Award winner – Oddas Aria, Denali Station (Honor of the Admiralty Award)

Award winner – Oddas Aria, Denali Station (Honor of the Admiralty Award)

Join us for another in a series of interviews with winners of awards from our 2023 Awards Ceremony. Our goal is to give you insight into how our fleet’s best simmers write, and imagine their characters as well as their out of character contributions and achievements.

This month we’re interviewing the writer behind Commodore Oddas Aria playing a Bajoran female Commanding Officer assigned to Denali Station. She won the Honor of the Admiralty Award: “Awarded to Staff Members who have served for a minimum of five years in a multitude of disciplines. From facilitating our task forces, engaging with the Captains Council, and leading with the utmost dedication. This is the highest award that can be conferred upon a StarBase 118 PBEM RPG staff member under the rank of Rear Admiral.”

Fairhug: Greetings, Commodore! Over the years, you’ve been kind enough to take part in several interviews for us. Is there anything new IRL that you can share since your last interview?

Oddas: I’m not sure how interesting my life is in real life, the only update going on is that my oldest has graduated, making me feel old in a certain kind of way.

Last year, you took on the monumental task of running the Denali Invitational – a small craft race in the vicinity of Ring 42 – that was open to all members of the fleet. What were some of the biggest challenges of this kind of event, and how did you overcome them?

One of the biggest hurdles was finding something for non-racers to do.  I knew as a CO that there would be non-racers among my crew and I had planned for that, but somehow I had a blind spot when it came to the players from the other ships and stations not wanting to race.  

Since I was a) wanting to find things for people on my own crew to do anyway and b) wanting to grow the civilian population at Denali station, I just decided to kill two birds with one stone.  With the help of my wonderful staff, I decided to create some side stories that gave the people from across the Fleet some fun activities, were able to show off the City, and to leave a footprint for the crew afterward.

Do you have any particular advice for anyone who would be interested in running such an event in the future?

Don’t?  Kidding.  I’d say go into it with some clear expectations and boundaries, decide who can handle what, and then let them do it.  That tends to be how I approach most things professionally, personally, but it worked particularly well here.  I knew I could trust all the team leads and also knew they would come to me if there was a problem.

The Honor of the Admiralty Award is awarded to staff members who have “…served for a minimum of five years in a multitude of disciplines. From facilitating our task forces, engaging with the Captains Council, and leading with the utmost dedication, these writers volunteer their time, effort, and skill to building our game and community and have comprehensively earned the respect and loyalty of members.” What is it about SB118 for you, personally, that has kept you engaged all these years and made you want to give back to the community in such a way?

It obviously started out that I just liked Star Trek, and I was looking for a game that I could play ‘offline’, if you know what I mean.  I wasn’t expecting to find a group of friends that I’ve now known longer than some of my children.  

The community really has turned into a constant in my life that I know I can turn to for everything, ranging from just an escapist outlet to a group of people to lean on when things are going badly week to week.

Other than the Denali Invitational and various other side quests and projects you have instigated and devoted yourself to during your time with SB118, possibly the most impressive of all is Project Aria – an incredible tool which I’m sure all staff (particularly those of us who remember the old sim trackers) thank you for. In his presentation speech for your award, FltAdml Wolf said: “This singular piece of technology has had an indelible impact on our staff’s ability to track our simming statistics and see what we need to know quickly.” Just how big of a task was getting Project Aria up and running?

It’s the old Sim Trackers that really were the impetus for the system.  When I was being tapped for XO of the Embassy, I was shown one of the spreadsheets and I balked.   Like most programmers, I’m lazy at heart, and the thought of doing that work on a regular basis just did not sit well with me.  From there I automated the spreadsheet, then created the first version of the website, then finally created what you see now which is really – by some counts – version 3 of the tool.

As much work as it is, again like a lot of people, I tend to do these types of projects as a hobby anyway, and it was a good way to learn some stuff too.  

I will say, when everyone came to me and asked if they could get the entire Fleet onto it, I almost said ‘no’ just because I was worried I had missed this or that, but I’m glad it has worked out so well.

You were also able to re-launch the Sim Archive, making it possible for any member of the fleet to view sims from almost all the way back to the birth of SB118. How important, would you say, is this shared history to the continued success of this wonderful community?

Once Project Aria was up and running, and it always had a search feature, it wasn’t terribly difficult to get all the old sims into – just time-consuming – and then it was just a matter of adding a separate website to the same backend.

As far as importance, I think if people are going to take the time to write, we should do what we can to save those writings and show them off – it’s one of the reasons the archive has a sim of the day, and it gets posted to the Discord server.  It’s also one of the reasons I like to do some playful things like have a random song posted built from an old sim, just to get people talking about a sim (or character or ship or writer) they might not have thought about in a while.

We’ve spent 30 years building up the universe, we should be cultivating it as best we can.

Finally, do you have any other projects or plans in mind for the future that you can share with us at the moment?

I’m looking into the possibility of adding something to either Project Aria, the Archive, or both to let someone see all the Awards won by a writer, and then nominating them directly.  I’d also love to add a button to one or both systems that would allow you to read a sim and directly click a button and do the same – filling out the Award Nomination form with all the information you need.  I haven’t done more than some basic research on all of this, but it’s on my radar.

Likewise, I’ve also got some other ideas to make CO’s lives easier when it comes to mentoring and more – but those will require more brainstorming.

Thanks for your time, Commodore Oddas!

You can read more about Commodore Oddas on the wiki.

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