During my recent nostalgia trips through the OGame forum, I happened across the Interview with War Machine and then another interview, this time with Tirnoch, both of which were conducted by Alex Stukov.
I caught up with Alex and, with his blessing, I decided to take up the interview mantle, but who to choose.
The search took me both high and low. Trudging across the hostile plains of Vega. Then I was granted a security pass by RIO to travel through Quantum. I've waded knee deep in scripters and botters (no I hadn't done a u-turn and ended up back in Vega). I expected Dagobah, but there was more ewwww and less squishy - this was definitely the place. Uni 1.
I knocked on the front door and was greeted by......Baal
He offered me a seat and poured the tea, so....
Q. You have been involved with OGame for a long time, do you remember how you stumbled across the game?
How I came to the game......well.
My son was totally obsessed with it, all he ever talked about was OGame. I was quite ill at the time. I opened an account for something to do, and also to see what all the fuss was about. I didn't intend to play it much. But there was a guy called Turdfurgusson who kept raiding my planets every time I went to sleep. It started to annoy me, so I just kept logging in to stop him doing it. I guess it gave me a reason to keep waking up.
And that's one of the things I like best about this game. It pisses me off, and if you keep getting pissed off, it means you care about it.
Like my friend who supports that lousy British football team Leyton Orient. He gets angry with their performance every single week, but never gives up caring about them.
Don't listen to all that peace and love hippy twaddle. People who get pissed off live longer.
Q. Do you have any hobbies and interests beyond the game?
Apart from OGame, I breed cocker spaniels. They take up a lot of my time. I'm hoping to breed from Biba [did he miss an 's' I ponder] next month. Yes, there is an OGame connection with the name. It's a good name for a dog. Beeeeeeeeeeeeeba !
His Majesty Raphael is supposed to be retiring from stud this year, but maybe one more time!
Q. What did you enjoy about the game at the outset?
In the early days, I loved the challenge of completing graviton before some big ass fleeter sees what you're doing and crashes all your sats just before you finish.
It was such a stress, lol. We would all discuss the best way to do it and the best time of day, and whether to do it in the darkest corner of G8 (where nothing ever happened) or just do it under their noses and hope for the best.
You couldn't hide it. The high score would advertise someone shooting up the fleet ranks. Doing it bit by bit was just as risky. There was no insta-build back then.
Q. How has the game changed for you over the years?
ACS was a complete game changer. One of the best things to arrive, in my honest opinion. ACS put an end to the Big Fish eats Small Fish constant which existed before. Allowing smaller fleets to fly together against bigger fleets changed the whole dynamic.
I can't think of any major change to the game which hasn't been beneficial in some way.
It's a game of strategy. When something new comes in, the way forward is to ask yourself - how can I use this to my advantage? The winners in this life are those who can adapt.
So I have no misty-eyed nostalgia for the game as it was 15 years ago. Having said that, I have yet to find anything useful or advantageous in the Lobby system.
Q. What are your thoughts on the 'new' General, Collector and Discoverer categories?
The current changes - the jury is still out on that for me.
Q. 'Enemies and Allies' seem to change like the weather here - have you any long term friends or unfriendlies you can tell us about?
Enemies and friends ...
Of the friends still here, Carbon has to be the longest friendship, going back about 10 years, I think.
Enemies - I prefer to call them rivals actually - I'm pretty black and white regarding that. I've seen people get crashed, then join the alliance who crashed them. I don't understand that mentality. There's a guy here that I crashed, so he joined my alliance. Then he was crashed by someone else and joined that alliance. He's currently with Assassin ... same thing. Some people just like getting beat up, I guess.
There have been some friendships which have gone major tits up. The bust up between me and bibas was very public and well documented on the forum. Robinhood was also once a friend, but just before he lost his fleet, it came to my ears that he refused to even mention my name, like Lord Voldemort - he whose name must never be mentioned. Wasn't sure whether to be flattered by that or not.
Some people seem to hate me for no reason what so ever. Haven't done a single thing wrong to them. Never hit them. Never even spoke to them. Yet suddenly, there they are, spitting feathers on the forum ... and I don't get it. But I stopped trying to fathom it out some years ago. I think some people just need someone to hate, and I fit the bill.
To be fair, Patrick has offered a variety of reasons. For instance, apparently, I love myself too much, which is a bit rich coming from him, but since when did Patrick ever say anything worth listening to.
I've had stalkers too. That was creepy. I'm not gonna mention their names, in case it triggers a new obsession. Let's just say that this game attracts a wide variety of personality types - including some absolute whackos.
Q. How did certain individuals come to be on the wrong side of your friends list?
Beyond rivals/enemies there is my List of Skunks.
To get on that list, you need to have done something truly shameful and low, and therefore never to be trusted regardless of which side you are currently supporting.
Names on that list include Turnbull, Ares, Mape, Patrick, Godlike.
Names on that list will never be removed.
Q. Do you have any OGame highlights that you would like to share?
My first NN1. I didn't realise it would even be a Top 10. They said it would stand for a long time, but i was lucky enough to get an even bigger one about 3 weeks later.
Of friends no longer playing, William the Great was something else entirely. I had a lot of fun flying with him, and he was one of a very tiny list of 100% trustworthy.
I hope he comes back soon.
Q. How about lowlights?
Losing friends from the game, one especially - The Fallen - from Universe 12. He had other names, like Solar System. He was so busy helping me in Andromeda that he forgot to check his Uni 12 fleet ... No wreck field back then. Years of work - gone. I felt so bad about that. We kept in touch for a bit, but with the OGame connection gone, the friendship faded away. I don't know where he is now. so sad when that happens.
Oh, I forgot to mention merges. I looked forward to the first one, but it sucked. and since then, all the others have sucked even worse. It's like getting crashed through no fault of your own, and there's no battle report.
My friend says it's time for a merge, because every time he gets close to rank 300, a load of big-ass merge accounts come waltzing in and he's shoved back down again.
Then you get bugs for several weeks, nothing works right, the new targets they were all clamoring for ... that lasts for about 7 or 8 weeks at best, then it's all back the way it was. So merges and the lobby system are high on the list of things I could do without.
I was concerned about that feature where you can fill up your storage tanks for DM, but i was worrying over nothing, because they made it so damn expensive, only Robinhood and the Sultan of Dubai could afford to buy it on a regular basis.
Q. You're a fleeter - accusations about pushing, scrapping, botting (etc) are as rife as ever. If you were GF how would you rid the game of the cheaters?
How would I rid the game of cheaters....now there's a question.
This game reflects real life. People are outraged when a politician gets caught fiddling his expenses, or a TV star gets done for tax evasion, yet jumping the trains without buying a ticket - who hasn't done that on occasion? Who hasn't kept quiet when they get too much change from the girl on the check-out. It's all the same thing, just on a different scale.
There would only be about 10 people left in the whole game if we got rid of all the cheaters.
Q. Have you ever cheated or been banned?
Yes, I've been banned a few times. My policy regarding all that is never to confirm or deny anything. Those who wish to believe your side of the story - will. Those who don't - won't. So there's no point going into it all.
* * *
My thanks to Baal for taking time out to do this interview.
We decided to cut the interview short somewhat due to time constraints caused by the current world events. There are a few more questions I would like to put to Baal, perhaps in the future.
The interview is not intended to cause a riot or trolling session, it's to help us get to know Baal a little better.
I hope that you enjoy reading the interview and it manages to quash your boredom for a few minutes.
Stay safe and well all.