TA Community Interview - HybridPK

By Jonathan Barnes, 6 years ago
After fighting through a modern rendition of the black plague... OK, it was a cold, but it was a bad one, the Gamish Inquisition is back!

This week, the screws are being put to HybridPK, a gamer with a love of art, extended responses, and RPG-goodness. This is a long (but good) one, boys & girls, so be sure to grab your Sunday morning beverage of choice and strap in for this week's edition of The Gamish Inquisition!


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obj – There’s a story behind every gamertag. Tell me yours. I’m going to guess that you’ve played your fair share of hockey and played a “hybrid” frontline/defense position on your team’s penalty kill unit. Confirm, deny, or elaborate.

HPK – Unfortunately, I do not play hockey so the answer is going to be vastly different. This question actually has been my motto on Xbox LIVE at various points in time. Random players would ask, or guess, what the “PK” stood for, but I never gave them a straight answer. Recently, the guesses I have heard have been related to a web-browser game called Runescape. “HybridPKing,” from what I have gathered, is a form of player killing. This kind of behavior is forbidden, so my gamertag seems to have some kind of stigma attached to it that I never knew about. I’ve been using this handle for over a decade now.

But yeah, the origins of my gamertag come from a desire to change my online handle on America Online back in the summer of 2001. I was unsure as to what I would change it to, so I took a number of movies, CDs, and videogames I had and started picking words and mashing them together. The final result was “HybridPainKiller.” “Hybrid” was taken from the album Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park, “Pain” was taken from song "Pain for Pleasure" by Sum 41, and “Killer” was taken from the album All Killer No Filler by Sum 41.

When I tried using the name on message boards, particularly those run using vBulletin, I could not use the name due to a 15 character limit on usernames. So, I would truncate the name down to HybridPK or HPK. I ran into the same issue when signing up for Xbox LIVE. HPK was “already taken,” so HybridPK was the obvious choice.

obj – Oh, AOL... I remember my first screenname: Apollo419.

Let’s imagine that I were to gift you some MSP to change your gamertag and gave you carte blanche to change it to anything you wanted. What would your new tag be and why?

HPK – Funny story: I actually spent 1600 MSP on this gamertag already. When I first put the name in, it was “hybridpk,” but the lack of capitalized letters really bugged me. I tried changing it once, but my gamertag was “already taken,” so I changed it to "FlaminDoorknob,” then to “HybridPK.” But, to answer the question: I would use either “Black Paper” or “Xenocide.”

“Black Paper” was the name of a villain in Phantasy Star Online. While you never fought him, the name seems to stick with me. “Xenocide” is from the Ender books written by Orson Scott Card. It refers to the main character’s actions when he was a child; wiping out an entire alien race. It is also the title of the third book from the series. It sounds like a name that wouldn’t be taken, plus I think it would make for a nice break of pace compared to all the other gamertags I have seen beginning with the letter X.

obj - I think a certain Macaulay Culkin might have dibs on FlaminDoorknob now.

Where is home for you and, if I were to visit, what would be the most excellent and awesome things to do there?

HPK – Home for me is Racine, Wisconsin. I was born here and I lived here my entire life thus far. I might not be the best person to ask about Racine since I find the city to be incredibly dull. If you’re interested in drinking, drinking, and going out to bars Racine might just be the place for you. As a teetotaler, which brands me as a heretic amongst some of the people here, I am often hard pressed to find anything interesting to do in town. If I were interested in sailing, I could always do that since Racine borders Lake Michigan.

My opinion of Racine may be low but it is located in a pretty decent area. I live close to Milwaukee and Chicago, two cities that are almost always filled with something fun to do. Between here and Chicago is a Six Flags theme park and about two hours to the northwest is Wisconsin Dells. Wisconsin Dells is loaded with water parks, theme parks, and other attractions. Within the county, there is a skydiving program which I have looked into. Skydiving is pretty fun.

obj – As a fan of drinking, I'm hard pressed to remember my fun times in Wisconsin, I have faint memories of a family Easter in the Dells, but it's a little hazy.

What pays the bills in the Hybrid household and does your job come with any sweet perks like an office Keurig machine, a generous holiday allowance, and/or Fight Club Fridays?

