.: DooMster Unveiled: Inside the BossBrain

Spotlight on Rachael 'Eruanna' Alexanderson: July 6, 2012

Rachael Alexanderson, who is better known in the DooMing world as Eruanna (and who formerly went by the handle 'SoulPriestess'), is a talented coder who has supported development of ZDooM and its derivatives. She has an entrepreneurial streak, and wants to start her own gaming company. To get her started in that direction, she took over the reins of DRDTeam.org, one of the major DooM-related sites, and has been involved in some high profile projects. Being a woman in a genre of gaming that is male-dominated hasn't slowed her down. But don't take my word for it. Read on....

DN: Your entry into the DooM community seems relatively recent. What got you interested in DooM, and what aspect of DooM modding drew you in?
Eruanna: I am mostly interested in playing around with the game engine, manipulating and hacking it to create different effects. One thing that really drew me into ZDoom was the DECORATE lump, because of the ability to create virtually any object in the game within the engine's limitations. I still have many old DECORATE projects and experiments that I still sometimes have fun with playing. However, it's really the mods that I play which keep me into it these days. Right now, I spend a lot of hours playing "Unloved" by Paul Schneider. It's a very immersive and moody mod and I love it. :)

DN: It appears that you have virtually no interest in mapping. True? If so, please elaborate.
Eruanna: I would say that is not true, I have actually mapped for a couple different Skulltag projects. The map that I am most proud of is in slot AOW16 (currently) - and I think it's possibly the only map in the entire mod that really brings that mod back to a Doom setting. I also have a few maps that I have not published and never got around to completing.

DN: What was your role in All Out War 2? What contribution are you most proud of?
Eruanna: I was the lead scripter and one of the project administrators; I revamped a lot of the scripts to run more cleanly and to allow more customization for both future modders on the project as well as players. Despite this, I would still say my map AOW16 was the contribution I am most proud of. However, I am also glad that with the help of my team members, I was able to scrape together a list of credits for all the different contributors for the project, involved or not - it feels good to have done something "right" and at the very least, in my opinion, shift that project in the right direction as far as outsourced content goes.

DN: You've made contributions to ambitious projects (Stronghold, Paranoid, The Phobos Directive). What draws to to such projects? Any plans for other, high-profile projects?
Eruanna: I loved the projects themselves, and I felt that they really are a monument to the many hours of hard work that people have put into them, and that's what really draws me to them. I love being able to fill in the gaps where it seems expertise is always needed in such endeavors. At this time, I do not have plans for other high profile projects, mostly because at this time I am focused on school and my life.

DN: What Computer coding skills did you have (or acquire) that lend themselves to gaming?
Eruanna: I usually master scripting of all types very quickly, which allows me to easily code encounters and bosses any way that an author wants. This skill is not limited to Doom, and I have also done so in other games such as Neverwinter Nights and Unreal. I have some limited knowledge and competency in C++ as well which has allowed me to directly modify open source games to change them.

DN: Do you have any interest (or plans) for a career in gaming?
Eruanna: When I get out of school I plan to start my own gaming company, and focusing on games that are actually made for fun and escape, and not published strictly to line the pockets of demanding CEO's who only talk in numbers and have absolutely zero understanding of what a game really is. I believe that my games will stand out this way because they will have more depth and feeling to them, and more care will be put into constructing them. The gaming community really needs it, in my opinion. My goal will be to create the ultimate game - one that people would pour hours of their life into - not because of the people they meet in it, or because of the drive to be the best at it - but because it would be something that would never get old.

DN: DRDTeam.org, which you 'inherited' from Grubber, is a well-respected site (and, incidentally, the host of DooM Nexus). What would you say are the challenges of running one of the major DooM sites?
Eruanna: There is not really much of a challenge to it right now. For the most part, the site runs itself - and I think it is a testament to many hours of hard work putting things together just the right way and finding just the right people to help.

DN: You've worked behind the scenes on big initiatives (ZDooM, GZDooM, Skulltag). What's it like to be a part of teams with such talent?
Eruanna: It's very humbling. You work with people who you know tower over you in skill and knowledge as well as accomplishments, and you respect them a lot. I know I've been critical of a couple of them in the past, but there's so very little in the way of any truly bad things I could say about them. They've earned the respect of the communities they've created (or in Torr's case, inherited), and they deserve it.

DN: If there's one thing that the Skulltag fiasco taught you, what would you say it was?
Eruanna: Learn to listen to the people you work and deal with. You don't have to go along with them 100% of the time, but when there's a real problem, you'd be a fool to ignore it. Also, that community is a great example of too many egos, not enough space. It was a very tight community despite being the largest and most active Doom-branched community, and the egos and misconceptions that people carried with them caused so many issues, right up to the day Carnevil shut down the forums.

DN: Have you ever felt out of place being one of the few women DooMers active in the DooM community?
Eruanna: Constantly. I feel my actions are highly scrutinized just because of who I am, and I have come face to face with a few in the community who've done pretty well at making me feel unwelcome. I also feel I have at times been given unfairly preferential treatment by certain others just because of my gender as well.

DN: At this point feel free to go hog-wild and add anything you'd like your two adoring fans to know about.
Eruanna: All I can say is, the Doom community, despite its shortcomings, has produced many great things over the years, and a lot of that was done with hard work and dedication and support. There's so much talent here, that I think if people here set aside their differences with one another, we as a community could achieve so many great things.

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