Is there a story behind your username?
Yeah. Allow me a bit of backstory for it to make more sense.
Back in the early 90's, I started playing this game called Wing Commander II. At the beginning of the game, it requires you to choose a callsign for your pilot. Well, being the perfectionist that I was, I couldn't just choose any old name all higgledy piggledy. So I spent (if I recall) 2 days going through a couple dozen names, trying to find the perfect one. I eventually settled on "Sandstorm." The name resonated with me on a personal level that I wouldn't understand for many years to come.
So fast forward to the heydey of AOL chatrooms. At this point, I started using Sandstorm as my online handle for various chatrooms and IRC channels. I was in my teens by now, and it was quite popular then to type in alternating case LiKe ThiS. I know. I'm sorry, too. :(
Anyway, "Sandstorm" got butchered to "SanDSt0rM". And that nickname stuck for awhile, and then I matured a bit, realized the alternating caps is stupid, so I dropped that. At the same time, the name was getting kind of tired and I wondered what to do about it. I eventually dropped the -storm and translated Sand to my native tongue, Armenian.
Thus, whammo blammo, Avaz.
What is it you mostly do on Elftown?
The only free time I seem to get these days is during work hours, so I mostly just have time to browse <forum:Junk>
(Everyone should go there. It's the best. Seriously). Aside from that, I participate in a couple wiki RPGs, one of which is a game I host Dreaming in Gears
. Actually, to be fair, it's only a conversion. I originally wrote it as a tabletop role playing game, but converted it so the rules would be compatible with ET players.
Those are my main timesinks. Other than that, I've been known to participate in a few photomanipulation and the occasional writing contests, when time allows and inspiration strikes.
What kinds of table top role playing games do you play?
I prefer the kinds that have a good mix of the pillars of many RPGs: Combat, Exploration, and Socialization. I tend to lean toward the more crunchy side of the mix, though. But just slightly.
My current group is playing a campaign in D&D (4e). However, there are many systems I've played in the past - and many more that I would like to try haven't gotten a chance to yet.
I think I might be biased if I said I prefer my own game the best. :P
Do you find it easier to make games for text based role-playing like here on Elftown or for a table top setting?
I find it's much easier to write for tabletop settings, for a couple reasons. First, you have the immediacy of other people right there, so if a question or issue presents itself, you don't have to wait to get any sort of response (as can be the case with text-based). Second, the visual aspect is much better on a tabletop game. Most of the games I play use a gridded battlemat with miniatures to represent the players. So there's no question as to where anyone is at any given time. In text-based games, I've encountered a couple times situations where my descriptions were getting misunderstood.
I wouldn't have that problem with tabletop. A picture is worth a thousand words, after all. Doubly true if that picture is a 1" mini on a mat.
When you do participate in a contest, what inspires you?
I get a lot of inspiration from the books I read, which happen to mostly fall under the Fantasy genre. My mind draws up the most fantastic images from all that material. The meager stuff I manage to cobble together on the computer pales in comparison.
As a role-player do you encounter many Mary Sue characters in text based adventures or table top games?
Sometimes, though not as often as they are found in books. It's refreshingly surprising how few times role players in either text adventures or tabletop games are willing to accept their character's flaws. That said, there are the occasional people who ruin it for the rest of us. They've come to be known as That Guy. That Guy can manifest itself in a number of ways. Sometimes it's the person who focuses on combat, number-crunching, or min-maxing when you're playing a story-based game. Sometimes, it's the person who refuses to play nice in-character when it is clearly in the party's best interest. I've had to deal with a small number of them for the games I've DMed.
In essence, That Guy is anyone who directly or indirectly makes the game less fun for the rest of the people playing.
What are your hobbies outside of Elftown?
I am a gamer through and through. Naturally, I have my tabletop obsession. I've also enjoyed video games in all formats (console, PC, mobile, doesn't matter) for over two decades. Writing has always been a passion of mine, and combined with my love of games, I figured writing a game would be the perfect hobby. So far it's kept me pretty busy in my down time for over two years!
I also enjoy a varied number of genres of music, though my favorite has to be the harder side of electronic music (happy hardcore, trance, hard dance, etc.).
Lastly, I read lots of books, though I tend to stick to fantasy and some sci-fi. My latest obsession is steampunk.
What do you like about science fiction and fantasy?
First, the genres are a great escape from the humdrum of reality, where the impossible is possible. Also, both genres cater to my own personal wish-fulfillment fantasies.
What do you like in a video game?
An enjoyable and coherent story is important to have. Games that give the player some agency in the narrative, and isn't on any perceivable rails. The best ones are where you can't see the rails that do exist - as an example, the Half-Life series is particularly great at this.
Meaningful characters and character development are also important. This criterion alone takes out just about all first person shooters ever made. They're just no fun for me.
Above all, however, is the gameplay. Even if there's a game with great characters and a solid story, if the gameplay is horrid, what's the point? I don't want to fight with the mechanics of the game to enjoy the non-mechanical bits. The mechanical gameplay elements should feel as much a part of the game world as the graphics, characters, or story.
Do you have any advice for all Elftowners?
In the words of the immortal Journey: "Don't stop believing." I think that applies to everything.
Any last comments/critiques on any Elftown matters?
Yes. I can't thank enough all the people that donate their time and energy to doing all the million small things that keep Elftown running.
Do you have any favorite wikipages?
Well, I think at this point it's pretty much mandatory that Elftowners visit Bob's Diner and contribute to its comment-based economy. If they feel so inclined, the maze of guile is also worth checking out and going through.
Outside of those featured attractions, I enjoy now for the entertainment factor; Numberpedia because number facts are great; Lord Josmar's Emporium of Useless Information for the same reason; a few related to the Junk forum - Official Junk Sandwich, Dramatis Junkies, and Essence of Junk.
And last, but certainly not least, there are my role playing wikis - both running - Dreaming in Gears - and participating in - The Gathering of Heros.
I think that just about covers all of 'em. :)