Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Posts Tagged ‘World of Warcraft’

Reading the text: an interview with Katie MacAlister

Posted by Randolph Carter on December 9, 2010

Katie MacAlister is the author of over 30 novels primarily of the paranormal romance variety. During her downtime she happens to play a little-know online game called World of Warcraft.  Here she discusses her writing, her background in gaming, what her experience with WoW has been like, and why it is she continues to play to this day.

For more information on Katie and her work, check out here website and blog.

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For those out there who don’t know your published work, would you mind giving us a little background on what it is you write?

I write a variety of romantic fiction and mysteries, predominately paranormal-oriented, so you can expect to find vampires, dragons in human form, necromancers, Viking ghosts, and a whole slew of other beings in my books. I even have liches, although mine differ quite a bit from the Blizzard version.

It’s hard for me to believe, but I have more than thirty books out now. My books are regulars on the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today lists, and are published in a variety of countries and formats.

From the FAQ section of your website you mention being hopelessly addicted to World of Warcraft.  I’d say you’re in good company here.  Would you mind describing when you first started playing the game and how that all came about?

I started WOWing almost six years ago when a friend mentioned a new MMO he’d just started playing. I wasn’t big on fantasy games, but decided to give it a try, and immediately made a holy priest. Ah, the joys of leveling a holy priest in Vanilla WOW…those were the days. :)

What tends to be your playing style these days?

Right now, my toons are in a bit of a holding pattern waiting for the expansion. As a rule, I tend to be a casual player, so I’m not going to go nuts trying to level as fast as I can. I prefer to enjoy the journey and enjoy the content as I toddle my way to the level cap.

I hit a major burnout session earlier this summer after getting Loremaster on my priest, and pretty much was content to simply run with my weekly raid group. Since I have something like nine 80s, I knew that I’d go insane if I tried to level them all in Cataclysm, so I decided to narrow the leveling field to three: two healers and a DPS.

I’ve just moved my resto shammy who I intend to level to a new server, and joined a guild that I am greatly enjoying—Riders of Gilead on Ysera—so that will be pretty much my main focus. I hope to raid with my healer once we’re all settled and 85, but I’ll never really be anything but a casual raider.

Is your husband also a gamer?

He isn’t, amazingly enough. I kind of wish he was, so I could lure him to a PVP server and gank him at will whenever he irritates me. Wait, I probably shouldn’t have admitted that in public…

What was your gaming experience like prior to WoW (board games, pen & paper RPGs, console & computer games, etc.)?

My online gaming experience was limited to one MMORPG: Puzzle Pirates. I never played consoles, played only Sim City and related Sims as computer games, and never got into board games or paper RPGs.

Sometimes, I feel a bit left out when I hear guildies talking about their Warcraft III days, or Everquest romps, or even Mario whoozits, but I’m happy with just being a WOW geek.

Many of the authors I’ve interviewed view gaming as a potential threat to their productivity as a writer. As someone who games, how have you managed to reconcile these two activities in your life?

Far from being a threat to my productivity, it’s a boon; my WOW time is my reward for getting my daily wad o’ writing done. When I’m on deadline—which honestly seems like it’s most of the time—I don’t let myself play until I’ve completed the daily word count that lets me write a book in a comfortable amount of time (usually two months).

So if I’m really Jonesing for some WOW, it serves as an incentive for me to get my work done first, then I can loll around the rest of the day and play to my heart’s content.

From a romance writer’s standpoint, what do you think of the writing that has gone into World of Warcraft?

This has nothing to do with the writing, but the female armor models…the art guys seriously need some girlfriends. That’s all I’m sayin’. :)

The romance writer in me appreciates the ebb and flow of characterization, the bad boy villains who everyone loves to hate, the characters who may seem to be good (or bad) and turn out to have unexpected depths, and the big story arcs that contain smaller, easier resolved arcs.

There have been a few things that I’ve disagreed with (I dislike the manufactured feel to antagonism between Horde and Alliance, since it seems to me that there are other ways for that to manifest itself), but on the whole, I feel the characterization and storylines are pretty good, and the level at which players can immerse themselves in the story is improving with each expansion. 

As someone who obviously appreciates the written word and the art of narrative, do you tend to read the quest text and immerse yourself as much as possible into the story of the game?

Oh yes, I love the immersive facets. The only thing I thought needed punching up were the romance novels you could get by pick-pocketing. Every time my rogue picked one up, I wanted to drop Blizzard a note and offer to write them some new excerpts. :)

It’s the little things like that and the flavor text on items that gives me great enjoyment. I particularly like some of the text on vendor trash, since they can be very amusing.

Would you mind sharing an interesting and/or amusing story from your time in World of Warcraft?

I’ll tell you one of my most embarrassing stories…when I was a brand new player with a level 17 priest, someone mentioned the Barrens to me as being an area in which I could safely quest. I had no idea how to get there, and ended up swimming up the coast from Theramore. It took forever, but I couldn’t figure out how to get there any other way (no, it never occurred to me to simply run west through Dustwallow). Once I was in Ratchet, I was horrified to see a couple of Horde hunters there.

I’d heard about PVP, you see, and knew that Horde players could kill innocent little level 17 noob priests, and had no idea what to do to get out of there other than to swim back down to the safety of Theramore. I didn’t realize that one had to be flagged, or on a PVP server in order to be gankable, no, I just figured they were there with the sole purpose of killing me.

So I started for the docks, intending on making the long swim back to Theramore, or at least far enough that they two hunters would lose interest in me, at which point I could sneak back. Alas, the hunters must have been waiting for a ship, because they followed me to the dock. I, of course, was convinced it was me they were following with nefarious intentions on their Horde minds, and panicked. I bolted past them, spamming heals on myself in case they started whacking at me as I ran by.

I didn’t stop running until I was lost in the wilds of the Barrens. It took me a long, long time to recover from my scare and near miss—two Hordies! I could have been killed!—and was just congratulating myself on my cunning plan to escape them when I wandered into Crossroads, and was promptly slaughtered by guards.

It took a long, long time before I ever went back to the Barrens again.

As a successful romance author, do you feel the need to play down the fact that you enjoy playing an online role-playing game?

Naw, I’ve never made any bones about the fact that I’m a huge WOW geek. Luckily, many of my readers are just as geeky, so they put up with my squeals of delight when I yammer on about a new achievement or mount.

