Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces


Posted by Randolph Carter on March 9, 2009

MMO community connection:

Free Play Podcast

Chapter 1: Introduction

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

My current, and longest standing one is Andras Krigare, Andras being the name of some demon on wikipedia, and Krigare being the swedish word for warrior. Note, it should really be (“Kree” “gar” “eh”)

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

I am the official analogist at the Free Play Blog. I also make sure that no one has an easy job editting by adding inappropriate comments on occassion.

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

We try to provide a complete review source for everyone who enjoys the MMO experience, but, like me, hates monthly fees.

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

I was born in Sweden, but moved over to CT

Where do you live now?

In MD (or Maryland for the laymen)

Your level (age) is somewhere in the range of (pick one)

Mental age: 0-10
Physical age: 10-20

What do you do for a living?

I make pizzas like you would not believe. +5 DEX apron.

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

Most likely game development/programming. Or a Scientist. Whichever has better crafting.

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

  • I run around in circles for a sport. REALLY big circles
  • I can touch my spine from my front
  • My favorite game of all time is Star Wars Republic Commando
  • I once stripped for $40
  • The last one was a lie

Feel free to discuss any family you have here.

Now, is that a politely phrased demand, or a genuine offer?  Either way, I’m probably going to answer anyways. By probably I mean most definitely. My parents got divorced when I was younger, but it went as smoothly as that kind of thing can go. Mom’s kinda “spiritual” and somewhat hard for me to relate to, but over-all she’s pretty cool. My dad’s much more into technology and, by the transitive property, easier to relate to. I got two sisters, one of which I don’t exactly get along with, and two step siblings, who I usually keep at arms length. I’m pretty sure I have more family, but I’m not going to go into the whole genealogy here.  We got some cats, too. Heh. There’s another word for cats that’s funny.

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?

I mostly played single player games as a hermit, but I did get Smash Bros. for the N64 and played with my sisters… And then they didn’t want to play with me after losing a few times with max handicap. Grrg.

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

I liked/like to run around in really big circles, also known as running Track and Cross Country. Listening to music, reading the odd book here and there. Oh, and I liked to play dress-up.

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

I was exposed, but only recently, and it was filled with shenanigans and over-all silliness.

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 used to be big into Sci-Fi, some great works include anything by Micheal Crichton, The Last Book in the Universe, and any of the “classics”

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.

In a sense, yes, but only in the idea that I enjoy sci-fi games. I think that has more to do with the technology aspect than any literature I enjoyed prior. They do give me slight pains when reading quest text, though.

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

A friend of mine at my old bus stop played the Game Boy Color, and when I saw the amazing potential of it, I had to have one. From there it careened into computer games, the playstation, the N64, and so on.

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

I would try my hand at Smiles Entertainment Center, and I would spend seemingly endless amounts of allowance on the styling of House of the Dead. I think that’s what really got me into shooter games.

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

That would most likely be Pokemon Blue. The impression it left wasn’t so much in the content, but in the ability it possessed to hold my attention. It was my first grinding experience.

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advanced, Playstation, N64, Ninetendo Gamecube, Xbox, Xbox 360, Wii

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

I played the Star Wars Dark Forces 2 game, and fell completely in love. I still consider it one of my top 15 games of all time.

Chapter 3: Online

Were you ever exposed to MUDs?

I was back before the Free Play Gamers when I was just trying to find a good F2PMMO. I was enthralled by the retro feel, but quickly grew tired of it.

What was your first MMO experience?

That’s a toughy, since I would usually mooch off of Riknas and all the MMOs he played, but the first that I owned and paid for was City of Villains around 2005 or 06. My computer thought that it could run the game, but I would have half-hour to 45-minute loading times. I didn’t renew.

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

Okay, so we got the aforementioned City of Villains, where I typically played a DPS stalker, and occassionally a mastermind.

Then I went onto my stepbrother’s World of Warcraft account, where I tried a hunter and warrior, I think I only got up to around level 15.

Then… Eve online, which I returned to again later. I was going for EWar, and got the reqs for an interceptor.

After that it gets blurry with all of the different F2P MMOs I went wandering to after that.

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

Love Guild wars, but I haven’t had the memory to re-install it, I still approve of Eve online, though I don’t feel too compelled to play it at the moment. Really, I’m keeping my eyes on the horizon.

