Roleplay Meets M+: Interview with Thiji Higuri

This week, our Raider.IO Featured streamer was doing something so original that we felt it merited a little more exploration. Today, we sit down with Thiji Higuri to discuss his unique gameplay style coined as “Mixed Reality” where he uses a PS4 controller and specialized movements to bring the roleplay side of WoW to life.

“The greatest advice I can ever offer anyone is to take as much extra time you need to perfect your style. If you find anything that requires tuning or adjustment, do so in your head, then put it into practice through training dummies.”

Q: Let’s start at the beginning. What is your first name, main class, and how long have you been playing WoW?

Thiji: Arthur is my name, and I am 27 years old, hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, though I am currently in Japan. Mage is my main class in recent days, though my other two are Warrior and Priest. I’ve played World of Warcraft since the end of The Burning Crusade and into Wrath of the Lich King. From there, I played until the Dragon Soul raid of Cataclysm, and skipped out on Mists of Pandaria; came back for a month for Warlords of Draenor, then skipped out on Legion until the very end. I played for about another month, then skipped out on Battle for Azeroth. Now I am back traversing the realms beyond Death in Shadowlands, and from the way things look now, I am here to stay!

Gaming has always been a passion of mine since I first held a controller at the age of six, As time went on, I began to develop my own aspirations of creating my own game world however possible—be it through novels or virtual reality. Whenever I am not playing WoW, I like to make use of my singing ability to create my own songs using tracks from other games—namely FFXIV. On top of that, I also enjoy writing, practicing my voice acting, and mastering the Japanese language.

Cosplay is also a huge part of my life as well, using my vast wardrobe to accommodate whatever I'm playing. I normally try to do my own thing instead of dressing up as actual characters from other media as that allows me the greatest amount of freedom to be my own individual character.

Q: What does the name Thiji Higuri mean?

Thiji: This is tricky for everyone. The name ‘Thiji’ was developed while I was playing my first MMORPG: EverQuest Online Adventures. It was the name of my first-ever character - a Dark Elf Necromancer. ‘Higuri’ is a splice from the family name of Kagome Higurashi, from the anime Inuyasha. However, recent discoveries report that ‘Thiji’ in Gujarati means ‘Frozen’, and ‘Higurashi’ translates to ‘Evening Cicada’ in Japanese. So combining the two roughly translates to ‘Frozen Evening Cicada’, or ‘Cicada of Winter’s Evening’.

Q: Please walk me through your technical process since I’m a bit mystified by this: How and when did you start using a controller for WoW and which type of controller do you use? How the heck did you set this up in a game with as many keybinds as WoW??

Thiji: When I first began streaming three years ago, I wanted to deviate from the usual mouse and keyboard most are wont to do. I also utilize my energy and stamina into my content to create a unique marriage of ‘Mixed Reality’, but I’ll explain more on that later.

I started using a controller for WoW during Classic’s re-release in 2019 through an Addon known as ConsolePort. Though it has updated in recent days, the layout is essentially the same, with some kinks I am still working out. Currently I am utilizing a PS4 controller, but mean to upgrade to the ‘5 and even JoyCons eventually.

There are many button combinations you can use to access most of the game’s functions. In fact, when the Options button is pressed, it opens up all possible menus for everything you need, from accessing the Group Finder, to Collections, and even the Social tab.

Q: Have you done this type of gameplay/roleplay for other games as well? If so, which ones?

Thiji: Oh, absolutely! Monster Hunter was my other big ticket prior to returning to World of Warcraft. I also played a bit of Bless Online as well, though that game wasn’t well received, sadly. Genshin Impact is another title, which I have fallen off on with the onset of other titles but revisit from time to time when the mood strikes me. I also implement it into Final Fantasy XIV and SMITE, though I usually only stream FFXIV when I’m participating in roleplay events.

Q: Let’s talk UI. How did you construct your lovely user interface?

Thiji: It is a combination of the previously mentioned addon known as ConsolePort, along with some customizations of my own to make my own unique UI. The addon allows you plenty of freedom to tweak the UI to your liking, and even allows you to change the button type and how you wish to present your action bar.

Q: From a stylistic standpoint, how did you decide which motions to use for each spell? Did you blend spell cast animations from the game with ideas you’ve gotten from other RPGs or even martial arts?

Thiji: Ahh, the fun part! I decide the motions based on a particular criteria: the actual race’s casting animation being the primary factor. Then, there’s what motion(s) would make the most sense for a given spell or ability, followed by the particular specialization (or spec, if you prefer) of that class. So, for instance, casting Icy Veins would make my arms tense, simulating the power of frost channeling through my body. With my Haste thus enhanced, I am able to cast Frostbolts using both hands as opposed to only my left. Casting Arcane Intellect would constitute a light tap on the temple, boosting spell power. And to satisfy the Fire Mages out there, were I to ever use Combustion, I would bring my fists together to signify the explosive powers of flame. So, to answer the second question: yes. I blend animations with the knowledge gained from other RPGs, and even the various martial arts forms to add more flair.

