Medievia Mudslinger

August 17, 2004

An Interview with Kostia by Miatrylle

A while back, I was given (ok, let's be honest, I begged Excrucior to let me) the opportunity to interview my personal favorite goddess, Kostia. At first, it was a bit funny for both of us, because I had to ask her basic questions that I already knew the answers to (for obvious reasons), but soon we both really got "in" to it and enjoyed the interview immensely. I loved getting the chance to ask her questions that I've always wondered about with the excuse that they're for the interview. Kostia is a total level 144 goddess, and her main titles are Managing Editor, Holiday Quest Manager, and Grand Master World Builder. The entire list of her titles, as well as her achievements and past positions, can be found by typing wizlist kostia while you're connected to Medievia. I hope you enjoy reading about this fabulous lady!

Miatrylle: So, let's begin at the beginning. When did you start playing Medievia?

Kostia: June of 1999.

Kostia: I remember because my boyfriend at the time was a "real" gamer and he made fun of me for talking about things like classes and spells and skills. One time in the car on our way to the comic/game shop (which we used to go to every weekend, I think because he liked being the only guy there whose girlfriend would even consent to come with him and also cause it was right next to IHOP) he told me, "You know you're just playing dungeons and dragons, right?"

Kostia: Anyway, that's how I remember it was June of 1999.

Miatrylle: What initially got you interested in the game? Where/how did you hear of it?

Kostia: I'd been playing and running trivia games on AOL and Delphi (which used to be a text-based online service) since about the fall of 1993.

Kostia: When the web came along, Delphi became "Delphi Forums" and still had chat rooms but moved their forums to the web, and Soleil posted an ad for Med on our trivia club forum.

Kostia: Even though Delphi is long gone ( takes you to like auto parts now), I'm still really close with a lot of my friends from there.

Kostia: But the point is that made it natural for me to enter an online community, I knew what to expect.

Miatrylle: Do any of those friends play Medievia?

Kostia: Yeah, one of them that I know of. We found Med completely independently of each other.

Kostia: She used and uses the same name on Med that she used in AOL trivia, so I recognized her before she recognized me.

Miatrylle: Ok, so what were your first impressions of Medievia? Did you like it right away, or did it take some getting used to?

Kostia: I had played a mud-like game YEARS before, on CompuServe, called - I think - British Legends.

Kostia: It was one of those games that was the same every time, where if you died you started over.

Kostia: More like the old text-based games like Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy than like a true mud, but it was multiplayer and you could interact with other people in the game at the same time.

Kostia: So I expected it would be like that.

Kostia: I also played a multiplayer game on AOL called Federation, where you were a space trader and you could buy and design a planet.

Kostia: I liked Medievia right away.

Kostia: I could tell it was broader than the similar games I'd played before, and everything basic that I was expecting to work, worked like I expected, like look, and inventory, and moving n/w/e/s/u/d, and things like that. I'm glad we have a tutorial for people new to text games now, but I had already learned those basic commands that are common to all games, so I jumped right in.

Miatrylle: So, before becoming a god, what was your Med experience like? What kind of player were you, and what hopes did you have for yourself in regards to the game?

Kostia: The answer to this is kind of embarrassing, because I only played for about seven months as a 'normal' mortal.

Kostia: I remember the first form I was in, where a cleric took me to the Graveyard, and I thought it was too too cool that he could cast continual light. I still find the spell message for continual light utterly charming.

Kostia: "You hold your hand out and a bright ball of light appears in it."

Kostia: Anyway, I remember playing with a few other newbies at the time, only one of whose names I remember, and he was actually active until last fall and is still only a triple. I was recruited into a clan, clan 30 I think, which was sistered to 2 at the time. Same 30 as now, same 2 as now.

Kostia: It was Temujin who first told me all my eq sucked (I remember that was the first time I saw the puke social) and gave me all new stuff. I was in clan 30 for a while, then I was "promoted" to 36, knights of eternal mourning. And since that clan doesn't exist anymore I can say that they charged really steep dues (at least to a newbie like me).

Kostia: I was in 36 probably for about 5 months, and now ask your next question.

Miatrylle: Yes ma'am! So, after playing for seven months, what happened? How did you become a god? Tell us that story!

Kostia: Well I saw announcement 275.

Kostia: And since I've worked as a proofreader and editor and desktop publisher since my sophomore year of college, I knew that was a job I could do, so I applied, and I was hired.

Kostia: Ikuska told me at the time that Med didn't usually hire singles to be gods (I was total level 25 on my MAIN character) but that she'd made an exception, and obviously I am very glad she did.

Kostia: That was around the time that I found out my old friend from AOL trivia played here AND that she lived in the same area as me (northern virginia, DC suburbs). After that, I heroed in about five minutes under her and her friends' guidance.

