It's time for the second of our new round of Community Interviews, which will run with a few minor changes owing to some of the feedback I received on the first interview. This time I've been talking to Marx0r
20 years old and a resident of Long Island, New York, he's the kind of chap who takes his completion ratio as a serious business, and isn't afraid of putting in some serious time for the trickier or more repetitive achievements.
____________________________________Davie: Hi Marx0r. Thanks for taking the time to take part in these interviews with me. So, to start out, are there any stories behind the Gamertag?
Marx0r: My first name is Marc, and I combined that and "hax0r" for an all-purpose online handle. I don't hack or cheat in any way, it's just that I was 15 at the time and thought it was hilarious.D: With 2010 fresh in the memory how were your New Year celebrations? Did you see 2011 in with style or was it a quiet affair for you?
M: Unfortunately, I was up late on the 30th, and had to work New Year's Eve morning, so I passed out when I got home and missed everything. Not that I normally care about New Year's, my biggest celebration to date was when a few friends and I played old Xbox games until 5am.D: You’re a resident of New York, the city which is top of my wishlist of places to visit. Does it hold all of the charm and characteristic that many of us from afar see on TV or is it the kind of place which is quite overwhelming in its grandiose nature?
M: I'm a resident of New York State, on Long Island. Parts of the island are considered New York City, but I live about 40 miles away from there. I do go into the city often, which puts me in that grey area between tourist and resident. I've seen enough of the city to be disillusioned with the charm you see on TV, but don't know it well enough to not get lost and confused every time I try exploring. If you're going as a tourist with a set itinerary of places you want to see and how to get there, you'll probably love it.D: How about you? Where in the world is your most desired place to visit?
M: Probably Japan. I couldn't care less about the whole otaku culture, I'm just a huge culinary enthusiast that loves Japanese food. It would be amazing to go across Japan and just sample all the local cuisines have to offer.D: Japan is right up there on my 'wish list' of places to visit too. I'd be heading there not for the food but the unbelievable amount of gadgetry they have there! Back in Long Island though, there must be a whole host of things to do there? What do you get up to away from the Xbox?
M: Not much, really. I have a full-time job as well as being a full-time student. My friends and girlfriend are equally busy, so being able to go out and do something with someone is a rare occurrence. When I do get to, it's usually the standard fare of going to see a movie or going out to eat.D: I see from your bio on TA that you’re currently enrolled in a computing course, more specifically computer programming. I briefly touched on this when I was at University - horrible subject and very difficult. How long is left to run of your course?
M: I had to give up my original plan of becoming a chef for health reasons, but I'm ready to go back to it if and when that's resolved. As it stands I don't really know what degree I'm going to end up with, but I just finished my first year of courses in Computer Science. I don't really find it that difficult, but it's definitely one of those subjects that you have to have the head for or you'll fail miserably.D: And where do you hope the degree might take you? OS development? Mobile development? Bespoke software?
M: I'm hoping to work in video games. Might as well spend my life working on something I love, right?D: You’re a self-confessed completionist. Is this a fairly recent gaming habit development or have you always been one to complete everything where possible?
M: I've always been a pretty obsessive person in my general life. As far back as I can remember, if I liked a game, I would stop at nothing to beat it on the hardest difficulty, get all the collectibles, etc. When I was about 7, I spent almost a year practicing Battletoads until i finally beat it.D: It’s one thing to say you’re a completionist, but a TA completion badge of 99.9% across 140+ titles backs that up. Has it been tough to stay disciplined and keep the stat so high?
M: For the first year that I had a 360, I didn't really know or care about achievements. As I started to get into gamerscore whoring, my old completionist tendencies were rekindled, and I spent upwards of a year working towards 100% gamerscore completion.
There's definitely been a few games I've passed on or deleted from my card because I knew I couldn't finish them, and there have been times that I've wanted to burn a game studio down to the ground and kill all the employees with the shards of my game disc.
After I hit 100% gamerscore about 6 months ago, I've just been playing games that I know I'll enjoy through the duration of completing it.D: What achievement have you spent the most time working on in any of the titles you’ve played?
M: Oh boy, that's a question that brings up numbers I'd really rather not think about. Microsoft accidentally put the Gears of War 2
All Fronts map pack on the marketplace 10 days before the general release. In the 15 minutes it took for them to take it down, a handful of friends and I were able to buy and download it.
This gave us almost unopposed access to the Dark Corners playlist, and we thought this would be the only opportunity anyone would ever have to boost EXP. I spent about 150 hours in one week boosting on single EXP, and probably around 450 hours altogether towards my rank 100.
Then Epic started holding 30x EXP weeks. :/
As far as console-hours, I spent upwards of 700 hours going for Luck of the Draw
in Texas Hold 'Em
, but 99.5% of that was just me leaving the console on when I was asleep or out of my house.D: Upward of seven hundred hours? That's commitment right there. How did this love of completing titles come before or after TA? Did the additional stats tracking here push you further?
