As his sim, Atlantis, becomes the first Phoenix RP to hit a thousand post, I interview one of Phoenix’s best known and most-respected players, Mike Palmer.
Mike, please tell us a little about yourself.
Hey, Silent, thanks for the kind words. To give you a little about myself, I live in the suburbs of Houston, Texas, and work for the city of Houston where I help educate the public about the merits and practices of residential recycling. I am happily married with two sons, one age 25 from a previous marriage to my late wife, and one age 2 and a half with my current wife. I have graduate degrees in Higher Education from Tennessee Tech University and Appalachian State University, and lastly, I am a Vietnam Era Army veteran.
So, how did you come to be a Firefly fan?
I've been role playing and wargaming since 1977, and always enjoyed playing Traveller, as well as most other Space Opera games and TV shows. When Firefly came and went, like most of its fans I bemoaned the loss of a great show that was never given the chance to shine. Then about five years ago I was surfing and found the AJJE Games website, which offered a Firefly sim called LOTW (Leaf on the Wind). I had signed up for the Star Trek sim, but wasn't happy with the way the game was run, so I changed over to LOTW with great hopes. In short order, I became hooked on the RPing game and the genre of the wild west in space.
1977?! Wow, most of our players weren’t even born then!
You are most renowned for the former Prinz Eugen, now Atlantis. This mercenary ship won two Sim of the Year Awards at AJJE and is now due to clear 1,000 posts before any other at Phoenix. How did you come up with the original concept?
Yep, a fact of which I am painfully aware at times. But I have always loved role playing, and I have also been able to identify with and find acceptance with younger players. It's a blessing, really, though one not understood by folks my age.
When AJJE Games offered me my first command in March 2007, I thought about the LOTW concept and created the Prinz Eugen to provide a fun atmosphere for my players. Ash Plom was our original GM, and he was offered his own ship at the same time, hence the birth of the Elemental. I originally designed the sim for up to 22 players, and by separating the action into various groups of players, we could maintain an active storyline with ease. I believe we only hit this threshold for about a month, but it went as smooth as silk. I originally required players to post at least once every three days, and the fun of the story motivated people to meet or in most cases exceed that guideline.
Most people enjoy combat and action in their gaming environment, and we gave them that in spades. It was an exciting sim that has continued on today at Phoenix Games with many of the original players aboard the Atlantis.
We actually won three Sim of the Year Awards, for 2007, 2008 and 2009. I believe if we'd still been playing in our original venue, that we'd have had a good shot for a fourth award, but it would have been a close thing with all the rising stars we had selected as COs.
What has been your favourite moment on the sim so far?
Far and away the biggest and brightest moments for me on the Atlantis have been the gathering of old hands from the Prinz Eugen as we re-establish the sim's cast of characters on the Phoenix Games site. I believe there was a lot of emotion from everyone as my loyal veterans made their appearances and re-entered active play in the storyline. Sure, we've been kicking bad guy butts again in the Rim, but the reassembly of old friends has been the real joy for all of us.
So, for those of us who don’t participate in the sim, please tell us about Atlantis.
The Atlantis sim is based on the last of the Iskellion Raiders from the U-War. The Independents build several commerce raiders on Persephone to try and cripple Alliance shipping in the Black, and this ship was the sole survivor of her class. She was mothballed by a senior Alliance officer for his later personal use, but he lost her in a high stakes poker game to the current captain, Gunther Lindemann. Lindemann was a career officer on the Silver Star Lines, a luxury passenger line operating several Floating World class liners. He had developed the idea that if he ever got the chance, he'd like to help the residents of the Rim restore and maintain order. So many criminals and petty tyrants had taken over planets, moons or other large chunks of real estate with the goal of squeezing and oppressing the little people to make a living. When the Atlantis became his, along with the cash from the rest of the winning poker pot, he retired from active duty and restored the Raider to her former glory, then recruited a crew who shared his basic ideals.
As you can imagine, it is a ship of men and women who have checkered pasts, but who are basically an honorable lot, especially when it comes to taking care of their own and the residents of the Rim. We have several ex-Independents and even Alliance veterans, bounty hunters and simple spacers who are trying to earn a credit or two. We have been to several worlds and moons, as well as a space station or two, and have fought against those who would grind the down-trodden of the Rim under their heels.
Many crew have come and gone in the past four years... some have been killed, some have become disillusioned or bored with an honest path, but most simply scattered and wandered off when the Alliance arrested the CO on trumped up charges. We now continue on our previous path, with a bitter taste from the high-handed Alliance experience.
What are your plans for the future in this sim?
We'll continue to ply the spacelanes and protect honest spacers and planetary residents from the corrupt, the powerful and the greedy, to represent the ideals that have motivated us. The Captain, Gunther Lindemann, chose the ancient Chinese hero/god Guan Gong, as the standard bearer for the Atlantis. He calls the men and women who crew the ship "The Lions of Guan Gong", as they bravely strive to follow his mantra of using our strength to seek justice for the common man, while ignoring the temptation of personal gain and enrichment in the process. We're not warrior monks... we're just uncommon men and women with a higher ideal. Believe me, with as much corruption and petty tyrants in the Rim as we have heard about in the official storyline, there are plenty more for the Lions and the Atlantis to deal with.
Thank you very much, Mike - and we wish the Lions all the best!