Normal service is resumed this week with another selection from my PM inbox, Potato Handle
. In a quick run down of our next interviewee, this chap comes from the land down under, the rural town Ararat in Victoria to be specific, is a drummer of thirteen years, works in the IT sector and loves rhythm games and RPGs. He also notes that he is “terrible at just about everything else.”
____________________________________Davie: Thanks for the PM and for taking the time to complete an interview with me Potato Handle!
Potato Handle: Thanks for choosing me!D: I’m going to get this question in right away. Potato Handle!? What’s that about!
P: I'm afraid it's a long, boring, random story. I always used to use Boggy B as my screen name for forums and stuff, since I'm a huge classic Worms fan. But because it was often taken on forums and the fact that I like “clean names” with no numbers and other bits in them, I come up with a backup by joining two words from two other's usernames together.
After a while it grew on me, and it stayed as my backup name, but then it found it's way onto a few major sites that I used all the time and I adopted it as my main name. Surprisingly enough, I haven't come across a site with it taken yet, hehe. A lot of my friends online have shortened me to “Spud” now, which I reckon is 100% hilarious and awesome.D: And if you had to sum yourself up in three words, what would they be?
P: The Musical Geekatron....... 6000. It's a number, not a word. >_>D: As I touched on briefly in the opening paragraph, you’re from Ararat, Victoria in Australia. How rural is it? Is it just rural enough to be quiet and peaceful, or is there a distinct sense of isolation from the more urban areas?
P: Yeah, it's pretty quiet down here, but I decided a while ago that I wanted to get my own house built, so in order to get more house for my money, moving to a rural area was the way to go. I grew up in Ararat and I have lots of family down this way, so it was the obvious choice. My friends and relatives are scattered all over Australia, so I can't really move to one place to keep in contact with all of them locally.D: Reading around the internet, apparently Ararat was founded on the basis of a good old fashioned Gold Rush during the 1800’s. Are there any other interesting facts, bits of trivia or such about where you live?
P: There's a few tidbits, we're nearby the tiny town of Moyston
(Part of Ararat's municipality) which is known as the birthplace of Australian Rules Football. Ararat's main tourist points are Gum San
; a museum which tells the story of Chinese miners during the Gold Rush striking it lucky at Canton Lead. At lot of the materials to build the centre were donated by our “sister city” of Taishan in China.
Also J-Ward is an ex-prison for the criminally insane, which was in use during the Gold Rush, which gets a fair bit of publicity.D: In your PM to me you said you’ve also lived in Sydney and Canberra, Do you have a preference to a urban/rural environment?
P: Sydney was a bit much for me, I detest the inability to simply drive anywhere I want, almost as much as I detest having to sit next to that
man in the bus that was obviously cleaning the city's sewage system with his face the day before, judging by the state of his hair and clothes. Plus the suburb I was living in was pretty appalling, except for the awesome kebab shop that we lived nearby.
Canberra is a great place to live, very organised, easy to find your way around and most of the outer suburbs still have that country feel, but you're never more than 20 minutes away from the shop you want to go to. But it's bloody expensive to live there, especially if you're looking at buying.D: You told me you’re having a house built (which sounds incredibly expensive and stressful!) and that you’ll be having it packed full of nerdy stuff! My ears pricked up at the mention of this! What kinds of things are you planning on having in your new home?
P: I could write 20 pages on this, but I'll try and be brief.
I'm going to have 4-5 monitors placed in various places around the house all hooked up to a single computer with a splitter with cabling through the roof. Basically, this will let me use one computer regardless of where I am in the house. I'll also put a TV Tuner into it so I can watch TV from everywhere as well.
That's the main “project” so to speak of the house, but I've also got plans for a sound-proof recording studio, a dedicated Rock Band and rhythm game room, (Finally space to put all those bloody instruments!) I'm also tossing up the idea of keyless entry and getting some domestic robots. Housework can bite me. Oh and I'm definitely getting a kitten.D: Sounds perfect, and good call on the kitten too! Will Kinect feature in your line up of new gadgetry, or is your jury still out on this?
