Welcome to the sixth entry in the revived Community Interviews series!
You'll notice a slight tinge of formulaic formatting throughout these interviews as you read through them, and that is that there are repeated questions that every person must answer. The reason for this is simple: those questions are what form the foundation of the interview. Once those questions have been answered, other questions are asked that are tailored to respond to the answers given. What you will be reading is the end result, conversationally compiled.
Without further ado, let's get started.
I sent him a questionnaire, he said some stuff, I said some stuff, you know how a conversation works.
Tonight, we're roaming the plains with *deep breath* The Last Scion Of The House Of Blue Lions!
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What drew you to videogames as a hobby, and more importantly, what has kept you there?
I started playing games when I was... young. I don't remember the exact age (somewhere around 1st or 2nd grade, possibly earlier), but my youth was full of Gameboy Color and Nintendo 64 games: Link's Awakening DX
, Super Mario Bros. Deluxe
, Super Mario 64
, and Star Wars: Pod Racer
(I never got anywhere on that last one but it was fun to crash). My father actively played videogames like Final Fantasy VIII
and Diablo II
and my mother enjoyed them as well, although she prefers more of an arcade experience, like The House of the Dead
. She likes Resident Evil
as well. I suppose that with their influence, I've been around games almost constantly my whole life.
What do you consider to be the most important aspect of a videogame?
That's a tough question. There are almost too many factors in what makes a game good... but if I had to single out one, it would have to be simple. Fun. If a game isn't fun, you get bored and stop playing. "Fun" of course is very subjective and what one person considers fun, another might not. I for one, like the game Dark Souls
. I find that game fun. Others don't, whether it's due to the control scheme, or the obtuseness of it. There are so many different things at play, that you could probably take any other aspect: Gameplay, Art Style, Music, Characters, Story, and be able to put it under, "Does this contribute to making the game fun?".
I can see your point, but what makes a game fun for you? If it's all in the eye of the beholder, what does your eye consider beautiful (as far as games are concerned, perv).
Am I a perv for liking pale skin and red hair? Yes, that goes without saying.
Anyway, I like games with a bit of a challenge. You shouldn't be able to get through them without a few (maybe more) deaths, or at least by getting by on the skin of your teeth. I like games with monsters, and swords, and magic, and sometimes early firearms. I can dig guns and stuff too, but on a personal level I don't like them as much as an old fashioned sword or mace. Humor is a helpful thing too, although you don't want something that relies solely on that. Sprinkle the humor in like a dash of garlic salt. Just enough. The mechanics of the game shouldn't be too complicated, but there should be a difference between a skilled player and an unskilled player.
Music should do nothing but enhance the experience, if the music doesn't fit, or isn't very good, it shouldn't be there. Finally, an effort should be made with the story, unless there's no story at all. That really applies to everything, the best advice (not just in videogames either) is, don't half-ass anything.
It should also be pretty to look at. Good use of color is important.
Is there anything you would like to see in particular?
Here's a list!
1. The end of characters who hail from the Uncanny Valley.
2. A game where not a single voice annoys me.
3. Absolutely, completely, totally destructible environments. I'm talking about reducing buildings to molten scoria at the bottom of a pit so large it looks like an extinction-level meteor struck.
4. I would also love to see some kind of improvement in first person games that aren't shooters. Mirror's Edge
was an interesting example of what that could be- even with its guns, along with games like the Elder Scrolls
and Condemned: Bloodshot
(which is a game I very much enjoyed pardoning the final levels, which were not up to par with the earlier ones).
5. Better single player mech games (preferably with co-op).
6. More Survival Horror. I would also like to see some historical horror if this genre becomes more popular. Like, Roman or Middle Ages style horror, with freaky Roman and Middle Ages style monsters. Ever heard of a Blemmyes? Freaky. Now imagine fighting something like that with Iron Age technology. It would be horrible. You would need to run more than fight, and it would provide a definite sense of horror against things you are in no way equipped to fight.
Do you think that controversy (sexism, violence, etc.) helps or hurts the medium?
No such thing as bad publicity. Except when it is.
I'm not sure about this one to be honest. One could say that a new favorite of mine, Dragon's Crown
, might not have been as noticeable as it is now, without it's whole "Sexism" controversy. On the other hand, you have stupid things like that GTA
"Hot Coffee" business, which was very dumb, and didn't do much to help the medium, even though it was clearly stated that you can't access it through normal gameplay. Funny thing is though, that you get other games that (as far as I know) haven't received as much controversy, despite being rather... controversial.
was one such game. I thought things would blow up over that. Never did, far as I can tell. I suppose it would be the media's fault in creating controversy, a la Mass Effect
, etc. Course, the news media is a whole other beast that won't be easily tamed or taught new tricks. One the whole, controversy might help boost sales, but it might also paint the videogame medium in a negative light. So I guess it doesn't help. My vote goes towards "hurts the medium".
