On April 6, 2014, Andrus Jaxx was officially promoted the to rank of Rear Admiral. The News Team previously interviewed then Captain Jaxx in early 2012 as part of a segment called The Captain’s Corner, where we learned a little more about the character and the writer behind Admiral Jaxx. Now that he’s attained his new rank, we thought it would be a good idea to catch up with him and find out what’s been going on since then. Admiral Jaxx was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule and answer some more of our questions.
When we last interviewed you on the Captain’s Corner, you were “Captain Andrus Jaxx” and Commanding Officer of Starbase 118. Regarding positions held, where have you been since then and where are you now?
Wow, that is a dated article! Looking at the date, it was published about a week before I launched the USS Apollo. I have been commanding officer of the Apollo ever since. Excitingly enough, we just lost the USS Apollo, and will be moving to the USS Apollo-A in the next couple months. The new Apollo-A is an Odyssey Class starship and we cannot wait to get her into service. While I have advance to Fleet Captain and Rear Admiral, I will still continue to call the USS Apollo home.
As for your duties OOC, you’re the Commandant of the Starbase 118 Academy. What other groups do you participate in and/or facilitate?
When looking at the OOC work, most of mine is administrative work behind the scenes. I do remain an active member of the Podcast Team. On top of those two groups, I do a lot of work for the personnel department. We track application data, retention rates, and recruitment stats. It is a lot of data tracking. Fleet Captain Herrera and I oversee the examination process for Commander, and I also work on grading Captaincy Exams. From there, there is my work on the Captains Council and Executive Council that is mostly discussions on which direction to steer our community. And of course we have our seasonal events, such as Writing Improvement Month and Yearly Awards that I am involved in. For the last couple years I have written the State of the Federation Address on behalf of the Executive Council.
How long have you done each?
I joined the Academy as a Lieutenant Commander, years ago while on the Challenger. I moved into the Deputy Commandant role in June of 2012 and then Commandant in September of 2013. I re-launched the Podcast Team in July of 2012 as facilitator and recently turned things over to Lt. Commander Leo Handley-Page, who is now simming Lt. Commander Nia Calderan. Leo has done a great job stepping into the role, and I remain an active member and help him out whenever I can. As far as everything else, it has been ongoing for a couple years. It started with a revamp of the Commander Exam and grading them, and piece by piece I have added in the other duties as I went along. The best way to make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew is to stagger things when adding in new duties.
For those of us who don’t know, what are your responsibilities as Commandant?
The Commandant oversees all aspects of the training program. We have two Deputy Commandants, Fleet Captains Diego Herrera and Toni Turner, who have been instrumental in running a great training program. We run a 3 week rotation in overseeing classes and facilitating them. However, all three of us usually keep an eye on each class as it comes through. We really work as a team to make sure everything runs smooth. As Commandant, I work on tweaks to the training program and provide trainers with feedback when needed. The first step toward Commander is participating in the Academy, and many people remain after their requirements are completed.
What’s the most rewarding part of being the Commandant?
Watching the cadets come through! While I am only introduced to about a third of the cadets, I am very familiar with everyone that comes through the academy. It is actually fun to know about characters and writers, even though I have never actually met them. It is great to see someone come in and slowly adapt to our simming style and react to the feedback they are given from their training officer. You never know how far the new officer will rise. I was once a cadet, just as every other member of our community (excluding Fleet Admiral Wolf). I always say, “Today’s cadet could be tomorrow’s captain.”
You’re credited with getting the Podcast team back in full swing. When did that restart and what was your motivation to do so?
When I joined in 2007 there were two episodes from the first run under Commodore Rhys Bejain. I loved listening to them, and thought it was a great thing for the fleet. Unfortunately, by the time I joined the group had already ceased operations as Commodore Rhys no longer had time to edit the podcasts. The group tried to reboot in 2008 and 2011 with no results. While sitting at my desk one day, I thought…we need this. With no experience editing, I formed a team and we started brainstorming. Within a month, we released our first episode. As we developed as a team, we moved from labor intensive editing, to a ‘live’ feel with multiple hosts. Once the team was established and I took on the role of Academy Commandant, I wanted to pass the torch to another officer. My co-facilitator was Leo Handley-Page, who people will now recognize as Nia Calderan, and he was interested in taking over. In the end, I felt that it would be a great addition to our community so set it up and got it rolling.
