Timodeus Interview

Timodeus the friendly Hobbit-Dragon is a Vala (Architect)

Race: Ainu
Rank: Va

- Hello Timodeus!

- How and when did you find MUME, and what got you eventually hooked?
Back in 2003 I studied Computer Science and we used to hang out in a place where two friends (also CS-guys) lived. One of them was playing MUDs and one of those was MUME, which he showed to us. The living room there was a pretty geeky place, on both sides of the big sofa were two VT100 terminals and we also had some laptops there. So we used to play from that living room with like 3 to 5 people. That was a lot of fun.
- What keeps you hooked nowadays, what is the special thing in MUME for you?

The second part first:

I think MUME is a very awesome and unique project. Building Tolkien's Arda is a very nice thing and when one looks at how much we already have it becomes awesome. Throw in that MUME has a very unique approach on the "game" part. MUME's world and setup are harsh: Death matters, danger creates emotion. You run around, doing "game stuff" - and can meet another player, especially enemies. Then interesting stuff can happen. You really lose something if you die, hours of playtime, xp, eq. It might sound masochistic, but that's something no other game delivers in this way.

When I die in another MMO or in a single player game I'm "slightly annoyed" in the worst case. Playing MUME is a completely different experience.

What keeps me around is easy to answer: I really love to build on the game. Even if it is real, hard work that becomes tedious at times I like creating and shaping a world. I like to mudlle as much as I like seeing an area or mob come together. I like the creative process of creating something that others can enjoy.

- Tell me about your mortal characters? Who is your favourite among them and why? Please share some good memory you have with your mortals?
My most liked character is still Berdo, the Hobbit mage. I'm not so in hobbits but I like the idea of a hobbit- caster very much. The thought of a hobbit, the main characters in the LotR, that slings fire and quakes to be somehow fun.
- How did the evolution happen in your case, turning from a MUME player to (/one of) the most active Valar?
I made like three attempts to level an Istar, all failed somehow. One I kept, the others... I just quit. Timodeus is my third or so attempt which somehow "happened". Therefore the - for an Ainur in Tolkien's world - somewhat sucky name. I was hanging around as M and Mc and annoyed the then-active V+ and did all sorts of stuff that I could come up with. It was a lot and the stuff was, apparently, somewhat useful. Then I got a chance to co-build an area and as the builder (one of the RL-friends with whom I played back then) quit, I took over. Since then, I kept building and, hum, doing stuff.
- One of the MUMErs out there has this kind of lovely whois, you should play Gandalf more!
Gandalf says 'Ah, I am always glad to meet a ranger.'
Gandalf says 'Helping to keep the land save and lead the young adventurers
on the road to adventure and great deeds.'
Gandalf utters the word'' You begin to feel the light of Aman shine upon you.
Gandalf has left Arda.
Yeah, Gandalf is a pretty cool buddy.
- Do you / did you have any role-models, idols, mentors on mortal side? How about on Ainur side?

No role models or idols. I mean, all good players of MUME invest too much time into a game, that's not a good role-model. Also, idolising any person is always a bad idea, because you only look at a very limited part of a full personality.

On immortal-side I also did not have a "idol" or "role model" or anything. I mostly did my own thing and it turns out "my own thing" is ok-enough for getting promoted over and over again. I liked Sung (my SV and latest Arata of Zones). He was fun and nice to work with. If someone was some sort of mentor, I'd say it was him.

- Speaking of Ainur, what do they actually do?

Nothing. Everything. Depending on whom you ask.

They can build own zones, supervise areas and builders, review new areas, fix stuff that is broken, do day-to-day administration as it shows up (that includes the by all sides *cough* loved "justice"), come up with small improvements that are need... Mudllers write new mudlle.

Depening on whom you talk to, some do a partial list of the above, others also fix stuff in c-code or add things if I bug them enough or are so nice to organise the server the game runs on.

Builder levels (Mc to Mw) of course build the actual zones, design mobs and objects, think of awesome or plainly ridiculous mudlle-requests and similar.

