Interview with the new owner of TVASTBFKACND (The Virtual Asteroid Soon To Be Formerly Known As Club NEVERDIE) Ahh, the teleporter. Allowing for instant traveling between cities, continents, planets, or other objects. Usually, my usage of the teleporter is limited to Calypso use (I expect that to change drastically in the next few months), but today, it takes me up to the second asteroid that was discovered orbiting around Calypso, the rock hosting the first virtual night club named after its owner: Club NEVERDIE. However, as things stand, the asteroid will soon be renamed, as its previous owner sold it off in the world's largest transaction for virtual property ever seen before. For $335,000 USD, Club NEVERDIE changed hands from Jon 'NEVERDIE' Jacobs to 35 year old Yan Panasjuk, better known in-game as John Foma Kalun, who in one move obtained the remaining 8 biodomes, the night club, the shopping mall, the apartment buildings, the naming rights to the asteroid, and the stadium that the construction company MindArk, 5 years after the initial sale, has yet to deliver. I am here to interview Foma (or "pesok" as he sometimes refers to himself) about his purchase, and to see if I can learn more about him. As my body tingled from the molecular transformation that occurs while traveling at warp speed, I couldn't help but let my mind wander for a bit as I stepped out of the teleporter. Club NEVERDIE, home to exotic creatures like the Cornoantarion, the Caperon, and of course the fearsome Daspletor. The asteroid is a popular area for miners due to the increased chances of striking particularly rich pockets of precious metals and ores. I make a mental note to drop a few bombs after the interview and try my own luck. As my eyes adjust, I am greeted by Foma in person. He leads the way to his private office while constantly keeping track of all the things that need his attention by means of his smart phone. I can only imagine all the stress involved in managing a club, shopping center, biodomes, and all the other things going on. In his quiet office we then commence the interview. "I understand that in real life, you are originally from the CCCP but now you are in the US? What brought you to the US, what do you do for a living in real life, how old are you, and are you married?" Foma replies: "I was born in the former Soviet Union Republic but early in my life, right after the collapse of the Soviet Block, my mother and I immigrated to the US to avoid the growing war between two neighboring ex-Soviet republics. I now reside in Boston, Massachusetts, and by profession am a software engineer. Ever since I was 6 years old, I have been fascinated by computers, and later on the Internet and the opportunities it provided. I was engaged twice, although never married and I do not have any children." Enough smalltalk. Let's talk Entropia! "How did you hear about Entropia Universe, when did you start playing, what would you say is your primary activity in the game, and how much do you play during an average week?" Foma rubs his chin while he thinks for a minute, and then answers: "I got a tip from someone to check out "this new thing" in the beginning of 2000 right after the computers did not crash at the strike of midnight. I believe i joined "Project Entropia" (or "Entropia Universe" as it is known today ) in the middle to the end of 2000. The exact date has gone to computer heaven along with my old system. I started, like many here, as a hunter. About four years ago I started focusing on a miner profession and easing into crafting. Currently, I am one of the most skilled crafters in-game, and crafting is my passion - nothing gives as much of an adrenaline rush as you get from clicking a 2kPEDs per click BP. Crafters will know exactly what I am talking about. One of the reasons I finally decided to purchase a part of this great Universe is that I wanted to spend more time here, and with this move I am now hoping to be online an average of at least 60 hours per week." My next questions are, whether he visited Club NEVERDIE prior to it going up for sale, and why, and when he got the idea of actually buying the asteroid, or a substantial part of it. Foma laughs, and says that of course he attended the club before. "Ever since I made my first virtual step onto the asteroid, about a week after its opening in 2005, I realized its amazing potential and all of the new ideas started to fill my head." Intrigued, I ask him what these plans are, and what we are to expect at the asteroid under his ownership. "My plan is to bring those ideas onto the computer displays in millions of homes around the world. There are exciting new things that are currently in the works. The first major update will include an area that will not have been seen in any virtual universe before. This is scheduled for the beginning of February of the coming year, with more updates coming in the regular intervals. The asteroid (the name of which is currently being decided upon