Tag Archives: melmoth

Kickstarter for the day.

See it as a penance for my time in Tera if you will, but I’ve donated to this Kickstarter on Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

And then donated a little more when I read about the harassment that Ms. Sarkeesian has suffered from certain select segments of our online culture.

As fellow gamers, I’d ask you to give it your consideration and pass the message on.

Thanks to Thade for raising the flag on this one.

He wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat.

Meanwhile in Guild Wars 2…

M’colleague found some cosmetic items in the Guild Wars 2 store, and seeing as we each had some gems in our wallets, we decided to try them out for style. You can’t deny that Charr look rather splendid in shades – m’colleague on the right hand side doing a fine impersonation of Ozzy Osbourne, I think you’ll agree.

But it was the hats that really topped the bill; I think I’m looking quite pimp, there on the left. Alas, they share the same cosmetic slot as the shades, and indeed can only be equipped in cosmetic outfit mode, which means that you can’t charge into combat while wearing a top hat as you can in at least one other game; well you could, but you wouldn’t have any armour or weapons available to you, so it would probably be a short, if fabulous looking, death.

Te-ra for now.

My time in Tera has come to an end for the time being, but I just wanted to make a quick post for all the dance fans out there. Here’s my Aman Slayer in the latest armour he’d been granted. Ooooo yeah. He just needs some fake tan and he’s all set to appear on Strictly Come Dancing, don’t you think? I’m sure someone somewhere thought it’d be fun to have Aman males look like they were the Hulk bursting out of a clown costume, but I have to say it wasn’t really a style that appealed to me.

“In the grim black darkness of the forest night, only one man stands against the forces of evil.

And he’s wearing a ruff.”

And for the squee zomg cute! fans out there: I already thought the Popori were a rather adorable race –although perhaps somewhat out of place set against the grim dark ruff-wearing races of Tera– but I think the zomgcute-o-meter almost broke a needle when I stumbled upon my first Popori youngling; reminds me somewhat of the Gibberlings from Allods, which is still the most deeply splendid concept for a playable race that I’ve experienced in an MMO to date.

I’ve definitely enjoyed my time in Tera, it was an experience worth having, and as Bhagpuss points out, there’s a trial to be had if you were interested in Tera but didn’t want to fork out for the full box price. However, I’m not convinced it’s the best way to showcase a game like Tera: the tutorial is fairly mundane, with very few, if any, of the game’s BAMs (Big Ass Monsters) to really let the combat shine, and using Gaikai’s streaming client means that the graphical quality is degraded far below the native client’s stunning resolution; perhaps better to wait for a free trial through the native client, for those who are still curious about the game.

I think Tera is marketed at quite a specific audience, and I’m not really part of that demographic, but I have to say I was still pleasantly surprised by some of the elements I found during my time in this curious and somewhat controversial game.

The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers and cities.

From a PC Gamer article:

“Firefall’s world is made to be explored: there are few limits to where you can go. It’s an MMO built for those who see distant waterfalls, shadowy peaks and crashed ships and want to know if anything’s over there. Right now, in the early beta, there isn’t, much, but there’s enough to get an impression.”

Is it only me who wants to find something when I get there?

It’s one of those MMO development tropes which really bugs me: make vast swathes of landscape, slap a couple of vista viewing stations with suitable landmarks in the distance, and call it done. Then pop a fly-by on YouTube, preferably with a rousing soundtrack

Dun dun dun DUN DUN DUN “Here are some hills! Have you ever seen hills like these in any other MMO?” dun dun dum de dun DUN dum dun DUN dun de dun DUN “Here are some houses! In a village! AMAZING!” dun dum de dum de dum DUM DUN DE DUN “Now here’s a forest! Bet you weren’t expecting THAT! Look at the Speed Tree optimisation on those babies! A forest! A forest! Just like every other! But this one is ours!” dun dun dun dun DUN DUM DUNNNNNNNNNN DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNNNNNN “Uh oh, here comes a fortress! WITH RAMPARTS! AND BAD GUYS!” OoooooOO! OOooooOO!

and call it done. Best. MMO. Ever. Hmmm? What do you do in this landscape? Well, there are some mobs scattered about. They stand there, staring longingly off into the distance, perhaps wondering if there’s anything interesting at the top of that cliff (there isn’t, we just thought a cliff would be cool), and you can, uh, run up to them and kill them and, y’know stuff. It’s details, we’ll sort that out later. Just enjoy the AMAZING landscapes for now. Bet you haven’t seen a landscape in an MMO before!

