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Interview with game developer Mike Voit

Please note, that is interview was given for the Bloodletting.org game. We used In Character names for some of those mentioned in the interview to protect their privacy.

1.    What was the inspiration to create Bloodletting?

The inspiration came from a game called Mafia.org. Very similar with forums for RP and the ability to kill those that piss you off. That game has morphed into a game called mafiareturns. But the original is where the inspiration came from. I couldn’t code so…in 2004 I met Dracula when he came to work in Virginia. We were both in the Air Force and stationed together there. I heard he could code and told him about my idea. He was sold instantly and we started developing the game. Two years later after lots of planning, taking time off to finish degrees and Dracula getting married, we launched the game. In its initial format, it resembled Damnation a lot more. Mafia.org was a one character – one death game. You die, you start over with a new character from the beginning.

2.    Where do you and the team get the inspiration for details on the gameplay from?

I get a lot of ideas from other games I play. I might sign up for a game and it sucks as bad as you can imagine but they have one feature that attracts me, so I start developing it for inclusion in BL. City Searches idea came from a game I played called HoboWars and FC tributes came from another vampire game I played for a bit. Other times I just get an idea and bounce it off of DK. If we both agree it will work, we add it.

3.    Do you speak with other game developers for ideas? Are other developers eager to provide input on things they’ve done and tried to help you along in creating your own unique twists?

The only developer I have ever worked with is the creator of mafiareturns. He used to be the main coder in mafia.org and I pitched him my idea for BL back in 2004. So he drove down to Virginia from Jersey and sat with me for the entire day loading php and mySQL on my computer so I could get started. Unfortunately I have no skill in coding, so the stuff just sat there until I met Dracula later that year.

4.    What idea came first for the game? The gameplay aspect, or the writing? What do you feel pulls at you the most?

They both were worked on concurrently. The appeal to me for mafia was the interaction in the forums. They had some phenomenal writers over there. Otter being one of them. So when I was designing the game I was approaching it from both angles. For those that wanted to write and those that wanted to smash buttons. I myself, have a love for the writing aspect of it and I try to create an environment that foments that activity.

5.    How has Arctic Moon Studios, and the people of Bloodletting, changed aspects of your life over the years?

Well AMS for one has brought me a great friendship in the form of DK and Dracula. DK and I used to do a lot of Theater in Virginia. Me acting, he Stage Managing. When I sent out a mass email to all my contacts in email asking them to sign up for the new game Drac and I had just developed, DK was one of the first ones to do so. I soon learned he could code and as a player he started assisting Drac and I. When we decided to form Arctic Moon Studios, we initially asked DK if he wanted to be a part of it. He said no and we were rightfully bummed out about it. Just before we registered the company however, we asked him again and he agreed. He has become one of my dearest friends. I even performed his wedding ceremony. All three of us regularly get together for trips and talk on the phone.

Bloodletting is another thing all together. We used to do regular BL meets throughout the country and had the chance to meet players at them. Stalker and Tala Hemming became early and close friends. Stalker is considered family. He came to my retirement and my father in law’s interment at Arlington cemetery. Edward Broccoli (sp?   Lol..Brollachan) and I have a venture we are working on. Otter and I used to talk regularly but then he discovered girls and jujitsu, Bastet writes to me all the time when I am deployed. I performed Mackenzie’s wedding ceremony. But there are sad moments that come with it as well. Mallory Quarters we met several years ago at the very first BL meet. She became a dear friend to both me and my wife. We went to New Orleans regularly and always stayed with her. When I got the call in late 2017 that she had passed away in her sleep, it was devastating. It’s sad whenever I learn we have lost a player, and there has been a few. But Jen (Mallory) was like family to us. In the early days of the game we had a player use an exploit in the source code to kill all of the other players in the game. We thought that was the end of Bloodletting. It was a brand new game, up only about a month. Luckily for us two things happened. First DK, who was still just a player that assisted with coding and database management, had backed up the server only a few hours earlier, mitigating the damage. Second, Jen (Mallory) made to enormous donations to the game so we could ensure the security of it. Jen was a very wealthy woman who made her fortune as one of the largest pumpkin farmers east of the Mississippi. She loved to game and she loved Bloodletting. My wife and I loved her and we miss her a lot. So when you see her online 24/7, that’s one of my tributes to my friend.

The player behind Lisbeth has become a great confidante for me over the years as well. I know I am forgetting people but it’s late here and I am fighting off a virus. Please don’t be offended if you don’t see yourself mentioned here.

The player behind Smith, I consider a friend. I was actually able to meet him in England several years ago and have a few beers with him.

Shenanoska, an old time player is a friend as well.

6.   Do you read all the stories posted? Has there ever been a storyline so moving, it stuck with you?

I wish! I used to read them all when there was just a few entries. But alas, life gets in the way. I do try to read as much as I can. I don’t think I could pick out one storyline. Even the poorly written ones are amazing in the fact that someone at least tried to create something.