in the forums) will grow and become an exciting and mind blowing place with a plethora of activities both old and new." That reminds me. A few months before, we received word that most likely Foma was the one who had bought Club NEVERDIE, but somehow that did not quite work out. I ask him if he can elaborate on what happened. "Yes, we were discussing the deal with Mr. Jon Jacobs about me purchasing the entire asteroid in May/July of 2010, but unfortunately due to unexpected personal problems, I was unavailable for almost a month and Mr. Jacobs, unable to reach me, started the sale of the individual biodomes. As soon as I was able to re-establish the communication with him we modified the original deal and that is the reason I am doing this interview. In a way, I am glad that I have more dedicated players owning some of the biodomes. To quote a famous pioneer- "together we can!" In the early days of Club NEVERDIE, one of the main problems was finding transportation up (or down, for that matter). For the time being, space travel has been suspended, and instead colonists can travel to the asteroid by means of teleporters, but that might (actually, it probably will) change in the future. I ask Foma if he has considered making arrangements with pilots in order to ensure that anyone who wants to come up will be able to do so swiftly and without too much of a hassle. Foma states that for the time being, nobody will be able to predict what the new space travel system will look like, but he indeed will be trying to look for ways to make the trip to the asteroid as smooth a process as possible. Club NEVERDIE has seemed a bit desolate the last few times I attended, so I wonder whether Foma has any concrete plans on how to draw in a bigger crowd. Is he planning on organizing recurring events, or offering lower taxes? "Yes, the regular events are definitely coming, with a few testing events scheduled for the immediate future. I am still trying to get a feel for the taxation system on the asteroid and in the meanwhile, I have lowered mining taxes across all biodomes." In a similar fashion, the shopping center seems deserted. Only a few of the available shops seem to actually be open for business, with many others being closed. Foma, with a twinkle in his eye informs me that this should change soon. "I definitely see the shopping area as an important asset that should compliment the general experience colonists get when they come to the asteroid. When all the planned changes have gone through, the new asteroid will attract lots of both new and old players, and the shops will have customers again. I have had few talks with the owners of currently opened shops and those that will keep or reopen their shops on the asteroid now will have a priority for the upcoming ad system." Hearing Club NEVERDIE referred to as just asteroid, or "new asteroid' seems kind of odd after 5 years of using its earlier name. I ask Foma if he has any concrete names he is thinking of. "Yes there are, and I even started a thread on Planet Calypso's official forum with a chance for anyone to win up to 5000 PEDs for a winning idea. I have dreamed up quite a few names for the asteroid during the last six month period but have not yet made a decision on the final name." When the asteroid was announced back in 2005, one of its listed features was a stadium. However, to date, this has not yet been delivered by MindArk, but Foma when I ask, is quick to announce that the stadium will be coming the beginning of 2011. Having just conducted the largest virtual transaction ever, I wonder what his thoughts are on the upcoming planets, or planets like ROCKtropia, and whether he deems them to be risky for his newly acquired business, or whether he thinks of them as opportunities. Foma thinks for a moment, and then replies: "I definitely see them as opportunities, as each planet will provide unique experiences. Together, we make up the greatest virtual universe in the world. Newly announced planets such as Planet Michael and Planet Arkadia, along with others that have been announced a while ago but have yet to be implemented, will ensure a steady flow of new residents to our universe, and hopefully most will decide to make it their permanent virtual home." Going back to the largest virtual transaction ever, I ask him if he is willing to share how he got the funds together. Foma winks, and only replies that it cost him a lot of time and effort, and quite a bit of pulling strings to come up with the money. Just when I intend to ask a bit deeper into it, his phone suddenly beeps a few times in succession, which must be important, as he apparently shut it down earlier for the interview. "Business," he apologizes, and after a brief exchange on the phone, he apologizes again, and tells me he unfortunately has to leave. I nod, shake his hand and thank him for his time and hospitality, and make my way to the shopping mall, in order to buy a nice fat amp for my mining trip. Bombs away!