HPK - Money pays the bills, obviously. smile I get my money by working for Cree. The company I was originally hired under, Ruud Lighting, was acquired by Cree last year, but that hasn’t affected my job much yet. I help make the best LED lights in the industry and I do get some pretty nice benefits for doing so. Two weeks of paid vacation, one week of emergency time, three types of insurance (dental, medical, vision), a 401k plan, and every major holiday is a paid day off for me---not to mention there’s just about always room for growth. The only downside to my job is that it doesn’t involve any of the skills I gained in college.

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

HPK – I am an illustrator and a painter. I’m not on a professional level yet, but I do plan on having an art career of some sort whether it is just having my art put into shows or doing freelance work. I went to college to refine my art skills after getting a push from a few art teachers I had in high school and my grandparents, and earned my BA in Digital Art back in December 2010. Trying to be an artist that makes money is an incredibly hard thing to do, but fortunately for me I do have that pretty awesome job I mentioned above. I did have one work published in a book so my name has spread a little bit on a local level, but there is always more that needs to be done. It also doesn’t help that I’m in a bit of a rut. It has been difficult for me to work on anything art related due to a lack on inspiration. I’m slowly working on ways around this but there hasn’t been much progress.

For the longest time, I have been trying to integrate my art skills into some form of game development. I don’t ever see myself working for a huge game developer, but with the rise of indie games I don’t see a reason why I can’t have a few games out there with my creative influence. I just need to find the right group of people to work with.

Beyond my art, I enjoy watching movies. I mostly criticize them and constantly bring them up in conversation. I honestly think I get more enjoyment out of hating a movie than I do from actually like one. I also play Dungeons & Dragons, but it is rather hard to do considering everyone is available at different times (and if anyone is an RPG fan and hasn’t played a pen-and-paper RPG, I’d say you owe it to yourself to do so at some point. Maybe not D&D specifically, but yeah).

obj – If you're looking to blend games and art, might I suggest checking out http://iam8bit.com galleries. They feature a lot of game inspired art... it's really fantastic.

How’s the home life? Is there a hybridpet, hybridwoman, hybridman, or hybrid-life coach that you share your abode with and, if so, how do they feel about gaming?

HPK – I am currently living with my girlfriend of seven and a half years. We’ve been together since high school and one of the things that attracted me to her is our shared interest in video games. She owns her own 360 with a Kinect and a Wii, but games nearly as often as I do.. Her three favorite game series are The Legend of Zelda, Suikoden, and Assassin’s Creed. She beat Skyward Sword a few weeks ago. I’m hoping she’ll beat http://www.trueachievements.com/AC-Revelations-xbox-360.htm soon since I would like to play it (I’m not allowed to play games she gets for her birthday before she beats them :P) She also likes http://www.trueachievements.com/Borderlands-xbox-360.htm, which we play from time to time. She sometimes thinks I play games too often and that going for achievements is ridiculous. I don’t always disagree with her on those things.

There is also our cat, Mya. Much like every other cat, she is indifferent to anything that doesn’t involve her. Usually when I’m playing games she’ll lie on my lap and sleep there.

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?

HPK – If I had to meet my 13 year old self and talk to him, I would probably give away too much advice and ruin things. To keep things simple, I’d send myself a letter stating the following:

1 – Start talking to people. Don’t be so shy.
2 – Start saving some money.
3 – Spend more time on making art than playing videogames.
4 – Follow the first three steps or I will come back through time and kick you in the mean bean machine.

obj - My office desk is decorated with gaming and pop-culture knick-knacks and tchotchkes. My current favorite is my menagerie of Halo Mega Bloks. What is your favorite room/office/desk decoration and why?

HPK – Firstly, shame on you for having Mega Bloks. It is all about Lego, even if they didn’t have a Halo line. Secondly, I only have small amount of videogame paraphernalia, but if I’m allowed to include my videogame art books I would say my http://www.trueachievements.com/Mortal-Kombat-xbox-360.htm concept art book is my favorite. The Mortal Kombat games were some of my favorite games as a child mostly because of the art, so to have a physical collection of concept drawings from a game based on the first three is JAWSOME.