P: Yeah, I'm pretty keen to check out Dance Central
, Harmonix's good track record is enough to get me interested. Once I have that, I'll no-doubt find more that I'll be interested in.
Unless you're one of my non-nerdy friends or relatives, in which case absolutely not, and you have no reason to come and try to catch me playing Dance Central
. >___>D: And what’s the one gadget (excluding the Xbox 360!) you couldn’t live without?
P: At the moment it's probably my guitar, I'm still pretty terrible at it, but it's the only decent outlet I have to playing proper music at the moment while I'm stuck in a single room again. I'm finding it pretty hard to get by without my drum kit, but there's just no room for it until I move.D: Let’s talk about hobbies, I want to know more about the drummer in you! So, you’ve been drumming for thirteen years, but how old are you know and when did you start?
P: I was always interested in drumming, I think Mum got me a small set of bongos when I was about 5 or 6, and I got a tiny electric drum machine sorta thing a little later. Dunno when I got that, but I broke it by spilling cordial into it, so I’m guessing it was pretty long ago.
I didn't really start proper drumming until one of my cousins sold me his kit really cheap probably when I was about 12, and then another cousin started giving me lessons. Once I started to get the hang of the basics, I just started playing all the songs I loved along with a battery-powered tape recorder. Lots of Silverchair and Offspring. I'm 25 now and keen to get back into it and start recording my own stuff.D: Are you in a band at all, or have you been in one?
P: Unfortunately, no. Pretty boring I know, I've had three band experiences in my life all of them in high school and all of them lasted less than a month, never made it to a public gig. I don't like playing music that I don't enjoy myself, and most of the people and bands around here don't touch music past the 1960s.
I'm hoping that once I move and start recording my own stuff, I'll be able to publicize myself on the 'net a bit and hopefully find some like-minded people in the area. If not, I'll still get my music fix from recording my own stuff.D: Do you have a drummer who inspires you, or someone who is in your eyes the ‘greatest’ drummer?
P: I don't like labeling “greatest” drummers, or musicians in general, 'cause most of the high-end musicians are incomparable, different styles, different tastes, etc. My favourite drummer has to be Mike Portnoy though, aside from writing some really unique stuff and being a completely badass drummer, he's also just a really cool guy. The whole leaving Dream Theatre debacle is disappointing though.D: Which tracks are you favourite to drum to?
P: I tend to like playing anything that I like listening to, complexity often doesn't make a difference in how much I enjoy playing a given song. I can really get into a simple 2-4 beat on a good AC/DC song just as much as I can get into something fast and technical.
I love playing Green Day songs, I think mine and Tre's drumming style is similar, so a lot of Green Day's stuff flows really well with me. Megadeth's drum lines are usually really fun as well, other bands of note are The Living End, old Silverchair, Nirvana (Or anything with Dave drumming) Sunk Loto, Boston, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Ill Nino. If I had to pick one song I'd pick Sunk Loto – 5 Years of Silence.
Everything about the drums in that song is just awesome.D: And, do you advocate double kicks or not?
P: Absolutely, but I love open hats just as much, if not more. You can get some really funky syncopation going with an open hat in the right place in a beat, and it's often overlooked; especially in metal in favour of “moar bass!”.D: My next question is, as a somewhat experienced drummer, how does this relate to your drumming skills on the Xbox?
P: It translates both ways really well. Playing Rock Band is really good practice for the real thing, and going from real drums to Rock Band at first was pretty smooth as well. It took a while to get used to the notation, but I finished all but the last song in the expert career in Rock Band
on the first day, Won't Get Fooled Again took me a week or so on-and-off though, 'cause it never really stays consistent.
The most difficult thing to get used to when going from one to the other is the weight of the pedals, since Rock Band pedals typically don't have beaters they feel much different to play.D: Of the many music games you’ve given a spin in your console, do you have a ‘stand out’ title? I guess what I’m really asking is are you a Rock Band or Guitar Hero man?
