Welcome back, everyone, to another conversation with one of our community members. This week, please join me in saying a big hello to one of our hard-working newshounds, Nexus Grunt
.B1ue: Hi, Nexus! Thanks for talking to me.
Sure, B1ue. B1ue: Tell us about your gamertag. How did you choose that one?
I was in a rush to play an online PC game (QuakeWars
, BF2142?), and I just chose something arbitrarily. Nexus came from the androids in my favourite sci-fi film Blade Runner
, but variants on that were all taken. I was playing a soldier at the time, so in my haste to get online, I just went with class and called it Grunt … if it had been another class, you could have been talking to Nexus Medic or Nexus Demolition Man right now. To be honest, if I'd known it would stick, I would have chosen something else. B1ue: So, you're displeased with it now? Are you going to change it?
Funny you should ask. I've been thinking about doing this recently. I dropped my key ring not so long ago (a special gift from my girlfriend), and it broke, but in breaking, it inspired me to come up with a great name that encapsulates my geekiness and my drinking habits. I've already checked it's available; I'm just postponing because I don't know what would happen to my site stats. Also, I'm not going to reveal it just in case someone wants to take it! B1ue: You should so change it if it's something you want to do. Now, I'm curious, so you need to change it so we know what it is!
How long have you been gaming?
Since I was about 12 or 14 … about 30 years ago … yes I'm *that* old! I started on an ZX81 and ZX Spectrums before Commodores, Dragon 32, PC's, and Consoles. Whilst a lot of people like to think of themselves to be "well-read", I like to think of myself as "well-gamed"! B1ue: If it makes you feel better, you're still younger than me, so I certainly don't consider you *that* old... ahem.
Do others in your family game, or are you a first-generation gamer?
Just me in my direct family although I have two young nephews who are becoming Xbox addicts.B1ue: What do your parents/significant other/friends have to say about your gaming?
My parents don't get it, but my dad is impressed with the quality of FIFA
these days; he thinks the technology is amazing and it's like watching a real game. My significant other is very patient with my gaming. She sees me disappear into my man cave and knows I will be gone for some time. She's impressed (and perhaps a little jealous - I like to think) that I take it seriously enough to be writing on the website and doing reviews and features.
Happily, most of my friends are gamers and understand completely … the others outside of gaming circles just think I'm crazy or should grow up ….. but what do they know? ;-) B1ue: It's nice to know I'm not the only one who gets the grow up thing.
What’s your favorite game of all time on any console? What makes it special?
Tough question. Despite having owned a Megadrive, PS1, PS2, and now an Xbox 360, most of my fondest memories come from my PC era. I have fond memories of playing Burnout Paradise
, one of the first titles for my 360, and more recently, tearing around Steelport with Kanye West's "Power" blaring out of the speakers, causing mayhem in Saints Row: The Third
. Absolute cathartic bliss -- loved it! B1ue: Do you remember the first game you ever played? What’s your fondest memory of it?
Yep … 3D Monster Maze
on the ZX81 (with 16K of memory). A group of us were at a friend's house playing it together. When we took a wrong turn and ended up facing the T-Rex, we all panicked as if it were the end of the world …. amazing to think it scared us when you look at it now. 3D Monster Maze
... that was where it all started though. B1ue: If some evil spell allowed you to own only a single game for the rest of your life, what would it be? Why?
… so that I might actually become good at it and be able to beat my 10-year-old nephew. It was the only game he was allowed to play since he was about four, and he was constantly beating everyone. I held a FIFA
night where a group of friends came over to drink beer, eat pizza, and play FIFA
. My little nephew (7 years old at the time) beat the lot of them over Xbox Live. I only recently got revenge when he was momentarily distracted by Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure
. A lifetime of FIFA
… yep, should be able to master it by then! B1ue: What part of the world do you live in? If I were to visit, what sights would I have to see?
I live in Amsterdam, which is the capital city in Holland (Netherlands) although I originally come from just north of Liverpool in the UK. It's a great cosmopolitan city with so much going on all the time. There are the famous canals to see (three feet mud, three feet water, and three feet of stolen bicycles) and the infamous red-light district. For the more cultured, there are the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum, and the Rembrandt Museum. For those who might just want to relax, there are the bars and pavement cafes as well as the notorious Coffee Shops, where they actually sell something very different to coffee. B1ue: I've been to the three museums, but I think I missed those Coffee Shops...Darn!
How did you end up in Holland?
I originally arrived to work on an emergency computer job. It was meant to be done in three weeks - it was an emergency after all - it ended up taking over six months, not such an emergency after all. I was conned; that summer was exceptionally good, and I decided to stay .... weather has been crap ever since! It was a trap!!B1ue: But you met your special someone. That's worth any amount of bad weather, right?
Any games you regret putting on your gametag?
