Thursday, April 26, 2012

March 2012 Player of The Month: Alianore

Hi MilMonauts,

Sara interviewing player of the month: Alianore!
A new month has passed, this means a new Player of The Month! This time it's Alianore from the EN servers. She is a well known GM who helps new players and runs the popular MilMo blog "All About MilMo", one of the few English blogs about MilMo out there. On her spare time she is teaches history on a collage in the US.

Hi Alianore, congratulations on becoming player of the month! How does it feel?

It is really awesome!  I am so very grateful for the player votes and nominations, and I think there are so many of us who are so worthy of the recognition!

How long have you been playing MilMo? How did you find the game?

I have been playing since January of 2011.  I found the game through Facebook advertisement while I was busy playing a social game.  It must have been pretty remarkable, because I think I almost remember the wording of the advertisement.

Wow! Then we did something right! Where do you live in real life, and what's it like? How are you in real life?

I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, which is in Texas (United States).  The area where I live is very populous, the metroplex includes several cities with many suburban communities, although I do not know the exact number I know have to be over 20 towns and cities.  However, I am not a native to this state, I am originally from Oregon which is on the west coast of the U.S.  So living in Texas is sort of adventure, what is most notable about the area is the extreme weather…we had several tornadoes here, with one at my workplace and one in my home community!  It was terrifying and the damage was incredible. Luckily, I had no damage at my house.

A really dangerous tornado, picture by Alianore

In real life, hmmmm…I am very much like I am in the game: very chatty and sort of lecture-y!  I am a history professor in real life (yes, with a doctorate even!) and so I like to talk a lot and I really love to help others by teaching or showing them how to do things.  I have a pretty wicked sense of humor and sometimes that comes across in the game, but I try to be careful with it because we have an international player-base and I do not want something that is meant to be funny come across the wrong way!  I have a lot of hobbies and interests, so if I am not playing MilMo in my free time, I am doing any number of things.

Those tornadoes sure look scary. When playing, what do you like to do the most? Any favorite islands?

This is a really hard question!  I like to do it all: quests, coin runs, work on various medals.  I am a very casual player though, I like to take my time with things so I always have something to do when I can play.  I also like being able to help out on the game Wiki, so going slow and easy allows me to add Wiki pages and take pictures to update it.

Collecting Coins on Swap Island (Alianore's favorite island)

OH! My favorite island is Swamp Island, hands down!  I have always loved it and even wrote a blog article about it.  I love running around the place and killing those monsters there.  There is just something about the design of the island, how you move around there, and the things you can do there that has always just made it really fun for me!  By the way, I LOVE the addition of the mining rock outcroppings on the island…even more to do now!

Thank you! Who do you hang out with in MilMo, or do you play mostly by yourself?

Well, when the time zones are right, I usually hang out with Sobe and Vanny.  There are just about the best people and players around!  We call ourselves the Panda-Eyed Girls Club.  But I also love to spend time with my daughter Starr_1204, and friends: Kazey, Gielo, im ur king, Painnaski, Lady Zu, Kamichan, Edu, and many others!  There are just too many to name, so if I forgot to mention you know I love you all.  I will say, however, that when I am alone I do get a lot more accomplished in game!

Alianore and her daughter Starr playing MilMo together

Tell me about your MilMo blog, when did you start writing it? How do you come up with stories to write about?

I decided to start my blog All About MilMo in February 2012 for several reasons: outside of the Developer Blog, there were not any English-language MilMo blogs around; I wanted to start longer, detailed discussions with players regarding all sorts of game-related ideas that might be more in-depth than is really appropriate for the game forum; and, because I like to write quite a lot and wanted the freedom to discuss the game in articles as long or as short as I wanted.  

Time to come up with new ideas for her MilMo blog, the Aunty Alianore hat helps a lot!

Ideas for articles come from so many sources, sometimes I will observe player interactions and/or quarrels and feel the need to talk about it in a constructive, non-critical manner.  This is when I sit down in my comfy chair in my MilMo house and put on my Aunty Alianore hat!  Other ideas come from following the tweets of the developers when they are brainstorming and jump right on in those discussions.  Mostly though, my ideas come from interacting with my player friends and just playing the game…I might be working on my beast medals in Cozyville and thinking “I wish there were more of these guys here to kill,” and that leads to another thought and then another, and before you know it, I have an article being written in my head.

Do you have any MMM? MilMo Memories that is! Something special you remember that you want to share with us?

I have so many wonderful memories, that is a tall order!  MilMo memories are made time every time I play, but off the top of my head would be the first time I actually got to meet Gielo in game (January of this year) which was really cool for me because I have always admired him as a player and now that we have gotten together to chat more, I really admire him as a person.  Another great memory is when I came back to play after a brief hiatus last year and met back up with Sobe, we had the best conversation and she was just there to pick up our friendship as if there was not any pause.  Also, getting to meet Vanny for the first time was so wonderful, sitting in her house and getting to know each other.  Oh no, I think I could go on and on!

Meeting Gielo in-game is a fond memory for Alianore

You are a GM on MilMo EN. Tell us about it, what's it like?

