Q: Why do these FAQs seem out of date?
A. Because I came up with them in 2008 and it’s 2012 or beyond. And I’m too lazy to update them.
Q: Why do you talk to me like I’m a newbie (fitness enthusiast, gamer, cook, etc) sometimes?
A. Because I have many varied interests that don’t normally go together. If you’re here because you’re looking for a fitness blog, you might not know what an MMO is. If you’re here looking for gaming industry commentary, you might not know what HIIT stands for. So just in case I can interest someone in one of my passions they didn’t previously share, I’m gonna make things a little simpler for everyone. If it makes you feel better, I’m not talking down to you, I’m talking down to that other guy. The one over there with the googly eyes. Ok?
Q: What is EverQuest Online Adventures (EQOA)?
A: EQOA is a fantastically awesome game, and I’m not saying that because I worked on it for 5 years! It is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) for the PlayStation2 (PS2), one of only 2 ever, I believe. What that means, is people all over the world (as long as you have a North American PS2 and an NTSC TV) can log in and fight monsters and complete quests together, and you can also log onto the forums and complain about the devs. In fact, I do believe that for some folks – that WAS the end game!
Q: Duh, I know that noob, why did you leave EQOA? You hated us, right? Or the game was dying, it totally was! I knew it!
A. I am a creature of wanderlust at times, and after 5 years on the same project, I needed a change. Housing prices in San Diego were such that you pretty much had to have “Executive” or “President” somewhere in your title to afford a house within a 1 hour drive of civilization. On a personal level, I may not have known it then, but I needed a little less job responsibility to be able to really tackle this new “health and fitness” thing I’m into. SOE and I parted ways extremely amicably, and I would have no reservations returning to work in their offices someday. Leaving EQOA specifically was about the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and there were more than a few tears when writing my last forum post there, especially when I had just recently spent significant time planning out the next year of updates. So that being said, my reasons were personal, not professional or title-related.
Q: Why don’t you want to talk about where you work now?
A: As I said in my bio, I work on a title that’s aimed at a family audience. I don’t want to be limited to family friendly topics. My employer hasn’t asked me to do this, I’ve done it on my own accord. If you’re really crafty, I bet you can figure out where I am, but I’m not doing the work for you.
Q: How did you get started in the gaming industry?
A: I’ll answer this in a more lengthy post later, but the short version is I took a temp Quality Assurance (QA) job testing PlayStation2 online titles, then after a year moved over to test EQOA as a temp. Before the game shipped I took a full time job doing Customer Service (or GMing) and did that for 2 years. I got the chance about 1.5 years into that job to start doing apprentice designer work (think intern with overtime pay), worked my ass off and proved myself so they brought me on full time, and within 6 months due to many crazy circumstances, I was leading the team. Let me just assure you, this is not the typical (or sane) path past the apprentice design job.
Q: Ok, how do *I* do it?
A: Ok, another lengthy post for another time. The general answer is figure out what you love to do, get your foot in the door of somewhere that will teach you how to do it (be it a school or employer), and then rock it with everything you’ve got…live, breathe, eat, and sleep it. If that sounds too hard, you’re doing it wrong and should go do something else.
Q: What are your favorite games evar?
A: In no particular order, that come to mind now: Super Mario Brothers 1-3, Sims, EverQuest and everything related, Final Fantasy X, XII, and tactics, Dance Dance Revolution, and Rock Band.
Q: What does a game designer do?
A: Again, this seems like a great idea for a longer post. The title is very nebulous and there are many types of designers, especially on a larger team. A systems designer will come up with and implement things like combat systems, items, and tradeskills. This usually involves a lot of work with MS Excel spreadsheets and numbers and headaches. A content designer will come up with and implement quests and missions where players get the goodies that the systems designers make. This usually involves a lot of MS Word and sore fingers from typing too much. A world builder is basically the liaison between art and design, who takes the art assets created and puts them into a playable level. Apparently, this involves lots of interesting things that I know very little about, since I haven’t actually done this. Something about cookies, politics, and assholes, from what I’ve gleaned in the last year.
Q: What does a game producer do?
A: What doesn’t a game producer do? It varies greatly from studio to studio, but the basics include keeping the team on schedule and productive and helping them interface with other departments when they need something outside of their little world. We also go to a lot of meetings, and sometimes meetings about meetings, which spawn little baby meetings after them (when a boy meeting and a girl meeting love each other very much…). We also use a tool call MS Project which is the true spawn of satan, I am convinced. We also handle personnel issues like “Billy stole my toy and flushed it down the potty” and “Jenny made fun of me and now I feel bad in my heart”. In the last year, I’ve done everything from ordering crunch food for people, to making mockups in photoshops, to naming every item in the game, to editing and proofing hollywood writers’ dialogue, to making snorting sounds into a microphone, to implementing environmental sounds for half the game. Basically, you do what you need to do to keep the project on budget, on schedule, and without a hitch…or at least not going off the rails and crashing into a deep, dark cavernous void. Some producers also drive the creative direction of the game (as I did on EQOA), but again, that varies game by game.
Q: You lost almost 100 lbs, woah, that’s a lot! How long did it take?
A: Yes, it is. I’m no pasta queen, but if I get down to 132.5 I can claim to be half of me, which isn’t outside the realm of possibility and I’d still be at a healthy weight for my height. I started out in January of 2007, took a hiatus to uproot my life moving states and jobs over that spring and summer, resumed in August 2007, and been at it ever since.
Q: Wow, 265 lbs? You were fat!
A: Yes, I was. I can totally poke fun now at those pictures of me where I looked like stay puffed marshmallow girl, but it sucked living the life. It sort of helped that I was in denial for so long, I never actually identified my self image with those pictures. Even though it took years, I started on the problem when I was ready to really put my all into it – and as you can see, I’ve had some success at it.
