Interview of tonto_real – 17/06/03
63 year-old Ken Wood is one of 0 A.D.’s elderly members, but nevertheless one of the most passionate! Can you believe that he fell in love with his Mexican wife Rosa the first time their eyes crossed? And that initially they could not understand each other because neither could understand the language of the other? If you cannot, then think again – the couple are still happily married and have three children and twelve grandchildren!
And on top of that, _real has served in the military and enjoyed the position of leader of one of the most prominent Age of Kings clans. Incredible, isn’t it? About all these things, as well as many more from Ken’s extraordinary life, you can read in his interview.
You were a co-founder and first Emperor of the Tonto Clan. Why did you resign from this position of prominence?
Not long after _JB and I had formed the clan, which seemed to grow by “leaps and bounds”, I had a “vision” of what I thought the clan could become as a “virtual empire” on the Internet. The Queen had promulgated our basic core philosophy for conduct online in the immortal words of, “Thou shalt not flame!.” And we had adopted the medieval idea, because of AoK, that we were a “feudal hierarchy”. I then got the idea that I wanted to steer the clan toward development of “Fiefs” of the realm which other members would put_up, perhaps also just learning to do HTML, to expand the holdings of the clan into any areas that were of interest to us, pages if you will, that were all tied to our home page as well as our forums.
So, I drew up “thePlan” and circulated it via e-mail to all members. It was an ambitious plan, but people seemed to like it and soon went to work on it and they became the “Barons” of the clan. Our interviewer himself is a Baron of the Tonto Clan, my long-time buddy, Tonto_Sting.
Subsequently other “offices” were added as seemed appropriate and largely based on what people were doing for the clan. Sometime later in May I believe, unbeknownst to me that it was going to happen, the members of the clan proclaimed me as their Emperor.
About another year went by, and while the clan grew large and weathered through many “struggles”, we managed to accomplish to a great extent that original dream that I’d had for the building of our virtual empire. One should know that I personally have no online computer skills other than I am a “Tommy Talkalot”, so in every case, whether it was the building of a virtual fief on line or promoting the use of a forum, that was done by someone else to their great credit and not just mine alone, to the credit of the clan working together. As the 2nd Emperor placed prominently at the top of Tonto’s boards once upon a time, Tonto Clan is all about people.
The time came when I saw that for most intents and purposes my goals had been fulfilled, so I decided to “step down”. I did so for several reasons. One was to place the reins of the empire into another man’s hands that I had learned to trust implicitly and admire for the manner in which he had risen to the challenge of enhancing his own online skills which were far greater than I possessed. Two was to demonstrate to the clan and to the gaming community of clans that there can be and that there was a peaceful transition of power, and three, that a man need not, if he has a strongly developed personality of his own, just hang onto power to the bloody end, and that what he has “built” if good, will honourably succeed him, which it has. Sometime after I retired from the Emperorship, my successor, proclaimed with the support of the membership, that I am the Patriarch of the Tonto Empire… and I am pleased by that. ?
You have met a few fellow Tonto members in real life. How does it feel?
Well, just like getting together with old friends, though you may indeed be seeing each other for the first time, and that’s the fact.
How did you become interested in joining WFG?
LOL, my interviewer “bird_dogged” me that there were some interesting things going on “over there”… by posting about what the guys at WFG were doing on Tonto’s Merry-Go-Round forum. They were still a bunch of “modders” back then, Autumn of 2001, but what they’d done under Wijitmaker’s lead was produce the Rome at War Modpack for AoK. That changed the meso-american civs into Romans and Greeks and I installed it and loved playing the Aztecs as Romans whereas I’d not before wanted to play the Aztecs at all! And then they were talking about and sort of working towards doing a total mod for every civ in the game that would take AoK back to AoE times! THAT was of super interest because a year before that we’d have a forum on Tonto Clan’s boards that was called Future RTS Games and a group of us had worked together for months trying to put together a “design” that we hoped we could use to convince Ensemble Studios to use to do a remake of AoE/RoR bringing it up to AoK standards, and then some. Well, when ES announced, no, they were going to make AoM that forum “died”. So, hearing, reading that, really resurrected my interest! Then earliest on into 2002 when I saw that Wijit was again taking a leadership role in promoting the idea of making an entirely new game called 0 A.D., because interest in AoK itself was waning, I sent him everything that I could find of what we had earlier done and later got so involved with it myself that I joined the team not long after my favourite interviewer did.
