Hi Anatoli! Thanks for accepting to answer our question. Could you please tell us how you came to writing. Did your studies had anything to do with writing in the first place?
Thank you very much for inviting me! I’ve been writing since I was old enough to read, and as soon as I figured out what a story was, I started making up my own. Most of my study has been through the helpful community of writers who share their knowledge and experiences with other writers. When I was younger I was limited to books about writing, but now there are in-depth discussions online about any kind of writing you could possibly want to do. It’s fantastic.
I did spend a lot of time writing when I was in school, though! Especially in math class, which was a challenge because I had to hide my notebook whenever the teacher walked by.
What do you like most about writing?
It’s the best tool I have for communication. I’ve always been more comfortable writing out what I want to say. My dream is to someday have my face replaced with a holographic text display, but that technology is probably a few years off.
Where did the “Flameseeker Chronicles” concept come from? Was is inspired by the legendary shield or the achievements players could get in Guild Wars?
Rubi Bayer founded the column, and it was named after the actual Flameseeker Prophecies from the original Guild Wars. Elisabeth Kerstein took up the Flameseeker mantle after Rubi was hired by ArenaNet. I didn’t change the title because I wanted to carry on their legacy, and now I’m fortunate enough to get to work with both Rubi and Lis every day (Rubi’s desk is right behind mine, in fact)!
Elisabeth Kerstein & Rubi Bayer
How did you pick your chronicles topics?
Bree Royce, the benevolent Editor-in-Chief of MassivelyOP, always supported us and encouraged us to write what we felt strongly about. Since I wrote mostly opinion pieces, I tried to do a mix of lore speculation, commentary on current events, and topics of personal interest to me (like roleplaying).
Tina Lauro is the Asura who took over the chronicles after you left, how did an Asura happen to take over your Sylvari’s work?
As we all know, asura are highly intelligent and creative people who frequently have to clean up the messes bookahs leave behind. Tina Lauro is doing a fantastic job Flameseeking, and I always enjoy reading her work. I just hope I didn’t leave anything too volatile behind in the lab!
Are your chronicles still available online for reading now that Massively has closed?
To the best of my knowledge, they’re still archived on Engadget with the rest of Massively-that-was. I’m not sure how long they’ll stick around.
Would/could you ever continue writing your chronicle now or is there any conflict of interest with your new job?
I’m working on a lot of personal projects now and juggling my time has gotten harder, but I love writing about video games. Someday I’d like to pick that up again, although it wouldn’t be commentary on Guild Wars 2. I still read everything other people write about Guild Wars 2, though!
You’re living proof that hard work allows oneself to get noticed and get into the game industry. Do you have any tips to give to people who would dream to join this industry and more specifically ArenaNet? How did you first become writer for Massively and then for ArenaNet?
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have a chance to work for both Massively and ArenaNet, but I never would have had that opportunity if I hadn’t applied. I was very scared to apply to Massively, and I almost talked myself out of doing it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that things worth doing tend to be scary.
I’m still new to the gaming industry, but one valuable piece of advice I hear from developers, writers, and other creative professionals all the time is to start doing what you want to do now. If you want to be a writer, start writing and putting your work out. If you want to be an artist, create art and share it. If you want to make comics, make comics. If you want to make music, make music. And if you want to work in game development, make games. This not only shows that you’re passionate and capable of following through, but it helps you develop the real skills you’ll need. There are free resources available to people who are eager to get started, even if you don’t have access to formal training. If you build a portfolio of work, you’ll be prepared when an opportunity comes along.
Can you please explain what you current job entails and what a typical day looks like for you?
My official job title is Content Marketing Specialist, but I do a pretty wide variety of things on a day-to-day basis. I write a lot of copy. I also help plan how we promote new stuff to fans, support our livestream shows, write release pages, and manage the official blog on Guildwars2.com.
