Columbia Player Spotlight

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Columbia Player Spotlight


The Columbia Spotlight is an opportunity to get to know and recognise our fantastic players for IC and OOC achievement beyond promotions and awards. Each month a different player is featured.

List of Featured Players


Ash MacKenna
January 2019 Spotlight

This month's spotlight is focused on one of the most prolific, experienced, and dedicated members of the UFOP: Starbase 118 fleet- Marissa. Over her years of exemplary work, this fleet has been treated to her astounding writing abilities, demonstrated through her menagerie of likeable, intriguing characters. Her work out of character has benefited our group in ways too numerous to list in their entirety. With three staff awards and a whopping seventeen badges to her name, there can be no doubt of her monumental service to the fleet. She has set the example on every ship she’s ever been assigned to or commanded, and this group would not be nearly the same without her.

Thank you to Marissa for agreeing to answer a few questions that will allow us to get to know the player behind Commander MacKenna a little better!:

When did you join StarBase 118? Why were you drawn to it? I was drawn in not long after the first reboot movie came out on DVD. Things at home were rocky and I was seeking a creative outlet to ground myself with. As a teenager I had often dabbled in mIRC and PbEM sims, and I thought it would be cool if they still existed. The group I had been a part of before was defunct, but I stumbled upon 118 and immediately applied. The rest, as they say, is history.

In your opinion, what makes a good ship/station? Just like in any game, if the leadership isn't there, if the creative freedom isn't there, it's hard to drive a story. A good sim (ship/station) is less about the actual environment and more about the feel of that environment. I could happily sim on a garbage scow, given the right leadership and freedom to develop the story in whatever direction it seems to want to go. Leading by example is a big thing to me, as is loose restrictions on story diversion. No one wants to play out something that's pre-written and has all of the major points set out in front of them. Part of what makes simming so amazing is that even the writers don't know where the story will go, and that makes them want to keep coming back for more.

In your many roles during your time with the fleet, what has been your most rewarding? I think the most rewarding role I've ever been in was Command. Leading the Ops crew, and then the Excalibur crew, was one of the best experiences I've had here. Not only did I learn and grow as a person, but I was able to participate in a number of amazing stories that have almost become history for me now. My husband and I often speak of these events as if we actually participated ("remember that one time when you shot that Klingon ship...") and there are so many moments I look back fondly on. The one thing I have the most pride in though is the creation of the Image Collective. Back when I was trying to go for Command, one of the requirements was to lead a taskforce or team. All of the teams had leaders, and none of them really called out to me. As a result, I floated a proposal to the EC and developed a new team later known as the Image Collective. The name was based on the fact that we assimilate actors into starfleet characters, so they actually stop being the actor and start being the character. The team has grown and is now, I feel, a very ingrained part of the fleet that will live on. I don't think I'll ever top that.

So far, what is your favourite part about being a member of StarBase 118? My absolute favorite part of being here is that I met the love of my life here and married him IRL. Aside from that, I love the connections I've made, the friendships I've forged, and the fun we all have no matter how geographically sparse we may be. The stories are awesome, but the connections are best.

You've played many different characters during your time here, could you give us some insight into how you develop the characters? It may sound strange, but honestly they kind of develop themselves. Kali was the most difficult, as she was the first and I created her because I needed a character to play. She was based on my childhood mentors, built with aspects of me that I am often unable to show (I'm actually rather shy), but then she kind of took off and grew into her own. All my other characters were created in response to a need or a gap. Either someone left 'anyone' tags that I felt I could fill, or we needed a specific officer or type of officer to help drive a story or something. Ultimately each character ends up jumping off the page and comes to life on their own. Yes, they argue with me sometimes too. They hate doing things they feel forced to do.

What got you into Star Trek in the first place? Any particular movie, or show? I grew up in the shadow of America's space program, living mere miles from where the Space Shuttles lifted off and returned home. As a kid, I ate, drank, and slept space. My step-father worked putting the heat shield tiles on the Shuttles, which gave me the ability to go to 'family day' and actually walk into the processing bays and meet pilots, astronauts, and many of the people who worked on the space program. With an eye for the future, I also quickly fell in love with anything space, especially anything realistic like Trek was to me. I followed my Step-dad and mom around to various conventions, met a number of the actors involved, and took part in the very welcoming community that is Star Trek fans. All told, it wasn't any one thing, but many that made me the fan I am today.