P: I'm a Rock Band man, Guitar Hero didn't quite ever get drums working properly I don't think, the fills never seem to flow properly, I still enjoy it though. That aside, Guitar Hero's latest offerings have been really enjoyable, although I'm pretty skeptical to see where they go next.
I'd have to pick two titles as stand-outs. Guitar Hero II
is the game that sucked me into rhythm games in the first place, and indeed is the reason I bought the 360, just so I'd get a whole 10 more songs on GH2
. (And the promise of DLC!)Rock Band 2
would be the other one, overlooking the fact it could have been distributed more competently by carrier pigeons delivering 1s and 0s written on tracing paper, it was in nearly every way exactly what the fans of Rock Band 1
wanted. I'm really hoping that RB4 will be a similar step up to Rock Band 3
.D: Your Trophy Case packs in some pretty impressive music game completions. Rock Band 2, Guitar Hero: Van Halen... Is there a certain achievement or game completion you’d love to have sitting in the trophy case which isn’t there currently?
P: I actually updated that pretty recently, so it's pretty much right. I tend to be more proud of my non-rhythm game completions like Beautiful Katamari
, Final Fantasy XIII
and Brutal Legend
. That said, I'm slowly trying to finish off the GH series, I'm 995/1000 on Guitar Hero: Metallica
. (The tutorial is the hardest achievement apparently, go figure.) 970/1000 on http://www.trueachievements.com/Guitar-Hero-World-Tour-....htm
, and, well I just need to put some more effort into Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
. I'm hoping to rope in psxfreak101
to work on Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
next time I visit him.D: Speaking of collections of ‘best’ things, in a recent blog post you gave a list of your top ten games of all time. I’ll add it in here for reference:
1. Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn (PC)
2. Freespace 2 (PC)
3. Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
4. Final Fantasy VII (PS1)
5. Rock Band 2 (360)
6. Lost Odyssey (360)
7. Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (Mega Drive)
8. Tyrian (PC)
9. Knights Of The Old Republic (PC)
10. Worms World Party (PC)
The first thing I notice is the large percentage of PC games in the list. Are you big on PC gaming still, or has the Xbox 360 taken over on that front?
P: PC gaming these days is often a pain in the arse. I bought Dawn Of War II
at release a while ago and that was the last PC game I bought off a shelf. Had to sign up for a steam account, sign up for a GfWL account, download these, apply these, turn your head that way, cough, etc, etc. Then finally after a few hours of updates Steam tells me that the game is “unavailable”. Go to hell.
All of the recent GfWL and Steam deals have suckered me back in though, and it's not too bad anymore. Just recently finished Batman: Arkham Asylum GOTY (PC)
, which I think I got for a lazy $1. I'm really enjoying Osmos (PC)
as well, despite the terrible things that it's doing to my brain. I still have a backlog of about 5 games I bought cheap a while ago as well that I haven't started yet.D: I also see the NES and Mega Drive in there. Which ‘retro’ console has the fondest memories for you?
P: It's godda be the NES, I remember Mum buying Super Mario 3
for me when it was brand new, and then we had to drive 2 hours to get home after seeing the family, I couldn't stand the wait, I pulled the case open and started reading the instruction book; probably the only one I've ever read in my life, and started reading about the racoon leafs and the frog suits which just made me freak out even more.
I was staring at the car's speedo the rest of the way home to make sure that Mum wasn't under the speed limit. D: There’s not many Xbox 360 titles in there. Do you think there will be any games out in the future of the console which might be able to tease their way into that top ten list?
P: If another Brutal Legend
comes out and they change the stage battles a bit (Make them play like Defense of the Ancients! Doitdoitdoitdoitdoit.) that could be a contender, and if they alter Band Quickplay and add score duels again for Rock Band 4
, that is a definite contender too. I'm really hoping for a new Lost Odyssey
to come out as well, although knocking the first game off the list would be a big accomplishment.D: And what was the first game you ever played in earnest?
