I often wonder how people approach reading these blogs. Do they start at the beginning, the introductory paragraph that I painstakingly craft to gently ease them into the actual content and purpose of the blog...or do they jump ahead, read the name to see who it is, and then back track to read it in its entirety? I doubt I will ever know for sure, but I suspect that many of you, once discovering who is being spotlighted in this episode, will share this same thought - "What! How in the world has he not already been featured?" The truth is it is almost inexcusable he hasn't been featured yet. I am remiss in the fact it has taken this long. His contribution and support of the community is one of the cornerstones of its foundation. His inclusion into the herd is long overdue and being rectified with this latest installment in the series. If you don't already know who it is, you almost certainly will know who it is...

It's none other than...

GIO Name: Orochisama LEVON, Spectre

GIO Rank: Level 13

Gaming Experience (Years playing): 22

Last Game Completed: Fez

Currently Playing: Skyrim, XCOM, and Need for Speed: Most Wanted

Origin of GIO Profile Name: A bit of mythology. Orochi is an infamous multiheaded dragon in Japanese folklore. Spectre is obviously a reference to Mass Effect. I thought I'd add that title once I finished my 30/30 series.

Five Randomly Generated Questions + 4 Bonus questions + 1 Special question

1. You are clearly a Subject Matter Expert (SME) on Mass Effect, a game that you wrote 30 consecutive blogs about, each unique and thought provoking. Well, apparently Mass Effect 4 is being developed and it's been said the game will be "exploring new directions" for gameplay and story, but will still be true to the series roots. What does that mean to you and how would you like to see the series evolve? Do you think we'll see more of Commander Shepard? What is one element you would like to see added, and one you would like to see disappear? Mass Effect is not listed in your GIO profile as a one of your favorite games - is that oversight or intentional?

It's hard to say with Bioware. I would like to think that "exploring new directions" means more innovation in terms of gameplay approach - I'd love to see an RTS based on the ME universe, for instance - but I'm hoping that it isn't too drastic of a departure and that they don't shy away from building on the lore they've already established, since they have a lot of great material to build new conflicts from. The series' roots most certainly rest in its deep conversation system, personal relationships players could develop with other characters, and the organic nature of how your choices not only affected the immediate story, but also influenced events later on in the story's sequels. These things, apart from the usual gimmick of being able to explore new worlds and meet fascinating new races, are what I feel firmly differentiates this series from other science fiction franchises of this generation.

As for how I'd like to see it evolve, I wrote a blog on this and I remember from it that seeing more of the customization inherent in the first is something I'd love to see in combination with the branching ability tree of ME3. I thought it was ingenious and really allowed me to tailor my character just the way I planned for each class and playstyle. I remember the unique class each character had in the first (battlemaster, scientist, etc.), and I'd love to see something like that return with more depth and variety. I expect that the exploration aspect of the game will evolve somehow as well. 

As far as Commander Shepard goes, Bioware has definitively said that we won't be seeing them anymore. At most I expect references to Shepard, but nothing more than that. It would be great if the next Mass Effect - supposing it's a direct sequel - used save transfer data as the primary template for this, and as everyone I've bantered with about the subject has said, I would love to be able to play as a different race, preferably Krogan. I don't want to see as much autodialogue in the future, though it does work when used in moderation; the planet scanning and fetch quests however, remain a pretty unpleasant aspect of the game that I definitely hope to see removed or revamped so that they're engaging rather than a timesink.

As for Mass Effect not being listed among my favorite games, that would be an oversight that hopefully has been remedied with the humongous shrine devoted to it on my page.

[SAINT: Interesting. Well, exploring doesn't mean they are necessarily going to proceed with a new format, it just means they're evaluating their options. I think the bulk of the game will be similar. Gamers seem to like that format. I do think we'll see focus on character development and social relationships again but with innovative improvements. I hope they do at least mention Commander Shepard or at least figure out a way to incorporate his legacy into the game. He is such an iconic character and I think the series almost needs him to be successful - meaning I don't think it would be as successful if they never mention him again. It will seem like a new series without him. Ah, playing as a Krogan would be kind of cool, heh heh. I almost hope some of the old characters don't return. I've survived 3 games now with most of my favorites still alive, so the odds are stacked against them. Planet scanning - hah! Yeah, they could definitely lose that and it wouldn't hurt my feelings. A shrine indeed.]