Like many MMOs before it, Tera was terrible for this (have we all done the Terable pun in our minds? Yes? Okay, good, let’s move on). The game was stunning to look at, breathtaking, but it was all stage dressing. There’s the occasional Kodak moment, where you are compelled to halt your grind momentarily, stare in wonder, and possibly line up a screenshot, but that’s all there is to it. I rarely think “I should go and explore over there” in an MMO, because I know that ‘over there’ will provide a disappointingly desolate experience, akin to looking behind the stage dressing and seeing the ropes and pulleys holding the set together.

I can’t see the point in making a virtual world to explore if there’s nothing to discover but scenery – I already live in a world with awe-inspiring panoramas, so what a virtual world should provide is the suspense, adventure and danger which I cannot find in this world, or do not wish to risk my life experiencing. When you say your world is made to explore, give me something more to discover than waterfalls and windmills.

Skyrim’s environments were impressive, both beautiful and accessible, but I wouldn’t have spent as many hours as I did wandering through them for the sake of the scenery alone, it was the jeopardy and adversity which I found along the way that kept me exploring. It was that association of adventure with both exploration and environment which made the experience so complete – locations and landmarks became significant because of what happened to my character there, no longer a simple part of the game’s world, they became an intrinsic part of my character’s world. It seems a simple rule, but one which is rarely followed in the MMO genre: make a game’s world the backdrop for adventure, don’t make adventure the backdrop for a game’s world.

Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal.

It was a bit of a mixed weekend of gaming for me. I didn’t have much to do with the PC because it was mini-Melmoth’s birthday, and thus I spent most of my time building Lego models with her, and –along with Mrs Melmoth– playing various board and card games with her. I can heartily recommend Labyrinth as rather good fun, but would advise against Top Trumps if you too have a four year old who can evidently read minds or has x-ray vision; I lost more games of Top Trumps over the past weekend than my gamer fortitude can rightfully endure, and so I fully empathise with others when they express their torment in dealing with gaming losses.

Along with the birthday of the Infernal Queen of Top Trumps there was a double bonus super surprise fun holiday weekend here in the UK, so I had very little time to switch on the PC what with one family event or another to attend. I did get a spare moment or two on Sunday, and flipped into Tera to find that my box-included subscription time had expired, and I have to confess I was torn as to whether I should continue my subscription. I’ve flicked over to a couple of MMOs while I’ve been playing Tera, including the regular Friday night session of DDO, and none of them compare to the freedom I get from the combat in Tera. That’s not to say Tera’s combat is a revolution, there are still the same hotbar buttons to press, but the freedom of movement, nay the necessity of movement in order to stay alive, is something which I sorely miss when I return to the more traditional Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots style found in the MMO WoWpack. Tera also tweaks the traditional hotbar button mashing sequence with the addition of chained combo. attacks, which allows for a much more natural flow of attacks to be chained in quick succession; being knocked down and hitting the spacebar to trigger a leaping counter-strike, followed by another correctly timed spacebar press to immediately follow-up with an overhead slam, may sound simplistic, but it is the sort of addictive action-orientated style with which fans of beat ’em up games would easily empathise.

While pondering a further subscription to Tera, I patched Star Wars: The Old Republic and Rift, and did my customary login check to see if either was available to me, via a free weekend or such. To my surprise Rift did indeed allow me access, and a quick bit of investigation showed that I still had a week or so of my previous three-month subscription running. Maybe it was Tera’s action combat, or perhaps a general ennui with the genre as a whole, but I couldn’t find any spark of enthusiasm for Rift whatsoever. The wait-on-global-cool-down combat seemed ponderous, almost ridiculously so. The game was still as pretty as ever, but again, the incredible fidelity of a game such as Tera, whether you can stomach its design decisions or not, leaves other MMOs looking like so much aged tarnished brass. Rift’s soul system is, perhaps, the most frustrating part, a design which promises so much freedom, and yet delivers the same constrained-by-PvP ‘pick the useful abilities from the trash’ limited build potential that World of Warcraft’s talent trees always did. From the great potential that such a system promised, what was delivered was essentially a way to easily respec between traditional trinity roles, a step change over WoW’s dual spec. system to be sure, but still disappointingly bland – a soul system with no soul.