P: The first game I ever played was called Bouncing Babies
. Which, as you can see, is a gritty, dark game about horrific medical malpractice, terrified mothers and the consequences associated with understaffed and under-supplied medical professionals.
We had it on the first computer we ever owned, I can't remember much about it, except that it was pre-286, and it had a gigantic red switch on the side which turned it on and also looked like it would generate enough electricity to power most of Australia.
My first console game was, naturally Super Mario Bros
, and probably the first game I ever put a lot of time into, and it is certainly the game that got me started as a gamer in general.
And my first 360 game (And my only retail game for a number of months) was Guitar Hero II
.D: In a question that I’m sure will come as no surprise to you, if that game had achievements bundled with it, what might the first achievement you’d ever unlocked have been?
P: As uninspired as it is it'd prolly be “Successfully bounce a baby into the ambulance.” or “Clear Wave 1” it's not exactly a brilliantly varied game.
From Mario it'd have to be:
“Mario Needs GPS”
- Cleared the second world, wrong castle again, damn.D: Coming back to the ‘modern day’ of gaming, you told me that you’ve spent an “absurd amount of MSP,” and surmised it may be around 130,000 MSP by now. You’re big on DLC and Arcade titles I take it then?
P: Well yeah, about half of that would have been spent on Rock Band and Guitar Hero DLC and exports, but I'm also really into games that you can blast through in a lazy afternoon or after work, provided that you're not paying full price for them, so I buy a lot of arcade titles, and DLC often falls into that category as well.
It's really good to see that these small independent games have a viable and indeed successful market to jump into these days, it's reviving a lot of “dead” gaming genres.D: Of all the MSP you’ve spent, what was your best and worst purchases that you can remember?
P: Best Purchase has to be any of those GfWL games I bought for a dollar or less, including Batman:AA
and Age of Empires 3
stand out as good full-pricers too.
Worst? No question, no argument. Brain Challenge
, I didn't even mean to buy the stupid thing, I sat on my controller while the purchase screen was up.
The most disappointing title I've bought was Worms
on XBLA. Where did all the bloody weapons go?!D: And how about your retail titles. Do you tend to buy these outright or do you tend to rent many games that you play?
P: I very rarely rent, often you can import a copy for the nearly the same price as a rental for a week if the game's a bit old. Anything I'm not in a hurry for I order from the UK to avoid the absurd mainstream game costing down here (As Yahtzee calls it, the “Having the nicest beaches tax”.). For example I pre-ordered Final Fantasy XIII
from a store here, the collector's Ed cost me $140. The regular version was $120. Some places in the UK offer free Aussie shipping and often sell games at less than half the price. I fully recommend ozgameshop.com to all you Aussies out there buying new-release games.
Aside from all that, I love building the collection, and having something physical to show for all my wistfully abandoned money.D: Are there many retail games that you don’t get in Australia, or at least don’t get until much later? Sometimes I find Australian release dates are harder to come by when researching news for TA. Often they’re sketchy, guesswork or missing completely.
P: The gaming industry in Australia is a joke, but it is slowly on the improve. Most mainstream titles come out as worldwide releases now so we get a lot of them at pretty much the same time as the rest of the world, give or take a few days. You're right though, release dates are hard to come by, for example Rock Band 3's
release was hopeless. No-one knew when it was coming out until the day it actually showed up in stores, even with a pre-order.
Games in Australia just haven't taken off like they have in other parts of the world, because our game prices are so high and our internet connections here are among the slowest in the world.
With our new swanky girlie Prime Minister, we're all hoping that the NBN will get us back on par with other countries in that respect. It probably won't affect game sales much though. That's going to come down to more arseholes like me importing all their games from overseas until no-one buys them locally anymore. D: Do you think the Australian authorities are perhaps too hands on with the video games industry with regards to censorship? For example, Grand Theft Auto was made forced to censor parts of it’s gameplay for Australian release or face a ban on sales.
