Saturday, August 27, 2011

Interview with Todd Rogers: A Legendary Gamer in Wizard101

I have a special surprise for my readers today as it was my pleasure to dial up the infamous Todd Rogers (aka Valkoor Crowfinder in Wizard101) and have an hour long conversation with him. As we started talking, he was interrupted a few times, once by Ed Cunningham, producer for King of Kongs, so I know he's an incredibly busy person. He is in fact one of the best videogame players on the planet, and it was a nice surprise to find out that he is playing Wizard101 . . . and wanted to talk to me!

His reputation proceeds him as you can read more about Todd Rogers on both his Wikipedia page and on IMDB.

I've spent the past few days transcribing this conversation and have it ready now for you all to read (warning: this interview is a bit on the longer side--grab some popcorn!). Thanks again, to Todd for talking with me. I hope you all enjoy reading this interview I had with the newest VIP on the Friendly Necromancer: Todd Rogers!


Friendly: So, Todd, what I know about you is that you are a Gorf Champion!

Todd: yeah, I was . . . I held the record for 26 years.

Friendly: That's amazing!

Todd: I met the new Gorf champion at the last event and gave him mad props. The last guy who had it--who I had helped break my record and even gave him encouragement--was trash talking me. I don't understand why, but maybe it was just his way of saying "Look, why don't you get back into playing?" My logic is, if you earned it, I'm not that hungry as I was 30 years ago. I'm going to let you have it because I have 2,000 other world records. As a matter of fact, I know I'm in the 2012 edition of the Guinness Gamer's Edition, I'm in the 2007 Guinness book, and the 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 Guinness Gamer's Book. (laughs)

Friendly: Yup! Totally! That's amazing . . .

Todd: If you go to Facebook, you can see the magazines I've been in. I'm trying to keep current with that. I have everything split up between MySpace and Facebook. I had a lot of stuff on MySpace. It's laborious trying to keep up with things.

Friendly: That's pretty awesome actually.

Todd: And then the documentaries . . . if you go to Wikipedia or IMDB and scroll down that list, well, (if someone was to ask me) what magazines were you in? You know, for me to answer that . . . I mean, are you kidding me? I don't want to sound egotistical or arrogant, but I have to tell them to go to these different websites and then ask me that question later on! (laughs)

Friendly: yeah, yeah . . . exactly.

Todd: How old are you?

Friendly: I'm 40 years old. Just barely turned 40.

Todd: Ok, so I'm just a little bit older than you then.

Friendly: I remember playing Gorf. I liked playing that game. What I remember about Gorf was it was like playing five games in one.

Todd: Right, exactly.

Friendly: Compared to the other games of the time--you had Space Invaders or Asteroids or whatever it was where you just had that one thing that just repeated over and over and got harder as you went along--but in Gorf they split it up. It was so different than what was out at the time.

Todd: that's exactly why I started playing it because it offered you a variety instead of just one monotone screen.

Friendly: yeah, I love that! That was a great game.

Todd: Plus you got to flex your arm while you were holding the joystick because it was like a Tron joystick. When a girl walked by you could flex your bicep. (laughs)

Friendly: nice. (laughs)

Todd: (laughs) 'Cause I've considered myself a dork for years, man. I never had a girlfriend. I did my schooling, and I raised spiders. People thought I was a little bit loony. You know what, I never hung out with nobody. I never did drugs. I didn't smoke. I didn't drink, so where did I fit in, you know? I was always looked at like a weirdo.

Friendly: (laughs) I want to know what your favorite game of all time is!

Todd: That's a really loaded question.

Friendly: (laughs)

Todd: I always say, "which platform?" because I have favorites of different genres and different systems. Like for the arcade . . . everyone would say that Gorf is your favorite, and Gorf would be my first pick--normally it would, but I would say Robotron because no game is the same. You’re as good as how well you’re willing to last. On that game, well, a game could last three minutes (if that), or it could last as long as you’re willing to navigate and collect men. It’s never the same. You’ll play 100 different games of Robotron, and you’ll have played 100 different games.

Friendly: That’s pretty awesome . . .

Todd: Yeah, I like Robotron. It would have to be that for a classic, but for a modern console I’d have to say Crazy Taxi.

Friendly: Huh . . . That’s a cool choice.

Todd: I love Crazy Taxi. Again, you’re talking a game that’s simple enough and quick enough that you don’t have to wait for a save point: You’re in, you’re out. If you have to go to a doctor’s appointment or whatever, you can do that and come back. Don’t get me wrong.

I do like the games that have save points, but there’s just so many. I mean, I’ve played thousands of games. I’d be pretty safe to say those [were my favorite games].

And of course, Dragster. I’ve played Dragster probably every day of my life that I was able to play. Hundred of thousands of times . . . I can’t even think of a number that’s big enough. (laughs)

Friendly: You hold the record in that for being the only human able to beat the computer at a certain speed or something like that?

Todd: Here’s the logic behind that. I got my start with Activision. I started playing Pong in 1972. I played the Odyssey, and the Atari in 1977. Well, when Activision came out they had a brochure in 1979 or 1980 where they said if you beat the score, you’ll gain recognition.