When it comes to swapping the controller, it all boils down to what spells I cast which allows me the brief window to do so. Since my primary attack buttons are done on my right hand, this gesture provides me an opportunity to show off my grace and elegance when handling a controller, as well as showing the ease of using one.

Q: How long did it take you to practice and perfect your movements? Do you do the same movements for each spell every time?

Thiji: Most of my practice is done offline or when I am not streaming. Should I learn any new abilities during my broadcast, I can think of something on the spot, then work towards perfecting it later. The muscle memory helps when remembering which abilities are where at first, but I change the movements from time to time so as to not let it become stale. As for how long it took me to perfect them? A day’s time, more or less. Plenty of combat provides an accessible means of training in this regard.

Q: For Mythic+, I noticed that you weren’t using voice comms and you had your volume turned up for (I’m assuming) more immersion into the game. Do you ever use voice comms while you do Mythic+ or other content in the game? Do you always play on a controller?

Thiji: Since most of the group content I do are with PUGs, comms didn’t seem very prudent. I would be more than willing to utilize this in more established parties, in which case I would quickly transition out-of-character to inform my teammates of any pertinent information. I always play on a controller, at least on this game. Though surprisingly enough, the keyboard still responds accordingly to appropriately-mapped spells (so the “1” key is Frostbolt; “2” is Ice Lance, etc.)

Q: I know you’ve said that you like to roleplay and I saw that you are on of the most well-known RP realms in WoW. What are your favorite aspects of the game from a lore perspective?

Thiji: The greatest aspect I enjoy about roleplay is the amount of freedom you have to create your character, so long as it is agreeable within the constraints of the game’s timeline and lore. Assimilating your character(s) into the ideals of the various groups, factions, and covenants also help develop a fleshed-out persona.”

Q: What is your favorite dungeon this expansion and why? (Ranging from the aesthetic of a dungeon, to the way your character “plays” in that dungeon, to lore?)

Thiji: Spires of Ascension is definitely my favorite. Bastion alone captivated me from when I first arrived there, and the Kyrian who inhabit it uphold the virtues of Purity, Loyalty, Humility, Courage, and Wisdom. Their ever-dependable Stewards (or “owlbois”, as they are colloquially known) are adorable as well, creating a wholesome environment that I simply enjoy.

With the Spires of Ascension, while the Forsworn may reject the Path and its supposed flaws, the Ascended do so because their mortal encumbrances cannot hinder their sacred duty of ferrying souls to the afterlife. My character understands this, and will do what is necessary to ensure order is restored. He realizes that Azeroth is in enough trouble as is; there’s no point in making the realms beyond Death just as bad if not worse.

Q: Have you tried your hand at PvP in the game so far with a controller? (If yes, what do you think of it? If no, is there a reason you may not want to?)

Thiji: I have already gotten my feet wet (and then some) in PvP with the controller. Targeting is the biggest challenge, and with enough tweaking with the settings, you can move just as competently as someone on a mouse and keyboard. But I look forward to and savor every victory I obtain against another player, because that’s a silent way of saying that they were beaten by a controller user!

Q: Do you have any plans to try out any other alternative classes or specs on the controller to see how they feel? Are there any other specs that look like they would be fun to design kinetic-styled keybinds for someday?

Thiji: With the exception of the obvious that my audience keeps crying me to try (Windwalker Monk), I already have some experience as a Priest and as a Warrior, which make up my triumvirate of main classes. For the most part, I am staying Frost, Shadow, and Arms, respectively, but the Addon allows easy targeting for enemies and friendlies alike, so healing and tanking is definitely a possibility. For now, though, we’re sticking to what can keep my audience entertained, and my group satisfied.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring artists/RPers/gamers who may want to emulate your style?

Thiji: The greatest advice I can ever offer anyone is to take as much extra time you need to perfect your style. If you find anything that requires tuning or adjustment, do so in your head, then put it into practice through training dummies. As for the roleplayers: don’t be afraid to walk up and strike a conversation with other characters—especially out in the field. Anyone can roleplay in a tavern or a city, but the encounters that occur on the field are what makes or breaks a roleplayer.

And above all, be confident in what you’re doing. Don’t be ashamed if you don’t think the controller is right for you. You can excel no matter what peripheral you use. Just remember that, when the camera is on you, that you’re an entertainer first, and a gamer second. There are few in this world who can excel at roleplay and endgame content, but those who do so competently are rarer than any gem.


About the Author

Vitaminpee mains Guardian Druid/Brewmaster and loves doing competitive Mythic+. She is the Editor and Assistant Producer of Raider.IO and is currently pursuing her Masters of Business Administration. She is a partnered Twitch streamer and Discord Partner specializing in tanking classes in WoW and other MMORPGs. Feel free to message her via Twitter for any business-related inquiries.