Welcome to the Lasombra Files, PSU’s new weekly hit program. Follow the story of Lasombra and V as they try to stay alive in Shadow City, unraveling its secrets, while at the same time shining the spotlight on trophy hunters around the world and in our community.
As the news van parks in front of the building, to say it was a surprise was an understatement. Big neon signs advertised an hour of service for only a dollar. Cheap was not the only word that came to mind. “A PC room? Who are we supposed to meet here?” I say to V, getting out of the van. The moment my foot hits the cement a man bumps into me and shoves a piece of paper in my hand, walking away as if nothing happened. “Oh this is just too weird. This is not LA Noire. This isn’t even America” in Episode 3: Duck, Duck, Platinum. “What is with this black ops spook stuff? The Boss is not paying us enough for this. This Duck guy better have something good to say or the Boss is going to make us wish we got snuffed out in that cafe.”
Disclaimer: This interview is reproduced as written by the interviewee with the exception of spelling and some grammar corrections. Pictures copyright of their artist/photographer/owner.
Name: Mohammad AlSaad (Duck360)
Occupation: I'm a Mech Engineer Student but the real job I want is what any gamer wants, to become a game designer.
Lasombra: When did you start gaming?
Duck360: As far as I can remember. My oldest memories I have are of me playing Super Mario World on Super Nintendo.
Lasombra: What was the initial spark that got you wanting to hunt for trophies?
Duck360: Trophies are rewards for completing a game 100% (mostly) and we have always loved completing games 100%, but before trophies no one can see what we can accomplish in gaming. If I complete a game 100% on the PSone no one will know, but with trophies everyone will know. It's basically what we do best; completing every challenge in the game.
Lasombra: How did the Duck360 team start?
Duck360: It started from day one if I'm not mistaken. Back then there weren't many games with trophies so it was a slow start. We never knew there would be a leaderboard and never even thought we were good enough to get even close to the top 100. At first we wanted to have the most trophies between our friends list. Zero_Q8 was our 3rd rival and honestly the best one. Him alone against 3 of us, and he fought hard. But we won at the end and he decided to join us and make a better team and he did make duck360 better. After that was the road to glory and only Hakoom was in our way but even they didn't stop us.
Lasombra: Who are the members of your team?
Duck360: Myself... I'm the youngest. My two brothers Aziz and Fahad and our best friend Fawaz ( Zero_Q8 )
Lasombra: How did you create your PSN name?
Duck360: We loved ducks is the honest truth for our name. But it was taken so we tried duck007 (We really love James Bond too) but it was taken so we tried duck360 and it worked. It has no relations with the Xbox360.
Lasombra: At this moment you have a completion percentage of 94.62% from 620 games. What has been your secret for it? Lots of Red Bull? Cheetos? Great music?
Duck360: The secret is simple. Passion. No passion, no glory they say. So if you don't have it...you will fail.
Lasombra: You and Hakoom were known in the past as the top trophy hunters in the world. This past year with the rise of PSNP’s database, Bieleric has taken a stranglehold on first place. How do you feel about slipping down the order further?
Duck360: I don't know. It's been fun being #1 for over a year. All great things have to end one day. We proved ourselves and we are proud of what we did. We earned a lot of respect and fame in the trophy community, got interviewed many times, and lastly got YouTube Partnership. All thanks to trophies.
Lasombra: What are your opinions of the new schism in the PSNP database with ‘cheaters’ publically removed from the official ‘clean’ list? Sony does not have an official database with everyone’s PSN stats cataloged. Would you like to see Sony set it up in the future instead of relying on the work of fans?
Duck360: Well it's hard to say. I can barely trust anyone's judgment these days because to be honest...people these days don't know how to judge. So should it be a fan made leaderboard or Sony made? I'd take my chances with a Sony one. But it may never happen. I don't really care anymore about the clean and cheater filter thing.
