TA Community Interview - Darklights

By Jonathan Barnes, 7 years ago
The membership of TA is, in the words of Nintendo’s CEO Iwata Satoru, “wide and deep;” from unemployed teens up to business executives, our community is diverse in age, gender, nationality, income, education and experience. Every so often, we seem to uncover a member with a really fascinating tidbit about them. This week’s interview with Darklights certainly qualifies.

With that in mind, sit back, relax, grab a cup of coffee/tea and enjoy this edition of The Gamish Inquisition!

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obj - There’s a story behind every gamertag. What’s yours? I’m assuming that you develop your own photographs of various people in a shanty-like darkroom full of darklights.

DL - Nothing so sinister, in the early days of the internet I used Perfectdark the legendary Rare game. Mainly because I couldn’t think of anything else to use, it turns out that people didn’t like chatting to Perfectdark due to its evil undertones. So it became Perfectlight, people seemed to like this name a lot more, from there it was just a natural evolution of the two to create Darklights. Which is much more battle worthy for online war, then some band called their album Darklights and now there’s hundreds of them online.

obj -Where is home for you and, if I were to pay a visit, what would I be required by tourist law to do before I left? Bonus points will be awarded if your answers include Smithwick’s, brandishing broadswords and/or dogs that are dressed as people.

DL - Born and bred Londoner here, so there’s more tourist things to do than you could shake a stick at.

My personal recommendation is Kew gardens, that place is amazing. A garden of Eden hidden in London, fantastic day out.

obj – One of these days, I’ll visit London and I aim to drink a pint in every suggested pub.

Do you have a domestic partner (be they male, female, canine, feline or piscine) and how do they feel about gaming?

DL - My lovely girlfriend Boysforgettoeat (Hi Baby) wasn’t much of a gamer when we started dating.

Apparently her brothers would never let her have a go on the console when growing up. She was freaked out the first time she saw me chatting away on Xbox Live while she was in the room. So I introduced her to http://www.trueachievements.com/Peggle-xbox-360.htm and then followed it up with some http://www.trueachievements.com/Left-4-Dead-xbox-360.htm, she loves the team based aspects. By the time we went through LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 she had her own TA account, I’m quite proud of her and the progress she’s made, she completed her first game 100% recently.

obj – Considering I’m married to a pretty devout non-gamer, I envy your successful assimilation.

What is your profession and does it come with any special perks or irks?

DL - So I work in Quality Assurance and have done for the last 11/12 years. I started at Empire interactive and then moved on to testing the original Xbox launch titles, since then I’ve moved around a lot and currently work for www.pkr.com, making sure their software is ready for the general public to use.

In terms of perks the first one is getting mentioned in the credits for a game, it’s pretty cool to see your name up there even though you know no one else will pay attention to it. Sadly you don’t get this for every title you work on due to time constraints and space constraints. The novelty also wears off quite quickly but recently I got credited in Mario & Sonic at the Olympics on DS and that was an absolute thrill a Mario title with my name in it phenomenal. Other perks include some free games or merchandise, I’ve gone to every Eurogamer Expo but never had to pay and free drinks (alcohol tends to fuel the industry). Most companies will buy you dinner but since they want you to work the night away its more compensation that a perk.

With regards to Irks I’ll try not to get carried away but let’s try to dispel some game dev myths.

How can this game be released with this bug in it, QA should of found it!!

Almost every time QA did find it but it was too risky or complicated to fix for release.

I know this great glitch for a game!
No what you have there is a bug or an exploit. Only consumers find glitches the industry works on bugs (for some reason, people using glitch really annoys me).

obj – Booze, food, swag and complaints. I suppose you have to take the good with the bad.

What are some of the notable games that you have worked on?

DL - There’s been many and yet so few have bothered to credit me.

Halo 1 was great we were told it’s out in the states and any bugs we find won’t be fixed, so that was two weeks of death match every day, all day.

Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games was awesome because it’s a Mario game and I worked on it, also they credited me in the DS version which is brilliant.

Lord of the Rings 3 was a fun game to work on and we got a free trip to the cinema for a sneak preview.

obj – Two weeks of Halo CE Deathmatch all-day, every day? Sounds like my third year at university.

What kind of education/background do you need to break into the world of gaming?

DL - This really depends on what you want to do in the industry.

If you want to code then of course you need an education in how to code, same with animation. Other roles are much easier to slip into, QA is still a great entrance point and designers don’t need any real education but it helps if they mod games in their spare time. Producers don’t need any qualifications but do need to be great at project management. I’m actually attempting to write a book at the moment about how to get into the industry and what the various roles are really like.

obj - Have you ever QA Tested a game that you thought would be a big success, but wasn’t and, on the flip side, have you ever tested a game that you thought would flop and didn’t?

