Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Iain Compton

Posted by Randolph Carter on August 13, 2009

MMO community connection:


Chapter 1: Introduction

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

Iain Compton a.k.a. IainC, Requiel

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

I have an MMO industry blog at that has been going for a few years now. I am a games designer for an MMOFPS being released later this year and I worked as a community manager for DAoC and WAR in Europe before that.

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

I discuss the inside of the industry, trends and game design topics

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

I was born in Scotland and I grew up in a lot of different places.

Where do you live now?

The Black Forest in Germany

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


What do you do for a living?

I’m a games designer

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

A musician

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

  • I’m autistic.
  • I am a huge fan of comics.
  • I am a wargamer.
  • I have lived in a warzone.
  • I hate getting out of bed in the morning.

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 played a lot of tabletop roleplay games which are, of course, a social activity. I also played a lot of miniatures wargames, CCGs and board games. I never really needed to play games as a solo endeavour.

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

Mostly I played games. Chess and D&D were the main ones.

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

I played a whole lot of pen and paper games, mostly 2nd EdAD&D but also Shadowrun, Cyberpunk, MERP, WHFRP, Torg, DC Heroes, Rifts, Rolemaster, Palladium, GURPS, Twilight 2000, Traveller… You get the picture. Those were great times.

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.

My mum was a huge fantasy and SF fan so I grew up reading Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Tolkien, Ray Bradbury, Anne McAffrey, Brian W. Aldiss and so forth. I read a lot as a kid and books were my retreat of choice when there was no-one to play a game with.

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.

Of course they did. Games without narrative are lifeless to me. A game needs to have a commentary to be interesting enough to play. Even if that commentary is applied externally.

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

I played a lot of games on my Commodore 64 when I was a kid – probably 8 years old or so. My dad was a computer hobbyist well before most people even knew what they were, back in the days when games had to be typed out and saved on tape.

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

Not really, they didn’t exist in most of the places where I lived.

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

Eye of the Beholder, the original Gold Box SSi game. Stories in a computer game!

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

PS1/2/3, Xbox 360, Atari 2600, Sega Megadrive, 3DO, Nintendo DS. To be truthful I was never really into consoles, I preferred computers.

Chapter 3: Online

Were you ever exposed to MUDs? If so, when was this and what was the experience like?

A friend got me playing a hybrid fantasy/crime/SFgame which I played the hel out of for a couple of years. I found it fascinating and was turned on by the fact that the lack of graphics didn’t detract from the gameplay at all.

What was your first MMO experience? Again, when was this (a year please) and what was this like?

The first MMO I played was Dark Age of Camelot in 2003 when it was released in Europe. I had tried to play UO before that but I couldn’t get past the arcane interface.

If possible, list all the MMOs you’ve played extensively. Please start from the beginning and work your way up to the present.

DAoC, WAR, Eve Online, LotRO, Everquest II,

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

Eve Online

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

DAoC without a doubt. I played it for five years pretty solidly and must have ranked up 250+ /played days.

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


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?

Eve Online, it has the most depth of any MMO around.

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

I’ll play Aion when it releases. I like the premise and I’d like to see how the PvP is handled.

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

I ran an event for DAoC in Europe where I ended up accidentally scamming the players who’d turned up. Eventually I gave all the money I’d stolen to the first newbie I encountered and ran a follow-up event where the players could capture me and put me on trial for my crimes.

Chapter 4: Preferences

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

I used to play about 30 hours a week, nowadays it’s probably around 15.

When during the week are your regular play times?

Evenings, weekends.

Generally speaking, are you more of a social creature in MMOs (grouping to quest, joining guilds, etc.) or something of a lone wolf?

Definitely social. I hate soloing as it becomes a challenge to stave off tedium rather than a challenge to defeat the game.

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

I’ve found plenty of strong friends through MMO gaming, I’ve even brought some of them over to this side of the industry table.

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?

Sometimes, most often I’ll just log in and see what my options are.

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

I tend to play one as my main game which absorbs most of my time and I may have another one or two that I play as a change of pace.

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

Yes. Currently I’m playing Bloodbowl and a few other strategy games in between Eve sessions.

Are you something of an altoholic?

Depends on the game. I was in DAoC but not so much in WAR or Eve.

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)?

Eve lends itself to that quite well. In other games I tend to concentrate more on the game and try not to get distracted.

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

My wife plays MMOs too and all my colleagues work on an MMO so yes.

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

I went and took a holiday without internet access.

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

Not really.

Chapter 5: Blogging

When did you first start blogging?

I have two blogs, one is an MMO industry blog which has been running for about 2 and a half years, the other is a wargames and miniature painting blog that I started earlier this year. I recently migrated them both to my own domain  from

Why do you blog?

I like to think out loud and a few people seem to like discussing my thoughts with me.

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

No. I try and set myself a one update per month minimum but I don’t always meet that. Sometimes I update several times in a day though.

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

Not really, because I don’t make myself write unless there’s something I want to write about. There’s no pressure for me.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?

I like to read the comments and discuss with the readers of my blog.

How many people offline know you blog?

Most of my friends and family.

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

Figure out what you want to write about and why people should want to ready your opinions. Then go for it.

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

If you get no comments on a post, that doesn’t mean no-one read it.

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

Possibly, not for the foreseeable future anyway.

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?

Sumerland (What Dreams May Come) by the Fields of the Nephilim.

One Response to “Iain Compton”

  1. […] Grinding to Valhalla. His mission is to interview as many MMO bloggers as possible and, last Friday he featured me. Many thanks to him for that and I found it all too easy to get lost in the archives of his […]

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