Space Blend #2: MalForTheWin

Riley Thomas

This week we’re having a virtual cup of tea with Commander MalForTheWin. Mal is a fantastic Elite streamer with hands down the best raid video I’ve ever seen. So I had to sit down and chat with him about Elite and the Dogs of Lore! I first found Mal through a raid, and I saw the video, and thought “Wow that is so cool!” So I stuck around, and found out that not only did he make an amazing raid video that blows my mind every time, but he’s a genuine extremely nice guy too! As usual, SB is me, Space Blend, and Mal is MFTW!

SB: Thanks for taking time out of your schedule! I know you’ve been really busy, especially with your new job at Twitch, but we’ll get to that later. First question, since this is part of Space Tea, what is your favorite tea?

MFTW: Technically I’m not supposed to discuss the specifics as MalForTheWin, but I can say it is a dream job and an absolutely wonderful company to work for. {As for tea} Earl Grey. SO GOOD.

SB: Bummer, so you can’t be like like “Hey Riley this interview was the best thing I ever did, I’m going to boost you up to partner just because you’re so damn cool?” Drat. But tea! A man after my heart, I love Earl Grey! How did you get into Elite?


MFTW: I saw another streamer – Pumpkinberry – stream it, and when she did a zoom out to show the map, I was immediately hooked. HAD to buy, and immediately refocused all my stream and community to Elite Dangerous.

SB: Sounds like when I got the game, I dropped everything and focused on it. What about before Elite, what did you do?


MFTW: I started out doing World of Warcraft – it’s long been one of my favorite games. I’ve been a beta and alpha tester for Blizzard going back to Wrath of the Lich King. Then I dabbled with variety streaming for a while before finding Elite. I love space, astronomy, and sci-fi so much, I’ve never looked back.


SB: So how long have you played Elite for?

MFTW: I first downloaded the game in early 2018, but I didn’t actually start playing until late 2018 in preparation for Distant Worlds 2.


SB: Distant Worlds 2. I missed out on that sadly, the great expedition into the great unknown, it must have been so amazing to be a part of! What made you decide to join it?


MFTW: The thought of being part of a large-scale community exploration event was too irresistible to pass up. Plus, with over 13,000 CMDRs signed up and mostly traveling together, it was a lot less risky than trying the trip on my own as a pretty much brand-new player.


SB: Coming from someone who on a whim decided to go to Colonia and Sag A* in a 20 LY jump DBX at the time, I imagine it was a lot less risky! Thirteen THOUSAND Commanders, that’s insane! What was your favorite part?

The mass jump to launch Distant Worlds 2, credit to David Cooper on youtube for the video.


MFTW: The exploration – I had so many firsts on that trip in regards to seeing and discovering things: black holes, neutron stars, and neutron boosts, FSD injections, first discoveries, mass jumps… calling the Hull Seals. SO many great first exploration experiences.

SB: You have a great raid video. It’s one of the best I’ve ever seen. No, it IS the best I’ve ever seen. The first time I raided you, I was amazed by it. If you haven’t seen Mal’s raid video, go watch him stream! The Dogs of Lore video is amazing! I’ve always wondered, how did you come up with the Dogs of Lore?


MFTW: So Dogs of Lore is a bit of a holdover from when I first started streaming. I was initially going to do variety streaming with a focus on World of Warcraft and story-based games. And I’m a dog person, always had a dog. When I got injured in the Army, I got a service dog. In fact, right now is the first time I’ve NOT had a fully trained service dog in over 15 years. So I love finding dogs in games – especially ones you can pet (shout out to canyoupetthedog on Twitter).
Anyway… I decided at the outset, we’d do “Dogs of Lore” as a play on “Dogs of War,” also a covert nod to my love of Shakespeare, Star Trek, and Pink Floyd. The idea just kinda ran from there, led by the community.

Original song about Distant Worlds 2 “Let’s Jump Together” by Tom Cook

SB: Love can you pet the dog. Any game devs reading this put a petable dog in a game, I’ll buy it. But with so many dogs out there, how did the dogs get chosen?


MFTW: Originally, it was just my favorite dogs from my favorite games – ESO, MegaMan, Fallout, Metal Gear Solid, etc. Then the community started suggesting dogs from games. And soon, they were also suggesting dogs from movies, TV, and eventually, from real-life history, and most recently their own dogs. Laika and Leo have been the most recent additions, and very well received. Now, all dogs are welcome to apply… come to think of it, we should do a Twitch-partner style application for people to send in dogs, with a cool celebratory email and “first appearance” video. You’re full of good ideas!

