Sunday, July 14, 2013


From the Ashes

Hello Exiles and Dominion of the planet Nexus and beyond! My name is Zilvis. This is my end of the week community spotlight that I’ll be doing each and every week to delve a little more into who a certain member of the WildStar community is, learn the what and why of their choice to migrate to Nexus, and maybe some surprises along the way. The way I looked at it we're all community bound like brothers and sisters in this game of WildStar. Why not get to know someone a bit better? Once again welcome, sit back, and prepare to meet this week's community member, Druidsfire, sometimes known as Phoenix. Welcome to Sunday Sit down.
 I’ll let you write a little introduction. 
If you have other monikers some may know you by, feel free to throw them out there. Mainly just tell  where people can find you online and any background you'd like to share we might not know.

Oh hai! My name is Jean, known to either the WSRP folks as Phoenix or generally on most other media as Druidsfire (cos Phoenix is always taken). The only major exception to this is DeviantArt, where I'm Jayekitty cos shockingly, Druidsfire was already taken. I'm a 40-year-old gamer with 20 years of experience with online text-based adventures (MUSHes). I've been playing MMOs since 2006.

Question 1:As this is a WildStar themed project, we'll get those underway first. As most of us at one time or another have asked ourselves, what is WildStar?

WildStar is an MMO that has decided that it might innovate some of the genre conventions, but it appeals to me mostly because of the cheerfully belligerent attitudes within the lore and for the voice-overs.

Question 2: What is one thing in the game your most hoping to be perfectly done, whether because it's needed or just something for your experience specifically?

Well, even though I play MMOs, which by its very name implies lots and lots of group content, my schedule ensures I don't often get to find groups for many activities in other MMOs, with Star Wars: the Old Republic being a rare exception due to which guild I'm in. Therefore, I'd like to see enough soloable content that those of us who can't find groups readily will still be able to enjoy a majority of the game. I'm not advocating that everything can be soloed, cos that's quite foolish. However, something the Lord of the Rings Online folks did was edit their Epic Story questlines so that a solo player could play through it and enjoy the story. For me, story will always trump mechanics (no offense to the Carbine folks whose job it is to create those mechanics).

Question 3: I recently did a blog post discussing maybe why someone might pick one race over another in WildStar. If you can (given a couple are still missing) what race do you think you identify with and why, even if it won't necessarily be your main?

I can see myself playing any of them. None of them inherently turn me off as a race. Now, in terms of attitudes of the faction, I'm totally leaning toward the scrappy Exiles more than the snotty Dominion. I tend to root for the underdogs rather than the guys and girls in charge. Interestingly enough, even though I tend to see the Dominion as the 'evil' faction and the Exiles as the 'good' one, much like the Empire and Rebels in Star Wars, I'm also often taken aback by the simple fact soooooo many people bend over backwards to justify or rationalize their participation in the 'evil' faction in a game or in a genre. It's a concept that fascinates me because of the parallels to real life in many aspects.

Question 4: I'm sure everyone has their WildStar moment, as I call it, that quintessential thing that cinched in your decision on the game.

That moment when Kit Brinny punched out her camera operator. I mean, I liked the spunky Exile, and that LOL moment clinched it. The whole cheerful belligerent 'buckle up, cupcake' attitude in a lot of the videos appeals to me, but that singular moment... POW. :D

Question 5: What aspect of WildStar are you most excited about and feel you'll spend the most time on such as Questing-Housing-PVP?

There's still a lot of new car smell to WildStar, but the bits of game that always appeal to me most is the notion of exploring new areas and seeing what the story has for us. I'll admit that Star Wars: the Old Republic has seriously spoiled me in terms of epic storyline in an MMO, and it will be hard for Carbine to top that, but I'd like to see what they do. I expect I'll be spending most of my time questing and exploring and crafting.

Question 6: Out of everyone from Carbine that you've interacted with, who has surprised you the most for one thing or another by what you have seen that they have said or done so far?

