by Max Barry

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Gameplay Magazine - Featured Personality: Bran Astor

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Featured Personality: Bran Astor

Our guest today, is Bran Astor, a player with a long history in NationStates. I got to know Bran while working together on a festival and was so excited to work with him because he was artistic (making beautiful badges and artwork), creative, calm and player who delivered far more than what they were asked. Can't wait to collaborate with him again :)

How did you learn about NationStates? How long have you been playing NS?
Last Christmas marked eleven years in NS. I stumbled upon it while visiting GolemLabs' SuperPower forums. Someone mentioned it and CyberNations. Happy to say I chose wiselyÖ or maybe not. I can never tell for sure.

What is the significance or story behind your nation's name and flag?
The name comes from my time as world builder for the Kingdom of Alexandria. The character was Chancellor, Prince Palatine, Warden of the North, Margrave of Wintergarde, blah blah blah.

My current flag is a personalized Straight Ally flag that features my spirit animal: the Sasquatch. All of my personal ones tend to feature colors and themes that relate to Cascadia, the Pacific Northwest, or my longtime partnership with Aelitia.

Bran's inner sasquatch gives you a thumbs up :)

What does the sasquatch symbolize or mean to you?

I'm from the Pacific Northwest so the Sasquatch has always felt like the hometown mascot. It started in a very anthropomorphic TEP. Xoriet and ocelots. Bach and puffins. Todd and vulpines.

I think I embrace it for different reasons now. While sizable footprints are left behind, it keeps itself relatively unnoticed. It has the ability to shape culture and regional identity. It's a giant in the trees coaxing people into believing in something more.

Nah! It's because we're both big, hairy, and smell funny.

Tell us about your early career in NationStates and the significant things you did to lead you to where you are today?

The first half focused on the Line Art and Draftroom communities. I was a part of The Last Kingdom before its refounding. I canít say I remember much of NS Proper due to all my time being on those forums.

The second half is highlighted by being a Vizier, Arbiter, UTEP Chancellor, and Minister of Culture & Education in The East Pacific, all the previously mentioned roles in the Kingdom of Alexandria, and most recently Guardian, Minister of Internal Affairs, Marquis of Hebao, and Xia of the Imperial Order of the Dragon and Benevolent Orders of Confucius and the Three Perfections for the West Pacific.

I attribute any true significance to the steadfast friendship of Aelitia (for keeping me going), and the guidance of Dalimbar (for pointing me towards TWP).

If thereís a snippet of advice or a lesson to pass along, itís that acts of thoughtful creation unlock opportunities. Be brave enough to put yourself out there.

What region are you currently a part of? What do you like best about this region?
Iím currently a member of the West Pacific and The Sasquatch Republic.

I once heard TWP described as a casserole of humanity and have to agree. Ancients, newbies, snark, professionalism, with plenty of cheese. The region is comfort food.

TSR is The Sasquatch Republic, a sleepy UCR with damn good huckleberry pie. It's designed to be respite from feeder life and gameplay. We have a solid group there that enjoy activities outside the norm for NS. We've made a regional quilt, held a marching band contest, and had some great times at the turtle racetrack.

I am also currently assisting the Region of Gay with a reboot at the request of their regional executive, Kundu.

What are your thoughts on the various gameplay venues (forums, Discord, gameside\RMB)?
I believe the holy trinity of Discord, RMB, and forums is more important for older, well-established regions like TWP. The longevity of any venue lies in a communityís ability to innovate and adapt.

What has been your favorite historical moment in NS?
NationStates 2!

NationStates 2 was supposed to be the sequel to NationStates but faced criticism due to excess monetisation.

Itís actually a more recent event: Imki as Anarqueen of Lazarus.

If you were Max Barry for a day, what would you do?
Visit an ATM or seven.

What do you do for fun when you're not on Nation States?
Grilling, shooting, woodworking, finger-knitting, dance parties & games with my kiddos.

These are really awesome things to do for fun and so creative\requiring artisanship! Can you share three tips for people new to grilling?
1. Don't rush your coals,
2. Have a good rub that you'll never share with a other living soul, and
3. You don't have to break the bank on premium cuts to eat well.

Shooting is a skill that I've always been fascinated by (well in my case with bows and arrows but similar). What is something you've done recently?
I recently restored an old Ithaca Featherlight shotgun, so it's seen the most use lately. I live in a rural area so a 30 minute drive in any direction can produce safe and suitable conditions.

Bran makes wooden swords!

Woodoworking is also a skill that I've rarely come across in real life but requires precision and artistry. What have you made recently that you really enjoy?

The woodworking project I enjoy most are these goofy play swords I sell at farmer markets. They're 24 to 30 inches long and use 3 1/2 inch cedar fence pickets.

OMG you make swords! That's epic and like I'm thinking of a custom one I'd want :P Then, what is fingerknitting?

Fingerknitting is basically using your fingers instead of knitting needles or crochet hooks. I stick mostly to infinity scarves but I've managed to muddle my way to completing an afghan blanket.

Okies, final question about your way cool hobbies! What music gets you on the dance floor every time?

My girls are pretty obsessed with LinkBTS and LinkBlackpink these days so my dad dance moves are becoming a series of incredulous looks and complaints about knee pain. Shut up and dance by Walk the Moon and Shake it off by Taylor Swift cranked up to 11 is usually a sure sign they're serious about seeing the old man act a fool for them.

That is all great music! What is your favorite movie and\or TV and\or anime show(s)?
White Christmas is the greatest movie ever produced. I have a hard time not watching The Hunt for Red October when I stumble across it. The 13th Warrior, Casablanca, and just about anything with Cary Grant or John Wayne mesmerizes me.

TV-wise Iím a fan of The West Wing, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Longmire, and RuPaulís Drag Race.

In terms of anime, itís the old Adult Swim staples: Witch Hunter Robin, Paranormal Agent, Eureka 7

Favorite book(s)?
Robert Jordanís Wheel of Time series, Bernard Cornwellís Warlord Trilogy, The Domestic Life of the Jersey Devil: or, BeBopís Miscellany by Bill Sprouse, House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

If fantasy is your genre of choice as a reader\writer then you've got some intense word counts. The Eye of the World, the first book in the Wheel of Time series, is 305,000 words.

Favorite music?
Itís hard to say anymore. Karaoke Friday is always good for an auditory tangent. The likes of Lynxi, Badger, and Dali means Iíll be getting considerable doses of Santigold, LinkBillie Eilish, Sturgill Simpson, Austin City Limits, and earworms like Manilla Luzonís Linklatest releasein any given week.

That sounds like a fun karoke mix! What is a game (outside of NS) that everyone should play?
Link5-Minute Dungeon

So you wake up one morning and receive the delegacy of any region you choose. Which would you choose? And what would you do as delegate?
I would choose somewhere quiet, where I can sip my coffee and read the morning puns as Karaoke Friday plays in the background.

Then purge.

What is one change you would make to NationStates to help improve the game experience?
Increase reserved nation name population requirement to 1 billion while reducing the wait time to 18-24 months.

Release Season 2 cards.

Thank you to Bran Astor for the interview :) Let's see what we work together on next!