2. Your contributions to Game Informer Online have been nothing short of exemplary as witnessed by your continued success and lengthy list of accomplishments. You have posted plenty of content of the highest caliber; have been promoted to moderator; have been featured in Blog Herding; published the most comprehensive and monumental 30/30 blog series devoted solely to the Mass Effect game; and you're just an all around great guy. What is your secret, and what is the best piece of advice you can offer new GIO members? Of course nothing is perfect, so what is your biggest grief or pet peeve with GIO? What member from the community do you think is the most underrated or underappreciated that all of us should be following? What's up next for you?

Well, as far as writing goes, my secret is that I've taken the time to embrace the writing voice I have through lots of practice. Yet, I still recognize that I don't quite "know" or understand my writing voice completely, and with that approach, one can say that I'm constantly in a journey of discovery and revision. Reading others and studying their approaches - from Oni's easygoing comedy and introspection to EE's trademarked snark and sarcasm - really gives a person a sense of where they stand as a writer, especially when one compares their old work with the material they're currently putting out.

Trying to get caught up in the particulars of what a good blog is or chase after the fame of others is an exercise in futility in my opinion, since we're constantly finding our previous understandings or expectations being challenged; kowtowing to those insecurities will hobble a writer. I've seen incredibly short blogs worth more than blogs that spanned several pages, and then there are the really unique and innovative approaches like the video reviews, the GaME blogs; even Irony's drawblogs. I like the updates that lotrgeek does on the games that they're playing.

My advice to new members as far as writing goes would be the same they've always heard when asking me: be yourself. Don't be afraid to embrace different writing approaches, yet steel yourself for the consequences that come with them. Some of us - and this includes me, as I have certainly been guilty of this - can be a tad bit elitist at times and unwelcoming to newer bloggers if they don't necessarily post quality work, while others who are certainly talented don't get the attention or respect they deserve for opening up. This of course leads to advice that I think goes in tandem with being open to self-expression: know who your audience is.

As for any secrets I may have in terms of character, I would say that I'm essentially a sourpatch kid: I'm nice one moment, then a troll the next. I do my best to hide the trollish aspects of myself through euphemisms and humor. Then, I'm also pretty candid when it comes to expressing and challenging an opinion. I try my best to do so as respectfully as possible, though I'm not always successful. I'm still amazed people like me, honestly.

My biggest pet peeve of GIO is that I can't be totally breakfast. The Old Vets know what I'm talking about, and I'll avoid delving further into that can of worms since it's been beaten to death, revived via the Lazarus Project, and killed all over again more times than the ME3 ending controversy. I will say one word though: forums. Sports Spam is a close second.

Moving on, I'm really excited to see the talented list of new bloggers, from ace13 to John Wrek, quasi, Theora, and Jolt. David Chandler is a person I think members should definitely read more of. His piece on Transhumanism and Deus Ex was spectacular, and is the kind of material I could see in a gaming journal.

In terms of what to expect from me in the future, I plan to review a few games, as well as possibly blog. There are a few projects I've been tinkering with in-between modding sessions. Otherwise, I'm taking things in stride.

[SAINT:  Listen up readers and fellow bloggers...that was a treasure trove of knowledge and wisdom, free of charge. I couldn't agree more with the David Chandler shout out - he posts rather infrequently but everything he posts is gold. I'm a big fan of Hannibal's work too, but I certainly don't think he is underrated or underappreciated. Honestly, I'm not quite sure what you're referring to with "I can't be totally breakfast" - but perhaps it's because I'm not one of the old vets. I actually don't mind the sports spam that much. I mean, yes...it's annoying...but it's spam. It' supposed to be. I have a few other pet peeves that rate far higher than spam. Anyway, I always enjoy hearing advice from fellow bloggers to see if it is similar and where their focus is.]

