Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

One shot: Bootae

Posted by Randolph Carter on September 15, 2009

MMO community connection:

Bootae’s Bloody Blog

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

Mainly it’s all about Warhammer Online, though I do go on the odd tangent. I guess in theory it’s not a WAR blog, it’s a blog for whatever games I’m playing right now, it’s just that my main gaming passion at present is WAR, so that has the limelight. In the future you may see the odd post about the likes of Mechwarrior 5, Silenthunter 5 and perhaps the other MMOs, but for now it’s all about the WAAAGH!

I post about my experiences in (and around) the game and try to be as fair as possible, if it sucks I’ll say so, but also give credit where it’s due. For me it’s important to avoid jumping on the “I got beaten by class X nerf them!” bandwagon and as such I try to stay as objective as possible. I’m not a fan of the forum based over-reacting troll culture.

Amongst things, I regularly ramble on with thoughts about how WAR could be improved (third faction posts are common…) and I try to give people a heads up on decent Developer comments and other info coming out of Mythic.

What was your introduction to MMOs and what was that experience like?

Ultima Online in I think 1997… I bought it on a whim; at the time I had no idea what I was getting myself in to. I’d been doing a lot of online gaming, but it was things like X-wing and Quake. Ultima was a revelation. This was back in the days when it was full PvP everywhere, the game wasn’t all about epics, there were no quests, there wasn’t much in the way of add ons and the in-game player community was hugely important. It dumped you in a massive, very wild world and let you find your own adventure. I was lucky enough to join an amazing guild (Eternal Knights of the Circle) and thanks to them and the rest of the Europa server I had classic adventures every night. I loved it and have never encountered it’s like again. Alas, whilst UO is still running, epics and the foul influence of carebear games have killed it.

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

When I joined EKC in Ultima Online and was taken to their player built city. It was incredible! The guild had control over a huge amount of land to the east of a place known as Wrong Mountain. They had their own pub, blacksmith, a huge tower where their King and Queen lived and loads of houses. There were even knights from the guild patrolling the city, defending the locals from PKs (Player Killers). Bare in mind the whole persistent world was new then, so this was just mind blowing.

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

At my peak in the UO days it was probably over 30 hours a week. These days I have to balance gaming with a wife, daughter and watching as much football as humanly possible, so somewhere between 10 and 15 hours a week at a guess. I have a couple of “gaming nights” agreed with the missus, but I sneak an hour or so in most nights.

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

Like half of the known world I’ve got a Nintendo Wii sitting there not doing much. Having seen the heavenly PC light it’s rare that a console game can hold my attention. PC gaming wise I like strategy games, simulators and things with a bit more realism. I play Arma 2 quite a lot, awesome co-op on that. Oh and anything Warhammer. Which right now is the new Bloodbowl game. Great stuff, I’m in an online league for that.

I’m an old Warhammer geek, I love the background of both the 40,000 and fantasy universes. Whilst I actually still have a room at home full of little soldiers, I don’t really play the games anymore, other than Battlefleet Gothic. I’d say that’s probably the best game that Gamesworkshop have ever made, easy to play but hard to master.

This of course means my wife thinks I’m a mentalist.

When did you first start blogging? Would you mind taking us up to present with all of your projects?

It was January this year; I saw the Age of Blogging promotion and figured I’d give it a try. To be honest I didn’t really think too much about it, just thought I’d do it for a crack and fully expected to get bored and quit after a week or two. Then I realised people were actually reading and so I started putting a bit more thought into it.

Do you see blogging as just a hobby or perhaps something more?

Oh it’s a hobby totally. I was asked recently to write for something else, which was a pleasant shock, but I turned it down. I’ve already got a decent job and I’m not sure the time and effort of a second writing job would be worth the reward. When you’re writing for yourself it’s no hassle, you can have a break whenever you feel like it. I’m not sure I fancy having to work with someone else’s deadlines. Of course, never say never.

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

A lot of the ideas for posts come from discussion with friends about WAR. I then either start writing a post or note down the idea for later. This way I’ve built up a list of potential topics and it’s really helped with those writers’ block moments. Most of the actual writing I do on lunch breaks at work, then just tidy things up a little from home and post away.

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

The day it becomes a grind is the day I quit.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?

I get to vent frustrations and record my oh so brilliant ideas and then people actually read them! I mean come on… that’s gotta be good for your ego. That and there’s always the vain hope that someone from Mythic/whoever will one day read one of your posts and actually respond.

