Making games is arguably one of the coolest jobs around. Not only do
you get to do what you love and get paid for it, but sometimes it can
make you a rock star... or even a legend. So how does one get into
their dream job? Ten Ton Hammer's Dalmarus spoke to Game Designer M.
Krohn, aka Luper, of Sony Online Entertainment to find out how she was
able to work her way into the industry. Luper started off as a gamer
and through her passions eventually become a designer on SOE's
free-to-play hit, Free Realms.
Here's her story.
Ten Ton Hammer: Hi Luper! First off,
let me say congratulations! Going from being a fan of an SOE game to
becoming a designer on Free Realms
had to be an exciting journey. Thanks for taking the time to tell us
about it today.
Luper: No problem. It's truly a
pleasure. I've always thought that designers should be more personable.
It makes people realize that we are real human beings...And often, I
think players forget that.
Ten Ton Hammer: Before we really get
started, can you tell everyone your position at SOE, and who you are?
Luper: Currently, I'm on the
world design team for Sony Online Entertainment's style="font-style: italic;">Free Realms. This means I'm a Game
Designer who creates content. My real life name is M. Margaret A.
Krohn, but virtually, I'm usually known as Luper. Honestly, I don't
think my name really tells you who I am, but at the same time, I am
many things, so it would take a long time to give you all the details.
I'll just simplify it for now- I'm a gamer.
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align="right">Ten Ton Hammer: For those that may not know it, you
were the player community's Blood Mage class lead for style="font-style: italic;">Vanguard: Saga of Heroes while that
program was still active. How did you find out about the program and
how did you go about becoming the class lead? Do you think that
volunteer community position helped you get where you are today?
Luper: Correct, I was. I found
out about the program via an in game friend, who said I should apply
for the position. Of course, I wasn't the only person who applied for
the position. There were quite a few other players who thought they
should be the class lead. The hardest feat for me was that I read a lot
of blogs and forums, but I didn't always post on them. It made it easy
for people to shrug me off because they hadn't seen my name on many
posts, but if they were on my server, they knew me well. I guess word
travels fast and people really stood up for me, which was nice. The
community in Vanguard has
always been awesome. Sometimes, I log in just to chit chat.
Ah, but back to the point. I started posting more often and really
expressing what I thought were the issues with our class, explaining
that I would try my best to listen to everyone's opinions and make sure
the developers had an understanding of what the community as a whole
wanted, and not just what I wanted. I had played every class to fifty,
so I could easily deduce the game play of the other classes. It made it
easier for me to explain things to the community, especially for
players who hadn't tried all the classes. I guess it worked.
Even though the program is no longer active, I still run and pay for
the web site for the Blood Mage community- href="http://www.vgbloodmages.com">www.vgbloodmages.com. I'm
actually looking for some active moderators, so if you're interested,
you'll have to email or PM me!
Genuinely, taking the class lead position made me realize how much I
really wanted to get involved in the community. It was the beginning of
a new me. I became way more sociable, which I think has truly helped me
in real life. So, I really do feel that volunteering for community
positions will help one in the long run. Not only do people remember
you, but you grow as a person, especially if you are or were a shy
person like me.
Ten Ton Hammer: During your time as
class lead, you were definitely known as one of the more vocal and
intense class leads the community had representing them. At the same
time though, you were always very focused in your feedback to the
developers. Obviously, this went a long way in being taken seriously,
while never taking away the drive for your request. Can you share any
tips for some of the more rambunctious community members as far as
helping them get their message across in a
Luper: Most developers are or
were gamers. They understand where you're coming from, but it's not
always their decision whether your ability gets nerfed, or your pet is
purple. So, don't hang them for it. The best advice I can give anyone
is to just be calm, collective, and constructive. "C" cubed? Haha. No
one wants to listen to a ranting buffoon. Although you may be amusing,
any sane person will not take you seriously.
Here's an outline that is easy to follow and really helped me get my
- State the problem. Be as detailed as you can about the issue. The
more information supplied, the easier it is to understand. Preferably,
disclose how something works and then how you would like it to work.
- Give a step by step explanation of how to reproduce the issue.
- Provide suggestions for the contention.
I hope it helps!
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Ton Hammer: I remember talking with you at FanFaire 2008 and coming
away with a sense of how passionate you were about the game then. At
that point in time, had you thought about one day working for SOE? If
so, did you have any particular position in mind?
Luper: In 2008, I was dying to
get my foot in the door, so I was definitely thinking about working for
SOE or any game company to be honest. It's always been a goal of mine
to become a Lead Designer or Creative Director, but I know you can't
always start at the top.
Ten Ton Hammer: Did you go to school
with the intent of landing a job within the gaming industry? If so,
what were you studying? While you were in school, did you ever intern
Luper: No, I didn't. It's
funny because both of my majors have nothing to do with gaming. School
was pretty much my back up plan. If my dream of becoming a rock star
(which I'm stilly working on) or game designer didn't happen, I was
prepared to enter the real world with the basic skills for a job that
would at least help people and make me money. I majored in Health Care
Administration and Music Theory. I was never an intern for SOE during
college, although that would've been rad.
