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!