When did you start playing video games?
Regular video game playing started in 1982 with the arrival of a brand new Coleco Vision under the Xmas tree. I had a real tough time with a parent that despised games so I wasn't really able to grow my game library out. It remained Donkey Kong, Zaxxon and B.C. Quest for Tires for the better part of the 80's.
Earliest memory of playing a video game either took place in '79 or '80. I was living with my parents in a mobile home in Flin Flon, Manitoba, up past the 55th parallel. Mining town, bitter cold in the winter. I don't know where it came from, but I have memories of an old Telstar Pong game showing up, maybe from a friend or neighbor. So, yeah...I'm on tail end of the generation that started on Pong.
|One of Coleco's Telstar Pong consoles|
Both. Any gamer that chooses one or the other is not a gamer. I harbored a vicious, childish hatred for Nintendo through the Sega/Nintendo wars in the late 80's/early 90's, but didn't blink while purchasing a Super Nintendo for the release of Street Fighter II. You go where the game is.
XBox, PlayStation, or Wii?
XBox. See above.
What's the best game you've ever played?
It's incredibly difficult to choose one. Half Life? Diablo II? Street Fighter II? Quake? If I think hard enough, it would have to be a game with the most satisfying game play, slick graphics and sound, playable both solo and against others. Toss in the need to constantly want to return, years after it is relevant, and still enjoy it as much as the day I pulled it out of the box. There's one game that continually meets all of these requirements, years and years after others slowly fall of the map:
Dungeon Keeper 2
Thorny narrates your game play with a sardonic tone that's enough to make this game a 10/10 by itself. The reverse archetype of creating/managing a dungeon, keeping heroes out, is genius. The game is exceptionally clever, challenging, both in single and in multiplier. Years go by and I keep wanting to fire it up, just to smack the shit out of imps, and lay siege to whatever knights come wandering in. Even amid the extreme generation gap between myself and my kids, both my teenage son and daughter agree that DK2 is exceptionally fun. It is quite possibly the most brilliant game ever made.
|Dungeon Keeper 2|
Daikatana. I tried. I really did. I wanted to be one of those freaks that said, "Yeah, I played all the way through that pile." Couldn't do it. The game was just so awful in so many ways. The hugest of disappointments. I want to say I made it perhaps half of the way through before throwing in the towel.
No contest: Halo.
I was raised on a keyboard and mouse when it comes to FPS games, and I will never, ever have the control and precision I require with an XBox controller. I'm sure they've come a long way since the first launch of Halo, but it won't ever be enough for me. There's a very good reason why Microsoft canned its initial R&D to investigate the possibility of allowing both XBox players and PC players interact with one another online. It would not have ended well for the XBox players. I hate to take the high and mighty road with this one, but it is a significant truth to why the PC Master Race declares themselves as such.
Name a game that was poorly received that you really like.
SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters DS. I loved the Card Fighters Clash series that pit SNK characters vs. Capcom ones in a card battle game. The rules are nearly identical to another popular card battle game. The original series appeared on the NeoGeo Pocket, which is a little known portable system that had a brief run. Card Fighters DS updated the formula and brought it to the Nintendo DS. For whatever reason, critics didn't care for it. Part of it may be explained by a show stopping bug that affected the first run of US-released cartridges. Or perhaps they just didn't get the appeal. I thought it was fun as hell. Still have my copy.
|SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters DS|
Racing (world only, no track racing like Nascar or Indy -- cities, countryside...OUTRUN)
Fighting (2D only, none of that Tekken crap)
Turn-Based Strategy (Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri is one I return to a lot)
First Person Shooters (but never, ever on a console - keyboard+mouse or GTFO)
Music (Rocksmith, Rock Band, Audiosurf)
Platformers (Sonic the Hedgehog)
Beat 'em Up (Final Fight, Streets of Rage, Guacamelee, Scott Pilgrim)
Non-Linear RPG (Ultima, Fallout, Wasteland)
Who is your favorite game protagonist?
The one and only.
Describe your perfect video game.
Satisfying game play that challenges me to find new ways to accomplish goals. Hard enough that I hit parts that frustrate me enough to need to take a break, but not too tough that I can't get over them the next time I sit down. An exciting multiplier component. Compelling music and sound effects. And an extensible modification system to allow a community to extend the game's replay value and life, long after launch. The original Quake came about as close to this description as I can remember.
I'm not at liberty to divulge that information.
What game has the best music?
THE FLOOD GATES ARE OPEN.