How do you find the time to balance between Tonto and 0 A.D.?
LOL again. I don’t! I’m so wrapped up in the design process for 0 A.D. that it eats up just about all of my available time. But while the preponderance of that does go to working on 0 A.D., I do have to get back to Tonto’s boards every couple days or so for awhile so I can keep up with what my friends are up to, have some great laughs, ponder a question and post a sage answer, *wink* and stuff like that. Tonto for Tontos is always “Home”, and once a Tonto, always a Tonto.
How do you cope with all those “kids” that you encounter in Tonto and WFG? Have they ever followed your words of wisdom?
You might have also asked have I ever followed their words of wisdom. And the answer to both questions is, “Yes!”
You are an expert on Celtiberians. Has this got anything to do with your living close to the Mexican border?
Guffaws! Nary a bit, but how clever of you to sneak in that you know about where I live! At one time I would have said that I’m an expert on Celtiberians simply because I had studied the Celtics at depth, but now I would be more likely to claim that I’ve become an expert on the Iberians and tell you that the “Celtiberians” were merely one group of tribes that existed in the peninsula of those times amongst many others who also had claim to fame, though that is not so well known in the broader context of the “western world” outside of Spain and Portugal.
I’ve learned so MUCH of the history of places and peoples just resultant to having gotten interested in it more through playing AoK, learned so much more that I didn’t know from the books I’ve gone out and gotten to read, the discussions on Tonto’s and HG’s forums, from my mates, my pardners, and of course because of the challenges brought forth by also becoming involved in the making of 0 A.D. as a genuinely historically-based game. But back to the question as regarding Iberians which will be one of the civs featured in the game, I am especially indebted to Piteas who is on our staff as a historian, himself a professional historian of Greco-Romano and Ancient Spanish History and professor at a university in Spain, for enlightening me as to many characteristics of the peoples who inhabited the Iberian Peninsula in ancient and classical times and in helping me to interpret what I’ve also found on Spanish collegiate websites. What a marvelous boon to communication with people around the world is the Internet!
You have had many different jobs. Which one(s) have you enjoyed the most?
Those I’ve had after I retired from the “pressure cooker” of professional work.
There are several I’ve had during my professional army and civilian careers of which I feel I can be justly proud of my accomplishment but that came more though un-daunting hard work and dogged determination than it did enjoyment, so doesn’t answer the question. I reckon the more mundane type things such as, the 3 years we travelled about in a motor home working flea markets, swap meets, fairs & festivals selling crafts and jewellery and stuff (and we’d have NEVER believed that we’d ever do that); doing food demonstrations in a super store part time around Christmastime to earn some extra money was fun until because I usually sold the store out of my product they made me the coordinator for all 15 “demos” and that meant a pile of paperwork to do when I got home so I quit it; and if you count unpaid “work”, too, then building Tonto Clan was fun and working on 0 A.D. is fun.
People at your age usually think of naught but peace and tranquillity. Have you got any objectives that still need to be accomplished?
Well, peace and tranquillity I’ve got, until me or “mine” are threatened in some way, then it’s pure badass old soldier warrior onetime called such as “baby killer” that you get, so I don’t just think of naught but peace and tranquillity. Objectives yet to be accomplished, lemme see over here on my desk where I’ve got some post-it notes:
1. Replace the broken window in the back of the motor home and fix a number of minor things that need fixing so that we can go to Patagonia Lake and go fishing in it again (my wife just LOVES to fish from before sun up to after dark while I explore the trails to see what’s “new” around there and read a good book).