No, simply because I don't play them and I'm aware that they would appear and I would never live it down. A group of friends once bought Dead or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball
as a leaving gift for a friend and were curious to see how long before it appeared on his list. I think some of us were all tempted to borrow it afterwards, but none of us dared ask. I'm still curious now when I see a copy lying in the bargain bins but have still not played for the same reason! Not on my gamertag, never! Although I do have a spare silver gamertag ... B1ue: lol. So, how long did it take for it to show on his tag?
We expected to see it immediately, but I think Barbie's Horse Adventures
showed up first. It took about a week. I think it was after a few beers at the weekend. He did get teased when it finally appeared though.B1ue: Since you first went to Holland on an emergency computer job, I'm assuming you work in computers?
I work in IT. I'm a test manager. It was once reported that gamers make good testers as they are prepared to explore and try things that other people wouldn't do … seems to be true, too. B1ue: What hobbies do you enjoy other than gaming?
: I used to do a lot of football (soccer) and mountain climbing, but back injuries and leg injuries have finished all that. I still do a lot of fitness in the gym, and I cycle. My girlfriend is a Salsa teacher, and when we started dating, I agreed to take lessons. It didn't last long, I had no sense of rhythm (as shown in my terrible Rock Band
scores) and no sense of movement (apparent from Dance Central
scores). I ended up doing Tango; I have a love-hate relationship with it; I hate the prospect of doing it (turning up for lessons and the dance salons) but actually enjoy it when I am doing it. B1ue: At least you've given it a try, and the Tango is a beautiful dance; I love the Tango scene in Scent of a Woman.
Do you mind telling us a little about your home life?
My parents still live in the UK. I get to see them every few months, and I Skype once a week with them (my mum has an iPad), and we video chat. I do get homesick occasionally, and being in a different country makes you appreciate your family a lot more. I don't have any kids, and I'm a little too old for that to happen now, but I do have a wonderful girlfriend who appreciates my nerdiness and my gaming …. and all my other multitude of faults, about which we need not discuss further. Life is a little hectic with trying to fit everything in, and there never seems to be enough hours in a day. I try to cram as much in as possible, and I generally only sleep 4-5 hours a night …. sometimes less, but let's keep that between us. I feel that sleep is wasted hours … funnily enough, a lot of people say that about gaming, too. B1ue: I hope you get to crash now and then and catch up on all that lost sleep. I would be exhausted.
Of what real life achievement are you most proud? Would you give us some details?
I had to give a speech in front of around 300 people on a work-related topic. The audience included the most senior members of the company board. Thinking it would be a little boring, I decided to inject some of my English/Scouse humour into it. Partially scripted and partially improvised, it worked as I could see and hear everyone laughing along with it. After it was over, and throughout the rest of the day, people came over and complimented me on it. By the time the tenth of so person had congratulated me, I was beginning to panic and think "what the hell did I say out there … it wasn't meant to be *that* funny" … and in front of the MT too! Even now, people still remember my performance on stage (proud) ….. and I still don't have a clue what I said (scared)! I'm sure as hell not going to get up on stage again!
During a press event for the unveiling of Halo 4
, I got hands-on with one of the multi-player modes against other members of the press. Despite not being a Halo
fan, I managed to snag a tank and used it to blast my way to the top of the leaderboard against my fellow journalists. Oh, yes, king of the hill at that point and feeling quite proud of myself. Sadly, pride always comes before a fall; in the same event, we all got to play BF3 for the first time. Unfortunately, it was on a PS3, and I wasn't familiar with the controller. Within the opening seconds, I pressed the wrong button, dropped a grenade at the feet of my team, and blew everyone up. The looks from the same fellow journalists I had just beaten at Halo
was priceless -- and not in a good way. Even the EA Press Relations guy looked thoroughly disgusted! B1ue: What great stories! It's unfortunate it was a PS3; I can totally relate to hitting the wrong buttons.
Tell us about your gamer pic.
It's just the closest that I could get that looked like me … when I started … and was younger … and fresh faced! Time's been kinder to my gamer pic than it has to me! I'm lazy, so I didn't want to choose a pic that I would have to keep changing … it was easiest just to choose one of myself … and the default ones look a little dull anyway! B1ue: Do you have any particular gaming pet peeves?
An absolute shedload -- being slightly mature in years, I'm turning into the grumpy old man of the team. I was thinking of doing a top 5 irritations list for our feature … I'm struggling to get the list down to 5 from the 20+ that I have. I could mention them all here, but I'll save it for the editorial or a blog ;-) B1ue: Is there anything in particular you want the TA community to know about you?