Also, have you ever noticed how ridiculously easy it is to find video game-related items now-a-days? I mean, think back to ten plus years ago. Anyone would be hard pressed to find a t-shirt advertising their favorite game, let alone action figures or art books. Now, they’re everywhere. The art books not so much, but it isn’t uncommon to see people wearing game shirts or having some kind of video game related item in their household. I guess it just shows how gaming, in certain ways mind you, has become more sociably acceptable.

obj – I'll concede that Legos are better than Mega Bloks, but my menagerie is flippin' sweet.

Before we start The Gamish Inquisition, is there any question you’d like to ask me before we get started?

HPK – You could ask me about my three surgeries, but considering how much I like to type about other things, you may just want to spare everyone from hearing about them. They do make for one interesting story, though.

obj – I'll definitely leave that for the comments section at your discretion.

Let’s kick things off with a picture of your gaming setup and a quick description of its features.

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HPK - What we’re looking at is a couple of shelves featuring my LG 22” 720p LCD HDTV Alpha 2 Turbo: Hyper Fighting edition, my Elite 360 chilling off to the side, and my collection of books. The room is a bit of a mess and I don’t have a DVD rack for my movies and games. They are all located in two different CD booklets. Also, my camera is horrible.

obj – What is your first gaming memory?

HPK – I think my earliest gaming memory would be back when I was 5 years old and I was playing my aunt’s NES. I think I was playing Home Alone and failing miserably. However, I didn’t get “into” gaming until I was 10. It was September 1996 and the Nintendo 64 just came out. After convincing my dad that I absolutely had to play it, I was allowed to rent one for a weekend (since they were too expensive to buy at the time) along with Super Mario 64. I remember playing it and being amazed by what I was looking at. At that point, there wasn’t a single other game like it. I’m not the Nintendo 64 kid, but I am pretty sure my Christmas that year consisted of my yelling, “NINTENDO SIXTY FOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUR!”

And then the course of my life was changed forever. It was inscribed on whatever stones they inscribe this stuff on that I would be playing video games until I died.

obj – What consoles have you owned in your life and, aside from the 360 of course, what was your favorite?

HPK – The consoles are Genesis, Nintendo 64, PlayStation, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Gamecube, and Xbox. The handhelds include Game Boy, Game Gear, Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Advance SP, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo DS Lite. Is it a little odd to include every incarnation of Game Boy I had? Maybe.

The Nintendo 64 was my gateway console into game, but the Dreamcast was probably my favorite system from the bunch. It had an absurd, but extremely fun library of games. The “Dreamcast Collection” downloadable titles haven’t really brought out any of the games I played on the Dreamcast, but I’m hoping it does. When looking back on it now, SEGA really went all out on the Dreamcast only to have it get crushed by the PS2 (and production costs were brutal, from what I have read). Sure, it had a bunch of crazy peripherals for certain games, but compared to what has happened since the Dreamcast maybe it was the last console that was strictly for gamers. Also, it did pioneer online console gaming.

obj – When was the first time that a video game beat you down and broke your spirit?

HPK – I am trying to think about every game I have ever played and there’s maybe one that I remember being too problematic for me to continue playing. It isn’t I Want To Be The Guy, since I already knew I would never beat it. It is a PlayStation 2 game called Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter. It is a jRPG and is the last BoF game to come out. I remember renting it on a whim (thinking it would be play like BoF IV) and I was surprised by how difficult it was.

To kick things off, I found out I had to use special “save tokens” in order to save my progress and these tokens were incredibly hard to find. I found myself in a situation where I wanted to go to sleep but didn’t since I was busy playing the game looking for a save token. I didn’t want to lose hours of progress because of simple exhaustion! There was a soft-save feature which you could reload if you died, but the soft save would delete itself after being loaded once.

Speaking of dying, this game seemed like it wanted me dead at all times. I had reached a point in the game where the main character received an ability to transform into a dragon. It was cool, but then the game threw this “D-Counter” at me. It was a percentage and when it reached 100%, I would die. What would make the percentage go up? Using your super awesome dragon form, using special attacks, taking damage, and WALKING OUTSIDE OF COMBAT.

Now I’m playing with this meter telling me that I’m going to die and I can’t save my game because I don’t have any save tokens. To make everything worse, every time I died or reloaded a save the enemy spawns and item chest layout would change. These things were randomized, so if I were to find something cool and worthwhile, but get destroyed by a difficult boss, the most I could do is hope things didn’t get more difficult.

