(Madman Tonight is filmed in front of a live studio audience)
Madman97: Sorry for the longer wait everyone. Gathering date took longer than expected. Thus, we will get right to it; My dear, dear Davey, I am rather enjoying this whole interview thing, another chance to delve back into my old character, create new stories as is our shared favorite hobby.
Dave: I've honestly never role played on here. Whenever I did Blog Critic, I spoke as myself.
Madman97: You lack creative juices, Dave. It's hard to come across those who share an appreciation for the written word and the creative power an apt mind wields over something as simple as a pencil and paper (or in this case, a laptop shared between two college graduates who have nothing better to do). But, I think I may have indeed found one. Our guest tonight is someone you may have seen lurking on the forums, never much one for involving himself in the BIG AFFAIRS of the site, but who I consider a lasting presence. Having become a member not at all long after myself, it wouldn't have been the same without him even though we've hardly spoken. But now that I am able to reach out and talk with who I please as befits the Mad God's Cousin character I created in a pseudo-role play exercise with my Wabbajack Grinding blogs, I got the chance to ask him some questions I have always wanted to ask. So please give a hand for Harold Burned-Mane tonight on...
(Jon Snow walks out onto the stage and sits down)
Madman97: Thank you very much for agreeing to do this, Harold. I was searching for interviewee candidates and I could not imagine a more perfect one. And since we have a lot to get to, let's not waste any more time and dive right in. Everyone, for those who don't know, Harold is listed as the founder of the Sandbox Wiki, a big deal for anyone who role plays on the site as they can store any non-site related content having to do with the Elder Scrolls. Normally, I would ask someone what brought them to this site, but since everything is already explained on Harold's main page, I think I can just jump in and ask: How and why did you found the Sandbox Wiki? What is its function?
Harold: Well, I'll start with some history and explain its function as I tell you its story--
Harold:--Then in the end, I'll give you some general stats and you can decide whether it is a big deal or not. Originally [users] Psychomantis108, Apollo42 and I were a part of an old TES fanon site called elderscrollssandbox Wiki. We used it to store articles about characters we used in Roleplays and in my case my Last Dragonborn from Skyrim, which my profile is named after. However the site's staff was MIA and that began to bug us--me especially--because of the wiki being very out of date and we were not able to update it. We were going to adopt it but then I decided to make my own wiki, The TES Sandbox Wiki, and we moved to there. So technically I am the co-founder; I was one of the three original users. I just have the title of founder because I took the initiative. In the beginning its purpose was only to store articles that didn't belong here in the TES Wiki, like fanon pages and images for characters and other TES related content. When the RP Board here was effectively shutdown, the Sandbox took in a lot of the RPers and it began to host RP threads.
A few weeks later, we merged with the Elder Scrolls Roleplaying Wiki to combine the whole TES RP community under one roof. Currently the Sandbox is home to 1082 fanon articles, 1419 fanon related images and 227 blogs. Most blogs about user-made stories, but we also have a weekly Arena-type blog series in which users vote on characters that are pit up against each other. It also has its pretty active chat, the incredibly active RP Board which has twenty-two active threads currently, but has reached over thirty-five in the past. In only about eleven months, it has reached about half the size of the TES Wiki's two year old RP board; no doubt by the time our RP board reaches two years it will at least reach the same size. Our current active user base is around twenty-thirty users daily, but over all there are 140+ users in the Sandbox.
Madman97: Wow! That is some initiative. I especially like that Arena idea. Dave, arrange a contest between our characters.
Dave: Already on it.
Madman97: Harold, you obviously share our enthusiasm for storytelling. Where does it come from?
Harold: It came from my love of writing and of RPGs like Skyrim. Ever since I was a wee little lad, around 10, I have been writing stories. Mostly comic books with poor drawings, for I am not the best artist. After my second playthrough of Skyrim, I began to think of what my Dragonborn would do after the game's story was over. That was the first time I wrote fan fiction. It was pretty entertaining to imagine what Tamriel would be like after the game, but that could only go so far for me, it got a bit boring after a while. Then, when I was looking through [user] Zippertrain's contributions--I think I was looking for a link to an older blog of his--I found a link to an RP thread that he was a part of. I went to it and read it all. When I saw how multiple users created a story together I became hooked on the concept of RPing. I have been doing it ever since.
Madman97: That's fantastic, Harold, but what about certain events that transpired not too long ago when our site was at its most unstable? I think since our Admin Atvelonis is writing a history sandbox page for the wiki, this can be a good opportunity to get data from a different perspective. A decision was made to eliminate RPing threads altogether. How did you react to that decision and how did you and fellow RPer's deal with it?
Harold: Let me start with saying that things ended pretty well in the eyes of the RPers; Many consider things better now. For a long time while I was a part of the TES Wiki I noticed that there was a divide in the community. There was an "us and them" mentality between the RPers and the regular mainspace contributers. When the RP Board grew to the point where people found it disruptive to the wiki the Admins at the time opened a discussion thread to solve the problem. There was a bit of fighting there but within a couple days we were able to find an agreeable compromise. So the Admins then opened a vote thread, that is where sh*t hit the fan. Everyone was at each other's throats, completely forgetting about the compromise that we had talked about on the discussion thread.
