September 30, 2000
The interview took place in the paper-strewn office of Excrucior. He managed to peek over his large stack of MudSlinger articles to grant me an interview. Excrucior is a level 136 (34) God and the Senior Editor for the Mudslinger. He pegs his age at 'early thirties' and is especially well known for his British humor and spelling. His biggest accomplishment in life so far, he claims, would be being born and getting recognized to become a God.
I asked Excrucior about various facets on Godhood and about Medievia in general, and here are his responses.
Nykaul: You spoke of being recognized for your position. How exactly did you become a God?
Excrucior: I was contributing to Mudslinger and I came up with a cheeky idea of an in-depth article that guided people on how to write for Mudslinger. It turned out that Soleil was under a lot of time pressure, and the next thing I knew I was approached to edit the articles.
Nykaul: What was your initial reaction to that?
Excrucior: Well, I was half wondering if it was something like that when Soleil first telepathed me. I was flying to Crime Underground at the time and we had to wait to talk until I'd landed. Of course everyone else who was online flew to that spot then, but that's life. When she told me it was actually that I was flabbergasted. When I was told I'd get a god position I just sat staring at the screen. I logged it to make sure I was reading it right.
Nykaul: Had the thought of applying for a God ever crossed your mind before that moment?
Excrucior: Not really. I'm not technical and most god positions are technical in nature to one degree or other. To me gods were rather mysterious, they weren't people - I hadn't had much to do with gods until then. I'd chatted to Soleil once or twice on telepath and that was about it. My experience was limited.
Nykaul: What is your impression of Gods now that you are one of them?
Excrucior: Well, it's a different ball game entirely. Gods talk and chat like mortals do in clans. They are people in their own rights with their own personalities. You respect the upper level gods and their decisions, and you help out anyone lower level if you can. I don't try to intimidate mortals. I try to act as human as possible, but if they're being naughty then a touch of divine wrath in the voice is good.
Nykaul: You are level 136 (34) so how does that differ from the other God levels?
Excrucior: Well, level 34 is usually a minor manager position and I've got loose control over a team of writers for Slinger. I try to co-ordinate efforts and I work with Soleil to keep things running as smoothly as possible. Being a level 34 gains me no extra commands that I use than I would have as a level 33, it's mostly building stuff. As I never started out as a builder, like most gods do, I never knew any of this aspect - I came straight in at 33 for the communication aspect. When I was raised to 34 Vryce himself telepathed me. Gods can be invisible to different levels of characters - I couldn't respond as he was invisible at a level above me. Eventually I worked out he'd probably be stood next to Soleil (he was when I was recruited) so I went there - he's stood there having just made himself visible to me. I got a great big announcement when I was promoted. "GRATZ TO EXCRUCIOR FOR REACHING LEVEL 136! WOOHOO! Also, thanks to Excrucior for all of his hard work on the MudSlinger and WebPages" I got three prays from that.
Nykaul: Being a God means responsibility, hard work and devotion. You don't get paid so why do you do it?
Excrucior: Well, initially it was because I was bored at work and needed to fill the time up, but after a bit the fact that people trust you becomes more important. You get a responsibility and you feel like you need to fulfill it. Eventually you get into the habit of godding, but there's always something around the corner. You often get roped into helping out on other projects, there's always something interesting to do.
Nykaul: How long have you been playing Medievia, and what initially got you started to play?
Excrucior: That was back in 1998, about February. I'd obtained an internet connection and was lightly using it. I managed to find a few people to email, mostly through a Play By Mail game I was playing. One of them introduced me to Medievia and the rest, as well as huge phone bills, are history.
Nykaul: What were your initial thoughts about Med?
Excrucior: WOW! I was actually pretty clueless.
Nykaul: Had you played a game like it before?
Excrucior: Only text adventures and they are so limited in comparison it's unbelievable. It actually took me four goes at logging in to Med to get to level 2.
Nykaul: Is your opinion of Medievia the same now as it was back then?
Excrucior: The game has changed so much, yet fundamentally remains the same. There's new things added every so often - the newer stuff like tutorial should help anyone as clueless as I was.
