Meta’s Verse: Samuraiko Interview
Questions by Meticulous Meta, OnRPG’s Paragon Reporter
Answers by Samuraiko, City of Heroes Video Wiz
Communities make MMOs amazing. Great games expand beyond the borders of the game they’re in. City of Heroes has many examples of that with VirtueVerse, ParagonWiki and the Mids Hero Designer. All run by players for players. But today I’m talking about someone who spends hours upon hours of her own time making amazing, high quality videos for the City of Heroes community. They’re so popular even the devs joke that they don’t need to make videos anymore because she will do it. Who am I talking about? The one and only Samuraiko. I had the opportunity to interview her recently to find about more about her and why she makes these videos.
OnRPG: Thanks so much for taking time to answer these questions for an article featuring you on OnRPG.
Samuraiko: Not a problem, thanks very much for asking me!
OnRPG: What inspired you to start making these videos?
Samuraiko: I was inspired by the first full issue I was involved with in City of Heroes. I came in just at the tail end of Issue 9 (Invention), but when I-10 (Invasion) hit, all I could think of was, “WOW!” And I had the idea of doing a ‘trailer’ for it to show people about this ‘new’ game I was playing, so…I did!
OnRPG: What keeps you passionate after all the ups and downs of the last 8 years?
Samuraiko: A couple of things, actually. The big one is the game itself… I love playing COH, and I love seeing how the game itself has evolved over the years since I started playing it. I see stuff and go, “Oh, wow, that’d work so great in a video!” (Seriously – I blurt stuff like that out when I play Task Forces or whatever for the first time… my husband just rolls his eyes and ignores me.) The other big one is the player base. It’s intensely gratifying when a new issue gets announced and I immediately get a bunch of PMs on the forums from them volunteering to help me film, or offering ideas… it’s wonderful.
OnRPG: Given the regard people in Paragon have for you, would you ever consider getting into the games industry?
Samuraiko: I keep trying! I’m more interested in getting into the gaming industry on my strengths as a writer/knowledge management specialist (my real job), but I’ve tried getting in via the cinematics route as well. To be honest, I still have a lot of areas where I could improve (software I should learn, that kind of thing), but I’m gonna get there eventually!
OnRPG: Which video did you find was the hardest to make emotionally and why?
Samuraiko: There are two, for two very different reasons. One is my Issue 13 trailer - that particular issue proved very divisive of the player base because of the changes to PvP, and there was a lot of rancor going around the forums and in the game because of it. Now I don’t PvP, so the changes didn’t really matter that much to me, but because I made a video promoting the issue, I was construed as ‘supporting’ those changes – and it was the first time I ever got hate mail (and I mean HATE mail) for it. I was so upset over it that I had planned to quit making videos, but my friends and the majority of my video fans talked me out of it.
The other was the little video I just did about Statesman’s death. Again, there’s a lot of discussion on the forum about how his death was handled, whether it was necessary, etc., but even people who HATED the mission seem to love this little video of mine. And it was the fastest I’d ever completed a video – I played the arc, and I immediately re-ran it so I could film. Two or three hours later, I was finished. Because I wanted to convey the human side of it all – whether or not his death was epic, heroic, whatever… in the end, he really was just a man. And from the moment I played it, I knew what song I wanted to use, and I knew how it would look. And that’s what you see in the video.
LINK (I-13 trailer): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgMLh3fOOgg
OnRPG: Which video is your favorite of all you’ve made?
Samuraiko: God, that’s tough! There are so many I like for so many different reasons! I’d have to say a 3-way tie between my Issue 12 trailer (because it really feels like one of my best works), my Incarnate video (because it was such a challenge to make), and “Do You Want to Date My Avatar”” (because it was so much FUN).
OnRPG: Is this all just a hobby or is it something you also do in your day to day job?
Samuraiko: Primarily, hobby. My full-time job is that I’m a technical writer/knowledge management specialist (I write processes and procedures for developers and stuff), but I do videography as a sideline job. (By videography, I mean just video editing – I don’t go to weddings with a videocamera and film them.) It’d be nice if I could build up the clientele to do videography full-time, but being self-employed full-time is a rough gig.
OnRPG: To date what is your favorite City of Heroes Issue?
Samuraiko: I’d have to say Issue 14 (Architect) because the AE system has done so much for helping me film in the game! I mean, I can set up my map, stock it with whatever I want, not have to worry that someone is going to come blundering into my shot… it’s wonderful! On the other hand, I’m beta-testing Issue 22 (Death Incarnate), and I gotta say, I was absolutely astounded by it… so that may take its place.