Kostia: Next question.

Kostia: Sorry that has nothing to do with becoming a god.

Miatrylle: So?

Kostia: Here, I can give more about becoming a god if you want.

Miatrylle: Sure!

Kostia: No I can't, I got nothin'.

Kostia: Next question!

Miatrylle: So, upon becoming a god, what happened then? Do you have any special or amusing memories of your initial godhood period?

Kostia: I still remember Ikuska training me to be a WRE.

Kostia: She had to go afk every twelve seconds because her daughter needed something. I remember being very frustrated by that, but I LOVED the job from the first MINUTE.

Kostia: When I realized I could fix any typo I saw in any room I saw, well, I hesitate to say I was drunk with power, but I think I was a little.

Kostia: At the time, and I'm not taking credit for this, there are a LOT of factors, the quality of the zones in Med was nowhere near what it is now. I had talked about the planet I built on Federation in my god application, used that for my sample rooms (my planet was called Serendipity, by the way, and was based on parts of the 1001 Arabian Nights. it had this wonderful adventure with a dead camel that I still want to use on Med somehow), but even then when we had like a tenth of the building tools we have now, I was awed by how much you could do with rooms on Med.

Kostia: Anyway, I loved it from the first instant.

Miatrylle: Did you have any preconceived notions about what the other gods on Medievia would be like? Any expectations or fears?

Kostia: The WRE department was pretty new at the time, I think I was in the 2nd batch of WREs ever hired, so I don't think there was much to base my expectations on.

Kostia: I remember being impressed by how much I was given to do, and how receptive Ikuska always was to my ideas.

Kostia: It's really hard to remember what it was like when I was first a god, because so much has changed since then. There were many, many fewer gods five years ago than there are now, of course. There was no NPH position (it was created that summer though), there was no AQ department, just lots of the organization that exists now didn't exist then.

Kostia: I think that like most new gods I was oblivious of the overarching structure of the staff.

Kostia: Whereas NOW as a manager, ALL I see is the structure, so it's hard to think about what that new-god viewpoint was like. I simply don't remember.

Kostia: Med is second nature to me now, so it's sort of like trying to remember my early childhood :)

Miatrylle: You're now a level 144 god, which is awfully high up the celestial pyramid. How does your job differ from the average 132 or 136 god? What extra responsibilities and tasks do you have?

Kostia: Well, all my promotions have felt sort of like coincidences. When I was 34, I was given machine access (an ssh login account to the Med server) to start working on mobs and objects, which aren't edited right in the game. After a little while of doing that job (which is now the job Marisol does) Ikuska did a little reorganization and promoted several people who were level 34 to level 35.

Kostia: and I was one of them. I don't really remember who else was, but I think Nykaul was one of them too.

Kostia: Oh, I remember now!

Kostia: We were promoted to 140 because the "142" level for managers was created.

Kostia: Before that, there were no gods between 140 and 144, and I think Vryce was still the only 148.

Kostia: So things were reorganized among the management, and level 35 (140) was given to some people who were working in a sort of assistant manager capacity, or who had additional responsibilities.

Kostia: After probably a year or two (I honestly don't remember) at level 35, we were promoted to level 142, because management of the WRE department was sort of being spread out among multiple people. In February of 2002, I was "officially" promoted to Head WRE, and kept my 142 level as a manager. The promotion to level 144 came much later, with another reorganization. While people's jobs may not have changed very much, the definitions of god levels do change sometimes. It's much more complicated now than it was when builders were 32, gods were 33, and everyone else was 35, but it DEFINITELY works better this way.

Kostia: Commands and code-based privileges are much more secure now, with most gods having access only to the commands they need, which I think really helps avoid the sort of personnel problems we've had in the past.

Kostia: My POINT, and I do have one, is to try to explain to players why gods have different levels, that it's NOT like climbing a ladder or leveling. The point I'm trying to make is that what level a god is depends entirely on what his or her job is, not the other way around.

Miatrylle: While most of the other members of the Medievia staff realize how much work you do to help out just about every department, not just your own, why don't you share some of the work tidbits that you do with the players? What is an average day or week as Kostia like?

Kostia: Well, I log on Med every day, which probably goes without saying. A day when I don't log on is a day when I'm traveling, or I'm too sick to get out of bed, or I worked 11 or 12 hours. They're pretty rare - and actually now that I have laptops and wifi all over the house, scratch that second reason! :)

Kostia: When I log on, I almost always have a "todo" item waiting for me. Sometimes that's another god friend just sending me some sick, disgusting, funny URL (Azariah does this a lot), but usually it's one of the other ZEs (Miatrylle, Marisol, Evelina, Ravenna, Castimonia, and Jehldan) asking me a question, or one of the other managers answering a question I left them.