Well, remember that post-Columbine, there was a massive backlash against first-person shooters...and now, Call Of Duty is the reigning king of the sales charts. It's been almost twenty years, and that genre has done nothing but thrive. Do you think that these things are flash-in-the-pan reactions, or do you think they point to valid systemic flaws?
Wasn't there a controversy about some Call of Duty
(which I haven't purchased or played since the first Modern Warfare
) about shooting some people in an airport? Still sold bloody well. I guess that like most media stories, they die down relatively quickly, and in fact might draw attention to a game that someone might not have heard of before and would wish to check out. There was also something about Medal of Honor
I think, but from what I've heard that game just sucked regardless.
That being said, it still portrays, to people outside of the videogame medium, that those who play these games are violent, or sexist, or straight up murderers or sheep-fuckers (maybe not that last one). To be thought of -because you play these certain games- negatively, I think hurts the medium. The best thing to do would be to highlight the more... positive things that videogame players do, instead of all this horrible- teens going around shooting up their parents and schools. Charities and fundraisers, that sort of thing. I've also heard of some clever folks with difficult to solve problems turning those problems into games, I think there was something about helping to determine (through a game) which sets of genes have a proclivity towards cancer. I don't know how you'd turn that into a game, but there you go.
Let's go outside of videogames for a moment - what's the most important thing in the world to you as a person?
You gotta be passionate about something: Helping animals, fighting crime, detailing the life cycle of unique bacteria found only in a single courtyard in Germany, or Emetology. You shouldn't define yourself by a single thing of course, but you should have something that if someone saw something related to it, they would say, "Hey, (insert name here) loves that stuff, maybe I should tell him/her about it".
Well, then - my natural next question will be this: what is it that you are most passionate about?
History. I love it. Not sure what I want to do about it though. I had dreams when I was young, of being an Archaeologist. I thought maybe I could've been a teacher, since Archaeologist seemed a bit out there, but then I realized that I might not... like to do that, I don't want to be the teacher who got fired for whaling on a student with a yard stick. Another thing I love is writing. I would be lying if I said I didn't have aspirations in writing. I've got a bunch of ideas all written down, I just need to flesh them out. Which is difficult. It's bad luck or something to talk about what you're writing but I'm gonna do it anyway.
The basic idea is a world wherein the BeNeLux equivalent nations and alternate world France were forced into exodus by a major military power/ crusade. They ended up settling in what is basically a Caribbean area to the West (I wanted a world where the East was European esque, and the West was more Asian), which they named Crevalle, and threw out the inhabitants of the islands. Years later, swordsmen wander the long shores, the fashions of the city change constantly, people sip hibiscus tea, and a woman hunts down the mercenaries who abducted her son and challenged her to fight them all to the death in order to rescue him.
I find that music is a fairly accurate baromter of an individual's personality. What music makes your day?
I enjoy a wide range of musical stylings, from music in foreign languages, to solo instruments and a capella
. Ambience is very nice also. I enjoy listening to the radio, for variety's sake, but I can't say I enjoy listening to commercials because seriously there are a thousand commercials and I don't give a shit about anything they're pitching. When I listen to music, I'm usually doing something else, so as long as that music isn't particularly distracting I'll listen to it, since it's better than listening to the sound of cars passing outside. I do enjoy the occasional silence, silence can be golden. I don't listen to music when I play games either.
Here's a short list of some albums I've listened to lately:
Plastic Beach- Gorillaz (Great Summer album)
Partie Traumatic- Black Kids (Good exercise music)
Common Faults- The Silent Comedy (Very "American" sounding, I don't know how else to explain it)
Greatest Hits- Queen (Rock Gods)
Do you feel that the videogame medium is evolving, and if so, is it going in a positive direction?
There are some major advances being made in videogames right now, from graphics, to gameplay and immersion (Oculus Rift looks fun). I've experienced some of the best stories I know from videogames, with incredibly well realized characters (sometimes, other times... not so much). They can provide intense emotional reactions and stress. I believe there is a bright future for videogames as a medium, in both artistic terms and as pure entertainment.
If you said that someone just had to play a particular game before they died, what game would that be?
If the person had a fair degree of skill, I would suggest Dark Souls
, which I hold up as an excellent example of subtle storytelling and reward via challenge.
Why? What about the game makes it worthy of such a recommendation from you?
Nothing is unfair (well, almost nothing) in that game. Dark Souls
requires skill, patience, and a good memory. You could theoretically make it through that entire game without any armor and swinging a wooden club (in fact I bet someone somewhere has done just this, some Dark Souls
players be crazy). If you die, it is almost always due to a mistake you made, and one that can be fixed knowing that you made it. It does, occasionally, fall back to trial and error but those sections are usually short.
