What is this, you ask?  That's right, friends...Member Herding is back. 

A little history.  Member Herding started a while back with an interview with my buddy Chris Mrkvicka (known then as Demon Ragnarok).  This was way before I joined the site, but it became a regular feature that spotlighted one member of the community, and asked them a few questions to get to know them better.  While a lot of the Herdees have since moved on, many, including Hist, Kyle Wadsworth, Indiejones, mojomonkey12, Jack Gardner, Nubetubin8er and many others are still around.  Another Herdee you might have heard of (get it?) is Saint, who eventually took over the series, and still handles the popular weekly feature Blog Herding, something most of you are no doubt familiar with.  Saint was nice enough to Herd me in one of the more recent episodes, but unfortunately  for us but deservedly for him, he got a job offer he couldn't refuse.

 Due to this, he hasn't had the time to give the feature the time and dedication he puts into everything he does.  So,he has graciously agreed to turn the honor over to me, for the time being at least.  And to kick off the new and definitely not improved MH, one of the most well-known faces in the community today has agreed to run through the gauntlet.  Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I give you...

GIO Name: Tim Gruver

GIO Rank: Veteren Member, Level 14

Gaming Experience (Years Playing): 14 years and counting since I was 6

Last Game Completed: The Walking Dead 400 Days

Currently Playing: Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow HD

Origin of GIO Profile Name: It’s what my mamma named me. :)

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

Five Randomly Generated Questions + 3 Bonus questions + 1 Special question

Your profile indicates you are a Poets of the Fall fan.  I was blown away when I found out that they were the band behind the Old Gods of Asgard, a fictional band in Alan Wake.  Has any other video game music stood out to you, either from a game or inspired by one?

It’s funny, if you had asked me that a few years ago I wouldn’t have really known. I find that video-games have gotten me interested in a lot of the hobbies I’m involved with now as a matter of fact. Songs like Donna Burke’s “Heavens Divide,” “Snake Eater,” “Sins of the Father,” from Metal Gear Solid’s games spring to mind and the melancholy subtlety of The Last of Us’s soundtrack. Though I haven’t played it, I adore God of War Ascension’s “Hanging On” sung by Ellie Goulding and Elizabeth’s song from Bioshock Infinite stuck a chord with me. My greatest love still lies with anything Poets of the Fall though. People NEED to know about this band. Max Payne’s The Late Goodbye, Alan Wake’s The Poet and the Muse, War, even that fan mash-up of Max Payne 3 and “Dying to Live,” are songs I could listen to forever. Man, I need to go listen to em’ right now. . . 

(Yeah, Poets of the Fall really are great.  It is great when a video game leads to another interest.  I can’t tell you how many video game related books I’ve read, for example.  I also totally agree about Elizabeth’s song; I could only describe it as hauntingly beautiful.)

Talk about the All Smashed Up project you and three other GIOers did.  What was that like?  Any other GIO projects in the works?

Haha, that All Smashed Up project was easily the craziest thing I’ve ever been involved in on GIO, and I loved every minute of it. I’m not a big fantasy football fan, so you could say that All Smashed Up (so named by me) was the Super Smash Bros. equivalent. The Destroyer, Saturday Morning Replay, xl9, Paradigm the Fallen, and myself all invented our own “original” fighter characters in Smash Bros. like trappings, came up with their move sets, names, appearances, and abilities with varying degrees of detail. I have to give credit to xl9 for creating the awesome mock stage we fought in. I can’t go into all of our characters for sake of time, but my own was “Chef Falawful” inspired by Mario and Luigi: SuperStar Saga’s Fawful, only with deadly culinary talent and an unhealthy, greener resemblance to Kirby’s chef Kawasaki. Two of us were randomly picked for each one-on-one match until the final battle. Each of us would vote for the winner of each battle along with reader input from the comments section. I can say it turned out pretty fair and satisfyingly ridiculous, which is exactly how I hoped it’d be. If you wanted to see who won, check out my blog on it here. Heck, any of my fellow fighters are probably worth the interview too, so feel free to get the whole All Smashed Up story from a second opinion.

As for any other GIO projects? Well, I’ve got a few personal ones in the works all the time, but I’m stumped as to any community projects. I’ve tossed a few ideas around, but we’ll see. 

(I thought it was awesome, and the amount of detail you all put into it was jaw-dropping.  I urge everyont to follow that link and check it out.  I’m interested to see these ideas you’ve tossed around come to fruition.)

What are your thoughts on the so-called Steam Box?  Is there a spot in the market for another console?  If so, can Steam Box be as successful, or even more so, than the PS4 and Xbox One?

No system is ever guaranteed success or failure from the get-go (no, not even the Ouya), but I have great confidence in Valve’s profit from the Steam Box, or Steam Machine, whichever. It’s essentially the same in principle as the Vita TV: playing games from a smaller system onto your TV. I think the vast difference lies in the software. The Vita TV is still rather limited by either not being playing Vita touch-screen based games like Gravity Rush or Uncharted: Golden Abyss or simply playing a ton of PS3 games that Sony fans probably already have. The Steam Box has an almost unlimited supply of 3rd party support straight from the Internet and despite everyone’s misgivings (and maybe rightly so) about always on-line, digital games will be the way of the future and Valve’s very wise to get onto the bandwagon now. 