It’s so utterly frustrating because I really want to like Rift, I like the concepts which they have chosen to implement, but everything seems so formulaic and constrained. There’s no wild frontier, no trailblazing – they’ve followed the traditional paths through the design wilds, simply trimming back the undergrowth a little more, paving the way with stone blocks and posting road signs. It’s the same reason I probably won’t find myself subscribing to Tera or Star Wars: The Old Republic, for although there is trailblazing to be had, it is still just a few minor detours off into the wilds, before quickly re-joining the perfectly straight, perfectly smooth, perfectly monotonous routes which have been trodden for years, to the point that they are more Roman road than primitive path. I have no doubt that it is as much to do with my tiring of the tropes of the genre as anything, but it’s also born of the frustration that games such as EVE clearly demonstrate that this genre does indeed have the potential to encompass wildly different forms beneath the canopy of MMO, yet it’s still one of the few MMOs which forged a way into the wilds and never concerned itself with returning to the common path.

Of course deliberating over subscriptions is all moot at the moment, as my PC decided to trip the fuse fantastic last night and now refuses to even spin a fan. I’m hoping it’s just a power supply problem (and that it didn’t go Spartan and take the rest of the components with it), but for the time being I’m on an enforced MMO abstinence, and as such I’ll be catching up on my reading; as well as losing a ludicrous number of games of Top Trumps, I imagine.

A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community.

The revelry for the Queen’s diamond jubilee is due to get under way here in the (not so) United Kingdom and elsewhere in the Commonwealth of Nations (formally The Empire – cue The Imperial March) this coming weekend. I find myself unable to get excited about the event and, but for mini-Melmoth, would probably have hidden myself away until the whole sorry celebration had passed. I look back at previous jubilees and see people in carefree celebration of their love for Queen and Country, but now there seems to be the acrid fug of corporate sponsorship hanging over the whole affair, and in my darker moments I imagine later in my life watching films of the event, where children sit at long tables, wearing their Lloyds TSB t-shirts, eating little cakes with Hasbro logos on the top, and waving their Mastercard flags at the camera. More though, it seems to me as if a large section of society is keen to participate not with a mind to enjoying the rare pomp and circumstance that comes with a monarch’s long reign, but being able to brag at a later date of ‘having been there’ to those who weren’t. For me, it’s another small sample from the petri dish which cultures the sickness of modern society.

As m’colleague astutely pointed out: ‘Bit like MMO betas…’

Someone pulling the “Well, I was there in beta” seniority gambit is always a reliable indicator that the conversation is on a fast track to nowhere good. It’s been amusing to watch, with the openness of MMO betas in recent times, how this has now been amended to ‘closed beta’. Even better if you can lay claim to ‘in from alpha’ supremacy.

In alpha, am Alpha.

It seems to me that there will be difficulty in escalating this war of ultimate authority much further, without having to resort to claims of being a member of staff. Nevertheless, I’ll still not be surprised when I see someone yelling on a forum that they’re friends with someone who walks the dog of the partner of the hairdresser who once cut the hair of the community manager when they were in town for a convention.

And I frankly can’t wait for


which wins by a nose over

“I’m in a secret beta” (which I can’t tell you anything about. But I can tell you that I’m *in* the secret beta. And I must. Because then you’ll be fully aware that I am somewhat better than you.)

as the sort of strange statement which will make me Spock an eyebrow.

I think it’s a little sad that, for a large section of the community, these events have become nothing more than achievements themselves, titles perhaps, to be collected and displayed as little indicators of how they’re superior to all the other collectors of virtual tchotchke. And once the lording-it-over-others is complete, it’s swiftly on to the bitching-at-the-developers; primarily, it seems, because the beta wasn’t the immaculate gaming experience that the player had been fantasising over, as a substitute for that ruined copy of Penthouse under the bed.

So if you are in a beta for an MMO in the coming weeks because, oh I don’t know, you were lucky enough to be able to afford a ‘pre-purchase’, or lucky enough to win a competition for access, try to remember that it’s your chance to make the game a better place for others. By all means take the time to experiment with the game as you will, to blast through content and burn yourself out before the thing has even launched, if that’s your wont. But when you encounter a problem or frustration, as is the way of a beta, take a moment to report it in a calm, considered and constructive fashion. MMOs are big and complex beasts, and it is possible – however unlikely – that you may find a weakness which has not been found before.