Wow, being a GM is still a little mind-blowing for me…I am so proud of the honor and the responsibility that was given to me.  Most of what being a GM is about is being there to help other players, whether it is answering questions, helping a player accomplish a task or quest, or mediating a player dispute with another player.  Interacting with players in a different way than when you are just a player is the very best thing about being a GM.  The hardest part about the job is having to report a player for violating one of the game rules, but it is a necessary part of what GMs do and our biggest responsibility.  Whereas players are leery or angry with GMs for actions that we have to take, it is part of our obligations to act as needed for the situation because our core responsibility is ensuring the game is a good, fun, and safe playing environment.  Many players (like myself) want to be GMs, but the first lesson I have learned is that you have to put the rules of the game ahead of all other things, including your playing friends, because that is our task…the GM Badge is a cool thing to carry, but you have to be willing to do the best thing in any given situation.  Being a GM is a very busy job, but I do love it because it is very rewarding!

Thank you Alianore, it has been a pleasure! Have an awesome day!

Vote for April's player of the month over at our forum, just click here.


Community managers Sara & Ivan

In order to read other posts featuring "Player of The Month" check this out:

March 2012: Alianore
 February 2012: WILLDOUG
 January 2012: Vanny
 December 2011: Lenon
 November 2011: Dragisa
 October 2011: Sobe

Monday, April 16, 2012

The History of MilMo: 2009

Hello MilMonauts,

It's finally time for the next part of the "History of MilMo" blog post series! You can read about 2008 here, and the Brazilian Portuguese version of our text here. This time we will take a look what happened back in 2009. This was the year Junebud finally released the closed beta version of the game, just before Christmas.

A collection of MilMo avatars from 2008 to the beginning of 2012

2009: The Closed Beta Goes Live
At this point MilMo was still a mix between realistic looking materials and cartoony avatars. The water found in the pool at Seastar Resort (or Summer Island as it was called in 2009) was way more realistic than today. The same can be said about the ocean.

They are a bit rough, but the avatars are staring to look more and more like the modern MilMo avatars.

Picture of early Seastar Resort from inside the Unity editor.

Seastar Island was a mix between the modern Nikonos Island and what came to be the chat level Seastar Resort in 2010. There are also some details from Lightmill Island, like the mill.  As you can see the buildings were all white, but the structure of the buildings and the flower shaped umbrellas still remain today. The trampolines were removed later on, and the buildings made orange.

Girl avatar at the old Seastar Resort before it became a chat level.

The boy is holding an early version of the bat. Can you see the big rhubarbs in the background?

At Summer Island. The game is now less than half a year from the closed beta release. These trees never made it to the final version of the closed beta.

A girl avatar smiling by the pool.

The two main goals of 2009 were to release a playable beta version of the game on, and make sure enough talented people joined the Junebud Crew. We wanted to create a balanced mix between experienced game developers and new, young talent. If your crew only exists of veterans you will not get new, fresh ideas and find out what's hot and whats not. On the other side, if you have a majority of juniors there's a chance a lot of confusion will arise since there's not clear vision or experience of how to handle previous challenges. It's one thing to make games for fun or at school, but another ting to make them for living. 

Early concepts for different MilMo islands. Some of them made it to the game, some did not (yet?).

Above you can see some early concepts of Summer Tide Saga islands. At this time Summer Tide Saga was just called the "Summer World". At least six of these islands can be found in-game today: Swamp Island, Rose Island (the old one), Sage Oak, Lightmill and Alien Ruins. The first level concept art ever created actually shows Visitor Island, but the island itself was released almost 1,5 years later. When we released the MilMo beta in late 2009 it only featured one island, the Summer Island.

Early version of Kraken Island. The water is still pretty realistic, but the characteristic MilMo clouds are there!

The game starts to look more and more like the MilMo known today. Do you recognize Jay from the MilMo Comics?

Now it's only about 1 month left for the game until we let players in. Note the lack of interface, only an early version of the shop button is visible.

Swamp Island and Rose Island. One month left to the closed beta launch.

At this point MilMo as we know it is starting appear. The water is not as realistic anymore, the chunky trees are being replaced by more MilMo-ish ones, the avatars are starting to look smooth and the art direction is more consistent. We wanted to create a unique look for MilMo. It should be possible to identify the game with one single screen shot taken anywhere, on any level.

The MilMo forum goes live in late 2009. The main function of the forum back then was to help players report bugs (which they were really good at!).

The very first splash screen ever to be used at the at
In December 2009 we finally launched the first version of the game. At this point we had no idea the game would be translated into Brazilian Portuguese. There was only one MilMo available, and you had to sign up and get a beta key in order to play. There was no world map, no friend list, there were coins instead of gems, a very basic medal track and only 1 island. It was time for the first players to start exploring what we had built for the past 1,5 years. The big challenge of 2010 would be to expand this tiny island world start finding and fixing all the bugs.

Next time I will guide you trough 2010. Stay tuned!


Community Managers Sara & Ivan

Previously in this series:

1. The History of MilMo: 2008