So You Read Message Boards For a Living? Mon Jun 12 2006 01:59 PM


Kill Ten Rats posted this on their site so I am just going to give you a snippet of it then have you go read it. It's a good read:

MMO community managers have an ugly job. Public relations is never the cakewalk that it seems from the outside, but dealing with the teeming internet hordes is not always as pleasant as eating bees.

I have never had the job, but let us pause a moment to consider some of the things we put our poor community managers, board mods, and developers through. Anyone can feel free to add horrors that I have missed in the comments (or via e-mail). (If this is your job, we understand if you feel the need to use a pseudonym and censor specifics, but we will not be releasing IP addresses and we understand that any example does not relate to specific people, but rather is a statement of general tendencies or extreme cases, probably exaggerated for effect. Or maybe you want to make an example of someone.)


Read the whole thing here: So You Read Message Boards For a Living?

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Ashen On Vacation Sat May 27 2006 02:12 PM


Due to the fact that my last official work day was May 15th and the next one isn't until June 1st, I decided to take advantage of the "free" time and I am out-of-state for a bit. I'll be back soon but I doubt I'll be checking the forums or my email or things much until I get back.

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Game Angst Sat May 20 2006 01:44 PM


The following was written by HaemishM on his new site Game Angst:

- - - - - -

This is the end of something and the beginning of something quite like it.

I started writing for the "rant site" Waterthread.org back in September of 2002, after a first abortive attempt to write something for Player2Player.net that is probably better lost to the ravages of time. When Joe decided he didn't want to be the "face of a community" with Waterthread, he offered me the site. I turned him down, for a number of reasons, the main one being I didn't want that headache. I just wanted to write what I wanted to write and have somewhere to put it on the web without the hassles inherent in running my own site. When schild took over that community and transplanted it to f13.net, I came along. If none of that means anything to you, you probably started reading me there without any knowledge of my writing history. Ego would have me believe I've built up something of an audience, perhaps even a following. Game Angst is the experiment to provide the proof to that theorem.

At first, it was just an idea without even a name to give it form or function. I wanted a place to put things I write that may or may not ever fit with f13.net, things that may only have anything to do with games because the writer is an unabashed gamer. As an aspiring novelist, I came to the conclusion that self-promotion is going to be key to getting published, and getting published is a step to being paid to write instead of being paid to be a webmonkey. Self-promotion often leads to conflicts of interest, especially when the writer has to be just as concerned about promting the publishing entity. In short, my self-promotion wasn't going to happen to my satisfaction at f13, and in the process might actually have begun to cause conflicts with f13's agendas. There are other reasons beyond that, personal reasons that made me uncomfortable to continue writing for f13, but the main one is ego. I want to do something for me that grows to be something beyond me.

Game Angst is meant to be a site to promote my writings, about games, about movies, about anything I get enough of an idea about to commit to bits. It's a playground for my mind, my little sandbox to tinker with. With every frat boy getting a MySpace and blogs springing up like cockroaches skittering from the kitchen light at midnight, it's time to stake my own claim in the mindsphere. My goal is to spread long-winded commentary articles out amongst mostly daily ruminations within a few key areas of interest. The front page will be about gaming, with links to other sections like movies, television, politics, books, and any other media I get a hankering for. As I get the site built up, I'm going to have an archive of my old writings from f13.net and waterthread.org. I'm particularly interested in looking back over my "Mature MMOG" series from the early days of Waterthread with an eye towards the changes that have taken place in the MMOG Medium since then.

Along the way will come some machinima created using The Movies, and maybe even some peeks at my fictional works, such as the novel I'm currently trying to get published, and some supporting fiction.

Eventually, there may be some openings for other writers to hitch their wagons to this site. If you're interested, email me and we'll see what happens.

There will be forums, of course. I've become rather attached to the idea of virtual communities banding together around the most inane shit possible, and wouldn't want to deprive anyone of the joy of bashing my writing. There will be only one written rule in my forums . If I don't like it or don't want it, it shall not be done. Like I said, it's my sandbox, not your litter box.

Anger is a gift. Angst is a calling.

I write this shit because this is what I feel compelled to write. Ego would have me believe my writing is useful or enjoyable to the people who read it, otherwise I'd just burn what I write. The source of my angst isn't hatred. My angst is a palpable dissatisfaction with the details of individual games, but born out of a genuine passion for games. I love playing games, and I want them to not just be new, but new and improved. I love games, and I want new games to play, new games that build upon the foundation of the good games of the past, discarding the things that did not work in favor of better systems. It is an angst that is wholly symbolic of my belief in humanity itself. I truly believe that through the process of evolution, evolution of the mind, the emotion, the body and the produce of the human spirit, that we can better our individual and collective lives. In that context, the game angst is an existential angst, doomed to setbacks and disappointments, but also to genuine surprises.

