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Staff Herding: Three (Part 2 of 2) – Adam Biessener …

Welcome back to round two of Staff Herding Episode 3 featuring Adam Biessener, fellow gamer and Game Informer's PC editor. In addition to the remainder of the regular questions, this final part also includes the non-gaming bonus questions and even a question for me from Adam. Enjoy!

(If you didn't see Part 1, you can find it right here.)

Game Informer Staff Member: Adam Biessener

Game Informer Position: PC Editor

GIO Rank: Veteran Member - Level 13

Gaming Experience (Years playing): 31 now, so...27 years?

Last Game Completed: Omerta: City of Gangsters

Currently Playing: Diablo III, Path of Exile, Kingdom Rush, Dungeon Raid

6. As you well know, THQ recently went bankrupt and sold off all of its assets; Atari is facing similar financial woes and video game pioneer Warren Spector and his Junction Point studio were recently let go by Disney due to abysmal sales of Epic Mickey. Do you think we'll see more companies suffer similar fates this year? Do you have a favorite studio that is no longer with us, and if so, who is it? Do you think Kickstarter is a passing fad or here to stay? What are your thoughts on the concept of a normal every day sort of gamer spending a lot of money to get featured in a game through a Kickstarter pledge?

Kickstarter and its ilk (indiegogo, etc) aren't going anywhere; crowdfunding is too perfect of a fit for game development and gamer culture. I think anyone who can't afford it - i.e. normal people to whom money actually means something, not overpaid types who would just spend it on some equally dumb luxury - who spends more than $50 or so on a Kickstarter should find a better way to channel that enthusiasm.

I'm sad for Junction Point as I am for all studios that close, but Epic Mickey 2 wasn't the kind of product that inspires confidence in consumers or publishers. Mid-size developers and publishers have been in trouble forever. I'm not saying anything new here, but the sad fact is that there are two segments of video game that aren't in trouble: super high-budget AAA stuff like World of Warcraft, and low-risk low-budget stuff like the sea of indie titles we're currently drowning in. Something has to change for companies like Obsidian to survive as independent entities outside of the portfolio of a larger publisher in the long term.

I weep every day that Dave Barcia and Simtex fell off the face of the planet in the '90s. Master of Magic and both Master of Orion games (there was no MOO3. NO SUCH THING. IT NEVER HAPPENED.) are some of my all-time favorites, and we need more games like them.

[Saint: I hope you're right about Kickstarter and crowd funding in general, but it does seem like the shininess of it has worn off a bit. I think it's a brilliant scheme and I have contributed to a project myself. So, still waiting to see how that works out. I did get my contributor's patch in the mail the other day, so even if it flops, I have a little piece of history. Obviously you would have much more insight into the inter-workings of the business side of the industry, but truthfully it's something I seldom think about. It's not that I don't care; there are certainly plenty of gamers who take the time to conduct their own independent research on sales data and profitability, but as you can probably attest, when you've been a gamer for awhile you just get used to studios coming and going...and you still get good games from somewhere. I do feel bad for those who lose their jobs and life's work when their studio closes the door.]

7. If you've been a gamer for any length of time, which you have, no doubt you've seen the evolution and growth of in game achievements. Do you think this helps or hinders the game playing experience? Are you an achievement hunter or indifferent? Do you have one that you are particularly proud of receiving? Are you in the small percentage of gamers who actually finishes the games you start? Would you rather finish a mediocre game or not finish a good game?

I wrote a whole thing about finishing games, so I won't repeat it here (it is one of the better things I've written in previous years, though; I'm quite happy with how it turned out).

Achievements, though...oh, achievements. I like them in concept. I like when they're done right and give me something to shoot for in a game that I want to spend more time with, like how Civ V's gargantuan list lends some direction to that game's endless replayability. I despise when they encourage poor or boring gameplay (kill 10,000 enemies with Skill X) or, even worse, pollute multiplayer (throw a grenade through a jumping player's legs and blow up a blue-painted tank with a fuel tank hit with it).