OnRPG: Is there one powerset you prefer to play over all the others? On the other side of the coin is there one that you like less than the rest?
Samuraiko: Energy/energy blaster all the way! I could play that set as the day is long. For filming purposes, though, I like Masterminds… I’m a one-woman film crew. Not big on melee characters, though – scrappers, tanks, brutes… not me. Except for the upcoming Staff Fighting, though – that’s got me wanting to make a melee character.
OnRPG: What other games do you play, if any? Do you make videos for them as well?
Samuraiko: I tend to limit myself to two, maybe three games simultaneously, just to avoid burnout in any of them. City of Heroes, obviously. I also played Aion for a year or so, which I desperately wanted to film, but I just got so sick of being ganked every time I turned around that I gave up on the game. (Maybe one day I’ll go back – I had about a dozen video ideas for it.) Right now my ‘alternate’ game is RIFT, which I love. I’ve done one video for it so far (to get a feel for it), and am starting to storyboard others to tell the story of my characters as they fit into the lore of Telara.
And I’ve done official videos for other games –the beta release video for Earth Eternal (now being redone by a Japanese company, if memory serves); a trailer for Cipher Prime’s Auditorium; and now I’ve been contracted to doa series of ads for Spacetime Studio’s mobile MMORPGs, Pocket Legends and Star Legends.
LINK (RIFT: River of Souls): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHcNfaM8C44
LINK (Auditorium): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsBIuLzO5Ec
LINK (Star Legends/Pocket Legends): http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8C38BF7A6154A619&feature=view_all
OnRPG: How long does it take you on average to produce one of your videos, from beginning to end?
Samuraiko: That can vary a LOT, depending on how much demo-editing I have to do, and how much of THAT is nitpicky customizing. I’d say on average I put in a solid 36-40 hours of work (not in one stretch!) on a video. That’s from initial storyboarding and concept development, through music hunting, initial game run-throughs to get ideas, all the way through filming, and then demo-editing and video editing. Over how long, that depends on my deadline, my availability, and my health. And my sanity.
OnRPG: Are there any super powers you’d love to see in the game in the future?
Samuraiko: I was holding out for staff/naginata fighting, but now we have that! (Or we will soon…) Escrima would be cool, or capoeira. What I’d more like to see, though, is environmental damage and stuff, like what we have on mayhem missions, but taken up a notch. If I blast some slob into the side of a building, it’d be nice to get that concave effect like we see with Foot Stomp (where the sidewalk cracks) before he slides to the ground in a heap.
OnRPG: Is there one video you’ve always wanted to make but never had the chance?
Samuraiko: A full-length COH film. Seriously. Even if I had to do the whole thing as in-game machinima, I wish I had the rights and the budget to get voice actors, a full-on script, a custom score, hardcore video editing software, the whole schmear. I’d take a year and a half off from work, and just film, film, film. (Even better would be to have it done with real animation. Not necessarily CGI. But something maybe how Batman: The Animated Series/Justice League looks… or even some of the harder-edged anime.) Oh, how I wish.
OnRPG: Where do you think Paragon is headed in the future?
Samuraiko: Hard to say. In a way, they’re at the mercy of NCsoft – not completely independent to do their own thing, so they’ve always got someone looking over their shoulder (if the term “Executive Meddling” means anything to you) in terms of everything corporate, like budget and schedule and resources. ESPECIALLY budget and schedule and resources. But right now, I think they’ve got a lot going for them – the hybrid model’s brought in a lot of folks (both old and new), they’re already thinking three or four issues ahead, and in a lot of ways, they keep raising their bar.
OnRPG: Where do you think Samuraiko Productions will be headed in the future?
Samuraiko: I’d like to do work for other gaming companies, both in terms of videography and writing/knowledge management. There are a lot of places based out of Seattle (where I live), but both of my jobs can very easily be done remotely. Getting in full-time is really something I’m hoping for in 2012 or 2013.
OnRPG: Is there anything you’d like to (or can) say about upcoming videos?
Samuraiko: My Issue 22 trailer is in production as I type this… and if I can con the COH community team into it, there’s a video I’d love to debut at the upcoming Player Summit in San Jose this April. We’ll see what they say!
In the meantime, I owe a shout-out to the players who are fans of my work, who volunteer their play time to help me film, and who promote me when they can because they share my love of COH. You guys are the best – these videos wouldn’t happen without you.