In my opinion, the vote thread was handled very poorly on the part of the staff at the time, the way they presented the vote it made it seem like they wanted to completely delete the RP Board and that caused the RPers to react in defense of the Board. Some users that voted against the thread also didn't help the situation by insulting the RPers. It was during this thread that the mentality I mentioned above became a "us vs. them". Luckily, Psycho, other and I were able to calm down the RPers and start talking about a compromise, since the vote was heavily for keeping the Board. Psycho and I knew that if the Board was kept as it is the divide would only get worse down the line, so we convinced the RPers to accept the Hub Compromise.
The HC won the vote and it was installed, moving RPing to the Sandbox and the ESRP Wiki.
Dave: It's really weird to wonder how something like RPing became too much of a problem on here. When I heard of the fights--I was already out of the wiki game and had Madman97 keep me up to date-- but when I heard about the fights, I could not for the life of me figure out how it was this that eventually led to people questioning GhostAnubis.
Madman97: It's the written word, Dear Davey. It's a very powerful thing. It can tug heartstrings, pull them out of your chest and skip rope with them! And this community is immersed in a universe rich in lore and stories. It is only natural they are so affected by it...But things are different now. We have Moots! We have Trust. We have a community working more closely than ever. Harold, you have the opportunity to rectify some mistakes. Is there anything you would change?
Harold: Not really. The RPers at the Sandbox are all pretty much satisfied with the outcome of the whole thing. I was talking with Lazarus Grimm about this a few weeks back and even him, one of the RPers that was most against the Hub Compromise, agreed that things ended for the best. We have a lot more freedom at the Sandbox. There almost everyone is into the same thing, roleplaying in the forums, and that creates a great environment for the community. Unlike how things were here before, there is no "us vs. them". There is only "us".
(Madman97 wipes away a tear resting on his lower cheek)
On Elder Scrolls
Madman97: That was...beautiful...Ahem. Harold, thank you for answering these questions. I think your responses have provided a lot of useful insight. Now that we have that out of the way, let's get to something more fun. Namely, the Elder Scrolls. Creating your own character that you draw up a back story for is one thing. Let's move onto something a little more complex, namely Michael Kirkbride's C0DA, a script released online that basically told everyone listening that they can have their own canon, despite whatever the game says. Naturally, this drew some controversy among lore elites on both ends of the spectrum (http://elderscrolls.wikia.com/wiki/User_blog:4._1._22._5._M97/Rivalries:_Dave_and_Madman97_on_C0DA.)--
Dave: F*cking C0DA, man. Drugs and Elder Scrolls.
Madman97:-- but with you being an advocate of character canons, what did you think of it?
Harold: I must confess, I have not read all of C0DA.--
Harold: I've only read snippets of it here and there, and even that was a while ago. I hardly remember it, so I'll probably have to re-read it in the future. Though from what I remember it is an interesting story, but like most of MK's out-of-game work that he has done since working on Oblivion...I take it with a grain of salt.
Madman97: THANK YOU!
Harold: Writings about the 5th Era, which hasn't even happened yet in the TES universe, make me a little skeptical. I mean in like TES 12 or something, will the things in C0DA and the rest of MK's writings about the 5th Era actually happen? I am not sure. Still, it is a fun read. Makes the TES world more sci-fi in my opinion, which I am not all that against. I like sci-fi.
Dave: Eh...Sci fi and Elder Scrolls. It's a weird combination. Me personally, I really liked C0DA and thought it was interesting too, but the sci-fi aspect might have been a bit much for me. If they found someway to put an Elder Scrolls game on one of Nirn's moons without betraying its original spirit, I would be totally open to that.
Madman97: As would I, thought I hope we can play as more than one race besides the Dunmer. The Numidium plays a pretty big role and I would be open to some kind of Dwemer return. Harold, a lot say that the Dwemer simply melded with the skin of the Numidium, something I find underwhelming, so what do you think? Where did they go? Do you think they will return?
Harold: Well I am sort of a game purist, as in I only take what we find out in game as canon. To me all out-of-game content is taken with a grain of salt. As such when it comes to the Dwemer I take only what we learned from the game as canon, meaning that Arniel Gane's experiment is the best lead we have. So I still believe that the Dwemer, like Arniel, were transported out of the Mortal Plane. I don't think they all became shades like him, that was likely because he was using the Warped Soul Gem instead of the Heart of Lorkhan. I don't think them all becoming the metal skin of the Numidium is a satisfying conclusion to the mystery of their disappearance, since it would mean they are gone for good as the Numidium was destroyed.
Madman97 (nodding): Brilliant minds think alike.
Harold: I want to believe that they can [return], but I have no idea how they could. In my opinion it would be interesting to experience in a game the return of the Dwemer in some form of another. But even if they do I am sure it won't happen for some time. Bethesda has set up a future conflict between the Aldmeri Dominion and the human races, so I am sure the next game will deal with that.
Madman97: I'm sure it will. But it looks like we're out of time.
Madman97: So we will pick up later with a new interviewee and more content to chew through when we come back! Harold, thank you so much. This has been an enlightening talk. We hope to see you again soon and audience, we hope to see you as well next time. Stay mad everybody.
(Madman Tonight is sponsored by Foundations of Earth Science, Free the Nipple, and Mjoll the Lioness)