Which character from Star Trek, (either the shows or movies), would you most like to meet in real life? Not long after Voyager came out, life at home crumbled a bit and left teenage me without much of anyone to really look up to or consider a mentor. The result was that I often looked up to the strong women I would see on TV, most notably Captain Janeway from Trek and Commander Ivanova from Babylon 5. I've met Kathryn Mulgrew in person at a convention, but I think I would also like to meet the character Janeway as well. As I look back at the most difficult moments in my life, I realize that she was at least a kind of a guiding force that helped me reach for the good. Alternatively, I'd love to meet Kali too. She's got a lot of the good in myself, along with some of the capabilities I don't feel I have. I think I could learn a lot from her.

If there was one thing you would want everyone to know about you, what would that be? I'm not sure really, other than to say that I'm super approachable, I love JPs, am always happy to help, and I adore writing connections with others. Be it friendships, romantic relationships, enemy-ships, or any other interpersonal connection, my favorite part of writing involves anything to do with the inner emotions and psyche of the characters we play. It is these things that make the story and all of us who participate so much more real.


Na'Lae Mandak
September 2018 Spotlight

Whether she’s piloting a shuttle into a hazardous situation, or taking advantage of DS26’s copious bar facilities, there isn’t a dry moment with Na’lae Mandak. Her writer, Brian, is one of the more experienced members of the crew, and it shows through with his excellent character development. His ability to detail a scene beautifully is recognized with the Nebula Bar, and her recent acquisition of the Pilot’s Sextant- one of the coveted Duty Post Awards- speaks to her commitment and skill, both within the sim and without.

Thank you to Brian for agreeing to answer a few questions that will allow us to get to know the player behind Lieutenant JG Mandak a little better!:

Who or what gave you the urge to join StarBase 118, and more specifically, the intelligence department? When I first joined the fleet some time ago, I came out of academy as an intelligence officer and was assigned to the Starbase. Coming back after a couple year hiatus, it just felt fluid to go back into Intel. As the rules seemed a bit different now, there was a short waiting period to get back into the role that I know and love. Intel has it's draw for the fact that your PC must be useful in many areas in order to be a successful spook. It's always been fun to write like that.

hat do you love most about this community? It would be hard to pick one thing to love. Just it's simple existence is astounding. I explain to people I work with what this is, and how long it's been around, and show them the wiki database, and jaws drop. All done via email. And IRC before that. This is just something I've loved since submitting my original application, and what things are conducive, I just can't wait to get back to it.

Which StarBase 118 character would you most like to meet in real life? I don't even think he's a member of the Federation anymore, but my original mentor, the man I sent my first sim to, Talis Rhul. He was a captain at the time, and was the leader of my academy class. He guided me through this thing we call PbEM. I've just always had a large respect for those who teach.

Na'Lae is a Rekarian. What lead you to chose that species?? The answer to this one might be more simple really. I just had never heard of Rekarians, and there wasn't too terribly much about them in the wiki (albeit it was full at the same time). Not to mention, I saw no other Rekarians on the roster. I'm not real big into being characters that aren't humanoid. Not sure why, the idea just never really grew on me I suppose.

What advice do you have for new players? Invest in your OOC relations with your shipmates. Some great and long friendships can come from this sort of thing!

What piece of Star Trek technology would you most like to see today? Oh without a doubt, warp, and the things needed to make that happen. Space travel is something I'll never get to see. That's part of the reason we do this is it not? Then again, the idea of the world finally working together for one common goal sounds good too.

What drew you to Star Trek in the first place? My father used to watch this stuff when I was a kid, and I ended up watching TNG almost every night while I was a kid as well. I'm in the TNG generation, but I love all things space culture.

What are you passionate about (outside of simming of course?) My daughter means the world to me, and is any of the reason I do anything. As far as hobbies go, I don't have time for many outside of EMS, but I enjoy cooking, playing bass, PCGAMING!!!!

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Talos Dakora
August 2018 Spotlight

Though he has not been with us for terribly long Talos Dakora, has already made clear his ability to write, and write well. In the span of just a couple months, his creativity, levity, and prowess has been put on full display. His descriptive and engaging sims are a treat to read, and firmly solidify him as a writer of great potential. It’s a pleasure to interview him here today.

Thank you to Talos for agreeing to answer a few questions that will allow us to get to know the player behind Ensign Dakora a little better!:

When did you first join StarBase 118? What compelled you to join? I joined the group as Talos in March of this year. I was drawn to this group by the professionalism of the staff, the amount of players and how established the group/game is itself. How many other PBeM groups are 20+ years old?