Now, people already know that I’m affiliated with Twin Galaxies. Twin Galaxies started tracking scores in like 1981. I pre-dated that. I got my start a year before that with Activision when I had submitted my scores and took a picture of the screen--that’s how your verification process was. Well, one day Jan Marsella [from Activision] called me, and she said, “I have a question for you.” She didn’t seem really so chummy and happy like she did most of the other times we had chatted. She said, “Well I want to know how you shift your dragster?” And I said, "ok, well I engage the clutch on the countdown, when it gets down to zero, I pop it. I’m giving it gas of course. I tap it a few times, rhythm tap, and I’m done!” She says, “Ok, well, what I want to tell you was that our designers (because they were trying to weed out cheaters back then) programmed the computer to do a perfect run on Dragster.” A perfect run on Dragster is a 5.54. I guess somebody else turned in a similar score in, and they explained how they shifted, and of course, if they shifted the same way the dragster did, there was no way you could beat the Dragster by shifting the same way. Well, the difference was that I engaged the clutch on the countdown and their dragster didn’t, so on the countdown when I was engaging the clutch, I gave my dragster fuel. Their computer did not. That’s how I was able to beat their perfect run of a dragster by .03 of a second.

Friendly: That’s awesome!

Todd: I’ve held the Dragster record for 30 years as of December 1st. I made the record in December 1, 1980, and I just kept bettering it until I got a 5.51 in September 1982. In 2012, I’ll have held the 5.51 record for 30 years, but as for having the dragster record myself, it’s been 30 years as of this last December.

Friendly: That’s fantastic.

Todd: So I offer $10,000 to anybody who can tie me.

Friendly: (laughs)

Todd: I offer $1,000 to anyone who can get below 10 seconds on the 100-meter dash on Decathlon, but the clincher is you have to play on an original Atari with an original Atari joystick.

Friendly: oh yeah!

Todd: And it has to be live in person because I want to see it. I have not seen anybody else besides myself get below 10 seconds.

Friendly: wow! That’s something.

Todd: Recently, if I go to E3, have you ever been to an E3?

Friendly: I have not, but I know all about it.

Todd: ok, you know the volumes of people there.

Friendly: Right, it’s huge!

Todd: I offered $100 to anybody who could come up and beat me while I was up playing blindfolded, and it didn’t happen. Justin Wong played Street Fighter 4: he did [a winning streak of] 300 and 0, and I did my Dragster. I didn’t even count how many people I won. And then what I did was play Crazy Taxi blindfolded and deaf. I played that at the international hall of fame last year. Proceeds would have gone toward the blind and deaf foundation.

Friendly: Oh cool!

Todd: See, I don’t have to hear anything in Crazy Taxi. In Dragster I have to hear how I shift. As far as I know I’m the only person who has played a whole circuit of Crazy Taxi, picking up and dropping off the humanoid people [this way].

Friendly: wow!

Todd: yeah. That [game play] is all pattern-istic too. You just have to count subliminally: one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three, LEFT, one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three, RIGHT, and so on. You pretty much get an idea of where you’re picking a guy up and dropping him off by how fast you flick your buttons while you’re subliminally counting. So I can complete a whole circuit of the game picking up and dropping everybody off blindfolded.

Friendly: Hey that’s a real skill. That is awesome.

Todd: Have you ever played Ikaruga?

Friendly: Actually, recently I did an interview for Beckett’s, and one of their [KingsIsle's] designers said that he had drawn inspiration from the last fight in Waterworks from Ikaruga in the way it switches from dark to light

Todd: (laughs) How awesome! I play both ships on Ikaruga myself by using both of my hands. One ship and then the other ship, and I complete the whole wave by myself using both ships.

Friendly: wow!

Todd: you want to talk about rough, man, that’s pretty rough.

Friendly: (laughs) That sounds insane!

Todd: That’s hitting all buttons and using the joystick and using each hand for the joystick button.

Friendly: That is a fine sense of hand eye coordination, sir! That’s awesome. So listen, you are now in Wizard101 . . . do you know of any other old school guys who are playing Wizard101 or are you it?

Todd: I can imagine there are. I don’t know that in my personal group of friends that I’ve gamed with . . .

Friendly: I mean, there aren’t any other Twin Galaxies guys that are playing Wizard101 are there?

Todd: I don’t think so. I have friends that play Guild Wars, and I have friends that play the arcade games. I don’t think anybody that I know personally has really delved into the Wizard101 experience. I’ve been playing Wizard101 since March.

I’ve found a certain spot in the game to help my leveling out. I mean there are so many tricks and tips and insights to the game that outside of going around from different spots with people--the learning curve is just exponential. I mean you've got a good idea how the game is played it's just the point of knowing what to do next and knowing what cards to use--knowing what spells to use at which monsters. I mean for the longest time I didn't know that if I'm fighting a death guy, don't use a death card on him, you know? I was wondering why I was hitting the guy and only doing 20 to 30 damage, when I would do some hard damage [with those spells] before. Then I realized that, oh wait a minute, these little symbols that are next to the enemy are there for a reason. I realized that if I used the triangle [prism spell] to change [the spell's damage type] from life to death, and then use a skeleton or a bone dragon--then I'd have my way.

Friendly: Yeah It's surprisingly complex!

