Interview with Toothless, the legend!
With a wealth of experience across many MMOs and well known name within the various sub-divisions, it was my good fortune to grab Toothless (forum name McMuttons) for a quick interview about his time gaming in ToG.
KSB: So, Toothless, who is the man behind the name?
During the day, I’m a mild mannered software developer in Norway. I have a preference for C# in my professional dealings, but also tinker with F#, Haskell, Lisp and spend a lot of time reading about how to code games. I’m married to my lovely wife, known as Bunni in the forums, and have two boys aged four and six who may be the death of me yet. At least they love games.
I joined TOG in 2002 and in the time since I have been guild leader in WoW, Age of Conan and Aion and officer in several others. I’ve been a Division Captain for World of Warcraft, and a TOG Adviser since I stepped down from that position.
KSB: What was your first proper gaming experience, what game was it, and how did you fare?
My first proper game experience was my dad teaching me chess when I was six or seven years old. It’s one of my few clear memories from that age, and I can picture us exactly where we were playing. I loved the idea of the formalized structure and strategies of such games, and I’ve been hooked on games since.
It wasn’t until a couple of years later I played my first computer game, which again was chess, this time on a Commodore VIC 20. There was also a text adventure which I thought was cool, even if I didn’t get all that far. Since then, games have been big part of my life, in both analog and digital forms. I played and game mastered a bunch of pen & paper role playing games during high school and university, so playing MMOs has come as a pretty natural part of that progression.
KSB: What MMOs have you played as part of TOG, and how does being a part of it help or hold back your gaming goals?
My first MMO was Anarchy Online, but it wasn’t until World of Warcraft beta that I came to TOG. At that point my wife, Bunni in the forums, had already been a member for several months and suckered me into joining as well.
Since then, I’ve played in the World of Warcraft, Lineage 2, Guild Wars, Age of Conan, Warhammer Online, EVE Online, Champions Online and lastly the Aion division before coming back to World of Warcraft. In addition, I’ve also been active in the Trackmania and Battlefield 2: Bad Company 2 divisions. I might have forgotten some, even.
The most obvious benefit of an organization like TOG is that no matter which game you want to try, if it’s online and has a community, you’ll generally find TOG members to play with, and often many of the same ones. Since our community goes far beyond any individual game, you generally feel yourself at home almost immeditately. I love that about TOG.
KSB: You’ve been a member of TOG for quite a while now and ran the EU WoW guild for some time, recently returning to play with the same guild. How has the guild and TOG evolved over the years?*
I was the guild leader of The Old Grudge for about 5 years, from its inception until I was feeling burnt out on WoW and decided to pass the torch on to Steely. That said, it’s always been a cooperative effort with the excellent officer crew I had. I’ve never seen myself as the managerial type, so I can only think it was blind luck that gave me that great crew who turned out to have a pretty good balance of playstyles and opinions, and a willingness to discuss issues in a grownup and composed manner, even when we disagreed.
At the time of forming WoW guilds in the EU, we only had an Alliance PvE guild planned, while Bunni and I felt that it wasn’t really Warcraft without the war. At the same time the Horde side appealed a lot more to us. So we branched out and formed the Old Grudge on the Warsong server.
Had we remained there, this would probably have been about Bunni instead, since she was the one to file the charter for that Guild and was our guild leader. However, Warsong suffered from major stability issues, so within a week we packed up the guild and moved to Deathwing. This time, I happened to reach the ten silver first, so I picked up the guild charter and the rest is history.
That said, Bunni and I have always had a very cooperative role in this, and many considered us an extension of the same guild leadership, even if the Chief Executive Orc was Toothless, my main character since day one.
The Old Grudge has evolved tremendously since that time and I don’t think any of us envisioned what a powerhouse it would become when we were knocking about, trying to entice the first members to join. We stayed small for several months before more people began to join up. When we finally had enough members to start poking at raiding, the numbers exploded until we reached the 2-300 active members that we hover around these days.
I think the Grudge’s greatest contribution to TOG was our open, member-run raiding system. As far as I know we were the first MMO in TOG to implement that, at least on the scale we did. Right before The Burning Crusade was released, we had grown to such a size that the officer crew were doing nothing but organize and manage raids. I have always believed in a small officer team and there were only five-six of us at the time, so we were swamped.
So, after some experimenting with member-run raids towards the end of the original WoW days, we switched over to pure member-run raiding. This was a pretty controversial issue at the time, and there are some pretty epic old forum threads on the discussion of whether this was a good idea or not. Now I’m glad we did it, and member-run raiding has been adopted by many other MMO divisions in TOG, at least the ones with many members.
TOG has come a long way since those days as well. When the WoW guilds were starting up, much greater attempts were made to micromanage, based on a model of much smaller divisions. TOG had never seen a division the size of the WoW one, and it showed at times. At our largest, we had at least sixteen guilds spread across regions, servers, gameplay types and so on. We went through some rough patches in the early days as a division.
This is much smoother in today’s structure as the TOG administrative staff have adjusted to MMOs and are much more representative of the balance within TOG as a whole than I think it was then.
KSB: What aspect of MMOs do you most enjoy and what do you most dislike?
The community is the best thing about any MMO I’ve ever played, and that’s one of the things that I’ve loved the most about TOG. No matter where we go, we find friends. Beyond that, I want engaging game mechanics, challenges and fairness. I this is where WoW has shone brighter than its competition, at least in the long term.
What I dislike most about MMOs is probably other people. While I love a good community, crappy attitudes and abusive behavior, fueled by the anonymity of the internet, can do wonders to put a damper on the day. Luckily TOG is here to reduce the asshat to good egg ratio in gaming!
KSB: So, do you think Father is a real person or a carefully designed Perl script?
If he really is a Perl script, it has tons of cryptic functionality and is probably written all on one line. His PMs to me when I’ve been out of line have seemed reasonably human, so if he’s a script, then my hat is off to the guy who wrote it.