TA Community Interview - Tenlo

By Jonathan Barnes, 7 years ago
As a writer and gaming journalist, I have a lot of fun with these interviews. It’s great to get a deeper look at some of the more outstanding members of the community. Usually our interviews are very light-hearted and focus more on casual, surface topics. This week’s interviewee, Tenlo , is changing that however.

In his nomination, he mentioned that he has the top, community-ranked review for http://www.trueachievements.com/Duke-Nukem-Forever-xbox....htm and subsequently agreed to do a bit of a tête-à-tête on the game’s merits, in addition to all of our usual fun and shenanigans.

So sit back, crack open a cold one and enjoy this Sunday’s edition of The Gamish Inquisition.


External image

obj - There’s a story behind every gamertag. What’s yours? Being a big Pearl Jam fan, I’m guessing your gamertag is an homage to their debut album. Confirm, elaborate or deny?

T- Well that's an interesting guess but way off the mark I'm afraid. It actually comes from one of my favourite games of all time, a little RPG gem from the PS1 called Gensuo Suikoden. In it you play the son of a general called Teo McDohl. I decided to call my unnamed hero Tenlo as it felt right for Teo's son and I liked it so much I've used it ever since. I also found its rarely taken by anyone so if you come across a Tenlo, chances are it's me!

obj -Where is home for you and, if I were to pay a visit, what would I be forced to do by the locals before I left? Bonus points will be awarded if your answers involve riding large dogs like they were horses, liquid bread consumption contests and/or beach volleyball.

T- I live in a town called Southend-on-sea in the South East of England. It's actually a lie as we're actually on the river Thames but I suppose Southend-on-the-River doesn’t sound as good. Being a seaside resort there's actually quite a lot to do - up to and including beach volleyball and riding large dogs like they were horses across the beach. A couple of noteworthy landmarks is the pier, which is the World Record holder for the longest pleasure pier in the world, although at the moment there's nothing at the end of the pier but a restaurant - though at 2.16km long you'll work an appetite up walking it. We also have a theme park called Adventure Island, where there are some pretty cool rollercoasters to try out

obj – As a proud Ohioan, I’m pretty spoiled on the rollercoaster front with both King’s Island and Cedar Point within driving distance.

A man’s home is his castle. With that in mind, do you share your castle with a queen, prince, princess, jester, noble steed or hounds of a hunting variety and, if so, how do they feel about gaming?

T- An Englishman's home is indeed his castle and mine is quite a packed one. I have my fiancee, Mistress Mosh (Her GT not her profession) as well as three kids, a German Shepherd and a Cat. My fiancee used to be a big Halo fan but recently has gone off gaming and now lives for Bingo. Of the kids, the eldest is a big Sims and Fable fan, the youngest is still a baby and the middle one is a huge Sonic fan, a fact I abused when I let him play Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing on my profile to rack up the Sega miles!

obj – In my humble opinion, if you can’t use your offspring to help you grind out achievements (or bring libations while you do so), what good are they?

What pays the bills in the Tenlo home and does your job come with sweet perks like cake tastings or beer showers?

T- As you can tell the kids are a full time responsibility which the fiancee does very well, so I go out and earn the cash. I mainly work for B&Q (a DIY store for your US readers) which although doesn't have a lot of benefits, but it does mean it’s saving me a fortune decorating the house. I also occasionally DJ Metal clubs in my local area which I was doing a lot more regularly a few years back. That was a great job as I got loads of free CD's and tickets to gigs, plus got to travel round the UK to work at different clubs. Kids have put that on hiatus, but I still keep my toes dipped in the alternative club scene and have entered a DJ battle to work with the guys who DJ Bloodstock every year!

obj – Aside from gaming what other hobbies do you enjoy?

T- I'm a big fan of comics and while I tend to avoid the superhero sagas of DC and Marvel I do subscribe to home grown 2000AD as well as a few webcomics. I also inline skate to work every day so that keeps me nice and fit. I'm also into my Steampunk, as you can tell from my avatar, so when I get some free time I try to make a few props and clothes but as yet have not managed to finish any of them! If I'm not doing any of that and have let the kids have the Xbox I'll usually be curled up with a good book, currently going through a Stephen Hunt and Robert Rankin phase.

obj – Let’s imagine, for a moment, that you could go back in time and give your 13 year-old self one bit of advice. What would you say to yourself?

