PlayStation Universe

Lasombra Files Episode 39: School of Hard Knocks

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on 15 July 2013

Welcome to season 3 of the Lasombra Files, PSU’s weekly hit program. Follow the story of Lasombra and V as they try to solve an inter-dimensional murder mystery of ostentatious proportions, while at the same time shining the spotlight on gamers around the world and in our community.

The screams continue for hours; my chained body not being able to move to attempt even a futile suicide escape attempt. With no bandages, and only a knife plugging the hole in my thigh, I am on borrowed time as each drop of blood pools onto the floor. Despite the screams of pain V puts up a fight, as she hurls insults at the mad man who has us captured in his/her/its house of terrors in episode 39: School of Hard Knocks. One moment V is throwing another insult hay maker and then a sickening crack is audible on the speakers. I can only think the worse, as I know better than anyone the sound of cracking bones. In anger I shout into the darkness, random obscenities leaving my mouth, but it is only to keep me from panicking.

Name: Matt (Mondofish)
Age: 25
Gender: Male
Occupation: Staff Writer for this very website! (PSU). Also, I have gone to school for Digital Art... So, I guess that makes me a Digital Artist.
Country: USA

Disclaimer: This interview is reproduced as written by the interviewee except for grammar and spelling corrections. Pictures copyright of their artist/photographer/owner. All likenesses used are for parody and/or satirical purposes.

Lasombra: How long have you been gaming?

Mondofish: I have been gaming since I was old enough to pick up a controller. I remember when I was just a little kid my sister would sneak me out of the house and take me down to the local game rental store every week and she would rent a NES game for me to play. Me and my brother would sit down and play Super Mario Bros. 3 for hours until we beat it—we didn't use warp whistles either! (Those are for the weak!)

Lasombra: How did you find PSU?

Mondofish: According to my profile I didn't officially join PSU until 2009, but I started frequenting this website probably around 2006. I was desperate for information on the, yet to be released, PlayStation 3 on Google and I found solace on PSU's wealth of excellent gaming coverage. I have since made it the destination for all news concerning PlayStation for not only me, but all of my friends and family that are into playing games.

Lasombra: Are you solely a Sony gamer this generation or do you split your time between multiple systems?

Mondofish: Sony's PlayStation definitely takes up most of my gaming time, but I do also play on Nintendo systems and on the PC.

Lasombra: What do you like about the community at PSU that keeps bringing you back for more?

Mondofish: I think what is great about PSU is that the staff writers are always engaging with the community on the forums. If you go to other gaming websites it is very rare to see a video game journalist have a conversation with the community on a forum or in the comments of their own article. It's that kind of passion that makes the community at PSU stand out above the rest.

Lasombra: In your opinion, what needs to be done to help the community to grow bigger and better?

Mondofish: Community interaction is really important for the growth of the PSU community. We need to not stop communicating with our readers and involve them in the website as much as possible. As I stated above, PSU does a nice job of getting involved with the community already, but we can always do more. We should do more with community events then we have before. Speaking of which, the PSU Marathon Trophy Tournament is looking to be shaping up quite nicely this year and as a competitor I am quite excited to see how everyone involved will bring it.

Lasombra: Do you have any gaming goals for this year?

Mondofish: Obviously my biggest gaming goal is to purchase a PlayStation 4 at launch and play all of the epic launch titles coming. Other than that, I really need to play catch up with my PS3 game collection. I have tons of games that I have purchased or gotten for free from PS+ that I haven't even played yet. Terraria is my most recent addiction on the PSN and I would love to get all the Trophies for it!

Lasombra: Are you a Trophy hunter, and what do you think about trophies overall?

Mondofish: I wouldn't say I'm a Trophy hunter. I mean yes I love getting Trophies, but I don't go too far out of my way for platinums. I prefer single-player Trophies to multiplayer trophies because I don't like having to rely on others to achieve them. Some games make me want to earn trophies more than others, like games in the Uncharted and God of War franchise. I would say what drives me to get Trophies the most is my friend Anthony. Not because I want to have more than him, but because he wants to have more than me. There is nothing better than holding back my profile sync so I can suddenly bombard my account with hundreds of Trophies and have him flip out.