Favourite films: Blade Runner, Equilibrium, Alien
Favourite TV: Top Gear, Match of the Day, Dexter, The Walking Dead
Favourite authors: Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, Herodotus (that will test you)
Favourite comics: 2000AD, Batman, Walking Dead
Favourite drink: English tea, bourbon, whiskey, beer
Music/Bands: Depeche Mode, Korn, Rammstein, Placebo, …. but also classical and opera B1ue: What upcoming game are you most looking forward to?
NG: Watch_Dogs (Xbox One)
, more so for the Xbox One and the cloud; I think there's great potential for the game utilising "the cloud". B1ue: What game are you most proud of completing? Why?
Ah … thereby hangs a tale … Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Burning Earth
, the one that gives you 1000 GS in five minutes. I refused to buy it from web shops, and I searched for it amongst the bargain bins in game shops. I searched and searched. Four blinking years before I found a copy (two copies in fact - but isn't that always the way?). So I played it and got my 1000 GS. It only took me four years and five minutes to complete!
Stupid thing is, I played it, got my completion, and took it back the next day to exchange for another title, thinking I was being cunning with my money. Four years to find, and I took it back the next day!! When I realised how stupid that was, I went to get it back and inevitably both copies were gone …... so begins another four-year search! B1ue: I wish I'd known that before I sold my copy. You could have had mine. Have you found a replacement yet?
Funnily enough, after a lot of searching again, I recently found a copy. I'm glad to have it in the collection again. Who knows, one day I might even get around to playing past those first few levels and explore the rest of the game. B1ue: If you found yourself dropped into a video game, which video game character would you most want to have your back?
Initially, I'd have to say Master Chief or Marcus Fenix; they've both done multiple tours of duty and they're still standing, but then again, the two of them tend to stir up a whole world of trouble whenever they're around. I'd probably go and join Barbie and her pony … at least there are no bullets, bombs, locust, or covenant to worry about when she's around … although she looks a bit scary, and I never got on well with horses ... B1ue: In the same scenario, what character/creature would you most/least like to see headed your way?
Some obvious choices spring to mind such as Slender man, a Zombie horde, or the Witch from Left 4 Dead
(her crying was so annoying), but the most disturbing character would be Pyramid Head … there's just something horribly wrong about the guy.
I'd love to see Dogmeat (Fallout 3
) heading back. Miss the little fella … best companion a lone wanderer can ever have. I get misty-eyed just thinking about him. B1ue: Any characters you would like seen thrown into video game hell?
Every single NPC that has ever needed escorting anywhere at any time … all of them … rapidly followed with the developers that created them in the first place! B1ue: Oh, wow, that's so true. I hate those.
Ever had any bad experiences online? How did you handle it?
Not really other than the usual griefers who want to spoil everything - the ones that sing, whistle, or play crap house music all the time; I just mute them. I remember playing Halo
Multi-player for charity; Bungie would donate money for every player that wore a pink heart emblem on his or her armour. Some kids were complaining about all these 'noobs' playing on 'their' server, and what was with the 'heart' emblazoned armour? Some people tried to explain, but they continued to whine and moan …. I handled it by taking a special delight in repeatedly targeting them … I'm actually a good shot despite my noobness! B1ue: Do you prefer single player or multi-player?
Generally single player. I occasionally go online to play FIFA
and a few other games, but it takes too long to get competitive. I used to play PC games online and spent 1000's of hours playing. On one particular server, I was always in the top 20 out of 1000's of players. I just don't have time to do that anymore. Too many games … too little time! A good story, and I'm happy to play it through once … I'm not one of those people who need to play through every single story branch or conversation tree. Once I'm done, I'm done and on to the next title. B1ue: Do you have a favorite group of friends you like to play with? If so, how did you meet?
There's a small bunch of us who are ex-colleagues who get together and play FIFA
; it's the only game we all agree on. We've all moved to different areas, with one in Italy and one in the UK, but it's good to play together occasionally. I love that about XBL! B1ue: If you could have a multi-player session with anyone in the world, whom would you choose? Why?
Is this couch co-op? Then I'd choose Mila Jovavich, Anne Hathaway, Salma Hayek, obviously not for their gaming skills. I'd just want to spend a few hours on a couch with them. Playing Forza
against the Top Gear team might be fun. The Stig might be a bit quiet, but at least I could have a few beers and share a few jokes with the rest of the team. To be honest, I'm not into the celebrity thing; I'd rather play with real gamers like the community. In the coming winter months, I plan to get involved with community gaming sessions with our TA members … if they will put up with me. ;-) B1ue: I'm thinking a few hours on the couch with those particular people will make your significant other much less patient than usual. Man, you're going to be in trouble! ;-P
What other consoles do you own? What are your favorites on those platforms?
We own a Wii; I'm not sure whether it still works. I used to weigh myself on it using the balance board when the bathroom scales were bust. We've got new scales now, so I don't use it anymore. On the PC, I still revisit the Zone in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
and I love to go online and play TF2 and Day of Defeat
on Steam. B1ue: Have you ever had a game you really looked forward to that you were disappointed in when it finally arrived? Tell us about it.