Would you say your gaming experience has had any effect on you as a writer?

Katie MacAlister

Not really, no. Gaming for me is brain candy time, when I can reward my muse for all her hard work by letting her frolic in adventures where she doesn’t have to think up lore and characters and details like that. It’s probably one reason why I don’t participate in RP servers or events—RP is basically what I do for a living, so I try to get away from that in my play time.

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

One thing I keep reminding myself whenever I get in a snit over something is that it’s a game and it’s supposed to be fun. If I find myself kicking my feet and grumbling because I have to go grind rep for something, or annoyed with a guildy, or damning my long run of single-digit /rolls, then I know it’s time to do something else. I don’t mind working for goals in the game, but if something becomes tedious, then it’s time for either a break, or to do something else in the game.

Then again, that pretty much applies to life, too, huh? :)

Thank you, Katie.

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Reading the text: an interview with Bonnie Nardi

Posted by Randolph Carter on September 10, 2010

Bonnie Nardi is an anthropologist and a faculty member in the Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine.  In this interview we discuss several aspects of her book, My Life as a Night Elf Priest: An Anthropological Account of World of Warcraft , ruminate on the upcoming Cataclysm expansion, and the difficulties involved in seperating gaming for pleasure and gaming for research.

Bonnie’s website

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Could you take a minute and explain what My Life as a Night Elf Priest: An Anthropological Account of World of Warcraft is about—that one might not glean from the title, of course?

The book has two layers—anthropological description for those who don’t know why anyone would spend hours killing cartoon monsters, and a theoretical analysis of the power of software artifacts to define, channel, shape, and regulate human activity. In the context of a video game such as World of Warcraft, code is a resource for delivering and reproducing “active aesthetic experience.” I define active aesthetic experience as performative challenge/mastery + visually stimulating surroundings. (In the real world, think activities such as masquerade balls, Civil War reenactments, church choirs, hunting and fishing.) This focus on the positive agency of software contrasts with analyses that view code as constraining, limiting, regulatory, even fascistic—something to be hacked, cheated, worked around.

How do you think the book turned out in the end? Are you happy with the finished product?

Writers are never really “happy” with what they write. Once a piece is done, the writer becomes a reader of the work. Since writers are the most critical readers, we experience the inevitable flaws as glaring and embarrassing.

But on the plus side, I hoped the book would stimulate discussion. Here are two blogs that met that goal: John Carter McKnight’s blog and WoW.com.

The Internet changes the pace of academic writing by allowing some near-instant feedback.

Reviews in print publications take six months at least, and usually closer to a year. The new feedback cycle makes writing a more interesting and interactive experience. That’s a kind of happiness!

Will you continue to write about Azeroth or did you manage to say it all in your book?

There is much more to be said. The question is where to start. I’m working with students who are researching areas I will never get to on my own. I have a small pilot project studying parents who play WoW with their children with Aspergers. Learning about this group will be another way to analyze the agentic qualities of a software artifact. I am also inspired by the creative ways people meet their situations, how they use resources in unusual ways.

What I find particularly fascinating is that World of Warcraft was your first video game experience. Prior to this you viewed video gaming as a waste of time. Could you talk a little bit about this experience and how your views have since changed?

I started the research under the direction of my superego, and ended with my id! I sat down to play World of Warcraft only because I could tell from the way undergraduates were talking about WoW and other MMOGs that something was brewing. Since “social life on the Internet” is one of my areas of research, I had to find out what that something was. I never intended to become so immersed. Two things really hooked me: the visual beauty of World of Warcraft, and the platform it provided for challenging activity in a social setting. A pretty heady mix—visual impact, challenge, socializing.

My contrast set for popular culture is television which, in my opinion, lacks sophisticated visuals, challenge, and intense socializing of the kind that happens in raids. Television visuals used to be better but they’ve devolved to too many closeups of faces rather than more complex mises-en-scene. I love panning way out in WoW and having control over my camera. That’s a completely different experience than TV or film. I now see well-designed video games as superior entertainment. Which is not to say that I think all of them are prosocial, but many of them are. Probably the best ones are yet to be designed. With our longer life spans, we are going to need some cool stuff to do when we have all those postretirement years before us.

I would like to have been there when you first sat down to play. Talking about a steep learning curve. Were you playing alone or did you have any assistance?

The semantics of video games completely escaped me. I didn’t know that you kill monsters. Or that you click on spells to do so, or right click to use a weapon. I had to laboriously practice the a-w-d-s movement keys to get anywhere. I didn’t know how to talk to other players. I thought that what turned out to be buffs other players were giving me were cryptic error messages I had to decode. Learning to swim was a nightmare! Luckily my son was home from college when I first sat down and he helped me. After he left, I was on my own till about level 20. It was slow going. But by around level 10 I had really started to enjoy the game. I especially love the Darkshore area and spent a long time there, some of my best time in WoW.

As someone who has done extensive research on online game culture, do you find it difficult to separate gaming for pleasure and gaming for research?

Great question. I never entirely separate play and ethnographic observation. Though most of my play now is to keep up with the game and have fun, the research part of my brain has a single setting (“on”). So I notice things. At times research and play collide. A struggle may ensue—to perform a relevant game activity competently, and, at the same time, discern and record data pertinent to research issues.

For example, I had missed several raids during which raid leaders in my guild made the AVR addon a requirement. At a subsequent raid, as the encounter was about to begin, I realized I needed AVR. I had to scramble to logout, download the addon, customize it to the raid, and try to understand how it worked. While I was doing all this, I heard people talking in Vent about the addon’s features, how the addon helped the raid, and that it was disliked by Blizzard and would soon be disabled. Since I have been tracking player-corporate relations in the context of addons for several years, the raid’s dispositions toward the addon and toward Blizzard pushed the “that’s relevant to the research” meters to red alert! Vent conversations needed to be noted, as well the humorous misuses of the technology raiders were joking around with as they waited for me to get the addon working. Play and research collapsed into one another, the demands of each necessitating mental flips from the nuts and bolts of dealing with the addon as fast as possible so as not to keep the raid waiting, to excited attention to the research issues.

Playing WoW gets me thinking about things like that. Things that might have research value.

Would you mind sharing an interesting and/or amusing story from your WoW past?

