SOE Gamer of the Month November 2012

Where in the real life world do you live?
I live in Southern California, a short distance from Los Angeles.

What SOE Game(s) do you play?
Currently, the only game I play is Everquest 2.

How long have you played the above games?
I've been playing EQ2 on and off since November 2005. The last several years have all been "on," though. I've stopped game hopping!

What other games do you play?
Nothing else at the moment. I'm not the sort of person who can play more than one game at a time. It's one reason why I played EQ2 on and off for such a long time--I'd get the urge to play another game and let my subscription lapse, as I can't concentrate on multiple games at once. I get too absorbed in whatever's caught my interest.

What type of work do you do?
Like many gamers out there, I suffer from a chronic condition (in my case, chronic intractable debilitating migraines) that makes life difficult. I don't consider myself "disabled," and I look entirely healthy, but unfortunately, that's what I am. When my health permits, I'm a student of Anthropology. I'm debating switching to architecture due to EQ2 housing, though!

How many hours a week do you play video games?
It varies rather dramatically. A good average would be about 40 hours or so, with the majority of that time during the weekend. Some weeks I don't play at all. Other weeks, I'm online most of my waking hours. It all depends on my health and how much away from the computer I feel like I can do. Of course, sometimes I log in, alt tab out while I'm still zoning in, then forget that I logged in in the first place... *cough*

What does a typical gaming session consist of?
I do a lot of house decorating. I enjoy most facets of the game, but decorating and roleplay are my passions. Every session of gameplay will include at least a little bit of time spent tweaking a house, building a house, or planning a house. While I enjoy combat, I don't like to engage in it with people I don't know. I'm very particular about my questing experience, and I find it hard to adjust to other peoples' playstyles. That means that any combat I engage in is either solo or with friends--usually my boyfriend, Zhadowsee.

Jazabelle and Zhadowsee
as depicted by the talented Blazewolf

In the SOE Games you play what do you play? Race/class/Rank/Faction ect....
I mostly play my evil level 91 freeblood illusionist, Jazabelle. The majority of my characters are evil, because I've always felt that the evil storyline had more going for it than the good. I feel that the evil side is more honest. Both factions will happily stab you in the back, but at least the evils will tell you that to your face!

What got you into gaming and what sort of games do you like the most?I've always enjoyed gaming. Both of my parents are programmers, so I've always had computers around--probably more than the average person ever sees in a lifetime! I remember one time counting as a kid in high school, and totalling nine computers in the house, including a couple of servers.

The first computer game I remember owning was King's Quest by Sierra. I know there have to have been other games before that, but that was the first one that was mine. My dad came home one day with the box of floppies and handed them to me. I was so excited to own my first computer game! He told me that I couldn't play the next King's Quest until I'd finished the one before. So I worked hard to beat the games. I really wanted to play King's Quest IV, where I could be a girl!

I think what cemented my love of video games (and RPGs in particular) was when I drew a map for King's Quest so that I could figure out where each screen connected to the next, and so that I could stop running into the ogre who kept killing me. My parents looked at the map and praised me for my ingenuity. I didn't think the map was all that impressive, but my parents saw it as independent thinking and problem solving. That really stuck with me.

I've always been drawn to the RPGs, and I haven't looked back since finding MMORPGs. I was the child whose grandfather threatened to charge her for coming into the house, because she was always making swords, wands, crowns, scepters, daggers, and other items out of newspaper, tin foil, and tape. Not only did I want to make props for the scenes my brother, cousins, and I acted out, but I wanted those props to last! No flimsy cardboard swords for me, thank you. They were reinforced with tape and tin foil until it's quite possible that injury from them would be counted as assault with a deadly weapon in a court of law.

What other hobbies or activities do you take part in, other then playing Video Games?
I enjoy reading, drawing (although not well),  jewelry making, sewing, and baking. Health permitting, I'd love to take up fencing and horseback riding again! I adore the outdoors,  and when I'm not hissing like Jazabelle at the brightness stabbing into my brain, I enjoy outdoor activities such as gardening and hiking.

What is your highest level character?
Jazabelle, my 91 Illusionist. It's doubtful that she'll make it to 92 before the next expansion. I just don't level fast enough for that.

What do you like the most about your favorite SOE Game?
The housing in EQ2, of course!