Todd: It is, but back to your question . . . I don't know. And like I've said, I've been laughed at because most everybody looks upon it [Wizard101] as a kid's game, but when you really start playing it . . . aren't we all kids inside? Isn't that all how we got started to begin with?

Friendly: Exactly!

Todd: And I'm sure a lot of these kids on the game could teach us a thing or two in how to play it, you never know everything.

Friendly: I've seen that first hand. (laughs) So I have to ask you . . . because you've got that old school gamer in you, what do you think about the mini-games in Wizard101? The mini-game Skull Riders in Wizard101 is kind of like Joust; we kind of get to see that as a head-nod to old school gaming in Wizard101's mini-games.

Todd: Right . . . you have the Tetris or Columns type of thing with the Sorcery Stones game. I think it's really integral that the developers keep on that and offer the incentive to say, OK, you're playing our game, but we're going to invent some other games just to spice things up a bit. I think the rewards vs. the work curve is excellent on It offers you a chance to not only enhance your character's abilities, but also offers potions and gold or whatever else might be integral to the game.

Friendly: Right! And have you taken a look at the Top 10 scores?

Todd: Yeah I have. Most of the games I have played have been on the separate site not on the game.

Friendly: Oh, you've been playing

Todd: Yes. I have. Only because I was not aware of the mini-games until recently. I know they're in the pavilion where they fill the potions. I just never really concentrated too much on playing the in-house games, but for some odd reason someone had pointed me to the separate site. I think it's because I'm always redeeming the pre-paid cards and they said you know there's mini-games there too. I'm like, really? I had played Doodle Dug. I played that one because it reminded me of Dig Dug, and then I went to Dueling Diego and then Sorcery Stones. I find that Sorcery Stones is probably the easiest for me. Are you familiar with Bejeweled Blitz?

Friendly: Oh yeah, of course!

Todd: A friend of mine, a fellow gamer that's a very well known gamer, put up a score. I videotaped myself playing this game, and this one guy goes, "Oh, it must be nice to cheat and use a bot," and I go, "What?" This was another well known gamer who was cutting me down. I said, look, if I wanted to do that [use a bot] I could, but I just don't. What I was doing was moving my finger across the touch pad and rapid tapping my left button, so it would just move blocks independently. I would get points, the things would fall, and I would get these chain reactions. I wouldn't have to do nothing, just move my finger sporadically, and rapid tap the button. Things were just falling into place. It was funny that he thought it was a bot, but I was like, no you doof!

Then I went on a website to see about hacking the game or whatever just for curiosity. Lo and behold, one of the gamers that was putting up the high score name was on the website. I said, huh! Look at this . . . and he's making this comment about me beating my high score? Now I know why he's beating my high score . . . because he's using a hack!

I noticed the same thing on the game Conquer Online. I was playing that game for the longest time. I developed this method where whatever I was doing, I would hit the button really quickly, and they suspended my account for it until I paid them dragonballs, which is the equivalent of crowns. The first offense is like 50 dragonballs, the second is 250, and then after the third offense your account is banned. I said, wait a minute, what the heck are you banning me for? They said, oh, you used an auto clicker. I said, I didn't use an auto-clicker, I was just hitting the button! I filmed a video of me doing it just to prove to them that I wasn't doing anything outside of the terms of service. So, being really good sometimes could have a negative impact because of whatever programs they [video game companies] are running that would presume you're using an auto-clicker.

Friendly: Right, and that's the problem with some of the mini-game scores in Wizard101 now. You think, how is that even possible, but obviously when you look at someone with your skill and talent, it's definitely possible.

Todd: Oh it is! And even just putzing around with clicking and moving . . . and it can happen on Sorcery Stones too. I can run up a million points in a matter of no time where if I was to actually try to play it and look at the cubes to think ok, red goes here, here's a red. Green goes here, here's a green. Blue goes here, here's a blue . . . and actually look at the colors to try and line up the colors and shapes. It would take me a heck of a lot longer to play it strategically instead of just moving my finger around and clicking buttons.

Obviously, when it [the rising columns] get's really close to the top, then I have to start thinking nothing is really happening here, I'm going to have to start playing it strategically, but when it starts building its way back down, I can just click the button and move the cursor again.

Friendly: So, given all that, you've seen the mini-games that Wizard101 has, is there a classic game that you would like to see them create a Wizard101 version of?

Todd: Absolutely! How about like Dragster? Something where you have to hit your button and make your man go from point A to point B, and you're rewarded with how many times you pressed a button for a solid minute. A friend of mine made a prototype game up in New Hampshire at the Funspot location that was called "Fast Finger." The only problem with that game is when you hit the little dimple inside--like when you hit on the game Track and Field--well, the connector thing wouldn't register every tap. Anyway, I noticed when a lot of people went up there and tapped the button, it [the screen registering your button taps] looked like a cardiograph where you measure your heart rate, and it's going up and down--up and down--up and down. I noticed that when I played the game, I didn't lean straight over the game, I stooped down a little bit and kept my arm level to the surface of the button, overlapped my middle finger and my first finger, and tapped like I did on Joust . . . a steady tap. I saw what my tap looked liked from that game. It was like when someone Flat-lines. It [the screen registering your button taps] was more straight across and consistent versus the sporadic taps of the other people.

Friendly: Interesting!