What is it that you enjoy most about being a member of StarBase 118? I have a boring desk job, so the ability to be creative and live out the adventures of a Starfleet Officer while collaborating with a bunch of great people is my favorite part of being a member of this group.

If you could make any mission or side plot happen, what would it be?? Someday, I would like to participate in a mission where I encounter the Mirror Universe version of Talos or where we are transported back to some critical moment in history. I feel like those are the kinds of classic Star Trek stories that would be a lot of fun to write about.

Delving into Talos, would you tell us a little about how you developed him - he certainly has an interesting backstory? I decided to give Talos a long career as an enlisted Marine before becoming an Officer so that I can play a sort of "grizzled, seen-it-all type" character without waiting the several OOC years it would take for that to actually make sense. It also helps explain (to me, anyway) why he might be placed on the Senior Staff of a Starship as an Ensign. It also allowed for Talos to be old enough to have been about 10 years old during the Dominion occupation of Betazed, which is something there is not a lot of canonical information about. I thought that his experiences there would be an interesting story thread that I can develop as time goes on.

What is it that appeals to you about playing an Intelligence Officer? I like the flexibility of the position. You can play it as more of an analyst, who pours over all of the information and comes up with the key piece of intel at just the right moment or you can play it as a more direct action duty post who can go into the field with the away team and take care of business. Depending on the opportunities (and what your CO allows) I think there is a lot of potential for fun story lines as an Intel Officer.

You can place yourself on any ship, StarBase 118, or TV series. Which would it be, and it what role would you want to serve? That's an easy one: Captain of the Enterprise during the Kirk era. Play fast and loose with the prime directive, rip your shirt kicking the bad guy's butt, attend a funeral for the red shirts and shack up with that gorgeous alien. All in a days work! No, but seriously I like the idea of being sort of on your own on the "5 Year Mission" and being among the first to discover new worlds and civilizations.

What is your history with Star Trek? My dad and uncles always had TNG and Voyager on as a kid, but I never really got into Trek until I saw Star Trek (2009). I enjoyed that movie and immediately went out and bought the TOS Blu Rays and fell in love with the rest of Trek in the following years.

Outside of StarBase 118 and the universe of Star Trek, how do you enjoy spending your time? I'm constantly upgrading and rebuilding my "fleet" of gaming PCs, I swear I have more fun doing that than actually playing games on them. I'm a big time VR enthusiast too and I'd love to play VR games with anyone in the Fleet who plays them. When I'm not being a giant nerd I like hiking, barbecuing, and participating in IDPA matches.


Anath G'Renn
July 2018 Spotlight

J, the writer behind Anath G'Renn joined the Andaris Task Force in February 2017, initially as a medical officer and has since worked her way up to become the Blackwell’s Chief Medical Officer. During her time with the fleet, she has received numerous awards, including The Silver Palm, The Neelix Award, The B-Plot Award and The Russ Bar. More than that, she is a phenomenal writer, displaying her talents during a variety of missions and OOC activities, including the FNS. She has been a steadfast member of the ATF, and a pillar of this community for more than a year, contributing in a variety of ways for the benefit of the group.

Thank you to J for agreeing to answer a few questions that will allow us to get to know the player behind Doctor G'Renn a little better!:

How did you end up at StarBase 118? I stumbled upon the wiki purely by accident, and I was intrigued. I had never really done anything like Starbase 118 before. But, after doing some digging on the wiki and seeing more I decided to give it a chance. Nearly a year and a half later and I’m still here.

What is your favourite part of StarBase 118? People? Places? Tech? Roles? Ships? My favorite part of Starbase 118 is definitely all the great people I’ve met here. Without other people collaborative writing doesn’t go very far. Luckily I think that we have an incredible and supportive group of writers who make writing here so rewarding.

Delving into your character, Anath G’Renn, would you tell us a little about how you developed her? My first thought when I was considering a character was to have a Vulcan medical officer. However, I was worried about my ability to convincingly pull of a Vulcan character. Because of that I decided to add in something to make her a bit more expressive and emotional.

My first thought was half-Human, but I wanted to try something really outside the box. In addition to making it easier to write for Anath the duality also provided a natural path for character progression as she struggles to balance two polar opposite natures.

Anath has developed wonderfully during your time with StarBase 118. Where you see you Anath going in her career in Starfleet? I’m not entirely sure what Anath’s future career holds. Maybe she’s destined for command some day, or her place could still be in sickbay where she started. Regardless of what she’s doing concern for the well-being of her crewmates will be a constant in her career.

