Interview with Dentin, Creator of Alter Aeon (Pt. 1)
Note from the interviewer, the Alter Aeon player Lexie
The first pass of this interview was done on Aug 16, 2013. The initial questions,
17 of them in total, were submitted to Dentin all at once. He answered them, but
due to length we decided to break them into separate articles with some follow up
questions in case things are unclear.
The questions grew out of personal conversation, and out of the interviews run by
the player Ouch
in 2008 and 2009 for the Ralnoth Times E-Zine. Those
interviews can be found in the main article index, or at these links:
091227 Interview with Dentin
081017 Interview with Dentin
The Ralnoth Times E-Zine.
There are four sections to the interview. To skip to the other sections, use
the links below:
Skip to Part 2
Skip to Part 3
Skip to Part 4
Q1. In your initial interview with Ouch you were skeptical of putting the interviews
up on the web site, but you subsequently changed your mind. Could you outline
the change in reasoning?
My general view on PR has changed quite a bit. I was more afraid of bad press
in the olden days - now I just care less. Alter Aeon, and I, are what we are,
for better or for worse.
In the end, my goal is to make AA awesome, and keep it something that I want to
play and enjoy playing. If people don't like my idea of awesome or want the game
to be something else, then it's probably best they keep looking. We'll survive
and grow by being a great game, not by convincing people we're something that
Q2. You noted in earlier interviews that one difficulty with the game was incentive
to stay positive and continue working on the game. Is that better or worse now
than in 2008? The game has come a long way since then, and is frankly, a lot more
fun to play.
It's different. I'm older and have different constraints. I feel the cold hand
of death at my throat and many of my priorities have changed - but somehow, it
never really occurred to me that shutting down the game would be worth doing. In
the worst case, I can simply hand over control and walk away for a few years, doing
only minimal maintenance, but honestly I'd rather work on it and pay attention to
it. It's rewarding to see it grow, and that seems to be enough motivation.
I also really like playing mortals, which was not at all the case five years ago.
I just wish I had more time to do it - there's so much work to be done!
Q3. Ouch asked you about your hardest moment with A.A. and your best moment. What
was the funniest moment you can remember with the game? I know these sorts of
questions are evaluative and silly, so feel free to give more than one or refuse
to answer. Also, please exclude the auctioning yourself one since we've heard
about that in previous interviews.
Some of my hardest moments have been dealing with hate machines. These little
clusters of assholery, typically small groups of three hardcore, dedicated people,
can make the game unpleasant for huge numbers of people, and it took me a long
time to figure out how to deal with them. It's depressingly horrible.
Some of my best moments are the other side of things, usually watching people
grow and become something else, something better. Seeing relationships form,
seeing people change their life in a positive direction because of something I
said, something I did, something they discovered on the game. There are
countless examples over the years - old Druid, Phtom, and Watery getting
their college degrees, players getting married and having happier lives, and
youngsters growing up.
As a recent example of this, one of our more problematic players has
grown up tremendously in the last couple of years. Where once his goal seemed
to be acquiring other player's passwords, he now runs his own Mush, and he's
actually trying to do it -correctly-, not just cheesing it or screwing around.
When I talk to him now, it's no longer as a parent threatening to spank a child.
Rather, it's peer to peer, one admin to another, and it's really awesome to see
him actually learn and understand important things.
Q4. You mentioned in an earlier interview that you feel that one reason why the
game has continued so long, and why you are the only one of the original admin
team around, was because you had a vision of where the game was heading, and what
it would take to remain viable. Is the game still on the right track? Where do
you see the game in the future?
Correction: when we started, I estimated that this needed to be a minimum five
year project, with effort put in across that whole time. I didn't really expect
to be actively working on it once I finished my degree and got out into the
'real world'. In my naivety, I just assumed that we'd be able to stay together
for that whole time period, and that the others would have the same vision I
did (or that we could agree on a good common vision.)
Unfortunately, we didn't all have a common vision, and the conflicts that arose
were sometimes unfixable. I didn't realize at the time that someone had to be
in charge, and that someone had to provide overall guidance, overall structure.
What I did realize was that the game needed to have fair rules, and that those
rules needed to be fair to everyone and that even the creators and builders
needed to respect them. Not everyone believed that, and vestiges of that
'entitlement complex' remain with us today.
Many years later, I definitely feel the game is on the right track. We're
making it more friendly, more fun, and frankly a better game, without necessarily
compromising its long term value.
In the future, I see the game breaching a monthly userload of a hundred (for
reference, we're currently around 65), with six classes and a lot more areas and
improvements. I see a 20th anniversary event being awesome. I don't see a
massive rip-up and change the world, and I don't see a need to materially change
the architecture of things: the game works now, and it works well, and it's fun.
We should encourage that and go with what we know.
That said, I want to create other games too, and if possible put them into the
same universe in the same way that Eve Online has. There's no reason that the
worlds of AA can't be part of Stellar Aeon, somewhere in the distant reaches of
the universe, though I see that as a very distant hope.
Q5. You mentioned in an earlier interview that you liked the old Email god and
probably wouldn't get rid of the email bot, but of corse, it has fallen by the
wayside. Was this to prevent confusion on the part of new players? Many of us
We still have the code and the database for the email bot, but something is
currently wrong with it and I haven't taken the time to fix it. It's also an
ignore bypass and confusion hazard, so for now I'm not putting forth any effort
to bring him back. Very low priority.
Thanks again to Dentin for answering these questions. I hope they've worked
to clarify and update his earlier comments in the previous interviews. As
always, we the players appreciate the time invested in improving the game and
making it one of the most enjoyable mud experiences around.
Go to Part 2
Go to Part 3
Go to Part 4
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