Todd: I think if they were to develop a game like that, well, that would be pretty awesome.

Friendly: That's cool. Have you tried the derby racing in Wizard101 at all?

Todd: Yup, I have. I have not really figured a grasp of that yet, but I know you have several buttons that do several things and getting your pet to epic is important. I have four epic pets now. My favorite mini-game in there is the maze. I've gotten 108 on the maze game so far. Well, I've heard 136 is the high score. I'm like wow! I usually average 98 to 102, but I'm just trying to do some quick math to think how many shapes there are and how many ghosts there are to get it absolutely perfect, which I can't see that being done, but . . .

Friendly: I can't see that being done either. I've always wanted to see what a perfect game of that maze would look like, but I've yet to see it.

Todd: Well, I've taped 108, so that's what I'm at right now, but getting your pets to epic and having the best abilities to do the derby racing, I think that would be more beneficial to the player to do the best they can. If you have lesser abilities, then you won't fare as well.

Friendly: So, listen, does Wizard101 ever feel too slow paced for you?

Todd: Not at all. Again, I think there’s a learning curve with this, and I think it’s pretty much played the way it’s supposed to be played. You have different tasks. I love the interactivity. I’m not usually one for reading things or listening to things all the time. I like rushing through some times, and that’s not necessarily the greatest way to do things in Wizard101. Of course, sometimes I don’t read the instructions either.

Friendly: (laughs)

Todd: I have found myself in Wizard101 listening to everything they have to tell me. The only mistake I make a lot is that I tend to quest along the way [and get lost in side quests] when you’re supposed to be just doing one quest. I find myself doing multiple quests at the same time.

Friendly: Right. Side quests have a tendency to suck you into them.

Todd: Right. I’m at level 60, but I have not finished Grizzleheim, Celestia, or Kensington Park, so there’s plenty I have left to do, but yet I’m at level 60. Only because I was attacking a crocodile several times to gain my level.

Friendly: (laughs) That is interesting. That’s kind of an oddity to have someone be level 60 who has not yet even stepped foot in Celestia.

Todd: Right, and it’s true. People will say “port!” and I’ll say, “I can’t go there yet.” People will say, “why?” “I haven’t paid for it yet.” “Oh! We’ll you’re not a subscriber!” Wait a minute, all the money I’ve dumped into this game; I think I’m doing pretty well considering! Like I said, I really don’t want to sound like I’m exposing a glitch because I found something uniquely different where I’ll be able to . . . well the first time I played it, I wasn’t able to continue what I was doing over and over again. That could very well be seen as a glitch. I felt that if I went to the higher level areas as a lower level [wizard], I would die quickly, so my logic was to get high level as quickly as I could, so I could help Morningdove out. [Ed note: Morningdove is Todd Roger's significant other. She plays Wizard101 with Todd under the name Kimberly Crowflower.]

Morningdove is really good with puzzle games, like the hidden games that you find on Popcap? The hidden objects? She’s really good at that. Some other games--she just has a learning curve too. She’s not good at everything, but she has fun. That’s why I picked this game because we can see each other, we can goof around, we can make a house, we can run around. It’s more of a one-on-one thing where we can be together instead of playing our own thing.

Friendly: Yeah, that is nice, and it’s got to feel good for someone who has been applauded for videogame skill to just simply enjoy a videogame with a significant other.

Todd: Right. There's a personalization of the game that Wizard101 has to offer that no other game does. I mean, not to that extent. I'm sure there are other games that you can experience that, but not in the vast knowledge of gaming that I have done can you do that other than in a SIMS game, where of course that's more geared towards adults.

But, yeah, the whole game itself is . . . like I was saying . . . you don't have to worry about someone killing you and you dropping your stuff, it's more about embracing the game and taking it as you're going. I did that thing where I was able to attack that krok over and over, and I got to the point where I would actually time how long it would take me because I would get 900 points of experience, do the maze part of it, get 900 points of experience again, and then I'd never go to the third part . . . because there were three parts of this one specific area I'm talking about. I don't want to say where it is because I don't want people to exploit it as a glitch. I don't want to ruin the game, so I'll just say there's a section of Krokotopia that I was able to do over and over to level my character up.

The only bad part now is when I went to Dworgyn and got my Wraith--I'm thinking did I miss something now? I can't talk to Dworgyn now to get my scarecrow? How the heck do I get a scarecrow pet?

Friendly: (laughs)

Todd: People tell me, "oh well it's something you have to do in Wintertusk and something you have to do somewhere else" so obviously I have not gotten that far yet.

Friendly: Right, right. There's still stuff available to you as you go along in the game, but at least you're high level so you can help Morningdove.

Todd: Right. Here's another thing. I have so many items in my . . . I know that there was a problem with the amount of items in your [gift item] box [from]. I had 500 items--actually, it was 496 items on my first account before I was froze out of my account. I questioned the parties at KingsIsle and said look you've got a problem here. It says error, you can't access your box. I can't access my box. I have all these items. What the heck is going on? So, I was always conscious about using the items. My logic was to stockpile as much as you can so later on down the road if you need them, you can use them.

Friendly: Right

Todd: That doesn't necessarily apply in this game. Now I limit it [the gift item box] to 25 items. Before they limited me, I had 186 pages of items. I kept track of everything I had. I had elixirs, and power ups, and damage boosters knowing full well I can use those when I fight Malistaire or anybody else later on down the road, like Luska . . .

