Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces


Posted by Randolph Carter on March 22, 2009

MMO community connection:


Chapter 1: Introduction

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

David “No Nickname” Bailey

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

I maintain a blog at which I really didn’t think too many people knew about.

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

My blog mostly reflects the games I’m playing at the moment and my experiences in them.

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

I was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. My dad was in the military so I was fortunate enough to grow up in many different cities across the country, however most of my time has been spent in Ottawa, Edmonton, and Winnipeg.

Where do you live now?

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Your level (age) is somewhere in the range of (pick one): 10-20, 21-30, 31-40, 41-50, 51-60, 61-70, 71-80, 81-90

33 years old according to my birth certificate. 8 years old according to my wife.

What do you do for a living?

I’m a Network Administrator and second level support for a large organization. My duties include many things that would probably sound very boring.

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

Growing up I always wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps and become a pilot for the military. I think that’s something I’d really enjoy. Of course, If I’m allowed to dream here, I’d be playing for the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL.

List five random things most people don?t know about you.

  • I love to sing, and do so constantly when home alone.
  • When I was a kid I drew a comic book featuring a character named Scabman. He was a regular guy who had been decapitated and the ensuing fountain of blood dried up and formed a new head made entirely out of scab. I still have it buried in my closet somewhere.
  • I like to tell my friends that I write fiction.
  • In my younger days I once gave myself a horrible looking black eye when I went to dive on to my bed, over shot it, and face-planted into the wall.
  • After watching the movie “Heat” I wanted to become a professional criminal

Feel free to discuss any family you have here.

I’ve been married to my wonderful, beautiful wife for seven years and we have an adorably cute two year old daughter.

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?

Growing up I used to play board games quite often with my two sisters. We played the typical games, Monopoly, LIFE, Sorry, etc. Aside from board games, most of my time was spent outside with the neighbourhood kids playing ball tag, hide and go seek, and just about any other game we could think of.

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

I’ve played hockey my whole life, and soccer until I was fifteen or so. I was forced to take piano lessons for one year which I didn’t enjoy.

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

I wasn’t heavily exposed to pen and paper RPGs, but I always wanted to play them. I had the basic set (Red Box) released in 1983 but only played it a little bit with a few friends off and on, certainly not enough to leave a lasting impression. Only recently, with the release of fourth edition have I started to play more, although due to various commitments and other excuses, we don’t get together as much as I’d like. I love the idea of playing, making it happen is where the difficulty lies.

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 wasn’t a heavy reader. Any reading I did was either comic books (X-Factor, Batman), or Choose Your Own Adventure-style books. My favourites were the Fighting Fantasy books done by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, of which I had quite a few.

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.

There’s no doubt the books I read had an influence on my video gaming habits, especially the Fighting Fantasy books which are essentially basic computer role-playing games, minus the computer. I once converted one of the books, I think it was “Island of the Lizard King”, into a simple game using BASIC on my Commodore 64. I literally re-typed the book into the program and connected all the pages using a series of GOTO statements based on whatever page the player wanted to go to next. I had a lot of free time back then.

As far as I can remember I’ve enjoyed exploring alternate worlds and the books I read, and later, the games I played complemented that.

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

I don’t remember having a huge interest in video games as a kid. Back then the only time I saw them were in the malls on display (I have no idea what systems, probably Colecovision) or arcade machines in restaurants. A friend of mine eventually got an Atari system and even then I don’t really remember playing with it much; we were always outside.

Things started to change when my dad brought home a Commodore 64 one day (if I were to hazard a guess, I’d say it was 1983-84ish). That thing rocked my world, it was so cool. Miner 2049er was the first game I played on it and I was hooked. As such, I consider the C64 my introduction to video games.

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

When I was little, the arcades were strictly off-limits. It was where all the “bad kids” went. As a result, aside from the odd machine in a restaurant here and there I didn’t play the coin-ops until later.

