Hi, TA'ers! This week, our special guest is the one and only smrnov
, a gaming veteran with a whopping 1.5 million TA score who is on the verge of hitting a remarkable 1 million Gamerscore.B1ue: Hi, smrnov. Thanks for talking to me.
Avatar statue from 3D printerI saw in your blog that you just accomplished your 1,000th completion. That's amazing! Congratulations!
Thanks! It took some planning, but I'm really glad I completed the goal.B1ue: When you first started gaming, did you have any idea you'd be such a famous gamer?
I really don't consider myself a famous gamer at all. And trust me, it's not like anyone knows who I am around town except for my local GameStop (and that's more for being a valued customer). A couple people I met at PAX knew who I was, so that was kind of cool.B1ue: Are you and Stallion83 friends? I've often wondered if your competition with each other was a friendly one.
I would say the competition is friendly. I don't have anything against Stallion, and I have always thought he would hit 1 million gamerscore first. Kudos to him for sticking with it. I do think I pressured him to score more at times. We've played together on occasion and have done gamerscore competitions together; he's a nice guy. Several people have asked me if I have a deal with Stallion to not pass him. We don't have any such deal.B1ue: Gamertags almost always tell something about their owners. Tell us about yours. I'm guessing you like vodka. ;-P
I do like vodka, but my gamertag origin is unfortunately quite boring. When I first got Xbox (the original one), my friend wanted to play Project Gotham Racing
with me. He lived in Vancouver, and I live close to Toronto. He told me that Xbox Live was free if I made a new gamertag every month. As you recall, Xbox Live came out in November, so I made my tag my initials + nov (for November) because the following month I was going to change it to smrdec! I ended up keeping smrnov.B1ue: Oh, man, really?! And all this time I thought it was an interesting derivation of Smirnoff's! lol.
How long have you been gaming?
My first memory of really getting into gaming was playing Dungeon Master
on Atari ST. I also had an Atari 2600 and Intellivision for early console gaming,so mid to late 80's.B1ue: Do others in your family game, or are you a first-generation gamer?
My dad was not really a gamer but worked for Sony and was in the computer industry, so having computers and electronics around was pretty commonplace.B1ue: What do your friends and loved ones think of your gaming?
My friends and family are cool with it; they obviously think I play a lot of Xbox, but, really, the medium is the only thing that has changed. In university, I was really heavily into MUDs (Shadowdale
and then Medieva
), and then that migrated into MMORPGs, specifically EverQuest
and then EverQuest 2
. I have a lot of fond memories of the time I spent and people I met playing those games. Most of my friends played these as well, so they totally understand.B1ue: By any standard, you'd be considered a professional gamer. Do you make your living from gaming?
Absoulutely not, I have never been out of work and have worked full-time since I graduated with a BSc in Computer Science many years ago. I mostly work remotely, however, so it's easy for me to work on some grindy stuff during tedious tasks (i.e. conference calls). I get questioned a lot if I'm sponsored at all, and I can honestly say I don't collect any income or benefits from gaming. I think I got a free copy of Things on Wheels
once from the developer and then a free Xbox One during the recent promotion.
Some cool collectible swag.B1ue: Congratulations on the Xbox One. You're certainly good advertising for the brand. Are you enjoying the next-gen console? I've seen some comments about party chat problems.
I didn't really think I'd like the One quite as much as I have. I've only booted up my 360 in the last bit in order to play something that came in via GameAccess (think Canadian GameFly). There was a learning curve on the new interface, but even the party chat hasn't been quite as bad for me as it has been for some others. Being able to have it up on screen while still playing a game at the same time is nice.
One of only thirty limited Taco Bell edition of Xbox 360 SlimB1ue: What other hobbies do you enjoy?
Well, obviously gaming is my primary hobby. It does consume most of my spare time. I do, however, read a lot and enjoy going out to the movies, having friends over to hang out and again watch movies, and watching the Toronto Maple Leafs. I had a big party at my house for the Xbox One launch with about 30 friends; it was a really great time.
Bar area of the home theater.B1ue: Tell us about your home life – folks, wife, children, cute animals?
I've been happily married 17 years. My wife likes video games, too, but generally only RPG's or games she can play with me as a co-op partner. She doesn't play on her own unless it's EverQuest
. My daughter is 11 and only recently got into video games. I think Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition
drew her in. Neither of them care about achievements, which is good because usually my co-op partners get lagged out when I get achievements and then they don't get any. I have two dogs, a yellow lab and a black lab. They also don't care about my achievements. They are labs and only care about when their next meal is...and belly rubs, of course.