P: Probably more the opposite. They do far too little to address these problems with game censorship, and the problem has been around for far, far too long. I'm really worried about Duke Nukem Forever's
release soon (Never thought I'd be saying that). Not so much for me, 'cause I'll be importing it anyways, but if it's restricted here, then fewer of my friends will buy it. The annoying thing is that the whole ratings classification system revamp is being held back primarily by one man.D: As it stands the Government appears to be considering a move to introduce an R18+ classification to their system which currently tops out at MA15+ which means the ‘worst’ offenders of titles (such as GTA) will still be available to those aged over fifteen. This has to be the ‘right’ next step surely?
P: Well yeah it's been a hot topic for several years now and it's definitely the right step, but unfortunately our good friend Michael “Get Off My Lawn” Atkinson is still single-handedly preventing any change to the horrifically outdated system, not only that but he's also trying to limit discussion and publicity of the subject, because he knows just about everyone in Australia disagrees with him.
With the system as it is now, the rating's board have no choice sometimes but to rate a game at MA15+ which anywhere else would be an R18 game, allowing access to people whom are younger than intended, and in other cases, such as GTA, the game needs to be toned down before being sold here.D: Coming from worst games in a purely political sense back to best games in the traditional sense, if you had to redraw your earlier top ten list, but solely for Xbox 360 games, what might that look like? It doesn’t necessarily have to be ten, but which games do you think everyone who owns a 360 should at least try?
P: I'll try and spin up a top-10 but I'll no-doubt forget something, here goes:
1. Rock Band 2
2. Lost Odyssey
3. Beautiful Katamari
5. Batman: Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360)
6. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge
8. Brutal Legend
9. Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock
10. Defense Grid: The Awakening
Stuff like Fallout 3
really needs to be in that list, but I took it and a couple of others out to keep some of the more obscure ones in the list, for the sake of having some stuff in there that people aren't as likely to have played. I absolutely can't recommend Lost Odyssey
enough to anyone who was a bit disappointed by the large battle-system changes brought on by Final Fantasy XII
.D: What are you looking forward to most this year from a gaming perspective?
P: Duke Nukem Forever
will certainly be interesting. I think it's completely impossible for a game to be worth a 14 or whatever it is year wait, but it looks pretty good from the trailers so far. I'm also interested to see where rhythm games are going from here. The next game in the GH series has a lot to live up to; and I doubt they'll be introducing pro modes, so they'll need to do something pretty spectacular in order to keep things interesting.
One of my friends will effectively be forcing me at lion-point to buy Diablo 3
as well, if we're lucky Blizzard might release another screenshot this year.D: When it comes to the next blockbuster title, do you often pre-order titles, or just pick them up as and when you can?
P: I'm usually pretty happy to wait, but I do pre-order the stuff that I'm really into, obviously Rock Band games and certain RPGs and the like I grab ASAP. But I try to spend about $30-$40 on games in general unless I'm really stoked about it. There's plenty of good cheapies out there that I haven't played yet.D: Looking at your TA profile, you have around 45,000G, but that translates to around 90,000 TA score meaning your TA ratio sits at an impressive 1.95. Do you intentionally seek out those games with the harder achievements, or are your stats here at TA, such as your score, ratio and completion percentage, just a bit of fun?
P: I was for a short while doing my best to maintain the 2.0 ratio that I had a while back, but it was far too limiting, and while I do enjoy the stats that TA provides, I try not to let them take control of the games I'm playing too much. I'm trying to improve my Completion % at the moment and I'm enjoying going back through some of my older games again.D: Can we get a snap and quick walk through of your gaming setup where you settle in to work on boosting those TA stats?
P: Unfortunately I'm living with the folks at the moment, in half a room while I'm waiting for my house to get built so there isn't much to show at the moment, but still, here it is.
