One year ago today, my first article for CSTM was released. When I started writing for CSTM I had no idea that it would change what I enjoyed to do in my free time. There is something wholly satisfying about creating an article that will inform or entertain hundreds of people. I started out writing about Creep side for CSTM but it quickly grew into something much larger.
When I was in the BETA for LOTRO, I knew it was a game I would have to play but sadly I did not have the money for a subscription at the time. Once I found out LOTRO was going Free-to-Play, I knew I would have to find a podcast to find out about the game, which was already three years old. That was three years of information that I would have to quickly find out and dive into if I really wanted to get into the world LOTRO had created. After checking several LOTRO podcasts (none of which are still around that I know of) I decided that CSTM was by far the best for informing the player about all of the news, in-game activities and the interesting dynamic of a happily married couple. To give you an idea of how long ago the Free-to-Play announcement was…it was all the way back at episode 40 of CSTM and after listening to that episode I was hooked to CSTM. I quickly went through the previous 39 episodes and couldn’t wait for episode 41 to be released. (Yeah I was crazy back then) Fun fact: This is also the episode where Merric and Goldenstar mention Pineleaf’s old blog for the first time. It also talks about how, all this time ago, he already finished 100 run-throughs of Tuck. I can’t even imagine how many he has run by now.
Once LOTRO actually went Free-to-Play I created a character on day one and over the course of the next year made it to 75 but I am getting ahead of myself. If you are a long listener to CSTM and have an absolutely amazing memory (like seriously we are talking “Baby Hobbit good” memory) then you might remember a character named Teithior(Teeth-“e”-or) of Imladris. You may have also remembered several episodes of Goldenstar and Merric trying to pronounce this name. I wrote in about every week and was in the chat room every week and so I got a mention of some sort every show. I don’t remember if they ever got my name right but that is understandable as it took my sister several weeks to figure it out. I guess that is what I get for trusting LOTRO’s random name generator…
After a while, CSTM decided they were going to make the big move over to Middle-Earth Network. This was a big move for CSTM but also great for me. With M-EN’s TeamSpeak server and several other places; I was able to meet and become good friends with several of the people at Middle-Earth Network including: several of the founders, writers on big blogs and other cool people. These quickly became some of my best friends because of how deep and seriously they took Tolkien and nerd culture in general. It was/is a group of highly ambitious, excited and entertaining people that I could have likely talked with forever. This got me really excited about doing something for the network.
A few months earlier I had started Creep side for the first time and absolutely loved it. As a quick side note I created this character to be easy to pronounce and yet still be lore accurate. I came up with Andang. However, because of the simplicity it actually gave problems to the hosts of CSTM and several other LOTRO podcasts. Luckily they quickly were able to find out how to pronounce this name and the only person who still doesn’t know how to pronounce An-dang is Chris from LOTRO Reporter…but that is another story entirely. I really enjoyed PvmP early on because I had a cool person that decided to show me around the Moors and had one of the best experiences I had ever had in LOTRO up to that point. Over the next few months I learned how to lead raids and quickly became one of the best leaders in the Moors for my server. After a while those leaders played a lot less and I was leading raids every night. I quickly became the creep leader on Imladris and had Freeps fear my name. (Just ask Bandoras if you want the extremely long story about how scared the Freeps were of me as he was a major Freep PvMP player at that time.)
Around this time there was no Creep or even PvMP writer on CSTM. After looking at older articles and seeing the sheer lack of content on CSTM about this big part of the game that still only has a handful of people who have made it to the top rank, I knew that I could try to write on CSTM. After being motivated by M-EN members and all the people who hung out in the Moors, I decided I would try to send in an article. With my first article I tried to make it as funny as possible to have a chance of getting on the site. A few days went by without any response and I was getting worried. I don’t remember what exactly was going on at the time but I do remember that something big happened and so there was a delay. I was really surprised when Goldenstar let me start putting articles on the site and considered it a huge honor. I quickly started talking about all news, play through and helpful tips for new and old players in the Moors.
After writing about PvMP for a while I decided that I wanted to spread my wings and write about several different things with LOTRO. It was much easier to write non-Creep articles after all the Creep articles in a row I wrote. Some of my favorite articles were my April Fools joke which was called “Adventures of Bilbo coming Spring 2013” which actually became kind of true with the Rohan Instances that are coming out in February. Now that I know Turbine takes my April Fool jokes seriously, I will be taking suggestions for 2013’s April Fools for turbine to make in the comments below. My other favorite article was one of my favorite moments in PvMP which was taking down the Uber Delving Boss. That experience is what threw me over the line to start writing at CSTM and so I owe everything that has happened to that one awesome experience we had in the Moors.