The blog is my biggest responsibility, and takes the most time. Every post has to be written—sometimes by me, sometimes by the developers—then reviewed, then sent to editing, and finally localized so it’s accessible to international fans. My job is to make sure that all goes according to schedule. It’s more fun than it sounds.
What tools do you use on a daily basis? Are you a Twine fan like Leah Hoyer and Angel McCoy? Which tools would you recommend to people interested in writing in general?
I have a laptop, a PC, and about a million notebooks. I’ll write on whatever’s at hand—I even have an app on my phone so I can write on the bus. I usually use notebooks for outlining and first drafts, because it forces me to re-write the text when I type it up. It’s amazing how much weirdness I can catch and fix that way. The best tool is whatever lets you get the words out of your head. It can be notepads, or a computer, or a chalkboard, or a stone tablet and chisel, as long as you’re comfortable enough with it to write regularly.
I love Twine, and I could probably talk about it all day. If you want to start making games, it’s a great place to start—it’s free, relatively easy to pick up, and capable of truly incredible things. I had very little coding experience when I started, but I'm surprised at what I've been able to do with it.
Pacing and presentation are different when you’re allowing readers to interact with a story, and figuring that stuff out is fascinating to me. If you embed links in the text so the reader can discover more information, you also have to consider where they’re placed so that clicking away doesn’t break the flow of the main story when they come back. That’s kind of the same problem you have to tackle when deciding where to place flashbacks or description in a traditional story, but in Twine the reader can decide how much information they want, or even say, "No, I don’t want to go there right now." I love that; it's similar to the feeling I get exploring in video games. My favorite Twine stories have that element to them.
It's an exciting time to love stories in video games, because I think we’re seeing a huge swing toward acknowledging how important they are to players. There are so many games to choose from now that you can find a variety of titles for many styles of play, so what keeps a player coming back to a particular game? That’s especially interesting to me as someone who loves MMOs. When a game world has been in existence for five or ten years, and people are still coming back even though technology has improved and new gameplay trends have emerged, there’s a personal stake for them in that world. And as a roleplayer and a writer, I think one of the greatest gifts you can give to creative players is space to engage with the game world freely and create their own stories within it.
If anyone hasn't played through Angel's Twine game, "Drooburt's Last Wintersday" (https://www.guildwars2.com/en/news/drooburts-last-wintersday/) definitely check it out! Whether you love quaggans or hate them, it's amazing.
As your Sylvari’s has had quite the adventures in the chronicles you were writing, we were wondering if you ever had the time to create a background for him? Can you please tell us more about him?
I'm a roleplayer at heart, so all of my characters have backgrounds and personalities. The sylvari I often used screenshots of in the Flameseeker Chronicles is Ildanach. He’s a musician who performs with his asura friend, and they’re making whatever the Tyrian equivalent of electronic dance music is, complete with laser light shows. Some other characters who showed up a lot in FSC screenshots are the members of a norn family who live in Lion’s Arch (and survived Scarlet’s destruction of the city), and my main character, an eccentric human priest of Grenth.
This is an eccentric human priest of Grenth
If we were to meet with him (and you, obviously) in game, where would we have a chance to find him? Do you have any favourite spot in Tyria?
My favorite part of Tyria is definitely Orr, so I spend a lot of time playing in those zones. I think it’s beautiful, I love the lore and the eerie ruins, and it has such an intense feeling of real time having passed there. I also enjoy running around in Ascalon for the same reasons.
The character I roleplay with the most is my main. Sometimes I put my mentor tag on and walk around the graveyards in Queensdale and Divinity’s Reach and talk to new players. I’ve met some super cool people that way!
And if anyone wanted to follow you? Would they find you on Twitter?
My Twitter handle is @ceruleangrey. Come say hi!
Anything you’d like to add for our readers?
If you’re a creative person who wants to make art or stories or video games, and you ever start thinking that you can’t do it, just remember that even professionals feel like that. The key is to keep working. The gaming industry needs all kinds of voices to make the future of games great, and I believe in you!