who can then sponsor more powers for bureaucrats and keep the nation growing.

Of course, some automation will be needed (you can, for example, install an NPC farmer in an unused farm), but there will always be a cost associated with that, because the ideal will always be to have a player (or a player character) running and managing a resource. And of course, everything has to be interesting and polished — maybe the whole world can be wrapped in a kind of a magical fantasy/industrial age setting (I believe there are some online games that do this kind of thing already, but we’d be talking full graphical treatment here, not a browser-based stats game). It’d be extremely tough to balance and keep every part of the game interesting, but you said unlimited funds and resources.

Anyway, you asked. I probably won’t ever get to play that game (until Sid Meier releases an MMO), but maybe I can dream.

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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…

Posted in Blogger, Podcaster | 4 Comments »

Lady Sinaea

Posted by Randolph Carter on June 7, 2009

MMO community connection:

RingCast

Chapter 1: Introduction

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

My name is Astara, but in the podcasting community I’m known as Lady Sinaea.

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

I started podcasting as Shawn Schuster’s co-host on GuildCast, which was all about Guild Wars. These days, my main show is RingCast, which focuses on Lord of the Rings Online. I also have another show called Not Your Average Gamer, which is my outlet to talk about basically anything I feel like, whether be it about gaming or not. I have also appeared on several other podcasts as a guest.

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

I was born in San Francisco, but I don’t live in the city. I grew up and currently live in Silicon Valley.

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

28, 21-30

What do you do for a living?

My official job is doing insurance billing in a medical office, but we’re currently understaffed. So, I cover reception, do diagnostics tests, help oversee physical therapy–you name it–all in addition to my regular work. It’s a miracle I find time to game and podcast at all.

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

That’s something I’m still trying to figure out. If the perfect career jumps out at me, I’ll let you know.

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

  • I like to climb in/on things that I’m not supposed to, rather than walk around them.
  • I met my husband through GuildCast.
  • I type online in full sentences, with capitalization and punctuation.
  • I hate firearms because I get a huge adrenaline rush and a sense of power when I handle one.
  • I find it hard to like myself, even though other people do.

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Jenna

Posted by Randolph Carter on May 14, 2009

MMO community connection:

OMG-RL!1!

Chapter 1: Introduction

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

Jenna. Funnily enough, this is also my real-life name.

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

I am the co-host of OMG-RL!1!

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

Shawn and I give our advice about real life to gamers who don’t mind putting their problems out there for all the world, or our three listeners, to hear. We strongly recommend that people take this advice because we have gathered it by making every single mistake possible in our lives.

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

I was born in Underwood Hospital in Woodbury, New Jersey. I grew up in West Deptford, NJ right next to Woodbury, NJ.

Where do you live now?

Now I live in Harrisburg, PA. This is the state capital of PA. You should know that.

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

I am exactly 35.

What do you do for a living?

I am a computer programmer. YAY! I love it!

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

I would be a computer programmer. YAY! I love it!

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

Isn’t this like that Facebook thing? And since most people reading this have no idea who I am, aren’t there many random and non-random things that are not known about me? Oh well. Let’s see.

  • I have a statue of Mickey Mouse dressed as a Jedi.
  • I’ve lived in 7 states.
  • I once hung myself from a tree (do not do this).
  • I have two Doctor Who scarves knitted by two different men.
  • I’m not that good of thinking of truly random things about myself.

Feel free to discuss any family you have here.

I am an only child, which I highly recommend to everyone. My Mother and Father are actually the best parents on the planet. No, really, that’s actually official.

Posted in Podcaster | Leave a Comment »

Shawn Schuster

Posted by Randolph Carter on May 12, 2009

shawnMMO community connection:

Massively | Massively Speaking | OMG-RL!1!| Through the Aftermath

Chapter 1: Introduction

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

I just go by Shawn. I’ve never been much for alter egos and all that good stuff.

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

I currently do 3 podcasts. Although in total, I’ve been the host of 6 podcasts and an audio book. I’m also the Managing Editor for Massively.

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

Let’s go chronologically, shall we?

- Weisenheimer Radio: This was my very first shot at a podcast where I basically played indie comedy music I found around the net. It lasted about 3 months before I was overwhelmed with the popularity of my second podcast. Even though this podcast totally sucked, it was my first adventure with a podcast interview and I received my first free swag from a wonderful band called Orange Monkey, who I still love.

- GuildCast: This was a podcast all about Guild Wars. Still my most popular podcast to date, even after almost 4 years doing this.

- TabulaCast: I played Tabula Rasa in the beta and loved it, so I decided to make a podcast about it. Had lots of fun with the show and the game, but just couldn’t stay with either.

- Oh My God Real Life: This was started as my show where I could just let loose and say whatever I wanted. It soon evolved (thanks to the addition of my co-host Jenna) into a humorous advice podcast for gamers. It’s really a lot of fun to record and I enjoy the interaction with the gaming community and acting like I have some good advice for them.

- Eve of Adam: This is my first attempt at an audiobook where I presented it more as an ‘in-character’ play than an actual audiobook.

- Massively Speaking: This is the official podcast of Massively.com, started by Michael Zenke and myself a little over a year ago. We cover the top MMO news stories each week, with special guests consisting of developers, community leaders and the rest of the Massively staff.

- Through the Aftermath: My newest podcast that I started up with Jonathan from The Online Gamer’s Anthology. We cover everything post-apocalyptic in media — from games, movies, books, comics and more.

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

I was born in Northwest Indiana, right smack dab in the middle between Gary, IN and south Chicago. Needless to say, I didn’t go outside much, lest I get shot. This is probably the main reason I got so deeply involved in activities that kept me inside.

