Welcome (back) to the first Member Herding of 2013 featuring the newest member to join the ranks of the herd. It's a member some of you know well, and others of you haven't heard from until recently; it's a member worth his weight in gold...and silver. It's none other than...

GIO Name: GoldvsSilver

GIO Rank: Veteran Member - Level 13

Gaming Experience (Years playing):

11 years. I'm 16, so I really started getting involved when I was 5.

Last Game Completed:

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron (And it was utterly awesome).

Currently Playing:

PC: Deus Ex: Human Revolution, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Saints' Row The Third, Portal 2

Windows Phone: Wordament, Robotek, Chrono Trigger, Mega Man X

Xbox: Halo 4 Spartan Ops

Origin of GIO Profile Name:

I've always attributed the evolution of my name from Pokémon, but it also holds deep from Sonic the Hedgehog, as well. About five years ago, I had to create a good email account, but me being no more than a middle school student heavily-entrenched in Sonic at the time, I made an account name "VolcanicSilver", based off of the character Silver the Hedgehog (He's the best one, of course). I still use it, on older accounts and as a back-up alias. I had used it as my Dad's Xbox account four years ago, but when it came time for me to make my own at my Mom's, the name was (obviously) taken. As a result, I needed a new name. Rather than make an entire new name, I meshed the original tag with an opposite: Gold. Not only that, but it made sense along with my renewed enchantment with the Gameboy Color Pokémon game. Hence, GoldvsSilver. Rather juvenile in its inception, but I think the name is fairly cool, if I do say so myself.

Five Randomly Generated Questions + Four Bonus questions + One Special question

1. It's been awhile since we've heard from you (although you've posted a few blogs in the last week), so first question - You've played Halo 4 and gave it a perfect 10 in your review, was it your Game of the Year and why did you like it so much?  In one word, summarize the ending. Halo 4 offered a wide variety of weapons, some new and some refurbished - which was your favorite? There have been 7 Halo games (8 if you count Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition) to date, how would you rank them? Any thoughts on where the series goes from here?

It has been a while - I'm hoping I can work on how long my absences extend for in the future, and stay more constant for the community.

As for Halo 4, yes, it was a 10! And I believe rightfully so - 343 Industries made an exception trade-off from Bungie, and in a short amount of time nailed down much of what makes Halo...Halo. Not only did they capture the essence, but they proved they could do more with it than anybody had even come close to expecting. Console-leading graphics, phenomenal sound recording, a balanced take on modern multiplayer, and a rewarding storyline that more closely ties into the lore that all Halo fans deeply love. It was these reasons, and more little reasons, that had Halo 4 top Borderlands 2 in the competition for my Game of the Year.

The ending? Exciting.

My favorite weapon in Halo 4 has to be the shotgun. The way 343 beefed it up for this version is really satisfying, compared to its always-wimpy ancestors. With each pull of the trigger, you hear a hefty whip of sound, and whatever competition you had is now out of sight, out of mind.

I'll start with the rank list first:

Halo 3

Halo 2

Halo 3: ODST

Halo 4

Halo: Combat Evolved

Halo Wars

Halo Reach

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition

Halo 3, I feel was the definitive offering from Bungie. It started the Forge, had the best campaign presentation, delivered an art style on the Xbox 360 that still looks good today, and an extension of Halo 2's fantastic multiplayer. Halo 2 ranks second on the list for the reason of its multiplayer, the unique story, and all of the game-changing mechanics introduced that weren't fit into the original.

ODST, while knocked by many, showed a side story much akin to perhaps a Star Wars aside book, and introduced Firefight to Halo. Despite what people may say, I found the noir atmosphere electrifying and enthralling. Absolutely impactful. Halo 4, while I haven't gotten enough time yet, has already solidified a good place because of its level of quality.

Halo Wars was really enjoyable, and portrayed a part of the war that many people hadn't seen before. Oh, and RTS goodness on console! I just wish we'd get a second one. Halo Reach and Anniversary rank so low because I feel that their overall additions to multiplayer and playability were limited. In Reach's case, there wasn't enough soul, and variety, as I had been used to in previous games.

No spoilers of course, but I'm actually slightly perplexed on where exactly 343 will go with Halo 5. The fiction in the books is immense, and has lead up to the point of events that we saw realized in 4. If you played it to the end, I'm sure you'd imagine, things seemed a little too wrapped up, save one major plot-point. I wouldn't be surprised to see the story go in a completely new direction, personally. Perhaps with a new addition of villains and forces.