Those are the achievements I’d like to see rewarded, and perhaps MMO developers should consider taking a more active part in this: handing out in-game perks and rewards for players having discovered bugs which were confirmed and fixed in beta. It could be a splendid way to get more players trading their glory for passion. Then again, maybe I’m wrong entirely, and MMO developers see beta as simply another source of fuel for the hype machine. But rare is the MMO beta which sees an overwhelmingly positive response from the online community, and indeed, it seems to me that it more often establishes a core community which is privileged and needy in spirit.

I believe a game’s community is grown, as though from seed. Thus, it would behove developers to consider well the current nature of beta tests, for this is the critical stage of sapling growth, where community can be both encouraged and guided, and then cultivated to a mature crop. Or it can be left to wither and sprawl, where it will eventually choke upon the suffocating rancour of its own thorny creepers. For, as much as I despair at the communities which tend to form around these MMO betas, you do, after all, reap what you sow.

Time to Windmill.

A quick update to my previous take on Old Man Murray’s deeply splendid Time to Crate review system for FPS games.

I happened to notice the windmill in the background of this screenshot from the post earlier today, and I was quickly reminded of the splendid windmills found near the start of the introductory area for the humans in Warhammer Online. Then I started to fancy that I saw a windmill somewhere in Guild Wars’ pre-searing Ascalon. And wasn’t there one or more in World of Warcraft’s Westfall? For certain I know there were windmills in Lord of the Rings Online.

A very quick search on Google shows windmills in Vanguard and Guild Wars 2 too.

So, Time to Windmill, then. Find out how quickly you can reach the first windmill in your MMO of choice from a starter area. Time it as a simple on-foot run by a high level character (who can then avoid most mobstacles, depending on where the nearest windmill is located). Use travel points only to cross between areas where travelling on foot is impossible. I think the method outlined is fairer than the time a new character takes to level their way to a windmill, as that would be too dependent on a player’s skill/knowledge in levelling.

My current theory is that every fantasy MMO has a windmill somewhere. See if you can find yours.

Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour.

It’s not all bikinis and brassieres in Tera. Admittedly it is primarily bikinis and brassieres, but I thought I’d offer up a couple of screenshots of my main character as proof. At least you now know that there’s one character in Tera not wearing a bikini, and I think I saw one other male character wandering around at some point. Possibly. It was a little hard to tell because my view was blocked by a barricade of boobs.

First up, over to the right, we have one of my alts – Pusillus the popori. Who I think is really rather cute, as far as kittens with mohawks, warpaint and a battle axe go, at any rate.
Here’s my Aman Slayer, currently my main character, sporting a lovely straps and shoulders leather number, delightfully accessorised with an off-the-hip blue bath towel. Sassy! And yet practical too; washing the gore from hands and sword was never so easy. Introducing the all new Brigandine & Bath Robe armour from Kaiator International! Take two armour sets into the shower? Not me, I just slaughter and shower in one!
And those aren’t lamellar plates, ladies, that’s 100% prime Amani dragon beef. Hel-loooo scaly!

I have to say, as far as ‘not a lot of armour’ looks go, I really like the barbarian design they have for male characters in Tera. Despite my hand towel jests, the half-robe half-armour style is one which really tickles my fantasy fancy, much like my character’s plate’n’dress Templar armour in Dragon Age: Origins.

Later armour models for the Slayer include trousers and such, which will never do, but thankfully our old friend Ankia the Equipment Remodeller (with her equipment all hanging out) will let me keep the cosmetic look of my current armour set, should I so desire.

Speaking of cosmetic items, En Masse have recently had a community event where they posted a video to Facebook extolling the virtues of their action combat system, and at set levels of ‘shares’ of the video on Facebook they would post codes for cosmetic items in the game. The code grants one item, for use on one character only, which is a bit of shame if you’re an altoholic like me, but the cosmetics are nice: a pair of sassy spectacles, a pirate eye patch and a cat mask. The top level of Facebook ‘shares’ was reached in such a short space of time that En Masse released a special bonus level, set exceedingly high, which will unlock a pirate hat should the Tera community achieve the goal.

