2001-05-29: Tales of a Traveller: Interview of Interest Game Master Talos

Tales of a Traveller: Interview of Interest Game Master Talos

Videric Have you had role-playing experience prior to Ultima Online? Perhaps from computer role-playing games or from more traditional games such as (D&D, tabletop war games or perhaps LARP)?
IGM Talos When I was younger I used to play Dungeons and Dragons and RuneQuest with a group of friends. I would always be the Dungeon Master as I loved being in control of the endless possibility of adventure. As I grew older I moved onto playing roleplay based computer games, which still take preference over any other type of game for me personaly.
Videric Did you know the Ultima universe's lore before UO? In other words, were you familiar with Ultima game series? If so, do you have any favourites?
IGM Talos My favourite computer game of all time is still Ultima 7, The Black Gate. This was a whole new gaming experience for me, a huge virtual world in which there was almost an infinity of things to do. I am pretty sure I explored every single area of this game, and re-started it more times than I can remember. It took me a very long time to complete, as I would spend most of my time not pursuing the main plot-line but exploring new areas and building my characters to the limits of their abilities. =)
Videric When did you get introduced to UO as a player and what got you hooked up to the game? Which play styles did you favour and do you still play UO as a player?
IGM Talos I was in the Royal Air Force training to become a pilot, when a fellow officer-cadet introduced me to this incredible game he had bought called Ultima Online. I was amazed, as I had never played an online game before. I was being sponsored through a degree in Psychology at this time, so I immediately bought myself an incredibly powerful Boca 14.4 modem (grins) to use with the computer that was 'supposed' to be for studying, and ventured onwards into Britannia for the first time… When I met up with my friend for the first time online, it was a whole new experience for me. I remember it well, I saw him at Minoc bank and he promptly gave me an entire set of bone armour. I felt like a king amonst men! That is, until I was slaughtered by 2 mongbats.
IGM Talos I still play from time to time, but not nearly as much as I did before becoming IGM. It is still in my opinion easily the best MMORPG, but as I spend so much time within Britannia during my working day, it is important for me to take a break and do other things with my free time as well. =)
Videric How did you end up as IGM for EA Europe? Could you tell little about it?
IGM Talos I blew an ear-drum scuba diving, and since that time my hearing deteriorated below the requirements of front-line military pilots. I had the unfortunate situation of being designated 'ground-crew', meaning no more flying for me. After joining the Counselor program I met another volunteer who inspired me to apply for a position she had seen on the Electronic Arts home-page, which I promptly did. I was so excited about the prospects of this job that I could barely stand the wait, and after several interviews and much sitting by the telephone, the call finally came…. So here I am!
Videric To clear exactly what you do, could you tell of your duties as Interest Game Master (IGM) for Ultima Online and are you only at European servers or American ones too? Also could you tell how your job changed with the end of the volunteer program?
IGM Talos I used to work very closely with the volunteers on the European shards, facilitating their events as best I could. I would build them scenery and locations as well as create them characters to use in order to provide as realistic as possible event scenarios. With changes to the way events work in UO my job has changed fairly dramatically. I now spend time writing fictional content for quests and events, and I am now working very closely with our Webmaster. We're working together on a few changes to the European UO website which should delight those who love quests and events. On top of all this I run as many in-game events as I possibly can, I absolutely love doing this, and it is important for players to see that events and quests are still constantly occurring.
Videric What kind of source material you have about Ultima fiction available? Do you have certain limits what sort of events can you do?
IGM Talos I have several books detailing the history of Britannia, which are exceptionally useful. The history of the Ultima world is so extensive, it is difficult to imagine how many books it would take to document in detail everything that has occurred in the past. I do have limits on the kind of events I can run, but this mostly comes down to common sense. For example, I would not create an event where a flock of killer sheep reduce the town of Minoc to rubble. =)
Videric Do you have in-game character that you use when taking part of Quests, other than the robed figure? People are missing seeing major fiction characters such as Lord British, Minax and Lord Blackthorn, can you decide on their use?
IGM Talos It is difficult to use such major fictional characters, as in theory an event featuring such people can drastically alter the future of a shard depending upon the result..
Videric As sponsoring or blessing of towns/establishments is not possible anymore, are there any other plans to encourage establishments? And how do you see the future of player establishments?
IGM Talos Player run establishments are a phenomena that I believe stand for many of the best qualities of Ultima Online. They bring people together in a unique manner, and a strong bond is formed between these people. The social dynamics of such places is fascinating, and the sense of community is for me part of the magic of UO. There will always be a future for player run establishments.
Videric What have you learned as IGM, has it brought a new kind of perspective to role-playing, people and to Ultima Online in general?
IGM Talos When I first started playing I was not what I would call an 'active' roleplayer. I would always talk and behave 'in-character', but I was not involved directly with a roleplaying community. Having seen the depth of these communities, and the fun that people have with them, I will now always strive to get involved with them as a player.
Videric Do you have any interesting future plans you would like to share? Some exclusive super secret? *grins*
IGM Talos I have many secrets, but I keep them all tucked safely underneath my robe. =)
Videric As a final question we shall have the classical Tales of a Traveller question, what is your most remarkable or unforgettable moment in UO a) as a player b) as an IGM?
IGM Talos As a player I first started on Atlantic. There was almost a hierachy of guilds, and I worked my way up to be an important member of the 2nd largest guild at that time. I was honored when one day the leader chose me out of hundreds of others to lead his guild, as he sought retirement from the pressures involved with it. This was a great day, there was a big ceremony, and for me this is probably my most memorable moment as a player. Another would be the time I killed a notorious murderer on the East Britain Road, and when I gave his head to a town guard I received just over 100,000 gold pieces, not bad for 30 seconds work!
IGM Talos As an IGM I have had many many memorable moments. Due to the secrecy of what I do, I cant recount these here as it may spoil the magic of a moment for anyone involved. One great moment would have to be the first time I met my volunteers, they are such an amazing group of people and made me feel right at home straight away, something I shall not forget. A great bond was quickly forged and I am still in frequent contact with most of them.
Videric The Bonus question: We have been debating for a while about this; are ethereal llamas soft and furry like normal llamas, even if they look transparent? This question was forced to be asked by the player of character called Tara, who loves her ethereal llama *grins* Personally I hope you rule out the possibility that the ethereal llamas can spit at least, because I am no llama loving person. Well Llamas do not like my character that is *grins*
IGM Talos Ethereal Llamas are indeed soft and furry. The problem is they do spit like normal llamas, but being transparent it is difficult to tell if you are wandering around covered in llama spit or not. Also do NOT try to make any clothing from ethereal llama fur, I personally got banned from several taverns as people mistakedly thought I was walking around naked.
Videric Thank you for this interview Talos.