By the time 2012 came around I was already writing about non-PvMP stuff and was able to help CSTM cover Riders of Rohan which was a lot of fun. It is really exciting to being able to write about the biggest thing to happen to LOTRO in 2012 on the largest fan site for the game. Being able to inform people and help them find out more about all the cool things of the expansion was a lot of fun. I really could not have picked a better expansion to be able to cover as it is one of my favorite additions to LOTRO. I was also given permission (which again was a big surprise) to host update roundtable episodes of CSTM called Update Talks. This has been a lot of fun to be able to host shows and meet/interview big people on CSTM and in the LOTRO community like Bandoras, Shipwreak, Sig, Ivan and Pineleaf.
After being able to make Update talks a success I decided to move ahead with my idea of a PvMP YouTube show. I really liked it as it would allow me to be in a fellowship with one of the Creep classes in each position. It is really cool to see how the Creep fellowships work with the class makeup Turbine intended with them. It is also fun to be able to make a weekly show with people who love PvMP as much as I do…and Pineleaf. Which by the way, Pineleaf as a spider has been its own reward that I did not expect to have happen. If I was not a writer for CSTM, I would have never had the ties, means or confidence to make a weekly show with the cast of characters that we have there. Also, I would have never been able to be part of one of the largest and longest PvMP battles in LOTRO history.
I was also able to make skirmish videos on my YouTube channel with Pineleaf. This has been a lot of fun because what is better than running skirmishes with the skirmish master. If I had no other reward from writing at CSTM, it would have still been well worth it for the friendship I now have with Pineleaf. Amazingly as you have already seen and will continue to see, that is by no means all the perks I have gotten from writing on CSTM.
Three months ago I started being a co-host on the (at that time) brand new show, Random Fandom. Random Fandom quickly took off as my one of my favorite things to do. It is a lot of fun to be talking each week with all the people I used to talk with on the TeamSpeak server. Bandoras, Viking, Roz and Rifflo are great friends and I can’t wait to do the show each week as we have a blast on that show talking about all the nerdy news. As of a month ago, Random Fandom is now the “official news show” of Middle-Earth Network. This is a huge honor and I, of course, have to thank CSTM for getting me into Middle-Earth Network because without that involvement, I would have never been able to co-host on such an awesome show. I also love all the great guests I have been able to meet because of that show including: Corey Olson, the Quest Gaming Network hosts, Danielle Story (winner of the first Hobbit Film design contest) and several others.
My favorite thing that has happened through CSTM was an unforgettable experience. I was able to meet Corey Olson and Peter Beagle in person at Mythmoot 2012 where we got to watch the first hobbit film together in a theater and then talk about it for 2 days. This of course is related directly to Riddles in the Dark and so it was like having your own private episode of the podcast in person and being allowed to debate about what parts of the films might mean for the future and why some of the changes had to happen for the book to make sense on screen. I even got to have a 1 on 4 talk with Corey for about an hour at Mythmoot and that was, by far, one of my favorite moments of 2012 and definitely made a great end to the year.
Moving forward I am very excited about the MMO industry and the changes Elder Scrolls Online might make to the industry as a whole. It will be interesting (if ESO is successful) what LOTRO and the other MMOs might take from the game to make the industry as a whole better. As you can expect CSTM will be there to tell you about all the LOTRO developments in the coming years and I am just glad to say that I am a part of this wonderful site that has opened several doors for me over the last year. Here is to many more years with CSTM and LOTRO!
I also wrote this article hoping to encourage someone who was on the fence about writing at CSTM to go ahead and submit a sample article if you think there is something not being covered and could fill in the spot. While I can’t promise that it will open new doors; I do know that at the very least writing for CSTM has helped me become a better writer and has made the writing process easier. At the start, articles would take a week to write (on the side) but now it is easy to write several pages of (what I consider) quality work at collage without even thinking about it because of the practice I have had at CSTM. Once again thank you CSTM, Goldenstar, Merric, baby hobbit, the readers and listeners for all the awesome work you do and the amazing community you have created.