So, I turned the game back in (supposedly a day late) and never looked back. However, discussing the game makes me want to find it if it was really as difficult as I remember it being. I think I will scour around for a PS2 again and find this game.

obj – Take a look back at your first achievement and tell us a bit about the experience of “Your First”.

HPK – I’m looking through my games to see if I can pinpoint which achievement was technically my first. It is a toss-up between Prison Breakout in Gears of War and Score 100,000 in Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved, both with unlocked dates of 12/22/2006.

With "Prison Breakout", I was kind of confused by the achievement since I didn’t really know what I did aside from getting to a helicopter (well, a Raven, but yeah).

With Geometry Wars, it probably clicked a bit more since I hit a milestone score. It wasn’t very long before I started comparing my achievements with my friends and try doing things they didn’t accomplish yet. It turned into a bragging contest. I mean, it is one thing to say you’ve done something but to have proof of it? It can make your friends a little jealous. I know one friend of mine in particular made it his goal to surpass my gamerscore and when he finally did he was disappointed to find out that I didn’t really care.

obj – Every gamer has that one achievement that you wanted to get, but never got for one reason or another, what is yours?

HPK – I have a handful of games that are like this. They are almost entirely completed except for one or two achievements. I will list a few of them.

Seriously 2.0 in Gears of War 2: I was going for the achievement and going the lovely Act 5 grinding method, but out of the blue I lost 7,000 kills. Trying to get 100,000 kills is extremely boring and to have 7% of my earned kills taken away for not apparent reason just irked me. I’m sitting at around 50,000, but I’m having a hard time convincing myself to try unlocking the final achievement for that game.

I LOVE the Corps! in Aliens vs. Predator: Nightmare mode is something else. It is surprising how difficult the game becomes once it removes the checkpoints. You have to complete each chapter in one go and dying makes you restart the whole level. I was able to do with the Alien and Predator campaigns, but the Marine campaign is about double the length and allows for no stealth options. You have to act like Rambo against enemies that can kill you in one hit if you shoot them just right. Not to mention the final level pulls a “Mile High Club” where if you don’t aim properly, you’ll die and have to start the level all over. I still have the game but I’m not sure if I want to go back to it.

Completionist in Afro Samurai: Beating the game on the normal difficulty? Not a problem. Beating the game again on the harder difficulty? Now it is a problem. Some of the fights were downright ridiculous and the lack of an actual health bar made it hard to judge how to handle each fight. The bad part is that I didn’t even get stuck on a notoriously difficult part of the game.

Freeflow Gold in Batman: Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360): The game is really good, but I really hate the Freeflow challenges, particularly “Shock & Awe (Extreme).” For the life of me, I could not hit the right amount of points. I almost did once, but I was short a thousand or so points. I have yet to go back to it after that incident.

Zombie Genocidest in Left 4 Dead: If Valve didn’t reset my kills with one of their earlier updates for this game I would have unlocked this already. I was sitting at 30,000 kills when they were taken from me. I started getting more kills again and I’m right back to where I was. I might try going for this one again sometime after I feel comfortable abandoning http://www.trueachievements.com/Gears-of-War-3-xbox-360.htm again, and after Mass Effect 3 has been conquered.

obj – I totally understand the Freeflow combat challenges. They basically got me to give up my completion quest(s) on Arkham Asylum and Arkham City.

Every gamer also has that one achievement that was a downright horror story to get. Personally, mine was We Need Guns, Lots Of Guns in Fable III. Tell us about your biggest horror story.

HPK – There are two achievements I have with some stories linked to them: Free Runner in Crackdown and Treasure Trove in Lost Odyssey.

Unlike the sequel, the game did not make it easy to get the collectable orbs floating about in Pacific City nor did it keep a tally of how many you received from each location. There are 500 of the agility orbs in http://www.trueachievements.com/Crackdown-xbox-360.htm and when you first start playing, you’ll keep running into them. I believed that I would find all 500 fairly quickly. I was wrong. I was stuck at 497/500 for a while and, out of the blue, I found two of them. I was stuck at 499/500 for about a week before I found the last one. It doesn’t sound that horrible, but continue reading.