There’s certainly a reason why big bucks Newell doesn’t care about how Valve makes the new hardware as he’s claimed in interviews, he’s worried about the availability of the software, as his company’s gaming history has proven. Valve’s a very experimental company and like Nintendo, I think it’s most interested in ignoring Sony and Microsoft’s console war and doing its own thing, which I respect in an industry that’s become saturated with staple formulas. The Steam Machine is all about the games, even more than PS4 and X-Box One are being right now, and I think it’ll be a hit with people who theoretically have nothing but a computer and don’t want a console war. I even think that the new Steam controller will probably work a lot better than it looks. I won’t buy one strictly for money reasons, but I like the idea behind it and think Valve can at least hold its own against next-gen, or at least make enough money from it to make a good Half Life 3 or Portal 3, whichever comes first.

(That’s a great point concerning the difference between the Steam Box and Vita TV: the software.  Thanks to Steam, Valve has a huge advantage in the digital distribution sector, but I still wonder if the Steam Box can find an adequate market.  Valve may not want to get caught up in the “console war”, but comparisons will be inevitable, and it will be interesting to see who gets the sales, because at the end of the day, that’s why all these companies exist.  Software will be a very important factor, and it’s hard to deny Valve’s prowess in that regard.)

I love the D&D Good, Neutral, Evil box you have on your profile.  Pick nine GIOers and place them in one.

Ah, well, I hoped that someone would. I hope I don’t make too many enemies thanks to this answer, but if I do, I’ll just blame this all on you. :P 

Well, I suppose I might as well start off with the lawful. Saint is undoubtedly the closest to being  an all around law-abiding, good guy. He’s my Stan Lee figure for the GIO Avengers on my page and he couldn’t be a better influence on the community. Alas, it’s a shame that his GIO achievements thing didn’t catch on. As for lawful neutral, it’d be Orochi. He’s always got it where it counts for enforcing good conduct around these parts and I can’t say that he ever really takes a side while doing so. He just does his job, which is a great one, and helps out where need be. Hawke has the ferocity and cunning mind of Darth Vader when it comes to site gif. wars and obsessively recorded a stink’in long history of it. He makes his own rules and you don’t want to step onto the battlefield against him without your wits about you.

As for the neutral characters out there, I’d include Warrior, jackson stone, and Paradigmthefallen. Warrior’s neutral good. He’s never taken a side in any gif. war I’ve seen and doesn’t ever start a fight. He’s also the most positive force for good I’ve come to know, albeit it without a real faction allegiance. Then there’s jackson stone. I can never get a good read on this floating mustache, but I sense he’s a true neutral, yet probably good soul deep down. I’m reluctant to include anyone as evil on this darned list, but if I was a game, I’d be terrified of Paradigmthefallen’s merciless reviewing abilities. He’s on nobody’s side but his own in a gif. war, and I respect that 110%. 

Then there’s This World and DoZo. This World, or whatever name he’s taken by the time this interview goes up, is always. . . chaotically good. He’s certainly an independent one and I can’t understand half of what he does or why he does it, but if there’s a rhyme or reason for it, it’s probably for a good jest. DoZo, on the other hand, is never one to join a side in gif. wartime, and posts absolutely bonkers comments for reasons I can’t explain but chaos for chaos’s sake, all in a brilliant way, though. Chaotic Evil though? Definitely the site’s spambots. No human would ever trump the evil of filling up the community’s blog section with all of those useless sports adds.

(Awesome answer.  Orochi is such a good choice for Lawful neutral.  I’ve seen him drop some mod bombs on people, but he is always professional and it is always deserved.  And the spambots…chaotic, evil spambots.  That is just perfect.)

2013 is almost at a close, and there have been some excellent games released.  How does this year compare to other years when looking at games released.  Which single year, on the whole, has had the strongest lineup of games released, in your opinion?  

I still find it funny that people write off the year with 2-3 months still left. After all, games like Skyward Sword and Arkham City came out around October-Novemberish and became two of 2011’s greatest games, or at least in my opinion. Developers are still keen on giving people some of the year’s best for Santa Clause’s sake and I still think that Dec. 31st is the only true end to a year on the Julian Calendar. 

With that said, I’m still amazed on how well of a note this gen ended on. Despite game company and some critics’ unfortunate tunnel vision towards next-gen city, this year truly had some of the generation’s best, even at its near end. Bioshock Infinite, Pikmin 3, Lego City: Undercover, Fire Emblem, Animal Crossing, and of course, the Last of Us, are some of my top games of the year, maybe of this generation. The year of 2013 might go down as one of my favorite years, but I always think back to 2007, 2011, and 2009 when I think of 12 crowded months of blockbusters. With 07’s Bioshock, Super Mario Galaxy and Super Paper Mario; 09’s Uncharted 2, Assassin’s Creed II, Infamous, and Arkham Asylum; and 11’s Arkham City, Skyward Sword, Portal 2, Uncharted 3, and Super Mario 3D Land to name only a handful, it’s strangely the odd-numbered years of this generation that did it for me most. Maybe 2011 overall. That’s not to discount every other year’s standout games, of course. 