DL - Never the first, it’s pretty easy to know you’re working on crap if you’re a dedicated gamer.

The flip side has often reared its head I was working on a slumber party game and just couldn’t believe it would sell a single copy. So we ran some focus tests and the target demographic absolutely loved it. Blew me away at how much they enjoyed it. You just never know what people will love.

obj - Working in the world of games, does it make “gaming for fun” harder since you’re doing it so much at your job?

Initially my play time did suffer, but you quickly learn to shut off that working head. After all you’re more likely to be working on a game you don’t like than the next hot seller so it’s pretty easy to stop looking for problems and just sit back and enjoy. Some people never do manage to switch off and the job ruins their playtime.

obj - When you’re not gaming or working, what other hobbies do you enjoy?

DL - I love music if I’m not on Live I’ve probably slunk off to a gig, otherwise I’m real big on comics and reading in general so that.

obj - Aside from games, what is your favourite form of media and who is your favourite artist within it?

DL - I guess I’d have to go for music as it’s such an all encompassing influence on life.

Fav artists is a damn hard question, Lastfm is real helpful for that.

Also got a signed Amy Winehouse album if anyone wants to make an offer.

obj – Amy Winehouse… you knew her habit was bad when Keith Richards told her to slow it down a bit. You knew it was worse when Charlie Sheen hosted her intervention.

Before we start the official “Gamish Inquisition” is there any question you would LIKE me to ask that I have not… an answer to this question would be helpful as I seem to have misplaced my crystal ball.

DL - I thought a lot about this, I already know myself so I couldn’t come up with anything.

obj – Let’s start off The Gamish Inquisition with a pic of your setup.

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obj - We’re going to roll back in time with Jean-Claude Van Damme and play Timecop to ask: What is your first gaming memory and the first game you ever loved?

DL - I loved http://www.trueachievements.com/Double-Dragon-xbox-360.htm back in the day, the co-op was fantastic, the brother fight at the end was true class. Also I was a huge fan of the Sierra games of old those adventure games were life changing.

obj - If the first video game you ever played had achievements, what would your first achievement have been?

DL - The earliest game I can really remember loving was Double Dragon in the arcade, thanks to the power of the remake I can say the first achievement would have been:

Double DragonGood ScoreThe Good Score achievement in Double Dragon worth 6 pointsGet 20,000 points.

obj - Do you own any other gaming consoles/platforms aside from the 360 and, if so, what is your favourite game on that console?

DL - I’ve just started selling some old GameCube games I’m really sad to let Killer 7 go it was a phenomenal game.

Also got a mega drive, master system DS and PC.

Oh and I guess windows phone counts too, I had to sell a lot of my old consoles due to being a impoverished games tester.

obj – Like myself, you recently 100%ed http://www.trueachievements.com/LA-Noire-xbox-360.htm . While the tech in the game is very impressive, gamers seem to run either hot or cold on it. What are your thoughts on the game as a whole?

DL - I love it and hate it, the music the scene setting is so great it’s fantastic I can sit on the main menu for ages listening to that jazz.

I really enjoyed the gameplay for a case or two and then the repetitive sets in, it’s all the same case after case. Now I enjoy it when I play it but I just struggle so much to even turn it on because I’m so bored of doing the same basic actions over and over again. As mentioned above I used to adore the Sierra adventure games, the police quest series ran into 3 or 4 games if they could keep every game fresh, exciting, inventive, challenging and interesting I fail to see why L.A. Noire was so damn repetitive the whole time.

obj - What are your feelings on Kinect? Do you see Microsoft moving in a more “hardcore” direction or do you think that it will live on the fringes of the “casual with optional, hardcore integration” world?

DL - I like it, it’s what the Wii wanted to be. Kinect Sports is a fantastic fun title and I really want to get that 100%. I doubt MS will move entirely away from the hardcore it’s too much of their market base. But there’s nothing wrong with trying to appeal to other markets. It’ll be interesting to see what magic developers end up doing with Kinect it truly has some inspiring potential in it.

obj- You have several Tom Clancy game completions in your trophy case. What makes those games special to you and where would you like TC games to go in the future?

DL – Splinter Cell it all begins and ends with that game. Pandora’s Tomorrow and Chaos Theory were my favourite games on the original Xbox. The online multiplayer, I’ve just never experienced anything like it. For 3 months I lost every game I played, but slowly began working on tactics and controls with my partner and eventually we made 37th in the world on Pandora’s Tomorrow and something similar for Chaos Theory. It had some truly awesome moments online and I have it to thank for some of the best, most exhilarating game play I’ve seen. The joy as you run up a wall land behind you attacker and snap their neck cannot be underestimated. You’ve never been rescued online if your partner hasn’t leapt from above and cause brutal chaos as you get up , chuck a smoke bomb and help his escape, surviving by the skin of your teeth. Basically every TC game I’ve played since I just hope and pray it will have some of the splintercell’s glory in it.

obj - You’re creeping ever-so-close to your Gamer Goal of reaching a GamerScore of 100k. What game do you think will put you over the top and do you plan on doing any type of celebration for the milestone?

