Once a week our writers will give you a glimpse into their lives, to let you get to know them and the characters they play a little better. Click here to read more Meet the Team.
What do you do for Massively.com?
I'm a Contributing Editor at Massively and am focused on our day-to-day news coverage of the MMO industry. While I cover pretty much anything that happens in the MMO world, I'm largely responsible for our EVE Online coverage (beyond Brendan Drain's excellent column here, EVE Evolved.)
So I hit much of the big news as it relates to EVE, either from an industry standpoint or (what I much prefer) a player's standpoint. I also conduct most of Massively's interviews as they relate to this particular sci-fi game, whether it's with the devs or the players themselves.
Of course I don't just write about EVE though and I'll cover pretty much whatever captures my interest. While I've enjoyed some fantasy games, namely Warhammer Online, I have this kind of disconnect with the fantasy genre in general and am more drawn to sci-fi titles and their lore. More often than not, when you see my name beneath a headline at Massively, it's in connection with something sci-fi. The impending wave of science fiction and post-apocalyptic themed MMOs means this is a great time for me, both as a gamer and a writer, and I hope I'm carrying this over to my work here.
What is your favourite MMO?
What games are you playing now and what are your characters?
When I started at Massively I subbed to so many games. Lineage II, Hellgate: London (freeloader there, actually), City of Villains, and Tabula Rasa, to name a few, in addition to EVE. Of course I've tried or played other games to a lesser extent -- Warhammer Online, Guild Wars, and World of Warcraft. I've checked out the free-to-play games like Mabinogi and DOMO, Sword of the New World, along with plenty of others I've dabbled in as well... F2P shooters like Combat Arms.
Ultimately, most of them have fallen by the wayside over time. Not because they aren't good games, but the simple fact that keeping several subs open each month gets expensive and my time tends to be limited the more I commit to spending my time writing. For me, EVE Online is the most engaging game on the market, so that's where I choose to spend much of my MMO time. I just wish I had more of it.
My EVE character is Amarr. I started out as kind of an Amarrian purist, only flying that race's ships, but the allure of blasters and drones got the better of me. I'm now heavily specialized in Gallente ships, Tech II across the board, and I'm maxing out assault ships and heavy assault ships this month, plus I've been running highsec Level 4's for quite a while now, stockpiling ISK.
Why do you like MMOs so much?
Single player games can be engaging experiences, particularly with how fantastic graphics are now compared to just a few years ago. Single player titles are a lot of fun, but in some ways I've come to view them as limited. You progress through a story that someone else made, one that's hopefully engaging, but really you're progressing through the experience in ways that have already been determined for you.
What I like about MMOs, particularly sandbox MMOs, is that the open setting means you decide how to play the game and what you'll do. In the case of EVE, not interested in running quests or missions or don't care about the lore? Doesn't matter. The storyline is there if you want it, but it isn't necessarily core to your gameplay experience. The sandbox setting doesn't apply to all games, nor should it, but for me -- the 'single server' open world MMO is king.
More than that, single player games sometimes feel empty to me and the multiplayer modes usually feel like tacked on arena sports. MMOs have active communities and there's the feeling that you're really part of something, not just that you bought a copy of the same console game as someone else and chat/smack briefly in a lobby while matching up to simply blow each other up repeatedly. (Disclaimer: I love Halo 3 multiplayer. It's a lot of fun at times and there are certainly tactics, but when compared to an MMO with its deeper systems and actually working in concert with other players it just seems shallow.)
What's the most terrible, drama-filled, awful thing to happen to you in an MMO?
The harshest consequences or situations I've ever dealt with in an MMO have been in EVE Online. But nothing really terrible or drama-filled, at least no more than anyone else I'd say. Sure, I had the kneejerk reaction to being ganked by pirates in EVE that a lot of new players do in the beginning. But it wasn't long before I came to appreciate the fact that all those -10's inject some much-needed risk into the game. What fun is lowsec without the danger in being there? I'm not a pirate in EVE Online myself but I've really come to appreciate that playstyle. I like that their presence in the game means you've got to worry about what's on the other side of that gate, got to stay sharp.
I've been saying this for a very long time now, but I can see myself taking the plunge into piracy at some point. I never seem to take that leap though. Maybe I just need a little push. Towards the Blood Raiders.
If you had 10 more hours to play every week, what would you spend them doing?
I would no doubt be spending more time in a few other MMOs, particularly playing my Chaos Chosen in Warhammer Online. But much of those 10 would be spent playing specialized alts (accounts) in EVE Online trained up for different facets of the game. For example, a dedicated trader and booster smuggler, an R&D and industry character, or a pirate.
As more of the sci-fi and post-apocalyptic MMOs enter beta and get closer to release, I'm thinking I'll need to find a way to make that extra 10 hours of playtime each week to keep up. I'll probably just sleep less. But let's face it, with 10 more hours to burn in a week, I'd probably just use some of that time to write feature stories, something I wish I could do more of.
When you're not playing MMOs, what do you do?
I play video games a lot. First person shooters. Sometimes just as a stress reliever. Fortunately I have a job where I can't get fired for playing games during the work day... a fact that I never totally got used to. ("We get paid to write about games!!" was something I'd written in the Massively chat room a number of times in my first month until it sunk in. Also that we tend to do a lot of "research." )
I play far too much Team Fortress 2, if such a thing is even possible, and I tend to play the spy more than any other class. There are few things I enjoy more in any FPS than embedding my butterfly knife in the back of a sniper, pyro, or especially another spy. (Tagging another spy is like slapping them in the face, I think.) I like the challenge of maintaining cloak, shuffling through disguises and weapons shown while moving among the enemy. Plus the fact that you've got the fortitude of a wet paper bag makes spy backstabs so much fun when you can pull it off. It feels kind of tactile to me when you crit someone in the back. I'm not even a great spy -- like this guy-- but I still have a lot of fun.
I've been playing some older games that I never had the time to before. I've always got a stack that I keep meaning to get to, same thing with books. Lately I've spent time playing Indigo Prophecy (not Fahrenheit) and enjoying it. Next up is either Psychonauts or Beyond Good and Evil.
I'm vaguely aware that there is life beyond video games. I'm into some manga and a lot of anime and animation. I'm currently reading Iain M. Banks (Consider Phlebas), really like Gibson as well (Pattern Recognition is one of my all time favorites). I write fiction and have tried my hand at writing television scripts as well, also strongly considering writing gaming articles for print. I was into photography for a while too but it's been a while since I took any shots, hopefully I'll rekindle that interest as the weather warms up.
Lately I've been getting back to my pen-and-paper RPG roots which is cool. Some friends are running an Aberrant campaign with a modified (grittier) setting that I'm enjoying. I moved back to the U.S. some months ago after about 8 years in Shanghai (note to self: update bio), so I've been watching a hell of a lot of TV, without guilt, and there have been so many good sci-fi shows that I'm trying to catch up with. I'm also really into film and so have been pushing my Netflix subscription to its limits.
Who is your personal hero?