It's the weekend again, and several nominations later we'll be bringing you the Community Interview of Smurfquake
. Without further ado, here's the goods!
____________________________________D: Hi smurfquake! Thanks for taking part in this Sundays community interview!
S: First of all, I'm greatly honored that enough people picked me to be the interviewee this week. It means a lot to me, and I've wanted to be the reciepent of one ever since I first saw the feature on the home page. Thanks to everyone who nominated me!D: So starting out slowly, where are you from?
S: I'm originally from San Diego. My dad was in the navy for 21 years, and SD has a huge naval base, one of the biggest in the US in fact. He was stationed there for a while, and that's where I was born, it's right on the Pacific Ocean too, so you could probably see it from the window of the room where I was born. I only lived there for 3 years until we moved back to Mississippi. A ton of my family is from the Starkville area, and it was just the right place to go back to.D: And how old are you now?
S: I'm now 20 years old and attend Mississippi State university where I'm majoring in Kiniseology (basically a fancy word for 'sports science') with an emphasis in Sports Studies focusing on Communication. I'm a sophomore right now, but only about a month left until spring semester is over and the summer begins. I have a bit of a broken up summer, no school for May or July, but I'm taking two summer courses in June.
Fall is really when my major starts to take shape though, all the basics will be out of the way and my junior year will start with a lot of sports-related classes. I picked Kiniseology/Sports Studies because I want to be a sports broadcaster later in life. Sports are one of my primary passions, and I've always wanted to give my opinions on games as they are happening. I don't have a preference to what sport I would call either.D: Mississippi is a place I hear mentioned a lot, but actually know exceptionally little about. Is there anything interesting you can tell us about Mississippi?
S: It's basically the birth place of modern music in a way. The blues originated in Mississippi, whether it be the story of Robert Johnson selling his soul to the Devil to be able to play blues like no-one before or after him. Or the Starkville area being home to one of the greatest in 'Cool Papa' Bell. Blues have been a huge influence on this region. When you enter Mississippi at the border from any state surrounding it, we proudly proclaim, "The Birthplace of Blues". I'd be remiss to also not tell you about some of the best black athletes to ever play football coming out of the state. Jerry Rice (only the GREATEST WR of all-time) was born around the Starkville area, Walter Payton (one of the 5 best RBs ever) went to Jackson State, and Steve McNair who took the Titans to their only SB appearance and tragically died last year went to Alcorn State in the Delta. Oh, and a couple entertainers named Jim Henson (creator of the Muppets), Elvis Presley, Oprah, and Faith Hill (coincidentally from Star, MS). As you can see Mississippi has a great history, and I love learning about it, and I thought I'd share that knowledge with my fellow TA'ers. While Jayour likes to think we're all rednecks in all actuality we're fairly smart people!D: As well as studying, do you work?
S: My job is one of the things that keeps me motivated. I have one of the best around, especially considering the fact that I'm a student and not out of college yet. I work at the campus radio station as a DJ during the evening from 6-8 PM CST. It's the most fun I've had making money in my life, and it combines two of my biggest passions (music and sports). You might ask, why does it involve sports? Well, I produce a weekday program from 5-6 called Southeastern Drive Time, it's a sports talk show hosted by my two bosses that deals with the sporting landscape of the Southeastern Conference. Anybody who is from America knows that the SEC is the best conference in college football without a second thought. But we're also *arguably* the best baseball conference as well (7 or 8 teams are currently in the Top 25 in the nation, INCLUDING my MSU Bulldogs!) and one of the best in both men's and women's basketball. I take extreme pride in my universities sports. And not just the big ones like football, basketball, and baseball. But also track and field (we are top ten in the nation currently!) and sports like men's/women's tennis and women's volleyball.D: So it’s clear to even the worlds worst detective that we’ve found ourselves another sports nut in this weeks community interview! Do you play at all?
S: I played high school basketball for my school, it's funny that our school didn't field a team until my junior year. So I started then and played my junior and senior years. I was the resident three point shooter for our squad and ended up hitting a fair few in my career. I'll always remember our first win as well! Being a small Christian school fielding its first ever sports team was hard, and we lost very often, but we finally managed to win a game one December night. And then we went out to celebrate (the guys and girls teams), then to a movie. And I ended up getting my first ever kiss that night. That relationship is over now, but I'll still always remember my first win and first kiss were the same night! Also, the only time I ever scored double digits was my last game as a senior (I had 10 points on a free throw and three 3s) and we ended up winning the game too. In college, I've taken up recreational tennis along with my brother, I try to regularly run/jog around the neighborhood at night as well. And I want to get in shape to play club rugby for State in the fall with my cousin. I've just picked up the sport, and started to understand it, and I absolutely have fallen in love with it. Just watching it is entertaining, I can't even imagine playing it!D: And is the DJing a temporary thing, or would you like to continue doing this for years to come?