[SAINT: I'm pretty fond of Halo 4, but the original will always be my favorite. I did enjoy the ending to Halo 3 and like you, I actually really enjoyed ODST. I would've preferred a little bit different approach with it as it was kind of dark and dreary, but overall I was not one of the harsh critics of the game. I haven't read the last two books so I can't speak to their content, but I am very interested in the direction the next game will take, no doubt about it (especially after how well 343 did with Halo 4).]

2. You have quite a few consoles listed in your profile including the current generation models. Assuming Microsoft and Sony release their next generation console relatively close to one another, which are you more likely to purchase (or will you get them both)? What do you make of all the different handhelds being developed / released this year? Any plans to purchase one of those? Are you at all interested in the PC / console Valve is developing or their partnership with Xi3 on the Piston?

I'm going to have to do some serious saving over the course of this year, as I'm hopeful to purchase two new consoles by the end of it. For my first main console, I'll stick with whatever Microsoft has up its sleeve - to invest so heavily in their new Windows 8 "ecosystem" as I have, and then abandon the entertainment extension of it seems like a poor choice, in light of the potential benefits that will come from it (Smartglass, Xbox Music, Halo, Skydrive). My other sure-fire console purchase is going to be a 3DS from Nintendo, because its newly-revealed line up, along with the announcement of Pokémon X & Y, is too hard to pass up. When I go to college two years from now, it'll be easier to bring around a 3DS than several home consoles.

I'm very hopeful for Sony's next console, but for them a price drop would certainly be in order. I don't have much investment in their 1st-party games. I haven't seen in Uncharted and God of War what others have. I prefer playing Ratchet, Little Big Planet, and infamous from. Huge next-gen sequels of those games might push me harder for the system, though. I'm also a little more convinced on the case of the Wii U now that Nintendo showed some worthwhile material (finally) with the latest Nintendo Direct conference. Super Smash and a 3D Mario will be great.

If you're speaking of all of the new Android-based games systems, I have a fraction of interest. The possibility of playing Android games is enticing, but at this point its oversaturation. Ouya, Gamestick, Project Shield, Archos Portable, and the older Xperia Play are looking to fill a space that - at this point - hasn't been created to be filled. The Vita, unless Sony knocks us out of the ballpark at E3, will continue to flounder. I was excited when I purchased a PSP but dropped it quickly with a lack of anything to hold my interest. My excitement is held for the 3DS now, due to their exceptional line-up this year. I'll hold out for one of Nintendo's yearly re-models, possibly a price drop.

I am very interested in Valve's initiative. Everybody loves them as the good guys, the benevolent giver of wonderful stuff, at acceptable rates. While I know Xi3 wasn't necessarily created by Valve, it's still amazing that it's been done, and it seems so simple! Why wouldn't have anybody thought to layer the motherboard to make a smaller box? Ideally, I'd buy one of Xi's computers in the far off future, after the design has been proven. For a while, I'll be happy with my own laptop, but Valve looking to kick into the living room lifestyle wouldn't hurt anybody, and looks great for future competition.


[SAINT: Are you sure you don't work in the tech industry? That was quite the summarization that I'm sure many would agree with. You didn't leave much untouched, so anything I offer will simply be personal preference. I'm more inclined to get whatever the next Xbox is before whatever the next Playstation is, but if it came down to either of those OR Valve's Steam Box, I'm going with Valve. Also, I have a Wii U but am largely unimpressed with it, or at least its current roster of games... (Or lack thereof).]

3. You awarded Borderlands 2 a perfect score, clearly indicating you liked the game. What was the deciding factor to giving it a perfect score? The four main characters are Salvador the gunzerker; Maya the siren; Axton the commando; and Zer0, the assassin. There was also a fifth playable character available as a downloadable content named Gaige, a mechromancer. You're creating a party comprised of GIO members - which character will you play and who will fill the rest of the roster? Which GIO member do you think would make a good Handsome Jack? What about Clap Trap?

I did award the game a perfect 10! As a complete whole, Borderlands 2 felt like it had accomplished every single thing it set out to do: Be funnier, more colorful, and better than the original in every single way. Maya the Siren is an exceptional class that gives way to a lot of different play styles - she was my favorite character. As for complete, irrational and overpowered fun, Gaige the Mechromancer claimed tops to that. Her Ordered Chaos tree is ridiculous.

If I was to create a GI party...I'd change the game hooks to allow for five simultaneous players in a game, for one. Now we can have a list of five! It'd be...

Jolt, as the Gunzerker. Jolt is a great guy, don't get me wrong (don't get me wrong, Jolt), but I'd imagine that he could come off as a very maniacal and aggressive source of blood.

