We’re back with another edition of Meet the Moderators. This week we’re talking with BGS forum moderator Stewart Mallee (aka Attrebus). Hailing from Adelaide, Australia, Attrebus actually stopped by our offices last year the same week I happened to be heading out to Australia…weird.
How did first make your way to the Bethesda Game Studios forums?
Being a huge fan of Daggerfall, I would regularly visit UESP. Sometime around May 2000, one of the news posts talked about Bethesda’s up and coming Elder Scrolls game; Morrowind. There was a link to the forums, which I lurked at for a while before joining in September 2000. And that was because the Developers were asking what people would like to see in the game.
For those that don’t know, can you explain your avatar name?
My user name is a character from the Elder Scrolls Adventures game Redguard. When the game was made, one of the guards in the Palace was given the name Attrebus and a short history was written about him and put on the Redguard site. And that’s where the name comes from. You can actually find Attrebus in Redguard, although he looks exactly like all the other guards in the Palace, but takes an extra hit to kill. So if you ever wanted to beat me up, that’s the easiest way to do it. And it probably won’t get you thrown in jail. My avatar is the concept art for Attrebus.
When did you become a moderator? Any fond memories from when you got started?
I think it was around June 2004, but I can’t really remember the exact date. I know it was sometime around then because I had just started a new account in March 2004 (I’ll get to why I created a new account later). The main thing that stands out when I started was all the PM’s I received asking how I managed to become a moderator with only 3 months under my belt. Generally I’d just reply it was because I was extremely awesome (which is totally true, mind you), before coming clean about having another account.
Fun fact: I was actually asked to become a moderator three times. The first two times I couldn’t due to various reasons, before finally accepting the third time. My cat was returned unharmed.
In your years as a community member and forum moderator, what are some of your most memorable moments in the forums?
The most memorable moment was when I died. I suppose I should clarify in case people think I’m a Zombie Moderator. It basically started as a thread in the Elder Scrolls Lore forum not long after Morrowind’s release. If you haven’t played Morrowind, Vivec was basically a living God, but he attained his Godhood by stealing it. The thread called for Vivec to be put on trial for this crime. It turned into a huge series of role-playing threads with Vivec being played by Vivec’s in-game creator and various characters being played by the Developers. During the trial, various tasks were performed, and during one of those, the character I was playing (which was my forum account) died. So, I created my new account, and the rest is history, so to speak.
The various debates about the Elder Scrolls in game lore were also quite memorable. Well to me anyway.
To avoid the wrath of your banhammer, do you have any advice for community members?
Use common sense when making posts. If you are going to make a post, take a second to think “Would I say this to someone if they were in the same room with me?” If the answer is “no, because it would probably lead to physical violence,” then chances are you shouldn’t post it. The anonymity of the internet doesn’t excuse that behavior. Pro Tip: Feel free to type up a scathing reply to something and then delete it without posting. It will get it out of your system and avoid the wrath of the Banhammer.
Similarly, what kind of advice can you offer to someone who would like to become a forum moderator.
I’d say “You must have biting sarcasm” but I’ve got that covered already. So umm, helpful posts are good, because who doesn’t like helpful people? And use the report button rather than trying to take care of problems yourself. It helps give us an idea of when you are online and if you know what is acceptable or not on the forums. Also, you should be prepared to accept the fact that you’ll see the worst parts of the forums sent to you in a nice little report PM. As a member you can just ignore that stuff, and most of it you won’t even see as a normal member. As a moderator you don’t have the same luxury of ignoring the bad posts, even if it’s in parts of the forums you don’t usually visit.
When can members typically expect to see you online?
Various times between 9am and midnight most days. That’s Central Australian time, mind you. Which translates to most of the night US time.
What’s life like in the land down under?
It’s great here, and I’m not just saying that because I live here. Most people are really nice, the weather is pretty good all year around and we have awesome beaches. What’s not to love? I mean other than the fact that 90% of the flora and fauna has the ability to kill you. The upshot to that is Australians party like it’s their last day on Earth, because it might actually be true. Most Australians are laid back as well, which is ironic under the circumstances.
Interesting facts about Australia:
- It’s bigger than it looks on a map.
- Canberra is the capital of Australia. Not Sydney or Melbourne.