Sooooo many excellent choices here, but despite the fact that Aether is my sister's former boss during their days on Pirates of the Burning Sea, and I've made Scooter play messenger boy for me during his days at BioWare Austin, I have to say since I've started interacting with Carbine folks, I'd have to vote for composer Jeff Kurtenacker. Not only does he share some of his compositions on his Soundcloud page, he sometimes shows up in Turntable and DJs for us. And he has a very bad habit of making cute little Vine recordings for fans who have had bad days or as sneaky little presents. He's a good egg. :)

Question 7: If you were given the power to either alter the game in some way or add something to it that has not been mentioned or rumored, what would it be and why?

Granted, I'm not in beta, so I can't speak too much in terms of what may or may not be in-game, as my single exposure was at the PAX East party where they had a playable demo. However, I would always add story and lore. Every. Single. Time. For me, an MMO is an MMO is an MMO. I've played both EverQuests, SWG, LotRO, WoW, Aion, SWTOR, poked my nose into a couple of other games for a few minutes. In the broadest of strokes, each of these games more or less play the same. The fine details are different in mechanics, the UI, whatever. However, what appeals to me the most is the lore. SWG, SWTOR, and LotRO have the benefits of being known IPs, so certain expectations were there to begin with, certain checklists that need to be completed. With the others, the sky is literally the limit, but they still play like an MMO. I didn't perceive WildStar to be that vastly different and game changing (pun entirely intended). However, the story in some of these MMOs has to be oh so serious (SWTOR and LotRO, I'm looking at you, even though I love you for what you are), but dammit, I like some wackiness in my games. Even WoW, with its inundation of in-jokes and puns and pop culture references, takes itself too seriously at the heart of its lore. One thing I seriously appreciate about WildStar and adore Pappylicious for is the fact that its lore doesn't take itself too seriously.

Question 8: What is the one thing you want Carbine on a personal level or business level to know that you yourself have enjoyed from them?

I have enjoyed the very simple fact that not only are they intending to make a game and take their time doing it (and doing it right), but also that they are innovating the one thing that most companies only tend to pay lip service to: actual honest interactions with their community. I'm not talking about the fact that when I'm writing this, a dev is in Turntable DJing with us. I'm talking about things like the Pay It Forward campaign to showcase the fan community and its creativity and devotion to one another. I'm talking about opening the game from day one with add-on creation tools to allow the players to help make the game better. There's also the Arkship events where oft-neglected segments of the fan communities (such as the roleplayers) are actively courted by Carbine, whereas most other MMO companies give them one or two tools to work with but don't really interact with them as long as they're not breaking the game in any appreciable way. I know they're putting in stupid numbers of hours to get this game right, but yet they still have time for us and to actively listen to our feedback. In this sort of industry, that's freaking important and epic.

OK, that's it for the cross section on WildStar Q's. Next is a few Q's to get to know Druid a bit better outside of just what you'll see as she tears across Nexus.

Question 9: So Druid, I met you informally on twitter and a chat or two, but really got to know you on turntable.  You do DJ an internet radio show on Fridays. So, what does music do for you on a daily basis?

Well, when I'm at work at my day job in a call center, music playing quietly in one ear has the ability to keep me leveled and centered while I'm taking care of business. When I'm writing, I often turn on an ambient playlist made up of some classical music, mostly instrumental video game music, quiet piano music, that sort of thing. I wouldn't say I tune it out entirely, but it's a nice quiet sound in the background. I've shamelessly put Jeff Kurtenacker's Soundcloud page on repeat and used it for an evening of writing on more than one occasion.

Question 10: You game quite a bit. How long have you been gaming and what are your top 3 moments you'd say you remember in your own personal gaming history?

I've played video games since the Atari 2600 days. Did you know that the entire Atari 2600 library is only 274K? Yep. After the Atari days, I then moved on to the 'blow on the cartridge' days of the original Legend of Zelda on the NES. Castlevania II is the game that forever made me a fan of game music (although Zelda helped that too). I've stuck mostly with Nintendo stuff because of Link and his adventures. So, that was #1, becoming a music fan.