See I fought Luska by myself. I had her down to 9,000 health, and I caved in. I was wanting to get the level 60 items, but when you have people that don't want to help you out, you think, well, I might as well bite the bullet and see how far I get on my own. That's as far as I got. I do know what's after her too because I went in a group one time, and that last boss with the Ikaruga thing with the light, dark thing. Oh my gosh. You make the wrong move, and you're gonna be toast.

I wrote down a comparison sheet, and I can send you this sheet too. I've been doing a lot of work on this. Just like I did in Conquer, I analyze everything and do true math. I'm at 3,304 points for my hit points, so I think if I switch my gear or my items, it gives me different, you know, reflect percentages, or block or resist or whatever. So I have one level 60 item of three. I have almost every level 55 item, and I have two level 56 items. Now, not every item that is a high level item--just because of the high number doesn't mean you're going to do the best. You have to analyze it. Well, first of all, what is your class? What do you want to do? Do you want to block really well or do you just want to be able to have a high number for your points? Or, do you want to have high resistance?

You want to have a combination of everything that's going to be able to help you, but yet give you the highest amount of damage as possible. So I've been mixing and matching this trying to do a little bit of a flowchart here to find out for a death person what is the best combination of gear you could possibly wear to be most effective.

Friendly: Oh, that's interesting. It's definitely something my readers would be interested in looking at, so yeah, forward that on if you could.

Todd: Yes. Everything is in Excel like you see when I send it to you. I have the little shapes next to it for what they are--and right now this is all geared towards death right now--but I can gear it toward any character. I just have to do my homework and math and analyze what gear does what for what character. Right now I've just been pretty much focusing on the death class, so when you notice my notes and my chart, you'll see how effectively the percentile of things can factor in and change the stats of your character.

Friendly: Very interesting. I'm looking forward to taking a look at that. So, if there was anything you could change about Wizard101, what would that be?

Todd: Wow. Um. Well, I had a few ideas, and I would love to work with their team of people for ideas, graphics, or game ideas. I noticed one thing that really works well with Conquer--and I know we don't want to steal their ideas and this might not be fair to the kids who play it because they're going to be spending more money--but in the long run in lieu of making KingsIsle money, you're offering another area of leveling . . . because once people reach level 60 they get bored. They're making these different worlds to cancel the boredom, but [people are saying] OK, I'm at level 60, what else is there to do? I've done everything . . .

Friendly: Right.

Todd: Well, one thing Conquer did that was really ingenious was--when you play it you have your boots, your helmet, your chest, and then you have +1, +2, +3 . . . all the way up to +12, which is the best you can have. You can get +12 on your swords and your daggers, and when you use this particular item, you have to train it somewhere to level that item up to get it to the top level. Then, they started having "blessed" characters where you would re-do your character to get a different character. Like if I'm Death/Life School? They had a character, and he had this ability where you could rejuvenate yourself or be reincarnated--you had these items, and you had these abilities of the Blessed. +1, +5, +7 on your items to help you with your attack.

I think that later on down the road if they want to incorporate something like that to enhance the ability of the character, that would be really beneficial to the game. Not only offering the gamer more avenues to build their character, but also so you don't get 12 level 60 Death characters who are all the same.

Friendly: Right. That's something I talked about on my blog earlier too because they do that in the game Dungeons and Dragons Online as well where you can re-incarnate your character. Say you're a sorcerer, you can reincarnate as a barbarian and then you gain a certain skill from your old character that you carry on with your new character. Except it's harder to level from that point forward. Something like that where you continually reinvent your character would give some longevity to the game.

Todd: Of course, and I've seen this, like with the daggers, it would take someone nine months to level their daggers.

Friendly: wow!

Todd: In Conquer, that's a lot of time. That's solid playing, and they have these things now where you have this little card that you win or you buy--see, when you're level 1, level 2, it goes up by 10 percent, then it gets cut in half by 5%, then 2.5%, so every level you go up (there's 9 levels) to level your dagger, the percentile gets cut in half so it takes that much longer to level your daggers. But when you do your attack, you're getting 250% when you hit somebody.

Friendly: That's awesome.

Todd: So it's rewarding, but you have to work for it. Another thing is I'd like to see--like for instance the castle--I have a castle, and everybody uses this rug glitch, and so have I. I mean I thought it was pretty cool to go off into the middle of nowhere just to see what it's like, but you have all this wasted space in your castle from above the top area of your castle. That big square part of the building and then at the peak? It's all empty. You can't utilize it. So when you look at the castle, you're thinking, oh my gosh, I'm getting all this? And then when you walk through your castle, you're like ok . . . well, I have this room and that room, and what the heck, there's all this wasted space up above me!

Friendly: (laughs) yeah.

Todd: Another thing I thought about having was a safe room where only you or you and your spouse can go in and that's it--nobody else--because I've noticed that when you're not familiar with the settings, your friends pop in, their friends pop in, and then their friends pop in, and you're like who are these people?

Friendly: (laughs)

Todd: And then I go to kick them out, and they say their going to report you. And I'm thinking, what? Because I'm telling you, no, I'm not going to give you a treasure card? or no I don't want you in my house?