DL - I reckon it will be around Arkham City or AC Revelations, happy for it to be anything.

To celebrate I’ll be cutting down (I hope) the achievement hunting and getting back some of my life.

obj - You have quite a few Windows Phone 7 games on your card, do you think Microsoft can challenge Apple on its game app offerings or do you think developers will continue to cater to iPhones and adapt them for Android and WP7 platforms?

DL - I hope either them or Android take Apples phone crown, I do hate Iphones.

Currently the market is there for Iphones (easily more customers than other handsets) but it’s easier to develop for Android so it’s hard to see a clear winner. The Windows phones are good I do enjoy mine but the competition is tough so we’ll have to wait and see.

obj - Do you have a favourite beverage (either alcoholic or non) or snack that you like to enjoy while gaming?

DL - I drink far too much Redbull, that and nicotine (that’s a food stuff right?)

obj – Everyone’s got their vices… I don’t think you’d catch the eye of Roy Earle for a jolt and a smoke, though.

Do you prefer single player or multiplayer gaming and why?

DL - I think it has to be multiplayer just because humans are always better than AI.

That being said most of my mates have hit middle age and don’t game any more so multiplayer is suffering without a solid team you’re nothing.

obj - And now, DL, are you ready to experience the shocking power of the Zeus Thunderbolt that is the Lightning Round!?

DL - No

obj – Too bad! Here it comes!

Favourite 360 Game

DL - Shadowrun

I just loved everything about it, some really great ideas there.

Am I allowed two?

obj – I’ll allow it… this one time…

DL - Batman: Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360)

Blew me away the perfect Batman game, I’m so hyped for the sequel. Also I know some guys at Rockstead so it’s real nice to see people you know making a success for themselves.

obj - Favourite game moment

DL - The dickhead manoeuvre!!

This was a highlight from Splintercell me and my partner had just got to the final part of the level and he had just been taken out for good, I was on my last life and the evil mercs’ had two lives a piece. My mate told me I’d never finish it now.

Taking up the challenge I flew into the room and instantly laid some death onto the first merc I saw “dickhead number 1”.

Leapt over the rails onto the other merc “dickhead number 2”.

With them both disabled I hit the objective for a very satisfying win.

obj - Favourite game protagonist

DL - Link

obj - Favourite game villain

DL - GlaDos

obj - Favourite developer

DL - Currently Double Fine. I just loved Brutal Legend and http://www.trueachievements.com/Costume-Quest-xbox-360.htm was fun. Of all time it would have to be Sierra pre Half Life (Police Quest, Space Quest, Kings Quest, Leisure Suit Larry) those games I loved growing up.

obj - Most overrated game

http://www.trueachievements.com/Call-of-Duty-4-xbox-360.htm games and http://www.trueachievements.com/Gears-of-War-xbox-360.htm games.

Easily overrated people adore these titles, god knows why Gears is just lag and shotguns and Modern Warfare wasn’t bad, quite fun then people just learnt to chuck grenades across the map and I lost interest very quickly.

obj - Most underrated game

DL - Did I mention Shadowrun?

I think I did.

obj - What gaming franchise has gone on too long and needs to die?

DL - Call of Duty & Guitar Hero

obj - What gaming franchise needs to be resurrected/rebooted?

Populous and SimCity bring back the glory days of omnipotent beings

obj - If you could have lunch/a drink with one person from “the gaming world” who would it be?

DL - Tim Schaffer I want to nerd it up and discuss Monkey Island why the first two were so great and the next (2?) so very poor.

obj - Any final thoughts, shout-outs or soap-box statements?

DL - Why do people add me to their friends list without saying why?

A big thanks goes out to Darklights for giving us a peak into the world of QA testing and some insights and perspectives both personal and professional.

As always:

If you’d like to be featured in a Community Interview, or want to be a solid citizen and nominate someone more awesome than yourself, send a PM to me, osubluejacket. FYI – You’re MUCH more likely to be picked if you’re well-written, interesting, funny and/or can tell me exactly why Henry VIII has YET to get fat in Showtime’s “The Tudors”.
Jonathan Barnes
Written by Jonathan Barnes
Jonathan has been a news/views contributor since 2010. When he's not writing reviews, features, and opinion pieces, he spends his days working as an informal science educator and his nights as an international man of mystery.