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GIO Member Herding Part 10 of XX

You might want to grab a snack and use the bathroom before you tackle this edition of Member Herding. It’s, uh…rather lengthy. But it’s good. I enjoyed it and I admire the person interviewed this week…definitely an interesting individual. The questions this week took more of a philosophical approach; if you’ve read some of this person’s blogs or if you understand the meaning of their name…you might understand why.



The spotlight of this week’s Member Herding is…



GIO Name: EuphoricEnnui

GIO Rank: Power Member - Level 8


eu·pho·ric

adjective

A feeling of happiness, confidence, or well-being sometimes exaggerated in pathological states as mania.


en·nui

–noun

A feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom.



And now…the questions and answers…


1. You're somewhat of a rare breed. Under your game systems (past and present) you have N64 and PC. Assuming this is correct, what is your favorite N64 and PC game of all time? Congratulations! You are the one millionth customer at your local GameStop and as a prize, they offer you a free game system of your choice (Wii, PS3 or Xbox 360). As someone who doesn't own a current generation console, which would you choose and what are the contributing factors that lead you to this decision.



As far as the Nintendo 64 goes, it would have to be a toss-up between The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time (OoT) and Super Smash Bros. For me, it brings up fond memories of my childhood which, incidentally, didn’t include me having a Nintendo 64 at all. I didn’t get the N64 until after Donkey Kong 64 was released. But I can still remember the day I played OoT at a Best Buy. That’s actually one of the earliest memories I have and probably my very first experience with any video game ever. Super Smash Bros. also has many fond memories attached to it because it was the first and only game my sister and I ever played together and could play together for hours on end.


I’m actually pretty new to the whole PC gaming scene. I didn’t get a decent computer until about two years ago. But since then, I’ve played all sorts of games on it. However, my all time favorite has been my experience with Mass Effect 1 and 2. I just love the whole “create your own adventure” feel. It truly feels like a unique experience after having played both my version of Commander Sheppard and my sister’s.


To be honest, none of the current gen systems have really appealed to me to the point that I’ve felt compelled to go out and buy them. That’s not to say I don’t think they don’t have good experiences to offer. I think they all have great advantages, however if I had to choose, I’d go with the PS3. A lot of the games on Xbox 360 tend to be either ported or started off on the PC anyway. The Wii has some great titles but sometimes quality over quantity just doesn’t cut it if you want something for the long run. Plus, since the PS3 doubles as a Blue-ray player, I can watch some of my favorite movies in all their high-def glory…And the games are pretty fun as well.


[SAINT: I’m actually finally getting around to playing Mass Effect. It’s a great game. I think I like KOTOR better, but that’s probably just because of the affiliation with Star Wars. There are a few times in Mass Effect that I have just stood there staring at my ship though; I actually feel like Commander Sheppard, LOL. Hopefully I didn’t set you up for any personal attacks with the “pick a console” question…but all valid points. Sounds like the N64 was a pretty special system for you. Sweet.]


2. Your blogs at Game Informer Online are few but are quite popular and poised with a rather philosophical overture. One might assume that you prefer video games with a similarly equipped storyline. What are your thoughts on the significance of a solid story and name a couple of games that you think sport high caliber stories.



I’d like to say that the story in a game is everything, but that wouldn’t ring entirely true if you were to look at some of my favorite games (Crysis anyone). However, the story is extremely important. While I don’t think an excellent storyline is necessary to have a fun experience with a game, I think it does raise the game to new levels. When you have a good storyline, that barrier between reality and the game world can be blurred to the point of almost non-existence. You feel for the different characters. You grow a relationship with your in-game partner. You grow to hate the antagonist. For those few hours that you spend in the game, you aren’t just playing as Jack or Sheppard. You become them. When that happens, saving the “world” takes on a whole new meaning.

 

At this point, anybody can guess what I think are good examples of a solid storyline (*cough Bioshock and Mass Effect*). However, there are also others that I think represent the epitome in engrossing storylines such as Heavy Rain (yes, I’ve played quite a bit of that game), Knights of the Old Republic, System Shock, Half Life 2, and even OoT (I’m probably a bit biased on that last one).


Some of those games are pretty old. But I think another important factor in having a good storyline is the ability to stand the test of time. These older games will continue to be placed on top of a pedestal, even if the themes become cliché because of the fact that they helped to set the bar in excellent video game story telling. Those newer games will also most likely be remembered, not just for their solid game play, but also because of their stories.


So long as video games continue to exist, I firmly believe that. After all, when someone picks up a copy of Hamlet, reads through it, and understand everything, you’ll never hear them say “they call this a play?” From my experience, most can only say “Wow” if they can pick their jaw up from off the ground. (I’m a literary major…I’m probably being biased here too LOL.)


[SAINT: I’m with you on the significance of story. I think this is one area some games really suffer from these days; they try to be so sensational and extraordinary that it actually hurts the translation. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a simple story…I don’t always have to save the world from total annihilation for it to be a good story. BTW – I think I’m in trouble interviewing a literary major and trying to keep a page limit.]