See, I was getting this achievement shortly after the game was released. There weren’t any decent maps available and the only guide I found was from IGN. I went through IGN’s guide and compared screenshots with where I was currently in the game using a checklist to see which areas I had already gained an agility orb from. Sounds simple, but the IGN guide wasn’t accurate. They actually repeated a number of screenshots for some of the agility orbs, so it was entirely reliable in the long run. And this was before the game’s title update where they made the orbs easier to hear and see.

So, I just scoured the in-game word for this last orb. I would wait until it was dark in-game and start going towards anything remotely green. It got so bad that I started having dreams about trying to get this agility orb and failing. I couldn’t even find it in my dream. I did unlock the achievement, though, shortly after my birthday. I was glad the madness was over. It is funny, though, since I have replayed Crackdown on different accounts. I can get all 500 agility orbs in a very short time frame.

"Treasure Trove" was a difficult achievement only because I made a bad mistake. http://www.trueachievements.com/Lost-Odyssey-xbox-360.htm ’s achievements are all “linked” to each other since you’re working towards multiple achievements at the same time. "Treasure Trove" required you to find every item on every game’s level. So, each area you entered you had to find every treasure chest and hidden item. Some of the items allowed characters to learn new skills, which are separate achievements. I was working on getting "Treasure Trove" when I decided I would just beat the game for the last 125G achievement. Like an idiot, though, I saved over my original save with the New Game+ file. In New Game+, nothing transfers over from your original file. So all the items I collected? I had to find them all again. Everyone told me not to go for it, but I wasn’t going to leave Lost Odyssey at 980/1000. That’s just ridiculous!

After a year of waiting, I jumped back into Lost Odyssey to get that achievement. I replayed the game as if I was going for every achievement all over again. I had multiple tabs to different websites and maps for the game to make sure I was getting every item possible as soon as I was able to get it. Also, to make sure that my time spent on this new save file was not entirely a waste, I bought the extra dungeon and maxed out the game at 1100/1100.

Getting "Treasure Trove" did inspire me to start writing a Lost Odyssey walkthrough for the site, but I started slacking and only completed two discs worth for it. Fortunately, another member of the community (Starlight126) volunteered to finish up the walkthrough. I told him to just gut it up and write everything the way he wanted to. He did an excellent job at it and accomplished what I wanted to: one go-to location for everything Lost Odyssey.

obj – I'm kind of in your same "Lost Odyssey Boat" when it comes to my most-recent game, Singularity. I've got everything but three multiplayer achievements. It's a fun MP (and a great game), but the MP community is almost dead.

In your initial message to me, you said that you were currently working towards gaining Seriously 3.0 in Gears of War 3, but it was trying your patience. Tell us a bit about what’s bugging you.

HPK – Before I go into this:

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I am about half way through my journey to unlocking "Seriously 3.0" and I am getting awfully bored. I understand the “Seriously” achievements are going to be over-the-top, but "Seriously 3.0" is just obtuse. For those of you that don’t know, "Seriously 3.0" requires the player to complete 65 goals an absurd number of times. Some of the goals don’t really require the player to really DO anything, which is my major beef with this achievement.

Let’s compare the other "Seriously" achievements. Seriously ... in Gears of War (PC) required 10,000 ranked kills. It was a lot of kills, but it did require you to actually kill people---people who were playing for a challenge. Given how the game worked with its lack of respawns and 4 player teams, it was something everyone had to work at. "Seriously 2.0" decided to go for full ridiculousness by making players go for 100,000 kills across every game mode. While the kill amount was high, all that anyone needs to do is simply grind for the kills since it isn’t even required to kill human-controlled characters.

"Seriously 3.0" decides it wants the player to focus on doing all kinds of things that don’t reflect the player’s ability to play well, but just to see how much of their time it can take up. For example, I would have to play 3,000 games in each game type (for a total of 18,000 games played) in order to get progress towards this achievement. I am trying to think of every competitive multiplayer game I have played and I don’t even think I have played 18,000 matches combined. I don’t even have to win the matches or play on public servers. So, I just have Gears of War 3 playing with itself so I can get progress towards an achievement. The kill-related tasks don’t have to be against human players either, so if I really need to get 6,000 kills with a weapon I’m better off going against easier-difficulty bots. There are also some other tasks which are kind of lame such as being the player in cover the most in a match 600 times, or playing as a female character for 1000 matches. Those kinds of things don’t really reflect my skill as a player.