And if that bit of academic-sounding mental masturbation didn't completely drive you away, I also like dick and fart jokes too. I want to write seriously about games, but we should never lose sight of the fact that we are playing games with pixellated elf boobies.

Angst comes with a side of satire and a smile.

- - - - - -

So, check out his new site: Game Angst. And if you somehow missed it, Sachant has a little blurb up on her site about her E3 Coverage.

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Beware the Stray Bullet! Thu May 18 2006 03:42 PM


What a few weeks it has been! Since my initial trip on a job interview in late April, everything has become a blur… so much that I have a ton of catching up to do on my very own forums! A few days after getting back to Austin from there, it seems like I was back on a plane and this time headed for E3 2006 (which I definitely need to do a write up about still). Had a great time there and actually got about half the things accomplished I set out to (which is good for E3).

I headed back to Austin and wait the dreaded May 15th; the last day of Wolfpack Studios. I showed up early in the morning as I usually do, and sat down at my desk. Sitting there, though, I really was unsure what to do and, from the look of things, most others did not either. Our last deadline was upon us and there were no future ones.

Well, the day dredged on as employees were brought into the HR office and given their walking papers. Slowly but surely, the Pack started to dwindle. You would think that would be the end… but it wasn’t.

From the ashes of Wolfpack Studios, a new company has formed called Stray Bullet Games (SBG). Unlike Wolfpack, SBG is not a Ubisoft company. Instead it is a Third-Party Development Studio. This basically means the studio is, technically, answerable to itself. I say technically because, obviously if a studio undertakes a contract from a publisher, that publisher will be making payments and will garner them at least some say in the project they are contracting for.

Which brings us to Shadowbane. Ubisoft has contracted Stray Bullet Games to keep Shadowbane alive and well. Since SBG is not a Ubisoft company, things will be a little different than it was with Wolfpack Studios. For the most part, these changes will be transparent to players.

Is Shadowbane the only thing Stray Bullet Games is working on? At this point I cannot go into much detail but there are other things in the works. Stray Bullet Games definitely does not plan on being a one-trick pony. And, of course, we have the goal of designing and crafting our very own next-generation MMO.

What will it be? Well, it is much too early to say and it is something we are discussing internally as to what exactly we want to do. I will be blunt and say we will not be doing Shadowbane 2. The publishing and intellectual rights are not owned by Stray Bullet Games and we will, more than likely, make an original title. With that said, we plan on doing what we do best so it wouldn’t be unthought-of to expect player-vs.-player and strategic combat. And while the implementation and specifics may differ, the aspects I talk about in my (crazy) sandbox idea Dominion, such as an in-depth political system, territorial and economic control systems, and character building with meaning are echoed by everyone at Stray Bullet Games.

While Stray Bullet Games might be considered by some as a new start-up company, it is not really. In fact, Stray Bullet Games picked up most of the key personnel from Wolfpack Studios. Frank Lucero, the General Manager and founder of Stray Bullet Games (not to be confused with the Latino Comedian), has been in the gaming industry for over fifteen years. Most other members of the company are seasoned industry veterans, not even including their time in Wolfpack Studios, such as Ala Diaz, Clay “Nazgul” Towery, George Ruof, Ivan Enriquez, Mike “Ramsie” Madden, and Ranjeet Singhal. And we must not forget our loremaster Sam “Meridian” Johnson. With this much experience and passion under one roof, not even the sky is the limit!

Stay tuned for the new website (for Stray Bullet Games) which will contain much more information and official press releases.

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Africa: E3 2006 Preview Thu May 18 2006 02:08 PM


While at E3 2006, I had the opportunity to sit down with Tracy Spaight of Rapid Reality thanks to MMORPG.com. After being fashionably late with my write-up, Dana posted it as quickly as possible. Here's a short excerpt:

Having a strong Shadowbane background, I brought up the question of what will happen if a large guild comes in and exerts a large area of influence against other players, basically becoming the dominant force of that world? Tracy explained that one way to combat this behavior is that their Non-Player Characters (NPCs) will actually be smart! When I asked what exactly he meant by that, he explained they would be using a dynamic artificial intelligence and that NPC kingdoms can (and will) use real-time strategies against player guilds! When I tried to dig a little deeper into the technical jargon, though, Tracy told me I would have to talk to Adam Ghetti, the Senior Creative Director and Co-Founder of Rapid Reality. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to corner him for details.

You can read the entire article here. And yes, I did notice that my article was Feature #666... and you thought all of those evil things Sachant says about me were lies! Of course, I also noticed what Dana said in his introduction to the article: Guest Writer Sean Dahlberg, the Community Manager of Shadowbane (watch carefully for his plug)... what can I say, being a virtual pimp for the games I work on is in the job description!