When I was about 13 or 14 there was a local arcade that would let you book your birthday party there. This became the big thing for my circle of friends to do. The birthday boy would get an unlimited supply of quarters while everyone else got a set amount, and we’d just go crazy for an hour or two. Those birthday parties were amazing.

The corner store by my place had a Double Dragon machine which was the greatest thing ever for that particular summer. I remember feeling pretty awesome the time I finished that game on one quarter. The crappy thing about it was when playing co-op, I could never seem to beat my friend at the very end after fighting the machine gun dude, and I’d always lose the girl.

Later on, during my last year or two of high-school, there was a place that had eight Daytona USA cabinets connected together. A bunch of us would go and race each other on weekends, which was crazy fun.

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

There have been a lot of games that I’ve played that have made an impression on me, but there are a few that were just different in some way and really stood out. Perhaps the first one would be Times of Lore on my Commodore 64. Wikipedia tells me it released in 1988 yet I can still remember it quite well. It was the first game that really drew me in to its world, which was absolutely huge for its time. It doesn’t surprise me in the least to see it was developed by Origin Systems, they made awesome games.

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

Commodore 64, Turbo Grafx-16, Super Nintendo, Gameboy Advance, Xbox, Game Cube, Xbox 360.

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

Answering these questions has certainly sparked some fond memories. The next time I’m over at my dad’s place I’m going to have to search through the boxes in the basement to see if my old Fighting Fantasy books are buried away there.

I don’t really have a specific story pertaining to my gaming experience as a child, but what I remember most fondly is getting together with friends and taking turns playing whatever game it was we had rented for the weekend. I wonder if kids still do that, or do they just stay in their respective homes and play over the internet?

Chapter 3: Online

Were you ever exposed to MUDs?

I’ve never been exposed to MUDs, nor have I exposed myself to them.

What was your first MMO experience?

EverQuest II. My first character was created April 10, 2005. I really wasn’t interested in getting into MMOs but my friend kept bugging me to try it out. One day he sent me a link to the Trial of the Isle seven day demo and I figured I’d give it a shot.

Despite the island being relatively small and restricted to level seven, I was hooked. Shortly after I bought the full game and I played for three more years until finally leaving Norrath.

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

  • EverQuest II from April 2005, to March 2008. My main character was a level 74 Berserker. I also had a 74 Mystic which likely would have become my main had I continued playing.
  • World of Warcraft from March 2008 to present. My main character is a level 80 Shaman (enhancement spec). I’ve got a few lower leveled alts that are slowly getting more of my attention.

I also had a two month stint in Vanguard in between EQII and WoW.

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

World of Warcraft.

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

EverQuest II for three years.

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

Currently at the cap in WoW. I was at the cap twice in EQII but didn’t have the steam to push myself to its current cap of 80.

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?

This is a tough question for me. Ultimately I’ll choose World of Warcraft but that’s not saying it’s the best MMO, rather it’s the best MMO for me. My family commitments keep me from playing a great deal these days and WoW fits into that very well. It’s easy to pop in for an hour or two here or there and still get something accomplished. I don’t raid, nor do I group much and take on instances, but I still feel like there’s something fun for me to do.

If I had more time to commit to playing, my answer may very well be EverQuest II. In my opinion it doesn’t offer the solo experience that WoW does, but its instances and raids were awesome fun. Unfortunately, I’m not able to devote the time to it that it would need.

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

Not really actually. If anything I’d say Star Wars: The Old Republic, but to be honest I haven’t seen or heard anything about it that’s making me tremble in anticipation.

Copernicus, or whatever it is that 38 Studios is working on could have potential based on some of the names attached to the project, but I have a feeling it won?t amount to much. Hopefully I’m wrong on that one.

I’m curious to know what Blizzard’s secret MMO currently in development is, and I would be absolutely thrilled to hear that EverQuest 3 is being planned.

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

I swore I’d never play a game that charged a monthly fee. “What a waste of money,” I thought. Since then I’ve played three years of hardcore EverQuest II and another year of World of Warcraft. Not only that, I started a blog to talk about all this stuff. I never would have believed it four and a half years ago.