S: The DJing is basically a student job, but I'd be open to oppurtunities to do it for a career. Obviously I want to be a sports broadcaster, but being a DJ would be a viable second option for me. I absolutely love the atmosphere and being able to be heard by many people over a long range! You can actually listen to us on the internet if you so chose! And we have had people comment and listen from Canada, Belgium, England, Australia, Italy, Russia, South Africa, everywhere! Many of the commenters say we're one of the best college-themed radio stations in the States!D: What would you say your best DJing experience is to date? I get the impression you enjoy the sports aspect of the show the most.
S: My best experiences are hearing the feedback both my bosses and the people give to me. I had a girlfriend from Virginia that listened in all the time, and she loved the fact she could hear me come on at nights and do what I love. A lot of my friends that go to State also love to listen. I'd say that it is an ongoing best moment then to be honest! But I do love being mentioned on the sports program, whether it be friendly ribbing because I cheer for UNC (North Carolina) or looking up scores to hand into my bosses. I feel honored to be recognized like I have been.D: Have you ever made any gaffes live on air, maybe hit the wrong button, played the wrong song?
S: Gaffes. Oh goodness. I've had a fair share. My first day on the job I left the auto segue (basically turning this off stops the next song from playing so I can talk) on after a song where I was supposed to talk. So I open the mic and start talking about the previous songs, and the next song started slowly, so about 15 seconds in you hear this other song starting over my voice, and I just turned off the mic and yelled out some choice words for making such a dumb mistake. I've mis-pronounced tough names, but that happens. Oh yeah! We were promoting an artist that was coming around the local area bars and the such by playing some of his CDs on air. Like songs off them. And I accidentally played a song that said shit in it! My boss called me on the phone, and was really nice about it, because I didn't know. And I immediately faded it out. You obviously can't say that word on the radio because the FCC prohibits it, so I was quite embarassed about that as well. D: So we’ve talked more about the sports element of your broadcasts, let’s come back to the music side of things. Who are your favourite bands and do you manage to squeeze them on the air?
S: The music side to the station has really made me branch out my musical tastes, before I was limited to few genres but now I love every single one out there (except anything to do with country, I will never enjoy country music). Before working there I hated Dave Matthews and stuff like that, now I can't get enough of it. My favorite bands tend to be harder than the stuff we play though: for example The Devil Wears Prada are my favorite band in their genre. In terms of format we play off of an adult alternative format, this includes artists like the aforementioned Dave Matthews as well as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Coldplay, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Nirvana, Jack Johnson, Bob Marley, etc. Also, my recent fascination has been with German music whether it be tanz-metall groups like Rammstein and Oomph! (my two favorite bands) or a recent discovery I made which was Scooter (a German trance/techno band). I really enjoy every kind of music and have about 9 days on my iTunes and always want more and more.D: Is there a verified playlist you have to stick to, or do you have largely free control over what goes out over the airwaves?
S: The playlist is pieced together from automation. Basically, I can't essentially choose every song, because the radio broadcasts 24/7 365 and at some points no DJ is on to change the music out. So it just automates it. I'm technically not supposed to change the music out, but I do often anyway! Just a song here and there. Say I want to listen to Jimmy Eat World, I just pull out a song I didn't as much prefer and put them in instead. But, shh! Don't tell my boss! Haha.D: There’s a lot of other questions I could ask about being a DJ, but we should talk about some games! First up, is the Xbox 360 your only gaming love, or do you have other consoles in your house?
S: I'd like to say that the 360 is basically all I play anymore. But I still dig up the older systems every once in a while and get back to some Mario Kart
or Mega Man
too.D: Achievements? Are you into them in a massive way or do they just ‘happen’ as you play?
S: And then the achievement question after that one. Obviously I said how I started with Halo 3
and wasn't at first into achievements. But now I go for them like crazy, and I have bought games just for the achievements occasionally, even though I prefer not to.D: If the first game you had ever played as a child had achievements, what might the hardest achievement in that game have been?
S: The hardest achievement in the original Legend of Zelda
would have to be complete the game without dying. Maybe with a little play on words, call it ''The Master's Sword''. My first achievement ever would be an amusing one in Legend of Zelda
, "Do you know where you're going?" you get that for exploring 30 screens on the game without doing anything story related.D: So you were a NES generation child. I sense a continuing trend here on TA!
S: I had a NES, but the SNES was really the point in time where I fell in love with video games as a medium and they became an obsession. From the original Star Fox
and the terrifying prospect of fighting Andross to one of my favorite platformers of all-time in Yoshi's Island 2
. To my favorite game ever made: Super Mario RPG - Legend of the Seven Stars
. I could not get enough of that game, my main introduction to RPGs (probably my favorite genre). I was stuck on the fire dragon as a kid forever, until I went back a couple of years later with a full restart of the game and plowed through him afterwards. I still hate the fact that Geno and Mallow haven't been used in any more games since then. Also the prospect of Bowser on Mario's team having been kicked out of his castle is hiliarious!D: Were there any games that you remember being really bad? We all have fond memories, but just as many horrible ones. I remember a WWII flight simulator ‘lite’ on the SNES, probably called Blazing Skies. It really wasn’t great. Heck, the game wasn’t even good or average, but as my parents had bought it for me, I forced myself to play it for hours a day. I came to enjoy it in a roundabout way in the end though!
S: One of my least favorite games ever was Final Fantasy VIII
, I HATED it. I just got not get into the drawing system, and the characters were extremely static to me. Seifer was intriguing, but I felt like Squall just didn't fit right for me. I expect to get flak for that from some of the commenters, but it's just my personal belief. I'm trying to remember some other popular games that I really didn't enjoy. Actually, as a PC RTS fan, I never got much into Starcraft
! I'm not saying it was a bad game, but it just didn't have the draw for me that Command and Conquer
or Age of Empires
have. I know that's heresy in the PC gamer community, but I just didn't see the immense draw for it at all. D: As a complete package, I would say that the Xbox 360 has pretty much everything you’d need and probably more besides. Having been spoiled with that, handheld gaming is a sub-par experience for me now. Is there anything you think is missing from the Xbox 360 that could be included in the next generation console?
S: The Xbox 360 is undoubtedly one of the best consoles ever. From (IMO) taking a system that was the worst last generation to the best in the next generation is quite an accomplishment to me. The achievement system is altogether brilliant and rewards the completionist in me like nothing ever has in the past, and that's what got me extremely addicted. I used to be the kid that only played the 360 for Halo 3
, I loved that game's multiplayer so much as well as the campaign and would spend hours with friends just goofing around and talking trash on match-making. I guess my achievement addiction started then, as I wanted to get all of them on Halo 3, the first game I ever 1000'd, it wasn't that hard, my brother had a 360 before me so I had practiced match-making and the hardest part of the achievements (the Lone Wolves stuff) a lot beforehand. So when I went in on my account as a level 1 I was tearing through people and ended up getting a Killtacular rather quickly and all the other assorted ones as well.
As for things missing from the 360, hmm. You know, I think I speak for a lot of people in this community when I say that we want more original RPGs! Hits like Lost Odyssey
and Infinite Undiscovery
have been great, but I feel like their could be much more done there. Obviously that isn't tech. I'd like to see Kinect more integrated into different games like shooters and the such (yet still have the option to play with original controllers!). I'm trying to think what else could improve it. Ah yes, the MSP point system is great and all, but I hate having like 40 odd points left over because the thing I bought was like 560 MSP or something. That's just annoying and a small gripe, but I'd like to see that improved somehow. Also, as I've seen a far few many people suggest, I'd love to see PC gamers able to play with 360 console gamers on certain multiplayer games. Take for example Command and Conquer Red Alert 3
, if I could play that on the PC and get gamerscore for it that'd be the premier method to choose. Just because console RTS's lose something in translation.D: How do you feel about the Windows Phone 7 platform featuring WP7 titles. Is it something that interests you, or is it lacking any real substance to pique your interest?
S: Funny you mention that! I bought into the hype and asked for a WP7 for Christmas! I can't say I've been more impressed with what they've done with it. I love the marketplace for it, easy to use, exclusive DoTW's. And the free game offered for it in Flowerz (WP)
was a great Bejeweled
clone (even though it was frustrating to complete!). I'm currently working on finishing up Rocket Riot (WP)
on it (that 5000 enemies is a slog and a half!). Also, I shouldn't have bought Frogger (WP)
. That game is damn hard with some ridiculous achievements. I look forward to seeing what the deal is this week and every week! The one complaint I have is that some games if you press the back button during them or go to check a text message it won't let you load the game back up quickly enough. Didn't experience that problem with Flowerz
, but Rocket Riot
is pretty unforgiving about it, this applies to if you let the screen go idle (to black) during a game of Rocket Riot
it also exits you back to the title screen even if it's paused. Very, very annoying! D: Looking at your TA stats we’re quite similar. Comparable completion and a very close averaged TA ratio. Do you put a lot of value into your stats here at TA and consciously try to improve them?
S: The main draw of this site is obviously the TA Ratio, an ingenius way to track a gamer's true merit in gamerscore. And I do take pride in my 1.6, a pretty decent ratio overall. It'll plummet soon enough though as I start a medley of easy games for the competition I'm taking part in April. But, I'm sure I'll raise it up again, and I do enjoy the stats! Completion percentage is something I really focus on as well as completions overall (considering I have 40 arcades and retails done). I love all the different stats and such on here. And the addition of improved leaderboards is a Godsend! They are so amazingly customizable it isn't even funny! Great job TA!D: Will you avoid games with notoriously high TA ratios and grinds to avoid your stats taking a nose dive?
S: The only games I avoid are games with glitched/unobtainable achievements. Like the EA server closing bullcrap or some of the arcades that have glitched achievements. I'd want to try for 100% completion one day and those would always be sitting there unfinished otherwise (not like I'll ever get there anyway, bu I digress). I've put Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe
Universe on my card, so there's the shorthand answer for you right there. ;)D: What’s your toughest completion that you’re proud of?
S: Toughest completion, good question. I'm really proud of doing Gears of War 2
finally. Really proud of finishing Left 4 Dead
1/2 as well! Hard games to complete? Halo 3
just because it was my first, was a great completion. And my best according to TA is Guitar Hero: World Tour
. I'm not quite sure why it has such a high ratio (I hate to sound arrogant), but it was relatively easy to me apart from the singing and guitar specific chievs. The grind to 1 million dollars was incredibly long and thank goodness for fan vocals. Pro-tip for that achivement for everyone going for it, haven't seen it ever mentioned. But No Sleep Til Brooklyn is obviously the song to do fan vocals for. But also download the free metal pack featuring Chimaira, TDWP, and Unearth and play a set of NSTB, Broken Glass, and Grave of Oppurtunity. It's technically more efficient than just NSTB. D: If a game has DLC bringing the total to 1250GS, do you consider a title complete at 1000GS off the shelf if you haven’t bought the DLC to enable those achievements? I’ve never agreed with Xbox.com saying my 1000GS in Borderlands is incomplete even though I never shelled out for the DLC packs.
S: I'll have to differ in opinion from you their. And say that I don't consider a game complete until I have all the possible gamerscore in it. This mentality is sometimes frustrating to me. Especially when I came to Guitar Hero: World Tour
and Mad Moxxi
. What a slog that was. But, I have a proud 1750 in that game now to show it! Either way, an 1000 in a game with DLC should be looked upon as complete both on this site and everywhere, I'm just anal about it really. D: Looking at Xbox games, how would a top three list look if you threw one together based on time spent playing the games?
S: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
#1. But Halo 3
would be second, just because I spent maybe more time playing that game's multiplayer than I even did on Elder Scrolls
! No counter to prove it, but I was literally playing it every night until I really started to get into achievements. #3 is a tough one. I love the Left 4 Dead
series (no matter how frustrating some of the achivements are). But I'd have to say [Insert music game here] because I'm basically obsessed with them. I'm actually #1 on the music/rhythm leaderboard TA score-wise in Mississippi! Very proud of that.D: Oblivion is a game which people love, but that had it's fair share of quirks. What big improvements are you hoping for in Skyrim?
S: Big improvements for Skyrim
? Small niggle here, but the fact you couldn't drop some 'key quest items' in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
completely pissed me off. I know that's incredibly small. But doing all the missions you'll end up with like 10-30 things you just can't drop! Takes up space in your inventory, and I'm the kind of person that has to have a lot of space in it at all times for looting and reselling! Also, I really hope they make bows more useful in this iteration, I've never really used them because they were almost useless to me, especially considering spells could supplant them for long range fighting at most times. Other than that, I really hope they don't make the terrain too monotonous in this one. Even though I doubt they will! OH! And I think I speak for Elder Scrolls fans everywhere when I say that Mark/Recall and Levitate BETTER be in this one! I was so disappointed they left both out last game! And also a return to factions like the Morag Tong, Temple, and Guards like in Morrowind would be welcome too. And put in Almsivi/Divine Intervention and bring back Temples! Loved them in Morrowind! And one thing I just thought of is limiting the crashes and such, me being the player I am those long hours I racked up in Oblivion and Morrowind started to cause the game to crash towards the tail end of my files, if they could improve that it'd be the icing on the cake. And: CO-OP PLAY BETHESDA.D: As a chap who manages to invest a lot of time into his Xbox can we get an idea of how much time a week you can spend gaming, and also a picture of your Xbox setup?
S: I spend about, 20-30 hours a week playing the 360 on average. I actually used to play it much more than I do now! But I've decided to start a more healthier lifestyle (which involves more studying!) and branch out a little. I still get my gaming time in every week though! And my set-up is probably the worst one featured so far, but I'm quite proud of it! Here it is...D: Do you have the same level of excitement for any other games coming out this year? Arkham City is my ‘hotly anticipated’ title.
S: Well, as I purchase a majority of my games secondhand I don't know if I'll be tempted to buy something day one this year besides Skryim
. However, Rage
looks amazing and I might pick it up if the reviewers say it is anything like Borderlands
at all. I'm excited about the different customizations offered in the game, and the enemies look intense! I've actually never played Batman: Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360)
, but Arkham City
I must say has tempted my interest! Looks like an amazing sequel, and I'll have to pick up the first at some point. Later on the new CoD might be good too, as always. And I'll also be busily watching the downloadable gaming space for things like From Dust
, just unique games that look flat-out impressive.D: Are there any games which you think might flop, or recent blockbuster titles which have let you down. I ask as this week I’ve been playing Black Ops. I gave it three stars here on TA and to be honest, consider that a generous score.
S: Honestly, I can't judge it fully. But Halo: Reach
's beta did not impress me at all, and I subsequently did not buy the game. I'm sure I'll get it eventually, but I got put off by the beta for it. And even though I loved the multiplayer on Battlefield: Bad Company 2
I felt like the single player was tacked on, which you should never feel that way from a game. The recent surge in tacked-on multiplayer has kind of left me pretty upset as well, some games should just be single player only and leave it at that!D: Sadly, it’s time to start wrapping things up. Continuing to look ahead into 2011, do you have any gamer goals set up? Any milestones you’d like to hit before the year is out?
S: I want to hit 100,000 gamerscore by the end of the year. Also it'd be nice to get to 100 completions overall and improve my completion percentage to at least 85%, getting to 4,000 achievements overall would also be grand. And maybe I'll finally complete some of my harder games like Guitar Hero II
, and Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
(gah, that one is so difficult!) Other than that, enjoying my extreme backlog of games will be my main goal! (over 100 unplayed arcades and at least 25-30 retails). And staying level-headed about achievements, I'm guilty of sometimes just playing a game for them, and I need to more enjoy myself because games are an entertainment medium, and I need to treat it less like a chore and more like a fun pastime!D: And finally, the soapbox! Is there anything you’d like to get across to the readers of this weeks interview?
S: I'd like to thank everyone in this amazing community, especially those who nominated me! The job these people do for this site is tremendous, and sometimes we forget just how much work they do behind the scenes to get it all out in an easy, approachable format. This IS the best 360 site on the web, not just for achievements, but as a site and a place to visit. It's one of my home pages, and I frequent it every day. Individual thanks to my two real world friends Cadhoo
for being awesome friends, both are on the website but everyone goad the latter into going for achievements (he doesn't), I've successfully converted the former though! Be remiss to not mention my first Halo buddy Magnus Alderis, met him on team doubles one day and we've been friends ever since! Ultron 18
is also a close friend that I talk to on a regular basis, even though we met through the worst way possible (Mad Moxxi
arenas, UGH). A final thanks to my English friends Makker
(this guy has the sexiest accent on the planet, and go wish him a belated Happy Birthday that was this week!) and the power couple of Charlimander
The couple that games together stays together! I talk to both every day and I'm actually skyping them both right now! I know Jay nominated me for sure, and I loved his interview and I'm happy to be doing one of my own! The only positive thing I ever got from Shadowrun
was meeting these two people!
Cheers TA for this oppurtunity!
And that wraps up this weeks read with DJ Smurfquake. If you'd like to be featured in next weeks slot and have some interesting stories to tell, make sure to get in touch with your details. The contact details given below as always!
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 detailing what would make an interview with your nomination a good read to DavieMarshall