This one's tough, because I'm a connoisseur of video game music. Chris Vrenna produced a brilliant soundtrack for American McGee's Alice. The music is driven by children's toys turned upside down to create this dark, chilling environment of fear and anxiety. Village of the Doomed and Flying on the Wings of Steam are the stars of that disc, but Taking Tea in Dreamland and Time to Die are especially frightening.
|American McGee's Alice|
|The Last Blade 2|
- Thunder Bluff (the 'rainstick' diddy)
- Naxxramas (the military quarter / death knight music, later re-purposed for Ebon Hold, contributed by Matt Uelmen, originally written for their early work on Diablo III -- chills each time I hear it.)
- The Gates of Ahn'Qiraj (also Matt Uelmen -- starting to see a trend?)
The Burning Crusade:
- Anything from the Draenei starting area (Surprise: Matt Uelmen again). I loathe the retconned Draenei, but their music almost makes up for it.
Wrath of the Lich King:
- IR_WalkG_01 - 05 (there are a series of 'diddies' you hear in the Pit of Saron, that also show up in ICC)
- Sholazar Day 1 (the main Sholazar Basin track nails it)
- SP_GeneralWalkB_Day02 / Night02 / Uni02 (the main Storm Peaks music is beautiful, the chorals especially convey the magnitude of Azeroth's epic history buried beneath the mountains).
- The Culling: (The march that plays during Caverns of Time: Stratholme is addictive and catchy, you can't help but just listen to it over and over).
- MUS_Goblin41 (the goblin version of the IR_Walk diddies featured in Wrath -- see above)
- The music at 1:05 of "Defenders of Azeroth", which is the re-envisioned Alliance music you hear during exploration of the Elwynn Forest. It was a beautiful piece of music in Vanilla, and the remastered version in Cataclysm pays a wonderful tribute to that era.
- MUS_Vashjr_01 / 06: The music of Vashjir (and to be honest, the entire zone) didn't nearly get the credit it deserved. Listening to these tracks make you feel like you are actually hundreds of leagues beneath the surface. It so accurately conveys the sense of being deep underwater, there's a quiet brilliance there.
Mists of Pandaria:
- Night Dreams Chorale H (the music you hear on your Valley of the Four Winds farm at night -- this piece especially reminds me of Wrath of the Lich King)
- Toast 2C (the kazoo version of the Pandaria pub music is hilarious and wonderful)
- Darkmoon Faire Merry-Go-Round
Most memorable moment in a game:
Beating Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar. In RPGs like Final Fantasy, you just follow the dots, A to B, B to C, C to D -- it's linear. The Ultima games were classically known to be non-linear. You went wherever you needed to go, and if you didn't pay attention, take notes of the names and places, you were very easily lost, running in circles. I got no help, had nobody to give me answers to puzzles (or even tips), there was no internet, no gamefaqs, no strategy guides, nothing. I took detailed notes, drew maps of every dungeon, and solved every puzzle by myself. Took eight months. It was the first game I played with such a significant amount of obstacles to overcome. I remember this well because of how the character creation process asked me questions about decisions I would make in real life, which to a kid, gave me the impression I had accurately recreated myself in a virtual world. In reality, it only decided my class (Bard), but it was the first time a video game asked me about myself, and made me think about the moral and ethical implications of my decisions.
|Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar|
Has to either jumping out of my chair to a Jaggi bashing his fists onto your ship's hull in Rescue on Fractulus, multiple heart attacks from various monsters in DooM / DooM II, or the disturbing visuals of Clive Barker's Undying -- especially ones involving Aaron.
|Clive Barker's Undying|
!!SPOILERS!! - The ending to Fallout. You wanna talk about ending a game on a serious down note? Man. That one sucked. Most of humanity is toast, the Earth is dead, and you're the first person to witness the horrific damage done by the nuclear holocaust. And even after saving humanity once again, your reward is that you're never allowed back to the safety of the home that you were raised in. They kick your ass back out into the desolation, to forever wander and remain alone.
What are your favorite websites/blogs about games?
I bounce between MMO-Champion, Kotaku, and Polygon. The rest of the news/interesting looking blog posts I get from Twitter.
What's the last game you finished?
Transistor. Gorgeous game. Wonderful story, visuals, music, very unique real-time/tactical hybrid. Not quite as strong as its predecessor Bastion, but still highly recommended.
Grand Theft Auto V (PC ver.)
Warlords of Draenor
Pokemon Omega Ruby / Alpha Sapphire (3DS)
Civilization: Beyond Earth
Do you identify as a gamer?
Why do you play video games?
Book fanatics tell us they read because it transports them to another world, lets them live other lives, experience alternate realities. They claim to have slain dragons. No. Bard the Bowman of Esgaroth slew the dragon, not the reader.
When gamers say they've slain a dragon, they mean it.