I think it’s well understood that community is what makes an MMO great, and it’s perhaps not surprising that we’re seeing MMO publishers looking to those established online communities, such as Facebook, in order to promote their game to as wide an audience as possible, through a series of incentives designed to appeal to their core fan base. It seems like a natural strategy to me, although there is perhaps an inherent danger in encouraging your more rabid fans into spamming others with promotional material for your game; the Tera community blitzed the early levels of the En Masse event, such that the initial three cosmetic items were unlocked before I was even aware that the event existed.

On the topic of community events, Tera’s first run of its political system is well under way. There are three regions to vote for, and multiple players running for Vanarch in each. In the screenshot you can see the current exit poll status for Northern Shara, and my vote marked against the Fairy Tail candidate (I think I can reveal my vote without spoiling the ballot), who was in second place as of last night when I took a grab of the screen. As long as your character is level twenty, an icon appears below the mini-map which opens a window showing you the candidates for each region; a little party political broadcast piece, written by the candidate, explaining what their policies will be; and a button allowing you to cast your vote. Not surprisingly, nearly every candidate is offering low taxes (Vanarchs can set taxes on NPC shops in their region), as well as additional amenities in the towns. A player can vote once for each region, and receives a useful health potion in the post as a reward for each vote, so there’s a minor incentive to vote, perhaps aimed at those players who aren’t simply intrigued by such a system; certainly a political sub-game to the main MMO grind has the potential to qualify for a Hemlockian Nifty![TM] award, so we’ll have to see how it plays out, and, importantly, whether it has any real impact on the game. I’m quite excited for it, playing as I am on an RP server, because it has the potential to support a complex political dynamic within the RP community, directly within the game’s system.

And finally, just because he’s such a handsome fellow, a screenshot of my current mount. Press the spacebar when stationary and he lets out the most almighty thundering roar, such that I keep expecting to see his lungs come flying out of his mouth, as if from a cannon. There are a fair few design traits which detract from Tera, but by golly there’s a fair bit to like too.

With a whole lot of nothing on your way to nowhere.

One cannot easily express the joy of discovering that specific class in an MMO which just clicks. After time spent slogging along with the class which you think you ‘ought’ to be playing, or which you think would ‘make a nice change’, you reach that moment of despondency where you consider giving up the game. On a whim, you roll a class that you’d been avoiding, because it’s the flavour of the month perhaps, or a certain type of player is generally associated with the class, and you worry that you’ll be an accessory to that sort of reputation. Regardless of reason, you grudgingly roll a new character of that class. Like conciliatory sex, you’re not quite sure how you got started, and you’re determined not to enjoy yourself, but within five seconds you’re wondering what all the fuss was about, and five seconds after that you’re blissfully unaware of anything at all, utterly enraptured as you are by the endorphins of the event.

In the case of the MMO, you’re transformed in an instant from the unnamed father on Cormac McCarthy’s road, into Julie Andrews cresting a sunlight-dappled hill, grass rippling beneath the breeze’s gentle stroke.

‘And the hills are aliiiiiiiive, with the sound of slaughterrrrrrrr!’

And your partner stares in horror at you from their place on the sofa, as, with arms raised, you unleash this shrill falsetto, which threatens to shatter their teeth and your PC’s monitor, and sets half the cats in the neighbourhood into a frenzy of angry confused copulation.

Such was my pleasure at trying the Slayer class in Tera, where before I’d been busy grinding away with the Lancer, which is the game’s tanking class and, shock of shocks, also in short supply for dungeon runs towards the end-game.

Here’s a tale, tell me if you’ve heard it before:

Tera has issues with players trying to form groups for dungeons; the primary block is the fact that the game’s de facto tanking class, the Lancer, is in short supply. Lancers queue for only a few minutes before they’re assigned to a dungeon group, whereas it’s reported that every other class will face a wait of forty to sixty minutes. Why the shortage of tanks? Well, it doesn’t help that the Lancer is the only classic tank at the moment, whereas the other tanking class, the Warrior, is an evasion tank which is both a lot harder to play and a lot harder to heal, outside of expert hands. This is due to change in a future patch, but for the time being, the Lancer is *the* tank. One class, out of a pool of eight.

