Issue #4 - Posted by Recklosh Melosh on September 9, 2015 *New*

Mecheir 2764
1. Interview with Baltar

By Recklosh Melosh
With your permission, I will start responding to these piecemeal just to make some headway. If this will interfere with however you manage paperwork for the Dispatch, let me know and I'll be happy to compile them and submit only when completed.

You've recently come back from an extended leave of absence. During your break there was some discussion about Shadows possibly being dead. How would you respond to the naysayers who believed your dominion was on the brink of extinction?

Thus: Shadows was a trailblazing Dominion in the earliest days of Ankhet, as I think even her most vicious detractors would be forced to concede. At present her Disciples do not necessarily attach the same importance to that particular sort of gameplay, and a Dominion is obviously but the sum of its Disciples. Nonetheless, I would never call such a shift in focus "extinction." I think it is fair to say that each member of Shadows -- like most every other Disciple in Ankhet -- plays in the way that he or she finds most enjoyable. That might mean Real Life(tm) sometimes taking precedence, or it might mean less Communing on certain subjects, or more Communing but less Questing, or any number of other things. Shadows has always been tolerant of divergent viewpoints, and I don't believe that has changed. I kept in touch during my prolonged absences, and I am thus indirectly aware of the not infrequent laments that Ankhet itself appeared to be dead. I would say that is just as untrue, and in exactly the same way: Ankhet has always been here, ready for its Disciples to participate as they see fit.

Recently your dominion was overtaken in rank on the Annals, leading some to question whether Shadows was still invested in moving up in position. Does Shadows have aspirations to climb up the ranks and reclaim the Ankhet dominion spot?

I'm going to take a page from your book, and politely decline to disclose "anything that involves internal dominion affairs." To be crystal clear, this is in no way an insult; rather, it is humble acknowledgement that your tactics are typically superior to mine. Speaking generally, I would suggest that any Dominion with current, immediate aspirations to becoming (or, as you say, to reclaiming) the Ankhet Dominion would be taking obvious steps towards that goal, i.e. Tithing. Shadows has done so in the past, as have others; your own Sakkara is clearly doing so now. Quoting: Anuminous You are credited for being the oldest active disciple in the game today. Preliminarily, I believe that is entirely untrue. Ankhet began on 12 Mecheir 2755, and I didn't show up until 18 Mecheir 2755. There are several Disciples who joined before I did who I strongly suspect are still here in one form or another. If pressed, I would give the title to the Disciple currently known as Frank the Bunny, who first appeared in Ankhet on 13 Mecheir 2755. More later! A couple more responses for you:

You are credited for being the oldest active disciple in the game today. What is the most memorable political event that you've experienced in your time here? What made it stand out above all the rest?

I am undoubtedly biased, but I still have to say the so-called "Leveling," (i.e., the concerted response to the first non-consensual Desecration, that of the original Euplicitous Arophram). Those events and their aftermath changed the face of Ankhet, politically speaking: before, there had been general sniping, but nothing too permanent; after, certain lines in the sand were drawn and sides were chosen and/or perceived, and repercussions are still experienced to this day.

There's a sense of ebb and flo with regard to the number of active disciples existing ever at one time. You have no doubt interacted with a great number of players that perhaps no longer log in anymore. If you had the power to make just one of those disciples come back from their hiatus and start playing regularly again, who would it be? Why?

This is an extremely difficult question, as I miss so many Disciples (and I won't even begin to list them, as I'm sure I'll inadvertently omit several important someones). Because you're forcing me to choose only one, however, I will say Nefret, a.k.a. Qetesh, Silhouette, and various other names. Nefret was the first follower of Hathor in all of Ankhet, and the first Disciple to join Shadows after I founded it. More importantly, she was one of the three Disciples who most shaped my early Ankhet experience. I never played Pyroto Mountain or any of its other spiritual successors, and I was able to rely heavily on their advice when appropriate. Nefret and I did not always agree--that would be so boring!--but she was thoughtful, supportive, intelligent, good-humored, good-natured, well-spoken, and well-meaning. And she never hesitated to call me a goob when I deserved it. Which was often. Too long, continued in next Telepath… ...continued:

Ankhet has gone through innumerable updates and system revamps over the past 8 years. Of the changes that have been implemented in that time what would you say is your favorite? Which if any would you rather had not been changed or added?