T- Probably look after yourself a lot better. I had a car crash due to falling asleep at the wheel, due to overdoing it, and compressed my spine. Fully recovered now, but it means I have to regularly stretch or my back seizes up. I also learnt that trying to eat baking trays accomplishes nothing but chipped teeth! Other than that, just enjoy life as much as possible and try not to upset people doing so, advice I still keep to heart today.

obj- Great responses… much more mature than I would have said!

My desk at my “job-job” is decorated with gaming and pop-culture knick-knacks and tchotchkes. My current favorite is an Active-Camo Spartan figure from Halo. What is your favorite room/office/desk decoration and why?

T- It's a toss up between my Lara Croft statue (which you can see in my setup) and my MegaMania sign. I've been a fan of Lara from the beginning and have finished every game. A friend bought this from a second hand shop for my birthday and it’s taken pride of place in my home ever since. Every Christmas she even gets her own Santa hat so she’s not left out of the festivities. The MegaMania sign is an old shop sign from a game shop which closed down years ago. I worked in the off license which replaced it and while rummaging through the back rooms found it hidden away, ever since then it’s taken pride of place on my wall

External image

obj – That sign is totally sweet. I’d love to have one in my soon-to-be-reality gaming cave.

Before we start with The Gamish Inquisition, is there a question you want me to ask that I have not? As always, answers to this question would be helpful… as I won’t be able to make it up to the tower in Hogwarts this week.

T- How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a would chuck could chuck wood? If you don't know the answer to that, then you've missed out on one of the funniest games in existence!

obj – The answer is seven… a woodchuck could chuck seven logs before Chuck Norris chucks the woodchuck for bad chucking style.

To kick off The Gamish Inquisition, let’s start with a picture of your setup and a quick description of its features.

External image

T- As you can tell it’s a simple setup. The big TV sits centre with the curtains ready to be drawn in the slightest bit of sunshine (if you've got a tan you’re not gaming hard enough). The Xbox sits next to it with a VCR (remember them kids?!?) and the cable box below that. Underneath that is my backlog of games. Completed games are kept in the cupboard to the left before being traded in or lent to friends. Under the TV, is a vivarium, currently holding the lesser spotted Xboxus Kinectia as well as a variety of 360 controllers and a solitary Gamecube controller which we never threw out. And of course watching over all and ready to offer some rather mute advice for those difficult achievements is Ms Lara Croft.

obj – From Tomb Raider to TV protector… I like it.

Let’s disrupt the space-time continuum for a moment so that I may ask: What is your first gaming memory and what game got you “hooked” on games?

T- My first gaming memory is getting a Sinclair Spectrum 128k with a cassette version of Ghouls and Ghosts. I remember loading it up starting the game playing for about half an hour and then I must have knocked it onto the floor as I then broke it and never played it again.

I got hooked by Impossamole on the Spectrum though. It was the first game that I really wanted to finish and it played in a similar style to Super Mario Brothers. But I spent weeks learning every enemy’s position. I even remember drawing out maps of each level so I knew where everything was. I did finish it eventually, but it taught me a lot about patience as you had to load each level up separately which took about 5 minutes at a time and if you died you had to start all over again.

obj – If the first game you ever played would have had achievements, what would have been the “gimme” achievement that everyone would get?

T- For any Spectrum game there should have been an achievement called 'Saint's patience' which you should have got for just loading the game up!

obj – What is your “console history” and (aside from the 360) what is your favorite gaming platform of all-time?

T- Well my first console was a Sega MegaDrive (Genesis to our US friends), then I had a N64 for a short while, before moving up to a PS1. From the PS1 I moved to the PS2 and during this period I dabbled in Dreamcast and the original Xbox. I also had a GBA for a little while but never really got heavily into it. I would say the PS1 was my favourite gaming platform though, as it was here a lot of my favourite games were released. Suikoden, Tomb Raider, Broken Sword, Breath of Fire and Final Fantasy are all games I discovered on my PS and up until recently I still owned most of them too.

obj – You currently have the top-ranked review for http://www.trueachievements.com/Duke-Nukem-Forever-xbox....htm?, one of the most divisive games of the year. While I personally disagree with many of your subjective opinions, they are YOUR opinions to which you are entitled and I won’t challenge you on them, but I do have a few questions concerning your review. Before I put the Inquisition screws to you, would you care to tell us what it was like to review DNF?