Other immortals find out building isn't their thing for numerous reasons (too much work, no interest, lack of RL time, lack of (creative and/or linguistical) ability, ...) and do nothing at all but hang out and make the "immortal aspect" part of their gameplay. Chat with people, whine about some pk-death (hopefully not to mortals involved in that death) or similar.

- Below is the "help ainu levels" description for Va. Is this fitting to you? What kind of things belong to your average week in MUME? How much time do you spend with MUME on weekly basis?

"Vala - Architect, [Va] Being architects, they assist the Aratar of zones in developing areas and zones. They manage and supervise teams of builders and usually take the main responsibility in developing a specific superzone."

The Va-description should rather sound like this "Do anything no one else wants to do" - and Vm notoriously say 'I'm just a coder' ;). This is somewhat not entirely serious, but a Vas job really is to "do what needs to be done unless you find a lame excuse to make it some Arata's or c-Coder's business". But in general the description is correct. It's developing new zones and do all tasks that are attached to it. As we do not have an Az at the moment, I also do stuff he'd do (which is basically the same as being the "head-Va", so it's not as important or fancy as it sounds).

I'm basically constantly logged in when I am at home, so the question how many hours I spend on MUME is hard to answer. Being logged in? 8 or 12 or so hours when I'm at home. I am mostly invis (to mortals) because I do not want to show up as idle/be not responding when I'm afk for an hour or so.

What I do depends on what needs to be done and how much RL time I have at the moment. If one of our "more special players" needs some "more special attention", I'm usually not doing anything useful afterwards. Usually when I really "work" on MUME I work like two or four hours coding, reviewing etc. It can be more as well, sometimes it can take a saturday from midday to evening or so (working on and off over the day) to do something. Just an example: A not too complicated zone without too much things that are broken or need attention, I need like 5ish to ten-ish hours to fully review it (descs, names, prepositions, room flags as if the room is perma- dark or inside etc, load of mobs and objects, basic mudlle load etc).

For an average project of four or five zones, that's thirty or fifty work-hours to "check out what's there and and fix if it's not ok". And before anyone thinks we put to much attention into finishing stuff: most zones really NEED that review-process and it's not just "finishing touches" that are missing. If you die in a totally insane door-mob-setup or you find doors where the door on the other side simply got entirely "forgotten", I bet the point of view "Just chew out zones with even less reviewing" might diminish.

- During the past years lots of active Ainur, both Valar and Maiar, have retired, and at times it has looked that you carry the game semi-alone forward. Any comments for that?

Maiar and Valar have always retired in flocks. Just look at VIEW WIZRETIRED. The issue now is more the reduced influx.

Many people do important work and there are players/immortals around who did contribute more than I can ever contribute - and who still make sure the game runs. I'm just doing a small part in adding even more zones to an already big game. Other contributions by me are small, I think. Ok, it's nice you can now ask your mercs when they will leave, you can have the stray dog follow you around, you have those greedy black market guys who are open at most times but have crappy prices Edda the troll cook is fun... but really... is that more than some salt in the soup? Yes, the soup needs spicing but I think my contribution is far from being an awesome, praiseworthy four-course menu that revolutionises the world of cooking.

We are slow. Ok, you do not see many people. But it does not mean they don't contribute. As for zones, I think that a builder who finishes his zone from "scratch to done" is working as much as any SV on a project. It's one of the old cliché-truths that one could not do without the other. I'm also a loud and verbose individual. Totally apart from that and totally cliché again: the people who REALLY keep this game running are those who play it on a regular basis. It's nearly 2011 and we talk about some ascii-MUD after all.

To answer the question at hand: Together with the low influx of new players we also have a, in my opinion, too low influx of new Immortals.

- How do you see the younger Maia-generation?
I'm a player from 2003 an immortal of 2005 and a V of 2008 - isn't that the younger generation? Apart from that: If MUME and building on MUME is fun for you, feel free to show up and do something. But that has never, for no generation, been different. Well, these days, we can actually give everyone who wants something something to do, as we now (in contrast to like two or three years ago) have a working testzone-setup.
- What do you think it takes to be a good Ainu?

Actually, I doubt this question really matters as it puts a too big emphasis on the "immortal aspect" of the game and not the game itself. Immortals in general are not part of the game, so let's not, in general, think too much about them.