I moved around quite a bit after college, do the most growing-up in Phoenix, AZ and New Orleans, LA.

Where do you live now?

Tennessee

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

33

What do you do for a living?

Managing Editor for Massively.com

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

I absolutely love my job, and it took me a long time to get here, so I wouldn’t think of rerolling right now.

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

  • I do all the housework at home, except cooking. I can’t cook, but I can wash a mean dish and vacuum the hell out of a carpet.
  • I am saving up to buy a farm.
  • I own 2 cats: Max and Hemi
  • I get anxious when my phone rings because I hate talking on it. I hate texting even more and will usually not answer you if you text me.
  • I consider myself an environmentalist, but my one vice is old cars. I love rebuilding them, watching drag races and going to car shows. Other environmentalists would probably kill me if they knew that.

Feel free to discuss any family you have here.

I have a daughter and a step-daughter. I’m divorced, but living with my girlfriend for about a year now.

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?

Risk, Sorry, Monopoly, Life, Dark Tower. Those are the ones I remember playing with my parents the most. Risk was kind of a right of passage for my family during birthday parties. Once I was allowed to play with the adults, I felt I had become a man.

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

I always hated sports. My dad tried getting me into baseball and wrestling, since he was good at both when he was younger. But I just wasn’t competitive enough to care about winning. I was that kid standing in left field picking grass and looking at bugs.

I started playing drums on my mom’s tupperware when I was about 11, which evolved into drum lessons and an old kit I got at a garage sale when I was 14. Eventually I got into a metal band in high school and we had a nice little following for a while there: studio-produced album, t-shirts, paid concerts… the whole nine yards. Some of the greatest times of my life!

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

I played AD&D with my best friend and a few others when I was in 9th and 10th grade, but I was always afraid my friends in the metal band would find out and make fun of me, so I stopped. I was totally in nerd denial.

Did you read much as a child? If so, what did you like to read (books, comic books, etc?) Please list some favorite authors, titles, etc.

I could read my first book at 3, and my parents loved to bring this up to as many people as they could, as many times as they could. I was fanatic about my GI Joe comics in the mid 80s. I still have them all, too. I never had the attention span to sit down read too many novels though, but my best friend was an avid reader and turned me on to some great stuff like R.A. Salvatore and all the Forgotten Realms books.

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. My best friend’s appreciation of the whole fantasy genre is what got me into it and we immersed ourselves into it with the music we listened to, the drawings we created, the movies we watched and most everything we did.

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

When I turned 10, my (rich) aunt and uncle bought me an Atari 2600. Back then, that was a huge deal because they were expensive, and there’s no way my parents or I could have ever bought that. I would sit and play games like River Raid, Space Jockey, Outlaw, Grand Prix, Vanguard and others religiously.

Not long after, my best friend’s dad got a Commodore 64 and he would let us watch him play Telengard. I was fascinated by it and I’d want to watch him play more than my friend actually would. I saved my allowance for a few months and got a used C64 from the newspaper. This was the fuel that fired my future obsession with RPGs, thanks to SSI’s Gold Box series when I was about 13.

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

There was one arcade near my house, and whenever my parents would drive me and my friend there, we’d spend hours and more quarters than I’d care to remember. Ironically, he met his current wife there, although back then she was just an icky girl and we were more concerned with getting the top score in Golden Axe.

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

Pool of Radiance. It was so amazing to me that I could make a party of adventurers to control against real AI monsters. I went full-force into the RPG genre from here, playing games like Wasteland, Knights of Legend, Bard’s Tale and a few others at every spare second I had.

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

I was never much into consoles. I guess the Atari 2600 could be considered my first, then I had a Sega CD, an Xbox and now a Wii. That’s it.

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

In junior high, I would set my alarm for an hour early every morning so I could play games on my Commodore 64. For anyone who never owned a C64, most of that time was spent booting the darn thing up, but it was totally worth it.

Chapter 3: Online

Were you ever exposed to MUDs?

MUDs played a big part of my life from 1996 until about 2002 or so. I met my ex wife on a MUD, and my current gf on a MUD. This is an unfortunate coincidence, not a creepy dating MUD or anything.

What was your first MMO experience?

I wasn’t really ‘allowed’ much gaming while I was married, so I missed out on things like EverQuest, UO, etc. I remember looking at the boxes on the Best Buy shelves for EQ and even an oldie that got shut down called Motor City Online. I remember reading the back of the boxes thinking “How on earth can they expect people to pay for a game AND a monthly fee?! That’s absolutely insane!”

When Guild Wars came along in 2005, that was my ticket in.

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

  • Guild Wars – Level 20 Necromancer
  • Tabula Rasa - Level 37 Spy
  • Lord of the Rings Online - Level 60 Hunter
  • Runes of Magic – Level 25 Mage/Warrior

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

It’s been LotRO for about a year and a half now, and I have yet to find a game that will bring me away from that for longer than a month or 2.

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

I used to know Guild Wars like the back of my hand, and played it religiously for almost 3 years. I still play it occasionally now, but not nearly as much.

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

Guild Wars and LotRO. If combining the levels of alts counted, I would have reached the cap in Tabula Rasa about 4 times, not counting clones.

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?

LotRO. I want to live in The Shire and grow vegetables all day.

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

Actually, several…

Fallen Earth. The game mechanics of that game are everything I’ve ever wanted in a game since I started (only because I missed the pre-NGE Star Wars Galaxies). I worry about the game though, because it’s being developed by an indie studio which might not be able to handle the inevitably negative comments from the majority of forum trolls who will hate it because it’s not simple and/or World of Warcraft. I hope I’m wrong though, because I like what I see so far.

