Ask Massively: On mourning a netbook edition

No, it's not a picture of River.  I can't take a picture of her right now, she's wounded.  It would be wrong.
Well, I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later. My stalwart little netbook, River, finally developed a serious problem: Her screen developed a pair of nasty cracks. I've had her for only a couple of years, but she's been a great portable machine and a real help at getting work done. Now if only it weren't such an enormous pain finding someplace where I could get her repaired, as I'd really prefer not to replace her. But it might come to that.

Even with an injured performer, however, the show must go on, and the show in question is Ask Massively. This week, we're fielding questions about ArcheAge and working in the gaming field, something that I'm sure is of interest to many of our readers. If you've got a question you'd like to see in a future installment of the column, mail it to or leave it in the comments below. Questions may be edited for brevity and/or clarity.

J45neoboy asked: Since the official ArcheAge website is available in English, is it safe to assume that they plan on launching in North America?
It's safer to assume that from even fewer context clues. During an interview with Jake Song back in September, we were specifically told that yes, ArcheAge is being developed with a global market in mind, and it is planned for a Western release in the future. All of the betas thus far have been in Korean largely because the game is still in development, so since the game doesn't yet have a publisher over here, any testing might be premature.

Song himself put it best with his final line in the interview: "We will introduce a localized version of ArcheAge to Western players in the future." When that future will come remains to be seen, but it's on the agenda.
Swabs asked: I was just wondering if you had any insight into how one might go about embarking on a career endeavour [to become a writer during game development]? Does such a job even exist? Where would a lowly graduate begin?
The best way to aim at writing for games is to write.

There was a time when this wasn't the case. There was a time when a game studio consisted of four people, and in all likelihood those four people were the programmers, testers, creative, and if necessary, actors. Those days are in the past now, and at this point the best way to write for games is to establish yourself as someone who can write and then head over into games. (Ree Soesbee and Jeff Grubb, for instance, are both known for their writing ventures outside of Guild Wars 2 and got tapped for the game after the fact.)

Certain things are certainly more helpful than others. If you're known as someone who writes a whole lot of technical manuals, for instance, you're unlikely to be tapped for quest text. Write as much as you can for as broad an audience as you can. At the same time, don't sell yourself short; aim for professional publication over giving your work away for free. Even if you're lucky enough to be able to not work for a while and focus on writing, taking another job in the interim is probably a good idea -- you get more ideas from strange workplace scenarios than you might guess. And don't discount taking some courses in programming, while you're at it, since game companies like to hire from within as much as any other company.

But above all else, getting a job writing on a game is a matter of being in the right place at the right time. All of the things I'm talking about here are just sharpening the tools you have so that when you are in the right place, you can go for the gold.

And don't be surprised if you wind up somewhere completely different. When I was finished with college, my current job didn't even exist and I had spent my time learning how to be a better fiction writer. Almost none of the Massively staffers aimed at game journalism; the opportunity arose and we went for it. Keep in mind that career goals are more like points on a compass rose than a destination, and you'll do fine.
Looking for some advice on which class is best for soloing in Aion? Not sure who this Raph Koster fellow is? Curious about the release date of NCsoft's newest MMO? You've come to the right place! No one knows MMOs like we do. If there's anything you'd like to know about the MMO genre or the site itself, Ask Massively is here to help every Thursday afternoon. Just ask!
This article was originally published on Massively.