Lasombra: You have your own Facebook group and are not shy in the public about your achievements in getting platinums and how you get them as a team. How does your team handle all the hate being thrown at you by people on a constant basis? Conversely, has anyone ever told you that you were an inspiration to them in their attempt at being a better trophy hunter?
Duck360: Where glory walks, jealousy is bound to follow. We've learned a lot from this. If you were following my page since I first made it you might see me differently back then. I tried to please everyone but I was a fool back then because only a fool thinks he can please everyone. Haters gonna hate but I try to make them hate me for the right reason instead of the wrong ones. And yes I get a huge amount of messages from fans saying all kind of good things. Thank you.
Lasombra: How is the platinum selling business? Do you get a lot of people who contact you purchasing your services?
Duck360: I don't do the selling nor do my brothers. It is Fawaz's ( Zero_Q8 ) work. I don't ask much about it but it seems like it is doing its job. Whatever he earns is enough to make him buy new games without using his own money.
Lasombra: It’s been over four years since the trophy patch was introduced. What has kept your team motivated to keep getting trophies at an elite skill level, rather than saying ‘100 platinums’ was enough and just playing solely for fun?
Duck360: Like I've said before it was all about the passion. We wanted to do it. We enjoyed doing it. But sadly that passion no longer exist in us. We are retiring.
Lasombra: Have you personally, or anyone on your team, gone through any burnout from getting trophies? If so, what did you do to recover from it?
Duck360: Sometimes yes, but it's nothing we can't handle. Just a week or so of rest is a cure.
Lasombra: What tips would you give someone trying to reach the next level and are going after a difficult platinum?
Duck360: If you have the passion for it then you can do it whether you like the game trophies or not. Nothing is impossible in this world. But of course you must learn your own limits. Everyone has limits. Are you 'good' enough to earn that Platinum? I know where my limits are, I'm not good with extremely boring grinding or dancing skills of music games but Fawaz is. Meaning don't go for something you know you can't do.
Lasombra: Regardless of the system, what pre-trophy game would you auto-buy if it was released on the PS3 with trophies?
Duck360: Any Metal Gear game.
Lasombra: Being from Kuwait, what is the gaming scene like in your country and region? Are there a lot of game stores and culture, or do you have to import everything?
Duck360: Gaming in Kuwait is child's play. It is considered a waste of time and effort and not much support exists here. We were one step away from the Guinness World Records but my country didn't support me. That's how bad gaming is here and I won't lie and say it's okay. It is tough to fit in here.
Lasombra: Arabic is the official language in your country, but you also are fluent in English. Do you know any other languages? Do games come translated into Arabic in Kuwait, or do you prefer them to be in English?
Duck360: I only speak English and Arabic. Arabic is my mother language but I personally prefer English over Arabic because Arabic doesn't fit as much as English in most things, and Arabic is extremely difficult. No, games are not translated in Arabic here. Movies are but not games.
Lasombra: Is there a big gaming rivalry between the Middle Eastern countries like in cricket or soccer?
Duck360: No, I don't think so. Arabs are great gamers to be honest. When I played CoD back in the day. I always came in first place when playing with other people even though my ping was 2 bars, but when I play with Arabs with a full bar in the ping signal I get my ass kicked.
“So...that was...interesting...um, yeah. Why did a guy get shot for wanting us to talk to a group of guys who play video games? This city is crazy V.” Fog rolls into the city as we stand outside the neon lit building. Rain starts falling down as if to wash away the sin on our souls. Why would someone be murdered over a bunch of platinums? They are not real platinum. Thunder booms and lightning splits the sky as we head back to the office in Episode 4: Johnny on the Spot. As we drive down the street an engine roars, out-pitching the thunder. A moment later there is a boom, like thunder, except the world suddenly starts to spin as the van somersaults over itself and into the closest building in its way.
Missed an episode? Check out the back issues.
Want to hear random thoughts about life in Japan, gaming, or want to leave your thoughts about the series and the story? Follow our intrepid reporter on Facebook, Twitter, or email him at Dane.Smith@psu.com.