Friendly: Right.

Todd: See Morningdove doesn't know--she's really new when it comes to this game, and the style of game play this is. See, I got well seasoned in Conquer. So when people beg me here, I go, don't beg, go away. I don't care about being mean because I don't know these people. She's being the motherly person that she is--she has all these people who call her mom--and I tell her it might not be a girl who's saying that. It might be a boy playing a girl account, or he has many accounts. They're trying to work you out of what they can get. Do you really want to spend $20 on someone you don't know if they are going to sit and give you the middle finger behind your back?

Friendly: Yeah. You definitely have to watch out. It could be anybody.

Todd: Yeah, and she's learning this the hard way, and I keep telling her. This is how you put your settings to "Friend's Only," and you won't have the who's-this-walking-around-the-house phenomenon. I have no idea. I tell her, your account is your account, and if you want me to set it, I will but--there's times I've gone on her account and people will come up and say, hey mom, can I have this? and I say, no, go away. I don't know you, or who is this?

If KingsIsle is really adamant about not switching people's accounts. I don't want to get Morningdove banned by using her account, but there are just certain things she doesn't know how to set up--like her gear. She knows absolutely very little about what to wear. She thinks, oh this good, it'll work good. No, it's not like that. You bought the Sultan's palace gear, and you put it on all level 55 gear, and you're going to wear this gear because it looks nice, but look at your stats, you have no critical, your defense is nothing--I'm trying to make her understand, look at the box. Look at the numbers in the box, they mean everything.

Friendly: Right. Well at least you can stitch your gear!

Todd: Yeah, and that's really cool that was incorporated because I know her. If you like something, you can always use the abilities from one to look like the other.

Friendly: Right, well that's great!

Todd: How about when they do another section of the game--have it like the Gods, you know? Like where you have to fight Zeus or Odin or something! I don't know if that's going off on a tangent from Wizard, but . . . or something like have another evil boss. Have it where Malistaire has changed, and he's saying he's sorry and he's good now, but have another boss trying to take over the Wizard101 and saying that's Malistaire's a wimp. And Malistaire actually has to help you in destroying this other boss!

Friendly: Right, and you've got Morganthe that they've been trying to introduce with Celestia, but we've yet to fight Morganthe and get more into her story. In fact, the past two expansions to the game--Wysteria and Wintertusk--have not mentioned Morganthe at all, so a lot of level 60 players are very antsy to see where that new story takes us.

Todd: Right. Storyline is everything. That's what intrigues me about this game. It's like no other. If you knew anything about me, you'd know how impatient I am when it comes to doing things like that, but with Wizard, I've listened to everything they've said and where to go, and it's really intriguing to hear the story plot as it opens and unfolds in front of me. I told Morningdove--she started three days after I did--and I said, oh you got to try this!

Friendly: What do you think is the relationship between videogame player and videogame creator?

Todd: I think that the creator probably applies a lot of his gaming concepts to real life or things that are in his creative mind, and he tries to bring this whole concept to the gamer who has the same shared interest.

You know, we were brought up on blocks. Like in the game, Surround: you had a little cube going around a screen, and a tail that would grow longer. You had Adventure where you had a little cube with a little arrow, and you pretended you were slaying the dragon. Look at how things have morphed. You really couldn't put the idea of a game that was that evolved into the graphics years ago. Now a days you have teams of people who are working on story dialogs, sound dialog, gaming interactivity--I think it's really essential to gravitate toward the people [who play your game] and get the input of the people [who play your game] because they are who make the game. You have the Designer, who makes the game's original concept, but it's the people that really change the game and how it's played, and why they want to keep playing it.

Friendly: So what are your goals with Wizard101? What would you like to eventually do with Wizard101, or do you know yet?

Todd: Well, I'd like to finish the game! I would love to work with the KingsIsle people in any way that I could. Whether it be a creative idea, concept of the game, or even promoting it. I've had sponsors in the past like NOS Energy Drink and other companies I've worked with that promoted their software. It's really strange because I've been to several events that had KingsIsle, and I've gotten no response. I had a business card for one of the events I've gone to, and it pretty much got lost in the shuffle. The number that I have called . . . they're very secretive it seems like. There's nothing on the website that gives any information. I've called twice now and left my information on their recording, but no one has gotten back with me. I'd love the opportunity to promote their product being as world wide as I am and being in contact with as many people as I am. I'd like to brag about the game and have the ability to show them what Wizard101 is all about.

Friendly: That's great, and you are a very influential player of videogames, so I think that could be a good idea. I hope that happens for you.

Todd: Well, like I said, if it doesn't, I'm having fun playing their product/their brand, and if any little bit on a forum or an interview can help mold and shape the game to make it more fun and entertaining, I'm all for that.

Friendly: Well that's great, Todd, and I look forward to hearing more from you and more about you in Wizard101. I hope you keep in contact.

Todd: Oh, I certainly will. You're part of the Wizard101 family so you know! (laughs)

Friendly: (laughs) This is true! I feel very integrated.

Todd: See here's the special bond that gamers share that people don't understand. I mean, I don't know who you are and yet here this game has brought us together.

Friendly: Sure!

