Join us for another in a series of interviews with winners of Duty Post awards from our recent 2019 Awards Ceremony. Our goal is to give you insight into how our fleet’s best simmers write, and imagine their characters.
This month we’re interviewing the writer behind Lieutenant Esa Kiax playing a Trill female assigned to the USS Atlantis as the Operations/Communications. She won the Voyager Medallion which is presented to those Operations officers who have shown great skill in keeping a starship in working order despite near-impossible circumstances. The officers receiving this award have advanced the field of Operations, making sure duty rosters, provisions, gear, and even recreation time are available… no matter what.
GALVEN: Thank you for agreeing to have an interview with me! Could you tell us a little about yourself for our readers out there?
KIAX: Hey there, always a pleasure! My name is Matt Ide, a 24-year-old part-time music student from London, UK. When I’m not studying, I work as a sound engineer in a local theatre. I’ve been simming for about eight or so years now, and have been a member of our happy little family here at 118 for fifteen months. Besides music, I’m an avid climber and video gamer!
Winning such a unique duty post award such as the Voyager Medallion award must be really exciting! Is there any kind of inspiration from anything in Star Trek or elsewhere when you write a scene?
Exciting? Heck yes. I recall audibly screaming at my computer screen when I read the awards post, to the point where my housemates asked if I was okay! I was genuinely not expecting it. Of course, there is a lot of inspiration from Trek. Where would we be without it? Harry Kim was my favourite character in Voyager, which was the first series I ever watched as a kid. Beyond that, the rest of my inspiration comes from the 2004 Battlestar Galactica Re-Imagining. The way that they portray the day-to-day inner workings of a starship is fascinating to me.
Captain Brell mentioned in his presentation that you write in a way that you’re able to imagine the day to life activities, schedule of events, and other little details add the sense of depth playing our game. Where and how do you apply that in your sims?
We all know a starship never really sleeps and there’s always something happening. Shipboard operations are managed from the Ops station on the bridge, so we lucky few who man it get to see a birds eye view of the hive of activity that’s taking place under the bulkheads. Everytime I get a chance to sit behind the ops console and clue in the rest of the bridge crew on what’s happening “off-screen”, I take it!
Usually it comes in the form of NPC writing to flesh out the diversity of the ship, for example, who stocks the cargo bays? Who cleans the lavatories? Who assigns crew quarters or holodeck time? Engineering is largely responsible for power and propulsion, but the human resources fall squarely under the purview of Ops. Other times, it takes the form of small side plots, like one time where a colleague and I simmed the conversation, and subsequent procedures / protocols that would have to be adhered to when a member of the crew is undertaking an EVA or Spacewalk.
What kind of advice can you give to new and older writers who are apprehensive about playing the operations duty post?
At first Ops can seem daunting, I’ll admit I was terrified when I first started. You very much have to be a jack of all trades, much like with Mission Specialists or Strategic Operations Officers. One minute you’re dealing with Engineering related problems, the next you’re being called to help scan a planet by the science officers, before being called away again to help translate an ancient language with whatever communications experience you have. But, that just give you an in to a whole host of different situations that can really help to make your character as diverse as they can be.
It’s important to have strengths in certain areas, for example, Esa is a bit of a computer whiz, but also weaknesses. You can’t be good at everything (Esa can’t fly for toffee), and that’s what makes simming with the other department officers so engaging. Their strengths might just compliment your weaknesses, and vice versa, until you collectively come up with an idea that solves the issue.
I guess if I had to give advice to someone considering the position for the first time, it would be to not specialise too soon. Give yourself room to breath and room to develop your character. It’ll definitely help you to integrate with the other departments a lot quicker.
And lastly, what kind of character development have you implemented into Esa Kiax and how has it affected her? Do you have plans for her future as she gains more experience?
In the beginning, Esa was pretty preppy. Dermont (the Atlantis’ Chief Engineer at the time) once described her as more of a highschool cheerleader than a Starfleet officer (which definitely made me laugh)! She was fairly shallow, and very ‘by the book’.
Once I’d found my feet with her though, I definitely wanted to give her more depth, which I did with her joining. The Kiax symbiont is pretty old, as far as Symbionts go (I think), so it was fun to play around with adding such an extensive history to her memory. It allowed me to dabble with themes of multiple-personality disorder, as well as explore, and attempt to characterise the subsequent depression that came from such an overwhelming addition to her.
I’m still working on resolving things, getting her back to a happier place, etc, but I have a big character arc planned that deals with a fair amount of hard hitting things for Esa, and a certain “extinct” race, which might hinder her recovery a little. I can’t say any more, lest I spoil it!
Thanks for your time, Lieutenant Esa Kiax!
You can read more about Lieutenant Esa Kiax on the wiki.