Global Agenda. I’ve played this game a few times and have had so much fun every time. PvP is not usually my thing, but they make it so fun. That might all change once the teabagging Xbox Live demographic enters the picture, but we’ll see.

Aion. This is NCsoft’s last chance at regaining a positive public opinion. I hope they can pull it off, so that development will follow through on their next big title…

Guild Wars 2. I will buy this game even if every game reviewer out there said it was the worst game they’ve ever played. I love ArenaNet and I love what they’re capable of making. I have high hopes that GW2 will be huge.

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

I have loads of these stories, mostly because I never pay attention when I’m playing. I fall off cliffs, aggro unwanted monsters and get left behind many times. One day I’ll learn to turn off my IM client and concentrate on playing. One day.

Chapter 4: Preferences

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

At my peak, I would play Guild Wars 6-7 hours after work every night. Now, it’s down to about 2 hours a day across many games

When during the week are your regular play times?

I dabble throughout the day when I get the itch, but the only times I play for more than 30 mins at a time are usually after 10pm EST. I don’t really play on weekends at all, because that’s family time.

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 usually a lone wolf, but I’ve been blessed with a wonderful kinship in LotRO, so I play with them whenever I can. I like to at least be a part of a guild in every game I play, even if I don’t always play with them. In fact, I really enjoy the prcess of starting new with brand new people in a guild who don’t know me at all. That’s so interesting and exciting to me.

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

Definitely. I’ve even met several guildmates. I see my LotRO kinship members about once a year and we go out for dinner, etc.

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 log in with a plan, but that changes if someone needs help with something. I’m open to doing whatever, and don’t get upset or frustrated if my original plans get forgotten. But this usually means I level slower than everyone else, because I’m not determined to advance as quickly as possible.

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

I used to be all about one game, and wouldn’t think of trying another game. Now (mostly because of my job), I try to have a working knowledge of as many MMOs as I can. That’s becoming increasingly more difficult.

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

I would go insane if I didn’t. My favorites include Fallout 3, Rockband 2, Guitar Hero World Tour, Mount & Blade, Half Life 2 and Wii Sports. I also love to play board games with my kids. I created a simple tabletop RPG for them using only animals as characters and Uno cards for a basic combat system. We have lots of fun with that.

Are you something of an altoholic?

Yep, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I need to try out every class, and every race, and every combo, and… and. Well, let’s just say it takes me awhile to find my perfect character. Even then, I like to go back to other alts and try new stuff.

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 HAVE to multitask when gaming. I’m either reading email, searching my RSS feed for potential news stories and always listening to podcasts or music. When I edit podcasts, I’m usually gathering nodes in LotRO.

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

Only with my gf, who also plays Guild Wars and LotRO. None of my family and most of my friends don’t even know what an MMO is.

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

If it didn’t pay my bills, then yes. I still get guilt trips if I play for too long, and usually make up for that by doing more housework or something else productive.

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

Not since I started playing MMOs, but I think that’s because I started so late (in 2005). I took a break from gaming for a few years while I was in college and married, though.

Chapter 5: Blogging/Podcasting

When did you first start blogging/podcasting?

I started podcasting in July of 2005. I started blogging in about 2000 on Livejournal, but that doesn’t count.

I started Weisenheimer Radio first, in July of 2005, then GuildCast on November 19th, 2005. From there, I started OMGRL on July 31st, 2007 and TabulaCast on October 15th, 2007. Eve of Adam started in January of 2008, Massively Speaking in April of 2008 and finally, Through the Aftermath started on January 30th, 2009. Apparently I like to start podcasts in July and January.

Why do you podcast?

Originally, I started podcasting because I loved the whole (new) concept of podcasts at the time. I loved sitting at work with my headphones on, listening to other people talk about gaming. My first gaming podcasts were World of Warcast (even though I never played WoW at the time) and Gaming Steve. I enjoyed them so much, and I enjoyed playing Guild Wars, that I thought marrying the two would be a good choice. It was.

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

Definitely. I think you need to. Out of the three podcasts I do now, TTA and MS are on regular schedules. OMGRL is the only one that comes out whenever I have a chance. Possibly not coincidentally, OMGRL also has the fewest listeners.

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

Editing is almost a grind, but I enjoy it. It’s very soothing, and I could probably do it in my sleep now. I actually cope with it by farming in LotRO or doing something menial in another MMO. I have to make sure it’s something I can stop immediately when I hear a mistake that needs to be cut out of the podcast. So grouping is out of the question during this time.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about podcasting?

The finished product. Knowing that I created something that could potentially educate or entertain someone.

How many people offline know you podcast?

Very few, actually. I once told a co-worker and he asked me if I LARP and cosplay, too. Then he proceeded to tell me all about his weird sister-in-law who goes to Ren Faires and plays a lute and how crazy she is (to him). Lesson learned, on my part.

My parents know, but don’t even begin to understand. I tell them I make internet radio shows, and they kinda understand that. They just don’t understand how it could be about video games. I usually don’t tell too many people though, to avoid explanations.

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

  • Be consistent
  • Be yourself
  • Don’t worry about spending hundreds of dollars on recording equipment. I use a $30 headset and free mixing software.
  • Don’t conform to negative feedback. Constructive criticism is one thing, but for every person telling you they hate your show, there are dozens more who like it and don’t say anything.
  • Don’t respond to idiots. Afterall, they’re idiots.

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

Nothing. I think the fact that I was so naive helped me learn the way I did. I seem to learn best from my mistakes because they really stick with me.

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

I’ve never really thought about it too much, but I coped just fine before podcasting and blogging. Of course, right now it’s how I earn my money, but I hope to stay in this as long as I possibly can.

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?

“Time to Say Goodbye” by Andrea Bocelli. That’s the song I played on the final GuildCast and OMG IT’S SO SAD.

