What do you do for Massively.com?
I'm an EVE Online columnist here at Massively. Rather than writing short blog posts, I write the EVE Evolved column every Sunday and cover EVE topics ranging from guides and game mechanic commentaries to PvP and economics. I'm also the resident EVE Online expert and occasionally people call on me with questions.
Sometimes I'll write a featured article about another game that I'm enjoying such as when I looked at free running and urban exploration in MMOs and when I took a tour of Age of Conan's player cities.
What's your favorite MMO?
Undeniably, EVE Online. Throughout my time playing MMOs, I've stopped and started countless different games from Runescape and Diablo II to Everquest 2 and World of Warcraft. The one game I've never stopped playing throughout it all is EVE Online. Perhaps it's because no other game out there even comes close to EVE's "harsh universe" feel or PvP style or maybe it's just that the game's two free major expansions per year has kept me interested. All I know is I've been playing EVE for almost five years I still love it.
What games are you playing now, and what are your characters?
My main character in EVE is Nyphur, CEO of the Pillowsoft corporation. I'm probably most well known for my early work with Tanking, for which I wrote an exhaustive article in EON Magazine and started up a website. I've written several articles for EON magazine in the past and did a lot of editing work on the Insider's guide section.
I was also on the core management team of the Interstellar Starbase Syndicate alliance in their prime days and have run two major publicly-owned investment schemes totalling 60 billion ISK. In addition to my main character, I have a mining character with impressive market skills called Sarah Derell that is currently inactive since I've not much use for a mining character any more.
I have a flirting relationship with Everquest 2 and World of Warcraft, both of which I return to once every year or two when nostalgia kicks in. I'm currently playing EVE Online and Everquest 2 but I'm sure I'll eventually try WoW again. In World of Warcraft, I have two boringly identical night elf druids on Eonar(EU) from the previous two times I've played, neither of whom made it past level 45 before I inevitably got bored with the game again.
In Everquest 2, I have a level 54 fae warlock (unoriginally named "Nyphur") on the Unrest server and my new main character is a level 37 Bruiser on Antonia Bayle named "Mailea". My account is littered with characters from previous times I've played the game, going all the way back to a wizard I started at the game's launch and only keep around for sentimental value.
Why do you like MMOs so much?
I'm something of a multiplayer junkie. I thrive on the social aspects of gaming and I honestly believe that without a social factor, most games aren't worth playing. Even when I played all the singleplayer games I've loved like Half-Life 2 and Portal, the game wouldn't have provided a significant sense achievement in itself if I couldn't talk to other people that were playing it too. For me, MMOs represent the ultimate evolution of games, with social involvement being the absolute peak of self-generating content. The fact that you can play, co-operate and compete with hundreds or thousands of other people gives MMOs a dimension that you can't find in other games.
What accomplishment in-game are you most proud of?
While not an accomplishment in the traditional sense, I would say I'm most proud of the solid positive reputation I've built up within the EVE community. This idea that from the same starting point as any other player, I've made a name for myself and earned the trust of so many is immensely rewarding. My reputation has afforded me many opportunities that otherwise would have been impossible. For example, I started two publicly owned investment schemes totalling 60 billion ISK. On nothing but my word and a promise, players rapidly sent me their collective fortunes and piggy banks, trusting me to take care of it and generate a profit.
After some solid profit-making and paying substantial dividends, I unfortunately had to shut the investment schemes down early, liquidate the businesses involved and send the 60 billion ISK back to investors. Being able to successfully launch an investment scheme at a time when investment scams were at an all-time high really made me appreciate the opportunities that being a trustworthy figure can provide in EVE Online. For a multiplayer social junkie like myself, it was kind of awe-inspiring.
What's the most terrible, drama-filled, awful thing to happen to you in an MMO?
At one point in EVE Online I was heavily into complex 0.0 alliance politics. I've seen some of the worst, most drama-filled things happen to my alliance and corp and I myself have done a few things I'm seriously not proud of. I don't like to talk about them but I consider each mistake as a stain on my personal record that I have to make up for and will never repeat. One particular example would be when I kicked a real life friend from my corp to keep my alliance's political image clean. After I got out of the 0.0 alliance politics game, that decision seemed very silly. The character (named Elijah Ghost) is now happily back in my corp and we fight alongside each other in faction warfare.
Oh and I was once caught mining in a dreadnought and promptly blown up. Don't think I'll ever live that down.
If you had 10 more hours to play every week, what would you spend them doing?
I'd definitely spend them playing with friends in Everquest 2 and EVE Online. I have real life friends in both games and haven't got much time to play with them. In EVE Online, I would spend the time kicking some Caldari ass in Elijah Ghost's faction warfare fleets or just running some missions. In Everquest 2, I'd be questing with my friend Darinus and would probably have time to join a guild. Who knows, with 5-10 more hours per week I might finally get above level 60.
When you're not playing MMOs, what do you do?
I'm currently in my final year of a masters degree in Computer Science, so practically all of my free time is spent working on projects and assignments. This year I'll be writing a thesis on comparing different terrain level-of-detail algorithms on modern gaming computers, something relevant to all MMOs that use terrain. When I do get some free time and don't feel like playing an MMO, I like to write and occupy some time with small game design projects. Unlike practically everyone my age here in Ireland, I don't drink alcohol. That leaves very few avenues for socialising, so I tend to keep up with friends by running the occasional LAN party and going to local overnight gaming events.