Here was a moment. I was questing in Darkshore, around level 10. Another player and I realized we were on the same quest. Suddenly, the player, in the form of a bear, dropped his disguise and turned into a handsome prince. Something buried deep inside me from childhood zapped out of its hiding place, and I felt I had come alive in a fairy tale. When we were girls, women of my generation believed that handsome princes would one day enter our lives. The “handsome prince”—actually a human male druid who was not in disguise, just bear form—embodied a powerful fairy tale allusion for me. My giddiness increased when the player gallantly asked if I would prefer that he tank or heal. I didn’t know what tanking was, but I knew I had some healing abilities, so, feeling very empowered, I said, “tank please.”

Being such a noob had its advantages in enabling me to see things that other players take for granted, and to have those poignant moments when the unconscious responds powerfully to an experience.

You spent a month researching WoW players in China for the book. What did you find particularly interesting about that experience?

One of the most interesting aspects of video game play in China is that much of it takes place in Internet cafes, or wang ba. In that context, we cannot speak in simple ways of “virtual” experience—people are sitting right next to each other, eating and drinking, laughing and talking as they play. The game is the shared object around which face to face activity is oriented. And yet the game extends beyond the wang ba; there are players who are not co-located and, of course, the virtual world of the game itself. So it’s a complex blended reality.

Another interesting aspect of Chinese play was the reluctance of male players to play female characters. A guy playing a girl is a cliché in North America, but in China it is considered distasteful. Guys who play girls are called “ladyboys”—a derisive term invoking transvestism. Some Chinese male players talked longingly about female Night Elves, but found the pushback from other players too much. There seemed to be fewer female players than in North America (maybe on the order of 10 percent vs 20 per cent here although I don’t have hard numbers). The girls played female characters, just like here, and they told me that they were sometimes accused of being ladyboys! They shrugged it off.

The cultural difference regarding character gender choice is a cautionary tale about overgeneralizing from our own experience or from a limited sample. Chinese players are about half the WoW base—what they do is central to characterizing WoW play.

You’ve also done specific research into why Americans go to much greater lengths to modify World of Warcraft whereas the Chinese rarely do. Can you explain this disparity?

Chinese modders are actually very active, but they focus on localization rather than the creation of original mods. There are several reasons why. First, and rather amazingly I think, there was no modding in China before WoW. There were illegal bots, but no player culture of legitimate modding with proper channels of access such as the Addons Folder. In the U.S., modding culture goes back to the development of Spacewar! in 1961 by MIT students on a DEC PDP-1. There’s a lot of history to take into account in examining these disparities.

Second, Chinese modders have many fewer resources than American modders. Americans are in regular contact with Blizzard through an official modding forum. A Blizzard employee, Slouken, has been instrumental in establishing cordial relations between Blizzard and modders. There is no Chinese Slouken and no official Chinese modding forum. WoW in China is distributed by a Chinese company, not by Blizzard, as per an arrangement with the Chinese government. At the time of the research the company was called The9. (It’s now NetEase.) The student with whom I conducted the research is a native speaker of Chinese, and we sent The9 an email asking about mods. The9 replied: “Mods are not provided by our officials. On the official website is merely a url [linking to mod compilation sites BigFoot and WoWShell] which is there to prevent players from downloading mods with trojans.” End of story! Check out the lively discussions on the Blizzard modding forums to see the huge difference in access to Blizzard and the information and help they provide American modders (and the English-speaking European modders who also read the forum).

Third, there are yet more resources for American modders, including forums beyond Blizzard’s and an actual textbook. A comprehensive book on modding was published by a mainstream press: World of Warcraft Programming: A Guide and Reference for Creating WoW Addons (Wiley, 2008, 1056 pages!, 3.2 pounds!). And there’s BlizzCon where modders meet face to face annually. They talk, compare notes, get to know each other, have a good time. Chinese modders have none of these advantages.

Chinese modding communities have done three things very well. They created thriving online communities—something new to most Chinese modders who were not conversant with what we think of as standard netiquette. They made available a good selection of mods to Chinese players through localization, enhancing play experience in the most efficient way possible—by taking existing code and making it work for Chinese gamers. And, they established a learning culture. Slowly Chinese modders are gaining better technical skills and a sense of how to work as a community. The learning environment in Chinese IM chatrooms and forums is expressed by showing respect for experienced modders who are addressed with the honorific Da, meaning “big,” “big brother,” or “boss.” One of our interviewees, a skilled modder said, “Yes, in CWDG [a Chinese modding site], I have many students.”

I think it is impressive that the Chinese modding community has produced and made available more than a thousand mods for Chinese players of World of Warcraft. Despite the lack of interaction with Blizzard, and the other resources and history American modders enjoy, Chinese modders have been pioneers in reshaping digital culture in China.

Aside from WoW, have you ventured into any other online games or do you have any plans to?

I am planning to look at some indie games. I’d like to see a different side of gaming, something that must be dramatically different than the world’s most profitable game.

Have you managed to persuade any of your peers, family or friends to play WoW?

Yes! My family has a small guild and we play WoW together and have a lot of fun.

Are you looking forward to Cataclysm and all of the changes it will bring forth?

I have played a little of the Cataclysm beta, and wrote a few blogs posts that are linked on the University of Michigan Press site for my book.

I loved the Goblin starting area—it’s brilliant—but I was sad about what has been done to Darkshore, and that there will be no versions of WoW with the old Darkshore. The rated battlegrounds may be the sleeper. I am not really a pvp player, but find battlegrounds to be a lot of fun. I might even collect some pvp gear if the level of play improves, and I expect it will add a new dimension to guild life as people organize teams.

Granted, I still hold to a rather nostalgic view of WoW, but with every expansion I’ve felt Blizzard has distanced itself from what made Azeroth so beautiful and immersive and have given more of an amusement park spin to the world. Not only that but I feel there is an increasing level of goofiness to the game that’s becoming harder and harder to ignore. My friends tell me to lighten up and enjoy the ride. Something tells me Cataclysm won’t allay these fears. Would you have anything to say to this other than “Lighten up, RC.”?

Bonnie Nardi

I can guarantee that you won’t like the Goblin starting area; it’s unabashedly an amusement park. It’s just done so well I was smitten. But I agree that the goofiness quotient has increased dramatically in WoW, although encounters like the Lich King are pretty epic. It’s a hard fight, and one that demands from players the kind of study, focus, and coordination that have always impressed me about WoW and what players bring to it.