Posted in Blogger, Podcaster, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Moormur

Posted by Randolph Carter on March 30, 2009

MMO community connection:
`

Chapter 1: Introduction

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

Moormur

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

I am host of LOTROCast: The Lord of the Rings Online Podcast

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

Well one major feature about my podcast is that it has a certain structure. Many podcasts out there are very much stream-of-consciousness (and that’s fine by me). To keep myself on track and to help let people know what to expect, I have a few ‘departments’ in the podcast, much like a magazine. I usually start off with an overview of the episode, then do some ‘ranting’ about some topic or another that has come to my attention over the course of the weeks. Then I take some time and look at Turbine news as well as features of the very involved LOTRO community. After that, I tend to do a ‘focus’ segment, which is a discussion with a few other players about a certain aspect of the game. After that, I conclude and take care of so-called ‘housekeeping.’

I do my very best to structure episodes around what listeners tell me they want to hear…I have an episode coming up in early April that has been put together entirely from user input, so I really do value the communication with the people who take time to listen to my pontifications.

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

I was born in Norfolk, VA but my home is the USA.

Where do you live now?

I live in La Crosse, WI.

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

If I could have any job I wanted without any sort of need for qualification, I would be the CEO of the Disney Company. Doesn’t that sound like the best job?

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

  • I’m a host of a podcast, lol. Only about 5 people I know in real life actually know this.
  • The only states I have left to visit are North Dakota and Hawaii.

Feel free to discuss any family you have here.

Not much to tell. Single and looking.

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?

Oh geeze. Well, I have very distinct memories of my younger years. I remember very, very clearly that a friend of mine (Thomas I think his name was) had one of those jungle gyms in is backyard. We used to play Star Wars on the jungle gym all the time…just sliding around and stuff and making ‘pew pew’ noises. I went camping a lot with the Boy Scouts, so playing out ‘Star Wars’ was a pretty common occurance. We would make up our own storylines (this was back when the whole Expanded Universe thing was just starting up, so we were all captivated by the idea of making up our own Star Wars stories) and play them out over the trips. Good times, good times. If it hasn’t been made obvious, Star Wars was a big player in my youth, something that has inspired me to get into Film myself.

Besides the whole ‘make believe’ deal, I remember playing a lot of bored games. Some friends and I would set up a fold up table outside and play Life, Clue, Stratego, etc. I still have the copy of Life that I used back then. It still has the writing inside it from when we were counting up all our moolah at the end of the game. I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of it.

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

I was a Boy Scout (although since now I work at some capacity as a Professional Boy Scout in my older age, I guess I should say I still am). Made it all the way to Eagle. I played soccer and baseball with kids around my neighborhood. Around the end of elementary school and the start of middle school, I began using our family’s video camera and making stupid kid films. Over time, that evolved into a much more serious hobby and now a career.

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

Heh. My experience with RPGs is pretty simple: I borrowed the core rules for the Star Wars RPG from a friend and forgot to ever give it back. I always wanted to play it, but never did. I still have the book, though.

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.

Oh, absolutely. I remember a series called ‘classics for kids’ or something. It had all sorts of classic books like Red Badge of Courage, Sherlock Holmes, The Jungle Book, etc. I devoured those. I absulotely adored ‘The Hobbit.’ It was and still is my favorite Tolkien book (although The Silmarillion comes in a very close second). I had a lot of science books on my shelf. I also started accumulating Star Wars fiction (starting to notice a pattern?). I never got into comic books. I would like to now but they are so darn expensive. And I hate cliffhangers.

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.

Eh, I don’t really know. Some might say that computer games have the opposite effect as books. Take Lord of the Rings Online (my MMO of choice) for example. It makes a concrete version of Middle-Earth. Once you’ve been there, it makes it hard to come up with alternatives. I am not as picky as others, though. I look at movies and games based on books as one person’s interpretation of a setting. I still hold to my own imagination, so that kind of thing doesn’t bug me as much as it does to others.

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

PC, man. PC. I got a hand-me-down computer from my grandfather when I was pretty young, back in the ol’ floppy days. I remember we had some cheapo rip-off games. I also remember a Sonic CD game. I remember having a Game Gear. We eventually had to get rid of it because the adapter started sparking. Yeah.

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

I’ll be honest; I was just past the arcade generation. For me, many arcade experiences were in places like Jillian’s or Gameworks…those massive, awesome mega arcades. Tons of fun.

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

Aww, man, making me think here. When I was younger, I remember watching people play Shadows of the Empire (I played that game again recently. Doesn’t really hold up to time well). I also remember Super Mario World. Was and still is one of my favorite Mario games.

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

It was hard to convince my parents to get consoles, so we ended up with many handhelds. I have owned a Game Gear, a Game Boy Color, a GBA, and a Nintendo DS. In terms of consoles, I own a Nintendo 64, a Wii, and a XBOX 360. I do not like Sony.

Chapter 3: Online

Were you ever exposed to MUDs?

Ah, MUDs. I was heavily into the MUD Achaea about 10-15 years ago (good Lord, I feel old). I played for about two years then moved on. It was a lot of fun, don’t get me wrong, but without having a concrete map I found it tough to get around. It was my first time RPing, and it is a heavy RP setup. There was less joking around like we have here in LOTRO. I really didn’t understand what RPing was all about, really. I remember I had to do a ‘novice’ interview of some sort and I was talking about all my real life experiences to answer questions instead of getting into the mindset of my character. I learned a lot about RPing from this game and I remember it fondly.

More recently, I had a little fun programming my own MUD-style local game. Using what little knowledge I have of coding, I put together a zombie survival game in the style of a MUD, although it is solo. That was an interesting and very challenging experience.

