Driver of the Bus – Interview With Mike Azariah

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This is the first in a number of Q&A articles that I am excited to produce for you guys. My hope is that it will offer a little more insight into the life of various different aspects of the game we all love to hate. No time to waste so let’s get started.

Thank you so much for taking some timeout to help me put this together. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am Mike Azariah, I have been playing Eve Online fairly steadily for roughly 12 years now. I am the Bus driver for “Operation Magic School Bus”.  As such I am unaligned with any corporation or alliance as that might be perceived as favoritism. When the mood takes me I will and have flown logistics in incursions and with Edencom. I try to make it to most public events as I am a current member of CSM15 and have served previously on CSM 8, 9 and 10.

You mentioned you have been playing for around 12 years now, take yourself back those 12 years; how did it become part of your life?

There have been a few watershed moments that brought more than its share of players into the game. The Guiding Hand Social Club assassination article in the PC Gamer magazine was what caught my attention. What inspired me wasn’t just for the story but the concept of one world where what YOU did mattered to other players. Other peoples watersheds are the enormous battles, the “This is Eve” video and so on, each event brought their own influx of a horde of players all at once.

In terms of everyday playing eve online, what is your usual line of work?

On my own time I often do the well known abyssal runs or spend some time exploring.

While driving the bus I am busy stocking the various career systems or travelling through them handing out free fitted ships to the newish pilots. All they have to do is speak up in local, dock up, and be under 30 days old as a pilot.  Folks over the age limit can speak up but for them it is a BPC (blueprint copy) or three also free of course.  I am most often found in rookie help chat helping out.

Considering your lengthy Eve ‘Career’ for want of a better word, what has been your favorite experience to date?

For me it has been the CSM elections, win or lose each was a fun time and when I won, now and again, it was a validation for playstyles not normally represented. For me It proved that EVE is not all huge coalitions and sneaky backroom deals. A good example is when I was running for CSM 9 as an incumbent I was actually in the audience at Fanfest, trying to be mentally prepared for losing (prepared a hip flask and everything). The screen was funny because they showed the current (round of applause) then said ‘now the newly elected’ and for me the screen did not change, same position on the screen so I kept waiting for the ‘new slide’  It took a moment to dawn on me that I had been re-elected.

You mentioned CSM, can you give us some insight as to the daily life of a member of the council?

Sadly, given the health of the world, there is no summit for CSM15 which will cripple us something fierce. The daily life is pretty much what I imagine most mid/higher people in the various alliances, a lot of channels of communication to monitor, direct lines to the various dev teams, some CSM start private side conversations with the people who deal most with the CSM members specialty. At least once a week we will have a ZOOM meeting with a team or people who make the decisions for various aspects of the production teams. Yes, we do talk to Hilmar, now and again, along with the other producers.  But things get done when we can talk to the team leads. That is where the work gets done. There are plans they make that we can see in advance (sometimes) and then we can make comments, propose changes, debate and convince.

I myself have written a few pages into the wiki of CCP arguing and commenting on that. I make a point of keeping my book handy to make notes when people ask me things in game or by EVEmail. The ideas I support or think have merit I try to take to the right people at the right time. Other ideas do not go in the book, something like ‘ban ganking in high-sec’. Ask someone else to take that one forward as I will not.

This is the reason WHY you need to elect a diverse CSM.  Having all the members in one field or region of space means that other regions will not have their defenders, or people who will think of the ramifications for their part of space. Do we all get along?  No, not always.  But we do our best.  

Running with the subject of CSM, what exactly inspired you to run for a place on the council?

Hell I can barely remember which CSM I first ran for? Maybe 5 or 6?  Basically I wanted to help and by running in an election (even if you do not win) you influence the topics being discussed.  This continued until I was elected to CSM 8, 9 and 10

Sounds too much like a proper job to me.

I often liken what I do to what I saw growing up.  There would be kids sports leagues but there were always a few old guys, helping keep the field or organizing.  I know some of them had kids in the leagues but others were there long after the kids were gone.  They may have been paid a pittance, an honorarium, but for the most part they were there for the love of the game.

So going back to the game we all love to hate, what is your most favourite killmail?

I mean a carebear getting final on a Niddy is just plain funny. As you may know, once in a while there is the whack-a-bot event where they transport identified bots into Yulai and make it a free fire zone.  If you hear about it?  You get a chance to shoot and loot the botters. It is like watching feeding time in a piranha tank. 

I have to agree its a fun environment, I believe that event was where I got my first ever titan kill mail. My memory is terrible though so I could be completely wrong.

For the sake of balance, I have to ask about your potentially most embarrassing lossmail?

I am not ashamed of any of my losses, they are what they are, part of the game. But let me show you my favorite loss.

It was a death race, a high speed run through low and null and I took a skiff, spent some time admiring the cargo, I wrote in my blog, multiple in character stories connected to the before and aftermath of that race.

On your Twitter you have a link to your blog so what exactly is the theme?

Depends on who you ask really, Mittens once dismissed me as a fanfiction RP candidate. I will admit that I often do write in character, but at the bottom of a lot of the blog posts is the ‘lessons’ where I discuss the game and how it relates to what I am writing.  Main purpose is to give me a writing outlet, as it is something I hugely enjoy.

Any final thoughts would like to share with the readers today?

I often joke that I am a famous person in Eve, that nobody knows.

Obviously the Magic School Bus was mentioned, there is a post on the forums elaborating on what it actually is. You guys are welcome to make a contribution of course. Just want to say a big thank you for to Mike Azariah taking some time out to come and talk to me. Now I am going to head off and take him through a PowerPoint on how to work Twitter. I hope you have enjoyed!

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