The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 11
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
Position: PC Editor
Veteran Member - Level 13
(Years playing): 31 now, so...27 years?
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
[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
[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
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.]
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.
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.
Always good to hear from another Master of Orion fan... Even if two wasn't as good as the original (although I've emulated one and it doesn't really hold up anymore). I'm unsure who owns the liscense as Microprose doesn't exist anymore but would LOVE to see a third!
Saint, I remember you just talking about Heavy Rain in a response to a comment of mine a few days ago. It's a pretty great game. Not my favorite, but well worth your time. I also agree with what you said about achievements. I used to go for all of the achievements in a game, but now I just go for the ones that I'm interested in. I also really enjoyed the part about the Game Informer Zombie Apocalypse Plan. That was pretty funny.
Adam, the quote to your younger self about Macs was hilarious (and completely true), and it got an emphatic, "That's why he's my favorite editor" from my best friend. He's a huge PC gamer. I'm more of a console gamer myself but I enjoy PC games and believe that when given effort and time, produce a superior gaming experience. I also agree with the part about the middle-sized producers having trouble. It's something that I haven't thought about, but when I heard it, it made sense. Maybe that just gave me an idea for a new blog...
Overall, a great interview.
I like your chances with Geralt's blade as well hehehe.
Excellent herd as always Saint!
I waited until the end of part two to comment, and all I can say is that this is awesome! It's nice to read this from the perspective as a gamer. I now must go check out the other two. And I agree, Ben Hanson is probably relieved to see the answer to #10. 2 out of 3 coworkers not wanting to sacrifice you to zombies is a good thing. LMAO!
Nevermind video games. One thing I've discovered that Kickstarter is awesome for is board games!
In my newfound love of boardgames, and following posts and communities about them online, I've seen many boardgames kickstarted, and much talk about how they're turning out. The excitement for some of them is quite huge.
Great interview Saint. I always especially enjoy seeing different responses to that zombie question! And thank you, Adam for sharing some great tidbits about yourself.
Always great to get to know the GIO staff a little better. Thanks for the introduction and Q&A. Look forward to this series continuing.
It's rare that one finds such an intelligent conversation about video games (or most subjects really) on the internet. Well done, I eagerly anticipate the next edition.
Excellente. Another fine round of Staff Herding.
Once again well done. And thanks to Adam for participating. My only comments are you're right about Heavy Rain, Saint. Great story, poor implementation. When you have to hit three buttons presses just to shimmy between a wall and dumpster, or fiddle with controls for cooking breakfast or feeding a baby, you've lost me as a gamer. Also I'm in agreement about the GIO community. It's like GIO is a funnel and all the best people on the Web filtered into this community. ;)