I touch on this in the editorial linked above, but I think enduring mediocre or worse gameplay to unlock achievements is a colossal waste of time.

[Saint: I remember that piece, but will have to revisit it to refresh my memory. Man, I couldn't agree more about encouraging boring game play - Battlefield 2, one of my favorite sets of achievements in a game had way too many "sit in x vehicle for 1,000 hours to earn your gold badge". Screw that. You can only sit in a jeep for so long before you start seeing and shooting at things that aren't really there. I'm more particular now about what achievements I try to get; it certainly isn't all of them for every game I play. Your summary echoes how many of us feel, I'm sure.]

8. The excitement is building as we wait for Microsoft and Sony to officially announce details about their next generation consoles. Which console are you most excited for? Pick one feature you like most and one feature you like least about the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Will you wait in line to buy either of these new systems day of release?

I won't be buying anything day one, but then I have the luxuries of seeing the shiny new things at the office and a bleeding-edge PC at home to take care of my graphical needs. I don't have much of a preference between PlayStation/Xbox, other than a general distaste for Microsoft's consumer-unfriendly way of shoving advertisements in my face at every opportunity.

With broad hardware parity, the real difference-maker will be the network infrastructure. Sony got way behind in this generation, but PSN is pretty good these days. Xbox Live is no longer the obviously superior service, other than that it has a larger community in many games. That's the battle I'm watching most for the new consoles.

Of course, PC gaming will remain superior in every way. But everyone already knew that.

[Saint: Hah Hah...I know this, and you know this...but something tells me there are quite a few gamers out there (including some of your co-workers) who would argue whether the PC is the superior gaming platform or not . Some of us don't have the luxury of seeing the shiny new things at work, so we have to eBay body parts and get in line a day or two in advance just to have a shot at getting one. Ah, perks of the job...I suppose.]

9. Valve's front man, Gabe Newell recently stated he was more concerned with Apple than he was Sony or Microsoft. Do you think he should be more concerned with Apple? Do you think we'll ever see Apple make a concerted effort to become a legitimate player in the video game industry? You recently praised your Nexus 7 and seem to play a number of games on it. What are your thoughts on it as a game appliance? Should Valve be equally concerned with Google and Android? Name one non-video game app you consider a must have.

I think Gabe has a lot of disdain for the console manufacturers because they view the relationship between entertainment providers and consumers much differently than he does. Nonetheless, there sure are a lot of Xboxes and PlayStations out there.

However, we're living in a time where you can buy a mid-range TV that connects to the Internet and decodes HD video streams in real time - things that were the province of $500-plus dedicated computing hardware a few short years ago. Microsoft's long-standing dream of One Box To Rule Them All (Or At Least Their Living Room And The Media They Consume In It) isn't a dream any more, but everyone from LG to Asus to Apple to Sony has several consumer-model multimedia devices available from $100-200.

Hardware isn't the limiting factor anymore; the distribution service is a hell of a lot more relevant. At this point, who is a legitimate player in that arena? Valve, Apple, Netflix, Amazon, and who? Microsoft and Google are trying, but they're not there yet. That's the real question: Who gets to skim the 30% off the top? I bet it won't be anyone on a closed platform when the dust settles (how much did record companies hate Apple when iTunes was the only game in town? Content creators aren't going to let that happen again), which puts Valve in the best medium-term position in my view.

I do indeed love my Nexus 7, and I love my just-acquired Nexus 4 just as much if not more. The one non-gaming app that I absolutely love is Evernote. It's just so damn versatile and useful for my job.

[Saint: Wow...that almost sounds like insider information, heh heh...very insightful and interesting to consider. I recall on one of the recent GI podcasts you all talked about this, or at least a similar subject, so it will be exciting to see how it plays out. So based on all of your answers and comments now, it's safe to say you're a fan of Android and not Apple? That's the vibe I'm getting. Evernote is a great app. I have this bizarre attraction to keeping up with the weather, so I'm pretty fond of MyRadar.]