7.    Characters come and go. Is there any that you truly miss seeing their antics?

I miss the troublemakers. The ones that want to start wars and execute the mundane. I miss the mother out of the Platypire in all honesty.

8.    You’ve had to make hard choices over the years when it come to the rules. Has anyone ever really threatened you due to their own violation of the rules? Do you get ‘hate mail’?

The only hate mail we ever got was from a player that we were working on a lot of projects with. She was so involved in every aspect of the game. Then one day we received a very nasty email from her that to this day I still have no idea what prompted it. We responded with our own letter telling her that what she said was highly unprofessional and she shouldn’t have made threats and demands to us. That led to her, her husband and at least one other player quitting for good. She posted our letter to her so we posted hers to show we weren’t randomly attacking her. I truly miss her presence in game. I used to talk with her all the time via video or phone and she was just a bubbly personality. I have no idea what prompted the letter from her in the first place.

I have sent a threatening message to a player. The one that exploited the code. I sent him an email letting him know I had no issue driving to his house and beating the  **** out of him in front of his parents. I included his home address so he knew I wasn’t BSing.

Former players have posted unkind words on FB. But that’s about it.

9.   Over the years, you and the team have implemented new and exciting things for the Realm and its players. However, something new, and much bigger, seems to be coming for 2019; you’ve dropped a few hints to many things. Just how many things are on the horizon for 2019? Can you give us some specifics…please? Pretty please?

Houses are going to become more important. Potions are being developed. Special features and areas are in the works for the level 20s. Skills are being developed. One thing people have to keep in mind though, is that it is just DK and I really. I do have Smith assisting me on a project and Dracula has indicated he wants to get more involved. But we are limited in personnel and resources. If people want to see features roll out faster, they need to keep their Alts legal. In the past I haven’t been as strict on that rule, but when we had to make a decision earlier this year whether to keep going because of lack of funds, I had to get more on top of the illegal Alt situation.

Thank you Mike, for giving me your time and for all you do for everyone on Bloodletting!


The Worm Reviews Partner

the worm reviews

To all my fellow authors and writers, I’d like to invite you to take a look at a new partner of mine.

The Worm Reviews is a book review site, looking for books, both new and old, to read and gives reviews on, giving you all a little more exposure. The Worm welcomes ALL genres.

If you would like your book reviewed, please send it my way at zoe.ambler5@gmail.com, preferably in a PDF format with ‘book review’ in the subject line.

You can also submit your work directly to the site itself.

Take advantage of this great opportunity. Its completely free, and can earn you a little bit more exposure and book sales!

 

Be sweet, my darlings!

 

 


Spotlight: Author M.K. Theodoratus

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M. K. Theodoratus

Hooked by comic books at an early age, M. K. Theodoratus’ fascination with fantasy solidified when she discovered the Oz books by L. Frank Baum with his strong female characters. She has traveled through many fantasy worlds since then. When she’s not reading about other writer’s worlds, she’s creating her own.
 
Most of her stories are set in the Far Isles where she explores the political effects of genetic drift on a mixed elf human population. Lately, Theodoratus has been setting her stories in an alternate world of Andor where demons stalk humankind.
A sixth grade English assignment started her writing. The teacher assigned a short story. Theodoratus gave her an incomplete, 25-page Nancy Drew pastiche which turned into a full novel by the next summer. She’s been writing happily ever after ever since…for four or five writing careers. Most recently she’s been concentrating of her Andor stories, set in an alternate world where demons and magic plague humans.
Now for the ten wacky questions:
10 Questions, Zoe style…

What is your writing process?
I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer who usually starts with a character with a problem. Sometimes it’s acute, like a demon physical attack. Sometimes it’s ongoing, like Mariah’s pissing contest with Linden, my Far Isles Half-Elven. Then I think of who or what is causing the problems. Somewhere in the process I come up with a rough outline.
My actual writing is done at the computer, which is way more fun than working with typed pages, like in the old typewriter days. Yeah, I’m so old I can remember revising my manuscripts with tape and staples keeping my changes in order. But, I also am a massive collector of Post-It notes. I have pads scattered all over the house and in the car. When I have an idea, I jot it down to transfer it to my manuscripts, background info, and/or outline.
The background info creates a “bible” for each story or world so I can keep track of my characters and the place names and background information. Again, the computer comes in handy by creating shortcuts. I put a shortcut with each new story draft, and the changes/additions magically appear in the bible.
Oh, I basically write in the mornings after I check my two main emails and read my comics—Crankshaft, Funky Winkerbean, and For Better or Worse. Oh, I must confess I check my stats on Amazon and Smashwords for the previous day.

2. What do you read for pleasure?
Mainly fantasy, but then, I consider most mysteries fantasy. I read a lot of mysteries as well as paranormal suspence. I used to read a lot of historical novels but have stopped. Too many recent writers don’t adequately research their time periods. The anachronisms drive me crazy because I’m something of an English history buff.