WoW is a game, and if it doesn’t light you up, then it’s not play! Time to move on to whatever else is out there that affords the beauty and immersivness that were part of the original WoW for you.

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

I’ve probably written more than you bargained for, so thanks very much for this opportunity to connect with your readers!

Thank you, Bonnie.

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Reading the text: Luke Cuddy interview

Posted by Randolph Carter on February 8, 2010

Luke Cuddy is the co-editor of  two books on pop-culture and philosophy: World of Warcraft and Philosophy and The Legend of Zelda and Philosophy.  He is also a philosophy instructor, a copywriter for Vandusen Design, and a freelance writer.  In this interview Luke answers some hard-hitting questions about World of Warcraft and Philosophy, talks about how he plays WoW and what the rest of his gaming background has been like.

Luke’s website: Neo-Philosophy

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Could you take a minute and explain what World of Warcraft and Philosophy: Wrath of the Philosopher King is about?

The book is a collection of essays (and a couple of stories) that, in a very informal tone, explore some aspect(s) of WoW as it relates/connects to a particular philosopher or philosophical idea. In some cases, greater social issues are explored—for example, the relationship between Blizzard execs and the players themselves, or the real-world economic implications of in-game actions (like Gold-Farming).

Forgive me here, but how would you respond to someone who said that “philosophy” and “World of Warcraft” don’t belong on the same title page together let alone in an entire book discussing the two?

First, I would ask for this person to give me some premises rather than a conclusion alone. But I think this question really goes back to the distinction between those who believe philosophy itself is a specialized activity, only fit for a select few, and those (like Rene Descartes) who believe that philosophy should be brought to the masses in whatever way possible. Given that I’ve edited two books for Open Court’s Pop-Culture and Philosophy series, you can tell which side I’m on.

Or maybe the person has another intention that goes beyond WoW. Maybe she is implying that the nature of games is such that philosophy cannot help us understand them, and vice versa. After all, the person might argue, it’s only a game; it’s not real. Of course, claiming that the game is real or not is itself taking a philosophical stand on the issue. And even if it were argued that the game is, in fact, not real we could still ask why so many people experience it as real. All of this can help us address a key philosophical question: what is real? If WoW can help us understand this question, what else can it help us understand? Well, that’s what WoW and Philosophy is for…

How do you see World of Warcraft as an ideal environment for exploring philosophical concepts?

It’s a virtual environment with over 11 million users, each with a real life identity as well as an in-game identity. Although players have some limits in terms of creating a toon, they are not limited the way they are in many console RPGs. Furthermore players can do so many things as they play, like raid or gather herbs or terrorize noobs or explore. This vast amount of player freedom creates an ethical minefield. What will players actually do with this freedom? Will they adhere to the moral standards of “good” and “bad” behavior we observe in daily life, or will they hide behind the anonymity of a toon to become a “murderer” or a “tyrant” (as a guild leader, for example)? And these are only the ethical implications…

So, does the book target WoW fans specifically, or did you have a wider audience in mind?

It’s definitely for fans primarily. We want players to see the way that WoW participates in the long history of philosophical inquiry. We want players to think about what they’re doing in the game and why. Other readers can still get something out of the book, but they might feel a bit out of the loop when they come across references to the greater WoW community, like the Gnome Tea Party.

Ruminating on the books subtitle, how would you say Arthas stacks up as a philosopher king? Would he make Plato proud?

Well, despite living an interesting life, Arthas unfortunately doesn’t indicate a direct interest in the quest for knowledge and philosophy. Plato’s philosopher king is just that, a philosopher. I guess we don’t know enough about what Arthas did in his spare time, but my guess is that a detailed study would show that he doesn’t quite stack up. Plus, I don’t remember Plato suggesting that a philosopher king should kill his own father and mentor:)

Based on the reviews I’ve read of the book it seems those who have read it find it impossible to play WoW in the same way as they had before. Would you say the book was then working as intended?

Absolutely. As fans of philosophy, we want people to think about their experiences instead of just experiencing them, at least sometimes. Hopefully people who see WoW differently will eventually see life differently too.

Okay, so you’ve got Plato, Saint Augustine, Kant, Nietzsche and Marx running a 5-man heroic of Icecrown Citadel. Who would be the tank and who the healer? Also, who would most likely be the one to walk out with the phattest loot?

Haha, great question. To prevent a class struggle from occurring, Marx would be the healer, providing potions and buffs for all. And Kant, of course, would be the tank, given that he has a moral obligation to his fellow philosophers. I think Nietzsche’s ability to propel himself “beyond good and evil” might lead him to leave with the phattest loot.

You’re obviously no stranger to World of Warcraft. What has been your experience with the game (when did you start playing, what is your playing style, etc.)?

I love WoW. I think it’s one of the greatest games I’ve ever played. However, I’m told that I play differently than many other people. Although I’ve been on my share of raids, I prefer solo play. To me, it’s just amazing that there is this entire world to explore in the game, and sometimes it’s easier to explore on your own. I’ve built several characters up to about level 60 mostly by myself, then started an entirely new character and did the same thing. The thing is, I’m really an explorer, in the real and virtual worlds. I got deep into WoW a couple of years ago, but before that I had played one of my friends’ accounts (roommate at the time). Before WoW, I experimented with the original real-time strategy Warcraft games.

Would you mind giving us an overview of your gaming background?

I was a child when video games were coming into their own, consoles anyway. My brother and I had an Atari 2600. Later we got a Sega Master System which I still like despite having been virtually forgotten by the gaming community—the original Phantasy Star was my favorite. Later a friend got an NES. I remember waiting for school to end each day in 2nd grade so we could go home to play Zelda. As a teenager I got into first person shooters, beginning with Doom and Doom 2. Role playing games, of all kinds, are my favorite, though, and I’ve been playing them my whole life. I also play board games with some friends when I can. I like Settlers of Catan and the expansions.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with this gamer/reader audience (assuming they truly exist)?

Sure, I am working on Halo and Philosophy to be published next year. Any ideas?

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One shot: Gnomeaggedon

Posted by Randolph Carter on August 31, 2009

MMO community connection:

Armaggedon’s Coming

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

Armageddon’s Coming is a World of Warcraft Blog focusing on Fire Mages, Gnomes, Gnome Fire Mages, Mages in general and little bits and pieces that capture my imagination both in game and out. Often leaning towards the Q in QQ, but always with a healthy dose of appreciation for the excellent game that Blizzard have developed. Generally the out of game entries revolve around my toddler (Ironically, considering this is appearing on Grinding to Valhalla, my toddler’s name is Odin) or my experiences as a WoW playing parent.