Not all the objectives are bad, but the achievement is just stupid-difficult and not legitimately difficult. I’d say the requirements should’ve been cut down to “normal” levels and everything would’ve had to have been done on standard or ranked MP. See, I think Gears of War 3 is a fun game but this achievement forces me to play in a not-so-fun way. Of course, I could always consider just NOT going for this achievement. No one is forcing me to unlock it. Unfortunately, I feel compelled to go for it especially now that I’m over 50% of the way there. Besides, the TA ratio is at 31.00 right now. I may not unlock it any time soon, but I doubt the achievement is going to become super easy to unlock like, say, Veteran Gear in Gears of War 2.

obj – What are your thoughts on Kinect: good for games, good for “other things”, or just a waste?

HPK – When the Kinect was announced back in 2009 as “Project Natal” I thought Microsoft was just attempting to ride on the success of Nintendo’s Wii. I still kind of feel this way, but despite was Microsoft has tried saying to us, I am convinced that the Kinect will never be for people who seriously play games. Whenever I look around at games at stores, I usually find that the Kinect’s library consists of dancing games, workout games, and games that are just collections of mini-games. I have played a few games on the Kinect and it didn’t feel fun to play, mostly because the controls are usually too simple and the games themselves are dull.

But when it comes down to it, the technology isn’t there to have “hardcore” games on it. Some of these games are trying/being forced to have some Kinect features included, such as Mass Effect 3’s voice command stuff, but I still have to play the game using a standard controller. Imagine any kind of action game or RPG, such as an Assassin’s Creed game or Skyrim being fully compatible with the Kinect. Could you really see the device detecting how you’re climbing up buildings or what magic spells you’re using? Could you imagine actually moving off-rails? I can’t.

I think this is why we won’t see any “real” games on the Kinect. Besides, the Kinect wasn’t made with “real” gamers in mind. It was meant to attract the casual players, or those who are using their 360s as multimedia devices instead of strictly gaming consoles. In general, it feels like Microsoft is kind of abandoning the Xbox brand as a videogame console and more of an entertainment hub. It’s a little depressing, actually.

But I digress. The Kinect isn’t a product for me. I’m not interested in it, but the technology is still in its infancy. Perhaps at some point, controllerless gaming will take off in a bigger way, but I don’t think this will happen in my lifetime. The way I see it, the best way for games to lose the controller would be for the player to “enter” the game. Imagine The Matrix but without the robot overlords using us as Duracell batteries. For the time being, we’re stuck in the transitional phase when games are just now trying to get rid of the controller.

obj – Your current “Top Game” is http://www.trueachievements.com/Shadowrun-xbox-360.htm, a game which I know virtually nothing about. Give us a mini-review with your impressions of your current king of the hill?

HPK – Shadowrun is loosely based on the pen-and-paper RPG of the same name. However, the game plays is a FPS akin to Counter-Strike. The entire game is multiplayer based. There isn’t a story of any sort; just red team vs blue team. For being an MP only game, it is lacking on content. It has 9 maps, 3 of them being smaller versions of other maps, and three gametypes which range from Deathmatch, CTF, and CTF again. The game allows you to pick from four different races which each have their own perks and drawbacks. By combining certain races with certain items and spells, you could create some deadly combinations. The game also allowed for cross-platform play, where 360 users could go against people playing on Vista. The only thing that really kept the game interesting was the achievements. They were varied enough to keep you playing, but some of them were crazy.

I shall mention now that I am quite fond of the Gaming Session feature on TA. It keeps things organized and I can clearly state what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it. When I was trying to mop-up the achievements in SR, I was stuck wading through forums looking for assistance. I did eventually join some people but it felt rather chaotic. After boosting with a handful of people (a minimum of 12 people at a time), I was suddenly tasked with hosting boosting sessions for a bunch of people. I had to try keeping tabs of people on the forums to see who was participating and who wasn’t. I also was keeping tabs of what achievements people were going for. I also had to keep telling people who was boosting and what the rules were. It was a bit much, but I tried keeping things as organized as possible. This didn’t always work and there were a few problem players, such as those who would quit as soon as they unlocked an achievement. Another thing I enjoy about the Gaming Sessions? I can leave feedback. I couldn’t really do that on forums.