Easy - Aliens: Colonial Marines
. When I applied to be a newshound on the site, I submitted a piece on A:CM. All that time ago, and it got me on the team. Little did I know I would be writing the official review a couple of years later. I'd been following it for all that time. The first paragraph of the review sums it up …. what a car crash of a game … enough said! ****************
****************Favorite 360 game?
and Deus Ex: Human Revolution
recently. Action RPG is my favourite genre. Metro: Last Light
was grim and dark, which I also enjoyed. FIFA
remains a game that I play all season until the next comes out. Most fun game was definitely Saint's Row the Third
; I had an absolute blast from start to finish with the over-the-top anarchy. Favorite non-360 game?
Easy - S.T.A.L.K.E.R
series on the PC; it needed a lot of patching and community love, but it's the most deeply engrossing series I've ever played (loved the fiction, too). HL2 runs a joint second with the original Deus Ex
. Least favorite game? The Sims
; played it on the PC once to see what all the fuss was about. I spent most of the time trying to get two sets of neighbours to get off with each other. It wasn't going anywhere, and then something bizarre happened -- the house burnt down or something. It effectively killed the game, and I never restarted. I don't get Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition
either … anything that seems too much real life seems like a waste of my virtual life. Favorite game developer?
I used to have a soft spot for Gearbox for their work with Half-Life, Brothers in Arms
, etc, but since Duke Nukem and Aliens: Colonial Marines
, it seems that anything that doesn't feature Borderlands doesn't get their full attention, so they've fallen from grace in my eyes. Right now, Platinum Games have got my attention with Bayonetta
, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
. Anything that has Rockstar on the box is always worth checking out. Favorite game weapon?
The Lancer is iconic, and the Penetrator has to be mentioned for sheer stupidity and outrageousness, however, give me a pair of silenced pistols Agent 47 style -- up close and personal. Most hated game enemy?
Any of those blasted multi-level/multi-stage bosses; you whittle down the life stats, and then they just go and transform into something else, and you have start over again … that's just cheating … just not cricket that!! Favorite game character?
GLaDos from the original Portal: Still Alive
-- mentally deranged and hysterically funny. Yes, she was trying to constantly kill you, but it's a minor detail I'm prepared to overlook. Favorite game ending?
I'm never good at remembering the endings; I seem to remember the journey more than the destination. That said, Portal
gets my vote … for *that* song; it still makes me smile every time I hear it. Most hated game ending?
Any title where the lead character that you've been playing as is killed off; I can't mention specifics without spoilers but there's been a trend recently. You've dragged your ass out of the fire numerous times throughout the game and then suddenly, Bang! You're dead! Hah!! Usually it's some kind of noble and glorious death - as if that's going to make you feel better about it. Dulce et decorum est
and all that ... but it just leaves me feeling like "what the hell did you do that for??" B1ue: Wilfred Owen! I love that poem...
Favorite game music? Deus EX: Human Revolution
. I bought the limited edition of the game, which came with a certain number of audio tracks. I enjoyed it so much I bought the 'actual' CD with the complete soundtrack. It's the only CD I've bought for years. Honourable mention goes to Jeremy Soule, who does the music for Elder Scrolls, Neverwinter Nights, and Guild Wars.**********************
*End of Lightning Round*
**********************B1ue: Is there anything I haven’t asked that you want to talk about?
Punky -- she scares me. When we're writing, on a good day she has her grammar wand and comma sprinkles; on a bad day, she turns it into a grammar hammer, and sometimes she shouts. She's like a schoolmistress ….... yep, she scares me. B1ue: lol. At least she doesn't shout... often...
Any shoutouts you want to make before we go?
To the team -- we're all trying to take the site to the next level with new features and editorials. There's a lot going on and it's a great team effort. I'm proud to be part of it!
To the community -- we've got a good little community here. It might not be the biggest, but it's generally good- spirited. I hope that most people will stick around when we make the move to the next-gen platforms.
I would give a shoutout to my long-suffering girlfriend, but she never reads anything I write anyway … she says it's a whole different language. Then again, she's Dutch, so she might have a point.
And that's all for today, fellow achievement hunters. Join me in thanking Nexus Grunt for taking the time to tell us a bit about himself as well as for being such a great newshound. Thanks, Nexus!
Join me back here in two weeks for our next guest, http://www.trueachievements.com/RazorPriest.htm
Come and see me, and...let's talk.
Think you're a good candidate for the Community Interview or know someone who is? Send me a PM and let me know why you believe that. Convince me. Please keep in mind that I've been inundated with requests. I tell you this not to discourage you from writing me but to explain why you might not hear back from me for a while. See you later! --B1ueSeptember.