3. Some musicians aren't big fans of games like Rockband and Guitar Hero because they say the games are nowhere near as complex as playing a real musical instrument. As a musician, what are your thoughts on music games? The new Rockband 3 includes a guitar featuring six strings instead of buttons and is supposed to model a real guitar. Do you think this arrangement is going to be successful and be anything like playing a real guitar?



When music games really started taking off, I considered it a nice way to introduce people to music they otherwise would never have heard. Back in high school, I had quite a few friends who knew little to nothing outside the realms of rap and hip-hop. But when those games started coming out, I found that more and more of those same friends were now downloading Alice Cooper and the Ramones onto their mp3 players. It was great for quite a while because I honestly think those games assisted people in becoming more musically open-minded.


However, there were the occasional few who began to belittle the talents of genuine artists, claiming nonsense like “I can play that Dragon Force song on the highest difficulty, blind-folded. Playing a song like Hendrix’s Voodoo Child can’t possibly be that hard.” While I do think it takes quite a bit of skill to pull off a feat like that, playing real, earnest music on an actual guitar or drum set or whatever has so many nuances and subtleties that can make it infinitely more difficult to perform than just pressing buttons and strumming a toggle in sync with colored gems. Again, I’m not saying that doesn’t also require skill. You’re really working your hand-eye coordination on those things and the drum sets can give you an honest feel for how it is to play on a real one. But it just doesn’t compare to the real thing.


With all that considered, I do think that a six-string peripheral will offer people more of a chance to feel what it’s like to play on a real instrument. I can’t say too much on it because I don’t know all the details on what functions the peripherals will or won’t have. I think placing strings on the guitar is definitely a step in the right direction. I think it will have a similar effect on what these music games did originally. They helped people grow in appreciation over music they might not have been too familiar with. By making the gaming devices more like real instruments, I think that will make any non-musician who picks up the game grow in appreciation for the artists themselves.


Personally, I’d love to see the time when video games and music are so perfectly melded together that it’ll encourage a desire in everyone to just pick up and play. Out of all the Arts, I am of the opinion that music has always been the most influential and thought-provoking.


[SAINT:  To be honest, I’m not much of a music person and for the longest time I just disregarded games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero…until I played them. Now I’m addicted and while I still can’t play a real instrument to save my life, I have a blast jamming out on the video game versions like I’m a real rock star.]


4. Who is the best and worst character in Super Smash Bros and why? Tell us the story of one of your most epic battles.



Most of my experience has been with the original version, but I have played the other two and even placed first in a tournament my friend threw when Brawl was released. With the first game, I’ve always found that Link had most balance between speed, power, and versatility. Boomerangs, bombs, and a hook shot give him great range. And if you get close enough to even try and do some damage, you still have to contend with his sword.

The worst character I think would have to be Jiggly Puff. Going solo with Jiggly Puff is flat out miserable. However, she’s great for support and setting up opponents for smash attacks. But if you’re on your own as Jiggly Puff, it’s always a challenge.


My greatest battles though, took place during that tournament I mentioned. While I had always been a fan of the series, these guys had bought their Gamecubes and Wii’s for those games. Even before the tournament was held, Brawl had been out for a few days and you can be sure they were spending all their waking moments fighting and unlocking everything they could find. Out of the 30 something people who played in it, I was the only one who had absolutely no experience with the two recent iterations. So you can imagine all their surprise when I kept working my way up through the rounds.

The tournament was set up not by using the in-game process. At least, I can’t remember if they used it. I do remember that it was set up in a pyramid form, starting with team battles first. I strictly remember our hosts wanting to do that to avoid having three people duking it out while the last guy just stayed away from the action until the opportune moment. Playing in teams, we had no choice but to work together.


The problem was, the most likely to win was paired with the least likely to win. Needless to say, I was the least likely to win and one of the hosts was considered pretty much a professional. Everybody thought I would end up pulling him down with me, especially when I chose Marth (is he really that bad? Because I got used to his counters pretty quick and it definitely helped). Then there was the whole fact that I was using a Mad Catz controller that I had specifically purchased for the tournament (Give me a break..I didn’t know how bad they were). Their fears were remedied when they decided there would be judges on whether each team mate pulled their own weight (talk about having faith in me as a gamer). So the first surprise came when I managed to hold my own against the second likely to win and her (I said her) team mate played us in the first round. I suppose not considering me much of a threat played into our victory.


Everybody soon wised up though and started to take me seriously. After having taken down the team most expected to win the very first round, the other teams stopped taking chances. The battles were fierce and as part of the rules, we couldn’t change characters between rounds. That meant for better or for worse, I was stuck with Marth. Soon, the numbers dwindled into one on one matches after a short intermission (some of the fights had ended up lasting over thirty minutes!). People’s doubts in me began to surface yet again, one competitor playing as Link offering me the first hit. I was pretty confident in my abilities so I countered his offer by offering to throw myself off (we were playing stock matches). He laughed and said some nonsense about how it would be my undoing (some of them tended to get into character…don’t even get me started on the guy who played as Pikachu). Like I said, I was pretty confident in myself, so I did it. Guess who ended up winning anyway?