The boosting wouldn’t have been so problematic if it weren’t for two other things. 1) My 360 was constantly red-ringing. I would keep restarting the system until it would finally run normally...so I wouldn’t turn it off for the next 16+ hours. This went on for maybe 4 straight days? Fortunately I had off from work that whole week. 2) The game was cross compatible with Vista. Everyone wanted the achievements linked with cross-platform play but no one was playing on it. So, I bought a copy for Vista and set up a new gamertag just to help boost. Once I had finally had my 1000/1000 I quit boosting, but the people that were still boosting in this group wanted me to leave my PC running, with the game, so they could keep getting kills on it. After a week or so of no replies, they got the hint that I was done with SR entirely.

While the boosting wasn’t horrible, I did spend a lot of time just letting the game run…kind of like what I’m doing with GoW3! Would I recommend Shadowrun to anyone? Nah. For a MP only game it is severely lacking content. The developer of the game also shut down about 2 months after the game’s release, if I remember correctly, so there weren’t any add-ons made for the game. While a majority of the achievements are possible to unlock through standard play (if anyone is still playing it), there are just a small amount of achievements which absolutely require that everyone playing just stands there, so boosting is required.

obj – Although you’ve completed over 70 games, the lone completed game in your trophy case is http://www.trueachievements.com/Mass-Effect-xbox-360.htm. While the development is almost finished, if you could command BioWare to put in or take out ONE thing from http://www.trueachievements.com/Mass-Effect-3-xbox-360.htm what would you put in or take out?

HPK – I haven’t looked at a lot of information about Mass Effect 3 because I’m not interested in spoiling the game for myself. From what I have gathered thus far, the game is trying to be a mixture between Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, bringing back the inventory system and weapon mods, as well as expanding on the skills. This makes me happy, but something I would like to see removed from the games would be the romance options.

This is generally something I would like to see removed from games in general, but BioWare seems to be the main offender in this. The romance options in the Mass Effect games were…awkward. They never seemed natural. The second game in particular felt like it was trying to be a dating simulator. With the reaction people had with http://www.trueachievements.com/Dragon-Age-II-xbox-360.htm, I wouldn’t be surprised if every person in ME3 was datable.

The way the romance stuff is handled is pretty odd. You start off by saying a handful of “nice” things after every mission and suddenly the person is in love with you. You could just be a nice person but they think you’re after their heart. You can agree to this or they’ll only give you awkward small talk for the rest of the save file. Then, with both games, when you’re on your way to a potentially suicidal mission, Shepard decides to guide his Normandy into a Mass Relay (mind you, the target is the size of a pinhead so it’s pretty incredible). After the 30 second scene, Shepard and the other character carry on as if nothing ever happened between them. In ME2, if the lover dies Shepard doesn’t even care.

Of course, that little joke above doesn’t work for FemSheps, but the point still remains: the only reason for the romance subplot is for the implied sex scenes. Sure, there’s a little bit of additional dialogue between your lover from ME1 in ME2, but it is mostly just cosmetic (well, I suppose the "Lair of the Shadow Broker" DLC went deeper into your relationship with Liara, but it is still just weird all around). While I have fondness for particularly characters I have never been emotionally invested into any of them. While some people really want to build a home with Tali on her home world, I just find the romance stuff to be awkward.

Oh, and if you guys want to be really evil, here’s something for you: Play as a male Shepard in Mass Effect 2 and start doing the Paragon romance path with Jack. She starts opening up, is super vulnerable, etc. Well, when you head into the Omega-4 Relay, do not upgrade the ship’s armor. There’s a good chance Jack will die because of this. While the game won’t show you anything new, you can laugh to yourself as you took a scarred person, started to help her feel normal, and then let her die. The best way to celebrate is by spilling drinks on the Citadel.

obj – You... you... heartless... son of a... Tattooed Sinead O'Connor trusted you!

At the time of writing, you’ve posted 70 solutions and have a solution vote ratio of over 90%. In your opinion, what is the key to writing a good solution?

HPK – I like to think there are a few elements at work when it comes to some of my well-received solutions. While submitting a solution as soon as possible will help it get noticed, it has to be informative and well-written. Something I believe helped my solutions stand out is the fact that I was writing from my own experiences. A lot of the time, some solutions are a simple copy and paste of someone else’s forum post or a video taken from someone else’s experience. These guides are still helpful, but they are more of a forwarded message than anything else. When it comes to the solutions, I try to keep things are detailed as possible as I don’t really have the equipment to record any decent video footage. The one video solution I do have was taken from a member at x360a, but I made the video to illustrate what he was trying to say.