What was your first MMO experience?

Star Wars: Galaxies. Do I really want to bring up those memories?

I started Star Wars: Galaxies back around 2005. I bought an account, which I didn’t know was wrong at the time. Regardless, I made a new character and deleted the old one. I remember the early days fondly. Star Wars: Galaxies allowed you pretty much endless customization, what with the multi-class system the allowed. And then came NGE. And suddenly the country was filled with 9 year old Jedi players (when all but a few Jedi were supposed to be dead) who thought they were so l33t that they accused me of cheating whenever my Officer would whoop them. They just couldn’t understand that sometimes skill and strategy are more important than button-mashing…
I ended up quitting that about three or four months into the NGE. It turned into more of a grind game than any I can think of. SOE created about three different bunker designs and cloned them over and over and over and over. On every planet, every single bunker, cave, and building seemed exactly the same. Once I realized this, I jumped ship.

About a month ago, I got an email from SOE telling me I had a free week to play so I thought ‘what the heck’ and jumped in for old time’s sake. It only brought back the memories. At level 40 something, I only had about 8 skills, three of which were combat skills and the rest were buffs/non-combat skills. Also the aiming system sucked. And they had such a weird set of invisible walls: in that game, you cannot jump off a ledge no matter how high it is…50 feet or 5. I ram through Theed, the central city on Naboo. Not a single other live person existed. I left after less than a day. For good.

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

If you consider Achaea an MMO, then I played that first. Starting in about 2001 and going until about 2003. Star Wars: Galaxies was next, going from about 2005-2006, with a day trip here in 2009. I have played Lord of the Rings Online since 2007 and have a lifetime account there. I’ll be around for a while.

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

Definitely Lord of the Rings: Online.

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

As of now, (again, counting a MUD as an MMO) it would be Achaea. I’ve been playing for two years.

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

I have reached the level 50 (when it was the cap) and level 60 now that it is the cap in Lord of the Rings Online with one character.

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?

I would pick LOTRO, obviously. No other game dev team out there has taken so much pride and care in making their game so perfectly molded. The environment in LOTRO is superb. You haven’t lived until you have seen nighttime in Forochel, or jumped down into the Waterworks in Moria. Every time I enter a new area for the first time, I have to just stop and stare for a few moments.

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

I was interested in the new Star Wars MMO developed by Bioware, but when I discovered it would be run through micro transactions, I ran the other way.

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

To be honest, I’m not all that interesting :(. I would like to share a passion I have developed over the past few months for the in-game music system of Lord of the Rings Online. LOTRO allows you to take a .abc file and play it in game. Your character does all the work while you get the credit. There are whole websites dedicated to the LOTRO Music system. Recently I have started up an in-game band where we take songs with multiple parts and play them on different instruments. I made a video of another band performing pretty recently (you can find it here).

I remember not too long ago playing a quartet piece called “Rohan” from the films. We stood in a circle and played the song. The moment was magical. Each instrument gives off a different colored note, so the colors were mingling in the air. The song was picking up pace and reaching its peak. People stopped and clapped for us. Some were even dancing. I will never forget that moment, standing right near the stables in Bree. LOTRO is filled with little moments like that, and that is the reason I will never stop playing it.

Posted in Blogger, Podcaster, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Patrick

Posted by Randolph Carter on March 29, 2009

MMO community connection:

How I WoW | Frenchspin

Chapter 1: Introduction

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

I go by my real name (Patrick Beja), and sometimes people who really care call me “that french guy”. I’m also “notpatrick” in places I can’t get “patrick”, like twitter.

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

I run and participate in a bunch of podcasts. My french wow show is fairly well known here, but I do lotsa stuff in the podcast space, not the least of which is the How I WoW show my friend Shawn created, or The Instance to which I contribute a regular segment. I have also developed friendships with several other podcasters over the years, and you might hear me pop into different shows here and there. Anyway, all I do can be found on the site Frenchspin.

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

Wow… Errr… So:
Azeroth.fr is a French Wow show.
How I WoW is “interesting conversations with awesome people”. No, really, it is.
Le rendez-vous Tech is a French tech news show.
The Phileas Club is an international news conversation show.
Noobz Online is a webcomic about gamers (I only “produce” that one).

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

I was born in Lebanon and grew up in France.

Where do you live now?

Paris baby!

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

I’ll do better: I’m 35.

What do you do for a living?

Freelance assistant director / production manager.

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

If I could only get a “real” career, I wouldn’t reroll at all.
If I could get anything, I’d love to do podcasts professionally.

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

Five is a lot, but I’ll try.

  • I’ve lived in japan for almost 4 years.
  • I’ve moved over 30 times.
  • I take on accents like a sponge. It’s like a very very useless super power.
  • It’s not uncommon for my female friends to joke that I’m gay. I’m just a good listener and like chick flicks.
  • I am an exceptional lover. (ok, I might have made that one up)

Feel free to discuss any family you have here.

I’m single, and my family is very small. All in all, my whole family is about six or seven people (cousins and uncles included).

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?

The usual: Star Wars action figures, Legos, etc. I would always play with my brother (2 years younger) and cousin (3 weeks older). So definitely not a solo activity.

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

I did a bit of martial arts when I was younger, played basketball for a while.  I wasn’t very athletic though. My amazing physical traits just come naturally. :)

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

Dude, D&D FTW!! I started playing when I was about 10 or 11, and even though I didn’t realize it at the time, it was an amazingly enriching experience. Exercising your imagination like that was a blessing. I was lucky enough that my parents never payed any attention to the D&D controversies bullcrap we had back then. Same goes for video games by the way.
By the time I turned 17 or 18 we started playing with a still dear friend of mine who created his own games from scratch. We never went back to rulebooks or pre-written games after that, and today I see them as sort of limiting. Why not just invent your story completely? Rules are very secondary in my opinion: just set a few characteristics and roll a dice when you want to decide something random. That’s all you need. I have to admit though, it doesn’t hurt that the game master in question is an accomplished writer; his stories are pretty compelling.