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Shadowbane Virtual Gathering [Update] Tue May 09 2006 12:16 PM


This weekend we are having the virtual Fan Gathering for Shadowbane in the online world know as Second Life. If you missed the first announcement, I'd recommend reading it before reading this any further. Things have come a long way since that original announcement, mostly thanks to Sachant; she's been hard at work making sure everything is thought of.

When will it be? Saturday, May 13th at 10pm Central (8pm Pacific and 11pm Eastern). I wish I had realized earlier that this is just after E3... I will actually be returning to Texas on Saturday but should be back well in time for the gathering. While originally we were going to have the gathering at DarkMoon, it has moved to Oblivion's Roost in Inferno (LOC 37,115,24). This area is actually owned by Anshe Chung who is not only a well-known person in Second Life but also part of the original Shadowbane Community in the guild Braialla's Presence (BP is now known as Blood Pact and adventures in the lands of Azeroth).

Snarl, the Nation Leader for Den of Wolves, has also been a huge help in getting this together. Just yesterday, he gave us a few things to borrow to make the gathering more festive... dance floors, lights, etc. It all looks great!

So far, the Shadowbane Group has 50 individuals in it. If you are planning on attending the fan gathering, I highly recommend downloading and installing Second Life as soon as possible so you can get a handle on the mechanics (its not that hard) and get yourself joined into the Shadowbane Group.

Once in-game, simply use the "Find" function and under "People" find AshenTemper Senior or Sachant Basiat and send us an instant message (IM) asking to join the group (or just post a reply on here with your name and I'll add you next time I see it). The "Group" works somewhat like a guild and has its own chat channel so that you can converse with others to get hints, tips, etc. We'll set you up with a few things such as good teleport locations (called Landmarks), some (virtual) Shadowbane T-shirts, and help you out as much as you can.

If you have any questions or comments, this is the place to do it!

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Up, up, and away... to E3! Tue May 09 2006 09:55 AM


Hey all, I'll probably be quiet on here for a few days. Doing a few last minute things before my flight takes me back to California where I'll be (for E3). I'll check in every so often but mostly out of touch (I imagine).

Behave (somewhat, at least!) and don't burn the place down!

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To Rule An Empire Fri May 05 2006 05:01 PM


Instead of featuring my crazy ideas on here, MMORPG.com put up an editorial by me entitled To Rule An Empire. Here's a snippet:

In today's online gaming market, player affiliations have become immensely popular. This is particularly true in the massively multiplayer online (MMO) gaming portion. I can remember back to the days when one of the first MMOs launched called Ultima Online was initially released. Players could purchase a "Guild Stone" and plant it in player-owned housing to form a guild, which is the most common term for a collection of players. With this Guild Stone, players could invite other players to join their guild, assign titles to each one, and declare war against other player-run guilds. That was almost ten years ago.
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Today, MMOs are vastly more complex than their first generation forefathers. The graphics alone are light years ahead of what we had with the original Ultima Online and Meridian 59. Server architecture has advanced as well, allowing virtual worlds to allow more players to connect simultaneously. Even chat and communication systems have become more elaborate; allowing players to send private messages to each other, communicate globally with but a few keystrokes, and create their own custom channels.


You can check out the full article here.

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God May Forgive Your Sins… Fri Apr 28 2006 12:13 PM


As the philosopher (and scientist) Alfred Korzybski would say; “God may forgive your sins, but your nervous system won't.” Before you read too far, no, this is not really related to game mechanics or systems or anything of that sort. In fact, the only relation this little “blahg” post has to games is that it refers to me searching for a job in the game industry. So if you’re not interested in reading something personal about me, I’d stop here.

Some of you already know, late last month Wolfpack was given the notice that its doors would be shutting and, since then, I have been looking for a job. Well, over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve been interviewing with some really great companies which sort of surprised me. I won’t lie, I am unsure of my standing in the game development circles. I know I’m a “known” in Shadowbane; hard not to know me since I write the articles on the Chronicle of Strife and annoy people in-game with my announcement pop-ups.

Outside of our community, though, I figure I’m more of an unknown. Sure I do a few interviews here and there and I use to be a regular on the old Lum the Mad forums so a lot of the ‘old skool’ is familiar with me. And I have this, my little place in cyberspace that some people check out. But outside of that, I doubt too many people have heard of “Ashen Temper”.

So, the news hits the web’zines about Ubisoft closing Wolfpack and then I put up my post on here about it… and I start getting contacted by a wide variety of people from different companies. This surprised me a bit and actually made me feel pretty good. I won’t lie; it’s nice to have all the things you have done recognized by your peers. Since that initial announcement, I’ve been through quite a few interviews; mostly phone but a few in-person interviews too. What does that have to do with the quote by Alfred Korzybski? Yes, I know, none of you were actually thinking that but I figured I’d bring it back on track, heh.

