Lasombra Files Episode 1: Breaking News

Do you like Trophies? Do you like hearing that Ding! when playing a game? Do you think of that next Trophy in your sleep? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then welcome to the Lasombra Files; PSU.com’s new program bringing you interviews with the hardcore, the rising stars, and even the casual in the Trophy hunting field. Also follow the tales of Lasombra and V as they unravel the mysteries of Shadow City while trying not to get fired from their new gig with the site. It is sure to be an insane acid-tripping ride.

The crisp air signals that tonight will be long and cold as the winter season is about to bloom. For months I was getting flat feet, beating the pavement trying to find leads for that big breaking story. Little did I know in a town as bent as this, all it took was a single file to be tossed on my desk. A quick glance of the file was all that was needed for me to pull V away from the punching bag. What is it with Soviets and beating things up? That was an hour ago, as we wait in an abandoned car park waiting for a mysterious deal to go down in Episode 1: Breaking News. As clichéd as the situation is, a couple of cars pull up into the lot and we start filming. Drugs? Booze? Cigarettes? What could be so secretive and sensitive that a page out of the 40’s Film Noir playbook was needed?

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: Markus
Age: 28
Gender: Male
Occupation: IT-Supporter for the City of Bamberg in Franconia.
I’m responsible for a lot of different municipal departments, for example, the FireDept, Immigration Office, Residents Registration Office, and Environmental Protection etc.
My job is to keep all the IT, PCs, Printers, and specialized applications up to date and running.
Country: Germany

Lasombra: When did you start gaming?

Beast: By the age of 9 I got my first PC. It was an old Commodore64 but it was very easy to copy the old floppy discs back then so I had way more games to play then my friends with their NESs.

I guess that is also the reason why I never played on consoles till the PlayStation 2 was released. PCs just had much more games to play or should I say it was much easier to get them.

Lasombra: How did you choose your PSN name?

Beast: It comes from an old song by the Swedish black metal band Marduk.
Since "Azrael" was already taken (even though I purchased the PS3 on launch) I had to add the stereotypical metal "666". Since Sony never made it possible to change our PSN usernames I was stuck with that from day 1.

Lasombra: What motivated you to become a Trophy hunter? What was your initial spark?

Beast: I think it all began when Naughty Dog released a Trophy patch for Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.

I keep every game I buy so when Sony made Trophies available it was logical to start playing Uncharte again to get my first Platinum (even though I had finished it 3 times already). I finished it on crushing and anticipated my first glorious Platinum but then – NOTHING – the Platinum just didn’t pop!

That was the moment I decided to show those games who was boss! I was playing games for about 14 years and would not be robbed of my just reward by a pesky bug!!! I finished it again just out of spite and finally got it. At that point it wasn’t just A Platinum it was MY Platinum. The triumph of man over game.

Lasombra: Are you a Trophy hunter, Platinum hunter, or a specific hunter? (Example: All GoW game hunter)

Beast: I’d say I’m a Platinum hunter. I just buy the games I like and try to get the platinum for each and every one. There are a few exceptions though. I bought the God of War PS3 remakes even though I finished them on PS2/PSP just to get the Platinum Trophies for them.

Lasombra: How many hours do you dedicate to Trophy hunting?

Beast: I wouldn’t say I spend time to hunt for Trophies, I just play games for fun you know?! I play almost every day. Usually 3-4 hours.

Lasombra: What motivates you to go for that next Trophy? How do you stay motivated after a long gaming session, particularly with grinding Trophies?

Beast: In the end it’s all about that new shiny Platinum! It also helps to watch some TV while you’re "working" on a boring Trophy like collectibles. I’ve got 2 TVs next to each other for that. The funny side effect is that I can always remember which game I was playing while watching movie xyz or a certain show. 2 and a half men will forever be bound to the train level of Uncharted 2 and Garcia Hotspur was grinding red orbs while homer went to the clown college.

Lasombra: Have you ever gone through any burnout from your sessions?

Beast: Nope!

Lasombra: What is your proudest Platinum? Why? Was it your hardest?

Beast: My proudest AND hardest Platinum was Dead Space 2. Everything was going well till I hit 91% completion and just one Gold Trophy was left. Hard to the Core: Finish the game with only 3 saves. I don’t know how often I watched that unskipable intro to DS2. After a while I just gave up, I thought I’d never be able to do it. However those 91% were always there in my Trophy list, mocking me, taunting me for my incompetence. 10 months later I had enough of it and gave it another go.

I played the first chapters on zealot difficulty over and over again till I was able to reach my first desired save spot on HC. After that I knew I could do it, the first step was made and I just had to keep on keepin’ on. I think my pulse was over 9000 during that last flight sequence and then the beautiful Platinum was finally mine!

Lasombra: Do you have a Trophy goal for the year? If so, how far are you along in it?

Beast: The Trophy hunt has taken a momentary setback because I am playing Diablo 3 almost exclusively at the moment. My initial plan for 2012 was to get my one hundredth platinum.

Lasombra: Do you believe gamers should be allowed to make Trophy hunting teams? Why or why not?

Beast: No. I just think it’s not fair to grind, for example, MP experience in a few hours with a few boosting friends when "honest" gamers have to invest dozens of hours to get the same results. A good (or bad) example was Crysis 2. I played that game’s MP mode to death to get to level 50 while some people just played with their friends to grind in the exp and "skill kills.”