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

Well, Eve without question, but there was a lot of mindless work involved there. The MMO I’ve put the most active thought into was probably…. World of Warcraft once we got steady group nights going.

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

No, that’s still a goal of mine. (Makes me feel like a poser)

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?

First off, I’d ask if I could get something else instead (a superpower perhaps?) When he would undoubtedly laugh and threaten to take away his wish, I would probably have to say (almost guiltily) Guild Wars, but I’d have to do so out of ignorance, really. I would probably start to say Eve Onli-, but after the gloss of the player interaction wore off, I’d realize that would not be an intelligent choice. In the end, I might have to settle for a ressurected Tabula Rasa. Before anyone gets ready to through bottles at me, I feel that if TR were the only MMO and had the amazing revenue stream and extended time (without having to keep scrapping 90% of its code), it might have had something really amazing there, and its failure was just a case of too little, too late, not the absence of ambition.

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

There are quite a few MMOs I’m interested in, the first that comes to mind being Fallen Earth. I love the post-apocolyptic setting (morbid, maybe; fun, we think so) and the FPS ideas with it. The team seems to have reasonable goals set for themselves, aiming for a consistent base if not a large one, and they have a completely different outlook on crafting. I won’t go into total detail on every MMO I’m watching, but Champions Online, Jumpgate Evolution, and the possible Stargate Online.

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

I suppose mine will fall into the category of interesting, and might take place over too long a timeline to truly be considered an anecdote, but since this is a question that I will “feel free” to answer, it shouldn’t matter too much.

So, whilst playing eve online, I ended up joining a corporation, whose leader was absent for a good deal of time. During this period, me and my accomplice (Riknas) decided we would try and make him the new CEO, since we could not be certain if the old one would return. In order to do this, we had to do quite a bit of social networking, to the point where I actually used the game’s notepad feature to keep track of who had what opinions on the matter, and who it would be best to avoid. Eventually Riknas got voted in, and upon doing so the former-CEO came back and pronounced his concern over the matter in a most colorful way. There the corp split, much like the Sunni and Shi’a, over who supported who. The old corp leader got another corporation to try and completely obliterate us, but Riknas was able to enlist the aid of a wonderful person we met very early one, who got HIS friend in a mercenary corp to declare war on the offending corporation.Throughout this there was lots of hiding in stations, frantically asking anyone if the coast was clear, quickly warping to a nearby station if a corp member said they were under attack.

Oh, yeah, and we only joined the corp to try and rob them.

Chapter 4: Preferences

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

I probably spent 45 – 50 hours a week gaming. Now that the rest of the “busy” world has caught up with me, I usually get about 5 – 10. I’m not sure if this is a bad thing or a good thing.

When during the week are your regular play times?

I wish I had them, its usually whenever I get some free time. I guess it would typically be early weekends and late weekdays

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 a shy wolf, I would say. I don’t like meeting and grouping with random people in MMOs, but I think I’m usually pretty sociable once I’m introduced by a more extroverted friend like Riknas here. It’s a weird dichotomy since I absolutely hate soloing.

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

I’m not sure if the friendship was made through the MMO or through other mediums, but to be safe, I will say yes.

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 typically forget where I was when signing into the MMO, so I usually do whatever I feel like in the game, unless there’s a pressing auction item or something which requires previous planning.

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

Definitely one at a time, but only for fiscal reasons.

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

I usually have the other games ready for my breaks in between MMOs, but when I have one that I’m subscribed to, I feel I won’t be getting my money’s worth unless I play it in all my free time. Which kinda ends up killing the game a bit. I should probably stop that.

Are you something of an altoholic?

I wish I knew what that me- oh! Like alternate characters! Then, yes, since in most games (most notably City of Heroes) I love the character creation and set-up, and it usually takes me a few run throughs before I create a character I feel like investing considerable time into.

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 feel like if I do that, the game I’m playing probably isn’t worth the money involved. That said, in F2P games, I will often do it. The one I can remember most clearly was playing runescape on my laptop, grinding for runes, while watching the Twilight Zone marathon.