I think trophies definitely add something to gaming because it is nice to have some feedback when you accomplish something great in a videogame (the Trophies in the Battlefield games are always very creative). As mentioned above, Trophies create some healthy competition amongst friends which is great. On the other hand, Trophies can hurt the online gaming community because gamers can sometimes get so caught up in getting Trophies that they can completely derail an entire online match. Overall though, I feel it's better to have Trophies than not have Trophies.

Lasombra: The PS2 dominated a console war like no other system. What tricks does Sony need to pull out of their hat to create the same magic with the PS4.

Mondofish: Sony needs to keep up with the 'gamers first' approach and deliver great online services and great exclusives. I think the future of PlayStation is definitely looking good with the PlayStation 4. The games that have been announced all look really fun as well. At the beginning of this year, I did not think I would be as excited for the next PlayStation as I was for the PlayStation 3 because the graphical jump from PS2 to PS3 was amazing and I didn't think the jump to PS4 would be as dramatic. After the announcement of the PS4 I was shocked at how pumped I became. It was like Sony knew exactly what I need to see and showed it to me. I am honestly more excited for the PS4 than I have been for any console.

Lasombra: Do you have a favourite era of gaming? The SNES/Genesis war? The reign of the PlayStation Reich? Hail to the NES?

Mondofish: This is a tough one! The power of nostalgia wants me to say my favorite era of gaming was either the NES or the Genesis, but I can't allow myself to get too carried away with the past. So I will say my favorite era of gaming falls in line with the dominance of the PlayStation 2. During that time I was definitely the most hardcore with gaming that I have ever been.

I used to play Medal of Honor Allied Assault: Spearhead online on the PC fanatically. I played it so much, that I memorized bullet spray patterns which allowed me to charge into the line of far and dodge my opponents bullets. I lead one of the best bolt-action only rifle clans in the gaming community and we thrashed many tournaments. No game has made me want to hone my skills as much as that game did and I have yet to have an online multiplayer experience that matched it.

Lasombra: Is there a lot of gaming culture in your area of the world? Unique stores, conventions, etc?

Mondofish: We don't have any special shops or anything where I live and I'm pretty sure there is only like two arcades left in the entire state, but there is a large community of gamers in the state of Maine. There isn't a massive amount of things to do in Maine so most people turn to video games and/or table top and/or card games. On one hand it's a bummer that Maine isn't as exciting as say Los Angeles, but because of this we have this epic gaming community. Pretty much everyone plays video games which is nice because people are generally more accepting of gamers. One of my best friends was the biggest jock you could be...I mean he played football, hockey, basketball and he was the biggest geek you could ever come across. Video games in his mind were only second to table top games so, it is nice to live in a place where there isn't social stigma against nerds like us.

Lasombra: Have you ever been burnt out from a gaming session?

Mondofish: Sure! I mean, it takes a lot to burn me out from a gaming session. This is coming from the guy who makes it a point to always play Uncharted games in one sitting from start to finish. I am not afraid to spend a day with a controller in my hand in front of a TV, but I suppose afterward I do take a break and do something else for the next couple days. I also bounce around a lot with the games I play. I might play one game for a week and then switch to another the next just to keep the gaming experience fresh.

Lasombra: As someone starting out their journalism career with PSU, take us through a day in the life of how you applied and got accepted as a writer for all the aspiring writers to learn from.

Mondofish: Well, I saw a post on the PSU facebook page saying that they were looking for some new talent and at first I wasn't going to go for it. I didn't think it would be possible for someone who wasn't a big influence on the PSU community to get picked to be part of the team. When I threw my hat into the ring I also wasn't even sure what job PSU was looking to fill. With luck, my passion for the industry was noticed and I was given the email address of Adam Dolge to contact about further information.

I was given a press release for a game and instructions to write up a news blurb for it and I would be judged on how well I was able to write. At this point I realized that this job was a pretty big deal because it would give me the opportunity to have my work read by thousands every week. I had no past experience in doing something like this before and to be honest English was never my best subject, but I didn't let it hurt my resolve.

So I wrote up the news blurb and also wrote up my first feature which was about the Free-to-Play market on next gen consoles. I thought it was important to not only show that I could do news pieces but also deliver interesting and unique content to PSU. Only a couple hours after I submitted my work Adam got back to me and told me he loved my feature on the Free-to-Play market and that he would like to see me do more for PSU. It was pretty crazy! I was suddenly on the PSU content team and I still have a hard time believing I get to be part of something so awesome.