Sora3Ben would be the Commando: he's a good one to trust when relying on all-around accountability in time of need.

Ghost would be Zer0, if solely for the fact that his name is Ghost. As my time interacting with the community has been limited, I feel like he's a guy who lies underneath before showing himself to make a #FF on Twitter, ha. And yes, he'd be a swell guy for the job.

Mojomonkey12 would be Maya, the Siren. I can't leave him out of an awesome adventure, especially considering all of the things he's done and considered me for! Also, given his constant reminders of his supposed "lack of skill" in shooters, a medic class would be more than suitable.

I would lead the pack as Gaige, the Mechromancer. Sure, she's a girl, but I feel like I'm the only person of my friends who took advantage of her Ordered Chaos tree. I took a few days to really get it right, and now that I'm used to it, I can lay some serious waste before the rest even walk in the door.

Very fittingly I feel, would be former GI Intern Jack Gardner to comprise the role of Handsome Jack (Ha! Makes sense, right?). Despite his reputation as a kindly young adult who's willing to help others and support charity, I'm absolutely positive that deep inside, he'd give leeway to a diabolically sarcastic and vile everyman.

I don't know who would be able to replicate and fill the role of a bumbling, malfunctioning service robot - nor would I necessarily want to define who it'd be. But if I had to... it'd be Stranger, or The Skyforger, as he would like now. Hehe.

[SAINT: Hopefully I didn't set you up for trouble with the aforementioned GIO members - if so I do apologize. I think those guys will be pleased with your picks and honored to fight alongside you. I played BL2 briefly, I just couldn't get into it like you and others seem to. It's a great game, don't get me wrong, and I do love Claptrap's personality and dialogue, but after awhile the monotony sets in and I have to play something else. I do plan to finish it though.]

4. As a musician, what are your thoughts on in-game audio soundtracks and how it affects reception of the game? How important is music to you with regards to establishing the pace and atmosphere of a game? If you could contribute your musical talent to any video game under development, what title would it be? Do you have a favorite video game composer? As a fan of Journey, you must've been excited about it getting nominated for a Grammy award, do you think it will win?

Well, as a musician music and audio is absolutely crucial to pulling off a stellar game. Sure, without them you could make a good game, but you'd never be able to reach a true level of greatness. I say that, because I hold firm in my belief that without music and sound, the entire "experience" would fall flat, and even un-impactful.

Video games are unique, in that they require a certain level of care and scrutiny with their compositions. There's a fine line between sweeping, emotional core, and average moviegoer chords. Unfortunately, many modern games are stuck in a rut of thinking that they need to aim for the generically atmospheric scores that are so common in action movies today.

Think of Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones in movies. I'm willing to say that more than half of those movies' recognition after the fact, are given way by someone hearing, singing, or whistling their memorable themes. In contrast the Bourne, superhero, and miscellaneous action movies of today have scores that are made simply to get blood going. They're successful at that purpose, but the former movies mentioned, and great games like Halo, Mario, Uncharted, Final Fantasy, and Chrono Trigger.

Think of how those game's soundtracks got your senses revitalized simply by gaining wind of their names, jogging the memory of their tunes. Furthermore, the fact that you can even remember their tunes is what truly makes them worthy of the history books, and those are the examples that every game should strive for. It is not enough for video games (unless it's a horror game, and even then it's possible) to say, "Oh, you made a succession of triads that get really loud? Good enough, we'll use it." It's absolutely vital that games have a theme. Without it, there little more than a well-remembered gameplay session. That's one small fault I found in Halo 4. The positives outweighed it, but it bugged me that the game no longer had a central theme to remember. And that goes for all games, be it Assassin's Creed, Call of Duty, Splinter Cell, or Mass Effect.

For pace, their crucial. As I'm sure you can tell by my stance, the music is crucial to every aspect. You need the emotional highs, the sweeping sense of exploration, the scary unpredictability of screeches and growls from strings and brass; this is where ambience holds its place, but it's only as a support to a few main themes that give a game its true identity. Bioshock and Amnesia would not have reached the same level of creepiness that we've known for them to be, without the magic of sound and music tones.

If I was to attribute my own musicality to something, I'd like to be one of the musicians who helps record for the compositions. Later on, after I've grown as a composer myself, will I attempt to shoot in the dark and see if I could land an opportunity to create my very own musical journey for something. But to allocate a game to my dream, I'd choose something that hasn't even been created yet. Creating a composition of music is like giving life to the subject that it engulfs. To replace an existing property with my own interpretation of a living journey would be counter-productive. And for the new game that I'd write for, I'd want it to be something that is normally happy, but I'd throw in my own twists of heart-break and tension... I have a lot of ideas. Things like whole tone arpeggios and minor Harmonic chords that would really pull out some emotion.