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

I have a real life friend and guild member that is always using his photoshop skills to make amusing images. I got to post up his version of female Orc in a provocative pose. Puking and laughing at the same time is a fascinating experience.

Have you ever considered branching into podcasting?

The way I write tends to reflect how folks round my way talk, which can involve a bit of crudeness. Obviously this interview isn’t for my site, hence me not saying bollocks at all… Doh… I’m not sure that combined with my London drawl is right for podcasting, they always seem a bit prim and proper.

Are you pleased with how your blog has been received in the blogosphere?

Pleased? I’m bloody amazed! I’m too lazy to really advertise my blog, it’s just there, so I was expecting to get a handful of hits a day and then have to wind it up due to lack of interest from anyone else. Instead I’ve somehow ended up with regular readers, people commenting and others linking to me. It’s hugely flattering and was a total surprise. Lately I’ve started getting people messaging me in game just wanting to say hi, which has been very trippy.

I really have to say thank you to my readers and particularly to everyone that has been promoting my blog.

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

I would have started blogging years ago.

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

If you’re writing something and it’s not feeling right, then review it and don’t be afraid to delete and write something different.

Likewise don’t worry about your posts being the next Name of the Rose. It’s a blog not an exhibition in literary excellence.

As I mentioned before, if you have multiple ideas note them down. Before you know it you’ll have a little warehouse of potential posts.

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

No. I’ve got the bug…

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.

Oooh I like this one 😀 Ok you asked for it 😛

I’m going to make Warhammer Online 2, but it would be a very different kettle of fish to the existing game. The core concept is a melding of Dark Age of Camelot and Ultima Online set in the Warhammer Fantasy universe. At launch there would be the following playable races: Bretonnians, Empire, Dwarfs, Orcs & Goblins, Chaos Mortals, Skaven, High Elves and Dark Elves. They would be independent and not grouped into factions. Language would work as in the lore, with most races able to communicate through a common tongue, as well as set chat to talk in their own languages. As a player you would be restricted to one race per server. Guilds from different races could form alliances, as long as they were within certain restrictions, i.e. no Chaos and High Elf alliances.

There are not flight masters everywhere and no zone loading screens; it’s one giant world. There will be some fast transport, but limited. To reach some remote areas you will need to go on proper expedition. No flying to just outside the enemy zone, you need to travel and prepare. And when I said a giant world, I meant it. Really, bloody huge! This is the Warhammer world in all its glory. Exploration will be back on the menu. I want a game where a year down the line there’s still new things to see.

Everywhere is PvP enabled, you are attackable by other races at all times. Your own race is un-attackable, this is going to be a bloody harsh world and your own race will need to work together. Each race would have their multiple major cities from Warhammer lore as relatively safe zones, with NPC guards protecting them. These would attack their races natural enemies on sight, but not instantly launch at those with more cordial relations (say Dwarfs and Humans). Cities can be attacked, torched and temporarily destroyed (it would slowly rebuild itself).

Away from the cities would be smaller NPC and player populated towns, guilds would be able to buy or capture property in existing towns, or even build their own in a selection of designated areas. All of which would be attackable, meaning enemies can attack and conquer these towns. NPC guards and defences could be purchased, so when you’re offline your property can’t be ninjaed unless by large-scale assaults. Thankfully because of the size of the world, attacks on enemy towns will not happen every day, but should you capture one then you have a potential stronghold in enemy territory.

Character levels are gone. Being hit by a sword hurts, it doesn’t matter what level you are it could still kill you. I want a skill based system, but one where you have to actually hit things to gain skill points. Want to get good with a sword? Go stick it in some Orcs! Skill points can be spent on unlocking abilities. But crucially it means you’re not useless when you get started, this time you can join in with your mates straight away. It just means your character lacks the finesse of one that has unlocked lots of abilities. I’m sticking with the lock target & toolbar system we’re all used to, just changing how we get those abilities.

Not wanting to neglect PvE, there are hundreds of dungeons of varying scale and none of them are instanced. Instancing has made us soft.

Or if I can’t have that lot, then I’ll just settle for an exact copy of Ultima Online before the 2nd age, but with proper modern graphics. At the end of the day that’s all I want from a new MMO, just someone to make one as good as UO used to be.

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