What’s your role on the Podcast?
Currently I serve as host every other podcast or so. There have only been a few that have not had my voice on them, and when that happens I can always rely on Fleet Captain Herrera to do his best impression of me!
In a few words, why should we tune in to the Podcast?
There is a lot in our podcasts, from interviews with members of our community to witty banter between the hosts, it is always something fun to listen to. Those that would love to get on the podcast could volunteer for the team and they too can serve as a host. You never know who you might be teamed up with!
If you could, how did you find out you were getting promoted to Rear Admiral? What was your reaction to the news when you found out?
When someone is promoted above the rank of captain, they are notified by the EC. I was not expecting it at all, so it was a good surprise. To me, rank is not everything. But I am humbled by the confidence my colleagues have in me, and will continue to lend my voice to steer our community!
When you look back over the history of the group, you will not find very many admirals. I think the word ‘humbling’ is the best way I can describe it. It takes time, consistency, and dedication to reach an admiral rank. It feels good to get there.
Looking back on your In Character Career when you started as a Counselor on the USS Challenger, did Jaxx imagine getting as far as he has?
Jaxx developed over time. When he first started out, he did not set his sights on the center chair, let alone admiralty. He has always wanted to serve, so naturally he was always looking at the next step. After being named Second Officer on the Challenger-A, he did set his sights on becoming a First Officer some day. Then once he was there, he started preparing for the day he would take the center chair. As a writer, I do have his career planned out pretty well. There will come a day when Jaxx walks away from the center chair and heads to Earth to teach at the Academy. He and I are not there yet, but that is where he will go one day. Perhaps I will transition to another character as many of my colleagues have, but for now there is still more of his story to tell.
What about Out Of Character? Did you ever think you would have gotten this far?
I think there are plenty of people that would love to command one day. There are those that do not want the responsibility, or may want it one day. But command was always something I wanted to work toward. Writing for the commanding officer of a starship is an awesome thing to do. As far as rank, while I can say that maybe one day I will be Vice Admiral or Admiral, my focus has been on being a good captain and doing what I can to help grow and improve our community. That is where I set my goals and everything else is a byproduct of that mentality.
For those writers just starting out who understandably look up to you as a role model and group leader, what are some general tips you might have for getting more involved in OOC activities.
I have been asked different versions of this question, and my answer has always been pretty much the same. First and foremost, consistency. This is the most important thing someone needs to be successful. It means consistently sim full time, good quality, and participate. Be someone your CO or team facilitator can count on. The last thing you want to do is try to work toward Commander, XO, or Captain and be unreliable.
Second, ask questions. Right now we have eight active commanding officers, with a plethora of retired ones still simming. Each one of us does something slightly different than the other. I have been a CO for years, but I still have an open mind and learn things from my fellow captains. A good support system and people to bounce ideas off of will only help you as you work toward your goals.
When it comes to OOC activities, pick something that is fun for you. This is a game and it should be fun. While I do a lot of administrative tasks, they are fun for me. Fleet Admiral Wolf will tell you the same thing. He loves the [Administrative] side of things with our community. If you can have fun, that is what it will be, so pick a team that you can have fun with. Never stop growing as a member of our community, and never think that you have learned all there is to learn and you will reach your goals.
Any tips regarding writing Sims that you’d like to pass along? A nugget of wisdom you wish you’d known when you first started, perhaps?
We call it script style, but really it is a hybrid style. The script style and tagging system make it easier to include people and bounce things back and forth, but we really want to live through the senses of your character. What do they see, hear, smell, or feel? Heck, if they are in the Mess Hall, what do they taste? Set the scene around them. Remember that at any given time, someone who is not following your plot could be reading your sim. Is there enough in it that will let them know what is going on? Descriptive text will go a long way in covering these bases. And I always suggest opening your sim with descriptive text. That is my little nugget of wisdom!
We at the news team want to once again congratulate Rear Admiral Jaxx on his promotion and thank him for taking the time to answer our questions. You can read more about the Admiral at his WIKI Page, and follow the adventures of the USS Apollo HERE.
And be sure to check back soon, as we’ll have A Closer Look at the USS Apollo-A once she launches in a few months!