Each month we interview a First Officer or Commanding Officer of the fleet as part of our “First Officer in Focus” and “Captain’s Corner” columns to get to know them better, and learn more about what their positions entail.
This month, we’re interviewing the First Officer of the starship Columbia, Lieutenant Commander Jarred Thoran, a human male. He was last interviewed in December, 2017, as part of our “Lower Decks” column of interviews.
SHAYNE: You’ve been a part of a few interviews, so avid readers of these close ups will be familiar with your basics. Nevertheless, for the benefit of those newer members of our community, could you tell us a little bit about where you hail from?
THORAN: I’m Richard. Originally from the UK, but have spent the past and a bit years in Germany where i’m now training to be a police helicopter pilot.
You’ve been here a little more than a year, and in that time you’ve become one of the strongest and most enthusiastic pillars of our community, using your many talents and unimpeachable commitment for the benefit of the fleet as a whole. Training team, staff member, graphics wizard, wiki gnome… what inspires you to take on so much responsibility?
Blimey, you’re making me blush, and that is certainly an over exaggeration, i’m definitely not a wizard or a gnome. More like a goblin that sticks his head in everywhere. Anyway, to answer your question. When I first joined the fleet I had an abundance of free time, which I wanted to put to uses other than playing video games or doing DIY and housework. I browsed the task forces and found a few I liked the look of, teams that would enable me to use real life skills/experiences to help out. Since then, the community has given me a lot of good times, fun experiences and also helped through a few dark patches, so this is my way of giving back to a community that has given me so much, and I hope that i’m helping to add to that, and to create a good experience and fun times for others.
You recently became the first officer of the newly launched USS Columbia – how does it feel to be Number One?
As the writer it is good fun exploring Jarred’s feeling and thoughts to the changes and how he adjusts to his new responsibilities. In character he has only been first officer for a couple of (very hectic) weeks. The launch of the Columbia has seen us move to a new region – the Sagittarius Reach – and the first time Jarred was left in charge of the ship, they lost the Captain. So right now i’m having fun with how exploring how he is dealing with having suddenly been thrust into the chair and the responsibility it entails.
As cliché as it may sound it is also an honour and a privilege to have been selected for the role. We’ve got a fine crew aboard the Columbia, with many talented and experienced writers amongst the ranks (I think it is something like 50 odd years combined experience). I’m also really looked forward to the future and leading the crew in our new adventures and opportunities in the Sagittarius Reach.
Do you have a simming process, and if so, has your appointment as FO changed your procedure in any way?
I primarily write my sims in Google Docs, from a “master copy”. I begin by pasting in everybody’s individual responses since my last sim, including what has happened since. I’ll then go through and colour code everything (dialogue is black, my descriptions/narrative is green, other people’s descriptions/thoughts/narrative are red and unanswered tags are purple) at the same time i’ll adjust the formatting. Next, the hard part, i’ll start writing, removing the red parts as I go along, and colour coding what I write. Then I take a short break, before coming back and proof reading what i’ve written. Once i’m happy with it, i’ll copy and paste into a new post on Google Groups, have a final read over and edit the formatting again (for some reason it ends up getting messed up) and finally I send it.
Before I would usually read sims, and write on the same day. However, i’ve started to read sims one day, then write the next, skimming over the scenes i’m in again just so i’ve got everything clear in my mind. On my “reading day” I also start thinking about how to move the scene forwards, how would Jarred react etc.
Looking forward, do you have ambitions for rising even further in the fleet?
I’d be lying if I said it’s not something that is at the back of my mind, but for the moment I’m enjoying the view. Being a captain is a difficult job, not least the responsibility of managing an entire crew of people with different skills, experiences and personalities. For the moment I’m focusing on learning and growing as much as I can, and I’ve been fortunate to serve under some incredibly supportive captains, who’ve taught me a lot. I also still feel relatively new and want to continue supporting the fleet as much as I can, whilst I can.
Is there a particular part of being an FO that you enjoy? A part you could do without?
My favourite part has be interacting with the crew OOC. Before becoming first officer i’d served on the Columbia’s staff and acted as a mentor to a few players. But now I have the whole crew to interact with, and I love checking in with them all, hearing their ideas and aspirations, as well as helping them achieve their goals. Not only that, but I love the opportunity to push the spotlight onto others, to give them the opportunity to shine and show off their creativity. In essence you’re a facilitator for others and I really enjoy that.
As for a part I could do without – honestly nothing. There are certainly some challenges that have come with the role, such as writing Jarred in a way that he is still relevant despite no longer being a “specialist”, and having to adjust my writing accordingly and allow other players to “do their thing”.
Chances are we have a good many players in the fleet right now who would like to one day achieve their own first officer birth. What advice would you give to these aspiring folks?
How long have you got? The first thing I would say – communication – if you are interested in command, no matter how junior or new you may be, let your captain know, without bugging them too much (seriously, you won’t be bothering or hassling them by asking, in fact they’ll likely be pleased to hear you want to develop). They, along with the ship’s staff will be the ones to guide you and give the tools to allow you to succeed.
Secondly patience. Becoming a first officer is a big step, with quite a bit of added responsibility. Enjoy the journey. Look to those around you as an example to learn from, whether it be from their simming/writing, or just by talking to veteran simmers. If you have the potential, it will happen, but don’t try to force it, or nag about it. Also, don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t happen straight away, or for the first, second or even third time. Learn from those experiences and ask your captain/first officer/mentor what you can do to improve for the next time an opportunity arises.
As a first officer you’re expected to be a leader, both IC and OOC, as well as a team player. So why not start showing off those skills? When simming, think about how you can provide opportunities for other players, for example, as a security officer you could enlist the aid of a engineering or science officer to help you out with a problem, or have your character suffer an injury (even a minor one) so the medical officer can practice their skills. Reach out to other players to see whether they’d be interested in writing a scene together, maybe your science officer is working on a project and needs help from a medical officer. These are the kinds of things that get noticed by the ship’s staff and will stand you in good stead for the future.
I’d also highly recommend getting involved in OOC activities, whether that be on your ship, or one of the many task forces. You’ll make friends from across the fleet, potentially learn some new skills (maybe even develop a passion). Not only that, but by being an active member of our community, people will get to see your work who will think highly of you and you’ll begin to earn yourself a reputation.
Thank you for your time, Lieutenant Commander Thoran!
You can read more about Jarred Thoran on the SB118 Wiki, found here.