T- I'd written a number of reviews before for the forum www.gamerscoreaddicts.co.uk and I've found that the best approach to review games is just to play and enjoy them and then take your thoughts as a gamer to the table when you write. However with DNF, I did a little background work mainly due to the fact I was really looking forward to the game. I replayed http://www.trueachievements.com/Duke-Nukem-3D-xbox-360.htm and also did a lot of digging into the past history of the game. In fact on completion of DNF they show you a timeline of the games production which actually helped explain the reasons the game was the way it was.

It was also very hard not to get angry at a large proportion of the gaming journalism industry while writing it and that may be reflected in the review. I still hold that DNF was reviewed so badly due to a need to put it down. When you consider that according to Metacritic Duke Nukem is on par with http://www.trueachievements.com/CSI-Hard-Evidence-xbox-....htm and http://www.trueachievements.com/Terminator-Salvation-xb....htm , you can see something is askew.

obj – I would counter that DNF was reviewed poorly because (in comparison to today’s offerings) it’s a poor game, which leads me to my first question; your review speaks to putting the game in its “correct context”, do you think it’s fair to judge a game against its development cycle “contemporaries” (many of which came out over a decade ago) or should it have been held up to today’s games which share a common, higher price point, more polish and modern aesthetics?

T- As Randy Pitchford said on more than one occasion, the game they released is the game that was created in 1997 and bears all the landmarks of that era of gaming. Technically it will never stand up to modern games as it's development cycle has gone through 5 different engines and the version we're playing was near completion it 2008/9 just before the legal battle kicked off, so it was never going to stand up to today’s technical standards. As a gaming experience it’s still enjoyable, if technically flawed, but considering its long and arduous development saga I think a lot of us were expecting this. It is a dinosaur in terms of its gameplay but with the flooding of the market of COD and Halo clones, it’s refreshing for older gamers to be reminded of a time when it was just fun to blow stuff up. I think DNF is much like the film Commando. It’s not the best thing out there, but you can't help enjoying it for being that over the top. The important thing though is it’s been finished and it’s out there and Duke can now step away from its shadow.

obj - I'm going to press you on this for a second. I maintain that a gaming critic's job is to evaluate quality so that gamers can make informed decisions on which games to purchase, rent or avoid. While I do respect and admire that Pitchford tried to curtail expectations a bit, telling gamers and critics (paraphrasing here), "Don't expect modern excellence," do you think that is a valid excuse to give a (by most accounts) sub-par game a good score?

T - I think this comes down to the age old problem for all reviewers, no matter how professional you are some form of bias will come through and your review is never going to please everyone. Looking through the comments on the review, although there are a number of people who have disagreed with my review, there are a number of people who have agreed with it too

What I have noticed is that most people’s complaints are centred around the graphics and the load times. I agree that they are not up to scratch with the triple A titles out there, but that doesn't make the game bad as such. Let's look at another game which technically doesn't stand up to today's standards, Deadly Premonition .

This is a game which has last gen graphics, clumsy shoddy gameplay and a bizarre setup, as such a lot of people hate it, but the people who have stuck at it have loved it. On the other hand http://www.trueachievements.com/LA-Noire-xbox-360.htm has had some fantastic reviews, but I hear a lot of people, myself included, complaining of repetitive gameplay and unbelievable characters (seriously select Doubt to see a man with severe people problems).

I think this shows that reviews are never the be all of whether you should buy a game or not. My review was my own experience of the game. Personally I'm never one for graphics (though Child of Eden is a beautiful game) and as for the loading times, I'm a very patient person so perhaps the loading times didn't affect me too much. I did have a lot of fun playing through the game though and I'm enjoying the challenge of Insane mode at the mo. So I stick by my score, it is a fun and enjoyable game if you can get over the technical issues and I hope that people give it, and Deadly Premonition, a shot as you may just find you like it!

obj – One thing your review neglected to mention are the platforming sections. I maintain that it’s impossible for an FPS to have satisfying platforming and that DNF’s were absolutely horrible, but would like to hear your opinions on the matter.

T- I'll be honest with you, I don't remember having any problems with the platforming sections, in fact I had to look up to see what the platforming sections were and even then I don't remember struggling too much. I agree with you though platforming is very difficult to judge in first person mainly as you can never tell where the end of the platform is without looking down at it which therefore mean you can't see where you’re jumping. I think it can be done though. http://www.trueachievements.com/Mirrors-Edge-xbox-360.htm is an example of a game which mastered jumping and platforming from the first person perspective. However in shooters I think it will be a while before you see it perfected as their focus is on the gunplay.

obj – One area on which we agree was the absolutely horrible underwater sections, which seem to have (mercifully) gone extinct in modern shooters. Do you think there’s any way to create competent underwater sections in a 3D environment?