Lasombra: Do you think Sony should create a world database with every user’s PlayStation Network Trophy info for all to see? Why or why not?

Beast: WHY NOT! The data’s there already! Sony really needs to improve PSN’s social features. They tried too hard with HOME, which was destined to fail in the first place in my opinion. Just give us more info about our existing PSN friends! Do they have PS Vitas, which PSN games do they have, etc?

Lasombra: What tips do you have for someone trying to reach the next level and going after a difficult Platinum?

Beast: Never give up! It’s that simple really. It’s just a game. It was made for you so why SHOULDN’T you be able to do it!?

Lasombra: Regardless of the system, what pre-Trophy game would you auto-buy if it was released on the PS3 with Trophy support?

Beast: Realms of the Haunting! It was a groundbreaking PC game back in 1997. Because of its 2+ hours of video sequences it was released on 4 CDs! It would be insane to have a HD remake on a single Blu-ray disc. I’d make that Platinum my #100

Lasombra: Being level 27, it is safe to assume you used a guide or two. PowerPyx is a well-known video guide maker and is also from Germany. Have you ever talked to him or got to meet him in Germany?

Beast: I’d lie if I told you I’ve never used a guide for some Trophies. Some games have more than 100 collectibles or other hidden Trophies you’d just never get if you didn’t know about them.

Most video guides I’ve used were indeed from PowerPyx or Rooster Teeth and I appreciate the work they’ve put into those guides but no, I don’t know any of these guys nor have I ever tried to contact them.

Lasombra: Having such a high level, you are in the upper tier of Trophy hunters. Where do you think the idea of Trophies will go in the future? Do you think it could become a sport?

Beast: Well to make it a "valid" sport the difficulty to "plat" a game must first be pretty equal across all games. There are games out there that take 100+ hours to complete while others grant you a Platinum after 3-5 hours. As long as that’s not the case the Trophies are just not comparable and therefore no measurement for gaming skills/effort etc.

Sony should take care of that. I think it would greatly increase the value of Trophies. I’m sure all Trophy aficionados would go crazy if that ever happened.

Lasombra: German is your mother tongue, but you are also fluent in English. Do you know any other languages? Do you prefer your games to be English or German?

Beast: My main motivation to learn English were all the English games I had for the C64. It wasn’t a chore to learn the language because I WANTED to understand what was going on in my games. I guess that’s also the reason why I never learned a third language.

Since then I always preferred my games to be English. It just sounds "better," I can’t really explain why but the German translations are pretty awful most of the time.

Lasombra: Over three years of Trophy hunting, do you have a core group of friends you enjoy hunting with? Are any of them non-German?

Beast: The guys in my friend list are from all over the world but since most of the games I’ve got the Platinum for are single player games and I think that "boosting" Trophies is pretty lame, I don’t hunt Trophies with friends. I always try to gain them fair and square.

Lasombra: What is the gaming scene like in Germany? Are there a lot of chain stores or independent stores? Do German’s take their gaming seriously or is it more of a fun hobby?

Beast: For the most part I’ve waved the German gaming scene goodbye when I quit playing the Half-Life mod "Firearms" competitively in a clan about 10 years ago. Most Germans don’t take gaming seriously anyway, at least not as seriously as I do. That’s also the reason why I’m here instead of a German PlayStation forum. I appreciate the diversity and (for the most part) maturity of a global community.

There are almost only GameStops around here and very few independent videogame shops. Most people just get their yearly Call of Duty or FIFA from huge electronic stores. Since I play all my games in English anyway I just order them from Amazon UK.

Lasombra: You are the first person I’ve interviewed who said they have never been burnt out from Trophy hunting. How did you forge that iron will? Energy drinks? Schwarzenegger posters? What is your secret?

Beast: Hehehe Arnold is numero uno but no, I never really needed additional motivation to play video games. I’ve just never been a "good loser", even as a child. So since failure is not an option and I’m as stubborn as a mule, I just keep trying till I succeed. If you really can’t seem to pull something off, put the controller down and try again the next day. More than likely you’ll make it on the first try in my experience.

Lasombra: Germany and Austria share a common language, geography, and history. Is there a gaming rivalry between the two countries, like between Japan and the USA for example?

Beast: There is indeed a little bit of rivalry between us and our little neighbours but not in gaming afaik. Maybe they’re all wiggling around with their Wiis. Who knows?!

Lasombra: Having invested so much time in your PSN level, if the PS4 were to not include Trophies or force gamers to make a new account from scratch, how would that affect your gaming habits?

Beast: I guess I’d just keep playing my PS3 and PS Vita then! There are still a lot of games left that I want to play but in the end Sony would lose a loyal customer.

The deal goes down and everyone departs, leaving us wondering what exactly went down. As V edits the footage to get a close-up, I look at the file again. It was dark out, and the lack of moonlight didn’t help our visuals at all. Suddenly the phone rings, causing the creepy needle to break off the meter. “Hello? Yeah, we were there. Uh-huh, sure, we’ll meet you there.” I tell V the address for Episode 2: Lethal Weapon Enforcers. Welcome to Shadow City everyone, where if it is not a mystery then you picked the wrong city to play in. The car speeds up, and all I can think is what did we get ourselves into this time.

Article by Dane