SB: Well I mean, I don’t want to brag but…anyways! I would nominate my dog to do be in it! Though my yellow lab would have figured out how to fly the ship and go find a planet full of tennis balls and that would have been the end of that. You’ve mentioned Leo a couple of times, and mention him on stream a lot, I was sad to hear he recently passed, it’s not easy losing a family member. Can you tell us about him? He was a service dog if you don’t mind telling what his specialty was for?


MFTW: Leo’s specialty was PTSD-related, but he did some mobility assistance as well. He could let me know when I was getting anxious before I’d have a full-on panic attack. He could wake me up if I was having a nightmare, provide grounding when I got angry or detached, and give comfort when I was feeling depressed. He could also bring me a bag containing medicine and a phone if I fell or my back went out, or help roll me onto my side so I could get up off the floor or bed easier. He was my best friend and my battle buddy.

A photo of Leo, Mal’s service dog. Thanks to CrispyTaytorTot for the picture!


SB: He sounds like a fantastic dog. Where would his favorite place be in space?


MFTW: He’d love to be in the seat next to me in the cockpit. He loved riding shotgun in the front passenger seat; I bet he would have loved the same in space.


SB: I’m sure he’s there in spirit, probably shaking his head from time to time going “Mal, I told you not to fly like that, but did you listen? Noooo.” But while dogs are great and all, there’s one cat, one single feline in all of the raid videos. Crispy’s cat. How did this come about?

MFTW: Oh yeah- Crispy and I are good friends, and that Oliver is a great cat. Crispy’s chat LOVES redeeming Pet the Cat almost as much as they like redeeming Marbles on Stream. And since there’s so much cross-over in our communities, I decided that – if he ever raided us – we’d need something special. I thought, “What if instead of us releasing the Dogs of Lore, Crispy releases the cat?!” And it was all downhill from there.

The original MalForTheWin Logo


SB: The video is fantastic, go raid Mals channel and maybe you’ll get to see it! So back on Elite things, what’s your favorite thing to do in Elite?


MFTW: Exploration. Exploration was what drew me to the game. I went to NASA’s space camp as a kid (before it was a movie), and I studied Astronomy as a minor at University. I would love to find a way to do legit educational astronomy content and link it to Elite Dangerous. That’s the real dream.

SB: Exploration is always a big thing, the sights, the sounds of the planets, that dramatic five seconds of music when you find something new. Love it! BossLadyB also mentioned exploration, and it’s my favorite as well. For you though, what sets this apart from other activities?

Mal had his original logo laser etched into the side of his computer as well.


MFTW: Probably the fact that it’s un-doable IRL. You can fight, trade, steal, Uber, etc. IRL. Not much to do exploration-wise. You can travel, but most of the good places have already been discovered (unless you count the 70% of the Earth’s surface that’s underwater). We can’t hop a spaceship and explore the galaxy, even if we wanted to. And I would never qualify for the astronaut program. So until someone comes from the future in a time machine for me or they perfect cryogenics, this is my only chance to just see what’s out there.

SB: So aside from exploration which is usually done solo, what is your favorite group activity in Elite?


MFTW: Combat, by far. Wing combat is insanely fun!


SB: Yes, combat can be a lot of fun, especially when you get a case of the zoomies with a ship-launched fighter, or my favorite ship, the Courier. What’s your favorite ship?


MFTW: Imperial Clipper, also my first exploration ship!

Mal’s clipper, the large ship that should be a small, DLNV Explorer 1, with a killer paint job.

SB: The Large that should be Medium Gutamaya beauty. Great choice. You have an interesting thing on stream, I recently saw. You had 3d printed a Cutter, I think? Along with another ship, I can’t recall at the moment, but you called it Red vs Blue and mentioned that 3d printing was becoming a streaming thing. Can you talk a little about that?


MFTW: Sure! I got 2 Creality Ender 3v2 printers for my birthday, so I decked one out with blue accents and one with red. Then I started setting up “printing challenges.” Each printer is assigned a model of about the same size and complexity, and we check in on them throughout the printing process – which can be days or weeks, depending on the models. I have a scene set up in OBS to show the printers and the models they are working on. I’m also setting up a channel in Discord for people to choose to cheer for TeamRed or TeamBlue, and at the end, we’ll give away a smaller version of each model to someone on each team. Plus, you can swap teams at the beginning of every challenge if you like.


SB: Have you ever pulled a prank on Elite on another streamer, and if so what was it?