My favorite composer in the biz is Martin O'Donnell, appropriately. He created one of the single most memorable scores in video game history through Halo. Sure, it sounds like I'm favoring him due to my fanboy-ism of the series, but I'm confident that the music is really much more influential than credit could be given as. Sure, I like Hans Zimmer's work in Crysis 2, but it wasn't memorable. Picking someone who isn't attributed to Halo, I'd pick Nobuo Uematsu, the composer of the majority of Final Fantasy games, Chrono Trigger, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and The Last Story.

Yes, my friends and I were very pleasantly surprised upon hearing news of Journey's nomination. The music was great! I don't know if I'd consider it something that I'd have listened to all the time, or even remembered specifically, but I'm more than happy that for the first time, our industry has lay claim to an area of achievement that hasn't been considered before. All hopes go to the game's soundtrack winning the category.

[SAINT: Since we share an affinity towards Halo obviously I couldn't agree more with your response, although you are clearly more versed in the specifics of individual composers and their accomplishments where I am just a casual listener. I am a little surprised, yet not, that you would choose to work on something new and original instead of joining a proven team representing an existing personal interest. I think it would be amazing to venture out with something new, but becoming a part of something as legendary as Halo (for example) would be beyond words. Great response though, very insightful.]

5. Your profile lists the following games as your favorites: Halo 3, Final Fantasy VII, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal, and Pokémon: Gold Version. You go on to say that, "Each and every one of these games has a significant meaning to me, something that makes me remember them in a way that causes me to think of these as my favorite games of all time." Briefly share what it is about each game that makes you feel that way.

Halo 3 is my all-time favorite game. Not only was it the first game that I truly owned and played of this console generation, it's what introduced me to all of the other greats just waiting to be picked up. The game holds memories of my cousin and me staying up the first night of owning an Xbox, sucking, and how in a year's time we topped the leader boards every match. It reminds me of the possibilities that come with new console generations, and was the catalyst for me to discover a fiction that I have fawned over since. I love it, short and simple.

I'm a fairly new "true" gamer, I guess you could say. Only about 3 years ago did I really get serious about the whole thing. Final Fantasy VII is incredibly influential in my view of the game's industry, because it represents a turning point of what the medium could truly be - glimpses of a future that we had only tasted before with the SNES's RPGs (which I hadn't been old enough to play). It represents an evolution of design, of archetypes, of achievement in technical and artistic design (including music), and of what is even anticipated from an industry-leading experience. I had read somewhere that FF VII represented the gaming industry's "loss of innocence", which is a good descriptor. Plot events and game design that were mature, and complex showed that we had finally begun a path of maturity in games, and it's something the industry still strives towards now.

The last 3 games hold dear to me due to the sheer amount enjoyment I laid claim to from them. Bad Company 2 may have been some of the most chaotically ridiculous times I've ever experienced in a shooter's online component. Seven of my buddies would get online after school, and we'd match up in a game. 2 squads, stupid tactics, and hilariously ingenious teamwork (plant C4 on a team mate, have them run to the base) solidify its place. I played Ratchet with two cousins of mine every single weekend. We played the storyline, we played the multiplayer arenas, and then we played the storyline some more. For one reason or other, the game always appealed greatly to us, and even though I haven't played the latest and greatest version, Ratchet represents one of my favorite characters in gaming due to my memories.

Pokémon Gold dominated my childhood, demanding hours upon hours of training, roaming, and battling. Two saves on Gold version alone accumulated a whole of 300+ hours, and that's not including the Silver and Crystal versions that I played. It's the definitive generation of Pokémon to me, because it's when I started it. You can't beat 2nd Gen.

[SAINT: I'm both surprised and pleased how much thought you put into this response and the contributing factors to why those games are important to you. I'm always intrigued with how certain games influence and affect individual gamers, and I thank you for your personal reflections on the matter.]

Bonus Question #1: thegodofwine7 asks, "If the entire video game universe got into a huge battle royale, who would be the final four characters standing, and why?"

Samus Aran, Master Chief, Cloud, and me, an XCOM squaddie Colonel.

Samus, because as the galaxy's greatest bounty hunter, she would come prepared to take on any situation. Given the final competitors... Let's hope she can stay prepared.

Master Chief, because he has the future's best exoskeleton suit, along with enhanced human traits

Most of all... he has luck. With luck on his side, it's very likely he'll at least come out of the royal unscathed.