Nykaul: What has been one of your favorite things that has been added?
Excrucior: Probably clantowns! I've never heard of another game that allows players to make their own areas in the game itself. It allows people to express themselves, within the rules of course, but it's a permanent piece of the game that players can work for. My mortal helped on my town's clantown descriptions and the like. There's some of me there just as there is in the new City of Medievia.
Nykaul: How long have you been a God on Medievia?
Excrucior: Actually, it's about a year to the day now.
Nykaul: You mentioned earlier about being somewhat intimidated by Gods as you were progressing through Med. Who were your influences? Was there anyone you admired and looked up to?
Excrucior: Within divine ranks, well I was recruited by Soleil but a lot of my training was by Gamina. I chat about Slinger issues with Soleil a lot and Gamina helped with the technical stuff so I guess a touch of both. When I was working under Mhordamis he had a certain effect, definitely laid back. Otherwise, I'm often in a side part of the organization. On Slinger we're not as core as other departments so other gods didn't have any direct influence on me - for a long time it was just Soleil and I. Gamina recruited me for clantown approving in the early days. She's had a lot of influence in stopping me panicking, I used to worry I'd break things.
Nykaul: Since becoming a God has your opinion/attitude about Medievia changed?
Excrucior: I see a lot of the hard work that comes into it now. Before I just heard gods on Imm channel, chatting and stuff. Now I know there's a lot of serious discussion going on, especially at levels above me. It's why gods chat on Imm - to relax from the serious stuff I guess.
Nykaul: Do you ever get frustrated or stressed with answering the same questions, and if so how do you deal with that?
Excrucior: Mostly the problems are pretty simple and you can direct someone to a help file. A lot of the prays are "for life" and you know they need to just type pray without any message at an altar. Sometimes it's more serious and those are more interesting, deciding on what extent someone was being insulting and the like.
Nykaul: What do you like to do away from Medievia to help you relax?
Excrucior: I write mostly or actually play the game. Occasionally I go to LAN parties. That's Local Area Network - we link up 8 machines and frag all night on Quake or similar. Rather violent language at times.
Nykaul: Have you had any humorous incidents happen to you since being a God?
Excrucior: Well, there's been a few classic articles, such as the one submitted that was effectively titled "Why I like being offensive in Medievia". One recent pray was, "If a tree falls in the woods, do the gods hear it?" I Pray responded, "EVERYTHING is logged." You know, I've only just realized the double meaning of the word "log" there. Another funny incident happened when one of the more famous gods was on his mortal character, and he was sort of training a new god. He prayed that she was picking on him. I tried to get a pray respond in but he got about seven from other people first, he must have been spammed off the screen! Also, in the early days of my tenure I was short on articles so I made a general announcement that I was online and willing to talk to people about articles on telepath. I got a telepath or two initially and then so many in one go that my monitor started to scream.
Nykaul: How would you describe your average day as a God to a player?
Excrucior: Most of my work is offline so that doesn't show to the average player. I get up and check emails, take them on disk to work if they are articles, then edit them on an old PC I have there. I get replies and the like sorted out and send them when I get back home. Usually I have another stack of emails at that point as well. When online as a god I never used to do much Godding proper when I started, net access has only just become cheap enough recently, but now I run herobattles every so often and generally try to help out when I can. I helped a lot of new players in the days after the advert in PCGamer. I've done some building, some clantown approving, some articles proper for the webpage - I tend to muck in when asked. These days I have a sort of group on Slinger who report to me so I'm learning people management. Hit and miss but that's life, the hitting and missing being on my part.
Nykaul: Are you currently working on any projects or future projects that you can tell us about?
Excrucior: Well, I'm working with Maia on the webpage on updating the old "help for *** class" files. I'm still editing the Slinger, as always and I'm involved in a few discussions about Slinger content. There's a few ideas floating around. I have no real plans to do any building proper. When doing the new City of Medievia I just did descriptions, then handed mob details across to Mhordamis so he could do the technical stuff.
