[Ben’s Note: When I started Blog Fanatic, I had a few columns in mind. This week’s columns are the fruition of a search for one of the most popular and interesting figures in the world of Magic. It took weeks to find the man himself, but I was determined. After much searching, I located him and arranged for a little chat. Without further ado, I present my interview with the King of Fatties himself, Jamie Wakefield. All comments in italics were added after the interview.]
BB: There were a lot of Magic players in Asheron’s Call – I even reinstalled the game last year, and I was fighting in one of the Tusker dungeons. I had a Life Mage and I ran into an archer, so we teamed up for some quick experience. We got to talking, and it turned out we both played Magic. We talked some more, and we both had played Magic in New York City. So I ask the guy”What’s your name?” It was Rob freaking’ Hahn! I mean, what were the chances? I come back to the game for a week, hadn’t played it in two years, and I run into Rob Hahn!
JW: OMG, that is amazing! Small virtual world, huh?
BB: How long did you stick with Asheron’s Call for, post-Magic?
JW: 2.5 blissful years
JW: So far, best MMORPG [Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game] I’ve ever played.
BB: Too bad Asheron’s Call 2 was such a stinker.
JW: True. And I knew it was going to be stinker when they started talking about it. They went entirely in the wrong direction from the first day of Alpha. I remember the fans on the board telling them so, and they didn’t listen.
BB: Now Turbine has their hands on the Dungeons and Dragons license, and they are making the official D&D MMORPG. Hopefully it will not suck as bad as AC2.
JW: I know, if they use the same design team as Asheron’s Call 1, it will be amazing. Too bad some of them have left. One of the lead designers on AC1 just worked on the amazing City of Heroes, which recaptures the combat and physics of AC1.
BB: Yeah, I’ve been playing a little City of Heroes myself, though the game doesn’t have a ton of content. After all the quests and teamwork in Asheron’s Call and Everquest, I just found the game lacking in a lot of ways.
JW: Nope. It sure doesn’t. Which is a shame as it has an amazing engine. Too bad there’s nothing to do in it.
BB: I don’t know about you, but I still keep up with a few AC people. Mizu No posts in the forums of StarCityGames.com from time to time.
JW: Same, a lot of the AC people I played with move with me to different games. Mizu plays COH with me. So do Dave and Keith
BB: Tell him I say hi as well, if you ever get back onto that game after Worlds of Warcraft 😉
JW: And Mare of course
BB: Do you remember Aaron Harleman, a.k.a. TheCatt?
JW: Very much so. Great kid. Went into the military and we only saw him occasionally after that.
BB: He e-mailed me the other week.
BB: I had a Scavenger Hunt deck challenge in the store at the Star City Game Center – and he e-mailed me from Iraq. He had built a deck for the Scavenger Hunt, and wanted someone to play it in his stead. So I took the deck and played it for Aaron in Roanoke 😉
BB: I still need to write about that, it was a fun tournament. The only person I lost touch with who I wanted to keep in touch with was Alice Coggins. Alice and I were really close during the Asheron’s Call days, but we just kind of lost touch over the years.
JW: She played COH with us for about a week, and there’s a link to her website at my website. She writes so well. She’s marrying Matt Green in a week or so.
BB: I will definitely have to check it out.
JW: Her web site link is”Shades of Green.” She has a daughter, Isabel now
BB: There’s one person from Asheron’s Call who I’ve been deliberately avoiding mentioning, but he’s also one of the most prominent figures in Magic writing today.
JW: Heh. I know who you mean.
BB: If you want to throw a”No Comment” here, feel free.
JW: No comment
BB: Ok I lied – you can’t no comment here 😉 I mean, you don’t need to say anything if you don’t want – but it’s been quite a few years now. There is nothing I would like to see more than an olive branch and a group hug.
[Note: Five minutes pass before my next comment. For those not in the know, Jamie Wakefield and Geordie Tait had a major falling out over Asheron’s Call years ago. Neither has forgiven the other.]
BB: Ok, next topic. What games have you been playing between Asheron’s Call and City of Heroes?
JW: Dark Age Of Camelot which was good, but too slow paced, and too filled with nerfs and time sinks
BB: Was it AC straight to DAOC straight to COH? God, way too many acronyms
JW: Sort of. There was trying out of other games that never lasted longer than a day. AC2 being one example. I watched Joshie play Shadowbane on our middle computer but never picked it up. Horizons I read about and flirted with but never picked up.