Anyway, all that is a bit behind me now. I’ve been on and off the “team” for a few years and I don’t really like it as much as I used to.

Did you read much as a child? If so, what did you like to read (books, comic books, etc?) Please list some favorite authors, titles, etc.

I didn’t read a lot as a child, and still don’t. It’s one of the things I’m not proud of. I see it as a shortcoming of sorts.

Well, I did read a lot of comic books, but I’m not one of those people who consider reading comics is “reading”. When most people ask that question they are asking about books, not the three bubble where Wolverine grunts because he’s being broody. I also read a ton of Choose Your Own Adventure books and loved it. But again, although that was real reading, what I enjoyed was the interactive nature of it. Almost like video games in paper form.
That being said, my favorite book is probably The Picture of Dorian Gray. Not so much for the storytelling, but for the incredible mastery Oscar Wilde has of the English language.

Close seconds are Cyrano de Bergerac and The Count of Monte Cristo. The first one owes a lot to the language too so I’m not sure how well it would translate in English, but the second one is just pure adventure, an amazing blockbuster from 150 years ago.

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.

Hmm… Hard to say. I guess that things like Lord of the Rings or Dragonlance shaped my tastes like it did every other nerd on the planet. I remember I couldn’t stop reading Dragonlance while walking from the kitchen.

But I wouldn’t say they had an effect on later appreciation of computer gaming or MMOs, because I almost see these as a continuation of the same culture. That culture had several branches that were complementary and moved at the same pace in different media. Fantasy and Science fiction are the two legs geek culture stands on today, and they were pervasive: from books to PnP RPGs to video games, to movies even… They all bled into one another, and in that sense I don’t think you can say one came before the other for me. It’s all one giant cultural wave that we’ve been riding for 20 or 30 years, I don’t make a difference between its parts, so I can’t say one had an influence on the other.

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

Arcade games came first, when I was about 10 I guess. My dad used to work in a company that imported arcade cabinets from Japan. I used to go to “the office” and play for free for hours. And hours. And hours.

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

I guess I already answered that, but I can add that I used to do it in regular arcades too when I got a bit older. French arcades mostly sucked, but I still would go to check out the latest version of street fighter and the like.

More recently, in the early 2000s, I used to love the japanese arcades. All nice and well lit, I would spend a couple of hours there, chatting with friends, drinking ice tea and going for a few battles against people I could never beat, like, ever. Ah, good times…

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

I have a horrible memory, but it was probably a coleco vision at my cousin’s. It was an awesome toy I guess, but I don’t think I saw the potential at the time. I was young…

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

Haha, you want a list? How about all of them!
Well, maybe not all, but I seriously had most of them. Ok, let’s try the list thing:
Atari 2600
NES
Super NES
Megadrive + SegaCD
Nec TurboGrafix + CD thing.
Gameboy
Gamegear
Saturn
Dreamcast
Playstation
Gameboy Advanced
PSP
DS
Xbox 360
I might be forgetting a couple.
And that doesn’t include the computers (Amstrad, Amiga…)

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

Not sure I was still a child, but I bought an import version of Street Fighter 2 for Super NES, which I paid 3 times the price of a normal game. That whole summer, my friends and I spent five or six nights a week crammed into my very small room, playing the game for 6 or 7 hours straight. Again: ah, good times…

Chapter 3: Online

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

Unfortunately, no.

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

Ultima Online, when it came out (must’ve been 1997 maybe?). I was on a 33.6 modem from France to the US: horrible speed and lag… I was fascinated by the idea, but only played a couple of times.

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

  • Everquest - level 14 or 15… Can’t remember the class. It took me six months to get there. One of my fondest MMO memories comes from this game: I tried to go to one side of the world to the other when I was way too low level. On that epic voyage, after having run away from lions and all manners of horrible monsters for hours, I came upon a wonderful vista of the sun setting over a dune in the distance. These four pixels of red and dusk were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen on my computer screen. Not far behind in memory lane are the trains of gnolls from that cave north of Qeynos (I forget the name). Trains were fun, I miss them to this day. Sort of.
  • Everquest 2 – level 41 templar. The experience was good at times, boring to tears at others. The idea of camping Chompers for days still makes me shaky with anxiety today. Ultimately the grindiness of it and the inability of the class to solo effectively (or rather, to solo at acceptable speeds) got the better of me. I keep very fond memories of the game though, mainly from my guild, The Legion of the White Rose, which I joined without knowing it was headed by Kendricke, a very respected member of the community. When I logged off for the last time, he came to meet me, took pictures of my last moments in Antonica and posted them on the forum. I still have the pictures and get a pinch in my heart every time I look at them.
  • World of Warcraft - level 80 mage and druid. I spend my days talking about the game, I guess the memories and experiences are too many to sum up.

I also tried out a TON of other games that I didn’t go beyond the first month with.

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

Wow of course.

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

Wow, many hours a week for over three years now… I never thought this would be possible. I played the beta and dismissed it before moving on to EQ2 which I considered more adult and diverse. I was right in many ways, but didn’t understand what I really needed from an MMO (fun>realism&possibilities). I guess many people made the same mistake, devs included.

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

Wow is the only one I reached the level cap at. It’s also the only one in which the grind wasn’t an unbearable necessity to work through to get to the fun.

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?