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

World of Warcraft was my introduction to MMOs… Neverwinter Nights doesn’t count and that was the closest I ever got to one before.

It turned out that by the time I purchased the 3 sets of NWN to join my mates… they all left to play another game.. something called WoW…

As I had begged to be allowed to play NWN with my Mates, and my wife finally submitted and gave me the leave pass, I wasn’t prepared to try and convince her to let me play WoW right up…

However at Easter after the release of Vanilla WoW, while at a LAN with those same mates, one of them encouraged me to roll a warrior on his account.. just for a taste test… When I was dragged away from the screen some 3 hours later, it was only because my own copy of the game (purchased by my mates) was being waved in front of my face.

To be honest, the first experiences were average… the Warrior sucked… it was boring, and I am not a melee kind of player.

My 2nd experience in the MMO wasn’t much better… see I was mate number 6… and about 30 levels behind my mates, so it was just me and my pet (I rerolled a Hunter) for the 1st 30 levels.

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

It was around level 30, I was running down a road and someone running in the opposite direction /waved and buffed me.

OK, this sounds a bit strange, that I am playing an MMO and it was only about level 30 I experienced anything along the lines of the MMO nature… but being an Aussie, playing on a US server, often meant that I was playing alone. I remember doing a /who in the Arathi Highlands one night… I was the only player there.

As for real, OMG it’s so big moment… either running into Org one night to the crowded bank… or when we rerolled and started a guild on Khaz’Goroth server… we were the 2nd guild on the server, and one of the largest for some time, around 500 members… that became a full time job.

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

At my peak probably about 11-12 hours per week during TBC. Comprising 1 x 6 hour slot on a Friday night with my mates and 5-6x 1 hour slots in the morning while doing housework.. just playing the Auction House. It was the only way I could “grind” my Spellfire and Spellstrike sets.

These days it is pretty much purely the 6 hours per week, with the occasional leave pass to pay while my wife watches Desperate Housewives.

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

The basic answer is no. I don’t have any consoles and have no time for other PC games.

Once in a blue moon a mate will organize a game of Space Crusade (or similar) as a “night out”.

Even when I am at my mates LAN parties I tend to spend most of my time in WoW, catching up on all those things I couldn’t otherwise do.

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

I started blogging just over 12 months ago, June 23rd 2008 with my post You’ll always find me in the Kara at parties. I actually prepared a few posts ahead of time, so in the 1st 3 days I published 6 posts… something I didn’t intend to do, but I think in the end I was publishing about 1.5 posts on average a day… even though generally I only published on week days, and I was away for 2 months of my 1st year of blogging.

There is really only one blogging project… Armaggedon’s Coming!

To be honest it takes up more time than I can really afford… but it’s a passion. A passion that extends to all Mage blogs, which I love to publicize as I discover them. For some reason most Mage bloggers start because they can’t find any mage blogs… strange as I have about 60 of them in my blogroll!

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

It’s purely a hobby… something to relieve my addiction to WoW. I may not be able to play 24/7, but I can still write about it on the train!

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

Not really. I do attempt to write one post per day, but I usually have several in the works (about 20 online drafts and another dozen on the iPhone). My main schedule, or routine is to note any ideas I have in my iPhone immediately, then draft the post up on the way to work. It isn’t unusual for me to knock up 3 posts on my 40 minute train ride.

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

Definitely, but I think it’s an expectation driven problem. The problem is really of perspective, as a blogger you just feel you MUST write something every day, you MUST post something every day, you MUST get those viewer stats up.

My coping mechanism is to churn out the posts when they are bursting, schedule them, then relax. Usually if I am feeling really pressured (it is only internal pressure though), I will schedule a weeks worth of posts. Then once I feel the pressure subsides I will write at a calm, relaxed pace, and just shuffle the posts about.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?

There is no particular order for this, but numbered anyway…

1) The readers: Firstly it’s the page hits that really drive me, as much as I like to deny it. Luckily I have some guides there that just generate hits even though they are 12 months old now. So now I really enjoy the discussion with my regular and loyal readers, particularly the non-blogging readers (but definitely not excluding my fellow bloggers). People like Prelimar, Larisa and Jong, to name only a few of my very much loved readers, keep me coming back with more.

Recently my mother died, and it has been fantastic the support the community has given… best yet, they were all there waiting when I started writing again.

2) Brain dumping: I love to talk… I love to sprout rubbish, most of all I like to know people are listening to the rubbish I spout. The blog gives me the opportunity to QQ, dream, brag, cry etc in a relatively meaningful fashion… especially since my mates are tired of hearing my voice…

3) Reading other blogs and leaving comments. OK, not strictly blogging, but I challenge any blogger to say they don’t read and feed off other blogs. The community of WoW bloggers is amazingly close for such a disparate bunch of people and they really encourage you to push yourself to write again and again. So much of the stuff that is written is mind blowing… maybe not the best grammar, maybe sometimes a bit off center, but it is all worth a read.

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

4 things come immediately to mind.

1) My 1st comment came from Larisa from the Pink Pigtail Inn (actually it was the first 3 comments). She was the primary reason I was inspired to start blogging, so this was a great start, and the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

2) My 1st linkage from WoWInsider (now WoW.com), which was for a silly little post about the similarities between parenthood and WoW: WoW is like bringing up kids.  I thought the WordPress stats were broken when I first checked, then it dawned on me.

3) The loss of some of my favorite bloggers. They come and go of course, but they were inspirations to me (both to blog and for post concepts), so it was sad to see them go (and reappear… Jong & Megan!)

4) For my 1st blog anniversary, I decided I would let my readers write the posts… for a couple of days. I thought this would be a nice way for me to have an easy blogging week. It turned out I received a pile of quality responses and screenshots and it took about 2 weeks to get all my “Blogday Presents” posted. It really struck me that I had some quality readers out there, that were prepared to go to serious lengths to reward/thank me for my efforts over the previous 12 month… I love you guys!

Have you ever considered branching into podcasting?

No.. I have contemplated guesting on a podcast or two, but the reality is I don’t have any time to even do that. The Aussie timezone difference makes it hard to contribute to US podcasts as their recording time is usually midday Aussie time when I am either at work, or with Family… and I am a family 1st WoW player.