T- I think the problem you will always have with water sections is suddenly your movement choice is changed from forward/back/left/right to a new one including up and down. Having a control system which incorporates both is complicated to master. It also has the inherent problem in first person of platforming, in that you can't see your surrounding so getting stuck on unseen obstacles is easily done. There are games which have done 3rd person water well, the first to spring to mind is the updated version of http://www.trueachievements.com/Hydrophobia-xbox-360.htm . FPS games are great for getting you immersed in a game but viewing your surroundings will always be a nightmare, which is why most FPS's have a lot of corridors!

obj – Final question on the DNF front: Where would you like to see Gearbox take Duke next; what is your wish list for the next game?

T- I think now that DNF has been put to rest, Gearbox can make the game that players deserve to have. I think we will hopefully see some example of this in the upcoming SP DLC for DNF. But I'm sure when the Duke returns it will be amazing,. I don't think any other company, barring Valve, would be able to match great action with good humour. http://www.trueachievements.com/Borderlands-xbox-360.htm proved that so I think it'll be truly epic when it arrives.

obj – I think comparing Gearbox humor to Valve humor is like comparing the scatological humor to satirical humor, but I agree that they (along with Double Fine) are probably the best studios for the comedy/action blend.

Thanks for taking the time to answer questions on your hard work! While some may disagree with your opinions and point of view, they should certainly respect you for taking the time to write them.

Moving away from DNF, your initial message to me said that one of your goals was to 100% every RPG on the 360. RPGs are “notoriously” long endeavors, especially when multiple playthroughs are needed to net all of the achievements. With that in mind, how is your progress coming and what do you think is the “optimum length” for an RPG?

T- I'll be honest it’s been put on the back burner for the moment as I've been told I can't buy any more games until I've cleared my backlog of games. So instead I'm aiming for 100K by the end of the year and a 90% completion, it’s doable but currently need 150GS a day! I'm mainly concentrating on XBLA RPG's at the mo as they are often good for quick hits of RPG action. As for optimum length, it depends very much on the game. The reason I like RPG's is the story is often much more developed and fleshed out than other genres, so it depends on the quality of the story. I usually expect a good 40+ hours out of an RPG for the main story arc (excluding side quests), and usually another 30+ for grinding out levels!

obj – I’m working on clearing out my backlog before I buy anything new, as well.

Sticking with RPGs for a moment, many community members lament the “hybridization” of RPGs with games like http://www.trueachievements.com/Mass-Effect-2-xbox-360.htm, http://www.trueachievements.com/Fallout-3-xbox-360.htm, and http://www.trueachievements.com/Borderlands-xbox-360.htm blurring the lines and challenging the perception of what an RPG is. Where do you stand on this matter; are you in favor of RPG hybrids or would you rather games stick more to the “classic” norms?

T- That's a good question but I think the RPG genre is one of the more flexible genres. I remember reading an interview with someone and they mentioned that all games have RPG elements in them nowadays. Any form of leveling up is an RPG mechanic. So technically even COD MP could be classed as an RPG as the higher the level the more weapons and skills you get and getting the right balance of weapons and skills is a staple of any good RPG.

As I said before though, in my eyes RPG's are about the story and the world it’s based in. The gameplay mechanics don't have to remain the same, Baldur's Gate was an off the wall concept when it was first introduced to gamers and now its seen as a classic, so I'd say any hybrid is good as long as it works and doesn't feel out of place.

obj – What “classic” game franchise would you like to see rebooted for modern consoles and how would you like to see it done?

T- I'm going to leave a lot of people confused here but the one franchise I would love to see come back is Dizzy. For those who don't know Dizzy was an egg with boxing gloves who ran around collecting items, solving puzzles and saving his friends. Now I don't know if Codemasters still have the rights to this, but I'd like to either see a 3D version of the game or an XBLA title kept in the same style as the original but with updated graphics. So please people pester Codemasters to bring back Dizzy!

obj – If you could ban developers from putting one type of achievement into their game, what would that achievement type be and why?

