Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Psychochild (Chapter 3)

Posted by Randolph Carter on May 10, 2009

MMO community connection:

Psychochild’s Blog

Chapter 3: Online

Were you ever exposed to MUDs?

Yes! Those were my wild days in college. Starting in freshman year, spending late nights in the computer lab, compiling my CS homework and playing MUDs during the downtime (and sometimes when I should have been doing the homework!) I’m pretty sure the only reason I passed my introductory C++ class was because I learned LPC (the language the MUD gameplay was coded in) at the same time, and both languages have similar syntax. I certainly wasn’t going to the 8 AM classes four days per week!

The best part was making maximum level and getting access to the programming infrastructure on the games I played. The last push to “make Wiz” was over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with my friend at the time. We played for 24 hours straight, caught a bit of sleep in the study area, then went back at it and got the maximum level together.

The MUDs I played extensively: Genocide (where I first used the name “Psychochild”), Highlands, Farside, Kerovnia, and Astaria.

What was your first MMO experience?

I played MUDs until I graduated from college. I didn’t own my own computer in college, so I didn’t get into graphical MMOs until later. I had heard about Ultima Online, but I didn’t have the opportunity to play it.

So, my first real experience with MMOs was with Meridian 59. I was applying for my first game industry job at 3DO in 1998, and the producer for M59 saw my resume and my MUD development experience. I had heard of the game before, but I thought it was for the 3DO console. Meridian 59 always had terrible advertising, so it never got the wide recognition it needed. But, they set me up with a free account to give the game a try, and I really enjoyed it. I didn’t always get to play the game as much as I wanted after I started working for 3DO, but I still enjoyed it.

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

  • Meridian 59 – Pure mage with: Kraanan, Shalille, Faren, Jala
  • Dark Age of Camelot – 35 Dwarf Thane
  • EverQuest 2 – 67 Kerra Necromancer
  • World of Warcraft – 80 Night Elf Druid
  • Lord of the Rings Online 40 Elf Champion

I’ve also dabbled in most other major North American games, but I don’t have the time to play many of them extensively.

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

Lord of the Rings Online has my primary attention these days. My better half started playing it, and gaming with someone you love is the best. 🙂

I’ve also been playing a bit of Atlantica, but my characters on there have languished a bit while I’ve been busy with conferences. Any gaming time I get right now, I prefer play LotRO.

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

Easily Meridian 59. In the 11 years since I started working on it, I I’ve put in hundreds of 24-hour days, and many more times that if you count the time I’ve spent developing and testing the game.

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

Unfortunately, Meridian 59 doesn’t have levels, exactly. I’ve built powerful characters, but my preferred type has a lot of skills and I never maxed out a character for various reasons (one explained later). One of my design goals was to allow players to participate in the game, including PvP, without having to have a maxed out character.

Currently, I’ve only ever reached max level in WoW; three times: original, “The Burning Crusade”, and “Wrath of the Lich King” with my main. I guess I did reach max level with my Warlock alt in TBC as well, but I didn’t do much with that character.

I will probably reach max level in LotRO. I’ve gotten bit by alt-itis in that game (I have all 7 slots filled with characters on one server), but I signed up for a year’s subscription. Unless something goes horribly wrong, I’ll probably get one character up to max level in that time.

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

I’d tell Loki to knock it off, and threaten to nerf him more than he already is if he doesn’t settle down. I’m the administrator here! Loki is also the name of one of my cats that passed away a few years ago, so it would be strange to have his ghost visit me.

However, if gaming Ragnarök did happen, I would choose MUD1 as the game to stay around. It’s the progenitor of almost all the games we currently have, so if we start there then we could re-create all the current MMOs (and perhaps make them even better!)

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

Yes, but I don’t know what they are yet. Independent MMO developers suck at marketing, so I rarely find out about them until they’ve launched (and usually limped along with few players). I think indie MMOs are the more interesting ones to watch these days.

I’m also (slowly) working on a small project as well, so I’m interested in seeing that completed. 🙂

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

There are too many! Here are just a few:

When I was playing MUDs with a friend, he got his friend to start playing. I was helping him with my female character (but we didn’t tell him it was me), then he hit on and kissed my character. He turned to my friend, in the same computer lab, and said, “I just kissed her!” My friend and I almost died laughing. Not surprisingly, the guy got embarassed and never played MUDs ever again.

That wasn’t the last time that character got hit on. I quickly grew tired of being the target of unwanted advances. I really sympathize with what women have to put up with in games.

Because I bought Meridian 59, some people think I’m able to buy and save any game. I’ve gotten emails asking me to buy and relaunch other games, like Earth & Beyond, Multiplayer Battletech, etc.

It’s hard to play your own game as a developer. I want to be social, but if people find out you’re a developer they start treating you very different. I had a mortal character in one guild and people were starting to suspect the character was me. The issue came to a head when a few people were coming to the local area and knew “both of us” lived in the area, so they invited both the character and me (the admin) to a get-together. I had to stop playing the character once he was exposed. Most of my characters have short lives or lonely ones because of this.


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