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

Pleased… Yes..

Amazed… Yes..

Stunned – you wanted to include me here, on Grinding to Valhalla!?!

I keep getting told how positive Armageddon’s Coming is, which strikes me as strange as I wouldn’t say that I am the most positive person in real life. That said, I do enjoy the game and I am constantly seeing the fun aspects of WoW.

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

Not much that I can think of.

If I had more time I might go self hosted, but I don’t, and I think WordPress.com (or any of the 3rd party hosted blogs) is the best way to start, just to see if you are up to the constant grind.

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

1) Write. Write what you love (or hate) about your subject matter.

2) It is certainly easier if you pick a niche, even it’s as broad as “everything about WoW”, but it is better if you are even more refined (yet don’t limit yourself too narrowly and run out of subject matter by the end of the 1st week)

3) Read other blogs, leave comments, make friends.

4) Bounce off other blogs, respond to them via your own posts, expose them to your readers etc.

5) Write as much as you can while you are enjoying it, slow down when you aren’t

6) Stats don’t make a blog, they may encourage you to write more, but they aren’t important in the whole scheme of things. If you need that sort of external acknowledgment, write a guide, preferably a timeless guide, so the hits come in even if you are AFK (As I was for a month recently)

7) People that comment are your friends, acknowledge them… the new ones, the old ones, the lurkers. Yes the lurkers will come forward every now and then, they deserve to be recognized for coming forward.

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

Yes, that time nearly came a few months back… but the real reason for that wasn’t that I was tired of blogging, rather that I thought I was giving up WoW. When I give up WoW there will be no good reason to continue with Armaggedon’s Coming and it is unlikely I will write a personal blog, so unless some other game inspires me to the extent WoW does, the keyboard will be binned.

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.

Mmmmm, well there would be two factions containing multiple races that can perform as different classes. They would be able to solo grind, run group quests and instances and closer to the end game form into larger groups, or raids, to take on the toughest content…ohhh… errrrmmm… sound familiar?

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One shot: Matticus

Posted by Randolph Carter on July 23, 2009

MMO community connection:

World of Matticus

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

World of Matticus is a WoW related blog centralized around healing and guild leadership. There’s a great Shaman and Druid writer who I am honored to be working along side with. Now I just have to find a Paladin to help me out. Anyway, you’ll find posts with healing strategies and practical advice for bosses. For the raiders, the GMs, and the officers, the team provides the varying perspectives and experiences to help advise readers on different day-to-day or unique guild situations.

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

Oof, this goes back a while. My first real MMO would have been Guild Wars. It exposed me to an actual online environment where I could engage and interact with other players. The fact that it didn’t have a subscription fee at the time was what sold me. I was in high school when it came out. Couldn’t afford WoW at the time so I resorted to Guild Wars!

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

The first real WOW! MMO moment would have been winning and capturing the Hall of Heroes. HoH was a PvP tournament style competition within Guild Wars. Basically, organized groups or guilds would face off against one another or in 3-guild free for alls. The teams with the most wins would then face the guild that held the Hall of Heroes. It was very regional based. It could’ve been held by Korean players or by Europeans or by those on North America. It’s funny though. Once we finally won, my friends and I sort of stopped playing and moved on as we felt we pretty much accomplished what we wanted to do.

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

I’d probably spend a solid 30 hours a week especially in between semesters. Most of it was spent idling trade chat in a city just keeping an eye for any deals or pickup raids. I’d use that time watching movies or reading blogs or something.

At present, I spend a minimum of 12 hours a week to raid. I’d venture a guess and say somewhere in the lower 20 hour a week range.

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

No, I’ve never truly experienced burnout in WoW. Not at the point where I felt like I had to uninstall the game. I’ve been playing the game since Vanilla. I think Zul’Gurub had just been released. I’ve maintained a steady pace. How I’ve managed to avoid burnout is a mystery even to me. You’d think a player who has done so much and has played so often would get sick of everything and just step back for a while.

You know, I think I partially credit that to my blog. I’ve always wanted to maintain a high level of quality and production on my blog. And no matter what anyone else says, it’s hard to write about something you’re not interested in. You have to keep some hours invested in the game to come up with fresh content and material. I had no desire to be one of those fly by night blogs where I’d post strong for a while and then disappear forever. It was my goal to try and become a regular resource and voice. In order to do that, you just have to keep playing.

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

I played a Monk in guild wars. The healing mentality never really left me. A Monk and a Priest are relatively similar in terms of ideology so it wasn’t a far stretch by any means. I did my research and found that the most sought after race/class combination (at the time) was a Dwarf Priest. They were the only race/class combination in the game that had access to Fear Ward. I correctly deduced that being able to cast Fear Ward would offer a slight edge over other Priests. I was a little disappointed when the patch hit that gave Fear Ward to every Priest. But I understood the reasons and i accepted it.

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

I play a lot of shooters. Counter-strike was one of my first competitive games. Played with a team of other players and we even joined a league (I managed to get carried to CAL-M for those of you that understand ^^). Nowadays, I’ll bury myself in some Call of Duty 4. Lately I’ve been getting back into Battlefield 2 with some university friends. There’s something satisfying about planting two C4 charges on the back of a tank.

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

I started blogging during the summer of 2007. Actually, the blog’s birthday is coming up sometime in late August. We’ll be entering our second year. Here’s a timeline of all events that I consider significant:

  • August 2007 – World of Matticus is created
  • Winter 2008 – Blog Azeroth formed under Phaelia of Resto 4 Life. I try to help and support as much as possible.
  • April 2008 – Invited to join what is now known as wow.com as their Priest columnist.
  • June 2008 – Foundation of a new healer only community is formed. Auzara of chickgm.com comes up with the name plusheal.com. The groundwork is laid out, forums are established and then open to public. Wynthea joins to help me with theorycrafting interpretation (because I can’t read numbers much).
  • August 2008 – One year anniversary of World of Matticus. A young sapling writer known as Sydera is invited to join the team being declared winner of a blogging audition/contest.
  • Winter 2009 – Ambitious Resto Shaman named Lodur applies after I post casting calls for Resto Shaman help.
  • Spring 2009 – Spotting a void in the WoW blogging community, I felt the time was right to try my hand at launching another WoW blog. Nostockui.com is born for those who want to learn about addons and altering their gaming experience.
  • Summer 2009 – BLIIIIZZZCONNNNNNN! :D

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

To me, I think of blogging as a passion. I guess that’s a step or two higher than a hobby. When i started out, in the back of my head I wondered if it was possible to make money doing this kind of stuff. But I realized very quickly it would be a ton of hard work and the returns may not be as high. I just kind of stuck with it more as an internal challenge to myself to see if I could do it. I’ve been hooked ever since.

