Michael Christiaan Back (July 4, 1970 - July 15, 2005) aka Seth Cotis was a founder of the Starfleet Legacy Alliance (SLA) and its head from 2000 to 2005. Mike began his simming career in the United Space Federation (USF), before rising to become an Admiral in the SLA, and President and Chief Magistrate of the Simming League.
A Simming Prize Laureate, Mike was considered to be one of the greatest simming leaders of his generation. A friend to many simming organizations, he was active in the RPG-Captains YahooGroup, as well as the Simming League. A web developer in real life, he used his talents to market the Starfleet Legacy Alliance and helped other groups develop web portals, advance in the rankings of search engines, and better advertise their websites throughout the internet.
As a host, his balls-to-the-walls approach to simming never failed to attract a large, lively crew. Mike's simming characters reflected the type of person he was in real life: enthusiastic, creative, and funny. Together with Bjorn Vuelvas, Mike discovered "The Blue Stuff™" hidden under the bar in the lounge of the USS Potemkin.
Mike began simming in the United Space Federation in June of 1997 on the USS Potemkin. At the time, its regular commanding officer was AWOL, and its first officer, Sierra M'Hawarr, was serving as the acting captain. When the regular captain returned, Sierra stepped down as the first officer, but the crew preferred her to the regular captain. Mike started a letter writing campaign to the USF High Command to have them reinstate Sierra. The campaign was successful and Sierra was made the captain in November of 1997.
Mike remained with the sim - although he did take a few months off at one point. He was often the center of attention and one of its best simmers, and worked his way up the ranks, eventually becoming captain of the Potemkin in November of 1999.
Mike's very first log from the Potemkin, as found on the USF archives, is as follows:
Subject: Re:USS POTEMKIN Lounge
Date: 6/13/97 12:33 PM EDT
Computer, personal log
I guess you can say that my first few days on board have been interesting to say the least...
The holosuite layout on this ship is incredible. I've spent the last few hours rock climbing on landscapes I have never even heard of before. The more personal holo-programs are...well, nevermind. The head of my department, Bjorn, seems to be an excellent officer. According to the info I've recieved on the away mission, he is also a helluva shot with a phaser. This is of course a quality I find most impressive. The pure firepower of this ship is fantastic. I look forward to "cutting it's [sic] teeth" so to speak.....I still need to speak to engineering about installing an ejector seat at Lodestone's station just in case he decides to break the "no-macarena" policy that is still in effect.....Well, I'm off to kill something with big teeth in the holodeck.....
Computer, close log
Starfleet Legacy AllianceEdit
Founding of the SLAEdit
After years of growing frustration with the leadership of United Space Federation (USF) interfering in the day to day running of the sims, Mike and 4 other USF hosts, Sierra M'Hawarr, Keldar, Bjorn Vuelvas, and Gabriel Wulfe, resolved to split from the group to start a club of their own.
During the summer of 2000, led by Mike, they worked in private to bang out the details of how they wanted the governing body of the new club to function. One of the most important aspects was that they wanted all the hosts to feel equal and to "spread the power" around as much as possible - kind of a "round table" atmosphere with a "hands off" approach to government.
One of the trickiest problems faced was writing up the description of the Council Leader position and what "powers" to give it. No one wanted the position; and everyone unanimously told Mike that he was going to have to take the position because he'd came up with the idea to start a new club. Besides, they pointed out, every group needed a figurehead. Sierra later recalled "He was so humble about taking the position and he kept insisting that the mantle would have to pass onto somebody else in a year. Of course, that didn't happen - he was unanimously re-elected!"
On October 1, 2000, the Mike and the others first informed thier crews of their decision to form a new club - so that they could decide if they wanted to join the SLA or stay with the USF - and than informed the USF leadership of their decision. Starfleet Legacy Alliance was born.
Under his guidance, the SLA quickly grew into one of the largest clubs of its time, with hundreds of members and dozens of sims covering multiple genres.
By 2003, the SLA began to enter its golden era, with at least one sim every night and 40 new members joining every month. To help manage the club, Mike revamped the website, integrating PHP and mySQL throughout. He also created an Account Management System for the SLA.
The Simming LeagueEdit
The SLA joined the Simming League in 2001, and Mike served as its Senator. In August of that year, when Ender Maki filed charges against Jon Shuni, Mike was appointed Shuni's defense attorney and successfully fought to stop the trial. In the ensuing wave of pro and anti Federation Sim Fleet sentiment that swept the League, Mike was a calming influence and worked with Chas Hammer to draft a new constitution for the League. The new Constitution, approved in February of 2002 after months of intense debate, shifted the League away from a regulatory role in the simming community and instead focused it on providing resources and communication for clubs.