BB: I think you might have liked Anarchy Online – it had a lot of the same features as AC1.
JW: A few people tried AO but from what I read, it was never stable when they played it, and I didn’t feel like giving money to alpha test a product.
BB: I played it after it was stable, and it had the same problem as CoH – not enough content. The leveling and skill system was like an advanced Asheron’s Call, and the game itself was fun outside of repetitiveness.
JW: Some games just get released way too soon or with a poorly thought out plan.
BB: Outside of the game engine though, a lot of the draws of these games are the people you play with. When it comes down to it, a lot of time is spent in MMORPGS just doing repetitive leveling tasks that are boring.
JW: Very true. Without my group in COH we’d have stopped playing long ago.
BB: That’s one huge advantage I believe Magic has over a lot of these other games – you really do get a social aspect. I’m a little bit shocked, given your propensity for online gaming, that you never got into Magic Online.
JW: One reason. It’s not something Mare would play and we play everything together.
BB: Fair enough – you two are an inseparable pair. If Magic was the center of your writing, Mare was your anchor. A lot of writers talk about tech or tournament play, but you really framed a lot of your Magic writings around a love for your wife.
BB: Which is, I think, another reason why people really flocked to your stuff. Ted might say that he loves a metagame, EDT might say that he loves a theory, and Flores might say that he loves the sound of his own voice, but you really humanized the game.
JW:”and Flores might say that he loves the sound of his own voice,” ROFL. Yeah, I’d say I love the competition and the experience of going to the tournament
BB: I even have a question down here to ask you about your dogs, because your dogs were a part of the Jamie Wakefield canon. How are your dogs?
JW: Very well. Fat and happy. They get walked a lot, sleep all day and are very spoiled.
BB: Ok, I gotta ask this, because the people would kill me if I didn’t: There’s a prerelease for the new set, Champions of Kamigawa, on September 18th. If I were willing to pay entry for you and Mare, would you two consider giving the game a shot one more time, even if just for that one tournament?
JW: Thanks for the offer, but no. We have to be obsessed with something to enjoy it, and right now, we’re not obsessed with Magic. And Mare has to be gently guided to something in order to try it, and I know I couldn’t guide her to Magic right now. Sorry 🙁
BB: Absolutely no need to apologize – it’s for the best of reasons. I had to ask – it’s the burning mind on every Magic player’s mind -“Will Jamie Wakefield ever play again?” And the Answer is”On the Picnic Table, at the Lobster Fest, with the Secret Force”
JW: You can only whack so many trolls and orcs before you need something new. If I was to get sick of MMORPGs, which is a very real possibility as it has its limits now as it is, yeah, I would get into Magic. If I was to play anything instead of MMORPGs, it would be Magic.
BB: I have a feeling Worlds of Warcraft might captivate you. It’s gotten nothing but glowing reviews. The Blizzard folk have an amazing track record.
JW: If we got sick of this type of gaming, I would return to Magic. Plus, it would help a lot if a store opened near Middlebury. That would do it too. I have no doubt WoW will be amazing. It’s better in beta than any game released in the last three years gone gold. But its still whack a troll.
BB: You heard it here first folks! Open a shop in Middlebury, VT and you will win the prize of Jamie Wakefield as a customer 😉 Worlds of Warcraft is also Magic related, given that both Frank Gilson and John”Daddy” Yoo are in the company. I swear, Magic players are everywhere.
JW: Nice, I didn’t know that
BB: Ok, let me wrap this up, cause I’ve had you for nearly two hours now! Any thoughts you wanted to toss on out there?
JW: The true path to happiness lies in marrying a woman who games, and not having any kids. You can never have too much caffeine and sugar. Beer Good. Beer Foamy. And that’s about it for wisdom today. 🙂
BB: ROFL. Ok cool, thank so much for your time Jamie! It’s been an absolute pleasure! Great talking to you Jamie, have a great day and tell Mare the same!
JW: Thanks Ben, same, and good travels.
That’s all for this week! Coming next week, Blog Fanatic returns to a five day schedule, as I roll out a top 100 list that will blow your mind!
Ben can be reached at [email protected].