I know some of you are just as anxious to see the Member Herding series return as I am, but before I start I want to take a moment to recognize and remember a handful of our fellow Americans that perished in Afghanistan on Saturday. I heard and read about this tragedy shortly after it was reported but it didn't really hit home until I made it into the office today. Though I'm not a member of that community, I've worked with them before and have the upmost respect for them. A loss of that many shipmates reverberates throughout the Navy and across the nation. Regardless of your political affiliation or feelings about the war, these brave men just showed up for work one day and paid the ultimate price. Their sacrifice and the sacrifices large and small by all of our military forces past, present and future ensure we will always be the land of the free and home of the brave. Fair winds and following seas my brothers. Semper Fidelis.

It's been 123 days (April 07, 2011) since the last Member Herding blog was posted. In that time there has been an influx of new faces and contributors to the GIO blogosphere, so I think an overview of Member Herding and a list of members in the "Herd" is relevant (the list of members is at the end of the blog).

The Member Herding feature is a weekly blog series where I provide a number of randomly generated questions (typically 5) and a bonus question or two specifically tailored to the individual being interviewed. The person answers the questions that I ask them, and then I provide a brief response to each of their answers. The genesis behind the series is its loosely based off of GI's Blog Herding feature, and although this isn't an official product, it has been recognized and endorsed by a few of the staff members including the former Blog Master, Annette Gonzalez.

The selection process varies and is normally randomized so I don't have control over who is picked in order to ensure fair and balanced results. I've used different methods including having other notable members nominate candidates, the first correct response to trivia questions, clever formulas and Plan B - I just pick someone. The Member Herding feature is not restricted to bloggers, rather, it is a feature that recognizes positive community involvement - everyone has a shot at it. It is not meant to be an exclusive, limited access club; it's mean to spotlight active productive members of the community that make this place so awesome.

The success and popularity of the series ballooned up far beyond my expectations. I created a "herded" button to insert into the blog and before I knew it, many members were adding this to their profile. I've had all sorts of people that normally don't message me contact me over this series and provide their endorsement and support. When I returned to GIO I had more people inquire about this blog than anything else.

Yeah, so I guess that pretty much sums up Member Herding. It's a community member spotlight, if you will. Let's get on with it and see who the newest member of the Member Herding community is.

None other than...

GIO Name: Masterassassin

GIO Rank: 12

Gaming Experience (Years playing): Um, the Sega Master System was the first console I played, so about 16 years.

Last Game Completed: Episodes From Liberty City.

Currently Playing: Shangri-La on Black Ops, and The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass.

Origin of GIO Profile Name: I'm a huge Assassin's Creed fan. That pretty much sums it up, LOL.

And now for everybody's favorite element of Member Herding...the questions.

Five Randomly Generated Questions + 2 Bonus question

1. What do you think is the best game released so far in 2011 (whether you've actually played it or not) and what game has yet to be released in 2011 that you are most excited for?

Hmm, that's difficult. I haven't had the money to get many games this year. Out of the games I have played, I would say Dead Space 2. I loved the first one, and this one improved so many things. I loved the new pacing, awesome environments, and the fact that Isaac finally has a voice.

As far as what I'm most excited for, it's definitely The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.  I didn't originally start playing these type games until I tried Fallout 3 in 2009, but now I'm glad I did. I love the openness, and the fact that you're free to be who you want to be. And to top it off Skyrim seems to be improving nearly everything people complained about in previous games.I can't wait to jump in and start slaying dragons!

[SAINT: It is difficult, isn't it? I've only played a handful of new games this year (saving my money for games released later in the year) but the ones I have played have been exceptional. Dead Space 2 is a very good candidate, I concur. Probably a tie with Portal 2 for me. I think you and everyone else will be very pleased with Skyrim. I've said I think it will get game of the year if it releases as scheduled. I guess I'm looking forward to Battlefield 3. Its predecessor is one of my all time favorites and I'm hoping it provides that same kind of experience.]