I'd say my favorite change, in terms of the positive effect it had on the community, was probably the bestowing of Blessing on all Disciples rather than just the followers of Hathor. I recall, waaaaay back in Ankhet's infancy, when other Disciples who did not follow Hathor (and thus did not know that her devotees could generate Anima on their own instead of Resting and waiting for it to trickle back hourly) were astounded at the rate at which Caplin and I gained Levels, and speculated that we must have been cheating somehow. Allowing all Disciples the ability to play Ankhet as much as they like has naturally had a tremendous positive effect on participation. Admittedly the free flow of Anima has made it much easier for those who enjoy attacking others, but that is a tolerable side-effect of the more generalized increased ability of any Disciple to do anything. I can't really think of a change I don't like. The closest, I guess, would be the unique characteristic of Chuma artifacts that enables other Disciples to loot them, but even that is just another example of an opportunity for the Ankhet community to decide what is and is not acceptable behavior here. ...Oh, wait. I just thought of one. And some more:

Some players have been very vocal about the steep learning curve plaguing new players entering the game. What obstacles are new disciples facing today and what can be done to help retain more of them?

Actually, I think the Oracles have set up Ankhet pretty well in terms of engaging new arrivals. The quests available in the Final Dominion serve as an excellent gradual introduction to new quests. Commune is another huge part of Ankhet, so a promised reward encourages the first Commune post. The small Favour/Anima boost received then encourages continued participation, at least for a little while. (At which point it is up to the community to inspire further Communing.) Naturally there are more challenging moments -- Ankhet is not intended to be brainless clicking. Still, when Disciples post for help they usually receive it, whether in public hints or private Telepaths. (No open spoilers!) And of course joining a Dominion paves the way for a wealth of advice and assistance. Ankhet's political landscape is probably the most daunting feature to a newcomer. Dominion affiliation offers many benefits, but can also come with unexpected baggage. A complete neophyte could easily be confused or overwhelmed if flung abruptly into the midst of a serious conflict without knowing quite why. I'm sure each Dominion has its own approach to dealing with this type of situation. As for retention, that's a tricky question, because different players want different things out of games. I happen to think that Ankhet offers a lot for all four of the Bartle types (see http://www.gamerdna.com/quizzes/bartle-test-of-gamer-psychology), but it's impossible to be all things to all players... especially where one Disciple's concept of "fun" may be directly opposed to another's. It's hard to strike a balance, which is why I really appreciate the Oracles' decision to give the players plenty of options and allow the Ankhet community the freedom to decide for itself what is or is not acceptable. If we want to work on retaining new players, we need to consider what prompts new players to leave. Perhaps the Oracles might consider adding an exit poll to the Ennui command, so that we'd have a better idea of exactly why at least some Disciples quit? Wow, I answer one single question and I've already exceeded the length limits. Continued… Continued

Given that you are participating in this interview, there is a high likelihood that you've visited the Dispatch site. What is something that you'd, like to see us do that perhaps has not been attempted before?

Interesting question. One thing that I don't think has been done before is any sort of future predictions. Past news sources have been just that: news, reporting on what has already happened. It might be interesting to see some specific forecasts... keeping in mind, of course, the vagaries of the self-fulfilling prophecy. In terms of things I'd enjoy seeing that have been done before, the original Ankhet Gazette had a couple of features I enjoyed. One was pertinent, amusing, or otherwise interesting Commune quotes. Another was a tongue-in-cheek "advice" column, which contained useful but brief tips that could be particularly useful to newcomers. In general, though, I believe I agree with the Dispatch's premise that, if a Disciple wants to see a certain sort of content, then go ahead and write it!

You are regarded by many to be the true Nomarch of the Shadows dominion yet have not yet assumed that role since your return. Why is that? And do you plan to be Nomarch again soon?