 3. I see you're a fan of Lord of the Rings too. Imagine you are Frodo Baggins setting out on the quest to Mount Doom to destroy the ring. Pick members of the GIO community to represent the following characters and explain your selection: Samwise Gamgee; Meriadoc Brandybuck; Gandalf; Aragorn; Legolas Greenleaf; Gimli, son of Glóin; Boromir; Bilbo Baggins; Sauron, the Dark Lord and Gollum. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is scheduled for a December 14th release - do you plan to see it and how do you think it is going to compare to the book; and the other movies? There have been a number of video games based on Lord of the Rings but unfortunately none have been all that successful. Why do you think that is and what do you think it would take to make a successful LOTR video game?

Drym would be Samwise Gamgee. He's an all-around likeable person, loyal, virtually incorruptible, and passionate about the things he cares about. He's also equally laidback.

Mojo is the Gandalf of GIO, hands-down. He has a lot of wisdom to offer to the community here and is one of the most responsible people I've had the privilege of meeting up here. He's selfless and carries his duties with dignity.

Aragorn would be you, Saint. You've got quite the legacy up here but it's never something you brag about.

Craigaleg would have to be Legolas. I have absolutely no clue why. Must be his spot-on reviews.

Blake would be Gimli. He has the perfect dry sense of humor I'd expect and has a storied role up here on GIO.

Boromir, now that's a tough one. I'd say Chris Mrkvicka. He's a warrior.

NEWT (New Traditionalist) would be Meriadoc. We haven't talked much, but he's a pretty laidback person I'd like to know more about.

Supersnake would be Bilbo Baggins. He's a well-known mod up here, but he's been active on GIO for a very long time, and along with a few others like Rain, Stump, and Dbull - especially Chf - helped make GIO the community it became.

God of Wine would be Sauron. He rules the Top Ten lists of GIO with a cruel, iron fist that will never be relinquished.

Stranger would be Gollum. There's something zany about him that I can't quite put a finger on.

Bonus: Jolt would be Pippin, since he's so *** silly, and Oni, well you know she's the Elven princess Arwen. Because she is.

As far as the movie(s) go, I'll have to reserve my opinions though I know it won't compare to the original book. I'm hoping that it will still be a marvelous cinematic experience and expect it to be a smash on hype alone.

I can't really say why they haven't been successful, apart from not really having the same magic as the films or source material - although the games based on the movies were pretty fun to play - to draw from like they could. It seems, after the abysmal horror that was Conquest and the underwhelming War of the North, that their blatant attempts to milk the franchise dry were a bit too transparent to people. I think Bethesda has what it takes to make LOTR work as a game if we examine their storied history with The Elder Scrolls series.

[SAINT: Aragorn, 'nuf said. That is all. No seriously, he is my favorite character and it doesn't hurt he is a BAMF, so that is a real compliment. Much better than being called C3PO by Oni - no offense Oni. Those were some great answers and character assignments. I am very excited for the movie. While I enjoyed the book, there is something about seeing the magic on the big screen that is very appealing and I look forward to its release. It will be a huge success; I have no doubts about it. Definitely agree with Bethesda's talent, they could make an awesome LOTR game...I mean, they're essentially one in the same as far as content and setting.]

4. You have Bioshock listed as one of your favorite games, which is a game I recently finished. Rapture was envisioned as a utopian world where the residents were pretty much free to live however they chose. If Andrew Reiner invited you to Rapture when it first opened (for lack of a better word), would you have gone? Was the lawlessness and ensuing chaos and inevitable outcome? No doubt you saw the various business establishments, from bars and clubs to shops and stores. What sort of employment do you think you would have sought? Did you harvest or rescue the little sisters? How excited are you for Bioshock Infinite? Describe Bioshock in three words.