Todd: There are great friendships and positive things that turned out of my video gaming career, and people don't understand that. Like for instance this lady that was a psychic, she overheard me talking to somebody about me playing games and getting paid for it. I used to make $1,000 a day. I played against Michael Jordon, Mike Tyson, Barbie Benton, and the list goes on. She's like, what a waste of a youth, and I'm thinking, wait a minute lady. I was making hundred of thousands of dollars and you're reading people's palms, lying to them, and telling them some pipe dream, and you're telling me I had a wasted youth? Are you kidding me, you're a psychic? Come on, yeah right, if you were really a psychic you'd be winning the lottery every week.

Friendly: (laughs) Exactly.

Todd: So yeah, there's a lot of positive things. When I was growing up, the media tried to focus on that everybody was using their lunch money and their allowance and their job money to go play games and not making anything of their life. I'm like wait a minute. I had a job. I was a B+ student, and I endorsed product for video game companies. I was getting paid for it! So that was beneficial to them because I was a good role model. You know, there's not all bad people who do things in life that are relevant to gaming. You have people say that this guy who plays Call of Duty or SOCOM or Grand Theft Auto will just end up shooting people and stealing cars. I don't like that. The game doesn't program you. It's there for entertainment. If a person had psychological problems to begin with, that's them.

Friendly: Yeah, I hear you. I definitely think that just based on the friendships that I've made from videogames and just keeping this blog alive alone has been amazing.

Todd: You don't know how many times I've been to your site inadvertently. It's just very informative. It's very easy to understand. A lot of times you'll have to go hunting for things, and it's very difficult to navigate, where yours is just right there. You click one thing, it leads you to something else, and again, it's right there. All you have to do is read a little bit and find out what you're wanting to know.

Friendly: Well I hope so.

Todd: No, I know so! I'm telling you!

Friendly: Well good!

Todd: I hate clicking links! I'm telling you, it's definitely a positive. And the people that are your subscribers or people that are on your site that help cultivate the message you're trying to bring. That's what makes the game play all that much better.

Friendly: Yeah, I definitely hope that I attract the creative minority into the site, and we've done a lot of cool things. The Petnome Project is one of those. it's been pretty awesome to watch that take flight. We've mapped the entire genomes of pets. Just like, from the moment we had advanced pets and started thinking, "Well how are we going to find out what all these skills are?" to the point where now you have a pet's entire skill set revealed in the same day that it's released . . . that's pretty impressive.

Todd: Right. Yeah it is.

Friendly: So I'm happy with that. So, thank you for your time! I appreciate it, and I look forward to hearing more about your adventures, so please keep us informed.

Todd: I certainly will.

Friendly: Thank you, Todd. Anything else? You have any questions for me?

Todd: Um, hmm, What inspired you to get involved with the Wizard project?

Friendly: (laughs) you know, it was kind of one of those right time/right place moments in my life to stumble into it.

Todd: Was it your kids?

Friendly: You know, it wasn't my kids at first, but it was something I saw that I thought, this is actually a really cool MMO.

I had just barely gotten off from raiding in Everquest and discovering that my son had Autism. I could just not hack the raiding lifestyle in Everquest where you're putting in solid hours every night as a part of a group of 40 or more people trying to get the good items in the game. I just couldn't do that. I couldn't do that and feel like a good father.

This [Wizard101] was something where I could click on a card in combat, I could get out of my chair, I could go get a glass of milk for my son, come back, give it to him, and still have my round be completing. So it was the right pace for me, I liked everything about it. There were no gold sellers--you know at least KingsIsle controlled part of that. I liked that the chat was moderated. I liked a lot of things about it.

It just felt comfortable and easy for me, and I just started to write. When I started to write, it just came forth. Before I knew it, I was keeping a daily blog. From there I started meeting people and talking to people and just started to go forward from there. It's been a great experience! I had no idea getting into this that it'd be this cool.

Todd: (laughs) A long way from the Centipede and the Donkey Kong and stuff like that you played years ago I tell yeah.

Friendly: Oh man, yeah, but even then, those times are golden. Those times are precious. I remember them well! Me and my Discs of Tron! I was at home!

Todd: (laughs) Discs of Tron! (laughs) Oh yeah! That's on the Intellivision. I played that for 72 hours, you know that?

Friendly: You played that particular game for 72 hours?

Todd: I played that for 72 hours!

Friendly: That's awesome!

Todd: 516,000,000 points.

Friendly: That is amazing!

Well, thank you Todd! I appreciate it!

Todd: Thank you again for having me, and again, great success with your website and I hope your audience amounts keep tripling!


Thanks for reading everyone!

Here are a few Excel files Todd would like to share as a part of this Interview:

- Gear Comparison Sheet.
- KI Free Games Prize Information
- Pet and Statue Drop Information

Todd enjoyed sharing his ideas for Wizard101 so much he sent me an e-mail with a recap of those ideas plus a few more:
(01)Easter eggs - Hidden areas with prizes through out the Wizard101 world "would be either random or the same spot" i would suggest random.

(02)Jackpot "Spend 25 crowns" - Players put in 25 Crowns in jackpot location in game to get out prizes, gold, or crowns or other valued prizes. Or have an actual prize meter displayed on the game showing what the jackpot is at.

