Hello again, those who have followed along with my series that was supposed to be seven parts but somehow disappeared after five parts! (I'm not always self-motivated unless I'm distracting myself...)
Now that a lot of time has passed, I've finally decided to write the sixth part to this series, regarding some of my absolute favorite moments while working for Destructoid. I may never do my last post, which is supposed to be my least favorite moments - because I don't really care about focusing on the negatives and after so much time, I really only have positive memories that stick when I think back during my time writing for the site. Besides, I've already vented about some of that stuff, and the other stuff was really just petty quibbles with other interns at the time that I never addressed directly because I always tried to maintain at least some air of professional behavior, and I suppose I'd rather keep it that way.
I also became a little over-ambitious when I was doing my drawings, but they kept taking longer and longer. For this post, I have two accompanying drawings that I did a long time ago and than just got too busy to illustrate the others. I'll add placeholder doodles for the other ones. Maybe after I write this post and have a little time I'll go back and add them in. Anyhow, without further ado, here are some of my favorite moments while working at Destructoid.
1. Interviewing Nels Anderson before the release of Mark of the Ninja
When I first heard about the game Mark of the Ninja, I honestly had little idea of what it was supposed to be. I had been sent a short video and it looked interesting enough, but I figured it would be another independent game that gets a small cult of followers and not much else. I set up an interview with the lead designer of the game, Nels Anderson, and that by itself became a little bit of a comedy of errors.
You see, Destructoid once had a sort of office/central location. I think it was generally where Hamza and Niero (and maybe one or two other early Dtoid staff) lived, not really sure about the details. However, the address that was listed for the site was actually a P.O. box. and not really a physical address. I had no idea that this was the case. When Nels asked me if we should meet at the office listed on Destructoid e-mails, I noticed it was downtown somewhere and I said that sounded great, and suggested finding a coffee shop nearby.
On the day of the interview, I went out to this random area of downtown, found where the address was listed, and chuckled a little to myself because it was literally some random derelict-looking building. I had yet to learn it was actually just the P.O. box location. I looked around a little, and noticed a guy on his laptop at the coffee shop across the street holding his hand up in a "I have a feeling you're the journalist" sort of half-wave. When I sat down, we both laughed a little at our mutual confusion.
The interview with Mr. Anderson was really probably one of the best professional interviews I have ever conducted. First, the one-on-one nature of it at some random little coffee shop made the experience that much more exciting for me, as a journalist who was curious at how developers and game designers thought about creating innovative gaming experiences.
Secondly, Nels Anderson was/probably still is such an incredibly down-to-earth designer who is also passionate about the games he works on. When he described Mark of the Ninja to me, I could see his passion and enthusiasm for the game he was designing clearly through his speech about it. I've personally been only a marginal fan of stealth games, but the way the game used stealth in a 2 dimensional environment with visible 'sound' clues seemed really cool. I had a chance to see the game in action in the laptop that he brought as well as some of the storyline elements, and I realized that this game would probably be a hit.
I suppose it's no surprise that Firewatch is also a pretty innovative experience that has also garnered attention both in the press and among regular gamers. Nels Anderson is a game designer to keep an eye on.
(By the way, The interview is here, if you're interested.)
The whole interview was - in my opinion - the ideal way that journalists and developers should conduct a professional interview. I actually had other very similar experiences with the couple of devs over at Team 17 when discussing Worms: Revolution, though that was at a patio table next to a random hotel swimming pool. Generally speaking, the more intimate interviews were always the ones that made me feel the most hyped about the game, because the developers generally showed that they cared about the game they were designing, that it wasn't simply a product created to garner mass appeal and appease shareholders.
#2 Dtoid Contributor Wesley Ruscher gets a little too into Happy Action Theater at a Doublefine game release party
The most amazing moment for me as a video game journalist was going to the awesome Doublefine offices and meeting Tim Schafer, one of the legends behind Psychonauts and my absolute favorite game as a kid, Day of the Tentacle. Tim Schafer is a god among game developers, and one of the most incredibly down-to-earth and relatable people you could ever meet.