Kostia: A typical todo item will be, for instance, Athrian checking on the progress of something I'm working on for a new zone (while the ZEs still do rooms, and Marisol does many of the mobs and objects, I still edit all the zoneinfo, announcements, and lots of other little pieces for new zones)

Kostia: Ozy leaves me todos when he disbands a clan, so I can change their item and key to reflect that they're defunct. Casse, Columnus, and Selthios leave me todos when they need me to create a new clanitem (though those come in the mail), or set someone's gohome door to load locked, or create a new key for a clanhall or gohome.

Kostia: Those are basically my jobs. Any text you see in the game, odds are I edited it or I trained the person who did. I read over and correct all the announcements and zoneinfo entries, all the survey messages, all the proc text (though proc text usually gets into the game BEFORE I can correct it, because coders are notoriously bad spellers!).

Kostia: I create all the house/clanhall keys myself, and I create all the clanitems, including coding their procs.

Kostia: As holiday manager, I run the festivities for holidays, like token quests and special holosections, and every so often I create new holiday items and code little procs for them, like the Fourth of July patriotic sanc orb and the Thanksgiving turkey feathers.

Kostia: I find stuff like that my favorite part of being on Med, because I really love it when something I invented makes players laugh or pray "thank you."

Kostia: I think that kind of satisfaction drives all of Med's best writers and builders and coders, because it's the only paycheck we get.

Kostia: When you see an announcement that's signed "-V," you can be sure I read it over. I'm always flattered when Vryce asks me to check over what he's written, and he says I improve it and make what he's trying to say clearer, and that's the highest compliment an editor can be paid.

Miatrylle: Do you have any advice for the next generation of would-be WREs (ZEs now)?

Kostia: First off, I'd say the same advice that all new gods should hear, which is that your objective is COMPLETELY different from when you were a player. As a player, you're striving all the time to get more gold, more xp, more mlr points, more levels, better eq, etc. As a god, your outlook on the game has to change, because - and I know this sounds like a total cliché - it's not about what the game can do for you but what you can do for the game.

Kostia: There are perks to being a god, and one of the perks to being a ZE specifically is starting a level higher than most new gods do. I take the ZE position very seriously. It's one of only a few jobs on Med where it's your experience in the real world that gets you in the door, not just your expertise as a player. I think I stress with new ZEs that that additional level comes with additional responsibilities.

Miatrylle: Yup, you sure do stress that! :)

Kostia: I think that may be one of the reasons that the gods I hire tend to stick around for a long time (with just a few exceptions over the years) and do such a great job. While I'm not a manager in my career anymore, I have been in the past, and managing people is the same no matter where you do it. You find people from whom you can reasonably expect to expect the best, and then you let them know that you expect them to excel. The more confidence you let them know you have in them, the better they work for you.

Kostia: And, from the way the ZEs seem to love their jobs just the way I did and do, I think that succeeds, for the good of the game'.

Miatrylle: You do so much for Medievia; everything that you do could keep three people busy, yet you manage it even with a busy, sometimes stressful "IRL" job as well. Why do you do it?

Kostia: First of all, I don't think that what I do COULD keep three people busy.

Miatrylle: Ok, five!

Kostia: No, seriously. I have a couple of different jobs - holiday manager, clanitem/door/key creator, mob/object editor, other-stuff editor ... but not one of them is full-time by itself.

Kostia: and yes, my "irl" job IS stressful, but - and this is my #1 top of the list FAVORITE thing about being a grownup - when I come home from work, I don't have to think about work anymore. Not everyone's job is like that of course, which is why I'm not a doctor or a lawyer or an artist, but I don't have homework!'

Kostia: Med is my hobby, and I'm lucky enough to have a hobby that I can share with all these other hundreds of people. It's sort of like going to club meetings or summer camp, but it goes on ALL THE TIME.

Kostia: I'm not sure, honestly, that I would have stuck with Med for five years (so far) as a player if I had never become a god, but it's impossible for me to separate the way I look at the game as a god now.

Kostia: So, that's why I do it. It doesn't add to my stress, I'm really not that busy, and I enjoy it immensely.

Kostia: Oh wait, the other reason I do it is of course the people. I've met and gotten to know and be friends with and (in the past) fall in love with people from Med who are smarter and funnier and more like me than most of the people I have ever met at school or work or anywhere else.

Kostia: And I wouldn't give that up for the world.

Miatrylle: Since I alluded to your busy, stressful (and interesting) job, why don't you tell the world - well, the Med world - about it?

Kostia: Well, my job title is Senior Print Production Artist.

Miatrylle: ...and what's that mean?

Kostia: I use layout software (QuarkXPress and InDesign CS) and image software (Photoshop, Illustrator, and so on) on a Mac to create books.