In 2006, after years of mocking 'EverCrack' and 'WarCrack', my muse woke up and told me I had to write a parody about WoW based on a very solemn Pink Floyd song. I could have just gone googling and written something, mouthed a bunch of the jargon, but I felt that was disrespectful to both the game and the genre of parody. I hate parodists who write songs just to be topical or to pay lip service to the thing they're writing about, rather than working from any knowledge of the topic... it comes from my days as a history major. The professors could always tell when someone was spouting BS, so it would have felt fake and wrong to write a song about WoW and not actually have played the game. So I joined up and learned the lingo from the inside. Then a month or so later, the ads started up for Burning Crusade, and I did like me some blue space goats... and the pretty elves had a phoenix as their symbol. Well, let's just say that I've never stopped being a subscriber. :)

Finally, my biggest gaming accomplishment is simply having made so many friends across the internet because of not only my sister being in the industry and introducing me to so many people, but also for using social media to make connections with other folks in the industry and in fan communities. These connections have let me become staff writer for the largest SWTOR fansite, be witness to things such as watching Stephen 'Rockjaw' Reid (a veteran con/show goer due to his career in the industry) getting his mind blown by showing up at Dragon*Con, or getting to meet Aether for the first time (and watching Scooter's reaction to seeing him and I talking – rocket-propelled overeager puppy), or blowing Packetdancer's mind by informing her that I've known her longer than I've known my own half-sister. :D

Question 11: I know you've gone to Conventions quite often. What is it that attracted you to Conventions and to keep going back.

I started going to cons when I was in college mumblemumble years ago, generally with a few friends from the university's SF/F club. In 1995, I went to my first Dragon*Con, and aside from 1996 (when I moved to Cincinnati), I've been there every year since. At first, I'd go to the cons to see the celebrities and get my photo taken with them (yes, I have a photo of myself, some friends, Jewel Staite, and Nathan Fillion during the Firefly days). After awhile, I started helping out and did a few years staffing, such as running the music track at PenguiCon for a couple of years, running the famous merch table at MarsCon (MN) for the comedy music track this year. I also merch monkey for Paul and Storm when I can, and a couple of steampunk bands have stayed at my house when they're visiting Cincinnati. So, cons have turned into a 'hang out with my people' sort of thing, with attending actual panels being relegated to secondary importance.

Question 12: It's no secret your a fan of Star Wars. Have you always liked the franchise since a young age or was it something you grew into?

Ironically (or perhaps sadly), I never saw the original trilogy in the theater due to my family situation back then. However, I had a most sadistic choir teacher when I was in middle school who insisted on us singing the Ewok song for the big concert that year. So, yub nub, eee chop yub nub. Ah toe meet toe peechee keene, g'noop dock fling oh aaaaah.

Yeah, that just happened, no Google needed.

Still, I saw the original trilogy on the plate-sized laserdiscs back in the day, and to this day, if I watch the Millennium Falcon flying into the hangar bay on the Death Star, I think it's time to flip the disc over. I'd have to say that my love of the series grew over the years, however. Unlike most of the fans I knew, I favored ancillary character Wedge Antilles, a fact that is highly amusing when you consider the fact that my sister and I 'fight' over whose boyfriend he is... and we weren't raised together. It's quite eerie how many things Donna and I like (the bands Rush and Information Society) with no knowledge of the other's likes or dislikes over the years until we finally met up in the late 90s. Here's a fact for you... when SOE still had SWG going and they started their 'fan of the month' sort of showcase, she was their first honoree.

Since then, I've made a few costumes and bought a few lightsabers... okay, I have five. :) One of the coolest things that came out of my love of Star Wars is that I made the acquaintance of one Consetta Parker, the agent for voice actor James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan in Clone Wars, Ratchet of Ratchet and Clank, etc.). She egged me into making my first-ever Sith costume and going to Celebration VI, and I got to meet her and James and also meet the Rancho Obi-Wan crew. Excellent people, all.

Question 13: Druid, I’ve seen your art, writing, and  costumes design for conventions which are all very stylized and creative. If there was anything else you'd wish to learn whether a trade or talent, what would it be?

Well, actually, it's not so much that I'd like to learn more, which I do. What I'd like to do even more than learn a wider variety of things is actually buckle down and focus on just one particular craft and master it to what I feel is an acceptable standard. I consider my skills to be perhaps upper-apprentice, maybe lower-end journeyman in terms of quality. My thoughts on how well I do versus how much I get praised for it focus on a quote from guitar god David Gilmour of Pink Floyd a few years ago. He denied he had mastered the guitar. I'll heartily call him a liar to his face for that, but the artist is always going to be less impressed with his or her own skills than the people around them. So, I'm above 'glue some gears on it and call it steampunk' stage of things, but I would never consider myself even exceptional. There are so many writers and artists out there, costumers and cosplayers with skills and talents far beyond mine... and I recognize that much of what I perceive to be lackluster in my work compared to their skills can be chalked up to not taking the time to learn the skills and not taking the time to practice to fully realize those skills. So while someone might praise my art, I want to learn to be better than what I am now.