Can I choose the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic? I guess not…
That’s a really difficult one, but I think it might be Eve because the ever expanding universe is full of worlds and possibilities… and the ambulatory pack is (hopefully) coming soon so we’ll be able to get out of our ships.

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

SW:TOR is the only MMO that has seriously sparked my interest in a long time, and that includes recent games like AOC and WAR. I detailed my reasons in this blog post here, but the gist is that Bioware is probably the only company that can come to the idea of an MMO with a fresh mind. They are also masters at crafting a compelling and immersive single player experience, and that is something I especially enjoy in a role playing game, even if it is multiplayer and online. Ironic, I know. My point is: I think they can make it work in ways that the “big dogs” of the MMO market couldn’t, because they were constrained by the rules and habits they gathered from their previous, old school experiences.

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

I was at a wedding and a bunch of us were wow players. At the evening reception, a group gathered and started talking about the game, the classes and the like. After about 40 minutes I turned to a guy who was sitting quietly in the corner and apologized for talking about this arcane topic that he probably didn’t understand very much about, figuring that he was bored to tears. He looked at me, beaming, and replied: “ah not at all, I have a level 46 shaman on Shadow Counsel”… :)

Chapter 4: Preferences

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

Wow, errr… I think it’s safe to say it goes in cycles. Sometimes I’ll barely play for weeks at a time, and sometimes I’ll be completely obsessed and spend all my free time on the computer (and I have a lot of free time). Right now I’m still reeling from the awesomeness that patch 3.1 brought, so I’m in a “high activity” period. I’d say upwards of 25-30 hours a week.

When during the week are your regular play times?

Any time is play time!

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

Lone wolf I guess. I enjoy grouping also of course, but I’m mostly a solo player.

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

I guess I haven’t really. Do podcasting friendships count? I’ve made some pretty good friends in the podcasting community but I don’t suppose that’s a valid answer. Regarding the in game stuff, I think it has to do with me being so solo-oriented. Even my guild is just a small part of my gaming experience, so I haven’t really formed lasting bonds with anyone in the game.

I have however reinforced bonds with very good friends that I’ve been playing with. The memories from the game have just added to our already long common history, and I’m sure we’ll bore our grandchildren with stories from Azeroth just as much as stories from wild parties and trips to foreign lands that actually exist.

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 a pretty good idea of what I want to do at a specific time, but once I get in I might get distracted.

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

I’m obsessive I guess, so one is all that I can handle while also playing the “other” game. You know, the one laymen call “real life”? Yeah, that one takes quite a lot of time also. So annoying.

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

I try to keep myself informed, and I do have an Xbox. I will play a major release when it comes out, if only to know what the fuss is all about. I feel it’s sort of my duty to know about other things too, even if I have to force myself a little bit sometimes. Kind of like a cooking enthousiast needs to try different kinds of food, even if he has one favorite. Not doing so would be close minded or illiterate. Am I making any sense?

Are you something of an altoholic?

Well, I have several mains, but I don’t think I’m an altoholic. I do usually play my main character until he’s reached the level cap.

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)?

Duh, podcasts!

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

Wow (or MMOs in general I guess) have a tendency to cannibalize the conversation when you’re with people who also play. So we sometimes have to make a conscious effort to not talk about it, especially when there are people who don’t play around.

So with friends, yes, definitely. Family, not so much. They don’t play.

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

Haha, only all the time! I cope by thinking hard about whether or not there is something I would rather do but am not doing because I feel like I have an “obligation” to play. If there is something else, I force myself to stop and go do it. If there isn’t, then I understand that this is what I want to do with my time and I’m ok with it.

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

I take regular breaks, but they’re not scheduled or really voluntary. Every few months I get sick with the game and basically stop playing for a few weeks. This usually happens when I log in and realize I’m doing it out of habit and not really because I want to. I just leave the game alone until I actually feel like playing again.

Chapter 5: Blogging/Podcasting

When did you first start blogging/podcasting?

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

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

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

Why do you blog/podcast?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How many people offline know you blog or podcast?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think that’s most of it.

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

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

At your funeral, what song(s) would you have played as your corpse is set alight and cast out to sea on a funeral barge?

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

Posted in Blogger, Podcaster | Leave a Comment »

Wilhelm2451

Posted by Randolph Carter on March 20, 2009

MMO community connection:

The Ancient Gaming Noob

Chapter 1: Introduction

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

Wilhelm2451

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

The Ancient Gaming Noob blog as well as being a regular guest on the Shut Up, We’re Talking and Witty Ranter podcasts.

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

Pretty much focused on the whole MMORPG thing. My blog has some commentary, but is mostly a journal of my MMO experiences and interactions. “I don’t know what I am doing” is a recurring theme on the site.

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

Silicon Valley on both counts. Well, it wasn’t called Silicon Valley when I was born. People still referred to it as The Valley of Heart’s Delight back then.

Where do you live now?

Silicon Valley. Everybody else in the world seems to be moving here, why should I leave?

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

41-50 – it sneaks up on you.

What do you do for a living?

I run a software testing group for a fortune 500 company. It is enterprise software, so you cannot buy it on the shelf at Fry’s (though I started off in commercial shrink-wrapped software), but chances are very high that you have used some piece of software on which I have worked.

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

Um, if I choose wrong, how much does another respec cost?

I don’t know if I would re-roll, but during the start of the first dotcom bubble I was working at a start up making a hardware device with some really brilliant people. If we had turned that power to evil, we could have really bilked some VCs out of some serious capital. Instead I have a T-shirt and some hardware that doesn’t work with any current OS.