I think it’s also fair to say that the levelling game in Tera is an unabashed grind, with fights getting progressively longer as the players rise in level; Darwin’s great theory is alive and well in Tera, as evidenced by natural selection favouring those mobs who evolve extra zeros on the end of their hit points. And in the fine tradition of MMOs, the Lancer is a complete slug when it comes to the inevitable solo levelling grind. No DPS stance is granted because, one assumes, it would be considered unfair on the poor DPS classes, who don’t have an alternative role to switch to. So the Lancer class has the rougher responsibility of trying to be a tank in dungeons, and the tougher time of trying to level as a tank outside of dungeons. I mean, it seems fair to me, that’s why we see so many tanks at the end ga… oh wait, I think I might see a problem. I think I’ve got it… I… no. Wait! Yes. Wait! No. No. Yes. No… Hang on. Ye… Mmm. Yes! Got it! Now I could be wrong, but I think this could be one of those issues that’s been reported –here and elsewhere around the blogosphere– on and off, for the past six or more years.

Next up: Why do players solo in MMOs (when they can’t get a group as a DPS class, and tanking is a thankless tedious grind for ninety percent of the player’s time)? Gee, we’ll have to get our greatest experts of expertness on that one right away, Bob.

To my mind the MMO genre as a whole isn’t dying, but it does seem as though it has been floundering for some time. Pundits keep coming up with reasons as to why: ‘Games cost too much to develop’; ‘MMOs are too complicated’; ‘Players are fickle’; ‘The subscription model is outdated’; ‘The subscription model is the One True way to pay for an MMO and F2P is destroying everything’. And on and on. For me it’s this: for whatever reason, a staggering number of MMOs simply refuse to unlearn old falsehoods.

The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.

I’ve been trying to work out an interesting way I could support the New Blogger Initiative, taking into consideration that there are more sponsor blogs of Syp’s project than KiaSA has regular readers. Invariably any of our readers will read one or more of those bigger blogs, so what to do to show solidarity, other than post “YEAH! ME TOO!”, which seemed redundantly redundant.

I but briefly considered writing advice to new bloggers. There is, however, the inexorable fact that I am a terrible blogger as far as blogging goes, with infrequent updates, long unwieldy posts, and, as statistics clearly demonstrate, massively deficient marketing skills. Not to mention the fact that others have already written deeply splendid and detailed pieces, which I’d only be reiterating in part.

I did recall having once written something about blogging, however. After much protest and several kick starts, my two-stroke mind eventually clattered and thrummed into life, with a belch of smoke and just the one obstreperous backfiring. Back in the murky depths of time, in the year they later came to call ‘2009’, I wrote an interview piece for Randolph Carter’s Grinding to Valhalla where, amongst other topics, I discussed some thoughts about blogging. My one genuine piece of blogging advice can be found there, and is still true today.

One thought struck me, however, as I read ‘[in blogging] new members arrive, others leave’: I considered that it would be a shame if that blog and my interview disappeared, such that I was unable to view my piece of writing again in another three or more years, and see if it was still as applicable then as I find it to be today, three years after I wrote it.

So I’ve popped a copy here on the blog, and being that it has some modicum of advice about blogging, it gives me a good reason to tip my hat to the NBI, for whatever that’s worth. And if any of the few of you who read this have yet to hear of the initiative, do say so in the comments, and after I have regained consciousness, I’ll try to write up some sort of tutorial on how to use KiaSA’s blogroll.

Anyway: On with the show! As they’d say if this were a theatre, and not a blog.

Please take a minute and describe what your blog and podcast are about.

Killed in a Smiling Accident is a blog that myself and m’colleague Zoso decided to create because our own personal blogs were very MMO-centric and we weren’t sure we were going to be invested in MMOs for very much longer, but we were fairly sure we wanted to continue blogging. I’m also a terrible blogger with regards to frequency of updates and I feel the pressure of not providing content for the readers, so it’s very reassuring to have a reliable writer there to keep people coming back. I’d say my blogging style was akin to PvP: a huge burst of front-loaded effort, then nothing for ages because I’m all out of energy. The accusation that my posts are often deliberately verbose and lengthy in order to stun-lock the audience into not going anywhere are unfounded, however.