Another thing that helped is that I wasn’t deterred from writing a solution just because another one was already available. Sometimes, having just one solution doesn’t suffice. People like having options and if one method for unlocking an achievement isn’t working, I like to try providing an alternative. Even if my guide isn’t as popular as another one it is always good to have more information. This didn’t always click with some members, though. Other authors would comment about it or, back when this was an option, would downvote my solution because they wrote one. The funniest time this happened is when a guy commented on a solution I wrote with his own solution. Seriously, he just copied and pasted the thing.

Unfortunately, I haven’t made any new solutions in over a year due to me not being able to meet the demand right away. By the time I could possibly make a solution for any given achievement there are already a handful of guides made up. I did, however, write a walkthrough for http://www.trueachievements.com/Kill-Team-xbox-360.htm. I think there should be some kind of voting option with the walkthroughs, or a badge for writing them.

obj – And now, "Combination of Two Things that Kills Penalties", are you ready for some Lightning Round!?


Favorite Game of 2011

http://www.trueachievements.com/Batman-Arkham-City-xbox....htm & http://www.trueachievements.com/Bastion-xbox-360.htm

Worst Game of 2011


Most-Anticipated Game of 2012

Mass Effect 3

Series You Want To Go Away

-insert annual first-person-shooter or sports simulator series here-

Series You Want To Come Back

Penny Arcade Adventures or http://www.trueachievements.com/1-vs-100-xbox-360.htm (not a “series,” but I loved 1 vs 100).

Favorite Video Game Protagonist

Kaim from Lost Odyssey. He probably isn’t my absolute favorite, but he’s the first one I can think of that was acceptable. He gets points since, considering he’s in a jRPG, he isn’t a spiky-haired, 15 year old mystic swordsman from a small village.

Favorite Video Game Villain

Like with the protagonist, I can’t pick a solid answer. Lynx from Chrono Cross and Galcian from Skies of Arcadia are up there, though.

Favorite Game Ending

The endings to the Metal Gear Solid games have been enjoyable.

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

James Silva of Ska Studios

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

HPK – I often find myself questioning the state video games are currently in and I can’t entirely decide if games are getting better or worse overall. Advancements in technology have allowed for a lot of things to happen that weren’t quite feasible, say, 20 years ago. Games are now allowed to have stronger visuals and really vary in art direction and aesthetics, soundtracks can be more intricate and when audio and video are combined they can really immerse the players. Games can be longer and can bring on new challenges. Also, with the inclusion of the Internet, games can be fixed up right away through patches, people can play with other people and not even be in the same country, and a game’s life can be extended through downloadable content. Even better, people who are just looking to make games on their own accord have viable means of making and distributing them.

However, at the same time, it almost feels as if games are becoming lessened. Some games only provide a few hours worth of content and strictly rely on competitive multiplayer to sustain playability. Instead of trying to achieve new visuals, some games fall into the whole “REALISM” thing. With the rise of DLC, certain developers have taken it to mean ‘disc-locked content,” requiring the players to spend more money for content they have technically already paid for. At the other end, DLC and downloadable games have gone up in price for less content. The market is usually flooded with the same kind of games too, and it feels that creativity has taken a backseat. Why risk making something super creative and new when making a sequel to a franchise is guaranteed money? It also feels as if every game that is now being sold is made for people who have not played games before. Every game is loaded with tutorials and blips of information telling me what to do or how to play, and I end up being rewarded for completing very minor tasks.

Unfortunately, I am not sure if I’m trying to make a point or not. I know that there are still fresh and original games coming out but they seem to be lost amongst the rehashes and generic games. I guess this is what I want everyone to think about and potentially discuss: What do you think of the current state of video games and what do you think of its future?

I want to take the time to thank everyone for reading my long-winded responses (I can understand if they are tiresome to read through). I had fun answering these questions and if anyone has any other questions or comments, I will try responding to them as quickly as I can. Either way, I will be keeping a close eye on the responses. Stay classy, TA.


A big thanks goes out to HybridPK for taking his time to be grilled and offer up some great thoughts on the state of the industry.

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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.