I continued winning, some matches being closer than others, and finally there was only one last guy. Needless to say, it was my former team mate who, ironically had chosen to play as Ike. Up until this point, standard rules had applied, meaning the items were left alone. However, for the final fight, items were all taken off except for the final smash item.


Without items, I quite honestly felt at a disadvantage. Ike might be slower than Marth, but my friend was great at timing his counters and Ike’s moves made Marth’s look like pinpricks. We were playing on the Final Destination stage with six lives. It was the hardest fight in any game against another player I’ve ever had. As soon as the match started, we raced towards each other. I leapt over to land on his right to attack from the other side, which he countered and quickly added a grab to followed by a flurry of attacks. After sustaining quite a bit of damage in the first few moments of the match, I finally managed to break away. But it was clear to me that I had to really get unpredictable; otherwise I wouldn’t stand a chance. You see, he had observed me throughout the tournament up to that point. He knew how I fought, always attempting to attack from the side.


He didn’t give me much of a chance at all. In fact, I was doing all I could to avoid him. And then the first Smash showed up. Throughout the tournament, I had realized something—I really suck using Marth’s final smash attack. Half the time I ended up flying off the screen and missing. So my goal was to just keep my opponents away from it. Going up against Ike proved to be easier with the help of my agility. I kept knocking either him or the item away until it vanished. But once it finally did, he managed to hit me off. I was down one point.


Then another.


And another.


But it was getting harder for him to do it, because now I was learning how he fought. He tended to wait for his opponent to come to him and because I was pretty confident in Marth’s agility, I would constantly fall into his traps. So I started trying new tactics. I’d charge again, but instead of trying to attack, I’d feint away. Not knowing, he’d instinctively hit to counter, throwing his timing off and leaving him open for an attack.

By using that tactic, I managed to keep the score relatively even until we were both left with just one life left. We both had high damage percentages, but obviously if he could land one more hit on me, he stood more of a chance of knocking me off than I did to him.


And then yet another final smash appeared.


People began hollering and screaming as we both raced towards it. We fought in the air, him attacking first, then me countering. But he blocked! And then came the swing.

Marth went soaring into oblivion. And I lost.


No just kidding. But it was close. I just barely caught the edge and the crowd behind us gasped right along with the in game one.  Ike was already on his way to knock me off once more though, figuring he didn’t need the smash. I jumped back onto the platform, barely dodging as his blade swung and soared for the smash item. I swung and it shattered.


The two of us stood there for a moment, realizing what this meant. He had seen how poor I was at using Marth’s final smash. He smiled and taunted from the opposite end of the platform.


“Well? Go ahead and do it.”


Marth ran straight at him. Ike jumped into the air. Marth followed suit. The two jumped past each other. And right before he could even realize the mistake he had made, I turned to face him and activated the smash attack. Ike landed just into to connect with Marth’s sweeping slash.


The match was over and I had managed to win by a hair.


Well that certainly went on longer than I intended lol…


[SAINT:  A literary major you say? Nah…I’m just teasing. That was a great story. I was never that big into Super Smash Bros. because my son was awesome at it and I used to get so frustrated and throw the controller down and storm away. He could take us all on at the same time and destroy us all…one by one. It certainly wasn’t my game.]


5. Finish the following sentence. StarCraft II is...! Do you think StarCraft II, a PC only game, can get the nod from Game Informer as the 2010 Game of the Year?



StarCraft II is…well I honestly wouldn’t know. I didn’t get it. LOL… As far as it getting Game of the Year? I suppose it's possible. It's certainly been highly praised in a number of different reviews. It's also one of the most anticipated games of all time (notice how I said ONE of the most. Nobody get bent out of shape please, because I've already seen that happen).


Now, if you will excuse me. I have to brace myself for the coming hurricane of angry fellow PC gamers. I still have marks from the last time I said that.


[SAINT: Saint --> Fail. Hah…I have to be honest. I was working on the questions late one night and was trying to hurry up and get them to you…I was literally dozing off while I was typing them…and after one nod that lasted for who knows how many seconds…I finally came to and all I had typed was “StarCraft is…” so I just decided to go with it and add the part about the Game of the Year. Alas, you found me out…as the question didn’t go over so well…but perhaps this little revelation will salvage it.]


A special thanks to EuphoricEnnui for spending some time with us. To read more about EuphoricEnnui, check out the GIO profile here.


As a reminder, next week’s Member Herding is going to be determined in a unique format. I’ll post something on my profile page tomorrow and the first person who responds correctly will be interviewed (or if the person that answers was previously herded, then they can nominate someone). If no one answers it correctly or no one plays, then I’ll just randomly pick some stranger off of the street and interview them.


Drink up...

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