Labs Zeus and ZoeyB1ue: Those look like some happy dogs, too.
Of what real life achievement are you most proud? Would you give us some details?
There are a few, but I'd have to say becoming a dad. Holding your baby girl the first time is pretty special. The first time I scare off a would-be boyfriend will also be special. I'd say getting married, graduating from university, first team manager job, and owning my first house; those are all up there, too. I'm close to a mortgage burning party, too, so that will be a pretty big life milestone. And I'm always dreaming of retirement, but unfortunately I've probably got another 20 years to go.
smrnov's daughter in Tiny Tina cosplay meeting the real Tiny Tina (Ashley Burch) at PAXB1ue: What a great picture of the two Tiny Tina's! And, wow, a mortgage burning - that's really exciting! Congrats on that one. As a mom myself, I completely agree with your first choice. There's just nothing that compares with holding one's baby, is there?
What’s your favorite game of all time on any console? What makes it special?
Probably the original SSX
on PS2 with Gran Turismo 3
being a very close second, both for the same reason -- they remind me of a time when my friend and I would sit on the couch every Saturday night racing while our wives would experiment in the kitchen and make us dinner. Neither of those games had achievements per se
, but I'm sure I would have completed them 100% over a few times.B1ue: Games and being served dinner -- sounds like good times.
Do you remember the first game you ever played? What’s your fondest memory of it?
The first I remember was Star Raiders
on Atari 800. Going into hyperspace and having all those stars go whizzing by -- cutting edge graphics right there!B1ue: If some evil spell allowed you to own only a single game for the rest of your life, what would it be? Why?
SR: EverQuest 2
, hands down. You didn't say console game... I played EverQuest 1
for several years, and I was never finished; you could play an MMO forever easily. If it had to be a an Xbox console game, then one of the Rock Band
s because I would probably need the rest of my life to master Expert difficulty. And you can't go wrong with playing music.B1ue: Do you get to play much EverQuest now that you're working so hard on your gamerscore? Do you have a certain amount of time to devote to gaming each week?
It's been a bit since I've logged in. For a bit there I would do a few quests with my wife and daughter, but lately pretty much the spare time I do have has been doing challenges on Xbox One or scoring.B1ue: What part of the world do you live in? If I were to visit, what sights would I have to see?
I'm about half-way between Toronto and Detroit. Really beautiful around here in the autumn -- we get some really great colours. In fact, all our seasons are quite pronounced, which can be nice for a change in scenery. Lots of great sport teams in the area, and we have one of the best ever Ontario Hockey League teams in the London Knights. It's always fun to see them play live. We also have a really big arena for concerts and are close enough to Toronto to go there. Most recently, I saw Nine Inch Nails play the ACC. Toronto is pretty great, too, with the CN Tower on the waterfront (I proposed to my wife atop the CN Tower). Canada's Wonderland is a huge amusement park, and there's a big zoo, too. Ripley's just opened an aquarium, as well, that I plan to go check out soon with the family and some friends.B1ue: That sounds like a lovely area.
Any games you regret putting on your gamertag?
Nope, it's just a gamertag. I'll start any game - whether I can complete it or not.B1ue: If you were forced to change your gamertag, what would you change it to? What would the new tag reflect about you?
That's a tough one. I really don't know. Maybe "NULL" if it's available, or some other computer science geek term. The guild I ran in EverQuest
was named NULL, and I got a kick every time out of players running around with over their heads. :)
B1ue: Tell us about your gamer pic. Why did you choose that one?
SR: I like video games with skeletons; they always had that evil laugh in all those PC RPG's I used to play. And there were some iconic ones in EverQuest, too. I remember this game I was so excited for that had a cool skeleton as the cover art, Stonekeep. It was just an all right game, but cool skeleton for 1995!
B1ue: I quite like the bottom row of your trophy case. Do you have a favorite RPG?
SR: It's really hard to pick a favourite one. I played a lot of PC RPG's when I was younger, specifically the Might & Magic series. I remember when my wife and I were in a small (really small!) basement apartment, we hooked up the video card of the PC to the TV, so we could play together. We had next to no money, no cable TV, so we played Might & Magic (I believe it was World of Xeen) every night for at least two months. On the 360, I'd have a really hard time choosing, but if I had to, I'd go with Lost Odyssey.