Nykaul: What do you see as your future in Medievia? Where do you think you will be in say a year's time?
Excrucior: Hmm, I don't really know. There's always something going on. Slinger is something I'd like to see developed further, although in what direction we go will be something Soleil will be deciding on - but I'll be asked for my input, as will the rest of the Slinger team. Really, we're mostly window dressing, we're not essential for players. But when it's a game as wide and all-encompassing as Medievia you need something to add some flavor, somewhere the players can contribute.
Nykaul: What do you look forward to in Medievia's future?
Excrucior: What I'd really like to see is some developments that aren't purely combat based. Anything new in the game, Trade Run Mob Factions, the forthcoming big Mob Factions, Dragonlairs, they all seem to be based around fighting bigger and bigger things. They've got newer and fancier special procedures every time, but I'd really like to see some genuine mob intelligence for chatting and the like - something where they would establish a pattern based on previous answers. It would have to be based on keywords I guess, and it would be a long time before they passed a Turing test - but something like that would make for a proper breathing world. If anything like that did get implemented then it would only be on a few mobs to start with, but eventually every mob type could be preprogrammed with certain responses, maybe giving hints to how to complete a zone that randomly changes each time it repops. Did you hear that?
Excrucior: It sounded like a coder screaming.
Nykaul: As the MudSlinger God, if someone reading this wanted to submit an article for the Slinger how would they go about it?
Excrucior: Well, there's new help for Slinger guidelines in the online paper and the website as well as the slinger help files. The important thing is that people don't always seem to realize that you need a good idea. It may sound a good idea to you, but when you're looking at it in the cold light of day it can often look very different. I had a guy ask me within the last two hours about an idea he had. It involved his equipment lists on old storage characters and he found the thought of what he had to be pretty funny. He asked me about it and I asked him, "Would anyone else get a laugh from reading it?" I didn't think it sounded quite so interesting - he pretty much accepted this but he was so enthusiastic to start with. You always have to ask that question of yourself - would anyone else want to read this? Does it read like a regular night's play?
Nykaul: As a God, do you have any advice to players who may be reading this?
Excrucior: As the frontline editor of Slinger I'd say, "If you have a good idea, try me with it." As a general god advice I'd say, "Use common sense and don't get into trouble." The rules are there to protect both ways. They are made from generally sensible ideas and experienced people have formed them. Other than that... enjoy the game, it's what it's here for.
Nykaul: If you could interview anyone, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
Excrucior: Probably Kyril Bonfiglioli! He's the author who wrote the Mortdecai trilogy. It's where I got my name from. I'd want to know what he would have put in his unfinished novel'.
Nykaul: How exactly did you get your God name?
Excrucior: It is a quote from a poet called Catullus, a roman guy. "odo et amo, excrucior." Translates as "I hate her and I love her, it hurts". Try news 253, the end has my little joke in it. It was a masterpiece considering it took half an hour to write!
Nykaul: If there was one person you could ask a question to, who would it be and why?
Excrucior: Oh easy, Vryce! Just who are your mortal characters? It's been bugging me since I started playing the game.
Nykaul: What would you like people to remember about you on Medievia?
Nykaul: What do you think people WILL remember about you?
Excrucior: Probably my sense of humor if I'm not breathing down their necks and my Brit spelling. No wonder these yanks talk funny.
Nykaul: Do you find the fact that you are British to be more difficult in dealing with some things?
Excrucior: Well, American women think I'm cute for some reason, they'll learn. Oh - and I'm always asked if I drink tea and watch Red Dwarf, usually in the same sentence as if they are inexclusive activities. As for difficulty? I guess things that are commonly accepted in US - brand names and the like - that I've never heard of come up a lot. I was even asking the other day if "cornholio" was a brand name and it turns out to be a derogotary comment of sorts.
After conducting this interview I can concur that Excrucior is indeed cute, as well as charming and funny. I would like to thank him for his time and effort in answering my questions and hope everyone enjoys reading them, and learning more about one of the several people who make Medievia possible.
Excrucior's note: As editor I can make myself look as smug and witty as possible after the event. I love this job :)