Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Posts Tagged ‘Podcasting’

One shot: an interview with Alberos

Posted by Randolph Carter on February 11, 2011

Alberos, or Eric for short, is responsible for the excellent Lord of the Rings Online podcast, LOTROCast.  Here he discusses his background in gaming, what he enjoys about podcasting and the LotRO community, and a personal tragedy that recently struck his family.

*   *   *

For those who don’t know, would you mind explaining what LOTROCast is, how you happened to get involved with it, and what you’re now trying to achieve with it?

LOTROCast is a Lord of the Rings Online themed podcast. I typically cover LOTRO and LOTR themed news, talk about what I’ve done in game and then focus on one or two LOTRO themed topics. I try to put out an episode every 2 weeks. In between episodes I write a blog which, while hosted on the my.lotro website, tends to be about MMO topics in general. As part of LOTROCast I will do the occasional LORECast which focuses on the history and lore behind the game. I’m currently working on a series of LORECasts about the races of Middle-earth.

So, what is it about Lord of the Rings Online (LotRO) that sets it apart from the countless other MMOs out there and has you blogging and podcasting quite enthusiastically about it?

I think what really excites me about LOTRO is the storyline and the graphics. The gameplay (controls, combat, skill systems) really isn’t much different from what you see in games like WoW or City of Heroes or others. However the storyline, and how Turbine has written around the established story, is really captivating. Unlike some of the Playstation or Xbox games that came out when the LOTR movies were first released, in LOTRO you don’t play as a member of the Fellowship. You play as a member of the Free Peoples (Freeps for short) and your questing takes you to places only alluded to in Tolkien’s writing. You will occasionally cross paths with the Fellowship, especially once you reach Rivendell, but you are really living your own part of the story.

In addition, the game is very visually appealing. The Shire, where the Hobbits live, is stunning and looks like it was pulled right out of the movies. The designers really spent a lot of time giving each zone its own look and feel. I don’t think any other game I’ve played inspires the kind of enthusiasm or dislike for specific areas that LOTRO does.

Was LotRO your first MMO? If not, what was and what was that experience like?

LOTRO was not my first MMO. I started my MMO experience with World of Warcraft. I’ve always been a gamer, both paper and electronically, but WoW and later LOTRO really redefined the experience for me. It was amazing to be wandering this virtual world full of real people who were pursuing their own quests and story lines. I think we’ve all at one point or another had the thought that our real world would be some much more exciting with magic or space ships or whatever….MMOs have made that wish come true
in a way.

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

I think there were two distinct moments that stick out in my mind. The first was the first time I leveled in WoW. I had rolled a Dwarf Paladin and was in the Dwarf starting area killing mobs when suddenly this light explodes around my toon and the level sound went off…I was hooked.

I think the other “wow” moment was a PvP experience I had in WoW. I was in Strangle Thorn Vale with my elven hunter when I stumbled across a Horde Druid named Naturelord. He and I spent probably an hour killing each other. Sometimes I’d get the drop on him and the next time he’d get me. It was incredibly fun and really brought the excitement of facing off against a real person.

What happens to be your gaming background?

Alberos in real life

Like I said I am a long time gamer. Like most I started with D&D and then branched out to other pen & paper games like Star Trek, Shadow Run, Amber, Heroes Unlimited. I also played some Magic: The Gathering, but wasn’t really that into it. I also played a lot of Risk and Warhammer. My gaming then jumped into computers. I really enjoyed some of the original D&D games like Pool of Radiance and the Ice Wind Dale Trilogy.

Right before I started playing WoW and LOTRO, I was playing the Never Winter Nights series and Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. I really liked that first person perspective and that sparked my interest in trying MMOs.

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

Yes, on the PC I am a big Total War fan. I really enjoy playing Rome Total War and Medieval Total War. I also played the Battle for Middle Earth games.

I also like First Person Shooters on the X-Box. Currently I am playing Halo Reach and Modern Warfare 2.