(03)Enhanced gear add-ons - + gear addons to like boots, cape, sword, etc. These can be added like upgrading pets in pet games with snacks. Instance +1 items needing 250 points +2 items needing 500 points and so on. These items can gain %'s to attack or defense, etc and reflect by showing on your gear item as a +3 +5 or what ever the +. SEE PIC

(04)Secret room in your house - A room that only you and your personal "real life" friend can only go limited to two people.

(05)Expand more rooms in castle and palace - Maximize the area that you purchased meaning why show a big building on the outside while inside you can only use a minimal amounts of rooms.

(06)Another main evil character - One more evil then Malastair where malistair help you in quest to possibly defeat this new boss.

(07)The Gods realm - An air world where you fight norse or greek gods with upper end powers for level 60 characters.

(08)Make enemies colors different - Meaning when fighting some characters that look like others with different names . instead of making them look the same change the color or attribute of that enemy to give it distinctions

(09)Mini games - A speed test flicking two buttons , or a racing theme

(10)Add the option to have ambrose fight with you - Have the ability to summon ambrose to help in a fight.

(11)Increase max level - Increase the max level to 100 or perhaps more.

(12)Offer a free 1yr subscription - Random offer with participation on the KI site. Maybe a raffle or something like that.

(13)Offer time logged in - Offer a prizes for accumalative hours gained for time on game per month. A way of tracking your log in time and then go to the KI site and redeem prizes. This idea can be done because if you let the game idle it goes back to the relog page, so gamers will really have to be on playing.

(14)The Army Wave Fight - A section in a realm that where you are fighting a certain enemy that if you do not kill it with in a certain time more enemies appear and over lap to fight you. Meaning on the playing fighting field you are not limited to fighting only 4 enemies and as the enemies appear they join in on the fight sort of how the shield over lap.

Thanks, Todd!

Happy Dueling!


Wryan said...

I love Todd Rogers! He is like my father. I talk to him daily and he is so nice! I am so glad to see that you interviewed him and it looks like you had a good time.

Anonymous said...

Great interview, Friendly! It was TOTALLY worth reading, no matter the length. I could see some of those ideas.. especially the 'Easter Eggs' and 'More Room Space' ones :). *gamersquees*

Anonymous said...

holy crap! i think this is your longest post EVER! this the second todd you've interviewed after todd j coleman! wats the next todd? XD

Anonymous said...

lol a BIT on the long side

i went through 3 bags of popcorn

Kevin BattleBlood said...

Thanks for sharing your interview with Todd Rogers! I never heard of him until now! (I'm a young'un)

I really like his last idea -- it sounds like a Survival mode. Kinda like fending off an endless hoarde of zombies, except with Wizard101 creatures. The waves should become harder over time, like having random cheats in the higher
level/rounds, such as interrupting Rebirths, Novas, Smokescreens, high critical rates on the monsters, etc. I hope KI comes out with something like that, where it's *not* beatable, but a challenge on who can last the longest :)

Lauren IronBane said...


Truly an epic interview and blog. The attachments are some of the most detailed spreadsheets and for the math inclined players ,this was like hitting the jackpot.

Todd is an established world renowned player. The Wizard community should be proud that we are attracting world class record breaking players. We can all learn from Todd.

Thank you, Friendly, for your time to share this interview with us. It's great to get a fresh perspective from people that bring revolution, enthusiasm and passion to Wizard101. Everyone should be doing everything to keep people like Todd interested in helping Wizard101 and contributing to enhancing the game.

I have ran into several veteran gamers (Aaron and Digby) that stopped by to quest on Wizard101. Unfortunately, they get all their gear/pets/legends and then they are off to new games. Hopefully, there will be changes and more challenges so that we can keep these type of players interested. Wizard101 will always have the ‘ can you gift me ‘ players

Way to go, Todd!!!!

On side note: Let MorningDove select her own gear, that way she will absorb and surprise you. ;)

Diary of a Necromancer said...

Oh, Friendly, you made me read this all--
Thank you...

Taylor (Destiny SilverBlood) said...

Yes Todd is amazing he is super nice and the perfect friend :) I am truly glad I got to meet him :)

Danielle said...

"I met the new Gorf champion at the last event and gave him mad props."

What's great about this comment? The last event was an event that I host in Orlando, Game Warp.

Todd Rogers was at the event and super cool! Not only is he a legend in gaming, but a fun, intelligent and really awesome human being. Great interview!

dragon5 said...

I don't know who'll be reading this, but I have spoken with Crazy Taxi experts. They said that while passenger LOCATIONS aren't randomized, their destinations are. They'll have either a red, yellow, or green ring, which corresponds to distance. That alone is proof that Todd lied about the accomplishment because it's impossible to know where you'll want to take them when it's one of three places. You don't have enough time to drive by all three destinations either. Furthermore, Todd implies that there is an end to the game by saying it's quick. Passengers are endless, so a skilled player can go on for up to two hours before the game crashes or rank finally stops you.

This is a nitpick, but in 2010 Crazy Taxi was around 11 years old. Saying it's modern is the equivalent of saying Super Mario Bros. on NES is a modern game by the time Super Mario 64 came out in 1996. Relatively speaking to the rest of the games he plays though, I get it. Dreamcast would be a great system of choice for arcade games due to its similarities to the Sega Naomi hardware.