From February to September 2002, Mike served as the President of the Simming League and lead its transition off of America Online and onto the Internet so that it could serve the entire simming community.
Convinced of the value of the League, Mike stuck with it and kept the SLA in the League. His doing so was a major factor that kept the League alive during its decline in 2004, when other leading clubs were backing away from the League. In recognition of his fairness and wisdom, he was made the Chief Justice (later Chief Magistrate) of the Simming League in December of 2004. In early 2005 he used his position to bring about major reforms in the League that helped to end its decline and bring about its renewed success.
Mike died on July 15th, 2005, from complications of diabetes. His sudden and unexpected death produced an outpouring of grief in the simming community. The Simming League website went black in his honor, the Federation Sim Fleet mourned his loss, and the feeling of grief within the Starfleet Legacy Alliance was palpable.
Posts of condolences poured into many simming message boards, and ones from the SLA forums were read aloud at Mike's funeral.
Mike named a lot of his characters for favorite characters in books and movies - ie. Trent for Trent in Swingers; Randall for The Stand, etc. Sometimes he named characters for friends and family, both of which were very important to him.
POTEMKIN - Chris Back; Seth Cotis
Mike started in June of 1997 on the USS Potemkin. He eventually became a commander and took the post of XO on Starbase Everest. When the XO of the Potemkin retired (Mason), Mike took XO and eventually CO of the 'Tem.
OUTPOST COUSTEAU - Trent Davis; Chris Back; Seth Cotis; Kyle Davis
Mike wanted a laid back character and based Trent Davis partly upon himself and partly upon Vince Vaughn's character in Swingers.
FRAGGLEROCK - JP "Digger" LeBeau
Fragglerock was like... McHale's Navy for Trek. Since this crew was a bit off, the "Blue Stuff™" became "The Green Stuff™" on this sim.
Mike was on the startup team for this sim. He tried to write his bio "out of the usual style" for this one so folks wouldn't know which character he was, and he was so successful no one remembers what his character was!
STEALTH - Randall Flagg
In His Own WordsEdit
Written before he died:
Oh man. I've been simming since 1997. Obviously I host now (Lexington) and I've been involved in the government of both the SLA and the USF. I've simmed on the USS Potemkin (Simmer - USF, XO - USF, CO - USF and SLA), Starbase Everest (XO - USF), USS Stealth (Simmer - USF), USS Fragglerock (SO - USF), OPC (Simmer - USF and SLA, XO - USF), Starbase 27 (CO), Lexington (CO), Archangel (Then called the Declaration, CO), the USS Hunley (Bravo Fleet), one of the games in TOL (Challenger maybe?) and one independant sim that I can't remember the name of. I've simmed in alot of games.
When he started simming, Mike commented that it "Was even more fun than Cpt Connery told me it was going to be." And that although he enjoyed simming, "It does not make me a geek."
Awards and HonorsEdit
- 2004 Simming Prize for Service, awarded by the Simming League for his tireless efforts to help the simming community. The award was later renamed in his memory.
- An honorary member of FSF's Hall of Fame.
Mike's passion for the SLA was undeniable. You could see it in what he wrote and how he interacted with those in the SLA. He was just a regular guy and wanted everyone to think of him as such. The allure of power, which can sometimes come with heading a successful simming group, never phased him one bit - he just wanted to be known as Seth. He may be gone, but he put so much of himself into the SLA that his spirit lives on in the club.
His passion also took him to the Simming League, where the SLA is still a member. From serving as a Senator, to President, and Chief Magistrate, his wisdom and calm demeanor carried the League through tough times and helped to reshape it for the better. In recognition of his service to the League, the Simming League's highest award, the Simming Prizes, were renamed in his honor.
The Starfleet Legacy Alliance also continues to hand out the annual Sethies, the awards he created to honor the top members of the SLA.
Sierra M'Hawarr, a founder of the SLA, wrote after his deth. "And often as I've looked at the SLA boards over the past couple years, and in particular this week, I wonder if he ever realized how much of an influence he was to people - not just in his early sim days, when it was a tight group of us and it was just so, so much fun to be around him and see what he'd come up with - but in particular through his leadership in the SLA. I don't know if he ever realized how much he influenced me, and will continue to do so. His star has shone the brightest and the longest, and will continue to shine from the heavens. Mike always tried to be modest/humble about his achievements. One of his best friends, Steve Macnamara, said it quite beautifully in Mike's eulogy - although I cannot recall the exact words, he said, "Mike's spirit was so big that it could not be contained." That about sums it up perfectly."