An Interview with TabulaCast
While the world of podcasting is still relatively young, it seems almost every MMO game has people rising up to provide news and opinions to the masses. Whether sitting in traffic or in front of a PC at work, this medium is the perfect fit for folks on the go but wanting a quick fix. Fortunately for the Tabula Rasa community they have their very own, run by podcasting veteran Shawn who successfully ran GuildCast in the Guild Wars community. Part of a convenient group of MMO game related casts called the "Collective," you can find TabulaCast listed on the Virginworlds website run by news and blog guru Brent. Being very interested in podcasting myself it was not only interesting, but enlightening to hear how he feels about the community and what he hopes to accomplish with TabulaCast.
Ten Ton Hammer: Shawn, thanks for taking a few moments out of your day and answering these questions. Some people may not be familiar with TabulaCast or podcasting in general. Tell us a little about what you hope to accomplish?
Shawn: Ultimately I'd like to turn TabulaCast into something as successful as GuildCast is for me. GuildCast was created as a community for like-minded people who enjoy the show, and that's exactly what I'd like to do in the Tabula Rasa community as well. New MMOs are always hard to get established in, as a player, unless you bring over friends from other games or offline friends. I have a certain sense of humor and style to my show that I think reflects in my listener base as well. When those like-minded listeners can get together in game, it makes for a more exciting group dynamic.
Ten Ton Hammer: Community Building is important and a regular podcast can help accomplsih that. How exactly did you get into podcasting?
Shawn: In June of 2005, iTunes started supporting podcasts with an easy way to download, subscribe and organize them. That's when I started listening to them at work, originally as an educational tool, but later more for entertainment. I did my research, found out how to podcast and how to create an RSS feed, a website, and everything else I needed. I had a podcast I started in July of 2005 which only lasted about 8 shows, focusing around independent comedy music. It was so much fun that I decided to start another one about Guild Wars since I was so in love with that game. And the rest is history.
Ten Ton Hammer: You mention that you originally created GuildCast so were obviously an enthusiasitc players. What motivated you to make the leap from Gulid Wars to Tabula Rasa?
Shawn: I'm a child of the 70's, so sci-fi is in my upbringing. I avoided Eve, and I'm not even really sure why, but most of it had to do with timing. Only recently am I in the position to afford a monthly subscription-based MMO, and I sure am glad it worked out to be Tabula Rasa. Playing it at PAX in June and getting into the beta was a huge push for me, also.
Ten Ton Hammer: I'm sure many would agree it was time for another Science Fiction based MMO game. We can only hang on to the memories of a pre-NGE Star Wars Galaxies for so long. On to specifics though, tell us what class do you play and why?
Shawn: Right now my main is a level 21 Biologist, aiming towards Exobiologist. I'm really intrigued by the thought of raising corpses to fight by my side, and the party healing and repairing aspects of it interest me as well. In instances, I'm usually playing the medic role right now, but I don't really have an interest in doing that "full time".
I do get rather ADD with my characters though so I also have a level 16 Sapper (cloned from my main) and a level 5 Soldier that I've not decided on a role yet. I'd like to eventually get one of everything, so I have a complete understanding of all roles for the show's sake.
Ten Ton Hammer: Good thing we have the clone system in place for situations like that. A very important current event topic has recently affected the Tabula Rasa community. A poll on Playboy showed Sarah Morrison in 3rd behind other women. Why do you think this travisty has occured?
Shawn: Yeah, seriously. What's up with that? Well she's #1 in my book, if that makes any difference.
Ten Ton Hammer: Extra points for not making the typical crack about "the articles." In a recent episode, you seemed bothered by the in game advertising we see in a few places? Why do you think they went too far with it? What would you have done differently?
Shawn: Well, it's not so much that they went too far with it, it's actually pretty overt. And I'm not even really bothered by the idea of in-game advertising at all. I just think we should see some sort of benefit from it, financially. Right now they have a Dell server farm, probably at tremendous discount, in exchange for in-game advertising here and there. So where's the trickle-down savings? What benefit does this advertising provide that a game without in-game advertising doesn't provide? Thats my only issue.
Ten Ton Hammer: That's a fair opinion. How do you feel about having no official forums for Tabula Rasa?
Shawn: I think it's a great idea. Guild Wars never had official forums and it worked out great. WoW has official forums and they're a crazy mess. I don't think you can expect game developers to also be forum babysitters. Leave that to the player community so they can establish their own forum niches.
Ten Ton Hammer: You are level 20+ so you've seen a good chunk of the game. If you could make one change right now, what would it be?
Shawn: The ability to recycle skill points. The cloning system is supposed to be a solution to the fixed skill point system, but it's not. I want to keep my same character, with his first name and everything else I've established on him. Then when I'm level 30, have the option to put everything into my main skills, and not have level 5 Sprint because I was a noob when I created my character. Hypothetically, of course.
I can see how the fixed skill point system is more realistic, but it's just a wish of mine to have it changed. Other than that, there are so many aspects of this game that I love, and never would have even imagined before seeing them in action. So even if it were to never change, I'd be a happy man.
Thanks to Shawn for taking the time to answer a few of our questions! Be sure to check out TabulaCast if you haven't and stay tuned to Ten Ton Hammer for more news and interviews. Also, be sure to stop by our forums!