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

YES! I would adjust the font and make it larger, but I fear that adjustment might not make it into the final product. As a note, larger fonts are typically used to add emphasis, what I’m trying to achieve here. I find myself talking about MMO comparisons, rumors, opinions, theories, and anything else you can think of to anyone with the slightest care for MMOs, and a few that do not.

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

There was a time when I felt a gamed too much, particularly during those 45- 50 weeks. I eventually decided that I would immediately stop gaming given the slightest opportunity to do anything else. This actually helped quite a bit, as I took more walks, hung out with more friends, and played more boardgames. In my current situation, I feel like I could stand to play games a bit more. Ah well.

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

Yes, I take fairly frequent breaks. Usually I get tired of the MMO I’m playing and stop until Riknas “drags” me into the next one. I daresay these stints are longer than the time I actually play MMOs, with the exception of when we review the F2P ones. I don’t really count those.

Chapter 5:  Podcasting

When did you first start podcasting?

I first started podcasting with Riknas with a show called Behind The Front Lines, which was for the late Tabula Rasa (may it rest in peace). The show was fun, but a bit difficult considering the game was hardly dynamic enough to warrant its own podcast, and a lot of what we did was merely reading some news and sharing our opinions about it. We did get to interview the community manager which was pretty fun.

After leaving that (me because my computer could not even run the came which I was podcasting about) there was a while that we didn’t do anything, and we felt the need to. We through some ideas around with reviewing things, and reviewing MMOs, and reviewing things on an incredibly cheap budget, and F2P MMOs seemed like an obvious choice. We started the blog on gax online alternating reviewing games in textual form, and once I acquired a functioning microphone, we quickly moved on into the Free Play Podcast that you may know us as today.

I do sort of miss some of the things you can do textually, but not verbally.

Why do you podcast?

Funny things, I originally misread this as How do you blog/podcast and wrote up this nice answer involving skype and audacity.

There are certainly many unflattering reasons why I might podcast, such as the inflated ego, the imaginary popularity I receive, the feeling of raw power the likes of which might only be rivaled with that of a certain Death Star. But I think its mostly the feeling of accomplishment, of progression, that I cannot derive from my school or work. It also, oddly enough, makes me feel professional in a way which, though hard to describe, is incredibly compelling. On many occasions due to scheduling issues and my own short memory, I’ve brushed off threats from Riknas by saying I wouldn’t really care to much to be off the show; it would give me more free time. That may be true, but I would have the feeling that something would be conspicuously missing.

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

Yes and no. We have been changing our schedule a bit here and there, and some things get missed for whatever reasons.

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

The grind usually comes when I occasionally have to edit the podcast. There is a lot of listening through, stopping, adjusting someone’s volume, listening a little more. The easiest way to cope is to try and actually listen the podcast; while we’re recording it we really don’t get the same understanding of what everyone is saying as when you listen to is passively.

Trying to make a switch to just syncing up two audacity recordings, which should alleviate that, but who knows?

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about podcasting?

I would say the actual recording of the episode. It’s nice to be able to have a fun, possibly intelligent discussion ( a thing Riknas and I will do in our free time anyways) while also feeling that we are contributing to the community in some way because of it, that we are providing a service.

How many people offline know you podcast?

Narcisist that I am, I’ve told more or less everyone I know with mixed results. I would say only 4 or 5 know and actually seem to care. One of them is my girlfriend, who doesn’t play games, so I’m not sure she counts.

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

GET A CO-HOST! But, more importantly, get a co-host you have some chemistry with. Podcasts, in my opinion, are more about having a conversation than listing off news or opinions. When I listen to podcasts its usually because I’m in a situation where I can only listen and not interact in any way. Podcasts still give you the feeling of being in a conversation, even when you are unable to contribute.

Co-hosts also halve any work you have to do, provided you split it evenly.

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

I’m not sure there is any specific tidbit of knowledge or advice I would have benefitted from when I started, it’s more the experience and comfort I know have in podcasting that I think helps more. There aren’t as many stare-at-the-microphone moments, and bloopers are dealt with pretty seamlessly so that we can get back on track quickly.

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

I can picture this future, but it is also marred with air-raid sirens, machine gun fire, Swastikas and very possibly and oncoming alien invasion. Short of that, no.

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?

Zippidy Doo-dah

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