2. Fill in the blanks. You're helping design the perfect video game; it would have graphics like (blank), audio effects like (blank), a single player story like (blank), multiplayer online gameplay like (blank) and be developed by (blank).

Graphics like Battlefield 3, audio effects like Battlefield: Bad Company, a single player story like Red Dead Redemption, multiplayer online gameplay like Red Dead Redemption, and be developed by Rockstar.

[SAINT: Solid choices.

Graphics like Battlefield 3 (I concur), audio effects like Dead Space (none better), a single player story like Halo (my favorite game), multiplayer online gameplay like Battlefield 2 (Wake Island + jets, 'nuf said), and be developed by Valve (best developer in the business if you ask me).]

3. If you could have a replica object as a collectible (for the purpose of this blog will say something small that you could hold in your hands like a weapon or piece of gear) from any video game, what would you choose and why?

The Assassin's Creed hidden blade. As I mentioned up there, I'm a huge AC fanboy. And ever since I saw it, I thought it was the coolest weapon. For awhile I was even using YouTube to try to build one, which never worked out.  I'm hoping to someday find or buy one (for display, I never plan on using it of course).

[SAINT: Funny you mention that because I saw a story on this very item...hmm, let me see if I can find it. Oh yes, here it is. That is an interesting choice. It's definitely a unique item full of mystery and intrigue. Also funny that I ask the question and have no idea what item I would choose. Let me think about it for a second. Well that didn't take but maybe a half a second. Now the challenge is deciding on one. At last year's E3, the Future Soldier exhibit had soldiers armed with the MR-B, a high tech assault rifle. I wouldn't mind having one of those. But since I wave the Valve banner as much as I do, I suppose I wouldn't mind having a replica Portal gun or gravity gun from Half Life. Then again, a Lancer from Gears of War would be cool too. Yeah, I gotta stop thinking about it or I'll go mad.]

4.In Left 4 Dead 2, the four characters Coach, Ellis, Nick, Rochelle work together to survive the aftermath of an apocalyptic pandemic that has resulted in hordes of infected zombie like creatures. You find yourself leading your own little band of survivors in your hometown. Pick 3 other "team mates" (can be anybody - friends, family, GI staff, etc) and outline your survival plan.

LOL, I actually have a cousin who would be a perfect zombie killer. He hunts (and has some nice guns). But anyway, it's something we always joke about, when he takes time to line up a shot, he always misses. Though when he quickly shoots in a panic, it's almost always a hit. Seeing how zombies would probably be up in your face a lot, panic shots are what we need.  As far as the two other people, the best I can come up with is his hunting buddies. The best survival plan I can come up with is: holding them off in a department store like "Wal-Mart". You'd have guns, ammo, food, drinks, and other random things that would come in handy.

[SAINT: Hah Hah. Great answer. Going with the old "Dawn of the Dead" approach. If you had a Sam's or Costco you might even be able to hold out even longer. I suppose my team would have to consist of my Art of War: Video Game Edition co-authors - Demon Ragnarok, Tactical Rash (assuming parenthood hasn't weakened his abilities) and Drubacca117. All are or were former military. Couple that with a solid gaming background, and we would be a force to be reckoned with. I think we would make our way to Alcatraz since it's a rather formidable and defendable location, but we might have to settle for the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) in Fremont County, Colorado.

Prisons aren't the first place that most people think of when contemplating zombie or alien response plans, but think about it. There are weapons, ammunition, food and backup power (generators and gas). If this supermax facility can keep the worst of the worst in, then hopefully it can keep the zombies out. I won't go into too many details about it, but I can see a lot of value in holing up in a prison.

Not that I've ever given this much thought or anything, LOL.]

5. You're obviously a gamer but your profile also indicates you play guitar. Given that neither Rock Back or Guitar Hero are listed in your favorite games list, what are your thoughts on the musical instrument games, and have we seen the last of them or not? What video game's sound track best describes your guitar playing?