As you may gather from the title of the blog, we set out with a philosophy that we would try to inject humour into whatever we write, where possible, because there are plenty of serious pundits out there already. We favour the slightly surreal and peculiarly British styles of Fry and Laurie, Eddie Izzard and Monty Python, however, which is not to everyone’s taste but suits us just fine.

KiaSAcast is the pair of us generally being very silly and also discussing various topics mainly to do with gaming, a large part of which is dedicated to MMOs.

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

My first MMO was Dark Age of Camelot. I’d been eyeing-up Everquest for some time but wasn’t sure I wanted to make a financial commitment to these relatively new-fangled MMO things. When I saw the blurb for Dark Age of Camelot and saw the variety of races and classes on offer, I caved-in and subscribed. As to the experience? Looking back I probably didn’t get half of what I should have from the game. I certainly discovered my alt-a-holism pretty much straight away as I bounced around from class to class, race to race and faction to faction; I think my problem was that I wanted to experience everything at once, I suppose I was akin to the proverbial child in a sweetshop. I still have very fond feelings for that game, it treated me well, gave me some wonderful adventures and definitely fuelled my enthusiasm for MMOs.

For me the experience of my first MMO is very much like the experience of my first girlfriend; except that it wasn’t called Lisa, and it never confused the hell out of me by trying to touch tongues together while kissing when we were only seven years old.

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

Yes, that was in City of Heroes. If I can cheat a little, there were actually two ‘wow!’ moments in pretty quick succession. The first was the character creator, I was frankly astonished by the flexibility and scope for creating your hero. The second was a slightly strange thing: being able to jump above average height from the ground. I’m not talking about the Super Jump travel power here (that was more ‘giggle like a school kid in a whoopee cushion factory’ than ‘wow!’), I’m talking about the basic jump any character can perform as soon as you enter the game. I was so used to MMOs where jumping was either not allowed or was very restricted, yet here I was able to leap huge fences in a single bound, land in the middle of a bunch of street thugs and start pummelling them. It felt so comic-booky. I think that with City of Heroes Cryptic perfectly realised the idea of what it is to be heroic; I think I’ve spent more time grinning from ear-to-ear in that game than any other MMO.

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

Let’s see, at my very peak possibly five hours a night each week night, and then ten hours over the weekend. I think in mathematical terms that is generally referred to as ‘a fair bit’. These days it’s slightly more modest, probably a couple of hours each week night and maybe five hours over the weekend, if I’m really into a game.

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

I used to play pen and paper RPGs a great deal but have lost contact with my regular groups of yore. I play console games when I can, especially most Tuesdays when I get together with some fellow bloggers and online ne’er-do-wells to have fun in various co-operative games. I tend to buy PC and console games with every intention of playing them, and then go back to an MMO shortly afterwards. I blame the Internet, credit cards, and the fact that I didn’t take the Impulse Purchase Immunity feat at third level.

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

My first blog post was in January 2007, on my old blog Melmoth’s Inferno. My first post on KiaSA was in March 2008. So if you link the two I’ve been blogging pretty consistently for about two and a half years. The first podcast was January 2009. So far those are my only projects, I’m always looking to expand my horizons but in all honesty I have enough trouble keeping up with just those two.

Did you find it difficult to go from blogging into podcasting?

Only in the fact that I’m quite a nervous person in real life, and it’s much easier to hide such traits behind text than audio. I’ve certainly enjoyed learning about how to put a podcast together, however, and we’re getting more adventurous with what we do with each successive show.

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

I understand that conventional wisdom states that a regular posting schedule is the only way to blog, otherwise you’re a terrible person akin to someone who waves a bag of sweets in front of small children and then eats them all yourself, but I’ve never been particularly fond of conventional wisdom, sitting there in the corner of the room, puffing on a pipe and looking all smug in its velvet smoking jacket. I couldn’t stick to a schedule even if I wanted to, however, because life is always getting under foot, tripping me up and making me spill my plans all over the kitchen floor such that they’re ruined, and the only thing to do is mop them up and throw them in the bin.

I do very much believe that I have a muse; when I write some of my posts I have no idea where they came from and so I attribute them to her, but she is very temperamental. In fact, I’m pretty sure that when they were giving out careers advice they got her mixed up with someone else, and in fact she should have been one of those gremlins that stops your TV remote control from working for no apparent reason, until you get off the sofa and walk up to the TV, at which point it starts working again even back where you were originally trying to use it, without you having touched a thing.