As for storytelling; You receive a narration in the beginning, and that's about it. You are pointed in the direction you're supposed to go, and let loose. In fact, the endings (of which there are two) can be confusing. Almost all the background information is told through items descriptions, not only encouraging exploration and discovery, but making one excited for anything they find, for hope they can squeeze a bit of lore out of it. It's a brilliant system to get players wandering about, looking for treasure. It also has, what I think, a fine community that is based on supporting one another. Things can be tough in Dark Souls
, and there's no shame in asking for assistance. Most of the other Dark Souls
players I met have been nothing but helpful, ready with hints and strategy. Sure, there are those who do nothing but invade and kill other players, but the helpful folk outweigh the bad (and you can even label invaders as such and set them up for vengeance). "We're all in this Together," would be a fitting motto I think, along with, "We are all Masochists." It can be a hard game.
With so many sites in existence, and the internet having no shortage of places to hang one's virtual hat, why Destructoid?
I discovered Destructoid... I don't remember how, but I would go around to all the articles and reviews, and read them, then I would scroll down and read the comments. The comments hooked me. I lurked for a while, and then decided to jump in earlier this year. These people were just too crazy/great not to interact with. I've never really gone for social networking like Facebook and Twitter, which I steadfastly believe are for narcissists and pedophiles. Here, I can swear and make outrageous claims like I invented pudding and throw around references from television and movies, and people get them. It's wonderful. I'm happy when I'm on here.
That's really cool to hear. I noticed you dug your way into the forums, but what about the frontpage commentary got you? Was it the jokes? The conversations? The flame wars?
Truth be told, there were a few conversations, some very good discussions, some laugh out loud jokes, and then there was Occams Electric Toothbrush's comments. That guy is great and he needs to write a book, I've told him as much. I wanted to engage in conversation, tell jokes, put up funny pictures, and talk to that guy with the cat-beard avatar. Also, when I joined the site, everyone was particularly friendly as well, and helpful towards the new guy getting a hang of things. Which was very nice.
I always imagined the Forums as a back-alley filled with people from an AA meeting; muttering and smoking and drinking their coffee. I didn't want to walk by them, but eventually I had to do so (for the FNF Banner).
Then I saw the Forums for what they really were: an enormous underground bathhouse. Full of steam and long hallways lined with open doors, filled with distorted music and the roars of beasts. People sipped drinks and lounged in the hot water, telling each other vulgar things. Strangeness and mystery lurked everywhere. A wonderful strangeness. It's a great deal of fun if you can get over the whole, "being sworn at in the most horrible ways possible with words you did not know existed" thing. One should also be wary of some of the threads that include images. It would be a good idea to bring along a healthy dose of Brain Bleach, or red hot pokers so that you can blind yourself to the horror. Other than that though, it's a good time.
What do you think of Huge? Do you think that this is a step in the right direction? Is there something you'd like to see if they can achieve some modicum of financial independence?
I think it's enticing. From what I've gathered via opening the Huge info page in another window, you get no ads, Dtoid loads faster (which I assume is because of the lack of advertisements), you get automatic contest entries across four sites, which is pretty cool, shop discounts, some money goes to charity, I don't know which charity, but whatever. I think they also throw in a "male-enhancement" pump, a personal servant, and a large pizza with your choice of toppings. Honestly though, I can't say I'm particularly interested in the video chat (no offense to those who are) and I also think the contest entry across all four sites (Destructoid, Tomopop, Flixist, Japanator) is a little lame for people who primarily stick to one site. It feels to me like they get cheated out of a chance at winning by someone who may or may not even care about that particular contest, or who may have never even visited their site of choice.
I do think that having a source of income besides ad revenue is a good thing, and I also think there was some kind of thing that makes it look like you're checking your email while you're on the site, which is kind of hilarious. As for what I would want to see.. I'm not entirely sure, I suppose if they become less dependent on advertisements they can be more experimental or raw or whatever. They could probably swear more too.
Overall, I think it's pretty cool, and if I actually had any money I'd at least try it out. However, if it is, as it says on this page I have open, "A Huge experiment in independent publishing", I'm sure there will be some kinks to work out. Time will tell. I do want to try it, if only so I can claim that sweet, sweet forums badge.
Is there anything you would change about Destructoid? Anything you'd preserve at all costs?
The Cblogs could get some more attention, and the playfully rude, silly, and oftentimes line crossing humor that comes up in conversation (and the excellent support provided by the staff), respectfully.
One last question: Who do you think you are?
I have been reincrnated throughout time. A thousand lives have I lived, and a thousand deaths as well. I have fought at Troy, I fought against and with the Roman Empire, I have Crusaded numerous times. I have been an alchemist, a natural philosopher, and aristocrat, and a hermit. Time is like a raging river, unceasingly, it flows. None can stop it, and to try is futile. At this point in time, I am a young man who lives on the sunny shore of California. I enjoy videogames, and I like cats.
I can trace my family history back 400 years. I am the last and only child to be born into my family. I am the Last Scion of the House of Blue Lions. Bitch.
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LOOK WHO CAME: