This Sunday we’ll be talking to a member nominated by the community, http://www.trueachievements.com/TOO+Taco+Bob.htm
. His Gamertag is one many of you will be undoubtedly be familiar with in his role as a Site Helper and his numerous forum postings.
____________________________________DavieMarshall: Hi TOO Taco Bob! Can I call you Bob, or perhaps just Taco?
TOO Taco Bob: Whichever you find best, as long as you don’t call me Taco Bell. You’d be surprised how many people make that mistake.D: I’ll waste no time in asking what on earth your Gamertag is all about. It’s one of the tags I see around here more often that bugs me the most. What’s the story there?
T: I get this question a lot and I wish I had a good story for it, but honestly it was just the first thing that popped into my head. I created this gamertag over 7 years ago and I have to say, looking back, I was a pretty weird kid. The actual origin of the name comes from a combination of my obsession with the name Bob and a South Park episode I saw the day before. You know, the one where Cartman’s hand turns into Jennifer Lopez and sings her “Taco, Taco, Burrito” song. Like I said, I was a pretty odd kid. As for the TOO, that is a more recent addition reflecting my clan’s name, The Obsidian Order.D: And in your capacity of Site Helper at TA, what kinds of things do you get up to that some of our readers may not know about?
T: Well I used to do a lot more when I was a Content Mod, but I stepped down awhile back after I lost enthusiasm for the job. Probably had something to do with the fact that we had to reflag every game for the 3rd time. As for now, I do my best to try to unlock and update secret achievements that are missing from the site. Although since the xbox.com redesign there isn’t much I can do, since the uploading script isn’t functioning. I also used to keep a list of all the missing secrets for the rest of the staff to use and I plan to get back to updating it as soon as we can update secret achievements again.D: And whereabouts in this world are you from? We had our first interviewee from Singapore last week, where in the world have we landed this time?
T: Nowhere exotic unfortunately. My current residence resides in Harrisonburg, Virginia while I attend college at James Madison University.D: And how do you find it? Are you happy there?
T: To be honest, as long as I have electricity and internet access, I’d probably be happy wherever I lived. As long as I can play my games .D: Let’s move on to something quite unique that our readers will likely not know about. When you were nominated I was told something about you which I found quite surprising, which you later confirmed for me. You don’t have a colon as the result of a complicated medical history. Can you tell us a little more about that?
T: Well a few years back I was diagnosed with an acute case of Ulcerative Colitis. The doctors tried medical therapy, but nothing I took seemed to keep the condition under control. Eventually it was concluded that surgery was my only option and so I had my large intestine removed. However, there is a bit of a twist to this story. About six month ago, a year after my second and final surgery, I found out that my condition was actually caused by a drug called Accutane, which I had taken several years prior to my diagnoses.D: Does the fact that this was potentially exacerbated by drugs you were taking a few years earlier worry or annoy you at all? After all, when we take drugs in sheer good faith upon doctor’s orders, we expect the best outcome.
T: Annoyance would be an understatement. Needless to say I am still pissed about the whole thing. Especially since the pharmaceutical company that developed the drug had studies that showed the connection, but failed to adequately update their warnings label! At least I’ll never have to worry about my weight. It’s kind of hard to pack on the pounds, when you use the restroom upwards to 7 or 8 times a day .D: You did however tell me in your PM, the upside of this is you spend a lot of free time gaming! How much can you pack in on any given week?
T: Well when physical activities aren’t an option, you usually end up sitting on your ass a lot. Normally I average around 40 hours a week, but that number can easily jump into the high 50s if I’m not particularly busy. College life, eh?D: And is much of that single player gaming, or are you big on multiplayer with friends?
T: I would say it averages around the same. I do enjoy a good single player game, but I also regularly play Call of Duty: Black Ops
and Halo: Reach
with my clanmates. Most of it boils down to what game I am currently playing and where the achievements take me.D: How about a snap of the gaming set up? We all love colorful pictures!
T: Sorry about the quality, I had to resort to my camera phone. D: If you could have your dream gaming set up, what might you add or change in your existing one? I think my main thing at the moment would be space. I have to constantly disassemble my Guitar Hero drums and shift furniture to play Kinect.
T: Well my current setup is a bit crowded, but I already have a new desk, with much more space; I just haven’t gotten around to setting it up. Besides that though, I would love to have another high-quality monitor. As you can probably tell from the picture, I run dual monitors, which I alternate between my PC and 360. Unfortunately one of them isn’t exactly modern, so if I could afford it, I would definitely replace it. In addition to that, I have also been looking for something new to store my gaming collection in, because it has quickly over-expanded its current DVD rack.D: Now, as well as our gaming set up which we all have tweaked just the way we like it, we all have our own way of approaching a new game. I, for example, will always tackle the single player element first before opening up multiplayer. There’s not much beyond that, but it’s the way I prefer it.
Your approach you described to me is akin to a surgeon’s procedure! Can you walk us through it?
T: Well I don’t so much have a procedure, as I have a set of guidelines. A list of rules that I like to follow, so that my gaming isn’t all about achievements and I can actually enjoy a game, before worrying about the grind. I won’t go into all of them, because I’m sure everyone doesn’t want to read about my nitpicking and OCD tendencies, but I’ll cover what I believe to be the big ones.
First and foremost, I don’t select games based on their difficulty. I don’t play games because of easy achievements and I don’t avoid those with impossible ones. If a game interests me, I play it, plain and simple.
Second, once I’ve put a game into my system, I’m committed to it. As a completionist, I strive to 100% all of my games, regardless of how hard a game is or if I even enjoy it. Of course I will occasionally make exceptions, but those usually only involve ridiculous multiplayer achievements that require hundreds of hours of boosting.
Finally, I do not look at a game’s achievement list until I have beaten its campaign at least once. I realize this sounds a bit odd, but I’m very particular about spoilers. Plus I find that if I know about an achievement, I’ll go out of my way to get it, even if I’m not focusing on it at the moment.
Some other rules include boosting only when necessary, work on only one game at a time, and like you, singleplayer before multiplayer. But again, I won’t bore everyone by going into detail.D: With a Gamerscore of 171k plus, it’s clearly working for you! Has this approach of not looking at achievements lists ever cost you dear in terms of missable achievements, and a lengthy replay?
T: Numerous times. It is especially painful in RPGs, which tends to be one of my favorite genres. One specific example would be Eternal Sonata
, which caused me to do an additional playthrough on top of the already required two. I’ve started to learn some ways around this though and I’m not above asking someone about missables, as long as they don’t contain spoilers, especially if I think I’m in for a long game.D: To earn that Gamerscore takes a fair few discs being spun in the console. You’re a bit like me in the sense that you attempt to game on a budget as it is a hobby which can cost you very dear if you buy lots on a whim.
T: Indeed, I’m very frugal when it comes to gaming. I never buy a game full price and rarely purchase new. Usually I’ll rent most new releases through Gamefly and then buy them when the price drops significantly. Although I do like to collect games that I really enjoy, I also tend to do quite a bit of trading with other gamers, which helps keep me within my budget.D: You told me you enter a lot of competitions and win often enough to make it worthwhile too. Any tips? I never seem to win anything... ever! What are some of the prizes you’ve won?
T: It is hard to remember it all, but over the past six months some of the things I’ve won are Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
, Fallout: New Vegas
, Front Mission Evolved
, Dead Rising 2 (Xbox 360)
, Mafia II
, and Halo: Reach
The key is to always be on the lookout for the next best thing. Usually when a site starts giving away stuff for free, they will be very generous in order to gather a large userbase. Points2Shop, Bing Club, Lockerz; these were all great places to get free stuff when they first launched, but now they’ve jacked the requirements up to where it is no longer worth it. Many people right now are using the Bing Rewards program to get some free Microsoft Points from just using the Bing search engine daily, but I can guarantee you that it won’t last forever. At some point, they will start requiring you to search more for fewer points and maybe even increase the point requirements for redeeming prizes.
As for me, right now I’m entering a lot of Twitter competitions. All you need to do is a simple tweet or retweet and you’re entered. Although your chances of winning a specific sweepstakes are pretty slim, there are just so many, that you are bound to win sooner or later.
I think the biggest thing though, is that nothing is free. Although these sort of things don’t cost money, they do require a lot of time and patience, so it is completely understandable that some people don’t think it is worth it. But that just makes the odds better for me .D: Now let’s dive a little deeper. Can we get a little bit of console background? What consoles have you owned?
T: I was a Nintendo child growing up. The first console I had ever owned was the original NES. Even when my grandmother bought me a Sega Genesis, I still spent more time playing it. That is, until I upgraded to the Super Nintendo. It was probably one of my favorite gaming systems of all time, second only to the 360 of course . Then several years later, I received the Nintendo 64 as a Christmas present. I remember opening my first gift, seeing Star Fox
, and getting so exited. My mom had hid the N64 behind a chair though, so I got really upset when I finished opening everything under the tree and didn’t see it. I’ll be honest, I cried. That is until my mom reveled the last present, laughing .
Next I had a PS2, though that was short lived, as it broke only a few months after I bought it. If that wasn’t enough, all my games for it got stolen when I tried to sell them at a yard sale. I eventually got another one, but that wasn’t until after I had an Xbox. Now that I think about it, they should both still be lying about here somewhere. Finally, we come to the Xbox 360, which I got at launch. Haven’t touched another console since.
All in all, I was a pretty lucky kid and was able to grow up surrounded with the games that I love.D: And your first game? It seems as though 90% of gamers here at TA started with their journey with Mario! Are you any different?
T: Of course I played Super Mario Bros
., but my first time was with Zelda
. I was around 5 or 6 so I don’t remember much, but I do recall playing the original Legend of Zelda
on the NES while at a friends.D: And if that first game had achievements, what might your first ‘Achievement Unlocked’ have been?
T: Die 100 times. About the only thing I can remember from back then was dying, a lot.D: You and me both. Rage quit existed then too I should point out. Of the consoles you’ve had, which one game would you like to see appear as an XBLA game in it’s original form if it were possible?
T: Mega Man
, the classic ones. The X series wasn’t bad, but what I wouldn’t give to play the original 8-bit saga. D: Speaking of console history, let’s speak a little about the future. Have you heard of the very strong rumours that Sony have shelved the PS4 (at least for now) on the basis that they believe the future is in mobile/handheld gaming? What do you say to that?
T: Good. I’m happy with the current gen, and I’m not ready to spend half a grand on buying the next big thing. Though I highly doubt that they will stop making consoles, I’m glad to see that it won’t be in the next year or two. Handheld gaming will always have its benefits, but part of the reason people play video games is to relax. Not saying you can’t do that with a 3DS, but it doesn’t compare to lounging on your couch and playing on a big screen TV. Sony is only kidding themselves if they think the iPad is the future.D: On the topic of mobile gaming, do you have any plans to get a Windows Phone 7 to earn Gamerscore on the move?
T: I’ve always been torn on smart phones. They are a useful thing to have, but I don’t think I would use it enough to justify paying a data plan. Needless to say, if I were to ever get one, it would probably be the Windows Phone.D: What if you’re not gaming? What other kinds of hobbies do you get up to?
T: Well I do enjoy casually messing around with design software, both video and image editing. I’ve also dabbled with 3D modeling and animation and have taken a few classes, but I don’t think I’d ever make a career out of it. The biggest thing though would have to be programming, which is what I’m currently going to school for. Got to do something with all those problem solving skills I’ve developed by playing video games over the years.D: Do you have a lot of other interests beyond your Xbox?
T: I guess I could be considered a bit of a movie buff, plus I’m a pretty big geek for anime. None of that slice of life stuff though.D: What is your proudest achievement in life away from the Xbox so far?
T: That’s a tough one. I guess it would have to be graduating high school 4th in my class. Nothing special, I know. But it will soon be topped by my graduation from college.D: Moving swiftly back to games, what is your proudest achievement so far on the Xbox?
T: King of the Palace
from Devil May Cry 4
. Not the highest of my achievements, TA ratio-wise, but easily one of the most difficult. D: And of the many games you’ve played so far, which one or ones have been the best titles you’ve played?
T: I’ve played so many good games, it is really hard to choose. I’d have to go with BioShock (Xbox 360)
, and Super Meat Boy
. Again though, tough choice.D: And of course, we’ve all played a few stinkers, which games would you categorically advise people to body swerve like the plague?
T: ArcaniA: Gothic 4
and Divinity II: Ego Draconis
. Both are western RPGs with a similar fantasy setting. However, both are unpolished, glitchy piles of crap. There are only a few games that I have gotten little to no enjoyment out of, and these two are on that list. D: And what are your picks for defining game or games of 2011? Do you have any preorders down?
and Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
has some of the best graphics I have ever seen, add co-op and RPG elements, all in a compelling post-apocalyptic setting and you got yourself a sale. I immensely enjoyed Borderlands
and if this is even remotely similar, then I can’t wait. As for Skyrim, I’ve been anxiously awaiting a new Elder Scrolls
game ever since I finished my 250 hour playthrough on Oblivion. I just watched the newest trailer today and honestly, I got choked up. There might have even been tears.D: You told me a little bit about a clan of yours called The Obsidian Order which has existed since 2004. Despite the name you say it’s nothing too serious. In essence you’re a bunch of gamers who prefer a good time over ‘being cut-throat bastards’. Can you tell us a bit about the clan, and your views on multiplayer gaming? It sounds like you’ve had some bad experiences in the past?
T: As you said, we are all about having a good time. We were originally established in Star War: Battlefront
, but now we aren’t specific to any game. Although a majority of our members do play Call of Duty
regularly. The biggest thing is that we value attitude above all else. Regardless of skill, anyone is welcome to join as long as they respect others.
We do play competitively from time to time, but try to avoid sites such as GameBattles, since we have had nothing but bad experiences from that site. It seems to attract the worst Xbox Live has to offer.D: Do you think then that multiplayer achievements are to be cursed and removed from games? As some past interviewees have argued, many are uncreative and promote repetitive gameplay elements and not co-operative team work.
T: I won’t say that they can’t be done right, but as most examples prove, they are usually only used to get people to play a game’s multiplayer to death. I’d rather be rid of them, both good and bad, and leave the achievements strictly to singleplayer and co-op.
Also get rid of DLC achievements too, while you’re at it . The completionist side of me can’t afford it anymore.D: But on the whole you feel Microsoft hit a winning formula with Gamerscore? Is there any way you would tweak it, or any additional stats you’d include?
T: Absolutely. In my mind, a big part of gaming has always been about reaching milestones and accomplishing ridiculous tasks. All Microsoft had to do was to add a number and gamers are now rewarded for things that they have always been doing. Though I do think Gamerscore is often a misrepresentation, since a game like Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Burning Earth
is worth the same as something as hard as Lost Planet 2
. I think most on TA would agree, since that is pretty much the premise of the site; to re-evaluate the value of achievements.D: I think we here at TA are stat mad, so for most of us just using TA as the benchmark system would be the way to go!
T: Agreed. Even better, if Microsoft were to ever adopt the system TA uses, then the stats would be nearly 100% accurate since they would account for all 360 gamers. All except those without internet access, of course.D: There’s never a good way to start to bring these interviews to a close as there’s so much more we could chat about, but we are starting to rack up the text now! Is there anything else you’d like to say here for the community to see? Anything goes!
T: First I’d just like to say thanks; to you, those who nominated me, and the rest of the community. I honestly never thought I’d appear in one of these and I appreciate the time you took to make it happen.
And before I forget, my clan would kill me if I didn’t give them a mention, so a quick shout-out to all of The Obsidian Order clan members. Some of the best people I’ve ever met on Xbox Live. For those that are interested, you can find us over at www.tooclan.net
We thank TOO Taco Bob for his time in completing this interview and for finally resolving in my mind what the hell his Gamertag was all about. I always assumed the guy had an unhealthy obsession with taco's and simply existed on tacos and tacos alone. You learn something every day. Not all of it ground breaking, but all of it useful in it's own way!
As usual, future interview slots are open so feel free to toss your name or your friends into the ring by dropping me a PM. Full details below!
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