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

I used to find it a bit of a grind when I was trying to post on a regular basis, because if inspiration hadn’t struck by the time I was due to post I felt I had to churn something out, and that made the whole thing unpleasant. Believe it or not, but I’m not one to talk for the sake of talking. If I don’t have something to say that I feel passionately about, or that I think is funny, then I really don’t enjoy the writing process. On the other hand, when I find something that inspires me I’m like Isaac Mendez from the TV show Heroes. Dead. No, hang on, before the dead bit – I just zone out for an hour or two, and when I come back to reality there’s a post ready and waiting for me that just needs checking for spelling, grammar and untoward predictions of the future.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging and/or podcasting?

Hmm, that’s a tricky one. I’m not sure whether it’s the money or the incredibly attractive members of both sexes throwing their underwear at me. Ah wait, you see what I’ve done there is to confuse blogging with being a member of Take That. There are lots of pleasures to be had from blogging, it’s always a delight when someone leaves a comment saying that they enjoyed a post, and yet there’s also pleasure when someone rails against what you wrote, because then you know that you’ve touched a nerve, and written something that made people think, and that perhaps you stirred a little passion in them. Not the underwear throwing passion though, more’s the pity. Also I’ve met some genuinely fantastic people through blogging, and there are many others who I would like to meet one day.

At the end of the day, blogging is like being part of a huge family: new members arrive, others leave, there’s a strong bond between members and also the occasional bust-up, but generally it’s a good family. Of course there’re always a few strange cousins who live out in the countryside and are perhaps slightly too friendly with each other and their livestock but we try to ignore them as best we can.

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

No one particular thing comes to mind, just lots of little moments. Those comments and posts where people have had kind things to say about my efforts are always a high point, of course.

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

I’m slightly disappointed if I’m honest, because according to the schedule that we set out when we started the blog we should be ‘kings of the world’ by now, but perhaps that was slightly ambitious. Next year, maybe.

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

I’d start blogging earlier in my life. Certainly with respect to MMOs I feel that I missed the golden age of blogging. Other than that, I’m pretty happy with the way things are. Apart from not being king of the world, of course.

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

What’s the worst that could happen?

Well ok, you could be so intensely in to your blogging that you forget you left a pan of chip oil on the stove, which subsequently catches fire and burns down your apartment building, killing fifty seven people including five children. At your trial you find out that because the fire department was busy putting out your blazing building and its neighbours, they couldn’t spare the resources to put out the fire at the local puppy, kitten and baby dolphin sanctuary. Due to the death of these cute creatures, animal rights protestors call for the death penalty to be applied to your sentence. The government cracks down heavily on the civil unrest, but the general populace, fraught and angry from the current pressures of the global economic climate, rise up and eventually attempt a coup. With the country weakened due to the government utilising all available military personnel to instate martial law, the enemies of the state take the opportunity to exploit the situation and launch thermonuclear strikes against the nation’s major cities. Scared that the fall of the country would inevitably lead to an attack on they themselves, various allied nations retaliate with nuclear strikes of their own, beginning the Third Great War and shepherding in the apocalypse of mankind.

But really, that’s probably the worst that could happen, so I shouldn’t worry too much, just give it a try.

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

Possibly the one where I cause the end of mankind due to letting a chip pan catch fire whilst I was busy blogging.

I’m certain there will come a time where I won’t be blogging any more, for any number of reasons. The one I’m most excited about is where I won’t need to blog anymore because technology will have advanced to such a state that there will be much more interesting ways to communicate with the global hive mind. Dream blogging perhaps, or Drogging as we’ll know it, which I’m now off to patent and trademark.

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.

I imagine I would make a really cheap 2.5D grindfest with graphics ripped-off from various other games, all the meanwhile siphoning off the majority of the company’s cash reserves into offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands.

Well, it serves them right for putting someone like me in charge of a company with unlimited funds.

So there you have it. I get to keep my interview post for posterity, and you get to receive the one tiny and infinitely pointless piece of wisdom I have to dispense with respect to blogging.

Just remember: blogging isn’t so terribly bad, and worse things happen at sea. So don’t update your blog while you’re on a boat, and I’m sure you’ll do just fine.