Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

One shot: Ivy

Posted by Randolph Carter on September 28, 2009

MMO community connection:

The Road Goes Ever On

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

The Road Goes Ever On is a visual blog that follows the story of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien using screenshots from the MMO “Lord of the Rings Online”. I discuss similarities and differences between the way locations are described in the text and the way they are implemented in the game world.

How did you come up with the idea for this?

When I started playing LOTRO, I was really impressed with the faithfulness of the game’s interpretation of the text, so I thought it would be interesting to have a blog that showed the evidence of that. I thought it would appeal to LOTRO players familiar with the book, but also to LOTRO players unfamiliar with the book and maybe even Tolkien fans unfamiliar with the game. I’m sure there are also plenty of LOTRO players who came to the game because they are fans of the Peter Jackson movies specifically. In any case, if TRGEO inspires a few people to read The Lord of the Rings, I’d consider that a great thing.

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

LOTRO was my introduction to MMOs and I actually haven’t tried any others yet. I’ve really enjoyed the experience so far, particularly when I finally figured out how the dynamics of group play work.

Can you recall that first “wow!” moment in game?

As mentioned, discovering the concepts of group play — that each class has a unique role to play in group content — really heightened my enjoyment of the game. Obviously that’s something that’s integral to the MMO experience that might not necessarily be apparent to new players used to single-player games. At least it wasn’t immediately obvious to me!

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

At my peak, probably 2-3 hours each day on weekdays and longer on weekends were I had some free time. These days, I play less often partly due to time pressure, partly due to being at level cap, and partly due to burnout.

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

In the past I have been a fan of RPG-style single player PC games. I would love to be involved in some tabletop gaming (long-time D&D fan) but it’s a huge time commitment.

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

I started TRGEO in early 2009 and have been working it since.

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

For me, this is just an enjoyable hobby.

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

In the early months of the blog I attempted to make a new post each week, but I soon realized that at that pace I would quickly run out of content. I’ve slowed down the pace of my posting because of that.

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

There is some grind involved. To write something engaging, I think the author has to be feeling inspired about the subject matter. I think with MMOs “burnout” is a well-known phenomenon and can strike from time to time. When I’m feeling burnt out, I take some time away from the game. I eventually feel inspired to come back after a break. Other times working on alts is enough to do the trick.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?

I think what I find most enjoyable is creating a finished product. Because of the style of my blog, which is more an essay format that something more conversational, I feel a sense of accomplishment with each new post.

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

It was exciting when Turbine (developer of LOTRO) featured TRGEO on their website and on their Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Have you ever considered branching into podcasting?

No, I don’t think it would fit with the subject matter of TRGEO.

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

Yes, I think the response has been positive and I have had a number of really kind comments and encouraging messages left on the blog.

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

I’m really happy with the direction of TRGEO. If I had all the time in the world, I would probably attempt to do more in-depth research and analysis in each of the posts.

You’ve mentioned that at some point in the not too distant future you will run out of content for your blog. Do you have plans to expand your blog beyond its current scope?

No. A couple of months ago, I did add a secondary feature to the content of the blog, which is a discussion of characters from the book that also appear in-game. This was done to “space out” the primary content — following the main plot of the text. For now, my plan is to just let the pace be what it needs to be so that the game content stays ahead of the blog content.

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