 Yes, I would've. Rapture was certainly a fascinating world I'd kill to visit just to escape from modern restraints in an attempt to strike out on my own. However, given that Rapture in itself was a critique of Ayn Rand's Objectivism, you could say that failure and chaos were certainly inevitable. The kind of paranoid and classist environment Rapture embodied, hidden underneath a rather glossy façade of indulgent radical capitalism, was one that would only be ideal in a world without true limitations. Yet, as we certainly learned, the privileges of the denizens of Rapture, especially Ryan's, were very selective and their desire to enforce that privilege through propaganda and anti-intellectualism became the catalyst of their undoing. Ryan's attempt to deal with social inequality by creating a faceless enemy - the "parasite" - ensured that they would never be able to target the problem, only its symptom.

Employment I would've sought in Rapture would pertain to the arts in some form, probably as a critic or an aspiring artist or writer. Fort Frolic would certainly have been my choice of residence. I rescued the Little Sisters the first time I played, then I harvested them the next playthrough. I'm definitely very excited for Infinite. Columbia is the epitome of Steampunk and I can't wait to see how the game's environment critiques American history.

Describing Bioshock in three words? A certified GOTY.

[SAINT: A solid, thought provoking response to kind of a scattered multipart question. I was fascinated with the book, which was further compounded when I played the game - this notion of unregulated capitalism and uninhibited research & development. With all the criticism the government receives, where in the world would we be without it? I always fancied Bill McDonagh - this rugged plumber, maintenance guy who is taken aboard by Ryan and becomes somewhat of a confidant - but also opens a pub on the side to live out his lifelong dream. He had a much more prominent role in the book. I don't think Infinite is going to be AS epic as the first, but that's only because the original was as epic as it is. It'll be good though, for sure.]

 5. I have not played Fez. Tell me about it and why I should. Indie games and developers are gaining popularity and, comparatively speaking, we see simple and short games doing very well in sales and popularity. Why do you think that is? Do you think we'll continue to see this trend continue in the future? Once again, despite many gamers abandoning ship, Call of Duty Black Ops II shattered sales records. Is this good for the industry and other the other video game developers? Why or why not? Do you have any ideas for an indie game?

 Fez is a brilliant puzzle-heavy adventure game that has you playing as Gomez in an attempt to save the universe by collecting cubes and anti-cubes that are located in various worlds that Fez can travel to. Prior to the beginning of Fez's journey, the world is completely two-dimensional. Yet, after Gomez is given the signature magical hat, the world becomes three-dimensional and players are able to see different perspectives, including new worlds. If you love gaming - especially old school games - you'll love Fez's presentation. It's homage to the things we love about gaming, from the Zelda and Mario references you'll find to the hidden riddles and secrets players can find in each of the uniquely designed worlds Gomez will travel through. It's approachable, but it's also challenging, blending many of the old school mechanics into a formula that new school gamers can enjoy.

I think we'll continue to see a trend of games like Fez coming out. There's obviously a cult following for these games if we examine the successes of Bastion and similar titles, especially Minecraft, which is doing extremely well on the 360; the PC community is as strong as ever, of course. As for Call of Duty, I think the series is a textbook example of business 101: once you have an established base, it's incredibly easy to remain successful, and Call of Duty has an immense fanbase. For better or worse, they've honed a gaming juggernaut by only changing the things necessary and offering changes that are slight and complementary rather than fundamental. Of course, storytelling and general gameplay aspects haven't evolved much, but they remain the best in terms of the audience they're marketing toward, and that's what matters. As the saying goes, "one man's trash is worth more than another man designating it so," and in this franchise's case, the money being made clearly speaks for the majority. Economically, it's certainly good for the industry as it shows people are buying. How its success will affect development decisions of those who aren't as prominent is something up for debate.

I currently have no ideas for an indie game, but if I were to make one, it would be either an RTS or an RPG.

[SAINT: Awesome summary. Since I haven't played the game I have no idea how representative it is, but it sounds cool and I do hope to play it one day. I think the real benefit of indie titles is the opportunity for us to really see the developers let their creativity loose. They can take more risks and try new things. I look at CoD and games like that differently than most I suppose. I once wrote a blog about how I like certain genres...whether it's books or movies or even video games. So, I can play shooter after shooter after shooter and never get bored. I definitely agree with it being good for the industry. I think the success of any title or platform helps us all, as long as the dollars are flowing into the video game industry. Hmm...RTS or RPG...two genres I'm not all that good at.]