How did you choose your main character's name?
There really isn't an interesting story behind Jazabelle's name. I understand that a lot of people think that I chose it to be similar to "Jezebel." Nope, not the case. I was playing another game, and I wanted a name that could work for an elf, but wasn't "elven." A friend and I threw names around until he suggested Jazabelle. I liked the -belle, and I enjoy jazz. It clicked with me. Jazabelle was never supposed to be a main character. I was using a different name for my main at the time, but I enjoyed Jazabelle's class more than my main's, as my main at the time was the first character I ever made in the game. I started playing Jazabelle (then a necromancer) and liked it so much that my former main was left behind. By the time I switched Jazabelle to an illusionist, the name had grown on me so much that I kept it for my main.

What is your favorite zone?
That's a tough question. There are a lot of beautiful zones in the game. Of the original game zones, Nektulos is probably my favorite. It felt like such an accomplishment to reach Nektulos for the first time! But out of all of the zones in the game, I would have to say Lesser Faydark. I love how verdant it is, and how miniscule you feel among the gigantic plants.

What is your favorite NPC?
Boomba sells pickles! I don't really have a favorite, but Boomba has always made me giggle.

Which zone do you like the least?
The Sentinel's Fate zones. I love how they look, and the lore there is interesting. But those zones lag my computer like you wouldn't believe, and I'm not running a lower end system! (It might be because I usually run on higher settings than I should, since I always forget to lower my quality settings when leaving the housing zones...)

Which NPC do you like the least?
Amazingly,despite all of the complaining I do about Qho, he's not too bad! No, the least favorite NPC for me would have to be Shorty,  the Froglok. I will suicide as soon as I complete that quest just to get rid of the little monster. Who thought it would be a good idea for him to talk every fifteen seconds?!

What is the most in-game currency you have ever spent on purchasing a single item for one of your characters?
I don't like to spend platinum! If I can find another way to obtain an item, I will. But about a year and a half ago when I was working on the MazeMansion, I decided I absolutely had to have a "scare" crow for the graveyard. There were two up for sale on the broker. One was up for 100 platinum, the other for a thousand or so. I sent a message to the person selling the one for 100. At the time I only had 70 platinum across all of my characters, and I offered the seller all of it. They agreed. While 70 platinum might not be all that much to raiders and the like, it was everything I had!

Do you have an item you no longer use but keep around for nostalgic reasons? If so what is it and why do you keep it?
I keep a bar of bronze to remind me of the old crafting system. I also used to keep the HQ bags long after I "outgrew" them, in the hopes that one day they'd be able to be converted into house items. I eventually decided that I could just buy them off of the Shady Swashbuckler if that ever happened.

Describe your best experience from playing your favorite SOE Game?
There are three experiences that really come to mind. I can't say any one of them is "better" than the other two.

The first was the Housing Scavenger Hunt I arranged in February 2011. It was my first time arranging an in-game event. The support I received was fantastic. I was all set to do everything myself, from making notebooks for clues, to scouting house submissions, to placing clues, to providing prizes. Instead of having to do it on my own, the community pulled together to help me get it done. People just popped out of the woodwork, willing to help! Someone wrote the clues for me. Another person helped me scout clue locations (I did have to double check so that I could give the location to the clue writer, but it really helped to have a list of possible spots for clues in each house before I got there). A couple of people helped make the books. And more people than I can count--many of whom wished to remain anonymous--donated rare house items for prizes.

The second isn't good so much as "powerful." Little John (Ribbitribbitt) liked to play on his Tenebrous Tangle island. His mother posted on the Homeshow forum asking for help. At first, I skipped over the topic, since it was asking for decorators on Guk. But I eventually went back and actually read her post instead of ignoring it since it wasn't for my server. When I realized what she was asking, I contacted the designer of a playground that I'd just visited the previous day. She agreed to provide her layout on Guk. I contacted Myranda (Ribbitribbitt's mother) and some carpenters, and arranged for the items to be crafted on Guk. When it was decided that we'd do multiple homes for John to play in, I took charge of the Skyblade Skiff. My character on Guk couldn't craft anything, but the outpouring of support from everyone took care of providing the materials to work with. I just pointed the crafters and decorators to where they were supposed to go, and they took over from there. John's passing is what keeps that memory from being a particularly good one. It was amazing to see the entire EQ2 community come together like that, and I made several cross-server friendships. But what brought us together was an impending tragedy.

The final experience was that of the Cathedral I built. Shortly after crafted building blocks were introduced, I began working on a cathedral I'd been commissioned to build a year prior. The owner and I had decided to hold off until building blocks made it to the live servers--they'd announced them many months prior, so we knew they were coming. Once building blocks showed up, there were people who complained about them, and people who raved about them. There were people who didn't know what to do with them, and people who had so many ideas, they didn't know where to start. Multiple threads asked, "What have you done with building blocks?"