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

Usually I’ll sit in a coffee shop of some sort and grind out 3-4 posts and draw up outlines or flesh out future post ideas on a Saturday. Lately, I’ve been taking a bit of a pseudo break. I’ve been under the gun lately so I’ve slowed down a bit and just pacing myself.

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

Oh yeah, absolutely. This happens no matter what activity. Some days it’s just going to feel like a grind and you just have to work your way through it. WoW bloggers typically don’t get paid to write. When many of them hit a grind or a dead end, they just say forget it (perhaps with a different f word even). Perhaps the words don’t come. Or they’re staring down a blank page with a great topic but without knowing what to put down on paper. Maybe the ideas are crap.

This is what separates WoW bloggers from one another. Do they crumple up their draft and toss it in the trash or do they plant their ass in the chair and continue working knowing that they’re not going to see a tangible benefit? It’s entirely about how we deal with such feelings and bad days.

I do my best to try and come up with something. It’s not always successful. There have been days where my internal creativity well has dried up. When that happens, I’ll log in to the game for a while. Maybe I’ll read some other blogs or re-read emails. I’ll surf my comments on my blog. Usually I’m able to come up with something worth writing about.

Not every post has to be a detailed 1000 post behemoth with images, maps, or diagrams.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?

The people. I’ve met a lot of great people online via Twitter. Only seen a handful in person. It’s a narcotic feeling everytime someone says they read your work. It doesn’t happen very often, but I do treasure those the most.

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

I don’t know. I can’t think of one off the top of my head. Come back to me in a few years. Maybe I’ll have a cool story to share like I’ve met my future wife via blogging or that I got offered an insanely cool gig due to my projects.

Have you ever considered seriously branching into podcasting?

Yes. But I’m so spread out with my work and school. I don’t have the technical skills or the time to invest in it. I’d rather not partake in a project if I can’t throw myself behind it full force. I don’t like to half-ass things especially when its blog related.

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

Absolutely. I’m happy and also incredibly humbled by the amount of players out there that read our work. Almost approaching 4000 subscribers. That is no small feat. I won’t rest until I hit 5000 at least. But yeah, I do try to engage with other blogs and other bloggers via Twitter. There’s absolutely no harm at trying to maintain a good relationship with readers.

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

I would’ve changed the name. I didn’t know enough about branding at the time. But it’s a bit late for that now. I was more concerned with just getting out there and starting to write. Didn’t fully think it through as hard as I should have.

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

Just write. Whatever idea you get, never reject it. Change it, alter it, modify it if you’re not satisfied. There is no such thing as a bad idea. Whatever you put down, you’re either going to learn from it or others are going to learn from it. I view blogging as a never ending learning and teaching process.

Get in the habit of writing regularly. It doesn’t have to be often. It just has to be consistent. There’s enough blogs out there that don’t make it past the 60 day mark (it’s a specific threshold for me as most bloggers don’t make it past 2 months before they quit).

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

I can’t. I shouldn’t say that actually. I mean, it’s really hard to say. If WoW shut down, I’d probably shift over and write about something else or a different game. Right now I started up a food blog for restaurants in my area (yeah, Matt the food critic!). Although its not really a blog since its more of an internal reminder for myself and some friends. Places that I liked along with dishes or restaurants that I weren’t too fond of so that I can steer clear of them. Sometimes you remember going to a place to eat but you just can’t remember what it was like eating there or what you ordered.

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.

Hands down, I’d invest wholeheartedly in a Stargate MMO. I love the series and the franchise. I wish it’d come to fruition already!

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One shot: Samueltempus

Posted by Randolph Carter on July 16, 2009

MMO community connection:

Slice and Dice

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

Slice and Dice is mainly focused on PVE Roguery and being the leader of a semi-casual raiding guild, though I have been known to branch out occasionally. For instance, when I was testing the Wrath beta, my content shifted to my Paladin, and then back to the Rogue at launch. I have recently looked into PvP related Roguery as well, however PvE is definitely more my niche.

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

World of Warcraft is the only MMO that I’ve ever played. Originally, I thought the idea of an MMO was pretty dumb, and that as a console RPG player I’d never play one. Then one fateful day, my brother was visiting the Mrs. and I, and I he was listening into a Vent conversation of a guild Kara run, and I was hooked. I went out and got the game the next day, and I’ve been addicted ever since.

For all it’s flaws, WoW is a well written game, based in a universe that I was already very familiar with. I’ve played every RTS that Blizzard has ever made, and though I’m a huge fan of Starcraft and DIablo, the Warcraft games were always my favorite.

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

When I started playing, other than my brother dropping off 4 Netherweave bags, I was left alone to level, and given little to no instruction as to what to do. A few days after I had started playing I kept hearing about this VC place I was going to be taken to. I had found Ironforge, and Loch Modan, but didn’t know how to get anywhere else.

It’s silly, but my first “Wow!” moment was the Tram ride to Stormwind. I can remember going through the tunnel, and halfway through looking up and seeing into the water, thinking “now that’s pretty cool.” I’ve since been “Wowed” many times over, through triumph, exploration and many times, defeat. That tram ride, and the numerous runs through The Deadmines, I mean VC, was just as epic to me as the first time I stepped into a raid. To this day, I run every guilded Rogue through VC when they “come of age.”

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

Too much my wife would say, but at peak times, I’ve put in 60+ hours a week (80+ according to the wife that edited). I can do that without too much of an issue during the summer, as I’m a teacher. During the school year, I game much less.

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

My brother used to call a Gnome Rogue his main, and that’s what I decided to level. I’ve been hooked ever since. I like the stealth nature of the rogue class, and the amount of control you have in any given situation. A lot of people think that it’s just faceroll to control a fight, but in fact there’s a lot of thinking involved with picking apart a situation to skew it in your favor. I’ve leveled a lot of alts, and from a control standpoint, the Rogue excels beyond all others.

