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 Lt. Commander Robin Hopper who plays a Human/Centauran woman serving as Chief Science Officer and Second Officer aboard Amity Outpost. He won the Okuda and Sarpeidon Awards, given to “members of the Image Collective who regularly go above and beyond in their contributions to this team’s efforts, creating images and graphics for the fleet” and “to a simmer who has made outstanding contributions to the 118Wiki” respectively.
Promontory: You shared a bit about yourself in your previous interview. Is there anything more you’d like to share about the writer behind the Character?
Hopper: I tend to be a pretty open book – so anyone here who’s chatted with me likely knows everything I could share! If we haven’t ever talked, feel free to shoot me a message on Discord. I’ve met some amazing folks here and I’m always happy to make new friends.
What else can I share? I’m a big lover of the natural world, of plants and animals as well as learning about natural history and earth’s processes. Since I was a kid I’ve loved nothing more than watching nature documentaries, reading natural history books, and learning about science. While I never had the grades (due to struggles with math) to go into STEM, I’m grateful for the opportunity to finally realize my dreams of being a scientist through roleplay. My partner and I are also devoted gardeners, bird enthusiasts, and dog parents.
You’ve changed your main character from Kivik to Robin Hopper. Tell us about that switch and where Hopper’s going.
While I love Kivik as a character, and I’ve kept them close-at-hand as the Chief Science Officer aboard the Delta Quadrant’s resident Galaxy Class NPC ship, the USS Kitty Hawk, I was beginning to feel a little penned in by some of the character choices I had made for them early on. While I was growing in confidence and eagerness to explore new storylines, Kivik’s natural timidness and focus on resolving inequalities on their homeworld, made it hard for me to both stay true to their character and engage in the type of RP I wanted to do.
Robin Hopper is more an extension of my own personality, blended with elements from my real life partner, and her avatar. Where Kivik was introverted, timid, and cautious, Hopper is outgoing, enthusiastic, and bold. The switch of PC’s was planned out to occur over the course of a shore leave and mission and I think she’s really successfully fit in with the rest of the Amity Crew. As for where she’s going? Since she arrived, she’s already achieved so much! Right now, we’re both just learning the ropes of serving as Second Officer and seeing where that opportunity takes us next!
You were recognized for going above and beyond in contributing to the Image Collective, what is your approach to images generated for SB118?
I’ve learned so much about the art of image manipulation since joining this community! Looking back at the work I submitted in my application to the Image Collective, and seeing what I’m doing now, just blows my mind. So, I think any talk about my approach to the creative work I’m doing here would be totally remiss not to call out the incredibly-talented and resourceful people that comprise the IC and do an amazing job of uplifting and supporting each other at every turn.
What excites me about doing character portraits most now is the chance to inject personality into them in a way I just wasn’t capable of before. Many of the newer pieces I’ve edited incorporate more dynamic poses and character traits that previously would have intimidated me out of attempting them. While I don’t always have time for this in-depth approach, or know a character well enough to give them the ‘full treatment’, I always try to find ways to represent the three-dimensional person each writer has created through the two-dimensional medium.
Do you have a favorite image you’ve created or one that was particularly challenging to get just right?
I wish I could say they weren’t all pretty challenging to get right! That said, I’ve definitely sunk an inordinate amount of time into a few of the portraits of characters who are particularly near-and-dear to me. One that stands out is my most recent portrait of Nathan Richards, Amity’s Chief of Operations.
I knew that I wanted to create a picture infused with his optimistic and friendly personality as well as show off his prosthetic arm. This started with choosing a source image of the face claim that embodied the vibe I was looking to achieve as well as a pose which would let me work the arm into the frame. The process from there involved turning a white blazer into a black and gold uniform, changing a flesh-and-blood hand into a robotic replacement, and changing a natural brunet into a blond. I’m quite happy with the final result, and I love how it accurately represents the character!
You were also awarded for contributions to the wiki. What, to you, makes for a good wiki entry?
That’s a tough question to answer. The wiki, by design, is always evolving and open to changing and growing in unexpected ways based on the creative output of our community members. There’s also so many different types of articles, each demanding their own distinct style – from species’ pages, to technical specifications, to ship and station layouts, to detailed character descriptions!
I think in working on the wiki, something I always aim for is making sure the page is not only easy to read – but that it is interesting and engaging to read as well. A list of facts might be informative, but if it’s not enjoyable to read as well, fewer people will take the time to take it in. With all my entries, I try to be thoughtful about article layout, the length of paragraphs and sections, the amount of detail I include, incorporating visual elements and pictures, and how to make it easily navigable.
I’ve also enjoyed learning more about wikicode and making use of the (admittedly, limited amount of) HTML & CSS that I know to develop new page elements, templates, and tools for myself and others to use. Again, I have to shout out some of the other amazing wiki wizards here who I’ve learned so much from and have collaborated with on my work for their contributions!
Do you have any advice for folks who might be too intimidated to engage in the wiki?
Yes! Most, if not all of your fears, are unfounded! The wiki has never been easier to work with or more accessible to the average user. Gone are the days where the only way to contribute is to understand ‘source editing’ – the new ‘visual editor’ makes it easy for anyone who can do basic word processing to edit most pages. I also know a lot of folks are scared that they’ll accidentally ruin something or break the wiki. This is largely impossible, since any page or file can be ‘rolled back’ to a prior version, deleted, or redirected! Ultimately, the best way to learn how to get up to wiki wizardry is just to get in there, try things, and get a little messy along the way.
In short – you don’t have to dive in the deep end. Start small, learn as you go, and don’t worry about making mistakes. It’s the best way to learn. (Also, we have a whole Discord channel dedicated to supporting members who are learning to use the wiki, so hit us up for help any time.)
Thanks for your time, Commander Hopper!