I’ve worked in game development for a decent amount of time. I’ve done Community Management as a developer for about six years (or will be on June 1st) and I’ve done it from the “fan” side of things for many years prior to that as a Site Manager on various sites such as Stratics, Vault Network, and XRGaming. I’m quite comfortable in talking to people (one of the prerequisites of the job) and rarely do I get nervous about such things. I can’t think of a single interview lately that I’ve actually been nervous about yet.

But then on Wednesday, I received a call from a company that would like to do a follow-up interview in-person. I was really excited at first because this is a great company; it not only has a great history in gaming but a very bright future. In fact, when things were unsure at Wolfpack some time ago (shortly before Ubisoft acquired us and we were unsure if the studio would survive), I interviewed for this position and didn’t make the final cut.

That was some years ago, and I believe I have not only gained more experience in Community Management and game development since then, but I have a lot more street credit. I’m one of the few Community Managers who’s been through all stages of development and launch of an MMO; initial design, alpha, beta, launch, and expansions. I’ve not only seen it all, I’ve experienced it all. And while some people may say “That was only on Shadowbane”, I think they fail to see the fact that actually strengthens my position. I’ve been through the hard times where a game is having technical issues. I’ve worked with probably one of the most hardcore communities in the MMO industry. I have the scars and bruises and I wear them with pride.

Reading all of that, you might think me confident… even over-confident. Don’t let the words fool you. I do realize I have some very good selling points but, at the same time, I don’t actually have that big of an ego and I know there is some great competition out there. So, I’m actually really nervous about this interview. This is one of the few companies I would actually considering moving out of Austin (Texas) to be a part of.

To make matters worse, and speaking of competition, I do know one of the people I’m competing again. My very own assistant in the Shadowbane Community (although, truth be told, she is more of an equal); little miss Mistress of Souls herself. Granted, she is the student and I am the teacher and many companies will take someone more seasoned… but Sachant is a phenomenal Community Manager. This woman could easily become one of the best Community Managers out there if just given the chance to shine and show what she’s truly capable of.

So, that does make me a little more nervous. Of course, there are other things pricking the nerves but I have to admit that I am quite surprised at how nervous I am about this. At the end of the day, they either give me an offer or they do not. The only thing I can do is put my best foot forward and show them what I bring to the table. At least that is what I keep on trying to tell myself. Like I said, I’ve been through quite a few interviews already; which I am very grateful for since being given such opportunities to even be considered to work at these great companies. This is the first one that is actually making me nervous.

That’s all. No interesting game developments or anything cool or interesting for me to talk about. Just venting a bit to relieve some of the nervousness. And if you don’t hear from me for a few days, now you’ll know why, heh.

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Shadowbane Virtual Fan Gathering Fri Apr 21 2006 03:26 PM


Some time ago, the Shadowbane Community Team was working on the prospect of having a fan gathering around the same time as the Austin Game Conference. Due to the fact that Wolfpack Studios will be closing on May 15th, 2006, this will no longer occur. With less than a month until that date becomes a reality, it would be near impossible to coordinate and publicize such an event, much less work on a zero budget for it.

Of course, we would like to have kind of final farewell to all of our players. We are contemplating doing something in-game but Sachant came up with the crazy, yet fantastic idea of doing a little get together in another virtual world with a game called Second Life. Second Life is a privately owned, subscription based (although you can have a free account with limitations; I’ve been playing on the free account for a month and having some fun) massively-multiplayer online real-life game. Second Life gives its users tools to add to and edit its world and participate in its economy. The majority of the content in the Second Life world is resident-created. It is basically an interactive chat room crossed with Sims and can be highly addictive.

Why in Second Life? Well, we want to do something more like a fanfest or gathering and not have everyone crammed into Sea Dog’s Rest. In Second Life, we can play music, hang around and talk with people, and just be somewhat our normal selves (at least normal for some of us, heh). And, I must point out, it’s for free (unless you upgrade to a premium account). We have already made some Play 2 Crush and Shadowbane T-Shirts (also the mysterious Meridian Throne of Oblivion shirt). It will basically be a social gathering and our target date is May 13th since some of us will be out on Friday night and Sunday we hope to do things in Shadowbane.

If you are interested, check out and download Second Life here. If you sign up, feel (more than) free to refer either myself (ashen at ashentemper.com - fixed to repel nasty spiders!) or Sachant (Sachant at gmail.com - fixed to repel nasty spiders!). If you’re into making your own art and animations, Second Life might be right up your alley.

If you are interested or want to know more, feel free to post a reply to this thread. Also, make sure to check out my crazy question of the week here (sorry, only registered users can access this).

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