Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

One shot: Anjin

Posted by Randolph Carter on July 28, 2009

MMO community connection:

Bullet Points

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

Bullet Points is a place for me to formalize some of my thoughts about games, books, or anything else that catches my eye. My attention wanders wildly at times, so I can’t tie myself down to a single topic. That may cost me readers looking for a single subject blog, but I’m primarily writing for myself. And my wife because I make her read everything.

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

It took me a long time to get into MMOs. First, I didn’t have a computer or internet connection able to keep up even with those early MMOs. Then when I finally caught up technologically, I was perturbed by the subscription fees. So my first online game was the not-quite-an-MMO Guild Wars. It was a revelation to me. I met people, quested with them, formed a vanity guild, and really lived in that world for couple of years. I’ve been hooked on MMOs ever since and prefer them to just about every other style of game.

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

My first wow moment was something I didn’t do myself, only watched. This was the famous Droknar’s Forge run. For those who didn’t play Guild Wars in the early days, there is an outpost in the Northern Shiverpeaks called Beacon’s Perch. While this is normally just another step in the campaign progression chain, the developers attached this outpost via a series of area instances to Droknar’s Forge. Since that city is the first place that maximum level armor becomes available and there is no level restriction on it, you would be at an advantage to purchase this armor prior to continuing the campaign. Those connecting areas are tuned for max level characters, so there was little chance a group of low level characters could make the trip normally. However there were particular skill builds that would allow a single character to run from Beacon’s Perch to Droknar’s. And because of the instancing, only one character is required to reach the end portal to pull the entire group through. I did purchase a run for one of my characters to experience it for myself and the runner put on quite a show. I believe this counts as my first experience with an emergent mechanic in an MMO.

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

When I was in the thrall of World of Warcraft, I was spending several hours a night playing. That could run 25 to 30 hours a week with long playing weekends. Nowadays while I’m skipping from game to game, I rarely play more than an hour a night, maybe playing about 10 hours a week.

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

I started my serious gaming with pen-and-paper role-playing games, though that has been entirely supplanted by computer gaming. I tend to skip from PC to console and back as each is upgraded. Now that I have a computer that I’m not embarrassed about, I rarely even notice I have an Xbox. When I still had an older PC, I spent a lot of time on my console since that was more cost effective at the time.

Seeing how your blog covers several different interests of yours, I have to ask: Would you say you spend more time reading, playing PC games, or watching films or TV?

Where I spend most of my free time changes quite frequently, depending on my mood. And I am one moody bastard. I tend to wander between booting up old PC games, playing golf on my shiny new PSP, perusing comic books or graphic novels, reading the latest from the Hard Case Crime book club, watching the DVD for whichever TV show has my attention, or taking in the occasional theatrical release. Occasionally though, something just gets a hold of me and I will focus on that to the detriment of everything else. At the moment I’m spending most of my time keeping current on blogs and podcasts. Yes, I do find it ironic that I spend more time reading and listening to games media than actually playing games.

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

I first started blogging back in 2002 on a personal webpage, handcoding the text in HTML. It was all the same stuff I blog about now, but I pulled it all offline a long time ago because I wouldn’t inflict that on anyone. If you’re at all interested in what that looked like, google “Risus Firefly” some time.

From there I started a Guild Wars blog that ran from May to December 2006 called Guild Wars Kira. I wrote it in character and had a lot of fun doing so. Of course, I couldn’t keep it up as I started losing interest in the game.

I launched Bullet Points in February 2007 and have written with varying levels of intensity since then. The blog has been more active lately since I discovered I actually have readers.

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

Schedules and routines are anathema to me. I have an allergic reaction to any regimentation. Mostly, I blog when I feel like it. The problem generally arises that I get five ideas at once, then none for another couple weeks. It’s a little like trying to move in the darkness. Sometimes there is a flash of lightning where you can memorize your surroundings and move confidently for a short time. Then you wait for the next flash. That’s blogging to me.

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

Grind in blogging is like grind in gaming. If what you are doing feels like a grind, you are doing it wrong. If you’re not enjoying yourself, there has to be something better to do, or something better to write about. Grinding is the first sign of burnout.

When I find myself feeling that way, I stop and try something else. Either I start a different post or I shut it all down until I feel like writing again. The last thing I want is for this hobby to start feeling like a job.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?

The best thing about blogging is taking part in a community, but doing so at a measured pace. The conversational immediacy of Twitter or message boards, while interesting, does not usually allow for thoughtful responses. Usually by the time I’m ready to contribute, the topic has already been abandoned. Blogging allows me to form what I hope are coherent opinions written in a vaguely entertaining manner. And I like that the blog community has such a multitude of voices that can all contribute to the conversation in their own time.

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

I’ve had two blogging highlights and they both came about recently. First was a Daily Blogroll link from Tipa from West Karana. Up to that point, I wasn’t sure anyone else read my blog other than my patient wife. Second was when I lambasted the Shut Up, We’re Talking podcast over their coverage of the WoW Bunny Ears incident. That earned me a Blog of the Week mention as well as an appearance on the show.

Have you ever considered branching into podcasting?

While I’ve given some consideration to podcasting, I haven’t figured out what kind of niche a new podcast would fill. While I don’t mind that my blog is just one of millions, I don’t want to put that much work into a podcast that might get lost in the din. So my answer isn’t a no. It’s more of “When the stars are right.” Shut Up, We’re Talking gave me a taste for it, so it’s something I keep thinking about.

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

I’m pleased that Bullet Points is considered part of the MMO blogosphere at all. It’s been like a lonely wolf howling at the moon for a long time. So that I’m actually getting readers is very satisfying.

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

I regret nothing. Actually, I regret many things, but those mostly have to do with high school and nothing to do with blogging.

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

My only advice is to just get started already. Blogging (and writing in general) is something you can only learn by doing. And it’s not like every single post has to be a masterpiece. You’re going to learn and you’re going to improve. But you can only do so if you get off the sidelines and play the game. In this metaphor, the game I’m referring to is blogging.

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

Oh yeah. My ego isn’t tied up in the blog. I will always find some way to write, but I’m only going to blog as long as I enjoy doing so. After that I’m all “poof,” gone like a ghost. Or maybe “bamf” like Nightcrawler. That was one cool mutant.

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.

What was it about my prior answers that makes you think I enjoy that kind of pressure? This snarky answer has been brought to you by The Internet, where the snark grows like kudzu!

If I really could make an MMO, I would like to have three separate games living in the same world: a soloer game that takes place in and around the civilized lands, a group/raid game on the frontiers, and an entire separate explorable continent for the PvPer. Soloers would get a great story with lots of intrigue, danger, and a little bit of love. Groupers would get to take on the big challenges without anyone else underfoot. I would steal Public Quests, but automatically group all the participants to help foster cooperation between them. And the PvPers would be subject to permadeath as soon as they step foot onto the boat. Then we’d see if they can make a civilization of their own. I think I’d borrow Eve Online’s idea of local scarcities and limited transport capabilities to foster an economy. And I would get to ride a pink pony that sparkles.

Darn it, there’s that snark again.


One Response to “One shot: Anjin”

  1. […] Anjin […]

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