 Bonus Question #1: ace13 asks, "Out of any character you have played with, as, or against, who do you relate to the most, and why?"

 As mostly everyone who has read my horrible blogs knows, I identify the most with Jackie Estacado. He is a hero of one of my favorite comics (The Darkness) and also the star protagonist of the videogame series based loosely on the comics. Given that I have Epilepsy and similar neurological illnesses run in my family, there's a striking parallel between us; he, being cursed with a primordial spirit that possesses the firstborn son of his family line; me, being "cursed" with bad genes. Then, there's the rather atypical antihero vibe going on in addition to the strong ties Jackie has to those he loves.

[SAINT: Bite your tongue for saying horrible blogs! I think you know better than that. I do recall your discussion about Jackie Estacado. As I recall, I told you I didn't have any exposure to the character, which is unfortunate because I have this habit of assigning characters to people - ace13 will forever be Elena Fisher to me - and since you feel as passionately about this character as you do, it would be a natural choice for me to consider you Jackie, but for now...I just see you as this shadowy Specter figure from the Mass Effect Universe, residing on the Citadel while sneaking around hacking into computers. Hmm, maybe I should blog about GIO personalities and the characters I associate them with...like born4this = the Iron Giant or Noobtubin8er as Woody from Toy Story...]

 Bonus Question #2: ace13 asks, "What is your GOTY pick and why?"

I'm giving this to Assassin's Creed 3. It's an impressive game that will gain a lot of attention for its expansive and immersive world. As an Arawak, it's great to know that we in Indian country have another Amerindian hero in gaming that isn't a caricature as well, since we can literally count them with one hand. Mass Effect 3 is tugging at my heartstrings also.

[SAINT: Mass Effect 3 is tugging at a lot of hearts for Game of the Year. I think it will probably win, which I'm okay with, but I'd also be happy to see a game like X-COM surprise everybody and pull it off. I don't know that Assassin's Creed 3 is going to have enough steam at this point...and then of course there is Halo 4 to consider. I don't think we have to worry about Black Ops II though. Regardless of what happens, there have been some exceptional games released this year.]

Bonus Question #3: Saint asks, "Would you rather have a job you really like or one that pays really well? Explain why."

I would view a job as being more of a duty given my health situation rather than a leisure, so it would be the latter. One of my medicines alone costs more than one grand without insurance, which I am currently unable to afford because I'm unemployed - I use a patient assistance program to acquire it. In the long run, it would be a job I would need to pay really well.

[SAINT: Well, that definitely makes sense and demonstrates on a personal level the motivation behind how some view job opportunities. I've never really had to deal with anything like that and it's unfortunate that you have to. There was a time when I would've agreed with your outlook. I've always had this philosophy of - they call it work for a reason. Now that I'm "experienced" - a polite way of saying "old" - and venturing out in search of a new job, I think I'm ready to find something where I can have fun and not worry about the corporate grind of fretting over promotions and how much money I make. I might be living out of my car, heh heh...but as long as I'm having fun...]

Bonus Question #4: Saint asks, "Can you name ten things you can use a pencil for besides writing?"

Well, let's see: 1) a "magic trick" (think of the Joker); 2) drumsticks; 3) eyeliner - my mom has those; 4) unconventional weapon or projectile - or conventional if sharpened; 5) paperweight 6) building apparatus; 7) backscratcher; 8) makeshift dart; 9) back-to-school gift; 10) tickling torture device.

[SAINT: Hah Hah, the conventional/unconventional remark made me LOL. Very creative response, I must say. The question is apparently one that some people get asked during a job interview to gauge the ability of the person being asked to respond to an out of the ordinary question while also demonstrating their creativity too. I'd say you passed - you're hired! I remember as a kid someone - I don't remember who - told me you could start a fire by rubbing two pencils together. I'm here to tell you, if it is possible, it sure isn't easy to pull off, so I'm glad start a fire didn't make your list.]

Ask Me A Question And I Might Just Answer It.

Orochisama LEVON asks, "Give the answer to a question no one would ever ask you."

[SAINT: "Me."]

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