The most hilarious moment for me - as a person, was the moment that Dtoid contributor at the time - Wesley Ruscher got really into being a monster for Happy Action Theater, the one Kinect game that I think was actually just simply fun, and somehow managed to kick his shoe off, right into a nice looking lamp - thereby knocking the lamp to the ground in the loudest and probably most embarrassing (for Wesley) fashion. It was loud enough to summon Tim Schafer from another room (at a loud party with people drinking, mind you) to make sure that everything was okay.
Mr. Schafer was pretty much completely chill about it, and after assessing the minimal damage (while I couldn't stop laughing as Wesley's face turned from light pink to a crimson hue), he returned back to being one of the hosts of the party.
At any rate, that whole moment was so incredibly funny to me. It was one of those moments where everything is repeated in your head in slow motion. Wesley jerking about excitedly as he pretends to be a giant monster, the shoe taking a slow, graceful arc through the air, and then as it makes contact with the lamp and causes a loud enough clatter for Tim Schafer himself to come by and check on things.
It also made me immensely proud to be part of Destructoid, somehow.
#3 Chilling with a tiger at an Ubisoft event for Far Cry 3
One thing I really loved about writing for Destructoid were the really big pressers that larger companies threw back in the day (I don't think they do them as much anymore, especially now that #gamergate complains about 'ethics in journalism'). These press events were lavish, with free open bars of all kinds of drinks, amazing (and sometimes amazingly gross) hors d'oeuvres, and sometimes just random crazy shit for no reason.
At one such event - the Ubisoft presser for Far Cry 3, they had an actual, huge tiger chilling in a pretty flimsy-looking cage. In hindsight, as someone who now educates the public about conservation during my Zoo weekend job, I have to wonder where they procured this tiger and how ethical the whole thing was - but at the time, I thought it was pretty awesome.
I also sat at a huge HD screen that happened to be the closest to the tiger's cage. I do have to mention that the copy of the game I was playing was a bit of a buggy mess (it was an alpha copy, to be fair) and it had to be restarted at least four times. The tiger didn't really seem to have an opinion either way, as -being a nocturnal animal - he slept for the several hours I sat and played, and then just as I was about to leave, got up and gave an annoyed half-roar at his handlers.
At any rate, this was one of several cool pressers I did get to attend, so I'll always be appreciative of my status as a game journalist to get access to these and other huge gaming events. If I were more into game design and becoming a designer myself, all of the events I attended during my time at Destructoid were excellent times for me to network and build a stronger professional community. However, I'm way too afraid of the volatility of the industry to truly commit to it, so maybe some day I'll just privately toil away at some mobile game to release on the app store called Crappy Turd in hopes to get rich quick.
#4 and #5 Pax Prime, Pax Prime, Pax Prime
I don't really think I have to go into detail here, but before it became a bit too bloated for its own good, Pax Prime (and probably all of the other PAX conventions) was/is the mecca for gamers. Never in my life have I felt such a sense of belonging and community with fellow gamers as I have while attending PAX Prime. Everyone is there for the same reason - VIDEO GAMES - and it's like this Utopian ideal of how gamers can get along with each other no matter what background they're from.
With Destructoid, even though I did have to pay my way for getting to Seattle and staying in a hotel, having full access to Pax Prime for the two years I worked for the event was amazing. If you do decide to write for Destructoid, I highly suggest you demand to get a PAX Prime access lanyard and go nuts with it.
You should probably also finish all of your write-ups after it, too. That was my one...uh, achilles heel and the main reason why I was 'summarily dismissed' as a writer for the site- as I mentioned before. I still feel bad about that.
In fact, I'm writing this right now because I don't want to finish writing an in-depth analytical essay despite it being due in a couple of days.
Oh...I'm finished with this? Oh. Well, I guess it's back to...Hm, I really need to beat Crypt of the Necrodancer so I think I'll just play it for like, half an hour and get back to this long and arduous essay...