Q: 150-155 lbs? That’s still fat!
A: Technically for my height, yes, I’m still in the overweight category according to the BMI chart. However, I’ve always been a pretty muscle-y gal from the get go and I have a large frame so what’s overweight to some is perfect to others. To put it in perspective, the last time I was at the normal “happy weight” for my height, I was working out about 30 hours a week in gymnastics. And then, as well as now, I can probably do more pushups and run further than you. If not you specifically, then the general population, but you know what I mean. I refuse to believe that anyone that can run 13.1 miles without much of an issue has a weight problem that doesn’t involve vanity.
Also – I would love to be “that fat” again – as I currently seem to have a sticking point of about 175 lbs.
Q: What is your current exercise plan?
A: I try to incorporate something new each month. I rotate between running, biking, swimming, yoga, dance dance revolution, strength training of some sort. I pepper in yoga, rock climbing, ice skating, and other fun stuff. I generally work out 45-90 mins per day, 5 days a week. I try to burn about 2500-3500 calories per week. Heavy on the run/bike/swim when it’s triathlon season.
Q: What about diet, do you eat lo carb or south beach or atkins or what?
A: My diet is “I workout like a madwoman so I don’t have to be too careful”. I tried diets that restrict you certain types of foods and hated it. I’ve had major success with just counting calories (staying between 1200-1550 on weekdays, under 2000 on weekends), doing my damndest to get 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day, and drinking at least 64 oz of water per day to lose weight. I try to do whole grains when I can and avoid creamy or fried stuff most days, but my weekly diet does still include stuff like pizza, tex mex, rice noodle dishes, or hamburgers and fries. I just eat and am satisfied with less of it than I used to be. It’s all about moderation, baby.
During distance training, I eat a LOT more and make sure it’s good food. For a snack, I might eat 1 lb of baby carrots. I might have a 800 calorie dinner of 2 chicken breasts, potatoes, and a salad out of a gigantic mixing bowl full of different colored veggies. For anyone out there wondering if distance running is a good way to lose weight, I say it is NOT. You might run 1500 calories off, but you ABSOLUTELY eat it back or you feel weak and can’t keep it up.
2013 edit: I am finding a lot of success with counting both calories and Diet Quality (basically, healthy foods give you points, fried twinkies subtract them, you just aim for the highest score you can each day), and trending towards a more vegan diet. You can’t take my meat and cheese away from me completely, but I find that a diet mostly full of veggies, fruits, whole grains, beans, greek yogurt, and hummus do me right. With fried twinkies as an occasional treat (just kidding… I’m more of a sucker for key lime pie, good ice cream, or anything rich and chocolatey – fried twinkies are low on the list).
Q: What’s this pushup thing?
A: I was doing the hundred pushup challenge and got to the first day of week 6, and had done 45 regular pushups in a row (yes, not those girly knee ones). I am going to resume the challenge someday (because I promised myself a shirt if I could do 100 in a row, and I love new clothes…), it was just monopolizing my strength training time and I needed some stomach lovin’ too. Last I checked I could still eek out 45 but it’s been a while as I’ve moved on to different stuff.
Q: How did you come up with a training plan for half marathons?
I recommend using the FIRST method – 3 days of PURPOSEFUL, KICK ASS running per week (speedwork, tempo, and long focused run), and 2 days of cross training. A day of rest in between each run has made me a much faster, stronger, more confident, less pained runner. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Also, I highly recommend triathlon training. Three different sports means a lot less monotony while still maintaining crazy endurance.
Q: When do you plan to be done with this healthy stuff?
A: Never, I hope. From what I hear, losing the weight is only the beginning, if you don’t keep your healthy lifestyle, you’ll gain it all back. Since I am loathe to the thought of being the thing with three chins again, I think I’ll keep on the straight and narrow, thanks! I have maintained 105+ lbs lost for over a year now, so I’m well on my way to forever!
Q: Ok, then do you plan on being done losing weight?
A: When I’m within normal BMI for my height, and either that it would be not beneficial for me to lose more to do better at triathlon, and/or when the effort to lose more weight is more than the effort I want to give.
Q: If I saw you out and about, what sort of drink would you like me to buy you?
A: Gee, thanks! I’ll take a *insert random flavored vodka here*, soda, with a twist of lemon, or perhaps some unoaked chardonnay or vouvrais. If I’m feeling super splurgey – maybe a mojito, margarita, or a mint julep.
Q: Umm, I see you’re lighting up a cigarette to go with that tasty adult beverage. I thought you said you were a runner?
Yes, and yes. I have completed 2 half marathons and working towards a full one. Remember when I said I’m on the moderation plan? It applies here too. I do not smoke regularly, but if I want one, I allow it, or, the raging beast comes out and wants to play. With blood. Other people’s. After that, you can find me shoving the entire fridge into my mouth. Yeah, it’s hard to chew but I make do. I don’t find myself having a desire for one outside of paired with a drink (some people pair wine and cheese, I pair jim beam and American Spirits). I know I should quit, and I will someday. But I’m not ready yet. I’ve whittled down each year, and I don’t have much more to go before I let go of it for good.
2013 edit: Good news, cigarette free since Jan 1, 2013. Using an e-cig (lowest nicotine setting which is essentially equivalent in health harming to a cup of coffee, no other harmful chemicals) about once a week with drinks. Amazing how even smoking a little fucks you up!
Q: Who came up with these questions?
A: My vast and loyal fan base…yeah, ok, you’re not buying that either? These are simply things I thought you should know about me and my life before consuming this blog. If anything else actually becomes frequently asked, I’ll certainly add it to the list!