I will admit that I have grown in my writing and artistic skills. A decade ago, I was happy just to copy someone else's work, but strictly for my own personal aggrandizement, just to learn technique. I did a lot of realistic portrait work, but nothing I would consider very original or artistic. However, the past few years, I'm happy to be able to do more wholly original pieces of art, and I've made progress in attempting a career in writing, something I need to spend more time learning my craft as well.

The bottom line is the old adage: Jean of All Trades, Mistress of None.

For once, I'd like to be that master of a trade. Just one. Or maybe two. :)

Question 14: Simple one now I promise. Do you have any pets?  If you could have any real or made up pet, what would it be?

I have a clan of kittehs, all black. They're awesome critters, and their names are Mew, Yowl, Mystery, and Thief. They all earned their names. If I could have any other pet, I think I'd like a Pernese firelizard. I don't know why, but I've always been taken with these fictional critters from Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series.

Question 15: Finally, If there were one person living or dead, real or fake that you could sit down and have a long discussion with, who would it be and why?

I have had the incredible fortune of meeting a stupid number of people whose work I admired (such as David Tennant, David Gilmour, Patrick Stewart, and Weird Al). There are also a number of people out there who I'd like to meet because they have done great things and are positive influences in our society (Bill Nye, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Brian Cox), but I think perhaps the one person I've always been fascinated with is her majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second. I'm not even sure why, because she has been a figurehead for her entire life, but I think I would like to have tea with the Queen.

OK, Druidsfire, I hope that wasn't too painful for you. I appreciate you being the first guest for the Sunday Sit down. Now, I’ll let you have free reign. If there's anything else not asked here that you'd like to get out there that you think would be interesting for us to know, feel free to share. Things like plugs for your radio show, twitter, websites, your articles you regularly write and of course feel free to give shout outs of any kind!

My weekly article on is published on Fridays under the title 'SWTOR Loading Screen'.

My personal wannabe-professional writer website is

My radio show is on Friday nights from 8-10pm Eastern time on It's a comedy music station that doesn't heed the FCC rules, so it's rarely SFW. I currently hold the record for the most number of listeners (105) on Dementia Radio whilst hosting a CD release party for steampunk band Abney Park. I'm also the only DJ to have broadcast a show from overseas while on holiday in the UK, and hold the altitude record for a pirate-casted song from 32,000 feet while flying home from PAX East in 2012. The song in question was Devo Spice and Insane Ian's 'Flight Check'.

The first-ever She-Ra: Princess of Power website is I made that when I was in college and probably haven't updated it since then either. :)

Hmm. I founded a mailing list on the Penn State servers 20 years ago for the relatively obscure vampire cop TV show Forever Knight. The list is still going.

I once edited a fake magazine based on a song by The Brobdingnagian Bards called 'Do Virgins Taste Better' called The Medieval Virgin. You can buy a copy at

I also feature as lead writer for a parody of 'Old Dun Cow' called 'When the Dairy Farm Caught Fire' on Marc Gunn's CD Whiskers in the Jar. Marc has two CDs of Irish drinking songs parodied into various fun feline stories. Whiskers in the Jar was on the longlist for Grammy nominations in the year it was eligible.

In 2005, I produced a charity comedy CD for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, with the proceeds going to the American Red Cross. That CD and its first volume are available at and the second volume that was my idea features artists such as Weird Al and Barnes and Barnes. Funny story, in 2011, I had the chance to thank Al for donating a remixed track to the effort and let him know how much we'd raised for the Red Cross, and he thanked me for giving him the opportunity to help out. Classy guy.

That's it Folks. Everything you'd want to know about Druidsfire and hopefully more! I thank her again for putting up with me as well as you the reader. Each and every week we will have a new and fascinating community member to learn about and see what really does make the WildStar community tick inside and out. Feel free to contact me anytime on twitter @zilvis78, comment below, or if you bump into me on the interwebs say hi!

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