Kostia: The small company I work for now specializes in editing. Our clients send us gobbledygook :) and the editors I work for turn it into polished prose. The edited Word files, plus SCADS of statistical data, are given to me, and I use my beloved Mac to turn it into books.

Kostia: That's of course greatly simplified.

Kostia: I've been doing about the same job for almost twelve years now, and considering I'm only 30, I think I found my calling earlier than some people do.

Kostia: I've learned a LOT from my job about things that I find fascinating that most people would find very boring. The theory of presentation of statistical data - the visual display of quantitative information - is a big part of my job. To most people, that translates to "bar charts and line graphs," but to me it's a way of life!

Miatrylle: Any special projects that you've worked on that you're especially proud of and would like to share?

Kostia: My two biggest projects each year are the World Bank's "World Development Indicators," which is a 300-page book of statistical tables, and the United Nations' "Human Development Report." They're both about how people live in developing (poor) countries and the efforts made by richer countries (like the United States) to improve peoples' lives.

Kostia: Unfortunately rich countries don't do nearly enough. That's a statistical fact, not an opinion, but it's obviously irrelevant to Medievia.

Miatrylle: To get back on the Medievia track for a bit, are there any recent changes or developments that have interested or excited you? Are there any in store for the future that you're looking forward to seeing put in to the game?

Kostia: Well, as my now very outdated god bio says, what I was looking forward to most were Autoquests. I LOVE Autoquests. I love the way they can tie the storylines of completely unrelated zones together. To have the king in Mystical be cousins with the king in Stornaway, to have a mob in DeRah ask for an item from Asnor... it brings the world together in a way that was simply inconceivable before.

Kostia: There was no way - though the old storyline project had a stab at it - that people who were TRYING to tie together the various stories of Medievia on PURPOSE could do it. Autoquests do it very subtly and elegantly, almost as an accident. I think they've changed the way people think about and use zones, and I really like that.

Kostia: So AQs are bar none the best feature introduced in my time here.

Kostia: Of upcoming things, I'm looking forward to having clans and towns interacting with the world in new ways. Clanships are part of that, farms and a true supply and demand-driven economy are part of that.

Kostia: Vryce always talks about the wilderness "coming alive," and I'm looking forward to the day when everyone's experience in the game is slightly different, but people band together to do things they could never accomplish alone, and improve the world by doing that.

Miatrylle: What hobbies do you have other than Medievia?

Kostia: Well, obviously I read a lot. I love buying books. I love bookstores. I love USED bookstores especially. Of some of my favorite books I have three or four different editions.

Kostia: Lately I've been listening to a lot of audiobooks on my ipod (I have an hour commute on the train and bus into and out of Washington DC every morning and evening), and I really like audiobooks, but I miss the tactile sensation of reading a paper book.

Kostia: I hope humanity never technologically outgrows books

Kostia: There are a few games I play other than Medievia; I have a PS2, and I spent months obsessed with Final Fantasy X.

Kostia: I've been playing Neverwinter Nights for a while (got started late because of the delay in it being released for the Mac).

Kostia: I like games that have a lot of puzzles and story to them, so D&D-related stuff like Neverwinter are really my type of thing. I liked Diablo II and Baldur's Gate too. (Send me email with game recommendations!).

Kostia: I have a good digital camera, and I really enjoy taking pictures. Living near Washington really helps with that, there's so much here to take pictures of.

Kostia: I love to travel; I've been to three countries in the last year or so.

Kostia: I go to science fiction conventions, which are a wonderful cultural phenomenon that is NOTHING like the "star trek conventions" you might be imagining. The World Science Fiction Convention is something I look forward to all year every year.

Miatrylle: How about five things that not many people here on Medievia know about you?

Kostia: 1) the job I have now, where I work 10am-7pm, is the first non-night shift job I have had since 1995.

Kostia: 2) I have a younger brother; he's 28 and lives in California and works for Intel and refuses to play Med because he thinks it will instantly addict him.

Miatrylle: Which it will!

Kostia: 3) my all time favorite song of all time is "Fortress Around your Heart" by Sting.

Kostia: 4) I could type 100 words a minute BEFORE I started playing Medievia.

Kostia: 5) The only famous person ever to go to my high school was Mary Jo Kopechne.

Miatrylle: Anything else you'd like to add or tack on here?

Kostia: Just to thank anyone who actually read this whole interview; it's flattering and a little embarrassing to think I could be interesting enough or famous enough to merit that. And that I hope I've maybe changed someone's mind about how they look at the game or how they look at gods, and that maybe that will make med a better place for both of us.

Kostia: Fin.

I'd like to thank Kostia again for her time and patience in granting me this interview. I certainly enjoyed it, and I hope all of you reading this did too!
        - Mia


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