When you first started, what impression did you have about doing events? Is it harder or easier than you expected? Did you get nervous and do you still get nervous?
When I first started I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Sometimes I’m still not! I don’t think you can set expectations in this position because something always happens to surprise you. It’s definitely harder I think than I thought it would be. A lot of the time we aren’t really sure how some creature or puzzle or design will work out until the players get their hands on it. Sometimes it works as planned, sometimes, not so much. You have to be willing to adjust on the fly.
As for being nervous, I don’t think nervous begins to cover it. From the beginning I had butterflies the size of dinosaurs. Even after three years, I really can’t eat on event days until the event is over.
What is it like working with the EM team and Mesanna?
I don’t even know how to express how it is to work with Mesanna. I adore her. I think a lot of players would be very surprised at the level of commitment and passion she has for UO. She definitely doesn’t always get the credit she deserves. If it weren’t for her, I’m pretty sure this program would not be heading into its 3rd year.
As for the rest of the team, they are fantastic and it truly is a team. Nobody on the team sees themselves as being above anyone else and everyone shares ideas freely and looks out for each other. Sometimes one will get an idea for something they want to do but it’s not quite technically feasible. By working together, however, generally someone in the group will come with an idea to make it work or make something very close to the original idea.
What do you think about the structure of the program?
I think the structure is great. Mesanna is our head and has the final say on everything we do. However, all of the EM’s are definitely a team regardless of whether they work on the same shard or not. All of the longer term EM’s are very willing to help out the newer ones and the newer ones bring in some exciting ideas that liven things up.
Can you describe the training you have to go thru to become a EM?
I can tell you it’s come a long, long way from where it was when we started. Our first day with our shiney new powered EM accounts Mesanna put us on TC1. I believe that lasted about one day. It was sort of like turning a group of children loose with a box of finger paints and zero adult supervision. We quickly got moved to an internal shard and a lot of the training at that time was trial and error and “I wonder what this button does”.
Today, new EM’s are started out on an internal shard where other EM’s help them practice and learn the ropes. In addition, there’s documentation that’s been written as time has gone on that is constantly evolving. Before a new EM is turned loose on what will be their permanent shard, they have to pass a test on abilities, commands and rules. After that, they shadow on other shards at events with seasoned EM’s to get some experience while still having a safety net. Today’s EM’s know a lot more what to expect when they get on their shards than we did in the beginning.
If someone wanted to join the program, what would be the first thing you would say to them?
I would say send Mesanna an email! She’s always on the lookout for people who are interested in case there’s an opening. This has got to be the most fun job ever!
However, I’d also caution them not to do it unless they are willing to put the time into it. I think people would be very surprised at how much time goes into being an EM and planning, writing, testing and running events. Be flexible, because things WILL go wrong, have a great sense of humor and be willing to learn from your mistakes and listen to the players. Agreeing with everything the players say is not required but listening to them and trying to see their point is.
Would you like to have a little more control over the player base at events?
Actually, on Origin, not at all. They are a wonderful group of players and I’m truly blessed to have Origin. They really make my job easy.
I remember one of the first events we did where we had to hand something directly to the players, we requested that they stable their pets and line up knowing the chances of that happening were slim. My partner at the time and I were sitting with our mouths open when they did exactly that! They formed a perfect line with no pushing or cutting or even any cranky talk! To this day they still line up when asked. Other EM’s and even Mesanna have been stunned to see the famous “Origin Line Dance”.