- We don’t ride to work on Kangaroos. They are reserved for special occasions; like weddings.
- We don’t all talk like Steve Irwin.
- We don’t drink Fosters. There’s a reason we export it.
- No, I will not throw another shrimp on the barbie.
Do you have friends in the area that play The Elder Scrolls/Fallout 3?
I actually had my parents playing Morrowind and Oblivion at one point. And a few of my other friends play, but not really that many. I’ve managed to convert some, but I don’t really know that many people that play computer games often. Which is ironic considering how geeky I am. Most of the ones I know are into First Person Shooter games. Because they are more casual gamers, they don’t have as much time to invest in more involved games.
About a year ago, I had a chance to meet you when you visited the office, can you talk about some of the highlights of your trip to Bethesda HQ?
The best part was getting to meet the people I’d been talking to over the internet for so many years in person. It was very surreal getting shown around the offices, getting to see Fallout 3 before it was released (even if it was just a glimpse). Having lunch with yourself, Pete, Todd and Emil in your in-house cafe. You were all so nice, and I felt honored to be privy to privileged information — such as how much Todd and Pete tip their hair dressers. (Wait, that still isn’t covered by the NDA is it?)
And rumors of me fanning myself and saying “Oh my god! OH MY GOD!” when I met Todd are a complete and utter lie!
I would like to thank you guys for taking the time to show me around, especially considering how busy you all were.
Back when we met you mentioned a memorable moment when you purchased Redguard. Can you share that with everyone?
I had played a Redguard at a friend’s house back when it was released and really enjoyed it. Several years after that, I was looking to get a copy and check out eBay to see if there were any for sale. I wasn’t expecting much to be honest, mainly because of how old it was. But I saw an entry that had a cheap buy now option, so I thought why not? I would have been happy if it turned up as just the CD for that price. When it arrived, it turned out to be still shrink wrapped. I opened it up and it was in mint condition with all the bonus items inside. The Pocket Guide to the Empire, a short comic as well as the paper map of the in-game Isle of Stros M’Kai. The thing that stood out was the fact that the map had burnt edges. I couldn’t believe it! (in a good way). Basically, when Redguard was released, Bethesda did the packing themselves, and decided to take a some of the paper maps, and a blow torch and actually burn the edges of those few maps before putting them into the boxes. So basically, several years after the game was released, I managed to get a copy containing one of those maps. And for an Elder Scrolls geek like me, it was amazing.
Would you say Redguard still stands as your favorite title?
I’d say it just beats Daggerfall as my favorite Elder Scrolls game. The story was compelling (especially for an Elder Scrolls lore buff such as myself), the puzzles were interesting, the gameplay was fun and the acting was amazing. I still get goose bumps whenever I see one of the cut scenes from the game. I’ve seen some pretty good cut scenes in my time, but that one is still ranked as the top.
In future titles, is there anything in particular you’d like to see?
A follow up to Redguard?
I really like the way the lore was written in the Elder Scrolls series, so I want more of that in future games. The way there can be two books on the same subject written by opposite points of view makes it seem more realistic. And it also poses questions on what the actual truth is. There probably aren’t too many people that play computer games that care about that sort of thing, but I find it interesting.
I also like moral ambiguity. The main quest for Morrowind appears Good vs. Evil on the surface, but if you dig a little deeper, you find that it’s not as clear cut as that. Fallout 3 has quite a lot of situations without clearly defined “good vs evil” choices, so I’m sure we’ll see more in the future anyway.
When you’re not playing games or in the forums, how do you spend your time?
I do not understand the question. Oh you mean sleep? Yeah, I totally do that.
Most of my time is taken up by work. I also play D&D, hang out with friends and exercise by playing sport and running. I also like long walks on the beach. Wait, now this is sounding like some lame dating profile. I have a motorbike license, but currently no motorbike. I really enjoy riding and plan on getting another one soon.
I do like to travel. I went to the US for a few weeks last year. I’ve always wanted to visit, and the main catalyst to go was the wedding of a member of the Forums. I’ve also traveled around Europe on a 7 week vacation in 2007, and met up with a bunch of forum members then as well.
Apparently I also spend my time telling long, boring stories that don’t really go anywhere. Like the time I wore an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time…