I actually got really, REALLY into music games at one time. I originally laughed them off as another gimmick. That is until I played Guitar Hero 2 when it was set up at a GameStop. I was instantly hooked. I continued playing each new game up until Guitar Hero: World Tour (which was my last music game). I think the problem was: the game play wasn't very deep, and never changed other than minor tweaks. So it didn't take much to burn out on it. The only way I can see them making a comeback is by changing something to make it feel fresh again. Like, maybe making it possible to use your real instruments? 

As for what game soundtrack best describes my playing: I would say The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. I haven't actually played it, but I have listened to the music. I like playing the slower finger style stuff like that. The Morrowind theme is actually one of my favorite things to play.

[SAINT: I dismissed these games for years and years until I finally played Rock Band. Now I love them and we've had many a family game night where we have guitar, bass, drums and vocals going. It's a brilliant but tired series that I still enjoy playing and probably always will. Whenever I hear a song on the radio that was an included track on one of the games, I always say, "Ah, I love this Rock Band (or Guitar Hero) song." Never mind it might be a classic that was out a dozen years before the game was ever even created.]

BONUS Question #1: Who is your favorite character on Big Bang Theory and why? And, if you were Leonard, would you pick Penny or Priya?

Sheldon, for me he just makes the show. It seems like he gets crazier with each passing episode, which makes you wonder: how much crazier can he get? As for who I would pick, to be honest I don't really know, LOL. It's hard to say without personally knowing either of them.

[SAINT: Hah Hah, completely agree with Sheldon. It's one of the few shows that can literally make me laugh out loud. Big Bang Theory makes being a geek cool; absolutely love this show and all their references to video games and other geek stuff like comics and computers.]

BONUS Question #2: Be honest, how many times did you jump while playing Dead Space 2? Any specific stories you'd like to share with us?

I don't think I ever went a full hour without jumping while playing it, LOL. The best story I can think of, is when I tried Hardcore mode for the first time. For anybody who hasn't played it, Hardcore mode takes all the checkpoints out, and only let you save the game 3 times, any death results in game over, or restart at the last save point. Which means just like in real life: you die, it's over.

Anyway, I decided to give it a try. I moved as slowly as possible searched every inch for ammo and health packs. And I usually jumped out of my chair when an enemy attacked.  I was finally able to make it to the first big enemy in the game (the Tripod I believe). It put me on the edge of my seat through the entire fight. It managed to weaken me down to my last hit right before I killed it with my last shot. I then literary had to pause the game to breathe. When I started back up a enemy hit me from behind, resulting in game-over.

[SAINT: Great story. I skipped hard core mode and sounds like it's a good thing I did. I wouldn't have the patience for that. I will say that the ending of Deadspace 2, the last five or 10 minutes, is jaw dropping. Especially if things don't go well for you the first time around.]

A special thanks to Masterassassin for spending some time with us while divulging a few details about his gaming personality. To read more about Masterassassin, view his GIO profile here.

And if you're wondering who the other members of the herd are, wonder no more.

Member Herding Roster

1.                   Demon Ragnarok

2.                   born4this

3.                   Master Snake

4.                   Super Snake

5.                   DTJAAAAM

6.                   Meta77

7.                   Sakabato24

8.                   Drubacca117

9.                   TBBucs20

10.               EuphoricEnnui

11.               Hist

12.               Saint

13.               Colton

14.               TheIllestVillan

15.               Happy Ginger

16.               TOGNick

17.               Tactical Rash

18.               Bjdbuch

19.               Cody Gilley

20.               xXxSKOLxXx

21.               Warbuff

22.               Mray901

23.               Eyros2K

24.               WS-N

25.               Matthew B

26.               Koob24

27.               Fife

28.               ~Kyl3~

29.               Fever Ray

30.               Dark Lady Sarai

31.               DSTUBBS

32.               Shootist2600

33.               Fiercy Deity

34.               redlitez76

35.               Apozem

36.               Jack, the Quixotic Gamer

37.               Masterassassin

38.               TBD