Usually, my policy is to not post a house on the Homeshow forum until it has been completed. But I was having so much fun building the cathedral, and there were so many naysayers about what could be done with building blocks, that I decided to post some work in progress shots. The response was instantaneous. I received tells from countless people asking if the home was open for touring, even though it was a work in progress. People showed up at all hours to wander around and ask questions about the construction. I even pulled down the roof at one point, to show some people how it was built!

It was an amazing experience. I've never had groups of tourists from other servers show up to watch me construct a home before. And when it was completed, I don't think I was able to visit the Cathedral for over a week without at least one other person being in the home at the same time. That was also the first time I was asked if I was an EQ2 dev or an architect in real life. Nope, I'm neither! Just someone who loves decorating and can take a picture and mimic it in-game.

You really go above and beyond with the part you play in the decorating community. Tell us how you got started with doing. Share some of your experiences.
I first started decorating in SWG. I admit I didn't start off being interested in the housing in SWG. I was more interested in the large variety of clothing available, and the fact that jewelry actually showed up on your character! In real life, I'm not even remotely a clotheshorse. I hate shopping, and as long as my clothes are comfortable and look good, I really couldn't care if they're fashionable or not. It's different in-game, and that started in SWG. I visited someone's home to purchase an outfit, and saw that they'd created the Rebel Alliance crest on their wall out of candles. It amazed me! I wanted to do that. And thus, my love of housing was born.

When I joined EQ2, I had a friend who had a guildmaster from EQ1, who gave away a lot of furniture at the time. When my friend had joined EQ2, his former guildmaster set him up with a starter batch of furniture. When I joined, he asked her to set me up with some as well. I had fun with the vases and bed, the carpets and tables, but it wasn't until I visited one of her homes that included a custom built staircase and second floor that I realized I could do the same thing in EQ2 that I'd been doing in SWG--using furniture for something other than its intended purpose, in order to build something unique. It seems like it would have been logical to carry that understanding over, but I had a block in my head. SWG was a sci-fi fantasy, while EQ2 is high fantasy. It didn't occur to me that they could have the same theory applied to housing. Once I got past that mental block and started looking at house items as nothing more than shapes to be used to build other objects, my decorating really took off.

Still, it wasn't until layouts and the layout editor were introduced that people had any idea who I was. I've always been good at math (Yes, the layout editor can be used with a minimal amount of math. You don't need to know math to trial-and-error it to figure it out. Math does help, however), and have always been decent at spatial visualization. I'm not excellent at it by any means, and can often wind up confusing myself! I'm also good at teaching and step-by-step instructions. Add in a determination to learn the layout editing tool to the best of my abilities, and an inability to keep my mouth shut, and I've become one of the "go to" people for layout editing instruction.

I have trouble not answering questions, to be quite honest. If someone asks a question in the Homeshow channel (that's /join Homeshow for anyone on AB,or /join Antonia_Bayle.Homeshow for anyone else!),  it's hard for me not to open my mouth and give the answer. It annoys me to see incorrect information floating around, so I do my best to provide correct information whenever I can.

I write up the picture tutorials on my gaming blog ( for the layout editor because I know how hard it can be to catch someone online and free long enough to answer questions. That way, people can take it at a pace comfortable for them, and see exactly what they need to do to achieve a desired result. I also offer private lessons and will be offering classes once I finish getting everything arranged for the simple reason that I remember how frustrating it was learning the basics of the layout editor on my own. I know I'm better than most people at learning new programs. Remembering my own frustration and realizing other people are likely experiencing exponentially worse trying to learn a tool that is at its heart extremely simple encourages me to keep helping.

And while I might have taught myself the basics, it was seeing what Tock and Aurelis had done (Tock with the layout editor, and Aurelis simply using a word processor to edit layout files) that really inspired me to start pushing it beyond just using it for simple tweaks. It wasn't until my library tower project that I moved into using the layout editor for almost every aspect of the project. If I hadn't kept accidentally crating my entire tower, Rakuno never would have taught me how to use the New From Diff feature, as taught to him by Tock. It only seems fair to pass on what they taught me and what I have since figured out on my own, to save others from the annoyance that I often felt while trying to figure things out.

I truly believe that everyone can decorate at the same level (or better!) than I do, with a bit of practice and patience. I think that shows to the people I help, and helps them get over their fear and nervousness of the layout editor and layout editing.

I like to make people happy, and the easiest thing to do in the housing community is to offer my knowledge to anyone who asks. I never intended to become "someone" in the housing community. To be quite honest, I enjoy being one of the unnamed masses. I'm never quite sure how to respond on those occasions when people recognize me. But even more than being anonymous, I enjoy helping others and decorating houses, and so I drifted into the role I have today.

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