T- It would have to be by a mile any MP achievement requiring you to max out your rank or do a ridiculous number of kills. Let's be honest unless your COD, Gears or Halo, in a few months time your online community is going to be small, but dedicated. So that means hours of boosting sessions to max out your ranks. Anyone whose boosted Serious or Turret hacked Bioshock knows the pain I'm speaking of. My current one is play 1000 F.E.A.R.: First Encounter Assault Recon MP games. Dull, boring and wasting hours of my life!

obj – Your current, highest-ratio’d achievement is Collector in Naruto: Rise of a Ninja. I know next to nothing about this game but am nevertheless impressed by the ratio and the score. Tell us a bit about the work you had to put into getting this white whale into your boat.

T- Actually this wasn't the hardest achievement to get on Naruto. The MP achievements are long, complicated and a pain to organise. But Collector is, unsurprisingly, collect all the coins in the game. What makes it difficult is there are around 700 coins to collect, with no way of knowing how many are in each area, or where they are located. Even with guides and maps it’s a nightmare to complete. I was lucky in that I managed to not miss any, some people have thought they've got them all and missed one coin with no idea where it is and had to start again.

obj – Do you have a favorite beverage or snack that you like to enjoy while gaming?

T- Usually it’s either green tea, redbush tea or the occasional coffee. I don't tend to snack out too much so it’s usually a banana or apple while gaming, though if there’s left over pizza that’s a given!

obj – And now, Tenlo, are you ready for the Tesla Coil Shock that is the Lightning Round?

T- Rubber boots and gloves at the ready!

obj – Favorite 360 Game

T- http://www.trueachievements.com/Lost-Odyssey-xbox-360.htm - great gameplay, great graphics, great story.

obj – Favorite game opening

T- http://www.trueachievements.com/BioShock-xbox-360.htm – Even now that first half hour form the place crash to meeting the inhabitants of Rapture is superb!

obj – Favorite game ending

T- Lost Odyssey again – Just a fantastic ending to a fantastic game

obj – Favorite game setting

T- Red Dead Redemption – Who doesn't love the Wild West and one of the few games where travelling around is just pure fun as there’s always something new to do.

obj – Character you wish would have died in a game but didn’t

T- I think the only character which got on my nerves was Navi in Ocarina of Time, just because of that high pitched whining all the time. Hey...Hey...hey...hey, You know what say hey one more time and I'm going to put you in a bottle and boil you alive in there, I'm busy!!

obj – Favorite gaming journalist

T- Matt Cundy from GamesRadar UK- The crazy Cornwallian always has me cracking up with his voices and innuendos

obj – Favorite developer

T- Double Fine – Tim Schafer is a legend and had not set a foot wrong in my eyes!

obj - If you could spend a “night of passion” with one character from the gaming world, who would it be?

T- Bayonetta – Goth girls with glasses have always been a weak spot of mine

obj – If you could have a drink with one “real life” person from the world of gaming, who would it be?

T- Tim Schafer again as we could chat games, metal and Sesame Street

obj - If you could have a multiplayer session with anyone on the planet, who would it be?

T- Milia Jovovich (Alice from the Resi Evil films) she’s crazy, cool and I think a bit of a hardcore gamer at heart!

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

T- Well I better shout out to the guys on Gamerscoreaddicts.co.uk, one of the most fun forums I've found and where I met my regular gaming buddies. Also to http://www.trueachievements.com/Capn+Doug+x360a.htm whose been a long time boosting partner of mine and a great guy to chat to while boosting and finally Ellusion no, a fellow RPG fan whose doing a much better job of 100% all RPG's!

Also support your favourite game developers by buying new. Pre-owned games may be cheap but the developers don't make any money from it. Thanks to this there are fewer and fewer new IP's and more and more clones of successful franchises as these guys need to make money to support their families. I'd be surprised if your average programmer or Graphic designer is living a life of luxury so think of them when you pick up that pre-owned game.

Oh and thank you, osubluejacket, for the opportunity and the thought provoking questions, I'm going to go lie down now and let my brain cool down!


A BIG thanks goes out to Tenlo for giving his time to REALLY get down and dirty with some hard questions!

This brings me to an important note: While all of us may disagree with opinions from time to time, it’s important to respect those opinions even if they differ from your own. Consider this your weekly, friendly fact from the pre-internet age.

As always:

If you’d like to be featured in a Community Interview, want to be a solid citizen and nominate someone more awesome than yourself OR want to submit a "Community Asks the Community" question, send a PM to me, osubluejacket . FYI - You’re MUCH more likely to be selected if you’re well-written, interesting, funny and/or can cut down the mightiest tree in a forest with… a HERRING.
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.