Chapter 4: Preferences

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

I’d guess 30-40 hours per week. Thinking about that now just blows my mind.

How about now?

Maybe 10 hours.

When during the week are your regular play times?

Nowadays I wait until my daughter is in bed and asleep which is usually between 8:30 and 9:00. I’ll get an hour or two of gaming done after that if nothing else is going on.

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 definitely a lone wolf. I’ll play now and then with friends, but only if we can schedule it ahead of time. My window of free time has narrowed significantly over the past couple of years so it’s much easier to just log in and do my own thing instead of waiting around to find a group.

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

No, I’ve gone into each game with the friends I’ve already had.

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 have a plan in mind when logging in, but it’s not so rigid that I won’t ditch it if something else comes up.

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

I barely have the time for one. I’ve tried two at once (EQII and WoW, WoW and Vanguard) but I just couldn’t do it. I would find myself more interested in one over the other and play it more to the point where it just wasn’t worth the cost of keeping the other around.

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

I try. I’ve got an Xbox 360 which I play off and on. I tried tabletop games (Warhammer 40k) but got too burned out painting my darn army to bother playing the game (there’s a billion dollars I’ll never get back; that stuff’s expensive).

I jump into other PC games now and then but like so many others have said before; whenever I play something else it always feels like it’s causing me to “fall behind” in my MMO. It’s absolutely ridiculous, but the stacks of games I’ve bought and never played confirm that it’s real.

Are you something of an altoholic?

No. I had a couple of alts back in my peak MMO days, and one of them eventually caught up to my main in levels, but I’m mostly a one character guy. Typically I’ll start an alt just to get a feel for a different class, or to see some zones I wouldn’t have seen with my main, but they’re usually forgotten about eventually.

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’ll sometimes have the TV on in the background (typically a hockey game), or I’ll check out a web page or two on the side.

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

Constantly with friends; it’s all we talk about.

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

I definitely have felt that I game too much, usually as a result of a certain look my wife gives me. My heavy duty playing days are in the past however, and my play time is much more reasonable now. My family always comes first and I have quite a few other obligations and hobbies that keep my gaming in check.

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

Yes I have. Towards the end of my EverQuest II days I was completely burned out and took a few months off from MMOs. I played a bunch of other single player games, even finishing a few of them, and loved it. Eventually I started to feel the itch for MMOs again and ultimately ended up in World of Warcraft.

Chapter 5: Blogging

When did you first start blogging?

My first post on Timesink is dated Wednesday, March 21, 2007. Previous to that I had a personal blog, mostly just for family and close friends to read which I still post to today, albeit infrequently.

Why do you blog?

I like to write, and I like discussing games. Mainly it?s just another hobby for me, and I collect hobbies like they?re going out of style.

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

I blog whenever the mood strikes me and when I feel like I’ve got something to say. Sometimes that means several posts in one week (rare), but for the most part I’ve sort of settled on one or two a week these days.

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

I simply don’t let it become a grind for me. If I don’t feel like posting, I don’t.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?

I just enjoy sharing my gaming experiences and opinions. Also, the realization that complete strangers have read something I wrote is pretty darn cool. I was on cloud nine after receiving the first comment that wasn?t from someone I knew.

How many people offline know you blog?

My core group of friends, which is about six or seven people.

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

I’d point them towards one of the free blogging sites and tell them to go give it a shot. They’ll find out fairly quickly if It’s something they enjoy doing or not.

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

I can’t think of anything actually. Part of the fun in starting the blog for me was taking the leap without really thinking about it. If anything I wish I knew back then how much fun I was going to have doing it, because I would have started blogging about games even sooner.

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

Absolutely, although that time hasn’t come yet. I imagine I’ll just get bored of it one day.

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?

Amazing Grace, played by a hundred bagpipers as a thousand F-18s streak overhead through the worlds largest fireworks display. You know, something simple and modest.

One Response to “David”

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