What games are you currently playing?

For MMOs I’m splitting time between LOTRO, WoW and City of Heroes. LOTROs my main game, but I’ve got friends on WoW and COH so I have a night where that’s what I’m playing.

In short bursts, I play Halo Reach and Modern Warfare 2 on the X-Box. I’ll also admit I’m currently playing Star Wars Legos. It’s a cute game and doesn’t require a whole lot of brain power.

Would you mind sharing a particularly enjoyable gaming experience from your past?

That’s a hard one. I’ve had lots of great experiences. I think what I’ve enjoyed the most is the camaraderie that you get with games like LOTRO and WoW as well as pen and paper games. I remember many nights getting together to play D&D and ended up just hanging out with friends, drinking beer and goofing around. Similarly when playing some of the MMOs with my real life friends, well get on and run an instance, but we’ll have more fun talking about what we’re drinking, complaining about work and making “That’s what she said” jokes.

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

Right now its just a hobby. I really enjoy LOTRO and the world of MMOs in general.  I think the communities that develop around the games are really interesting and I like being an active member of the community. Plus, as you can probably tell from my lengthy answers, I like sharing my experiences and thoughts on stuff.

What do you find particularly pleasurable about blogging and podcasting?

I think it’s the connection to the community. There are a lot of LOTRO podcasters and bloggers and we’re all supportive of one another. Merric and Goldenstar at Casual Stroll to Mordor gave me some great advice when I took LOTROCast over from Moormur.  Lunna the Burg was in the Amistad Del Otro kinship on Arkenstone and I’ll post links to her videos on the blog so others can see her great work. It’s a really good environment.

Are you pleased with what you’ve achieved so far with LOTROCast?

Esteldin is lovely in the spring

For the most part. I think the format of the show is solid and I think people enjoy it.  I’d like to do a better job of polishing the show. I need to work on bumpers between segments and slowing down how fast I talk. I’d also like to keep the website fresh with a redesign every 3-4 months, but that gets hard with all the things going on in real life.

I’d also like to get more listener interaction. Either with more show note comments or better yet, recorded segments. I’d love to have a Crafting segment or a PvMP segment or something like that. Maybe a tip of the week type thing.

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

I probably would have taken a more active role in the community earlier. I’ve been playing MMOs for over four years but only podcasting and blogging for the last year and a half.

I can certainly understand you not wanting to talk about this, but on a recent podcast you mentioned a personal tragedy your family experienced this past summer.  Would you care to talk about it here?

Sure. My wife of 13 years passed away from Lung Cancer this past summer. My wife battled this terrible disease for 3 and a half years before she died. She wasn’t a smoker and she didn’t grow up around smokers, so the diagnosis was a complete surprise. We went through multiple rounds of chemo and radiation, but Lung Cancer is one of the most aggressive and lethal types. She passed away peacefully at the hospital surrounded by family.

The LOTRO community, as well as all my real life friends and family, were very supportive following her death. Many of my listeners and those in the community wanted to help so I have links to the American Lung Association on the website so they could donate to fight this terrible disease.

Again, I’m very sorry to hear this.  You have my condolences.

Is there anything else you’d like to leave us with? Now’s your chance.

First, thank you for the interview. It was a lot of fun looking back over my gaming history. I’d also like to thank my listeners and the LOTRO community for being so supportive.

For those who’d like to start listening you can find LOTROCast on iTunes, the Zune Market Place or at www.cyberears.com. You can also visit the show website at www.lotrocast.com and follow me on twitter @lotrocast. You can send me emails at thelotrocast@gmail.com .

Thank you, Alberos.  Best of luck with the podcast and other future endeavors.

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

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.

*   *   *

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 »

Shawn (Chapter 5)

Posted by Randolph Carter on May 21, 2009

MMO community connection:

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

Chapter 5: 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 Uncategorized | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.