Do you have any advice for aspiring medical officers? Find what drives your character to be a doctor. Being a medical officer is a career path that is incredibly challenging from start to finish. Even entering the profession requires years of schooling, and the job provides no shortage of stress. That isn’t something that somebody puts themself through without a good reason. Character motivation is key.

As the latest recipient of the Russ Bar combined with your performance at the recent Trivia Contest, it is evident you know your Trek. What was is that got you into Star Trek in the first place? Science fiction has always been one of my favorite genres, just as science was always my favorite school subject. I think that when I first saw an episode of the original show with my dad I was impressed most with the optimistic outlook on the future. It was probably the first fictional world I really wanted to live in. Not only did it provide an interesting stage for the main plot of each episode, the world itself was just such an appealing and well-built view on the potential future (minus a few instances of really bending the laws of science).

Do you have a favourite line or phrase from the shows and why? “Genius doesn't work on an assembly line basis. Did Einstein, Kazanga or Sitar of Vulcan produce new and revolutionary theories on a regular schedule? You can't simply say, 'Today I will be brilliant.’” is a quote I’ve always appreciated. When I’m working on a project and feel upset with myself for being unable to find an answer right away that quote reminds me that stressing about deadlines doesn’t foster inventive answers.

Other than writing with us, what is one your favourite hobbies? I absolutely love to read! I enjoy reading anything from classic literature to informative non-fiction. When the Texas weather is manageable I also enjoy going for walks and just letting my mind wander for a while.

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Hal Mika
June 2018 Spotlight

Anders, the writer behind Hal Mika, has been with Andaris Task Force since April, joining directly from the academy as a counselor. In the short time that Anders has been with us, he's already proven to be a more than adept writer, bringing his character to life with skill and aplomb.

Thank you to Anders for agreeing to answer a few questions that will allow us to get to know the player behind Counselor Mika a little better!:

What brought you to StarBase 118? My brother sims on the Veritas. He inspired me to write early in life and suggested Starbase 118 as a good way to develop my writing, so I decided to try it out and I have not been disappointed.

So far, what is your favourite part about being a member of StarBase 118? It’s pushed me a writer. Having a dedicated community that writes alongside me has really helped me develop my ability for collaboration. Reading everything everyone else writes is entertaining and it really helps me see a lot of variety in ideas and styles of writing and helps me turn those observations inward to see what I can do to improve. It really is a great community and I’ve enjoyed every moment I’ve been a part of it.

What do you spend your time outside of StarBase 118 doing? I spend a lot of it in a pizza shop, making dough for college. (Pun intended.) I spend a lot of my free time catching up on Star Trek. So far, I’m in TNG Season 3, working forward in order of release. Beyond that and among other things, I enjoy running, camping, videogames and listening to and making music.

What drew you to playing a Counselor? When I was first joining, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to sim. I checked the Duty Post availability and at the time it said Counselor or Science officer were most needed and I wasn’t sure I could write a very good science officer. Science has never really been my strong suit. Counselor sounded like an intriguing and challenging duty post to write for, without having to spend a bunch of time trying to catch up on all of the science stuff that goes on and has gone on in the Star Trek Universe.

Ba’ku is certainly an interesting choice, how did that come about? I wanted to play a less familiar race, one that would allow me to explore my character in a way beyond what I could do with a human. I hadn’t seen much of Star Trek before getting started here; we had all the movies at home when I was a kid, so I was somewhat familiar with the Ba’ku. It seemed the appropriate amount of unfamiliar without being something I wouldn’t know anything about as a writer.

What is your favourite Star Trek series? I’ve only watched TOS and some of TNG. Of the two, I prefer TNG, if only because by the time it came around, the picture of what Star Trek was was clearer and better funded.

Do you have a favourite character from the shows and why? All the characters I’ve yet seen have been wonderfully distinct and they add so much to the story of each series. But if I had to pick a favorite, I think Data would be it. His cluelessness about certain human behaviors never ceases to be amusing and his quest to be more human adds a lot to his character, making him deeper and more interesting than most characters in any story I’ve read or watched.

If there was one thing you would want everyone to know about you, what would that be? I guess I’d like everyone to know that I work hard, but I’m a terrible procrastinator! So if ever I’m slowing the ship down, don’t be afraid to let me know. Sometimes, I just need a little push.