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

There was a point at the end of TBC that my guild was falling apart, my brother stopped playing and we were just doing what we could to stay afloat. That was the closest I’ve come to completely burning out and quitting WoW. Fortunately, I had some good officers that helped me pull it together, and the fact that my wife was not only playing but enjoying and excelling at the game helped too. She’s since become an Officer herself, and nearly as addicted I (small fib, but mainly true).

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

Wow keeps me away from some very good console games. However, when I find the time, My PS3 and Wii get some love too. I’ve gotten away from the RPGs recently and play a variety of other games. Here’s what I’ve most recently played:

PS3:

  • Metal Gear Solid 4
  • Warhawk, Killzone 2
  • Bioshock
  • Resident Evil 4
  • Dead Space
  • NCAA
  • And when I get to it Infamous

Wii:

  • WiiFit
  • Metroid Prime 3
  • Punch Out!!!
  • And plethora of old school stuff for the Virtual Console

I’m also still playing Starcraft and Diablo II getting ready for the next chapter in both series.

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

Slice and Sice originally started at blogspot.com as a way for me to get information out to my second raid group that was progressing through Karazhan. When the raiding died down and the guild began to crumble, I stopped. Nearing the Wrath Launch, Phaelia (so sad that she’s not blogging anymore), wrote a post about blogging and it rekindled my writing flame.

I setup a WordPress account and got to work. Initially, I did some posts about what was going on in game with me, and talked about my time in beta. Once I started writing more about my class, more people got interested in what I had to say. I’m not the most popular blogger out there but I’ve done what I can to try to help people that are playing the Rogue class, as well as provide some insight into guild leadership.

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

I try to write at least once a week, and when I have the opportunity, as often as I can. As far as a routine, I don’t really have one. Sometimes I’ll write ideas out by hand before I type the posts. It’s amazing what a good fountain pen coupled with a legal pad and some coffee will do. It’s a tad old fashioned, but I feel like I get my best work done that way. Admittedly though, the majority of my posts are written on the spot, and sometimes on a complete whim.

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

I don’t really consider it much of one. Admittedly writing a long post can drag on forever and feel like a grind. However that’s generally preferred over writer’s block, even though it can be annoying in its own right. Honestly, as long as you enjoy writing and you have things to write about, it’s not bad at all.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?

I love comments. I love reading that people have found my posts entertaining, but I’m even happier when they tell me that I was helpful to them. I started writing to help my guild, but more recently have been able to help some of the Rogue community with issues they have. I also enjoy other people replying to comments on my site to help people as well.

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

One day I got an email from a reader of my blog. He’d stumbled on it while looking for tips on how to level a Rogue, and kept checking on the blog and reading up. It seemed that his current guild had kicked him out becuase he couldn’t make their raids and they had been transitioning to a more hardcore raiding type guild. He had been reading about our guild, Bucklers of Swash, and asked if we were still looking for members.

I told him that we were, but I didn’t want him to transfer servers without getting to know us a little first. He rolled an alt on Mug’thol, and we invited him into our raid to read chat as we were doing some of our first Ulduar progression. Long story short, he decided to transfer over, and now he’s one of our core members. It’s one of the coolest things that has ever happened because of the blog.

Have you ever considered branching into podcasting?

Yes. I have all of the equipment to do a high quality podcast. I really don’t know what I’d ramble about for 15-20 minutes though, or if I could do one often enough to make it worthwhile. When BigRedKitty was doing his podcasts, they were my favorite. I had them on my ipod, and even listened to them in the car. I don’t know that I could put out anything that’s nearly as entertaining.

Are you pleased with where your blog is in the MMO blogosphere?

Yes. Six months ago I was relatively unheard of, and while I’m not pulling in massive numbers every day, I get solid traffic daily. I feel that what I’m doing has meaning, and I enjoy the time I spend writing. I feel like an accepted, respected member of the blogging community, whether people agree with me or not. In fact, some of my favorite commentary on my site is when people disagree with me. It allows me to either refine or review my own opinions. I think I’ve learned more that way than I’ve passed on to others.

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

I don’t know that there’s a lot that I would have done different. If anything, finding a focus and sticking with it sooner than I did would be the only change I could think of. I’d also get someone to proof my work. Maybe I should get the Mrs. on that from now on.

In the game, I don’t think I’d change a thing. I like what I play, and being a member of the Alliance, even if my battlegroup can’t consistently win certain BG’s, or if the Horde has defended Wintergrasp at least 10 times as many as the Alliance has. I will admit that I prefer the Horde Mtn Dew Game fuel though. It’s significantly more tasty.

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

  • Be original, and be yourself. No one wants to read something that’s been covered 15 times already.
  • Find your niche and stick with it. If you’re all over the place, you have a hard time attracting a reader base.
  • Set aside a time to work on your craft. If you only work on your project when you have the time, it’s much easier to brush it aside.
  • Be patient, and keep at it. It takes a while to get a successful blog up and running.
  • Don’t promise anything. You’d be surprised how often you can’t keep them.

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

I’ve thought about it occasionally, though never seriously. I usually feel this way when I can’t come up with a topic to write about, and then I either get involved in some in-game shenanigans or I get a brief (and fleeting) stroke of genius. I’ll probably play and blog about World of Warcraft until the game dies out. Hopefully, that’s not any time soon. Although, I’ll always be a gamer, so perhaps I’d create a new blog based on what I’m doing post-WoW

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.

I would make a horrible game designer, because I’d create games that are exactly like the ones I play today. Despite my lack of originality in format, there’s a book I’ve been slowly writing over the years (and I mean slowly) that I’d probably base my game on. I think it would make an interesting MMO.

Without getting into too much detail, it’s set in a post-apocalyptic environment about a 1000 years after the downfall of the previous society. The denizens of the world don’t remember much about the society that existed back then, and the protagonist works on unraveling what happened. It would be interesting to see a game based in that world, and what would happen as the players started to reverse-engineer anything they could find of the old civilization. Maybe I should get back to writing that…

Anyway, if I were smart, I’d follow the Blizzard model in creating the game so that while innovative, it would run well on a majority of the current users computers, and run exceptionally well on high end machines.

Alas, I’m not a game designer, and my book is nowhere near done, so for the time being, it’s a moot point. Maybe someday I’ll finish the book, and hopefully still be blogging to get the word out about it. Who knows….

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