B1ue: I love that game. It's so beautiful and so sad at the same time.
Do you have any particular gaming pet peeves?
SR: On the 360, I hate that the notification sometimes covers a key area of the screen. Nothing like trying to take a shot in Tiger Woods right when someone logs in and covers your shot timing. My first serious job out of school was team lead of a QA department making set-top box software, so it also bothers me when some bugs were obviously not tested.
B1ue: What upcoming game are you most looking forward to?
SR: Titanfall. I got to try it out at PAX and really enjoyed it. Tom Clancy's The Division looks really sweet as well, and I'm anxious to try an RPG on Xbox One, which I think right now will be http://www.trueachievements.com/The-Elder-Scrolls-Onlin....htm or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
B1ue: What game are you most proud of completing? Why?
SR: I'd have to go with Quake 4. It took forever, and some spots on General difficulty were challenging. And I got attached to some of the characters after playing it so many times.
B1ue: If you found yourself dropped into a video game, which video game character would you most want to have your back?
SR: Sam Fisher.
B1ue: In the same scenario, what character/creature would you least like to see headed your way?
SR: A necromorph.
B1ue: Any characters you would like seen thrown into video game hell?
SR: Pretty much all those minions in the Dante's Inferno trials. I finished all but one trial for the achievement and just couldn't get the last co-op one done. Probably tried for three weeks, so I'd send them to hell, but I guess they are almost already there...
B1ue: Ever had any bad experiences online? How did you handle it?
SR: I sometimes get the whole "get a life" messages, but those are pretty rare. And I figure that's what the "block" button is for if I don't feel like a "Thanks, I have one" response.
B1ue: People like that are so aggravating. There's something so judgmental and petty about such comments. I'm sorry that you have to deal with people like that.
Do you prefer single player or multi-player?
SR: It depends on the game. Single player most of the time, but co-op can be great fun.
B1ue: Do you have a favorite group of friends you like to play with? If so, how did you meet?
SR: tjayars, Botafogo007, ImayB3urDad, Ryot Control, A 0 E Monkey, Dr HErB Gudaria. I think I met most of these guys on Console Heroes. Monkey & Herb were later, like here on TA.
B1ue: If you could have a multi-player session with anyone in the world, whom would you choose? Why?
SR: Bill Gates. I'm curious if the geekiness transfers into good gameplay!!
B1ue: What other consoles do you own? What are your favorites on those platforms?
SR: I did have a 3DS and a Wii U that I recently traded in during the promos at Gamestop for Xbox One orders. I still have a Playstation 3, which I'll keep for RPGs and exclusives if I ever get around to them. I honestly haven't played enough to have a favourite.
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.
SR: BioShock 2 (Xbox 360). It was actually a decent game, but with BioShock (Xbox 360) being one my favourites of all time, it had a lot to live up to.
B1ue: Tell us about your gaming set-up.
SR: I have a number of them -- not all my consoles are because I boost, but because there are a lot of places I hook them up. I do most of my gaming at my desk, so that's just hooked up to a 1080p 30" monitor. But I also have a basement theatre hooked up to a 3D projector on a 101" screen. Then some various other TVs (60" Pioneer Elite, 50" Pioneer Elite, 46" Samsung).
SR sitting in his home theatre
B1ue: Wow, that's a sweet set-up.
And that's a lot of tv's! Do you have an Xbox on each one?
SR: Yup, and some others with multiples hooked up as well as two GAEMS cases!
We're talking hardcore here. It's a good thing your wife likes to game!
Favorite 360 game?
Favorite non-360 game?
Least favorite game?
Favorite game developer?
Favorite game weapon?
The wrist sheath in Assassin's Creed.
Most hated game enemy?
Barthandelus, just because that fight took forever.
Favorite game character?
Favorite game sidekick?
Favorite game ending?
Most hated game ending?
Favorite game music?
*End of Lightning Round*
B1ue: Any shout-outs you want to make before we go?
SR: It's tough, because no matter what I'm going to forget someone and feel badly about it.
B1ue: I guess we shouldn't name names then...
And that's it, guys and girls. Please join me in saying a big thank you to smrnov for taking the time to tell us a little about himself. Come back in a couple of weeks for our next guest.
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.