(2011 was a really great year, wasn’t it?  And I agree, this year still has life left in it, with games like Beyond: Two Souls, Pokémon X & Y, Arkham Origins, Assassin’s Creed IV, Battlefield 4, Fables: The Wolf Among Us, Call of Duty: Ghosts, and Watch_Dogs still to come.  I think, when it’s all said and done, this year may become a legend in gaming releases.)

Bonus Question #1: Orochisama LEVON, Spectre’s asks: How do you approach blogging when you're covering controversial subjects that require a lot of research and insight?

 It’s both pretty simple, if not trying. A big part of me simply starts typing out my thoughts as they come with the necessary editing that comes with it. That’s where any insight comes into play, I suppose. I simply think with my heart about how I feel about a subject, whether it’s a serious or humorous one. The other part of me obviously does a ton of research thanks to my old pal Google. I don’t immediately turn to any one place for factoids, any that have to do with the subject matter that I find helpful is fine and I make my own assessments from the information at hand. It’s still a great challenge from there, but it’s one I love to meet.

(Ah, Google.  Without it and WikiPedia, I would be completely lost.  I tend to steer away from controversial subjects in my blogs, because I have about as much tact as an anthill, but I always appreciate when people do approach those subjects, especially those who do it rationally.)

Bonus Question #2: Saint asks:  How would you describe the following using a single word: Xbox One, Playstation 4, Wii U, Ouya, Steam Box, Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Valve?

 Only a single word? Darn, you’ve forced me to be concise. Oh well, here goes nothing: X-Box One--Nah. PS4--Wait. Wii U--Yeah!. Ouya--What?! Steam Box--Hmm. . .Microsoft--business. Sony--money. Nintendo--Nostalgic. Valve--Inventive.

(Interesting choices for an interesting question.  I can see your reasoning for most of them, Valve and Nintendo probably mirror what I would say too, but the Ouya as a What!? Hmmm….whatever do you mean?)

Bonus Question #3: Saint asks: The word game is often difficult to define and we sometimes hear how titles like The Walking Dead aren't "real games". What are you thoughts on this topic and would you define the word as it relates to our hobby.

The argument over “real games” comes up as often as “real gamers” and the two seem to be inexplicably linked. There’s nothing that truly defines either terms except for the two analogies that I always refer to. 

“Real gamers” never have to apply to any certain genre, amount of gaming experience, or level of talent, just a well-rounded appreciation of diverse game experiences. I respect those that love and only play Call of Duty or FIFA, but I’d argue that while their obvious experts in those series, they’re not “real gamers.” It’s like someone who knows everything about oil changes. Maybe they can do them faster than anyone else, better than anyone else, but if that’s all they know they can hardly call themselves “real mechanics” when they don’t know how to fix a car engine. The same thing applies to gamers. Just like mechanics don’t need to know every skill, gamers don’t need to like or play every genre, but their range of tastes have to be well-rounded enough for them to actually have much knowledge or appreciation for the medium.

For “real games,” I say that by my own and maybe accurate definition (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) that games are simply interactive mediums that allow player input until their completion. Games like Telltale’s The Walking Dead (which I adore) may seem too much like television episodes with a lot of linear hand-holding, but they still allow for you to choose where to move, when to move, what objects to click on, and so on for players to determine how they play the game. You can turn on a television episode or movie with your remote or keyboard, true, but you can’t determine anything from then on out. The movie or episode will finish itself with or without you unlike a traditional game’s mechanics. Thus, even “stupid games” like Angry Birds are games no matter how much you might hate on them just for not liking them. Whether games are stupid or not is subjective, but the definition of “games” shouldn’t be.

(I couldn’t agree more with both points.  The mechanic analogy is fascinating, I think, and perfect.  Being good at one game is pretty easy; being a well-rounded gamer is what makes you a complete gamer.  And I agree about games.  To me, a video game is everything from the Oregon Trail to Mass Effect to Tomagatchi (are those still a thing?  I hope I’m not the only one who remembers those…). 

Ask Me A Question And I Just Might Answer It:

Tim Gruver asks: Hmm. . . a wildcard question, eh? What do you think Star Wars Episode VII needs to be successful? I’ve been following the seemingly wild goose chase of Star Wars rumors constantly over the past year, practically alone among the people I know, so any other thoughts on it would be much appreciated.

(Oh man, you are asking the wrong person.  Not a Star Wars guy.  However, I think casting is the key.  The guy who played Anakin (I will not utter his name) just destroyed the newer ones for me.  Obviously the story is important, but if they can nail the casting (with a healthy dash of Harrison Ford of course) I think they will be alright.)


Thanks to Tim Gruver for taking the time to answer my questions, and I hope you all enjoyed this look into one of GIOs most active members.  If you have a second, stop by his profile and say hi!