MFTW: Not in-game, no – but I should. I’ve played quite a few pranks in Discord or on Twitch, though. Like, I’ve created a fake Twitch account to mess with Psykit (as ED_Engineer) and Crispy (as MrTaytortot and CrispyTaytorMal), and I changed my Discord avatar to CMDR Buur’s avatar, wrapped in a Blue Among Us avatar. Sus.

SB: So we have this thing you know of in Elite called “The bubble”, where most of Humanity lives. But there’s a huge, huge galaxy out there. What’s the furthest you’ve been out of the bubble?


MTW: Beagle Point on Distant Worlds 2. It was an amazing expedition and experience being out that far, looking back towards our home.

Just for context, this is how far Beagle Pointe is. Sol is where Earth is, Sag A* is the giant black hole in the middle of the galaxy.

SB: Always wanted to go there. For context, readers, Beagle point is at the LITERAL other end of the galaxy, 65,279 light years from earth, it’s a long, and dangerous, journey. That being said, there are many beautiful sights to behold. What’s the best thing you’ve seen in Elite?


MFTW: Leo, my retired service dog, passed away last month. As a tribute, I did a live-stream tour of the Leo, Canis Major, and Canis Minor constellations, and ended with a stop at the dog star, Sirius – all dog-related, right? When I got to the last jump, over a dozen folks from the community showed up in-game to do a mass jump to Sirius in Leo’s honor. Tears – actual tears. This community is absolutely amazing.

SB: That’s amazing. I sadly found you probably a couple of days after that happened, as you were talking about it on stream. It’s always hard to lose a family member, be it one with two or four legs, they’re all family.
So about time to wrap up, so three quick questions for the end. What are some hobbies outside of Elite and streaming, which we know is a myth, there is no such thing as other hobbies besides Elite, but make something up?


MFTW: Well, 3D printing, though that’s creeping into the stream a bit. I’ve always loved music and play a ton of instruments, though I just don’t have time to practice as much as I’d like to keep up those skills. And, of course, sci-fi & fantasy tv, movies, and books. LOVE some sci-fi audiobooks. Piers Anthony is my favorite author of sci-fi adjacent fantasy. I love Timothy Zhan (Star Wars) and Christie Golden (Warcraft), too. James S.A. Corey’s Expanse series, Dennis E. Taylor’s Bobiverse series, and Ann Leckie’s Radch series are must-reads. But I think my favorite of all time is Martha Wells’ Murderbot series. I could re-read the novellas and novels endlessly. I love Murderbot.

Mal and fellow streamer PsyKit together in their respective ships.

SB: Zahn and Golden are fantastic authors. Love them both.
Looking back at your first stream, say you were given the chance to tell your past self “Hey, do this or do that differently.” Some people say they wouldn’t change a thing about it. Would you?


MFTW: I would say “PLAY ELITE NOW – speed things up and GET PARTNERED SOONER!” But that wouldn’t be the case. It was the entire journey that led me to where I am, and any little alteration could have a massive butterfly effect on the path.


SB: Ah the butterfly effect, the bane of every time traveler’s existence. Except for the Doctor…
Finally,
Have you ever done any fundraisers, and if so can you go into detail on them, what were they for, how much did you raise, etc?

Mal’s Chieftan, the DLNV Rocinate. Great ship, just don’t sneeze or you’ll blow your canopy.

MFTW:I’ve done fundraisers for St Jude ($900), Freedom Service Dogs ($3,100), and even one for Leo when he started to lose his vision ($4,100). I’d love to do more fundraising for both St Jude and Freedom Service Dogs (FSD – what a great acronym, right?). And I want to find a veteran-focused PTSD charity to help out as well.

SB: Thanks for sitting down with us and having this chat!

You can catch Mal and the Dogs of Lore on Twitch

Wednesdays 7PM to 11 PM PST 10 PM to 2 AM EST

Saturdays 7 AM to Noon PST 10 AM to 3 PM EST

Sundays 7 AM to Noon PST 10 AM to 3 PM EST

You can find him on Discord: https://discord.io/MalForTheWin

Youtube: https://youtube.com/MalForTheWin

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MalForTheWin

Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/MalForTheWin

Also on the Flight Assist Podcast every Monday with Psykit, which we will discuss more of in her interview, links found below:

Patreon: https://patreon.com/flightassist
Merch: https://flight-assist.creator-spring.com/
Website: https://flightassistpodcast.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/flightassist_ed
Discord: https://discord.io/flightassistpodcast
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/flightassist

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