Blah blah blah why should you be entitled to know anything that involves internal dominion affairs blah blah blah. =) I believe this is where I left off:

You are no stranger to the political scene, having argued extensively on many topics. Recently you decreed a thread titled “Chuma Collecting” which has garnered a lot of attention. Did you think that it was going to be this big of a debate when you made it?

You probably noticed that I had resolved not to engage you further in the Topic on this particular subject, since it seemed unproductive. Nevertheless, I shall try my best to answer this series of interview questions while disregarding that you happen to be their immediate source. First one's easy: Heck, no!

Some people are wondering why you didn't voice your concerns in a telepath?

A number of factors played into my public Post. One is undoubtedly thoughtlessness. The other that I think most directly addresses this question -- i.e., why not Telepath instead -- is probably this: Among the most frequent concerns raised in Ankhet is apathy. Disciples have often lamented that the community doesn't care enough to involve itself in various issues. (My memory is that theft of Chuma artifacts has been specifically cited as one example.) For myself, I've always felt that, because the Ankhet community must essentially police itself, lack of any community reaction to apparent wrongdoing is only a short step from encouraging actual wrongdoing. Pointing out this Chuma interaction publicly showed that the community was not ignoring this sort of thing, just a little "Hey, we noticed." And it did so in what I thought was a benign manner, because I genuinely believed it most likely that Anuminous was in fact "Just retrieving [his] own Chuma gear from inactive Disciples," as I suggested in my post. It thus seemed unlikely that any actual conflict would result. Silly me.

Does Shadows have a cheat sheet listing dominions and their members?

Once again: Blah blah blah why should you be entitled to know anything that involves internal dominion affairs blah blah blah. =) Addressing the underlying reason that I think you've posed the question: In honesty, even if I had bothered to confirm first that Arcanus and Darkzumi were in the same Dominion as Anuminous it probably would have made no difference to my post, because as I said I had already assumed that there was no nefarious Chuma theft actually taking place. Length limit exceeded again, of course. Continued:

A former member of Shadows, Adaeze, disputed the QDB login rights of another disciple, Meryet. Are you familiar with the altercation and do you believe that deleting the latter's account was warranted?

I've heard of the altercation, but I don't know that I'm familiar enough with it to offer a solid opinion. (Naturally, this won't keep me from from offering a not-at-all-solid one...) In general, I'd think that the keeper of a Dominion QDB, usually that Dominion's Nomarch, would be within his or her rights to decide who can retain access. Terminating a player's access after he/she has added information doesn't seem to me much different from Expelling a Disciple from a Dominion after they've Tithed Favour, donated to the Vault, and so forth. I will add that, for myself, I probably wouldn't delete a QDB account; I'd be more likely to change the password to deny access, because it would preserve that player's statistics and also leave open the possibility of later changing my mind. That's just me, personally, though, and not a code of conduct for everyone else.

Of the many descriptions preceding game combat encounters, which 3 would best describe you?

In my opinion? I'd hope for seasoned, brainy, and fair. I'm reasonably confident that there are others who would be more likely to view me as ancient, uptight, and supercilious.

Select your preference: Star Trek or Star Wars? Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter? The Hunger Games or Divergent? Ancient Rome or Ancient Greece?

You are CRUEL! But if I positively have to decide: Star Trek; Harry Potter; The Hunger Games (actually that one's easier, because I've neither read nor seen Divergent yet); Ancient Rome. Last one!

If you could have the job of one Oracle for a day who would you be and what would you add and/or change?

I guess I'd choose Abydos, since my understanding is that the Oracle of Abydos is in charge of the code. I wouldn't add or change anything -- c'mon, who could code anything reliably in a single day? -- so instead I'd scrutinize every single line, unraveling all of Ankhet's mysteries and learning all of its secrets. If I had to choose between the two, I would rather know everything than have everything.

Issue #3 - Posted by Recklosh Melosh on February 28, 2015
Issue #2 - Posted by Recklosh Melosh on February 9, 2015
Issue #1 - Posted by Recklosh Melosh on February 8, 2015

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