Ten Ton Hammer: Without a doubt, it's
virtually ever gamer's dream to one day help create a game themselves.
What (or who) inspired you the most to pursue this career? Had it been
a lifelong dream?
Luper: You've got that right!
I think it's every gamer's life long dream to make a video game, so of
course, it was one of mine! I'd have to say that I was really inspired
by MMO Games, not necessarily one in particular, but all of them as a
whole. It's amazing how people from all over the world can log into a
virtual universe and play together! Meeting new people from all over
the world in your own home? Seriously, how can it get any cooler than
Ten Ton Hammer: How did your
style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">Free Realms
style="font-weight: bold;"> designer journey begin? Did you see the
position on the SOE site? Did someone from SOE contact you to let you
know a position was available?
Luper: Hah, this is one of
those "I was in the right place at the right time" kinds of stories and
it's a bit long, so bare with me! Originally, I had heard that SOE was
going to start hiring some Customer Service (CS) representatives and
Quality Assurance (QA) testers for Free
Realms. I realized that I was
going to have to start at the bottom and work my way up if I really
wanted to get into the industry.
At that time, I was still living in Illinois, with over two thousand
miles of land distance between me and my goal. It was one of the
biggest decisions I've ever had to make. My brainwaves were going
through a mixture of emotions- both excitement and nervousness. I'd be
leaving all my friends and family behind was it really worth it? What
did I have to lose though? It was an opportunity of a life time, so I
All my stuff got shoved into a POD and put in storage. These things are
useful! Because I didn't know if I'd get the position, so I had them
hold the POD until I knew for sure that I'd need it shipped out to me.
Although the thought of returning, being rejected, was a sad one, I had
to prepare myself for it just in case.
One of my friends, who I had gamed with, lived in San Diego, so he let
me pretty much live in his living room for a few months. Friends are
awesome. Always appreciate them! The day after my interview, I received
a call and I was hired! My start date...September twenty-second; I was
While I was working in QA, I overheard some people talking about
apprenticeship positions that were opening up for style="font-style: italic;">Free Realms. I jumped
on the thought of getting one of these so called apprenticeships and
immediately sent my resume over. Sounds easy right?
Of course, something always comes up last minute. Ah, the hurdles of
life. They follow me ever so closely. I was told that I had to finish a
design test or my resume would mean nothing. They told me this at
around 4:55pm and I had to work overtime till 10:00pm! How was I going
to finish this before the end of the day? I wasn't. Had my dream been
crushed? No, I was too close.
Instead, I decided to take action. I emailed the people in charge and
explained my situation, promising them I would send my document as soon
as I finished it. I stayed up until five in the morning completing it
and sent it on its way. Man, you think of the craziest things when you
After only working as a QA tester for two weeks, I never thought I'd
actually get the position. It was more so, a "hey people...I'm here and
I really want to be a designer just so you know". To my surprise, I got
it! I wanted to scream; I was so excited!
That's how it all started. I know it's a long story, but I really hope
it inspires others to follow their dreams. Just don't give up!
style="font-style: italic;">Partying in Free Realms
Ten Ton Hammer: What's been the most
interesting thing going from a fan to a player? As
players, we all want everything added or fixed "right now". How has
your perspective changed now that you're on the other side of the fence?
Luper: The most interesting
thing for me has been learning! It's never ending.
My experience in design grows each day literally as I'm working, which
is very amusing to me.
My perspective hasn't changed much. I know that players want things
fixed right away, and although I can't always make that happen, I do my
best to avoid making bugs as I implement my content. I appreciate every
little thing now. I also notice details that I had never really seen
before. Sometimes, this hinders my game play, but often, it helps me
make better design decisions.
Ten Ton Hammer: Back in your style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">Vanguard style="font-weight: bold;"> days, I remember teasing you about being
person to ever "beat" the game since you had leveled every class to 50.
How have you channelled that kind of intensity into your current
Luper: Haha! Yeah, you did
like teasing me about that, but you weren't the
As far as channeling the force in my current position, so to
speak...I'd like to say I'm a dedicated and reliable person with a
pretty good work ethic. I always try to progress in real life as much
as I do in game. I just do my best.
Ten Ton Hammer: From my perspective,
it feels like a hundred years ago since you sat
down for an interview with me when you were the community's Blood Mage
Class Lead for Vanguard. How
different does it feel being interviewed
as a designer compared to when you were a player?
Luper: I don't feel like it's
aberrant. The questions are different, but I
still feel like we're just old pals chit chatting about the thing we
Ten Ton Hammer: Can the fans expect to
see you at this year's FanFaire?
Luper: Of course! This will be
my second FanFaire as an SOE employee. Last
year, I had a lot of fun and it was nice seeing everyone again, even
though I was working most of the time. I can't wait! Every year is
always a blast.
Ten Ton Hammer: Thank you so much for
taking the time to walk us through your amazing
journey, Luper. Is there anything else you'd like to share with the Ten
Ton Hammer readers before you go?
Luper: Actually, I do. If you
don't read anything else, please just read this
one sentence: follow your dreams (because they do come true)!
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Vanguard: Saga of Heroes Game Page.