2. Get rain gutters put around the roof eaves of the house so that there aren’t waterfalls and lakes in front of the doors when it rains even moderately.
3. Raise the cement floor in the “Arizona Room” 4 inches so that it doesn’t flood under the doors when it rains heavily during summer thunderstorms.
4. Tear out the south wall of the “craft room” at the back of the garage and replace it with a greenhouse wall so that we’ll have a conservatory for frost-tender plants when it gets cold during the winter.
5. Rip out and lay new tile on the kitchen floor because Rosa can’t stand the mustard-yellow colour that it now is.
6. Build an HO scale model railroad based on the west coast steam era of the 1930s-1950s in the Arizona room if I EVER get all of the above done.
7. Try to keep two older vehicles, Ford pickup truck and Dodge van, running FOREVER (tip, change the oil EVERY month whether you think it needs it or not).
8. Do NOT, do NOT, DO NOT go into debt in such a manner that I cannot pay for things when I get them so I am not making the fine life for someone else who is living off of MY interest just because I, like the majority of folks I know, cannot delay gratification until I CAN afford a thing or feel that I have to “keep up with the Joneses.”
I know you enjoy smokin’. Have you got any other vices?
Ummmm, well, no… except that some would claim that I’ve become a “computer potato”.
Outside Tonto and 0 A.D., what are your hobbies?
HO scale model railroading in the genre indicated above, especially of the Southern Pacific Railroad and its subsidiary Pacific Fruit Express (which my granddad worked most of his life for). I grew up during the final decades of the steam era, often living right next to or very near the tracks and was always fascinated by those BIG mutha choo-choos puffing and chugging on bye. The most astounding thing that ever happened to me in my life was when a train wreck took place right in front of me when 4 engines (albeit diesels by that time) piled up atop one another only 30 feet in front of me at the crossing where I was awaiting their passing! That was more startling than a mortar attack. As I said, my granddad was on the railroad so I got into the yards where he was the general stores foreman for the repair shops, when in high school for a time living with him us kids used to hitch a ride on the slow trains going through the yards most of the way to school. I made quite a few days-long journeys across country on the passenger trains of the Southern Pacific, Louisville and Nashville, Texas & Pacific, Missouri Pacific, Illinois Central, Great Northern Railway, and probably others (where I ALWAYS met pretty girls who made the trip ever so much more pleasant for 2 or 3 days at a time), and the last one being on a troop train (which had to stop out of town and then sneak into the Oakland disembarkation docks at 4 A.M. to avoid the Vietnam war protestors who’d been laying on the tracks—but I guess those wusses got cold and went home). The most interesting rail trips I made were on the Chihuahua al Pacifico in Mexico and the railways of Costa Rica from the capitol, San Jose, to either coast, Caribbean and Pacific. I’m a member of the Cochise & Western Model Railroad Club which has a BIG layout in a whole building of pretty good size (they have a website online), was once the vice president of that for a time years ago but then moved away, now, because of 0 A.D., LOL, sometimes miss the meetings, but have just rejoined after having moved back here in February. When I was in the Army I flew for most of my career, but yeah, it’s the trains I dig… and if you’d ever seen 6 big black monster engines belching smoke and roaring grunts aloud as they humped a heavily-loaded one-hundred plus car drag up a looooooonnnnG hill grade, why, you would have known beyond a shadow of a doubt that you were looking at sheer MUSCLE!
Other than that, just about anything to do with plants and horticulture have been a life-long interest, also mariculture and aquaculture, and I’ve long been known in my family as having been a “geography freak”. Oh yeah, I LOVE maps. Maps and imagery. And I really dug it that most of my Army career was in aerial surveillance and reconnaissance because it is so fascinating to see, discover, what human beings DO, or have done, on the terrain below. Maps are so kewell! 😀