A collection of horrifically tortured instruments, both real and fake. Don't knock the unpainted bass, it sounds great! There's a whole bunch more plastic guitars, but that's the main two I use at the moment.D: How long would you say you spend on your Xbox on any given week?
P: Probably 20-30 hours. Far too much, and yet far too little.D: And is that all gaming time, or do you head to the Xbox for DVDs and such too?
P: Sometimes, although I'm more inclined to use my laptop for that stuff. I can't sit still for long enough to watch a movie from a computer chair.D: As an IT and gadget nerd (like me!) what do you feel could be brought to the Xbox in the next major dashboard update?
P: I can't stand the dashboard in any way shape or form. It's bulky, ugly, unintuitive, terribly slow and just plain horrible. Anything short of a complete dashboard redesign from the ground up is far too little if you ask me.
To just add one feature though, I'd either love to see the 360 add support for more video formats, or an internet browser; one that you could access from the guide menu, so you wouldn't need to quit the game you're playing. Or perhaps, a bit more realistically, I'd like a Panzer Tank, that can fly.D: And in closing, let’s talk about TrueAchievements. How did you find out about TA?
P: I found TA from being linked to some of the guides on here a few times, and after a while I started coming for the guides myself, and eventually signed up to post some stuff on people's friend feeds. Then after a while I took more of an interest in my stats and started going for achievements more often.D: Do you have a favourite aspect of TA? Something that keeps you coming back?
P: The news on the front page is awesome and it probably what keeps me coming back nearly every day. And I love seeing what my friends have been playing and being able to comment on it.D: What features would you like to see brought to the website in the future?
P: I've tried a couple of times to suggest a few new features in the forum, but they're pretty relentless in there (For good reasons), and tend to keep my ideas to myself now.
Something I'd love to see though is a “missables checklist” sort of thing. Sometimes guides are too intrusive and give you too much information, when you're otherwise quite happy to play through the game yourself normally, but just don't want to miss anything along the way. A missables checklist, would give the minimum necessary information required for a whole game to make sure you don't miss any achievements without spoiling any details.
The list would also include notes on things like the hidden “packages” in GTA
or the flags in Assassin's Creed
, which aren't technically missable but almost impossible without use of guide, so it's a good idea to avoid collecting them until you're ready to get all of them at once.
Apart from that, I'd just like to see the achievement badges come back! (Y'know Single Player, Stackable, Collectable, etc.) And this is probably a stupid idea, but an average/fastest game completion time on the game pages would be pretty cool.D: And to finish, here’s your soapbox on the front page! Is there anything you’d like to say to the rest of our community?
P: Let's see... can I get away with some arbitrary shoutouts and gratuitous plugs here? >_>
- All the people in #boganhero and #ta on Gamesurge.
- A special shoutout to psxfreak101
for 1king http://www.trueachievements.com/Avatar-The-Burning-Eart....htm
- Little Miss CJ, 'cause she stinks.
- Happy Birthday Catie-pants, if you read this, y'old bat. :P
Best of luck to all the people affected by the Queensland floods, cyclones, droughts, plagues, breakouts of the black death, toad-rains and serial tickle-torturers that they have been experiencing. Remember, we're all too happy to help you guys out with anything we can, just remember us when we start whinging when Victoria catches fire again.
To the TA Community; for all you contributors, volunteers, Newshounds, Content Managers, Admins, Donators, and of course TrueAchievement
himself, you do a great job, and we all appreciate the hard work you guys put into the site.
And finally to the rest of you, spread those Virals! Keep it confined to here though, if I find that some of you are going down the street tackling random people and giving them big sloppy kisses, I'm personally going to come to your house and kick your butt, got it?
If you want to see some more of your friendly neighborhood Spudderman, you can check me out on Youtube
, Mainly vids of rhythm games and RPGs, I'll also be posting updates on my house as it gets built very shortly.
Take it easy!
A record for the longest CI yet? Thanks to Potato Handle for his time, his insights and his cooperation! Leave your thoughts in the thread below, and as ever...
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!