War Robots has more than 1 million people playing daily, so of course there are many facets to its community — many faces and characters representing it, many cultures and beliefs.
Ever wondered who are these other players? It’s about time we start introducing them.
For the first article in our (hopefully!) long-running series we’ve reached out to Dredd77. He’s authoring the Gepard Diary website where he dissects all what’s going on within the game. He also grills us real hard from time to time — and now it’s time for us to grill him back!
So here’s the story.
Where Gepard Diary came from
Tell us a bit about yourself and your projects
Well, I’m 42 and live in Kentucky in the US. I work in data for a healthcare company, love Glasgow Celtic, and would say that my biggest and most important “project” is my family. I have an incredible wife and amazing children, ages 6, 3, 3 (twins), 2… and another on the way. They mean everything to me, and I enjoy spending as much time with them as I can. Also two dogs, two cats, four guinea pigs, two rats, and a hamster.
As for projects in my leisure time, I do like to keep busy. I’m a fan of local soccer and involved in the Derby City Ultras supporters group in Louisville, record a weekly podcast, write articles on Magic: the Gathering for a website called Gathering Magic, and of course that doesn’t touch on all the things I’m working on related to War Robots. With War Robots, I run the Gepard Diary blog, am a moderator on the Wiki Forum, and am involved with our incredible seven-chapter clan, Aurora Nova.
I also occasionally like to sleep. More and more as I get older.
How the idea of Gepard Diary came to you? When did you decide “Heck, now I’m surely doing this”?
For me, it wasn’t really all that unusual. When I find a passion for something, I’ve frequently found myself writing about it as an expression of that passion. My first such blog was called Ertai’s Lament (www.ertaislament.com), a site dedicated to preconstructed Magic: the Gathering, and I learned a lot from that experience, and have done several others since.
In that sense, once I started to realize that my interest in War Robots was beginning to exceed the casual, I started to get the itch to write about the game. Or maybe it’s the other way around.
Either way, it was inevitable.
How to keep pace with everything
Here’s a quote from one of your latter articles: “I’ve got no less than eight articles in development right now, as well as writing the curricula for the upcoming Aurora Nova Leadership Academy”. My question here is simple: how do you remain so productive?
Focus and discipline go a long way. So does practice. I mentioned Ertai’s Lament earlier, the blog I did about Magic: the Gathering. Once I discovered how much I enjoyed writing about gaming and started to develop a following, I decided I’d challenge myself to see how long I could maintain a pace of a 1,500 word article every 48 hours.
Turns out I was able to maintain it for close to three years, even through the birth of my first son (pro tip: stockpile a dozen articles or more for rainy days). If your average non-fiction book is around 65,000 words in length, then I wrote about thirteen books on Magic: the Gathering in that period of time. Having had that experience, the greatest challenge becomes finding time to write rather than the inspiration to do so.
My wife has learned to accept this part of me. I’ll probably die in the midst of composing my own epitaph.
How do you manage to combine your real life and your duties as GepDiary author and one of Aurora Nova leaders?
Hard to say, everything just sort of fits together as best it can. I’ll use today (Sunday) as an example. Since my wife’s pregnancy is high-risk, her activity is very limited. I had a long list of things I wanted to accomplish today, so I made myself a list and alternated tasks. This isn’t very sexy, but it’s how the sausage gets made.
So my Sunday went something like this: Mop the downstairs bathroom. Polish pass and publish latest Gepard Diary article. Pick up the living room. Draft a couple press releases for the Aurora Nova website. Wash dishes. Make arrangements to leave current Chapter and found our new, seventh one. And all throughout, chase the kids around and play with the animals. It’s a good life, and it works for me.
On representing a common man
What do you consider as your mission?
This is a wonderful question, and it’s something I’ve thought about a lot.
I think if I had to break it down, I’ve always seen myself as a sort of voice and champion of the “common man.” Because I am one.
I didn’t write about top-level Magic play, but rather the sort of decks you could get just walking into your Friendly Local Gaming Store. I wrote about deckbuilding on a budget. My soccer fandom was the voice of the cheap seats, the supporters’ section, the ones who live and bleed for the team day in and day out.
And with War Robots? Everywhere you look are clan recruitment posters demanding you have X number of slots. Y number of cups. Be Z level. And that’s fine for those clans. But I see myself more in those players coming up the ranks, exploring and discovering, playing for the joy of the game. I’ve made this a large part of the focus of my leadership with Aurora Nova, the notion that we turn away none who share our ideals of Maturity, Family, and Teamwork. I don’t care if you’re level 30 or level 15…do you have a passion for the game? A love of the community? A desire to help others? If so, you’re our kind of people. Let’s talk. How can we help you get better? And what can you teach us?
On building a clan
And what’s the deal with Aurora Nova?
I genuinely believe that what we’re doing in Aurora Nova is something unlike anything else that is being done in the game right now, at least that I am aware of. There are a lot of performance-first clans out there, and again there’s not a thing wrong with that. But we’ve proclaimed a vision where the player comes first, that we take a collective approach to growth and learning. I’m a Chapter Leader, but I’m only as good as the people I represent. That’s my job- making sure they’re taken care of, that they have what they need to succeed at the game.
In doing so, we’ve seen a tremendous response from the community. When I became leader of the Aurora Nova iOS Chapter, we had eight people. Less than a fortnight later we had 35. I placed the Chapter in good hands, and moved on to form Aurora Serica. In eleven days we went from scratch to near-capacity. And today (at time of writing), I placed Aurora Serica in excellent leadership, and founded Aurora Draconis.
One thing we don’t do in Aurora Nova is use the term “feeder clan,” which implies hierarchy.
Performance clans have feeders. We have Chapters, and each is the equal of any other regardless of what Leagues that Chapter focuses on. We have a higher-league Chapter, Aurora Excelsis, and now three Chapters for everyone else on iOS. Three Chapters for Android. In what, a month?
And these are incredible people. People forming friendships and bonds with others all over the world. Squadding and laughing on comms and having fun together. Connecting, sharing, helping one another. Anyone looking for a clan, all we’ve asked is they check out our website. And if they find the vision we have speaks to them, we have a place for them.
And what’s next? Got any future plans?
We want to have a home for everyone that wants to proudly wear the Aurora Nova clan tag. We want to help them better themselves, and make us all better in the process. As a concrete example, we’ve even founded a Leadership Academy that kicks off this week, a four-unit course to instruct and guide on the best practices for clan leadership. It’s sort of like our “West Point,” for players who want to do more and give more, but maybe don’t know how to yet. We have fifteen enrollees, including several from an allied clan.
And we’ll continue to be that shining city on the hill for players looking for a home not a house, and player-centric clans looking for an ally.
What would you recommend to other community members willing to run their own projects?
Have a clear idea of what makes you or your project different from everyone else. Have an answer for the question, “why should people care?” Set goals and stick to them. And do not be afraid to ask for guidance or help. There are a lot of voices in this community who have experience doing what you are looking to do. Be fearless in seeking knowledge.