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

  • I spent some time in the Soviet Studies program in college… about the time the Soviet Union went tits up. Bad timing in some ways. Things were changing so fast that it became a current events seminar in many ways.
  • I met my wife through an online dating service, but it turned out we went to high school together and had friends in common.
  • I used to work on Macintosh products, so I get more than a bit uptight about bad or inconsistant UI design.
  • My parents were both, essentially, accountants. When I realized that, it explained much.
  • I spent a lot of my childhood in a library. My grandmother was a librarian and I spent a lot of time with her and got really used to having access to a lot of books. This explains all the book shelves in my office at home.

Feel free to discuss any family you have here.

My beautiful wife is amazingly tolerant of my gaming hobby… or she has grown resigned to it at least. It was a point of contention early in our relationship. More recently she mentioned that, as hobbies go, it was at least inexpensive and did not take up, say, the whole garage. However, the “at least I am home” card has been over-played and no longer has much value.

My daughter is very interested in games and virtual worlds. She likes to see what I am playing and wants to try out everything.

My mother plays World of Warcraft with my daughter and I.

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?

We played games quite a bit at my grandparents place. They had a farm out in the California Central Valley where TV reception was spotty and there was a general “early to bed/early to rise” rhythm of life. In the late afternoon before dinner, there was a point where pre-dinner drinks were served up (I got to have a soda) and we would sit around and play a game. Dominoes was the popular choice for a long time. Gin or other card games were played at times. At home too, we played games. Monopoly was always popular. When I was older and Trivial Pursuit came along that became a favorite. I suspect it was because, as a family, we have a remarkable knack for trivia. My mother and I were an unbeatable team, with me covering science and history and her on entertainment and sports. With friends I ended up playing war games, usual the Avalon Hill bookshelf variety. While we played all varieties, I grew to like the game Tobruk the most. It was a much more tactical game than some others, like PanzerBlitz or Third Reich. The more strategic, and thus the more abstract, a game got, the less I seemed to enjoy it. At least to a certain level. A game like Risk, warfare abstracted to the extreme, I did enjoy quite a bit.

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

I played some sports. I was in little league baseball and ran track through junior high. For hobbies I built models, usually tanks or airplanes to go along with my toy soldiers. I had quite a collection of Airfix 1/72 scale figures.

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

Not until high school. My family moved before my freshman year and I ended up at a different high school from all of the friends I grew up with. Then, alone and susceptible to the influences of strangers, I fell in with a crowd of role playing gamers. They started by introducing me to the light stuff like Tunnels and Trolls, but I quickly moved on to the hard stuff and had a copy of the AD&D Players Handbook before my parents could intervene. Soon I was reading Tolkien and affecting a bad British accent. Still, I was able to keep my head to a certain extent and never, for example became a Ren Faire regular or an SCA member.

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.

Honestly, I read very little of my own volition until about 8th grade. I used to mostly flip through books and look at the pictures. MAD Magazine’s “Spy vs. Spy” comic was my level of reading commitment. Then at some point in junior high school I decided I wanted to know more about the pictures than the rather scanty captions in a book I was looking at, so I started reading the thing. This is, of course, all heresy, since my grandmother was a librarian and I spent hours and hours at the library. I was just browsing the pictures most of the time. In high school I read a lot of Science Fiction. Larry Niven and Harry Harrison figured prominently. Oddly, I tended to steer clear of the “classics” from authors like Asimov and Heinlein. “Bil the Galactic Hero” was much more amusing when I re-read it years later after having soaked up more of a foundation in the genre. (I only recommend the original book, not any of the follow-ons.)

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.

Certainly. Larry Niven was all about space. There is a direct line somewhere from me reading “Ringworld” to me playing EVE Online. And certainly RPGs and Tolkien mixed in unhealthy doses pre-disposed me towards fantasy. The one thing I disliked about table top games like D&D was all the accounting that needed to be done. While computer games and then MMOs restricted much player initiative, the hid ALL of the accounting that I so loathed. That made me a natural for the genre. I just want to attack, not calculate my THAC0.

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

I played Pong at The Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown San Jose when I was just a kid. It was amazing.

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

Of course, from the point I found Pong to the day I got a personal computer, I spent a lot of time in arcades. It could be a lot of fun, but it was also expensive. For 25 cents back in those days you could get a comic book. This probably explains why I did not do much comic book collecting.

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

I played Star Trek on an HP system. A friend’s dad brought us into the office one weekend and let us play it while he got some work done. My friend and I loved it and went about creating our own board game version of it since we did not have ready access to any sort of computer.

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

I have owned three, an Atari 26000 that I got for Christmas in 1977, a Sega Genesis that I got as a bonus of sorts for a project at work in 1992, and we got a Wii in 2007. That is one console every 15 years like clockwork. I’m not due again until 2022.

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

A story about gaming? That’s what I have a blog for! Okay. At one point a friend and I were very excited about computer/console games. This was in 1978 or so, and I had an Atari 2600 and he had a Fairchild Channel F. We were both enamored with the technology but somewhat let down by the lack of depth there was to most games. Because of this, we tended to build metagames where you might have to play any given shallow two-minute-thirty-second “shoot the blocky thing with smallers blocks” as part of a single turn of the bigger game. There was a lot of role playing and pretend around it. We were nerds once, and young.

Chapter 3: Online

Were you ever exposed to MUDs?

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

What was your first MMO experience?

Does Island of Kesmai count? If so, 1986.

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are other MMOs I have tried, such as:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Loki taps you on the shoulder one day to inform you that you have fallen victim to one of his elaborate pranks. The world you’ve been inhabiting of countless MMOs to choose from and play has merely been a dream. In reality only one MMO exists. After laughing at you for a bit he decides to take pity on you and allows you to choose which MMO will remain. Which one would you choose and why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Blogger, Podcaster | 1 Comment »

 
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