In contrast to a good Ainur, a bad one is one that constantly gets noshouted, notelled, force-retired, demoted, valed and whatnot for not getting his immortal isn't really part of the game. Bad immortals are, luckily, quite rare.

- And how do you see yourself as an Ainu?
I don't see myself as Ainu. I'm some guy who thinks working on MUME is a pretty decent hobby. That's what I did as Mc and that is what I do now and that is what I will continue to do as long as it's fun, as long as enough mortals play this game, and as long as I have RL-time to spend on it.
- I am reusing some of the questions I presented to level 100 characters: Describe the best, the worst, and the funniest memory you have as an Ainu?

The best surely is when a project is done and we open it. It's literally 100s of work hours done by several people over months and years, we have been working hard in the last time to get most issues weeded out and now - it's done. That is a pretty nice thing.

It was pretty fun to playtest Angmar. On one run, we were 6 or so V+ and all had level 100 trolls. We just busted in on the final boss without much caution and got our asses somewhat nastily kicked. That was fun.

The worst part surely is doing justice. Some cases are worse than others. It's easy to have an opinion on something but it is a totally different matter if you are the guy who has to make the decision. It also sucks if you either are already tired RL and just want to relax a bit or are really motivated to work on the game now - and then have to deal with a person that has obviously some mental issues or is othervise, at the moment, a true pain (enraged, angry, drunk, just othervise in a bad mood, ...). We usually try to cushion those feelings but it's no fun at all.

I also have a bad taste when I have to drain levels from a player - even if they *fully and totally* deserve it and have been total asses towards me in the process of deciding (some people think it's ok to say stuff that'd actually be chargeable in RL). Knowing that you just scrap hours, sometimes weeks or months of lifetime a player... we do what we think that is needed for the good of the game (and we try to be as fair as possible, even if some loud people tend to scream othervise) - but it still sucks.

Also "worst" are stupid people who do not get they ruin the game for other real people behind the other char by being total (OOC) jerks. That bad things can happen to characters, that it "costs" and that *characters* can be nasty to each others is part of the thing but some people overstep the line and make the experience annoying for the players behind the characters - sometimes on purpose. But where is it news that some humans simply suck at being decent human beings?

Now, that was enough whining for a day.

- From your point of view, how MUME has changed over the years?
"Over the years". Given how long I'm part of this... it mostly became more silent. Less active players, less Immos that hang simply out and socialise. That's good as well as bad. Good is you can play on Arda without having the impression you are in the subway of Tokio. How many other players hang out in Tolkien's books and meet Bilbo & Company or Frodo & Company? In 2003, there were always like 3 or 4 xp groups in GH that stumbled over each others feet and you often would run into areas that were constantly cleaned out. That was annoying. But this is also very bad, as MMOs live from the social interaction of players - be it RP, finding a group, having the impression of a crowded Bree, or finding friends & foes for pk.
- What is the one thing you would like to change in MUME?
I'd like to see more players again - and a more active development from one or three Imps. That are two things.
- And what is the one thing you think will never change?
That we are horribly slow and development is measured in Manwe Units and that we are totally sucky in regard to PR and advertising.
- And what is the one thing you would never change?
The Tolkien-background.
- Could you tell something about ongoing MUME projects?

Any teasers about forthcoming development, areas, mobs, equipment?

I do not like teasers for two reasons: First MUME is meant to be explored, so giving away stuff before people find out about them on their own is bad (if they decide to read about it on the net somewhere it's their call). Secondly, this is, to me, much more important: teasers feel like promising something that might not happen at all, that's suddenly much further away in the future than I thought, or that might not turn out as cool as people imagine it after reading the teaser. Therefore, I'm reluctant to give teasers.

We will close the way along the Anduin next. I'm also pondering something (coded) in regard to mounts' inventories and saddlebags. (When) Will that happen? I guess I'll know a week before you do.

- Any hints, advices, greetings to MUME community?
Have fun playing the game, work on it if you wish.
- Real life name and nationality, and what do you do when not playing MUME?
Felix. Germany. Right now, I wait for my final exam somewhere in the next year.
This interview was done in November 2011 by Antti.

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Last updated on November 2021.