Lasombra: Being as close to a pro at MoH: Spearhead as possible without being a pro, can you go into more depth as to what was it about the game that drove your passion for it?

Mondofish: Well, I am a huge World War II buff so that is probably what was initially to blame for my interest in MoH: Allied Assault. The single-player campaign was amazing and once I played that to death I started getting into the multiplayer. I had played the MoH: Allied Assault multiplayer for quite a while before the Spearhead expansion came out. Once it came out though my interest in the multiplayer of the game jumped to a whole to new level. With that expansion came a lot more weapons and maps, also some gameplay improvements. The greatest improvement on the multiplayer though was the community which started to make tons of new maps and re-skinned player models. People also started playing with weapon balancing which improved the game massively, and up until this happened with Spearhead the bolt-action rifles were basically useless because they were so underpowered.

What kept me attached to the game for years was how simple the gameplay was. There was no tricks, no bullet time, no pre-programmed parkour, and no aim assist! It was just you with a gun of your choosing, a side arm, and a frag or smoke grenade. You really had to train your eyes to look out for movement on the map to find enemy marksmen and most of the time this meant being able to spot a few pixels move in a dim area. If you couldn't spot someones head slightly poking out of a window on the other side of the map through the fog then you were dead meat. This type of simple gameplay for me is the best, because it's all about fine tuning your skills with your weapons, perception, and reaction speed.

Lasombra: How did your fandom of The Flash come about?

Mondofish: Haha! When I was a kid I was really into reading comics! I loved reading Iron Man and GI Joe and for some reason I stopped reading them as I grew older. Recently though, my girlfriend got me back into them because she is crazy into comics. So now I am bonkers about comic books all over again! Probably more so now compared to when I was a kid because now I read all the comics I can find. It's crazy how many Marvel, DC, Darkhorse, IDW, etc. comics I have picked up and read in the last year.

The point of course is that during the course of all this reading I have really grown to love The Flash. I have always enjoyed his character in the cartoons but now that I'm reading the comics I'm finally getting to know the character better and learning the back story. One of my favorite things about The Flash is how his character bounces off Green Lantern Hal Jordan's character. Those two are really hilarious in the comics because despite their close friendship they are about as opposite of each other as possible. The Flash is very serious about upholding the law and not bending the rules and Hal Jordan is always finding ways to break the rules. When they are together it seems like they always end up getting into mischief.

Lasombra: Speaking of Maine, is there a lot of cross-border gaming activity with New Brunswick? Any local gaming tournaments, big or small?

Mondofish: You know...I'm not really sure...I should look into that a bit! Could make for some good articles on PSU if I find something.

Lasombra: Being a digital artist what is your dream? Is it video game related or is that just a fun concept that helps you practice?

Mondofish: I would absolutely love to be involved in the video game development process at some point in my life. For the longest time I wanted to be a 3D modeler and I would definitely jump at the chance if ever given one, but now I see myself as being more of a concept artist or someone who is put in charge of the art direction of a project. I have some experience leading teams in game design and I definitely was good at it.

I worked for years on a indie game with a team made up of people from all around the world. I had to audition like I did for PSU, but instead of writing something I had to 3D model stuff and show my range as a 3D modeler. After I got on the team I worked my way up to a management position and I lead the team that was in charge of world design. As a team we got a lot done, but upper management broke down and the other teams in charge of character design, weapons design, and coding failed to produce content which lead to the project falling apart. Regardless of the outcome the experience was great and gave me insight into what the video game industry is like.

Lasombra: Code Red or original Mountain Dew for your insane Uncharted marathon sessions?

Mondofish: Neither actually! When I need copious amounts of energy I usually turn to well steeped tea and Sour Patch Kids. If given the choice of Mountain Dew flavor though...I'd go Voltage all the way!

Was she dead? It is hard to believe. It could be a trick, an act, some illusion. I don't know how much blood I've lost or how long I've been dripping like a leaky faucet but the passage of time is cruel. Even in complete darkness I can feel the real darkness slowly take over, clouding my eyes with a woozy vision. As this reality starts to slip from my control a voice finally speaks to me. It doesn't sound like a man or a woman but one of those voice boxes from Scream in episode 40: Phoenix Rises. The voice tells me the current game is at an end. One victory for me, one victory for it, and now it is time for the rubber match. I don't understand fully what it is talking about except that my death must mean it's victory. But what victory did I achieve?

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