Cloud would simply steal the memory of some other bonafide BA character, and beat them to the top. Yup. That's how it works with this guy.

Myself, because I am the strongest, healthiest, most unfairly over-equipped soldier that I've created in XCOM. I've survived tens of alien terror missions. If there's anything I could survive, it'd hopefully be the battle to end all battles.

[SAINT: Well, I'd veer slightly away from GoldvsSilver's answers, though I agree Master Chief would be in the mix. He has faced insurmountable odds and has always managed to survive...somehow. Kratos would still be standing considering he has fought death and won. Mario is probably a decent candidate since he seems to have more extra lives than an alley full of cats. But none of this really matters when you consider my final answer that comes from a little ole video game called, Chuck Norris Superkicks.]

Bonus Question #2: "In regards to the overall quality of games, which year was the best for the video game industry, in your opinion?"

As part of my own general involvement with participating in the hype, release, and purchase of current video games, 2011 reigned supreme for releases. There were far too many good games to play that year. Arkham City, Skyrim, Portal 2, official Minecraft, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Dark Souls, Mortal Kombat, Gear of War 3, Dead Space 2, Forza Motorsport 4, L.A. Noire, Bastion, Outland, Crysis 2, and the sales powerhouse Modern Warfare 3.

The year, in terms of releases and overall quality, is unmatched.

[SAINT: Yeah, I was pretty fond of 2011 too, but last year was memorable as well. I guess the key point to the question is it asks "games" - meaning more than one, and in the past two years there have been multiple quality games that resulted in some great years for the video game industry.]

Bonus Question #3: Saint asks, "Do you act your age, or older/younger than your age?"

I like to believe that I act older than my age initially would set for people to think. I spend a lot of time reading, and examining. It's just how my mind works, and I feel that a lot of my reading, previously fiction, now non-fiction more so, has helped with my vocabulary when communicating with adults and peers alike. I take pride in it, but I hope that it doesn't come off as snooty!

[SAINT: In my experience there is definitely a period of time when youthful minds act older than they are. I've seen it in myself and in my kids. Don't worry though, there comes a point when you start to get older you actually start acting younger, which often gets you accused of being juvenile, immature and a child. I'm okay with that. So, you have that to look forward to.]

Bonus Question #4: Saint asks, "If you were a Microsoft Office program, which one would you be?"

I would be Microsoft Word. Words, more than anything else, are needed for everyday use. Communication, journalism, and books would have a harder time coming into existence. So, as such, I'd like to become something important. :P

[SAINT: Solid answer and it sure beats Tool. I don't know that I excel at everything I do, but I do so love Excel and would have to pick it for that reason alone.]

Ask Me A Question And I Might Just Answer It.

GoldvsSilver asks, "Saint, what is your stance on intangible enhancers in media? To explain, what do you think is achieved, or missed on, when things such as music, sound, and visual enhancement are presented? Is it that integral to the "experience", as game editors would like to call it? Do you think some of your favorite movies or games would be lacking if they were missing out on a special presentation feature? What is your most memorable thought when thinking of those occurrences?"

[SAINT: I don't know if I'm smart enough to answer that question. Wow, um...

To be honest, the first memory that came to mind actually had nothing to do with video games. I was a wee lad, probably in the 4th or 5th grade, and our school had an orchestra come perform in the gymnasium. I remember I wasn't all that interested until the grand finale - as the musicians neared the end of their performance, they transitioned from one piece of music to another without pause which resulted in an interesting affect. One of the songs they switched to was the Main Theme to Star Wars. It sounded wonderful, and even as a kid I was captivated by the performance based solely on this rather short segment of their overall performance. Obviously the impact was huge since I still remember it after all of these years.

Even though in recent years I have waffled between Halo and Uncharted as my favorite game, I tend to lean more towards Halo as my favorite.

Considering your question in the context of my favorite game, I think it's a culmination of these elements that result in it being my favorite. The game has vibrant visuals, stunning sounds and an outstanding musical soundtrack, all of which contribute to a thoroughly entertaining experience.

Of course the game could survive without these elements being as exceptional as they are, but then the game might not have been as great as it is. Halo is my favorite game for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact it is the only game that I have ever purchased the soundtrack for and am totally captivated by most if not all of the tracks like Truth and Reconciliation Suite, The Gun Pointed at the Head of the Universe, and The Maw.

From the second the game opens and you see Halo off in the distance and then the Pillar of Autumn punching holes through space...followed by a brief segment where Keyes and Cortana are talking...then they revive MasterChief - well the whole time there is a subtle music track playing that slowly builds as the pace of the game picks up... I dunno, just gets me pumped up.]

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