M: I had been working on completion since before TA was around. Having the amazing stat-tracking system of TA definitely didn't hurt, though.D: I know some people aren’t fans of boosting achievements. Does boosting bother you? Personally I don’t mind it at all and have boosted some harder or more tedious MP achievements such as those in BioShock 2.
M: Not at all. Whatever's not against Terms and Conditions is fair game.D: I happen to agree. In fact I'm sure Microsoft has said at some point previously that they are fine with boosting achievements online. Is there any title you’ve ever earned the first achievement in and wished you hadn’t?
M: Nowadays, I research every game I even think about playing, so I rarely regret putting a game on my card after unlocking the first achievement. However, it does happen, most recently being Mass Effect
. By the time I finished Noveria, I was sick of the shoddy controls and not at all looking forward to playing 3.5 playthroughs worth of it. Once I got further in, the game grew on me and I didn't hate going for the 1200.D: In the time you’ve been playing Xbox, do you think achievements have changed? It seems to me initially achievements were tacked on but now developers realise the potential selling power they have over some gamers.
M: We're definitely past the days when achievement lists weren't understood, which resulted in travesties like GRAW
[Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter] and Quake 4
. Most, if not all developing studios are realizing the importance of the meta-game that achievements bring. Just look at iPhone apps or flash games, they don't have the all-encompassing system that Xbox Live has but they still have a huge draw in their achievement lists.
I think the good developers are exercising the value of a good list out of the box, making fun, challenging, but definitely completable games. The bad ones are exercising the value of tacking on ridiculous multiplayer achievements to prolong the game's life, or just loading up DLC achievements to get people to buy whatever junk they come out with. D: And seeing how developers have now realised the worth of achievements in game, do you think there’s enough thought going in to achievements as a whole, or are we seeing too much 'padding' with the standard ‘Get 250 kills with a pistol - 10G’ all too often?
M: As I said, most developers are starting to work towards fun and original achievement lists, and there's nothing more boring or unoriginal than just grinding out multiplayer garbage. I have nothing against spending a few dozen hours in a good multiplayer, but when you need to play for hundreds of hours grinding out stupidly long achievements, it's obvious that the developer is trying to pad the online community.D: So how many hours do you spend gaming in a week? Do you manage to strike a balance between college, work and gaming?
M: Yes, at the expense of sleep. I spend about 40 hours a week online, most of it during times I should be sleeping.D: And when did gaming begin for you? You’re more or less of the same gaming generation as me and I was a Nintendo Gameboy person before getting a SNES as my first ‘proper’ console.
M: Back when I was 6 or so, my neighbor was moving and cleaning out her house, and she gave me her son's old NES and game library. That's all I had up until I was 13 or so, when I got an original Xbox. I've always kept up on the Gameboys though, I owned every single one from the original up to the DS.D: If you imagine the first game you’d ever played had achievements. What might the first achievement of your gaming history have been?
M: The first game I played was probably Super Mario, so probably
"Waste of Time - Okay, she wasn't in that first castle. Let's try the next one."D: Do you own any other of the current generation consoles?
M: No. I'm probably going to get a 3DS when they come out, if that counts.D: I think the 3DS would either give me a massive headache or totally ruin my already short sighted eyes. How much do you squeeze out of your Xbox? Do you use Netflix, Zune, Media Streaming etc, or is your Xbox purely for gaming?
M: Why would I use my 360 for anything that wouldn't get me achievements? That's stupid. Next question.D: I see! Ok, moving swiftly on, you’ve been with TA since 2008. What brought you to TA and made you stick around for the subsequent two to three years?
M: I liked the functionality of being able to filter out the games I completed from my list, allowing me to focus on the ones that weren't. Also, the trophy cases and inflated values for all my achievements gave me a nice way to stroke my massive ego. Once the chatroom was made, TA became a convenient way to waste time, and I was hooked.D: We all remember the TA crash in 2010, but let’s imagine for a minute that the Xbox servers crashed and some technical hitch meant your total Gamerscore and all stats to date were lost. Would you keep on gaming?
M: Well, yeah. What else would I do all night long? I'd hate that my years of effort were gone, but (I assume) everyone else would be in the same boat. It'd be a great chance to replay all my favorites, as I own every game on my card.D: And if we pushed you for a closing statement, a soundbite, or a pearl of wisdom, what would that be?
M: Definitely the soundbite.
And on that note, we conclude the Community Interview of Marx0r from Long Island, New York. If you’d like to feature in this segment, don’t fear, the year is young and there’s plenty of time yet!
After an overwhelming response for nominations and such last time, I'd like to extend that invitation and ask you to send in 'Questions From The Community'. These can be anything you'd like to see put to other members of our community in future interviews. They can be about whatever you'd like, and some of the best, funniest and most unusual will appear in future interviews where appropriate
If you’d like to be featured in a future Community Interview, or would like to nominate a gamer on this site to be featured themselves, please send a PM to DavieMarshall
. If you have any questions you’d like to be put to future interviewees, send me your Questions From The Community too!