10. In the first two episodes of Staff Herding I asked Jeff Marchiafava and Ben Reeves about Game Informer's Zombie Emergency Response Plan. Jeff M replied, "We don't have a shared zombie emergency response plan at Game Informer, but the first thing I'd do is cripple Ben Hanson and use him as bait, most definitely. Then I'd sneak out while they were devouring his brain. That's really as far ahead as I've thought: Make sure Ben Hanson gets eaten by zombies." Ben Reeves responded, "We still don't have a zombie plan unfortunately. I have suggested that each editor gets their own Hattori Hanzo Katana at their five year anniversary, but the bosses think that's worse than the zombie apocalypse. Personally, I'm not worried, because I think best on my feet. I've also tasted my own blood; I don't think I'm that appealing."

It sounds to me like the Game Informer staff is on their own when it comes to the zombie apocalypse, so what's your plan to survive, assuming you're at work when it happens?

Anyone who has been to the office knows that we're plenty well-armed with swords of all kinds. While everyone else is using the crappy Two Worlds blade with its fake plastic gems or the Master Sword and its awful molded-plastic hilt and guard, I'll pull out the awesome new Witcher sword that CDProjekt commissioned from the honest-to-goodness swordsmith who makes weapons for the professional mo-cap/stunt guy who helps them with animations. Leather grip, proper balance, real steel - I like my chances.

[Saint: Ah, nice. So Ben Hanson isn't cannon fodder in your plan, eh? I'm sure he will be happy about that. Does that blade reside on your desk...or are you going to have to beat somebody up to take it first. Also, just to note...I don't think Nerf guns are going to help much. Just saying.]

As is customary in Member Herding and carrying over into Staff Herding, I always try to ask two completely random, non-video game related questions with a certain degree of quirkiness to them.

BONUS:

1. If you could go back in time and tell a younger version of yourself one thing, what would you tell?

"Macs are terrible and have no games. Stop deluding yourself." -Adam

[Saint: Hah Hah...Truer words have never been spoken.]

2. If you were a character from the Lord of the Rings movies (including the Hobbit), who would you be and why? Have you ever called a ring you own your "precious"?

B) Hell no.

A) Elrond was always the best. He's seen, done, and lost so much and still he does everything he can to help fight Sauron. I always admired that.

[Saint: Elrond, eh? That is so not even close to what I thought you would say. I have a thing for the bow and arrow, so armed with that knowledge my pick is kind of predictable - Legolas. You've never called a ring your precious?? Yeah, um...hmm. Me either. LOL.]

Your turn to ask me a question?

Adam Biessener asks, "What's the one game you've always meant to play and never did? Why?"

[Saint: Really there are so many I could mention, but one game I have every intention of playing and even started but just can't seem to get into it is Heavy Rain. I've heard great things about it and it has all the makings to be a story I like, but I suppose there are a few reasons why I've only made it a little further than the opening scene - it's very dark, for one. The introduction was quite unsettling, but then after that, I think the control scheme can be a bit of a road block. I'm all for controls that have you "simulate" performing a certain function, but when it's for nearly every task you have to perform, it kind of wears on you and you're like, "Fine! I'm a horrible father and I suck at twirling my thumbstick with the proper finesse, let me just go play some Uncharted now." I'm going to finish it...one day. I hope.]


The Last Word

This was really fun! Thanks for the opportunity.

And thank you and the rest of GIO for being a far better community than we deserve. I know it sounds trite, but you guys and gals are seriously great. We talk all the time in the office about how lucky we are to have such a strong, polite, and intelligent community on Game Informer Online, and I appreciate every one of you for your contribution to it.

Besides, someone's got to read my stuff.

Cheers,

Adam

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

Until the next episode...cheers.

 

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