3. What is the greatest joy of writing/blogging for you?
“Joy”? Gotta think about that.
I’ve never considered writing anything to reach the joy end of the continuum. Writing does make me happy. Or, maybe a better way of putting it, writing amuses me. It’s the process of creating something where nothing was before.
4. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Basically, I’m a grumpy iconoclast whose favorite word was “no” even before I could talk. Unfortunately, my mother is no longer around to complain about how stubborn I am.
I was raised in Northern California within easy driving distance of the Sierra foothills, the California Gold Country featured in my Andor stories. I grew up back when the American Dream was alive and well, enabling poor kids to get college educations without any debt.
Yeah. That makes me a Populist who believes all lives matter. Now I live in Colorado in a town that’s first to use the water before it sends it down river [after it’s cleaned up]. My politics shows up in my writing in my unusual characters who fight against powers-that-be of some kind or other. Mariah of my Far Isles Half-Elven is the exception, and she works outside “the system”.
5. What are your strengths and weaknesses when it comes down to sitting down and writing?
I’m easily distracted, not only by the web and solitaire, but by all the different ideas and people running around in my head. At the same time, I’m getting fairly good at concentrating on one story at a time until I get an ending on it. Of course, once the ending’s on, it’s a struggle to revise rather than start something new.
Over the last couple years, I’ve noticed I’m producing more usable words each writing session.
6. Do you have any strange writing habits?
No. I just sit at the computer and pound keys. Though I get ideas and sentences all over the place and at different times of day. That’s where Post-It notes come in so handy. I scatter them around the house and car with an available pen. I jot my thoughts down and stick them in my pocket. The crinkling alerts me I need to clean my pockets out. If that’s strange, I guess I lied when I said “no”.
7. What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing/blogging process?
Marketing. Period.
Marketing presents an interesting dilemma for me. I write mostly to amuse myself [though I am willing to share my stories]. Marketing doesn’t amuse me. Yet, I spend enormous amounts of time marketing. I see a collision of druthers coming.
8. Are you a person who makes their bed in the morning, or do you not see much point?
I halfway make my side of the bed to be sure that the blankets and sheet are aligned.
9. Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?
I’m too much of a gimp to travel much anymore. Though I’d probably go back to California to visit family. I have kids in New York City but don’t have any inclination to visit there. The place is too difficult for a gimp to get around comfortably. Colorado has spoiled me.
10. Choose: Vampires, Werewolves, Demons or Zombies?
Since demons prey upon humans in my Andor world, guess it’d have to be demons … but my own particular ones. I’m really not into blood and gore…or stupidity.
Bonus Question: How prepared are you for the Zombie Apocalypse I’ve ordered?
I’m too old to be bothered much. The same goes for when the government collapses. In both cases, I’m not holding my breath. I’ll probably be dead of natural causes before either happens.
M.K. Theodoratus has recently released a new novelette, The Ghostcrow.
The_Ghostcrow_new

Seeing ghosts has plagued Dumdie Swartz since early childhood.

Afraid that ghost guts might stick to her if she stepped through them, thirteen-year-old Dumdie Swartz still cringes when she encounters them.

Her strange attempts to avoid spirits create a lonely life.
Her sisters constantly mock her strange behavior, her parents are clueless, and her social life is zero. Dumdie finds solace working in a shared garden with her elderly neighbor, Mr. Carson. When teens from her high school steal pumpkins from his garden, Mr. Carson is hurt during the theft, and later, dies.

Dumdie’s life takes a dark turn.

She learns there are stranger things than ghosts, when she senses something evil living in Kyle, one of the boys who had raided the pumpkin patch. Kyle bullies Dumdie to scare her into silence. The more Kyle threatens her, the clearer she perceives the evil thing possessing him. Dumdie finds support in an unlikely group of girls who befriend her when she helps them with their costumes for the Pumpkin festival. During the festival, Dumdie’s fears explode when the thing possessing Kyle decides it wants to possess her.

A prequel to The Ghost in the Closet. Read about Dumdie, young and old.

Cover - ghost 1350 x 2000 (1334x2000)
Over the years, Dumdie Swartz has developed many weird habits to hide the fact she sees ghosts. When her boss fired her because he thought her trances were mini-strokes, Dumdie becomes homeless, just another old lady living in her car.

Being homeless isn’t Dumdie’s biggest problem. When she finds a room at a private shelter, Dumdie discovers the ghost of the previous owner haunts her room, a ghost with a problem of her own. Her will is lost, and the shelter’s existence is threatened. Dumdie must conquer her fear of upsetting people if she’s to find the will and save the shelter for herself and the other ladies.

A novelette set in the world of Andor.

Also available from M.K. Theodoratus:
You can follow M.K. here, on her website and the following social links:
Also of note, M.K. offers guest blogs with promo for a book, subject: My Worst Writing Fear in 7-500 words.
Thank you so much to M.K for indulging me and participating. Best of luck to you in all future endeavors!

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